Workday Wednesday

Workday Wednesday – Barbara Dale Snape (1919-2001)

 

Barbara Dale Snape is my wife’s 3 cousin 1x removed. I posted recently about her sporting achievements while at university – see here.

Apart from her sporting achievements Barbara also had a successful career in education following graduation from university.

The following article appeared in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer on 25 May 1955.

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Recommended as head mistress

A former head girl of Allerton High School, Leeds, and a graduate of London University, Miss Barbara D Snape, daughter of Mr and Mrs Frank Snape, of Alwoodley, Leeds, has been recommended for the post of head mistress of Pontefract Girls’ High School.

Miss Snape is at present in charge of senior history at Queen Ethelburga’s School, Harrogate, where she is a house mistress.

She was formerly a stroke in the London University women’s boat crew and has also rowed for Cambridge University women against Oxford University women.

Pontefract and District Girls’ High School was established in 1912 and closed in 1987. Some notable former students are:-

Jane Brooke – crime writer
Barbara Castle (Baroness Castle of Blackburn) – politician
Jane Collins – MEP, UKIP politician

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Workday Wednesday – Zimri Skelding (1854-1906)

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:-

Herbert (1875-1883)
Arthur (1882-1884)

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.

Birmingham Daily Post - 17 December 1885DAMAGES 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.

Workday Wednesday – Nail Makers

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.

David Skelding is my wife’s 2nd great grand uncle – the brother of her 2x great grandfather William Skelding.

David was born sometime in 1825 to parents George Skelding and Elizabeth Roberts – his baptism is recorded at Old Swinford, Worcestershire on 21 August 1825.

Sometime in the June quarter of 1855 David married Emma Apperley and they had two children, William and Alice Jane.

In the census returns from 1841 to 1881 David’s occupation is given as “nailmaker” or “horse nailmaker.” In 1891 he was described as a “general labourer”.

In the Black Country during the mid 19th century nail making was one of the main industries. Many of the Skelding family are shown in the census returns with this occupation.

Trawling through the newspaper archives on Find My Past I came across the following story from the Worcestershire Chronicle of 30 October 1861.

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BELLOWS CUTTING – On Wednesday night last, the nail shop of David Skelding, of Oldswinford, was entered and a pair of blast bellows and two pairs of puffers were cut. On the same night the nail shop of John Hill, of the same place, was also entered, and bellows and puffers were cut, besides a quantity of nails stolen. It appears that Skelding and Hill refused to pay the union, which it is believed was the reason of the tools being destroyed.

Intrigued by the story I decided to do an Internet search to see what more I could find. I found the following article published in the Black Country Bugle from December 2004.

Even before Richard Foley fiddled his way around the continent and brought the secrets of the slitting mill to the banks of the River Stour, thereby allowing the production of cheap rods for nail-making, the manufacture of hand-made nails was a central trade in many parts of the Black Country. For every purpose there was a specially designed nail, often with such delightful names as billycocks, sheepnet hooks, cricket spikes, holdfasts, mop nails, dogs and uglies, battins, fine wing clasps, brads, coopers’ clips and sparrables (this latter was a corruption of “sparrow bills,” tiny triangular nails that were used to hold panes of glass in frames). The skilled nail makers often specialised in the production of one or more of these types of nails, often depending upon the district in which they lived.

However, the cream of the nail makers were those who made horse-nails, used to affix horseshoes. Although numerous attempts had been made to make horse-nails by machine, unlike other machined nails they had failed miserably, unable to compete with the firmer and more ductile hand-hammered product. This was rapidly recognised by the horse-nail makers, mainly based in the Dudley, Old Hill, Halesowen, Lye and Cradley areas, who considered themselves vastly superior to the mere “common-nail” makers.

However, things reached a head by the middle of the nineteenth century, when the prices paid by the nail masters to their already over-worked and underpaid employees began to spiral rapidly downwards. In addition, the nail masters continued to pay the nail makers in “truck,” or in kind with exorbitantly-priced goods from their own “tommy shops” and pubs, rather than in cash, and went to every possible length to pay the lowest price they could for the completed nails. The horse-nail makers established a trade union to safeguard their wages and rights; but in 1860 tensions, not only between the horse-nail makers and their employers, but also among the nailers themselves, erupted into violence – and almost murder.

Pressure upon the horse-nail makers to join the union was great, but many were mindful of previous strikes. These had been frequent throughout the nineteenth century, and often descended into disorder. This was particularly so in the nail makers’ strike of 1842, when several nail masters were seized by an angry mob and frog-marched into Dudley. This sparked further disturbances amongst nail makers all over the Black Country, and had ended in the calling in of the military and the reading of the Riot Act.

Feeling began to run high as the unionist nail makers believed that, in order to have their demands met, they would all have to stand and strike together. Blacklegs, or “knobsticks” as they were known, were seen as profiting in the misery of the strikers. However, involvement in such strikes not only meant the cessation of pay for the nail makers, often for months at a time, but also the very real threat of imprisonment, hard labour, or even worse, transportation to Australia. With wages already meagre and with wives and children to feed and clothe, it was perhaps little wonder that some horse-nailers refused to join the trade union.

Those that opted not to join soon found that their lives were made a misery. Ostracised by their co-workers and neighbours, they soon found it difficult to continue their employment as well as a normal social life. They would awake to find that the bellows in their backyard nail shops had been slashed, preventing them from making any more nails. And in January 1860 the attacks took a more sinister turn.

A Cradley horse-nail maker, Job Dunn, was one of those who had refused to join the union, and like the others had become the constant target of attacks and abuse. He had so far managed to avoid any serious injury by keeping a sharp lookout for any trouble, so when he was roused by a strange noise outside at one o’clock one morning, he was immediately suspicious. Job threw on some clothes and rushed outdoors, only to see four or five men beating a hasty retreat from his property. On that dark winter’s night, Job was only able to recognise two of the men, William Felton and Zachariah Willetts, whom he knew to be committee members of the trade union. However, nothing seemed amiss, so Job crawled back into bed and was soon fast asleep beside his wife and young child.

Only three hours later, there was a terrific explosion. Job awoke to find that the wall of his house had been blown in by the force of the blast, and that a large portion of it had toppled over the bed. It now hovered menacingly over Job and his wife and child, just inches above where they slept. Lucky to be alive, Job was able to extricate himself from under the precarious masonry and rescue his wife and child, who were shocked but relatively unharmed.

Job then went to survey the damage. His workshop had been totally destroyed in the explosion, evidently the object of the attack. The Dunns’ brewhouse had also suffered irreparable damage, and for the radius of some fifty yards there was barely a neighbour’s wall or window that had escaped harm.

It was discovered that the explosion had been caused by a bag of around a quarter of a hundredweight of gunpowder, let down the chimney of the nail shop on a cord. A long fuse attached to the bag had been the means of detonation.

Dunn identified Felton and Willetts as the suspicious prowlers to the police, and they were hauled before Stourbridge magistrates. They were flatly refused bail, and brought to trial on Friday 27th January 1860.

Job Dunn appeared for the prosecution, and the accused were defended by Mr Best and Mr Burbury. However, Police Superintendent Freeman could offer no further evidence that they had been the culprits, aside from Job’s questionable identification in the dark. The magistrate, Mr Hunt, announced that there was not enough evidence to bring the prisoners to trial, and Willetts and Felton were discharged.

Job Dunn now found himself in desperate circumstances. His workshop was completely useless, rendering him unemployed, but he was so afraid of the continuing threats that he was afraid to construct another. Furthermore, he was so frightened for his life, and that of his family, that he had to employ men to watch his premises around the clock. The watchmen endeavoured to catch several people who repeatedly trespassed on the property, to no avail.

In March, an anonymous benefactor offered a reward of £20 to those who might catch the culprits of the outrage, later increased to £100. A free pardon was also offered to any perpetrator who confessed on his abettors. However, the horse-nail makers remained staunch, refusing to succumb to the reward, and the perpetrators remained shrouded in mystery.

However, acts of intimidation, abuse and bellow slashing continued throughout the Black Country as the trade union and the nail masters headed inexorably towards a dispute. In June 1860, the trade union gave one of the nail masters notice for an advance in wages, which by that time were so low that they were barely keeping body and soul together. The nail masters ordered that either the horse-nail makers withdraw their notice, or they would all be locked out. The men refused to withdraw their demands, and the lock-out began.

Violence towards those who were not on strike increased, but eventually the strikers achieved their demands and such acts abated. However, for all involved it had been a hard-won battle; for twenty long weeks, both strikers and blacklegs had had to endure no pay, hungry bellies and cold hearths.

So it seems that David Skelding was taking a stand against the union and made some enemies as a result.

Workday Wednesday – John Dawson (Engine Tenter)

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.

John Dawson is my 1st cousin 4x removed. His parents are John Dawson and Elizabeth Benson. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ann Watson, my 4x great grandparents.

John married Sarah Hopkinson sometime in the Summer of 1857. The marriage is registered in Q3 at Skipton, Yorkshire.

John’s main occupation as described in the census returns for 1871, 1881 and 1891 is “engine tenter”. I have mentioned John in an earlier post here.  He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather (my 4x great grandfather – John Dawson) of looking after the machines and engines at Ickornshaw Mill in Cowling, West Yorkshire.

I must admit I hadn’t given much thought to how difficult and dangerous the job of “engine tenter” might be – that is until I came across the following article from the Burnley Express of 6 March 1886.

Burnley Express - 6 March 1886.png

ACCIDENT – On Friday week, John Dawson, engine-tenter, Barrowford, met with an accident. He and three or four other workmen were fixing a new beam-key in the engine-house at Mr Barrowclough’s mill, when suddenly the jenny chain which had been used for raising the beam broke, and the beam fell with a force of over ten tons on Dawson’s left hand, cutting off two fingers, and holding the man fast with the long finger, which had subsequently to be amputated. The accident happened in the chamber of the engine shed, and Dawson, realising his position, kept from falling below. A new chain was procured, and Dawson was released. The hand has been dressed by Dr Pim.

As it turned out 1886 would continue to be a difficult year for John – he appears in the next two instalments of Black Sheep Sunday together with his wife Sarah.

Workday Wednesday – Isaac Dawson (1847-1923)

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.

Isaac Dawson is my great grand uncle – the brother of my great grandfather James Dawson. He was born sometime towards the end of 1847 in Cowling, West Yorkshire

I have Isaac on all the census returns from 1851 to 1911. He had various occupations over the years:-

1871 – worsted power loom weaver

1881 – general labourer

1891 – assistant bobbin turner

1901 – green grocer / shop keeper

1911 – company housekeeper

Here’s a photograph, courtesy of steeton.net, of Isaac with his green grocers cart sometime around the end of the 19th century or early 20th century.Isaac-Dawson-1024x656.jpg

 

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.