1) One who does physical labour, as a service or for a livelihood.

The meaning may have changed little over the centuries but it cannot be presumed that labourers formerly had lowly status. In 1550, William Windle of Thorner, laborer, left money towards church repairs and road maintenance, made several bequests of ewes, lambs and wethers, gave too yerdes of clothe and a half to Elizabeth Windle for a petticoat, and left his farmhold to his wife: in 1558, the gift that Lionel Nailler of Wakefield, laborer, made to his wife was all my landes and hows’s. As a group in York, the labourers were ready to defend their rights: in 1505, they presented a bill of diverse wrongs don unto theym by the wryghtez, emong which ... that the wryghts wold not suffer theym to set in a stancon with a lappe, mayk a bede, a shelffe, a forme, a stole, naile a burde, a dore, a yate, a wyndowe. The mayor and council upheld their claim.

dates 1505 1550 1558

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