| affairs is a horrible one. Not only did it abrogate all
former Acts, but reduced colliers and sailers alike to a state
of servitude, a position little short of common slavery. By
this Act their service was to be perpetual. If the owner sold
the work, the labourer went with it, having no option in the
The tradition handed down from sire to son throughout all
these years concerning this matter is that the Earl of Winton
of that period, proprietor of these lands, a large employer
of labour among miners and sailers, and a favourite at Court,
was the means of getting this heinous Act passed; and the
only reason ever given for it was " it was feared thai in
course of time people would not be found willing to engage
in such arduous and unremunerative labour. "
In 1621 the price of coal was fixed by Act of Parliament at
73. Scots per load. This evidently meant a reduction in price,
and there was a great outcry among the coalmasters. The greatest
complainers were the Master of Elphinstone, whose pit at Little
Fawside had been on fire, and he had expended, £8, 000 on
another pit, and Lady Fawside, " whose pit at Mickle Fawside
had done so badly that a part of the ancient heritage had
to be sold to pay the debts incurred in working it. " A petition
was presented. It had the desired effect, and the Privy Council
altered their former decision, and fixed the price at 7s.
8d. per load.
In 1641 the first Act referring to miners' wages appeared.
It provided that no higher fee than 20 merks should be paid
to any coal worker, and thus concluded regarding idle days:
— " And because the said coal hewers and sailers and other
workmen within the coal heuchs within this kingdom doe ly
from ther work at Pasch, Yule, Whitsonday, and certane other
tymes in the yeer, which tymes they imploy in drinking and
deboshrie, to the great offence of God and prejudice of their
maister, it is therefor statute and ordeaned that the said
coal hewers and salters and other workmen of coal heuchs in
this kingdom work all the sex days of the weeke, under the
pains following: —
"That is to say, that everie coalhewer or salter who lyes
ydle shall pay twentie shillingis for everie day, by and atour
the prejudice susteend by ther maister, and other punishment
of ther bodies. "
The following, which emanated from our own gate-end, shows
how completely the miner was bound to the soil and his master:
A COPY OF PRIDE'S PETITION TO LORD PRESTONGRANGE 1746.
" Unto ye Honourable ye Lord Grange at Prestongrange, ye petition
of Robert Pride, James Pride, his son, James Pride, Robert
Thomson, and William Innes, all colliers belonging to his
Lordship: Humbly sheweth, that we are all your Lordship's
servants, and is willing to serve your Lordship qn yt you
have work for us, but since yt your Lordship's work is not
going on at Prestongrange, we are at ye time at Pinkey, under
Mr Robertson, and not far from your Lordship, if yt qn yt
you are pleased to fit your work in Prestongrange, we are
near to be gatton qn yt your Lordship pleases. And at ye tyme
John Binel, oversman to ye Duke Hamilton, is hard upon us
stopping us of bread where we now are by lifting us out of
ye work, to place us in yt sd Duke's work at Bawerstoness.
And now ye workmen yt is there swares yt if yt we go to yt
work yt they shall be our dead. And now we humbly beg yt you,
out of your clemency and goodness, will keep us from going
to yt place, where our life shall be in so much danger. And
we, your Lordship's humble petitioners, shall ever pray.
The day was long in coming, but it came in 1779, when colliers
and salters had their freedom, and became as other working
men. But before leaving this painful subject we may be allowed
to reproduce a few notes regarding the life they had to live,
from the examination of two Prestongrange miners.
Walter Pride, aged eighty-one years, said :—" I was yoked
to work coal at Prestongrange when I was nine years old. We
were then all slaves to the Prestongrange laird. The laird
or the tacksman selected our place of work, and if we did
not do his bidding we were placed by the necks in iron collars,
called juggs, and fastened to the wall, or made to go the
rounds. The latter," he continued, " I remember well. The
men's hands were tied in face of the horse at the ' gin,'
and made run backwards all day."
Robert Inglis, aged eighty-two years, said :—" I worked at
Pinkie pit long before the colliers got their freedom. The
first emancipation took place on the 3rd of July 1775. We