Sunday, February 26, 2017

Agricultural Wages and the Sandridge Agricultural Workers Strike of 1873

Anthony recently contacted me about his ancestor Jonathan Cox (1821-1881) of Hill End Sandridge - which means that we share William Cox (1760-1802) as an ancestor. When I have more time I will update the earlier ancestor pages but in the meantime I had a look to see if there was anything new about Jonathan on the British Newspaper Archive.

Jonathan Cox is mentioned several times in my account of the Sandridge Agricultural Strike of 1873 and in particular he told a parliamentary commission that “Men work 11 hours a day, and women nine. … Able-bodied labourers have from 11s to 14s a week; boys from 3s 6d to 5s. … boys rarely go to work before they are from 10 to 12 years of age. … Girls are not employed in farm labour, they are engaged in straw plaiting from a very early age. Women, too, are chiefly engaged in plaiting. A few are employed on farms in weeding in summer.” 

I therefore decided to look for news item which related to the people he employed.

In 1861 one of the young men that he employed on an annual basis, almost certainly through a hiring fair absconded:
Leaving Employment. - Henry Peters, a lad in the employ of Mr Jonathan Cox, of Hill-end Farm, Sandridge, was charged with leaving his service. - Mr. Cox informed the Bench that the boy had left his employment on a former occasion, which he overlooked, he being a yearly servant. - Defendant pleaded guilty, and was ordered to pay 17s 6d costs, and return to his work. - His master paid the money which was to be deducted from his yearly wages. 
In 1871 one of the young men he employed stole some money from another and the court case included details of what he was paid:
Joseph Mardell  (16) was brought up in custody on remand, charged with stealing 6s. 6d, the property of Isaac Matthews, a ploughboy in the employment of Mr Jonathan CoxHill End FarmSandridge ... Mr Cox stated that the prisoner was employed at 4s 6d a week and £2. 10s. annually ... ... 
In 1875 William Chapman was not paid enough for his work at harvest time . Jonathan Cox took him to court for reach of contract but iam has legal support and it would seem that Jonathan Cox dropped the charge when he realised that his foreman would be required to give evidence. I am sure this would not have happened before the strike.

For more information see Jonathon Cox, Hill Farm, Sandridge, 1821-1881 and The Agricultural Workers Strike, Sandridge 1873

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