One of the Main Characters in Staymaker was a man by the name of Ritchard Perrin. Chichester born and bred, he was a carpenter by trade. Some Carpenters were highly prized and skilled artisans, others were no more than labourers. Carpenters fell roughly into three distinct classes – firstly Master Carpenters, effetively the building contractors of the day, responsible for planning and organising the building – even down to designing the building. These often became very wealthy, and built houses for people to rent.
The second group was the small master craftsmen and their apprentices. These undertook smaller projects and commissions. The thrid, and far more populous group were the journeymen and labourers. These were the common, often unskilled men bringing the repuatation of the trade down.
From the fact that Perrin was fairly well off when his career ended , I presume him to be in the second group. We know he was well off because after his recovery from the “attack of Palsy” that robbed him of the use of an arm (a death knell for a tradesmen like himself) he had money enough to invest in the Chichester gang’s runs, and in turn keep up his own lifestyle.
He acted as the gang’s main buyer, going across to Guersey or France to select and pay for the tea and other goods, before accompanying them on the journey back to the mainland. For the run to Christchurch bay in 1747, he was accompanied by The Chichester Gang’s leader, John Dymer . (Matthew Hunter is completely fictitious!) . Both men escaped in the rowing boats along with most of the crew on that run. This was when he really started working with the Hawkhurst men as well. For the Poole raid, he sat back and held the horses alongside the young Thomas Lillywhite, but was inolved enough in their other activities to be gazetted along with them.
When the gangg broke up, he had little to fall back on baring the wealth that he had accumulated. this soon failed, and he was arrested and tried and executed in 1750 alongside Fairall and Kingsmill. The old Bailey account does insinuate that he went to his end far more pious and contrite that the other two men however.