Posted in Ancestors, family history, Mining

Sad case of Thomas Knighton – Aged 11

The sad case of Thomas Knighton, killed whilst leaving the coal mine to go home. Aged 11. Thomas was my Great Great Grandfather, Moses Knighton’s, nephew.

The coroner reported a case of ‘accidentally killed’. The main witness appears to have been Joseph Sisson. During his evidence he explained that there are two methods to leave a pit – either by a chain winch contraption or a box you stepped into.  The safest method is known to be via the chains. This was operated by a ‘whimsey-man’.

On the day in question Thomas and his brother (unnamed in the report so not sure which one) were preparing to leave the pit and the deceased and his brother choose the box to travel in. Whilst they were travelling up to the surface of the mine the descending chain fell into the box. The brother called out to the whimsey-man to pull the descending chain out of the box. However before the chain was fully out of the box Thomas shouted it was OK. The whimsey-man then immediately lowered the chain and that action capsized the box.

The deceased fell to the bottom, but his brother managed to link his arm through the chain and hold on – he was drawn safely to the surface.

Thomas suffered terrible injuries from the fall. The witness said he only stirred once and was ‘quite dead’ within 5 minutes.

His body was carried to the top of the pit and then carried home by a Samuel Haywood. I don’t want to imagine the family dealing with the trauma of the event.

Whimsey-man
Whimsey or Whim was a winding mechanism for carrying men and materials up and down the mine shafts. The Men or Man employed in this operation were known as whimsey-men. (Info from rmhh.co.uk)

Joseph Sissons
Joseph says it was safer to go up n the chain than the box but it was not his business to make men go up in the tackle. Thomas was 11 years old.

Messrs Barber, Walker & Co
Thomas was killed at the mine of Barber, Walker and Co at Eastwood, Nottingham. It was owned by Sir Philip Barber – often referred to as Major Barber.

Thomas Knighton born 1828 – 1839
Thomas was the 5th child of Sampson and Elizabeth Knighton (nee Caley). He had 5 sisters and 4 brothers.  It is difficult to determine which brother was working down the pit with him.  His elder brother was William was born in 1824 or Robert who was born in 1830 seem the most likely.

1841 Census
So far have only been able to locate one Sampson Knighton (coal miner) living with a Robert 10 and Isaac  6 (his sons) – Are all the other children away from home or have they died?

More research is clearly needed.