Workday Wednesday – Smith Buckley (1848-1913)

Smith Buckley is my 1st cousin 3x removed. Our common ancestors are Thomas Buckley and Henrietta Mason, my 3x great grandparents. That makes Smith a nephew of my 2x great grandparents James Buckley and Sarah Tattersall.

Smith was born sometime in the first quarter of 1848 in Bingley, West Yorkshire. He was the second of seven children to William Buckley and Mary Heaps.

Sometime in the second quarter of 1867 Smith married Margaret Day in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Over the next 21 years they had seven children.

In the 1871 census Smith is working as a “mechanic”. I know from the following newspaper article that at some point in the next eight years he started working for Geo. Hattersley & Sons as “foreman mechanic”.

On Monday 30 December 1878 Smith was involved in a very nasty accident at work. The Keighley News reported on the event on 4 January 1879.

Smith Buckley - Keighley News 4 January 1879.png

Taken from the British Newspaper Archive website

HAWORTH

A VERY NARROW ESCAPE – A man named Smith Buckley (30), living at Spring Row, Haworth, who works as foreman mechanic for Messrs Geo Hattersley and sons, at Mytholmes Mill, had a marvellously narrow escape from being fatally injured while at work on Monday morning. The mill is partially worked by water-power, and during the recent frost a large water-wheel, which is in constant use, had been stationary. The thaw caused it to move again, the buckets being full of snow, and a segment in one of the chain of wheels was broken. While Buckley and another workman were attending to it, props were used to retain it in position, and as one piece of wood was being substituted for another, the support gave way, and Buckley was caught between the wall and one of the spokes of the revolving wheel. He managed to shift himself into a less perilous position before the next spoke came round, but he was taken round with the wheel four or five times before it came to a stand, only narrowly avoiding a fatal termination to the accident. The inhabitants of Spring Row, which is opposite, saw the whole occurrence. The unfortunate man, whose left leg was shattered below the knee in a shocking manner, was conveyed to the Keighley Cottage Hospital, where Dr. Jack, who attended to him, found amputation at the knee joint necessary. He had also sustained severe bruises all over the body, but there were no other fractures. The case is progressing favourably towards recovery. The injured man has a wife and four children depending on him.

I think it’s fair to say that life was going to be very much more difficult for Smith and his family after the accident and the loss of his leg. So this must have been a very worrying time for them.

I know from another newspaper report that Smith was a member of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE). The history of the union can be traced back to the formation of the Journeymen Steam Engine, Machine Makers’ and Millwrights’ Friendly Society, in 1826, popularly known as the “Old Mechanics”.

In 1920 the ASE was one of several unions that came together to form the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU).

Anyway, back to Smith, and life after his accident.

On the 4 May 1880 the Bradford Observer reported on a meeting the previous evening of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers.

Smith Buckley - Bradford Observer 4 May 1880.png

Taken from the British Newspaper Archive website

THE AMALGAMATED SOCIETY OF ENGINEERS

Yesterday evening, a large meeting was held in the hall of the Mechanics’ Institute, Keighley. The meeting was convened by the members of the Keighley Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, for the purpose of presenting Mr Smith Buckley, of Haworth, one of their members, who met with an accident which caused the loss of his leg, with the sum of £100. Mr J Summerscales, of Keighley, occupied the chair, and impressed upon his audience the necessity for rendering better support to the Cottage Hospital in the town. Mr John Burnett, general secretary to the London society, spoke of the benefit which trades unions had had in raising the position of the working classes and in improving the trade of the country. Mr D Guile, of London, also addressed the meeting. Mr Henry Mitchell, president of the Bradford Chamber of Commerce, made the presentation, and spoke of the relation of England with foreign countries. The usual complimentary votes brought the meeting to a close.

Over the next thirty years Smith had various occupations listed in the census returns:-

1881 – Beerhouse keeper at the Princess Hotel, Duncan Street, Bradford. He made the newspapers again during his time as landlord for allowing drunkeness on his premises.

1891 – Furniture broker

1901 – Machine fitter

1911 – Textile fitter

I have enormous pride and respect for Smith. It seems as though he was courageous, determined and very hard working.

Smith died at the age of 65 and was buried in Utley Cemetery, Keighley on 9 July 1913.

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