Sunsetting SUNCAT

SUNCAT will end as a service on the 31st July 2019.  The rationale for retiring SUNCAT comes from a lengthy consultation with the academic library community that resulted in a requirement for a new service that was capable of working at much greater scale to deliver a comprehensive view onto the bibliographic and holdings data of all UK academic libraries.  A new national service is in development that will supersede both the SUNCAT service and its sister service, Copac. The Jisc National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK) will be a national-scale aggregated bibliographic database which will facilitate resource discovery, collection management and cataloguing.

It is business as usual for now for SUNCAT, please continue to send data.  EDINA and Jisc will co-host a webinar later in the year with a fuller update and time line on the process of retiring SUNCAT.  EDINA will also send out regular updates to keep you informed.

To achieve the goal of comprehensive coverage, Jisc would like to encourage current SUNCAT contributors to start submitting their data to the NBK as soon as possible in order that the transition between services is as smooth as possible. The intention is to launch the NBK ‘live’ service in February 2019. It will then run in parallel with SUNCAT until its retirement at the end of July 2019.  If you’d like to send your data, discuss the benefits of joining the NBK, or have any other questions about the NBK, please contact nbk.copac@jisc.ac.uk

Should you have queries regarding SUNCAT service retirement, please contact edina@ed.ac.uk.  If you have any queries regarding the NBK, please contact nbk.copac@jisc.ac.uk

Marine Data Workshop with OceanWise Ltd.

Any user of Marine Digimap might be interested in this workshop, being held in London by our marine data partner, OceanWise Ltd. We are pleased to be able to share this opportunity with you.  If you’re interested in attending, please contact OceanWise directly (contact details below). OceanWise are running their popular Marine Data Management and […]

Women in Scotland: Women in work

In the last three of posts on women in Scotland we have discovered that women worked in many sectors, including manufacturing (spinning, weaving, needlework,etc), and the farming and fishing industries. In this post we look more generally at the impact society had on women and their work.

Multi-tasking!

In many instances, women had to work as well as look after the family – as they do now! In Northmaving, County of Shetland, “the women look after domestic concerns, bring up their children, cook the victuals, look after the cattle, spin, and knit stockings; they also assist, and are no less laborious then the men in manuring and labouring the grounds, reaping the harvest, and manufacturing their crop.” (OSA, Vol. XII, 1794, p. 358) They also undertook not just one type of work, but several, depending on the time of year and the wages they received. In Nigg, County of Kincardine, “the whole female part of the parish, when not occupied by these engagements [kelp production], or harvest, the most, and domestic affairs, work at knitting woolen stockings, the materials of which they generally receive from manufacturers in Aberdeen.” (OSA, Vol. VII, 1793, p. 207) In Clackmannan, County of Clackmannan, “during a considerable part of the year, some of the women in the parish continue to sew for the Glasgow manufacturers, but the earnings from this source are now most lamentably small. Most of the females to which the writer has been referring, derive the greater part of their annual subsistence from field-labour, the preparing of bark, &c.” (NSA, Vol. VIII, 1845, p. 129)

No time for housework!

Although women had to multi-task, it was sometimes remarked in the parish reports that, due to women working, the state of the home suffered! Here is what was written in the parish report of Cross and Burness, County of Orkney:

“But there is a great want of neatness and cleanliness in the management of household matters, so that their condition has nothing of the tidy and comfortable appearance of what is now to be met with in houses of a like description in the south. And for any effectual improvement in this respect, there are two formidable barriers in the way, which are not likely soon to be overcome. The women have much work to do out of doors, a species of work, too, which peculiarly unfits them for neat management of house-hold concerns, such as cutting sea-weed for kelp, carrying up ware for manure on their backs, and spreading it on the land; and besides, the construction of their houses is very unfavourable, which are not only not plastered but not even built with lime, and seldom have any semblance of a chimney even upon the roof, while, for the sake of having each part of the house supplied with an equal share of heat, the fire-place is most commonly planted in the middle of the floor. The smoke consequently finds its way in every direction, and to keep either the walls or the utensils in a state of proper cleanliness, is next to impossible. Yet the present form of houses is much superior to what was possessed by the last generation; and this form may soon perhaps give way to another in a higher state of improvement.” (NSA, Vol. XV, 1845, p. 106)

A painting called 'A Cottage Interior' by Alfred A. Provis, dated 1869.

Provis, Alfred; A Cottage Interior, 1869. Picture credit: Atkinson Art Gallery Collection.

In the parish report for Carmylie, County of Forfar, it was noted that weaving, the new type of employment for young women at that time, “forms no good training for their management of household affairs” in the event of them getting married. (NSA, Vol. XI, 1845, p. 371) It was an even worse situation for colliers families in Tranent, County of Haddington! “The injurious practice of women working in the pits as bearers (now happily on the decline with the married females), tends to render the houses of colliers most uncomfortable on their return from their labours, and to foster many evils which a neat cleanly home would go far to lessen.” (NSA, Vol. II, 1845, p. 295). However, spinning, in particular, was considered a job which married women could do and still be able to run a household, as alluded to in the parish report for Moulin, County of Perth. (OSA, Vol. V, 1793, p. 63)

The need for women (and children) to work

In several parishes it was noted that there were many more females than males residing there, mostly due to men working elsewhere, particularly in the army or navy. This obviously had an effect on who undertook the work in that parish. In Stenton, County of Haddington, “the disparity in the number of males and females probably arises from a number of young men leaving the parish in search of employment; and the young women remaining as outworkers, in which occupation a good many single women, householders, are employed, who receive 9d. every day they are called upon to work, with 600 yards of potatoes planted, coals driven, &c. for their yearly service.” (NSA, Vol. II, 1845, p. 58) Whereas, in Rathven, County of Banff, the disparity between males and females residing there was attributed to losses sustained at sea and an influx of poor women from the Highlands, who wanted to live more comfortably. (OSA, Vol. XIII, 1794, p. 417)

It was noted in the parish report of Nigg, County of Kincardine, that “during some later months of winter, the subsistence of the family has depended much on the work of the females. Since the commencement of the American and French war 1778, 24 men have been impressed or entered to serve their country in the fleet from the fisher families. In these late armaments, their fishing has been interrupted from fear of their young men being seized; and to procure 10 men, instead of one from each boat, who have been demanded from them, the crews have paid 106 L. 14 s. which exhausted the substance of some families, and hung long a debt on others.” (OSA, Vol. VII, 1793, p. 207)

In Aberdeen, County of Aberdeen, a very interesting observation and explanation was reported in the Old Statistical Accounts with regards to the employment of men and women. “Most of our manufactures, especially the bleaching and thread-making businesses, employ a much greater number of women than of men; and the great manufacture of the place, the knitting of stockings, is carried on almost entirely by females. Accordingly, while most of our women remain at home, many of our young men emigrate to other places, in quest of more lucrative employment than they can find in this part of the country… Besides, the temptations of cheap and commodious houses, of easy access to fuel, and to all the necessaries and comforts of life, from our vicinity to the port and market of Aberdeen, and of the high probability of finding employment from some of the many manufactures carried on in the neighbourhood, induce many old women, and many of the widows and daughters of farmers and tradesmen, to leave the country, and reside in this parish, while their sons have either settled as farmers in their native place, or gone abroad, or entered into the army or navy. If to these observations we add, that in all parishes, in which there are several large towns and villages, most families need more female than male servants, the majority of females in this parish, great as it is, will be sufficiently accounted for.” (OSA, Vol. XIX, 1797, p. 178)

The need to work also extended to children. In Nigg, County of Kincardine, “the male children of the land people, from 9 and 10 years old, often herd cattle in summer, and those of all attend school in winter. The female children learn still earlier to knit and to read.” (OSA, Vol. VII, 1793, p. 207) In fact, in most cases children worked in the same areas of employment as women. Examples include: the mining and farming industries; the weaving industry, in particular preparing the yarn for the loom (see our post on ‘Women in Scotland: Manufacturing‘ for more information) and in the mills (as mentioned in one of our earlier posts and in the parish report for Dundee, County of Forfar, where “more than one-half of those employed in the mills are boys and girls from ten to eighteen years of age; the remainder are partly men and partly women of all ages.” (NSA, Vol. XI, 1845, p. 26))

In many parish reports, the hard-work and fortitude of women and children, is clearly displayed. However, in some parishes, there was no work available for them. In Kiltearn, County of Ross and Cromarty, it was noted that “considering the great number of women in the parish, it would be desirable that some manufacture should be introduced to employ the females, and children of both sexes; for it is a hard case, when a labouring man is unable to work by age or sickness, that his family has no means of earning a subsistence, however unwilling to work.” (OSA, Vol. I, 1791, p. 288)

Wages

All parish reports in both the Old and New Statistical Accounts of Scotland give the typical wages of workers. Of course, women were paid much less than men. In Houston and Killallan, County of Renfrew, “men servants from L. 7 to L. 10 a year, if they are good ploughmen; women-servants, from L. 1 : 10 : 0 or L. 2 the half year, and upwards.” (OSA, Vol. I, 1791, p. 325)

There are plenty more examples of this, including:

Keig, County of Aberdeen – “The wages of farm-servants were, of men, from L.4, 10s. to L.6, 10s. or L.7; of women, from L.2 to L.3 per annum; of day labourers, 6d. with maintenance. Reapers were hired for the harvest, the men at L.2 and the women at L.1.” (NSA, Vol. XII, 1845, p. 957)

Dollar, County of Clackmannan – “The wages of men labourers are from 10 d. to 1 s. per day; in harvest, they receive 13 d. or 14 d. per day; and for cutting hay, 1 s. 6 d. The wages of women who work without doors, at hay-making, weeding potatoes, etc. are 6 d. per day; except in harvest, when they receive 10 d. per day: out of which wages, both men and women furnish their own provisions.” (OSA, Vol. XV, 1795, p. 164)

Auchtertool, County of Fife – “Men servants used to get 6 L. Sterling for the year; and women, 2 L. 10 s.: But a man servant, now, receives 8L.; and a woman 3 L., for the year.” (OSA, Vol. VIII, 1793, p. 119)

Dundee, County of Forfar – “The following are the average wages at present paid at the mills, and generally in the linen manufacture in Dundee, viz. to flax-dressers from 10s. to 12s. weekly; girls and boys, 3s. to 6s.; women, 5s. to 8s.; weavers, 7s. to 10s.” (NSA, Vol. XI, 1845, p. 26)

Kingussie, County of Inverness – “A shilling per day is reckoned but very ordinary wages. Many receive 15 d. and 16 d. and some refuse to work under 18 d. The wages of women, however, is not in proportion; during harvest, and when employed at peats, they receive 8 d. a day, and at every other season of the year only 6 d.” (OSA, Vol. III, 1792, p. 39)

Painting showing two men, a woman and girl working in a field harvesting turnips.

Clausen, George; Winter Work, 1883-84. Picture credit:Tate.

The unfair nature of this disparity in wages was highlighted by the Rev. Mr. Joseph Taylor, who wrote in the parish report for Watten, County of Caithness:

“Women, qualified for tending cattle throughout the winter, driving the plough, and filling the dung cart in spring, had only about 8 s. Sterling, with just half the subsistence allowed the man. Why so little subsistence was and still is allowed to women, no good reason can be assigned. Established customs cannot always be accounted for, nor are they easily or suddenly overturned. This article of wages, however, has of late risen, and still continues to increase.” (OSA, Vol. XI, 1794, p. 274)

There are some very interesting descriptions and comments on wages in the Statistical Accounts. In Colinton, County of Edinburgh, it was reported that women and boys were paid the same amount of money (9d. per day) working in the fields and that “in the time of harvest and of lifting potatoes, their wages are regulated by the hiring market, which is held in Edinburgh every Monday morning during, the season.” (NSA, Vol. I, 1845, p. 124)

Weavers in Cults, County of Fife, “while in winding the smaller bobbins for the wool… usually employ their wives or children. At this latter employment, if done for hire, from 2s. 6d. to 3s. may be made per week.” (NSA, Vol. IX, 1845, p. 573)

Another interesting comment, this time on the relationship between technology and wages, can be found in the parish report of Moulin, County of Perth:

“The consequence of yarn selling high is an immediate rise in the wages of women servants. Should the machines for spinning linen yarn come to be much and successfully used, so as to reduce the price of spinning, that effect will be severely felt in this country. Single women may, perhaps, find employment in some other branches of manufacture; but it does not appear in what other way married women, who must fit always at home with their children, can contribute any thing to the support of their families.” (OSA, Vol. V, 1793, p. 63)

In St Vigeans, County of Forfar, the correlation between wages and skill, as well as conditions of employment, are highlighted:

“with respect to the wages of those employed in the factories here, though considerably lower than they have been, we should say, that, looking to age and the preponderance of females, they are perhaps the best paid class employed in the linen trade, with the exception of hacklers. Spinners, who are all girls of fifteen to about twenty-five years of age, earn from 5s. 4d. to 6s. 6d. per week; reelers, from 5s. to 6s.; and those in the preparing departments, from 3s. to 6s., according to the nature of the work assigned to each. The department requiring early and indispensable previous training is the spinning. It consists in expertness and facility in uniting broken threads, and which can only be efficiently acquired by the young. In the present improved state of machinery, the labour is by no means irksome; and hence it is that it is no uncommon thing, in passing through the spinning-flat of a well-conducted mill, to find many of the girls employed in reading. Spreaders, feeders, and reelers have a more laborious work to perform; but the persons employed in these capacities are, for the most part, full-grown women; and, generally speaking, they are allowed a longer time for meals and relaxation than the rest of the hands. The whole of the workers, men, women, and children are at liberty to leave their employment on giving four weeks; notice, in some cases even one week being held sufficient. Hacklers are paid at the rate of 2s. for every hundred weight of rough flax which they dress; and it is no unusual thing for a steady hand, with the assistance of an apprentice, whom he allows 3s. 6d. to 5s. 6d., to earn L. 1, 4s. per week. The average wages, however, of this class, including those who have no apprentices, does not perhaps exceed from 10s. to 12s. per week.*

* In the interview between the writing of this article, in January l842, and the correcting of the proof-sheet in October following, a farther reduction in wages has taken place of five to ten per cent.” (NSA, Vol. XI, 1845, p. 506)

In the parish report of Forfar, County of Forfar, a comparison is made between wages at that time and formerly. “About 60 years ago, a principal farm servant might have been had for 35 s. or 40 s. the half year, and a woman for 40 d. besides her harvest fee. Now many men servants receive L. 12 Sterling per annum, and few or none less than L. 7; and women servants have from L. 3 to L. 4 a year with a lippie of lint ground, or some equivalent called bounties. A man for the harvest demanded formerly half a guinea, now he asks from 30 s. to 40 s, and is sometimes intreated to take more. A female shearer formerly received from 8 s. to 10 s. now 20 s and upwards. Male servants in agriculture, besides their wages, get victuals, or two pecks of meal a-week in lieu thereof, with milk which they call sap. Cottars generally receives from L. 3 to L. 7 a year, with a house and garden, and maintenance of a cow throughout the year. On this scanty provision they live comfortably, and raise numerous families without burdening the public. A family of nine children has been reared by a labourer of this description without any public aid. The cottar eats at his master’s table, or has meal in lieu of this advantage. From 20 to 30 s a year are given to a boy, from 10 to 14 years of age, to tend the cattle or to drive the plough.” (OSA, Vol. VI, 1793, p. 532)

Conclusion

As can be gathered from above, the Statistical Accounts of Scotland contains a lot of information on wages, providing us with examples of differences between both jobs and those employed, whether it be men, women or children. It would be very interesting to make comparisons across parishes! The parish reports are also a great source of comment from the ministers who wrote them, illustrating people’s views on such things as the effect women working had on the community, and the discrepancy between men’s and women’s wages.

In our next post, we will continue to look at the effects society had on women in Scotland, including the existence of poor women and the establishment of female societies; women’s civil status; and women’s health.

 

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SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service in the last week. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Bristol University (07 Sep 18)
  • British Library (13 Sep 18)
  • British Museum (06 Sep 18)
  • Cardiff University (01 Sep 18)
  • CONSER (Not UK Holdings) (12 Sep 18)
  • Durham University (06 Sep 18)
  • London Library (12 Sep 18)
  • National Library of Scotland (08 Sep 18)
  • National Museums Scotland (10 Sep 18)
  • NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) (05 Sep 18)
  • Northumbria University (01 Sep 18)
  • Open University (01 Sep 18)
  • Queen Mary, University of London (04 Sep 18)
  • Queen’s University, Belfast (04 Sep 18)
  • Royal College of Nursing (05 Sep 18)
  • Southampton University (09 Sep 18)
  • Strathclyde University (01 Sep 18)
  • Sussex University (01 Sep 18)
  • Swansea University (01 Sep 18)
  • Tate Library (Tate Britain) (12 Sep 18)
  • University of Wales Trinity Saint David (01 Sep 18)
  • York University (01 Sep 18)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service in the last two weeks. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Aberystwyth University (01 Sep 18)
  • Bath University (01 Sep 18)
  • British Library (30 Aug 18)
  • Brunel University London (28 Aug 18)
  • CONSER (Not UK Holdings) (29 Aug 18)
  • De Montfort University (24 Aug 18)
  • Dundee University (01 Sep 18)
  • Edinburgh Napier University (01 Sep 18)
  • Edinburgh University (01 Sep 18)
  • Imperial College London (01 Sep 18)
  • Institution of Engineering and Technology (the IET) (29 Aug 18)
  • Kingston University (01 Sep 18)
  • Lancaster University (01 Sep 18)
  • Leicester University (04 Sep 18)
  • London Metropolitan University (29 Aug 18)
  • London School of Economics and Political Science (01 Sep 18)
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (01 Sep 18)
  • Manchester University (01 Sep 18)
  • National Archives (01 Sep 18)
  • National Library of Wales (01 Sep 18)
  • Natural History Museum (01 Sep 18)
  • St. Andrews University (24 Aug 18)
  • Sheffield Hallam University (01 Sep 18)
  • Sheffield University (01 Sep 18)
  • Southampton University (26 Aug 18)
  • University of the West of England (24 Aug 18)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

WMS functionality added to Digimap Roam

We are very pleased to announce that we we recently added WMS (Web Map Service) functionality to all Digimap Roam applications. This new facility allows you to pull in map data from a whole host of publicly accessible services allowing you to visualise a wealth of data in the familiar Digimap Roam interface. This is […]

Updated OS Mastermap in Digimap for Schools

Over the summer we’ve taken the opportunity to update some of the maps used in Digimap for Schools. The Ordnance Survey have been working with their Mastermap collection and had a slight rejig of some of their classifications and added some new data schema’s. (at this stage you can tell I’m not a professional cartographer ;-))

As a result there have been some additional classifications added to their data which allows for better cartographic representation of the data itself (i.e. they can put more information on the maps). To the casual observer who maybe doesn’t have a forensic eye for detail many of these changes may not be glaringly obvious but we have found a few examples of how the data has changed the maps for the better! We found that some of the best examples of this tend to be in the coastal regions and below is an example of a before and after:

As you can see form the top image the area is simply classified as shingle and rock, whereas the image below is much more refined in giving better classification of the areas.

Anyhow this was just a quick update to let you know that some of the maps may have changed slightly (for the better ;-))

SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service in the last week. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Bradford University (18 Aug 18)
  • British Library (23 Aug 18)
  • CONSER (Not UK Holdings) (22 Aug 18)
  • Cranfield University (20 Aug 18)
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (20 Aug 18)
  • Oxford University (23 Aug 18)
  • Royal College of Music (16 Aug 18)
  • Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (15 Aug 18)
  • Royal Veterinary College (22 Aug 18)
  • Southampton University (19 Aug 18)
  • Wellcome Library (21 Aug 18)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

Women in Scotland: Servants and Miners

We continue our series on women in the Statistical Accounts of Scotland, with a particular focus on employment. The existence of women servants is not a surprise, but women miners may well be! We also look at some of the other jobs women undertook which have not already be mentioned.

Servants

In our previous post on women in Scotland, we mentioned the fact that it was hard to employ people as servants during the summer months because they earned more working on the land. However, there were still those who were not willing or able to work in agriculture. In Cross and Burness, County of Orkney, “women-servants receive from L. 2, 1Os. to L. 3 per annum ; but as they are much engaged at home in the plaiting of rye-straw for bonnets, they are unwilling to work in the field, and are generally employed, only in the care of cattle or as house-servants.” (NSA, Vol. XV, 1845, p. 100)

Conversely, farmers in Kinnell, County of Forfar, found it hard to employ women who were working in the weaving industry. “For the farmers, finding it difficult to induce women to leave the loom for the working of the green crop, have been constrained to bring workers from the northern counties. The engagement of these workers is generally for a certain period, at about 8d. or 9d. a day till harvest, when higher wages are necessarily given.” (NSA, Vol. XI, 1845, p. 404)

A painting called 'A Lady's Maid Soaping Linen', c.1765-82, by Henry Robert Morland.

Morland, Henry Robert; A Lady’s Maid Soaping Linen, c.1765-82. Picture credit: Tate.

Many women had to move away from their parishes to work as servants, such as those in Kirkinner, County of Wigton. “Many of the young women go out as servants to Edinburgh, but particularly to Glasgow and Paisley.” (NSA, Vol. IV, 1845, p. 17) In Walls and Sandness, County of Shetland, “many of the young women, in the character of servants, go to London, Edinburgh, Etc. in the Greenland ships.” (OSA, Vol. XX, 1798, p. 106)

As an aside, in Stornoway, County of Ross and Cromarty, there was a very interesting custom involving women servants! “The people of the town seldom have menservants engaged for the year; and it is a curious circumstance that, time out of remembrance, their maidservants were in the habit of drinking, every morning, a wine glass full of whisky, which their mistress gave them; this barbarous custom became so well established by length of time, that if the practice of it should happen to be neglected or forgotten in a family, even once, discontent and idleness throughout the day, on the part of the maid or maids, would be the sure consequence. However, since the stoppage of the distilleries took place, the people of the town found it necessary to unite in the resolution of abolishing the practice, by withholding the dear cordial from their female domestics, but not without the precaution of making a compensation to them in money for their grievous loss; and it is said, that even this is not satisfactory, and that, in some families, the dram is still given privately, to preserve peace and good order.” (OSA, Vol. XIX, 1797, p. 258)

Mining

Women of all ages, even during the time of the Old Statistical Accounts of Scotland, worked in the mines, carrying the coal up to the surface on their backs! This was particularly prevalent in Alloa, County of Clackmannan and Tranent, County of Haddington. “The depth of a bearing pit cannot well exceed 18 fathom, or 108 feet. There are traps, or stairs, down to these pits, with a hand rail to assist the women and children, who carry up the coals on their backs.” (OSA, Vol. VIII, 1793, p. 615) The women were called “bearers”, who carried about 1 1/2 cwt. on their backs, and ascended the pit by a bad wooden stair. In the deeper pits, the coals were carried to the bottom of the shaft by women, and then raised in wooden tubs by means of a “gin” moved by horses.” (NSA, Vol. II, 1845, p. 287) In Liberton, County of Edinburgh, “the stones from the mine or quarry were formerly carried to the bank-head by women with creels fastened on their backs, and when the works were in full operation, probably fifty women were thus employed.”  (NSA, Vol. I, 1845, p. 19) As reported in Hamilton, County of Lanark, “at Quarter, the first bed worth working is the 10 feet or woman’s coal, so called because it was once wrought by females. This is a soft coal, which burns rapidly; and although called the 10 feet coal, is in reality from 7 to 14 feet in thickness.” (NSA, Vol. VI, 1845, p. 258)

For the actual numbers who worked in the colliery of Alloa in 1780 you can take a look here: OSA, Vol. VIII, 1793, p. 619. There are also figures given for those working at the coal mines in the parish of Dunfermline, County of Fife. (OSA, Vol. XIII, 1794, p. 476) In Lasswade, County of Edinburgh, “there are from 90 to 100 colliers, (pickmen). Women are still employed as bearers below ground; their number may be from 130 to 150.” (OSA, Vol. X, 1794, p. 281)

In the later Alloa parish report, found in the New Statistical Accounts of Scotland, mining was equated to slavery. It was reported that the condition of colliers had, in the last thirty years, improved “since the women were relieved from the most disgraceful slavery of bearing the coals, and the workman from all charge of the coals, the instant they are weighed at the pit. From, the circumstance of the wives remaining at home to attend to the domestic economy, the houses are much more comfortable and better furnished than they formerly were, and the whole style of living has been improved.” (NSA, Vol. VIII, 1845, p. 33) It was felt that not having women working down the pits improved both the character and habits of the people. In the parish report of Tranent, County of Haddington, it was noted that “among a population of colliers, it cannot be expected that the habits of the people should be cleanly; and the injurious practice of women working in the pits as bearers, (now happily on the decline with the married females,) tends to render the houses of colliers most uncomfortable on their return from their labours, and to foster many evils which a neat cleanly home would go far to lessen.” (NSA, Vol. II, 1845, p. 295)

Other jobs!

Here are some other jobs undertaken by women found in the Statistical Accounts of Scotland.

  • Boot-binding

Linlithgow, County of Linlithgow – “Thirty women are also employed as women’s boot-binders, whose weekly wages average 4s. 6d.” (NSA, Vol. II, 1845, p. 180)

  • Fuel manufacture

Rathven, County of Banff – “It is the province of the women to bait the lines; collect furze, heath, or the gleanings of the mosses, which, in surprising quantity, they carry home in their creels for fuel, to make the scanty stock of peats and turfs prepared in summer, last till the returning season.” (OSA, Vol. XIII, 1794, p. 424)

Kirkinner, County of Wigton – “The day-light, during the winter, is spent by many of the women and children in gathering elding, as they call it, that is, sticks, furze, or broom, for fuel, and the evening in warming their shivering limbs before the scanty fire which this produces.” (OSA, Vol. IV, 1792, p. 147)

Appendix for Kincardine, County of Perth – “The women declare they can make more by working at the moss than at their wheel and such is their general attachment to that employment, that they have frequently been discovered working by moon-light.” (OSA, Vol. XXI, 1799, p. 175)

Snizort, County of Inverness – “The fuel is peats, which the women carry home in creels on their backs, from a very great distance.” (NSA, Vol. XIV, 1845, p. 295)

Lismore and Appin, County of Argyle – “Peats are the only fuel in both parishes. The process of making them in Lismore is difficult beyond conception, as they are first tramped and wrought with men’s feet, and then formed by the women’s hands. There is a necessity for this; because the substance of which they are made contains no fibres to enable them to cohere or stick together. This tedious operation consumes much of the farmer’s time, which, in a grain country, might be employed to much better advantage; and affords serious cause of regret that the coal-duty is not taken off, or lessened, which would remove the everlasting bar to the success of the fishing villages, and to improvements in general over all the coasts of Scotland.” (OSA, Vol. I, 1791, p. 490)

  • Varnishing wooden boxes

Old Cumnock, County of Ayrshire – “One set of artists make the boxes, another paint those beautiful designs that embellish the lids, while women and children are employed in varnishing and polishing them. The process of varnishing a single box takes from three to six weeks. Spirit varnish takes three weeks, and requires about thirty coats; while copal varnish, which is now mostly used, takes six weeks, and requires about fifteen coats to complete the process. When the process of varnishing is finished, the surface is polished with ground flint; and then the box is ready for the market.” (NSA, Vol. V, 1845, p. 486)

  • Plaiting straw

Orphir, County of Orkney – “Almost all the young women have, for many years, been employed in winter in plaiting straw for bonnets.” (NSA, Vol. XV, 1845, p. 20)

Stromness, County of Orkney – “There are a few straw plait manufacturers, who employ a number of women in the town as well as in the country. This manufacture has been, for some time past, upon the decline; and, being at all times dependent upon the caprice of fashion, has lately afforded a scanty subsistence to the many young females who totally depend on it for their support. They are now allowed to plait in their own homes, which has been found more conducive to their health and morals, than doing so collectively, in the houses of the, manufacturers, which was the original custom. -There is a small rope manufactory, where ropes of various kinds are made, both for the shipping and for country, use. From the former Account, it appears there was a considerable quantity of linen and woolen cloth manufactured. This business has now wholly ceased here, being superseded by the perfect machinery now in use.” (NSA, Vol. XV, 1845, p. 32)

  • Salt sellers

Duddingston, County of Edinburgh – “Their labours afforded employment to above 40 carriers, all women, who retailed the salt in Edinburgh, and through the neighbouring districts.” (OSA, Vol. XVIII, 1796, p. 368)

  • Lace makers

Hamilton, County of Lanark – “The lace trade, established here about eight years ago by a house at Nottingham, which sent down a number of English women, who took up schools and taught the tambourers here the art, is now in a thriving state, and is contributing greatly to the happiness and comfort of the community.” (NSA, Vol. VI, 1845, p. 294) “From a census taken some months ago, and which seems to be accurate, there has been an increase [in population] of 309, which may be attributed to the introduction and flourishing condition of a lace-manufactory, which now employs a great many females.” (NSA, Vol. VI, 1845, p. 276)

  • Potato-starch makers

Spott, County of Haddington – “The only thing of this sort [manufactures] carried on in the parish, is a manufactory of potato-starch, or flour, on the farm of Easter Broomhouse. It employs six women for six months in the year. The flour is principally used by manufacturers of cloth; and sometimes by bakers and confections in large towns.” (NSA, Vol. II, 1845, p. 230)

For a fascinating insight into the industries found in Scotland in the nineteenth century take a look at the book ‘The industries of Scotland; their rise, progress, and present condition‘ by David Bremner, published in 1869.

Conclusion

The last three blog posts illustrates just how important the role was for women in society. They worked in all sorts of sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture, fishing, and even mining at one point. They supported themselves and helped support their families, showing resourcefulness, adaptability, and willingness to work hard.

We will continue this series on women in Scotland by looking more generally at the impact women’s work had on society, as well as the impact society had on women.

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