Tyneside Family and Community History.
This web page is part of the Tyneside Family and Community web site. The site is a history of colliery villages in the North East of England, in particular the area of Weetslade in Northumberland in the 19th Century. Pages on the site include Migration, Irish, Housing, Education and Work. There are many surnames included in the pages, which may be of interest to family historians.Please sign my guest book.
Also include is my own personal family tree interests the surnames:- KANE, WAKE and DINNING.
This essay aims to look at the Irish in the Nineteenth century with reference to King (1994). and Thompson (1991) who wrote ‘There was a great deal of inter-marriage. And it is not the friction but the relative ease with which the Irish were obsorbed into working-class communities.’ (Thompson, 1991, p.480). looking at the push and pull factors of migration, what the people were leaving behind and what there was to attract them into a new area. The Irish that settled in Britain concentrated mostly in the industrial midlands and in the north, in Cheshire, Lancaster, York and Northumberland, with Scotland the Irish mostley congregated in the Glasgow region also Aberdeen, Dunndee and Edinburgh. (Davis, 1991, p.20). How the Irish were obsorbed into local communities using several Irish families I have found in the 1861 C.E.B in the area of Weetslade and my own family which migrated to England at this time.
I first found my own family living in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1881. The head was Thomas Kane born in Ireland in 1831, married to Rosa also of Ireland born 1835, eldest son James born Ireland 1855 he was also the last family member to be born in Ireland . The next family member to be born was Thomas born in Newcastle on Tyne in 1864 this would show that if Thomas was the next born son after a ten year gap that the family had migrated straight from Ireland to Newcastle. Taking this member as a reference that would mean that Thomas the head of the family was about 33 years old when the family migrated. The family on the 1881 census has ten members in all two female members are wives one Rosa the other Lucy who was born in Preston in 1856. Although in 1861 the family would possible only consist of four members the nuclear family of Thomas, Rosa and James and possible one extended family member who in 1861 would be fortyfive years old the relationship to the head of the house is not known due to the C.E.B being filled in incorrectly. The 1881 C.E.B shows all the male members of the family as having an occupation of labourer. The family would appear to be a typical Irish migrant family they left Ireland after the potato famine and moved in on step from Ireland to Newcastle. In 1881 they were living in Hanover street by the Quayside which was as Middlebrook (1950) points out was on area where the poor were moving into as the better off began moving away from the riverside into the suburbs, leaving the older houses to the poor. I want to use other families I have found to compare with my own. The other Irish are living nearby in the colliery village of Dudley in the area of Weetslade in Northumberland approx. six miles north of Newcastle.
Before going on to look at the residents in Dudley it may be a good idea to look at why the Irish migrated to Britain, what was happening in Ireland and what was there to attract them to Britain? In the 1840’s Britain was in the grip of the railway boom and it seems the Irish were ideal labourers who worked hard and did the jobs that a Englishman would not do. Employers saw them as ideal for jobs that needed hard manual labour, but were unsuitable for jobs that took planning and organisation. Migration was encouraged by employers as the Irish had not been influenced by trade unionism and if an employer had any trouble at his factories he would send to Ireland ‘for ten, fifteen or twenty families’ (Thompson,1991, p.472). Most Irish would prefer to migrate to America or Canada and only the most destitute would migrate to Britain. An incentive to move to Britain would have been the wages which were higher in Britain than in Ireland. In Ireland a labourers average wage in 1861 was 6s. per week (Cooter 1972, p. 182) in the Dublin area for a 10 hr. day in 1860 boys could get 7d. to 8d.; young men 1s. to 1/4d. laboured 1/8. skilled men 2s. to 3/4d. Mechanics 5s. (Cooter 1972, ff.p.182). In 1873 the highest paid men in the pits earn 7s.9d. per day but a year later this wage had dropped to 4s.6d. (Cooter 1972, p.184). as Best(1990). points out the average income per head in Ireland in 1867 was £14 in Scotland and Wales the average wage was £23.10s but in England the wage more than doubles to £32 per head. These wages coupled with the Ireland of the Mid-Nineteenth Century where there were land reforms changes in the way of farming with a move to arable farming in the 1850’s and 1860’s which did not require so much labour also the inheritance of property by means of primogeniture meant that the farm or lease would only pass on to the eldest son. This meant the younger members of the family had to leave to find employment as during this period people did not get married until they were earning. With regard to the attraction of Weetslade for migrants there was work at the colliery sunk in the 1850’s in what was an agricultural area consequently the housing would have been new and would have been considered ‘Very fair specimens of colliery cottages.’ (Our Colliery Villages, 1873. p.2). Although by 1873 Annitsford were the houses are described as ‘miserable little cribs.’ (Our Colliery Villages. p. 7). is already dominated by the Irish culture with a Catholic school chapel built in18671 ‘Very Irish in apperance is Annitsford.’ (Our Colliery Villages. p.7). Annitsford is half a mile from Dudley.
The Irish ‘Mostly landed at Whitehaven....[and]...so far as I can tell make their way directly to Newcastle.’ (Cooter, 1972, p.31.)2 Employers did not want the Irish Unlike as mentioned above (Thompson, 1991). this left the Irish with little to do but labouring, hawking, handling junk and rag picking. The Irish were in general unfamiliar with the occupation of coal mining and would have been considwered unsuitable as at the time.
‘The Colliers at the time still formed inbred and exclusive communities in which strangers were not welcome. The idea that pitmen had to be born and bred to his work from childhood was popular among both owners and pitmen.’ (Cooter, 1972. p12).
After the miners strike in 1844 Irish labour at the pit was mostly periferal to the hewing of coal i.e. surface jobs at coke ovens or unloading coals. After the Franco-Prussian war deppression followed and native British began to emigrate, their jobs filled by the Irish to some extent untill the mid-seventies. (Cooter 1971, p.171).
The Irish took jobs that needed few skills and first generation Irish had little chance of upward social mobillity but the next generation could get skilled jobs.(Cooter, 1972. p. 173).
The Irish labourers who worked on the railroads would be deposited along the lines as the work finnished and railways usually ended in areas offering employment. (Cooter 1972, p. 176).
In the cencus of 1851 it was revealed that 299,640 people, over 41% of the Irish born in Britain lived in the seven Northern counties. After 1861 the last wave of Irish migration (Although in DA301 there is a third in the 20th Century.) The children born of Irish parents in England and Scotland kept their religion but susequent genrations often changed their religion and in ceasing to be catholic relenquished their Irish Identity (Steele, 1976). The Irish had a reputation as strike breakers but the reasons for this can be explained from a humain point of view ‘Firstly they arrived in England with a high rate of illiteracy, approaching twice that of the English in the 1860’s’ (Steele, 1976). and as already mentioned in this essay they were comming from an agricultural area to an industrial area where they had no experience of labour relations. Also as an immigrants they could not claim poor relief unles they had lived in an area for a period of five years continuous residence and under a deportation act dating back to 1819 could be deported if they tried to claim any relief the period of residence was cut to three years in 1861 and then down to one year in 1864. It was, then more a case of self presevation that blacklegging with regard to the Irish taking work during strikes. The Irish due to this Poor Law regulation had a freedom to travel around England that the English did not have which meant they could go and find work in places which were developing in the new industries ‘As well, to a limited extent they made inroads to the coal mines’ (Cooter 1972). Although due to the freedom and mobility of the Irish their children could miss out on education. (Cooter, !972). The arrival of the Irish and the fact that they took the lower paid jobs that 19century England had to offer was seen as a good thing by some it was the opinion of C.H.Richardson Senior Vice Chairman of Manchester Guardians in 1854 that by taking the jobs that they did it meant that the English workers had to improve themselves and were given a push to be upwardly mobile socialy.
The families I am using as a comparison with my own family are the Irish born resident of Dudley in Weetslade, Northumberland taken from the 1861 C.E.B. At this time my own family may have been still in Ireland or somewhere on its way to Newcastle on Tyne but due to the fact that the next family member was born in 1864 they are near enough for a general comparison. The Irishmen in Dudley have an occupation listed as coal miner this seems to go against the accepted trend that the Irish immigrants were labourers and it was not until later generations that they were accepted into more skilled work.as Moore(1974). wrote of the Irish in Durham that although they found employment in the heavy employment of shaft sinking ‘Only slowly Irish able to gain skilled piece-rate jobs at the face.’ (Moore, 1974, p.75).
In the area of Weetslade where the new pit of Dudley Colliery had been sunk there were 824 resident out of which 25 residents were of Irish birth and 28 members of the families born outside of Ireland either in England or Scotland. At this time 1861 the Irish families were housed in 9 houses in Dudley that’s an average of 5.8 men women and children per house. The average age of the adults born in Ireland is 34 using the eldest child born out of Ireland as an indicator for when the family emigrated the parent on average left Ireland when they were 28 years old, Thomas Kane would have been thirty, the average age of the children being 6 years old although there is no way of knowing if these children are the oldest as some may have married and left the family. Inter -marrage was already playing a part in the intergration of the Irish immigrants. Out of the nine families in Dudley three were intermarrages as one Irish male had married a Scotswoman another an Englishwoman the third, was a Irishwoman who had married a Scotsman. In the case of my own family by 1881 James Kane born Ireland had married Lucy Bird born Preston Lancashire and had a son who went on in turn to marry an English girl breaking all ties with Ireland. As Thompson points out the immigrants might continue their customs ‘But with their children the fiddle, the pipe and the Galic were laid aside’ (Thompson,1991, p.480). Of the 25 Irish born in Dudley colliery there are 28 other members of their families who would could be influenced by their parents with regard to their culture as it has been noted by King (1994). that the Irish were quickly absorbed into the local populations and inter-marriage broke up the ties with Ireland. Also once someone in the family has married a native of the adopted country and had children the children will through time look to the country of their birth for their culture.
By 1871 the population had decreased down to 16, with 10 male residents and 6 females of th 6 women again non were shown as having any employment although one a widow had taken in lodgers and another widow had working sons and daughters who would probably supported her untill they married and left home then the woman would have room to possible take in lodgers herself. The occupations of the male population had changed there were now only 4 men employed at the coal mine there were 4 Hawkers, and 2 Masons labourers. It is in this 1871 cencus that the first Irish born can be found in Annitsford there are 4 women one in service the other 3 no employment shown of the 7 men 3 are labourers 1 a tinsmith 1 miner and 1 Catholic priest the fact that there is at this time a Catholic school and the Catholic church must mean there are enough Catholics at least in the are to warrant this service in the community.
In 1881 there is the largest recorded Irish population in Annitsford with 23 males and 13 females, the male population is again finding its way into the collieries with 13 men employed as miners, there are 7 General laboures and 2 Hawkers, 1 unemployed.of the 13 women 1 is listed as a licenced hawker and 1 is an 8 yr old scholar, the rest are unemployed. In Dudley the Irish have 9 men employed as miners, 1 as a masons labourer, 1 shoemaker and 1 retired. Of the women there are 6, 1 houskeeper the rest no occupation.
In 1891 Annitsford has 18 men, 6 women, 11 men employed in mines 3 general labourers, 2 masons labourers, 1drainer or labourer, 1 not known. There are 6 women one living on her own means. In Dudley there are 7 Irish born men employed at the colliery and only 3 women one of which takes in lodgers the others have Dom? for occupation.
The actual Irish born residents in the area may have risen and fallen over the years from the small beginings to the peak in 1881 this build up may have come about as family members came to join relatives in the area or other Irish born moved into the area for the company of other Irish the decline in 1891 would possible be to the deaths of the older Irish and a decrease in Irish migration from Ireland it must be remembered that many of the Irish would have had large families in the area so although there were not actually many Irish they would have influenced their children.
My family would appear to be typical of the Irish migrants of this period as they moved at the same time as the Dudley Irish and were in the same age group to within a few years. Inter-marrage occured in both the Dudley families and my own. Two points that did not were in housing and occupation where my family appears to follow the trends of an Irish migrant family. At this time I do not know if the people of Annitsford are aware of their areas Irish history, or how many residents have Irish roots, and know about them. In the case of my own family history it was only in the 1990’s that I became aware that Kane was an Irish Name and in fact the family came from Ireland the last break with the culture of Ireland and my family was possibly when my father a Catholic married my mother who was Church of England and refused to have me christened Catholic on the grounds that she thought catholic schools taught to much religion. There must be many people unaware of their roots especialy in the case of inter-marrage where where the woman was of Irish decent and changed her name on marrying.
This site was created June, 1999 and is maintained by D.J.Kane,BA(Hons) Dip. Eur. Hum. (Open) Contact Dave Kane
Best, Geoffery. (1990). Mid-Victorian Britain 1851-75. Fontana Press.
Cooter, Roger James. (1972). The Irish in County Durham and Newcastle. Submitted for the M.A. degree in the University of Durham, 21 July, 1972.
Davis, Graham. (1991). The Irish in Britain 1815-1914, Gill and Macmillan.
Drake, Michael. (1995). Time, Family and Community. The Open University Press in association with Blackwell.
King, Russell. (1994). DA301 Offprints Booklet Two, The Open University.
Middlebrook, S. (1950). Newcastle upon Tyne its Growth and Achievement. Kemsely House.
Moore, Robert. (1994). Pit-men Preachers and Politics. Cambridge University Press.
Pryce, W.T.R. (Ed.) (1994). From Family History to Community History. Cambridge University Press in association with The Open University.
Steele, E.D. (1976). The Irish Presence in the North East 1850-1914. Northern History Vol. 12, 1976.
Thompson, E.P, (1991). The Making of the Working Class. Penguin Books.
Northumberland Record Office, Ref. Mining Survey Dudley, Transcript from The Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, Saturday, July 19, 1873. “Our Colliery Villages.”
1861, C.E.B Dudley Colliery, Weetslade, Northumberland.
1871, C.E.B Weetslade, Northumberland.
1881, C.E.B , Weetslade, Northumberland.
1891, C.E.B Weetslade, Northumberland.
1881, C.E.B West End, Newcastle on Tyne.