Pit Lasses Research - Wales

Many of the mining women and girls interviewed in Wales worked in surface occupations. I have only included those who worked underground as they would have been the ones affected when the ban on females working underground was introduced.

Two reports were produced for Wales. Sub-Commissioner Rhys Jones worked slowly during the early part of 1841. His lack of progress caused concern back in London. When Robert Franks had finished his investigations in Scotland he went to Wales to provide additional effort. The two men worked separately and each produced a report.

Female Miners interviewed by Rhys Jones.

No.62. Mary Ann Williams, aged 13, Ebbw Vale

I keep a door in the colliery underground and get 4s. per week. The place is very well and I like the work very well but would rather be at home. My father was killed in the colliery. Mother has three children. None of them work but me and I have not been at work many months. I work the same as the colliers, about 12 hours every day. I go to work at six in the morning. There are no other girls in the same level with me. I burn a lamp and I always have good health. I was in school a little while and now go every Sunday but cannot read.

I have no leads for Mary Ann.

No.92. Elizabeth Evans, aged 11, Rhymney

I keep a door in the collieries at Evan Jones's pit. I have been working for a year. My father is a collier and he come from Llanidloes. He has four children. I was in school at Llanidloes and could read Welsh but I cannot read much now. I have a brother working. He drives out cinders. I get 6d. per day, Evan Jones pays me. He is the master of the pit. I do not know exactly how long I work in the day. I go at six in the morning or sooner and come home before six in the evening. I have met with no serious accidents but my father was hurt in the pit where I am. The trams broke his arm by the horse going rash. He was driving it. I was with him at the time. It was four months ago and he is not quite well yet. The door I keep is nearly a mile from the pit but I come down to the pit with the trams and hauliers four of five times a day. I would rather go to school than to the works if I could. There are no good schools here. I was in one for four months and that is all the school I had for four years except the Sunday Schools. I go to them every Sunday. There are more girls in the pit with me.

I have no leads for Elizabeth.

No.94. Mary Jones aged 14, Rhymney

I work in the mine level with my father. I have been working two or three years. I fill the mine and rubbish into the trams but I do not push the trams out but sometimes help to do so. There is only one girl besides myself working in the level with me. There are girls in the other levels who push the trams in and out. I go to work at six o'clock in the morning and remain in the level until six or seven at night. I may perhaps come put once or twice in the day with the trams. I take bread and cheese with me and eat it when I like. There is no dinner hour in the level. I do not work at night. I work for my father. I suppose I get about 5s. per week. I am very seldom ill and do not lose much time from sickness. The work agrees with me very well. I was never in a day school and cannot read bit I go sometimes to the Sunday School.

I have no leads for Mary.

No.128. Elizabeth Williams aged 10, Mary Enock aged 11 and Rachael Enock aged 12, Merthyr Tydvil

Elizabeth Williams aged 10 years has been at work for one year, Mary Enock aged 11 years has been at work for two years and Rachael Enock aged 12 years has been at work for four years. We are door keepers in the Upper Four Feet Level. We leave the house before six o'clock and are down in the level from six o'clock in the morning until seven o'clock and sometimes later the nine in the evening. We ought to come up at six but are kept later when the horses are hindered in getting the coal out. We get 51/2d. per day and our lights cost us 6d. per week. We go to Sunday Schools. Rachael was in a day school and can read a little. The others cannot read. Rachael Enock met with a bad accident some time ago. The tram went over her and bruised her very much and she was along time ill at home but she got over it. We have not seen any firedamp in the level.

There are several girls called Elizabeth Williams whose details tally, making it impossible to identify this witness from the census. I have no leads for the Enock sisters.

No.173. Eliza Evans aged 19, Aberdare

I have been working for one years and I work in the mine level, filling trams and helping the miner. I do nearly the same kind of work as he does. He takes the hardest work and uses the powder for blasting but I can bore the holes and I help to push the trams out. We work in the level about 10 hours. We sometimes come out once or twice and sometimes not once during the turn. The miner pays me 6s. per week and finds the light. There are no particular meal times kept in the level. We go in about six or seven o'clock in the morning and take some bread and cheese, or butter with us and eat it when we like and come out again and go home to our suppers about four or five o'clock in the evening. The work agrees very well with my health and I believe the same with all the girls. I have lost no time since I began to work. I was never in school and cannot read. My father and mother are dead. I now lodge in the neighbourhood of the works.

I have no leads for Eliza.

No.211. Margaret Thomas, aged 11, Llanguick

I work with my father in the coal level and he is a collier. My sister and myself tram the coal out of the stall down to the horse road. My sister is more than 12 years old and she was working before me. We have been six months here and we have three months before that at Covin Level at Ystalyfera. We lived before we came here in the Hills at Tredegar. I went to work at Tredegar to help them to clean the mine on the mine banks but I did not work long there, not a month in all. I was at school a little at Tredegar but I can't read. I go sometimes to the Sunday Schools here. I go to work with my father and sister every morning before six o'clock. We go from the house at five o'clock and we come out of the level about four in the evening. I carry the tools out and sometimes come out before my father and sister. I don't know how many hours I work but I am almost 12 hours from the house. I don't know what wages my father gets. I have wet feet to day but I don't wet them every day. I don't work barefoot I always have shoes. I very seldom have colds and I have not met with one since I was working here and I have not had an accident. My father lives near the level and he has five children. I sometimes stay at home to help my mother about her work in the house. I don't know which I like best, whether working in the house with my mother or in the level with my father. I am more used to work in the level.

I have not located a family whose details correspond with this evidence.

Female Miners interviewed by Robert Franks

No.18. Henrietta Frankland aged 11, Merthyr Tydvil

When well, I draw the drams [carts], which contain 4 to 5 cwt. of coal from the heads to the main road. I make 48 to 50 journeys. My sister, who is two years older, also works at dramming. The work is very hard and the long hours before the pay day much fatiguing. The mine is wet where we work as the water passes through the roof and the workings are only 30 to 33 inches high. I have been laid idle two months as a horse fell upon me and the cart passed over me and crushed my inside. No ribs were broken but the pain was very great and continues still. Sister Maria [13 years old] as well as myself have not been to school since work. I do not know whether God made me or anything about Jesus. There are no Commandments. None of us read any book. My sister is learning in the spelling book. She has been 12 months at Sunday School and not yet in a book.

Comment by Franks

The sister was present, having just returned from the mine. She did not know the letters.

The surname was Franklyn in other records. Henrietta was the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Franklyn. Her siblings were John, Maria, Charlotte, Elizabeth, Hannah, Susan and Henry who was born after the census. In 1851 Henrietta who was unmarried, her widower father and Henry were lodging with her brother John and his family. No occupation was recorded for her.

No.44. Mary Reed aged 12, Merthyr Tydvil

I have been fine years in the Plymouth mine and I never leave until the last dram [cart] is drawn past by the horse. I work from six till four and five at night. She has run home hungry. She runs along the level or hangs on a cart as it passes. Does not like the work in the dark but would not mind the daylight work. She has never been to day school but goes sometimes to the Sunday Chapel

School to learn letters. The man in the sky made me but I do not know who he is. I have never heard of Jesus Christ, mother never told me such things. I run about the roads after work and wash before I go to bed.

Comment by Franks

Scarcely able to find one letter from the other.

I have no leads for Mary.

No.46. Mary Davis, aged 6, Merthyr Tydvil

A very pretty little girl who was fast asleep under a piece of rock near the air-door below ground. Her lamp had gone put for want of oil and upon waking her, she said the rats or someone had run away with her bread and cheese so she went to sleep. The oversman, who was with me, thought she was not old enough, though he felt sure she had been below near 18 months.

There are several girls with this name in the area, making it impossible to identify this witness from the 1841 census.

No.48. Susan Reece, aged 6, Merthyr Tydvil

She has been below six or eight months and does not like the work much. She watches the doors from six in the morning to six at night but not so long at times. She has never been hurt. She sometimes runs home with the lamp is out and am very hungry. She always brings bread and cheese.

Susan, sometimes recorded as Susannah, was the daughter of Isaac and Anne Rees. Her siblings were Emma, Mary, Margaret and Martha who was born after the 1841 census was taken. In 1851, Susan, along with Mary and Margaret worked at a coal pit. In Quarter 4 1857 she married Evan Jones. Her children were Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Margaret, Richard, Susannah and Evan. By 1871 she was a widow and had taken employment in an iron works. In 1881 she no longer worked and was being supported by Richard, Evan and Mary Ann. In 1891 she was being supported by Evan and had taken in a lodger. In 1901 she was receiving a colliery pension and being supported by both of her sons. Susan is believed to have died in Quarter 1 1904.

No.313. Elizabeth Williams, aged 9, Hirwain, Brecon

I have been below ground for six months. I assist to fill father's trams and I do not remain underground more than six or eight hours. She does not like the work at all. She was first taken by her father because he could get an extra tram. A good many girls besides me work in the mines at pushing the trams and tipping.

Comment by Franks

Rather intelligent and reads a little English.

I have no leads for Elizabeth.

No.321. Mary Ann Jones aged 18, Hirwain, Brecon

I pump water below to the level. I have been pumping for two years. I was working in the levels and tips for some years. The work is very hard and I work sometimes eight, sometimes 12 hours a day. I earn 1s. a day.

Comment by Franks

Very ignorant.

There are several girls with this name in the area, making it impossible to identify this witness from the 1841 census.

No.422. Hannah Bowen aged 16, Begelly

I have been down about two years and earn 3s. a week. It is good, hard work and I work from seven in the morning till three and four in the afternoon at hauling the windlass. I can draw up 400 loads of 11/2 to 4 cwt. each. I have never been off work. I always have my breakfast before coming to work and get meat nearly every day. Father was a collier but he is now off with bad breath. He has been disabled for two years and is not very old. He does not know his age. He grazes the cow on the road side and that keeps us, with my work. We pay 40s. a year for the cottage. I can knit and sew but I do not read and have never been to any school but a Sunday School I did not make my dress. The tailor charged me 2s. 6d. for the work and I paid 4s. for the cloth. Whenever we work longer hours we take bread and butter with us.

Comment by Franks

Clean intelligent girl.

Hannah was the daughter of Thomas and Charlotte Bowen. The 1841 census gives no indication about siblings.

No.434. Ann Thomas aged 17, St Issells and Amroth

I have been only six months at these works and usually wind up the coal below ground. pouncing is much harder work than the windlass. It hurts my back. We only pounce when sinking a new shaft and rest frequently, indeed we could not continue long at such hard work. I have not long been away from home. I can read, knit and sew.

Comment by Franks

Very healthy, intelligent girl.

There are several girls with this name in the area, making it impossible to identify this witness from the 1841 census. See No 440.

No.436. Ann David, aged 13, St Issells and Amroth

I was 10 years old when first taken to work below ground. My sister and I haul the skips for the men to where the women wind. It is a good bit away. Boys and girls work together where we work. We work from six in the morning till seven or eight at night. The time is long and the work very hard indeed, the sad, tiring sort and I feel very glad when over. I work for John Nash, a contractor. I earn 7s. in the fortnight. Sister and I pull six score of skips daily, three score each. The more we draw the more we get. Some draw three score and ten. I cannot say how many three score are but I know would not pay me unless the work is done. I have never been hurt below ground though we pull down hill. I would like to work above ground. I was taught to read before working but now have forgotten it altogether. I can knit and sew a little. The tailor made my coat. He makes for all the women as none can do that sort of work.

Comment by Franks

Little religious knowledge. Could not read. Very pale. Her sister, Mary, 16 years old, was very intelligent but had worked only three months below as the father, a collier, was laid aside with shortness of breath and the mother had been dead six months.

I have no leads for this witness or her sister.

No.437. Sarah Jones, aged 16, St Issells and Amroth

I have been working two and a half years. I work the same hours and in the same kind of work as the Davids. I have never been hurt. I can get no other work in this part or would prefer it.

Comment by Franks

Reads very badly.

I have no leads for Sarah.

No.440. Ann Thomas aged 16, St Issells and Amroth

I have been in these mines 11 months but I did haul at the windlass before. I find the work very hard but cannot get any other. I earn 7s. and 8s. in the fortnight. Men do not like the winding, it is too hard for them. The hours depend on the goods coming away. We wind up 400 loads. Two women always work the windlass below ground.

Comment by Franks

Reads a little. Very strong and although working below, from the character of the coal, was not very dirty.

There are several girls with this name in the area, making it impossible to identify this witness from the 1841 census. See No 434.

No.451. Eliza Prout aged 15, Amroth

I began work when I was 11 years old. I work as the others and the usual hours. The more we draw the more we earn. I get 4s. a week. I go regularly to Chapel but cannot read nor write. My sister is 18 years old and she winds the windlass below. She can earn 4s. also. We take the money home. Sister reads a little.

Eliza was the daughter of Thomas and Ann Prout. Her siblings were John, Jane, Ann, William and Stephen. Ann was probably the windlass woman.

No.452. Hester Callan aged 18, St Issells

I have been employed three years below at winding the windlass. The work requires good strength. I work eight and ten hours daily and earn 4s. I receive money always from the master. Father works below also. I have never got injured and have learned to read at Sunday School but not to write. I always go to Church.

Esther was the daughter of Joseph and Ann Callan. Her siblings were Mary, Elizabeth, Ann, James and Joseph. Marriage records indicate that she probably married in Quarter 4 1845 but it has not been possible to identify her new surname.

No.454. Sarah Davies aged 15, St Issells

I began work when I was 11 years old and was taken down by father who works at the heads now. I work with other girls and earn 3s. a week. I have never been hurt. I attend Chapel and Sunday School and have taught to read in the Testament.

Sarah appears to be the daughter of William and Hannah Davies. Her siblings included Hannah, Mary, William, James, George and Thomas. Mary was listed as a miner on the 1841 census.