Coalminer's wage 1840's

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Coalminer's wage 1840's

Postby maddymoss » Sun Oct 07, 2007 12:54 pm

Does anyone know what a coalminer's wage would have been in the 1840's? I've trawled through umpteen sites with no joy.

Jim
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Postby LesleyB » Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:17 pm

Hi Jim
You could try the second Statisical Account for the area from 1833-45. Sometimes those give indications of earnings for the occupations in the area:
http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/
go to: For non-subscribers then Browse scanned pages

Otherwise it may also be worth trying some of the sites in our working lives links:
http://talkingscot.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10337
and scroll down - you'll see a list of mining sites

Best wishes
Lesley
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Postby Russell » Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:57 pm

Hi Jim

It Just so happens I was re-reading TC Smouts 'A Century of the Scottish People 1830-1950'. He reckons that in 1843 a collier could earn 15 shillings a week with farm labourers earning 10 shillings. The unskilled general labourer would only get 6s 6d.
We tend to think in modern terms of that being a constant and regular income whereas their reality was dependent on circumstances.
A miner could be laid off for weeks if their was a roof fall which needed to be cleared before he could be set to hewing the black gold. No work equalled no wage.
Farm workers might not be paid in cash but have rent, oatmeal & milk as their weekly payment. (This varied in different parts across the country).
The general labourer was paid by the day sometimes and had no job security at all.

No trade unions to fight for a decent basic wage back then.

Russell
Working on: Oman, Brock, Miller/Millar, in Caithness.
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Postby maddymoss » Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:17 pm

Thanks for the replies. My g.g.grandfather, a coalminer in 1846, paid 3/6 to have his Banns read - a fair amount from a wage of 15 shillings.

Jim
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Postby trotterbeck » Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:47 pm

Hi
Russell wrote:Hi Jim

It Just so happens I was re-reading TC Smouts 'A Century of the Scottish People 1830-1950'. He reckons that in 1843 a collier could earn 15 shillings a week with farm labourers earning 10 shillings. The unskilled general labourer would only get 6s 6d.
Russell

I wonder if that might have been a piecework wage as well, so depended on how much coal he had hewn personally.
You mentioned being laid off if there had been a roof fall for instance.

Were there miners tied cottages at that time, because that would have also kept the men from too much complaining?
I wonder if there was a fuel allowance, or was that a 20thC innovation?
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Postby Russell » Sun Oct 07, 2007 7:08 pm

Hi Trotterbeck

Most miners were employed by a Coal Master who might have several small mines in a local area. Their wage would probably be worked out based on their output. Some very small mines were worked by a family with every family member having a role to play. There was still such a mine working in East Lothian in the early 1940's.

When new, deeper mines were being dug away from existing villages the Coal Company often built miners rows - 2 roomed, single storied hovels with communal toilets out back. Because they were not near shops there was often as store too where the miner's wives could purchase groceries, on tick if they were short of cash. This often meant that they were permanently in debt to the coal company because it was a company store (This method was immortalised in the song "Owe my soul to the company store) The same principle applied in the States obviously. 'If you have a captive market, bleed them for all they are worth :? '
Apparently Airdrie could draw in 10,000 miners on pay night to fight and drink so their wives must have been left short of cash on a regular basis.

At least most miners were given a few tons of coal per year to heat and cook with. My father worked for a coal company and when he took delivery of his first coal supply he had built the size of coal bunker you would find in a tenement in Edinburgh. When the lorry arrived it would have filled the bunker 6 times over.
A good source on Scottish mining is
http://www.mining-villages.co.uk/index.html

Russell
Working on: Oman, Brock, Miller/Millar, in Caithness.
Roan/Rowan, Hastings, Sharp, Lapraik in Ayr & Kirkcudbrightshire.
Johnston, Reside, Lyle all over the place !
McGilvray(spelt 26 different ways)
Watson, Morton, Anderson, Tawse, in Kilrenny
Russell
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Postby CatrionaL » Sun Oct 07, 2007 8:49 pm

Jim

In his book 'Mining in theCrossgates area of West Fife', Tom Hunter mentions that in Fordel in the 1830s, wages were around 3 shillings a day, rising to 4 to 5 shillings a day by the 1850s. The usual working rhythm was 11 days in a fortnight. At the time, local school teachers were receiving £60 annually.

He also quotes a 10 year old hewer who earned 10 pennies a day and worked 9 or 10 days in a fortnight.

Best wishes
Catriona
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Postby Currie » Mon Oct 08, 2007 12:59 am

Jim,

To calculate the value of money through time see
http://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/ppoweruk/

Alan
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