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"What the Papers Said"

"What the Papers Said"

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Publications & Research "What the Papers Said"

Shropshire, June 1858

Shropshire, June 1858


Colliery Guardian, 26th June 1858
A Sinker’s Claim for Wages.

AT the last sitting of the Madeley County Court, before Uyedale Corbett, Esq., judge, a rough spun collier named Hodgkiss, usually designated “Ben the Sinker,” from his following that occupation, summoned a German gentleman, known as Dr. Reider, or Donster Swivel Redivivus, who has been engaged under Mr. Moseley, of Buildwas Park, in sinking for coal in a spot where the results of the Government survey, and the experience of scientific and practical men, forbid the supposition of coal being found. Plaintiff claimed £1 4s. for wages. Defendant denied the justice of the debt.

Plaintiff said, he was a sinker, working for 4s, a-day and two quarts of ale. On the 24th December, defendant gave him and four others notice to quit on the next Saturday. On the Monday there was no work ; it was the wake. On the Tuesday worked a sinker’s day, that is to seven o’clock. Dr. Reider came to the pit. I said, “ there are four rings of brick in want of finishing; we have been working ever since eight o’clock, and if some one does not stay to finish it there will be no work for the men in the morning; if it is done they can work.”

Defendant said, “Ben, there was one day last week you only did two hours’ work.” I replied, “I was four hours looking for a house for you.” I said, “Tell me who told you.” He refused, ordered me off the ground, and waved his stick. He said if I would go he would pay me according to agreement. I asked him for my money on the Tuesday, and he said, “Come down to Buildwas Inn on Saturday.” I went on the Friday for my tools. On the Saturday I went to Rockson. He said, “I have left the money with thy father.” I found he had left 4s. I then went to Squire Moseley, and he said he left it all to the defendant. The defendant said he would pay when the Squire gave his consent.

Mrs. Hodgkiss, mother of plaintiff, attended to corroborate the statement of her son.— Joseph Reider, the defendant in the case said : The man had behaved bad in the shaft, was oftener drunk than sober, and cursed me and Mr. Moseley. I gave him a week’s notice. They took a holiday on Monday. I complained on the Tuesday that they had not worked. On Monday Hodgkiss cursed and abused me. I said he should go, or I would send for a policeman. He refused to go unless I gave him a week’s wages. I said if he would go quietly, and not show his impudent face or nose again, I would pay him. I said if Mr. Moseley would pay it he should have it.

A good deal of amusement was afforded the Court by the cross-questions put by plaintiff, who had to stand on the opposite side of the table to prevent violence.— John Hughes said : Dr. Reider told plaintiff that if he would stay away from the place he should be paid.—Plaintiff put some questions to witness relative to the play on Monday, alternately called. a strike, a festival, and a wake.

A man named Roberts was next examined, to show that Monday was not a general holiday.— His Honour decided, under the circumstances of plaintiff’s abusive manner, to give judgment for defendant.

Submitted by Steve Dewhirst

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