Skip to main content

London Society of Compositors

The London General Trade Society of Compositors was established in 1826 and adopted the name London Society of Compositors in 1848. In March 1955 it amalgamated with the Printing Machine Managers' Trade Society to form the London Typographical Society.

The union's bound trade reports (MSS.28/CO/4/1/5-75) contain a considerable amount of information about the membership, although there is no definitive list of all members. These reports have been digitised and can be searched on the Findmypast website.
The following information appears in these trade reports unless otherwise noted.

Deceased members

Deaths of members are listed annually from October 1868 to December 1954, with name, union number (from 1878), age, date of joining, last employer (from 1879) and cause of death (up to 1939). The exact date of death is not listed. Note that deceased members are listed under the year when funeral benefits were paid, which was not necessarily the year in which they died.

The deaths of members' wives are also listed from January 1879 to December 1954. It is important to note that only the details of the member are listed, not the wife. These details include name, union number, date of joining and employer.

Deaths in the first three months of 1955 are listed in the London Typographical Society Trade Reports (MSS.28/CO/4/1/76).

Superannuated members

Superannuated (pensioned) members are listed annually from January 1877 to December 1954, with name, union number, age, date of joining, last employer (from 1882) and date of superannuation. The members are listed alphabetically by year of retirement.

Emigration and removal

The union also paid its members allowances for emigration and/or removal within the UK, and these are listed annually from January 1873 and May 1881 respectively, both until December 1954, with name, union number, age (emigrants only; 1887-1940), date of joining, last employer (from 1879), and port, town or country of destination.

Before allowances were paid for emigration there existed the London Compositors' Emigration Aid Society, and those who took out loans with this society are listed (in MSS.28/CO/4/1/3) from May 1853 to September 1856, every half-year until the loan had been repaid, with name, age, previous employer, date of departure, name of the vessel on which the member was sailing and port of destination.

War service

A complete list of members who died on active service in the First World War appears in the 1919 trade report (MSS.28/CO/4/1/40), with name, union number, age, rank, regiment, corps or service, and date of death. These men also appear in the obituary section above.

Casualties in the Second World War are listed between 1940 and 1947 in the London Typographical Journal, the union's monthly journal (MSS.28/CO/4/5/15-21). The information given from August 1940 to January 1941 is identical to that given in the obituary section of the trade reports, with the addition of a note as to circumstances (killed in action, missing etc). Some of those listed missing were not actually dead, but were later reported in the casualty lists as prisoners of war. No casualties were reported between February 1941 and March 1942. Reports began again in an abbreviated form in April 1942, with only name, age, union number and circumstances being listed. Casualties were still being reported in the Journal until February 1947.