1) Occupational term for workers in stone, which could include breaking, hewing and working; the skill level would be reflected in rates of pay.
In several bridge contracts there are references to workmen ‘breaking’ stone, a term which seems to have a straightforward meaning. The OED entries for ‘break’ do not link the word with ‘masoncraft’ and it is presumably excluded for the reasons given there in the preliminary note. The examples quoted here suggest that 'breaking stone' may have had a more precise meaning than at first appears, defining just one of several distinctive practices, for which three fourteenth-century by-names are the evidence: 1327-8 Roger le Stonhewer, Stannington
1348 John le Stonebrekar, Holmfirth
1350 Adam Staynwright, Holmfirth. These seem to represent three different phases in the preparation and use of stone for building purposes
that is 'breaking', 'hewing' and 'working'. These were different tasks and they required different skill levels, which may have been reflected in the rates of pay: 1322 in stipendio vnius Cementarii & vnius hominis lapidos in quarrera frangentis & eosdem in dicto stagno cubantis, Leeds. There was no doubt times when a mason had to cross the boundaries: when Thomas Kidd was contracted in c.1690 to build a shippon at Conistone he was to breake all the greet Stone ... & to hew one doore. The distinctions appear to be borne out by the terms of the Kirkstall Bridge contract of 1619 which referred to the breaking, hewing and workinge of the severall sorts of stones thereto belonginge, after theise severall rates. A later paragraph records the confesion of the Stonebreaker that he hath received xijli. In 1422, it was agreed that the masons building Catterick Bridge should have free entry to two specified quarries for to brek the stane that schalle go to the said brigge. The occupation of stone-breaker would have been even older, and the wage accounts for Bolton Priory in 1296-7 contain the entry Et cuidam fractori lapidum iijs vjd. Similarly, payments were made to several stone-breakers in York, for example: 1399 Et in fractura lapidum per Johannem Waryn per xv sept. et iij dies, cap. 18d. per sept. In the Kirkstall Abbey Coucher Book is a reference to a tenant called Walter Stanhewer in an undated memorandum of c.1200.