09 December 2018

The Pits

If the pits means something unpleasant to you, why is that?

What does the word pit mean to you?

Were any of your ancestors slaves, serfs, indentured labourers, convict labourers or relatively free but poverty-stricken hard workers? 

Do you have any pit brow lassies or bal maidens amongst your ancestors?

If you know something about slavery in medieval Europe, how do you compare working conditions of that time with workplace hierarchies in more recent times?


In the 19th century and earlier times, there were few prospects for working women to improve their economic situation, even with a working husband.

The men themselves had few prospects to improve their economic situation either, except through self-education and possibly through migration.
In February 2009, I wrote something about that situation:  Staffordshire miner becomes Prime Minister of Australia.

I do not know if my grandmother's relatives became pit bank wenches in Wednesbury.

What do you know about ironstone mining, coal mining, various types of smelting and fossil fuel power stations?

You may have researched the working lives of ancestors, comparing their experiences with your own.

Is your current job the pits?

I have already introduced visitors here to a Shropshire lad called Harry.

My grandparents were probably fortunate not to be coal miners.  My grandfather worked hard and studied hard to improve his circumstances, and those of his family.

Did your family have anything to do with coal mining?

The boys and girls and women working on the pit banks were sometimes known as bankers.  That is something of an irony today, to say the least!

Many of my grandfather's ancestors worked in and around the pits and iron works in the Ketley area.

Do you use Grace's Guide to British Industrial History in your research?

I have found an interesting PDF document entitled Women Workers at Shropshire Mines.  Its author was Ivor J Brown and the work was first published in 1989.

The same author wrote about the ironstone mines of Shropshire in 1990.  There is a PDF file on that as well.

I found another interesting PDF document, too.  That one is about children in Shropshire mines.  It is from the website shropshirehistory.com.

There is also a PDF document on that site of the Shropshire findings of the Children's Employment Commission in 1842.

You may know something about my own research into working families and genealogical studies.

Have you been introduced to Lily of Lawley Common?

She did not work in the pits, as far as I am aware, but she did have a few odd jobs.

Often, a genealogical look around can be overwhelming.  Most people only know a small amount about the past, even if they are trained historians!

I think I have solved the mystery of Keziah.  There were apparently two of them.  They were both only babies when they died.

If you have been discovering Shropshire history, that experience may have been mainly rural or urban rather than industrial.

What do you know about safety lamps and sentinel species?

What do you know about pit ponies?

What is your connection with industrial heritage?

What do you know about the Coal War and family history?

What do you know about the history of coal mining in the United Kingdom?

Do you know much about other aspects of mining in the United Kingdom?

I wrote on that subject last year.

Have you ever been to Coalbrookdale?

Next year, I hope to have more time to read.

This year, I have been engrossed in various writing projects mostly unrelated to my family history.

I was recently contacted by someone researching the Lancashire pit brow lassies.  My ancestors were in Shropshire, not Lancashire, and I am an amateur investigator, not an academic genealogist.  My focus is mainly on my own family history and heritage.

In October 2014, I wrote here about Shropshire pit girls and wenches.

I have just found out that the women were often called Shroppies.

The paternal grandmother of my grandfather was a Shroppy, as was the maternal grandmother of my grandmother.  Even so, my grandparents were much more refined that their backgrounds would suggest.

Recently, I wrote here about going back in time, in particular to Domesday in Dawley in Shropshire, and to other times in that place.

Elsewhere over the past couple of years, I have written for the love of respectful knowledge, for the love of curiosity, for the love of reasonable privacy and for the love of history.

There is much editing for me to do next year, too.

I love researching and writing and planning future research projects.

But checking my work for errors is the pits!

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I especially appreciate historical insights.