Workday Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.
Here’s a way to document your ancestors’ occupations (they weren’t all farmers), transcripts of SS-5s, photos and stories of ancestors at work, announcements of retirements, etc.
Zimri Skelding is my wife’s 1st cousin 2x removed. His parents are Jesse Skelding and Sarah Taylor. Their common ancestors are William Skelding and Catherine Taylor, my wife’s 2x great grandparents.
Zimri was born sometime around 1854 – his birth is registered in the March quarter of that year in Stourbridge, Worcestershire.
I have Zimri on the 1861, 1881 and 1901 census returns. At the moment I can’t find him in either the 1871 or 1891 census.
In 1881 his occupation is given as “nail maker”. However I know from the newspaper article below that he was subsequently employed as a bricklayer.
Although I haven’t been able to find a marriage for Zimri I know that he was certainly living as husband and wife with Jemima Marsh. The census returns show that they had at least three children:-
George Richard – born 1880
Julietta Elizabeth – born 1885
Thomas Herbert – born 1885
I believe that they also had two other children who died young:-
In the 1881 census Zimri is shown as a “boarder” with his son George Richard at the home of Charlotte Marsh – Jemima’s mother. So far I have not been able to locate Jemima in this census.
In 1901 the family are living at Love Lane, Lye, Stourbridge, Worcestershire. There is no occupation shown for Zimri and he is described as being “lame”. Which really brings me to the reason for this blog post.
I recently found the following article in the Birmingham Daily Post of 17 December 1885.
DAMAGES UNDER THE EMPLOYERS’ LIABILITY ACT
At the Stourbridge County Court, yesterday – before Mr J Amphlett (deputy judge) and a jury – a case under the above Act was called on, in which Zimri Skelding, a bricklayer’s labourer, was plaintiff; and Messrs Dorse and Sons, contractors, of Cradley Heath, the defendants. Mr Waldron appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr Colbeck for the defendants. The plaintiff had lost a leg by the accident which formed the subject of the action, and he came into the box on crutches. He said he had been in defendants’ employ over eight years, and on July 23 was working for them at a chapel they were erecting at Smethwick. Witness and two other men, named Edwards and Brown, were pulling up a pole from the ground when the cross pole on which they were standing broke through. Witness fell a distance of fifty feet to the ground, and his leg was smashed. He was taken to the General Hospital, Birmingham, and his leg was taken off in consequence of the accident. His head was also injured by the fall. He used to earn a pound a week, and should be unable to follow his occupation again. Plaintiff said the poles in the scaffolding had been in use three or four years. The pole that broke must have been tender. Cross examined: His wages used to be 4 1/4d per hour. In the three months before the accident he would be making about forty two hours per week. He understood scaffolding a little, and had erected many a scaffolding. This particular scaffold was erected about three of four days before the accident, Brown, Edwards, and himself put it up. Edwards chose the poles for the scaffold. No person could have found this pole that broke was a bad pole by looking at it. He did not know the pole came from Messrs Adam, of Gloucester, two years ago. Mr Dorse was not there on the day of the accident. Mr Waldron asked if Edwards was the foreman, and witness said he was. Mr Colbeck objected that Mr Waldron was putting words into witness’s mouth. Witness, replying to another question, said he was bound to conform to Edwards’s orders. – Joe Edwards said he worked for defendants at the time of the accident, and he was bricklayer managing the job. Plaintiff was under his command when the master was not there. It was witness’s duty to test the scaffolding pole before it was used. He did so by picking it up at one end and shaking it, plaintiff holding the other end. That was the way they generally tried the poles. It was an old pole, with a crack or two in it. It was not sufficient for the job, but they had not another. He told young Mr Dorse they had not enough scaffolding, and he said he wanted the scaffolding away for another job, and they were to take what they wanted from round the building. He was not in the employ of Messrs Dorse now. Witness was on the middle of the pole when it broke, and plaintiff and another man at the end. The pole snapped, because it was not good enough. It was rotten. Cross examined: He was foreman at this job. His wages were 6 1/4d an hour. Bricklayers earned 6 1/4d and 7d up to 8d, but was only just out of his time. Asked if he should not consider it small pay for a foreman to get less than other bricklayers, witness said people must first creep and then walk. Plaintiff was bound to conform to witness’s orders. A man might please himself whether he obeyed him or not. Skelding did what he told him, and did so on this particular day. He could have got poles from another scaffolding, but did not want to disturb it. – Joseph Brown, another man engaged at the work, was also examined. – Mr Colbeck contended that negligence had neither been established against defendants or Edwards. All these men were working together, and they could not discover any defect in the poles they were using. Edwards told Mr Dorse they had not enough scaffolding, and was told to take some from round the building. Edwards was a foreman, and did not come within the meaning of the Act as a person having superintendence at the work. – His Honour thought there was a case to go to the jury, and Mr Colbeck then addressed himself to the evidence, putting it to the Court that the plaintiff had not made out his case. – Mr Dorse, jun. was called, and said that Edwards was not a foreman, but only an ordinary bricklayer, and he received the wages of a medium class man. He received no complaint that this pole was defective or unsafe, and his attention was never drawn to it. Edwards complained of being short of planks, and he told him where to get some. – After His Honour had summed up, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for £75. Costs were certified on the higher scale.
So there we have it – Zimri got £75 compensation for losing his leg and not being able to work again.
It’s difficult to imagine how the family managed after Zimri could no longer work. In the 1901 census both sons are working as general labourers so that brought in some wages at least.
Zimri died in 1906.
In the 1911 census Jemima and the three children, plus a granddaughter, Sarah (this is Julietta’s child) are living at 46 Crab Street, Wollescote, Worcestershire. Under occupation it says that the two sons are unable to work.
Jemima Skelding died at the age of 68 in 1918.