The Ninth Part of a Man

This is the second part of the book – I have added some links at the end to provide further reading for the men mentioned in the article.


The probability is that ere any lad been at the tailoring trade a month he will have to face ridicule by being called the “ninth part of a man,” a term which has been applied to tailors for centuries, and is by no means confined to our own country, but is as readily applied in America and on the continent as it is in our own snug little island. It may be well, therefore, to explain this appellation so that our apprentices may realise that when they are called “the ninth part of a man” it really recalls an incident of kindly good nature which would adorn any profession and any rank. The story briefly told is as follows :-

A poor orphan lad was taken in by a tailor to act as errand boy. The tailor had in his employ at that time nine journeymen, who showed such a kindly interest in the lad that they instructed him in the art of Sewing and making a garment, so that in due course he was able to earn his living as a tailor. He then mastered cutting, and eventually started a business of his own, where by the diligent use of the information he had acquired from his former friends he made a fortune.
“Success followed success so rapidly that he was able to relinquish business, purchase an estate, and set up in fine style. His home was a mansion, liveried servants waited his bidding, and his wealth was phenominal, but with it all he never forgot his early friends, and anyone examining his crest might have seen the words, “Novem vestitores fecerunt me hominem” (Nine tailors made a man of me!). This got transposed by the evil-disposed into It ‘It takes nine tailors to make a man!’ and from this saying the tailor has been dubbed ‘the ninth part of a man.’ “Another illustration of the world’s ingratitude.

I trust all our apprentices will be ready to lend a helping hand to fellow-creatures in distress, aye, even though the only return they get for it if abuse and ridicule. There is another moral to this story, however, which should fill them with ambition, viz., that there is no limit to the success or prosperity of a tailor, and as a proof of this let me remind them of Andrew Johnson, whose tailoring career began in the humblest way, and yet he advanced step by step until he became the President of the united states of America, a position almost equal to that held by our gracious Queen. It will also do them good to read the story of young Hobson, the tailor’s apprentice, who, by his pluck and daring courage, rose step by step until he became an admiral in our own navy, and the world is now ready to lay it’s tribute of honour at the feet of this brave admiral who had been a tailor


Sir John Hawkwood was one of the boldest of those English soldiers of fortune who harried the continent in the middle ages as “free companions”. He was a “merchant taylor.” In our own times the fighting tailors have been prominent in the army.

There is a story of a private in the Derbyshire’s, a tailor by trade, who was at the court of the Rajah of Booj during the operations for the suppression of the Indian mutiny in 1858. The Rajah had a wrestler, a huge Titan, whom he was anxious to match against any British soldier. The tailor of the Derbyshire’s came out like another David and threw the giant amid the tremendous enthusiasm of the British troops. (Private Lawler – information found in book “The 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment in Central India By Sir Julius Raines”)
Private Lawler

You will also be greatly interested in the life story of George Thompson, who on the days of the slave trade ably advocated the cause of the down trodden and oppressed, and ceased not till the shackles had been knocked off their ankles and the poor negro enjoyed equal liberty with the white men. George Thompson was a tailor, and was one of the first advocates for the abolition of the slave trade.

The political world has often been adorned by representatives of our craft, and i will just mention one name as a representative of this class. Francis Place, the friend of John Stuart Mill, Robert Owen, Bentham and Sir Francis Burdett. His influence in the political world was so great that Sir Samuel Romilly said that his influence actually determined the election of members of parliament. In the British museum are to be found no less than seventy-one volumes of his writings.

Richard Woolman, whose diary has recently been published, is an example of saintliness and purity, was by trade a tailor, but his heart was large enough to sympathise with the downtrodden and oppressed wherever they were found. You will do well to read his diary.
(I wonder if there is a typo in the book with the this name as I can find no reference to a Richard Woolman, but there was a John Woolman who seems to fit WDFs description)

Stulz, the tailor, also deserves to be mentioned in our list of men of whom the world should be proud, for by his enterprise and tailoring skill he made a large fortune, and devoted a good portion of it to the founding of a home for aged and infirm tailors at Haverstock Hill, in the north of London, and which is now the resting place of a large number of men whose power to wield the needle and the goose is no more. Here is an example of Stulz’s enterprise. He was very desirous of obtaining the recommendations of Beau Brummel, who at that time was looked upon as the leader of fashion, so he made a study of his size and shape whenever he saw him, and then made him a very beautiful coat, and sent it home with a bank note for £100 in the pocket and a polite note asking his acceptance of this coat, and an intimation that he would be pleased to supply similar coats lined in the same way at intervals. The celebrated Beau Brummel replied expressing his surprise and satisfaction at the splendid fit and excellent lining of the coat and that he would be pleased to recommend Stulz to his friends.

Space fails me to tell if the bravery of George Joyce, the tailor who made a king a prisoner; of John Boccold (aka John of Leiden), the tailor who became the king of Munster; of Robert Bloomfield, the tailor, who wrote such splendid poetry, but their histories all appeared in the London Art Fashion Journal for 1898, and there may be found the record of their valour, their heroism, their talent, and their nobility.

The very mention of these nine names will show what sort of men tailors produce, and I trust the coming generation will follow in their footsteps.

Taken from “The Tailor’s Handbook of Useful Information” by W.D.F. Vincent c1905

Further reading



from Grammatical drollery by William Hickes

There is a Proverb which has been of old,
And many men have likewise been so bold,
To the discredit of the Taylors Trade,
Nine Taylors goes to make up a man, they said.
But for their credit I’ll unriddle it t’ye:
A Draper once fell into povertie,
Nine Taylors joyn’d their Purses together then,
To set him up, and make him a man agen:
Which made him vow, nay bound it with some Oaths,
That none but Taylors hereafter should make his Cloths.


The following links – correct at the time of publication – give further reading to the nine men mentioned above:

John Hawkwood

Wrestling Match between the Champion of Boojh and Private Lawler

George Thompson

Francis Place

John Woolman

Baron Stulz

George Joyce

John Boccold

Robert Bloomfield


The Tailor’s Handbook of Useful Information