The Yorkshire miners 1786-1839: a study of work, culture and protest

STANLEY, Joseph William (2020). The Yorkshire miners 1786-1839: a study of work, culture and protest. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis examines the work, culture and protest of the Yorkshire miners between 1786-1839. The original contribution of this work is to emphasise the intimate connection between protest, mainly trade union co-ordinated strikes, and living standards. In doing so, this work brings together areas of investigation into protest history, social history, and economic history, which have in recent years become divorced from one another. For many years historians have accepted that protest was an indicator of discontent, proof of exploitation, and evidence of oppression. This thesis offers an alternative argument. It shows that protest was used strategically, and with a growing level of sophistication, to win real wage increases in a high-wage industry that prospered across the period. This thesis also adds to existing debates around working class radicalism and conservatism. It argues that the Yorkshire miners were conservative loyalists across the entire 1786-1839 period. Chapters 2 and 3 examine the work and culture of the Yorkshire miners. The former emphasises the experience of labour for miners, taking stock of why the industry paid such high wages, which the colliers' trade unions capitalised on. The latter makes sense of their culture, emphasising how the nature of their work and their high wages engendered a competing alehouse and chapel culture. The alehouse and the chapel played an important role in creating and maintaining trade unions. Chapters 4-8 examine instances of protest chronologically. Chapter 4 considers the years 1786-1801, which witnessed a rise in the cost of living and the growth of miners' trade unionism. Chapter 5 explores how and why the Yorkshire miners combined under the Combination Laws. It highlights the role of friendly societies in maintaining living standards when trade declined. Chapter 6 assesses the first regional colliers' strike in 1819 to raise wages when living standards had fallen to their lowest level in the decade. Chapter 7 illuminates 1820-32, years of prosperity, when the cost of living fell and strikes for higher wages became more frequent. Chapter 8 investigates trade unionism in the pre-Chartist years, when wages were unprecedentedly high. It focusses on the violent strike at Wakefield and disputes at Earl Fitzwilliam's collieries.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Roberts, Matthew [0000-0002-0639-1634]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr Matthew Roberts "No PQ harvesting"
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
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Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2020 16:48
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:03

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