Workday Wednesday – Israel Gawthrop (1840-1906)

Israel Gawthrop is my 2x great uncle – he is the brother of my 2x great grandmother Ellen Gawthrop and the son of Martin Gawthrop and Ann Kighley.

Israel was born in Cowling, West Yorkshire. His first occupations in the census returns are

1851 – farmers son employed on farm

1861 – cotton carder

1871 – cotton carder

In 1881 he is recorded as “manager of cotton mill” – and I believe this is a position he held until his death in 1906.

There are numerous references to Israel in the local newspapers of the time. I have picked the article below because I think it reflects a man who had respect for the workforce in the mill he managed and that the “hands” as they are described in the article respected him as a boss. When you imagine what working conditions must have been like in the Victorian mills of Lancashire and elsewhere then to have management and the workers all pulling together must have been good for everyone – or at least a better place to work than some.

SABDEN

TREAT AND PRESENTATION

On Saturday last, the senior employees of Jas. Suttard and Sons met at Mrs. Badger’s Commercial Hotel, to partake of a treat supplied chiefly at the expense of the firms who have replenished the mill with new machinery.

The dinner was of a most recherche character, and reflected the greatest credit upon the worthy hostess. The juvenile portion (or half-timers) did justice to a substantial tea provided for them in the Oddfellows’ Hall, where the senior portion afterwards adjourned, and participated in the subsequent proceedings.

Mr. Israel Gawthrop (manager) was elected as chairman, and Mr. James Proctor (book-keeper) as vice-chairman.

In opening the proceedings the Chairman said, – If there was one thing that affected him more than another in coming to Sabden, it was the fear of having an uncultivated lot of hands to contend with. The putting in of new machinery was Israel Gawthrop Jul 1873very trifling as compared to it. But, to his great surprise, he met with a very decent set of hands to conduct (hear, hear). When they came to have a class of hands who wanted nothing but right, and a master who wanted nothing more, it was a very easy task to stand between them; he was very glad to be able to say that, both as regarded the masters and operatives, for he had never heard any of the workpeople say “I won’t” when he asked them to do anything (hear, hear). He did not know that he ever met with a firm more urgent to get on than those under whom they worked. The masters had been very diligent in their business habits, and their concern at Sabden had required a great deal – the machinery

putting in, and all the other things to attend to – but he was very happy to tell them that it had not affected the masters, and they need not be frightened that anyone would come and say “You must stop work” (applause). They had met with some energetic and upright masters, who were worthy of a good class of hands, so he hoped they would do their best, and he was sure the masters would do the same to them (applause).

The Vice-chairman next called upon several gentlemen, who spoke in eulogistic terms of Mr. Gawthrop’s past conduct, after which – Mr. S Hartley (card-master) presented the souvenirs, which consisted of a handsome timepiece of black Parian marble, with a brass plate placed under the dial, which bore the following inscription tersely engraved: “Presented to Mr. Israel Gawthrop, manager at the Victoria Mill, Sabden, by the workpeople, as a token of respect and esteem, July 19th 1873.” There was also a beautiful work-box presented to his wife. The combined presents amounted to near £10.

In returning thanks for the testimonial Mr. Gawthrop said that so far as he was aware, he had done nothing to merit the present. His object in coming to the place was to try to collect as good a class of hands as he could, and having collected them, he had tried to do justice both to them and his masters. He hoped the good feeling that existed between them that night might be of lasting duration (hear, hear). Whenever the present stood before him it would remind him of their respect and kindness, and act as a stimulant to do what was right and just (hear, hear) – and he assured them it would be handed down to his children, hoping it would have the same effect upon them (hear, hear). In conclusion, he recapitulated his thanks, and said he would try to do justice to all parties, if he did not do right his conscience pricked him, and he accepted the present as given in that feeling (loud applause).

The rest of the evening was spent in singing, games, etc. Mr. R Laycock presided most efficiently at the piano.

Votes of thanks were given to all those who had in any degree contributed to the dinner or entertainment.

The National Anthem terminated the proceedings of the evening.

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