Thursday, 23 April 2015

T is for Tin Miners, the Tin Miners Rebellion and the Stannary Parliaments and Courts …



Historically extensive tin and copper mining has occurred in Devon and Cornwall, as well as arsenic, silver, zinc and over 30 more minerals … kaolin in recent times has been the most important economically.  (In the Bronze Age 4,000 years ago arsenic was often included in bronze, which made the alloy harder).


Workings at bottom of Cligga Cliff, Perranporth
c/o Mining in Cornwall 

Originally tin was found as alluvial deposits before shallow cuttings were used to extract the ore – then tin lodes were found outcropping on the cliffs, with mines being dug from the 1500s.



The tin trade was controlled by the Phoenicians, who kept their sources secret.  About 4,000 years (2,000 BC) trade was flourishing here ... the Roman, Diodorus Siculus, described ancient tin mining – while the mining resources contributed to the Romans invading Britain.

Ore of tin: Cassiterite

There are few remains today … the later workings have destroyed the earlier ones … a few leats can still be found – water being supplied to a mineral outcrop.


There are a few stone hammers to be found at the ZennorWayside Museum ... while it is thought that mining was mostly undertaken with shovels, antler picks and wooden wedges.


Domesday Book - large and smaller volumes
rebound and lying on their 'Tudor' bindings

Much of the land and the rights were owned by the Crown and were not known about ... there is no record in the Domesday book (1086) of tin mining in Cornwall ...




King John (1166 - 1216)

However in 1201 King John granted a charter to the tin miners confirming their “just and ancient customs and liberties”.





The Stannary Parliament and Stannary Court were legislative and legal institutions in Cornwall reflecting how important the tin mining industry was to the English economy.


The privileges of the Stannaries were confirmed by Edward III (1312 – 1377) on the creation of the Duchy of Cornwall in 1337.  This confirmed that the tin miners were exempt from all civil jurisdiction other than that of the Stannary Court.



Edward III as head of the
Order of the Garter
In the 1490s there was a popular uprising by the Cornish in response to taxation by Henry VII (1457 - 1509) on the impoverished Cornish to raise money for a campaign against Scotland: Cornwall is still miles away from Scotland!


The tin miners were angered as the scale of taxes overturned the previous rights granted by Edward III which exempted Cornwall from all taxes of 10ths or 15ths of income.


The Cornish rebelled!  They garnered an army of men and started walking to London – gathering more supporters en route … 15,000 marched into Devon …



They went to Taunton (Devon), Wells and Bath (Somerset), Bristol, Salisbury (Wiltshire), Winchester (Hampshire), Guildford (Surrey) and on to Kent …  (essentially across the width of southern England)



… Henry had not been idle and gathered a force at Hounslow Heath (west London – where Heathrow airport is) …


All in all things started to fall apart for the Cornish and the Battle of Deptford Bridge took place on 17 June 1497 … the Cornish lost, were cut to pieces and put to flight …


Prisoners were sold into slavery and estates were seized and handed to more loyal subjects.  In due course Crown agents pauperised sections of Cornwall for years to come ...


Showing the Isle of Dogs loop on the Thames
Blackheath/Deptford in the broad area of Greenwich Park

In 1508 Henry VII restored the privileges in return for payment from the tin miners of £1,000 an enormous sum to support his war on Scotland.


Tin mining increased again in the 1540s when German miners came over who had knowledge of new techniques.  Thomas Epsley, a Somerset man, developed a method (1689) using gunpowder to blast the very hard granite loose, using gunpowder with quill fuses: it revolutionised hard rock mining.  A third boom occurred in the 1700s when shafts were dug to extract the ore.


A Cornish mine in Mexico -
Acosta Mine Museum

In the 1800s Cornish mining reached its zenith before foreign competition depressed the price of first copper, and later tin.




Many miners went off to use their skills in the Americas, South Africa and Australia …


During the 20th century various ores became profitable … but no working mines remain today – though surveys are still conducted as more technology is developed.


Tin Mining c 1890

Geevor Mine is run as a Heritage Museum and is an Anchor Point on the European Route of Industrial Heritage.


Camborne School of Mines was founded in 1888 and has an international reputation … built on the knowledge of miners from earlier centuries … Cornwall is one of the most important and influential metalliferous mining regions in the world.  


c/o Old Cornish Mines Match Box Labels


The geology influenced the knowledge acquired – while the training provided in the 20th and 21st centuries was recognised and has ensured it consolidated its position as a leading international education institution, under the auspices of Exeter University.

Tin leat at Trevelloe, up above
Mousehole, Penwith




This has become a potted history of Tin Mining, the Cornish Rebellion and the Stannary Parliament …




Zennor - Tin Miners Arms pub,
church and wind swept tree


The rebellion was referred to in Wolf Hall – as the protagonist, Thomas Cromwell, remembers the panic caused by the approach of the rebels, when he was a young boy …




That is T for Tin Miners, the Tin Miners Rebellion and the Cornish Stannery Parliament and Court … the po –t-t- t- ed history … from Aspects of British Cornwall …


PS An author Sarah Foot - see my Y post for Literature - the best-seller 'Following the River Fowey', included interviews with old Cornish characters her grandfather would have known, such as the retired tinner Ralph Finch who recalled the appalling conditions he endured in the mines on Bodmin Moor.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

52 comments:

Bob Scotney said...

You deserve a medal for this post, Hilary. A fascinating read for me as I studied geology as a subsidiary subject at university.

Carole Anne Carr said...

With that dreadfully written Poldark on the tv, I keep my invalid husband company when he watches the tv, but not always, tin mining is very much in people's minds at the moment, I should imagine. Lots in common with my Shropshire coal mining books, but no evidence of child labour, or so it appears.

Rhodesia said...

Wow Hilary what and interesting post, you have done your research well. I was fascinated reading this. Well done Diane

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

I had no idea tin mining had so many ups and downs, I just assumed it had ticked along because it's one of those things I associate with Cornwall. Thank you for the education :)
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Patsy said...

A stormy lof those Cornish!

We visited a restored tin mine in Wales. Very interesting - definitely not somewhere I'd have liked to work.

D.G. Hudson said...

All in all, right doesn't always win, might does. An interesting look at what resources can do in shaping a country and its people. Rulers did as they saw fit, backed by their armies.

Natalie Aguirre said...

How interesting! Shows how might sadly wins. I agree with D.G. on this.

Out on the prairie said...

A rough life to live. I went to school in Arizona and had a few neighbors working in the copper mines.

Sara C. Snider said...

I admire the Cornish for rising up against the king. A shame it didn't go better for them.

Jo said...

I don't remember any of that from my history classes. What a tragedy for the Cornish who marched. There's those Phoenecians again!! I didn't realise that tin was one of the reasons we had the Roman invasion. Lots of research here Hilary. Thanks.

River Fairchild said...

Whew! Thank you for the map. I've always been fuzzy about just where Cornwall is. So much history in England, with each region contributing its own uniqueness...and you ferreting it out for us. :)
River Fairchild – A to Z April Challenge
Untethered Realms

Manzanita said...

From antler picks to gun powder with quill wicks is quite inventive. Miners always had a dangerous and tough life. I just thought about that same subject yesterday when I drove to Bozeman and traveled past the old mines that are so numerous in our side of the pond, too.

Annalisa Crawford said...

It was a harsh life - you've covered the history of it very thoroughly. I love the detail you go into.

Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Shame their revolt failed.

Chrys Fey said...

Cassiterite is so pretty compared to the things we make tin out of. I always imagined it to be more like a coal-type of metal.

Seems like Cornwall has had a tough history. It's interesting to learn about.

Bish Denham said...

Wow. Who would have thought such a small area of land could play such an important role on the world stage?!

And the poor Cornish people... their land, their minerals... yet always on the loosing end.

Kristin said...

That march must have been a sight to see and to participate in. A tragedy it turned out the way it did.

Jennifer Hawes said...

An antler pick? Very interesting. If it worked:) I wish I could discover a mine like gold or silver:)

Stephen Tremp said...

Miners are a tough lot and they will fight if pushed regardless of the odds against them. I would have liked to see them win.

cleemckenzie said...

This was such an interesting post about the history of tin mining. I had no idea it reached back to Phoenician times. You had one heck of a lot of tin.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bob – thanks so much .. I was worried I’d over done it, as it’s a dry subject .. still it seems not – I’m just grateful for intelligent readers …

@ Carole Anne – yes the Poldark isn’t that good is it – but the settings are wonderful (it’s Cornwall!). There was child labour in the mines – as the Pasty Boys attest to … but perhaps not as bad as the coal barons’ mines …

@ Diane – so pleased to read you too enjoyed the post .. it was fun to write, but I was worried I’d put too much in ..

@ Tasha – history is so interesting when we get down to looking at it .. and yes you’d think mining was mining and I was interested to read about the ups and downs ..

@ Patsy – apparently they are a stormy nation … me being one of them?! Adopted one perhaps!! I went down a mine in Johannesburg .. and like you I’d have not liked to work in one .. but it is interesting learning and having that experience ..

@ DG – sadly that’s the case … and from what I read, the Cornish could have won .. but deviousness of the King spoilt the day and no awareness of battle strategy was the other factor …

@ Natalie – it’s an interesting story of people’s rights being blotted out … yet the minerals shaped our land ..

@ OOTP – it is a rough life .. but I would think you learnt a few things from your friends working in the copper mines?

@ Sara – well they gave it their best shot .. it’s a long distance Cornwall to South East London … sadly it wasn’t to be their finest hour …

@ Jo – well I’m not sure Cornish history would have been taught in class … but it was a tragedy … the loser always loses. And yes the Phoenicians … it’s interesting isn’t it the Spanish reserves were running out – so England as a last outpost was conquered for its tin and silver …

@ River – sorry I’m not good with pictures etc and adding notations to them .. something I must correct … so I’m glad the map I found helped somewhat. Ferreting Cornish history is reasonably easy .. it’s on its own .. and that’s it … but it adds to British life ..

@Manzanita – yes it’s incredible to think of the utensils and tools they had available to use or created from the environment … and I liked the antler picks, to gunpowder with quill wicks – it’s a good mix isn’t it!!

It’s a lovely despairing landscape to drive through .. abandoned mines and their workings … stories to tell ..

@ Annalisa – it must have been a very rough life .. and I appreciate that you enjoy the ‘detail’ or sufficient to bring the post to life …

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – yes it was … history could well have been very different …

@ Chrys – looking at tin that way does make it look dowdy and uninteresting doesn’t it … our tin is squashed into quartz veins … so they are surrounded by very hard rock …

Cornish history is unique because of its situation and geology ..

@ Bish – yes you’re right that elongated peninsula sticking out into the Atlantic Ocean offered much to early man – then help shape Britain and its culture … sadly the powerful won …

@ Kristin –a tough walk … over 300 miles … but sad too – if only … but then what …

@ Jennifer – yes they used antlers for quite a lot of work in the early stages of life on earth … oh yes wouldn’t we all enjoy finding a mine or two – gold or silver: I don’t mind which!!

@ Stephen – they are a tough breed, as they are now .. but particularly back then … and if they’d won … then where would we be … interesting thoughts …

@ Lee – so glad you enjoyed the brief history of Cornish tin … the Phoenicians travelled and had a huge knowledge … we had enough tin at that stage to satisfy the needs of the trading world ..

Cheers everyone – thanks for visiting - Hilary

Joanne said...

Who knew so much history about tin? Interesting turmoil. My boss is a graduate of a school of mines in South Dakota. He's a specialist on ores and metals.

Sunday Visitor said...

When I see the word tin, the Tin Man from Wiz of Oz pops in my head. Excellent blog post. Learnt a lot.

KAT Writer said...

Know I know what kaolin is and a very interesting history about mining.

Kern Windwraith said...

What a fascinating history. We tend to take things like tin or copper or steel for granted, don't we, not stopping to contemplate the long and often brutal history that has brought them into our lives in the form of cutlery, tools, solder, jewelry, and on and on. Thank you for this, Hilary. I'll never think of tin the same way again.

TexWisGirl said...

mining for minerals or gems i find both fascinating and terrifying. :)

Jeffrey Scott said...

Love the history lesson here. Mining as always fascinated me, so that too has interested me.

Tara Tyler R said...

going back a few letters,
i wish there were more quillets in the world!
smuggling is romantic, mysterious, risque, makes for a good story!
and tin, well, then there's tin =)

happy t day!

Paula Kaye said...

I have never given much thought to tin mining. Thanks for the education

Lisa said...

It must take you weeks to research all of the information you use in your posts. Wow. Loved hearing about the history of mining in Cornwall. I knew the Romans knew of it and that it was a major reason for invading... Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

Nilanjana Bose said...

That 1000 pounds must have been crippling to raise at that time...mining is such a difficult way of earning a living. Even now, and anywhere in the world.


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It sounds like a hard life to mine anything but the financial burdens by the greedy government must have made it even worse. No wonder they rebelled though it failed.

Mark Clough said...

I've never been down a tin mine, but I did once go down a coal mine. I'm not going back.

Janie Junebug said...

I shall try to find time to go back and read all your A - Z posts. The history is so interesting.

Love,
Janie

Maria said...

Nice read for history and geography! Thanks Hillary!

Rosie Amber said...

I learn something every time I read your posts. A local Hampshire history book shows a crossing at a ford near us used as part of the Phoenician tin routes from Cornwall to East Anglia.

Betsy Brock said...

I love your newsy and interesting posts...history that we didn't learn in depth like this, not being our country and all!

T already! You're almost through!

Munir said...

I know mining is difficult and we a lot to miners even for electricity that uses a lot of coal. I did not realize that tin miners went through so much.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joanne – it is T for the poTTed post! I wonder what your boss would say about this post?!

@ Sunday Visitor – yes the Tin Man is a good example of remembering tin in other ways … thanks ..

@ Kat – I’m glad I enlightened you on Kaolin .. and the trip through tin mining in Cornwall ..

@ Kern – that is so true, until we’re brought up short or suddenly realise through an article we do take so many things for granted. I’m glad this post has let you see raw materials in their original state before all the hard graft of life has brought them into use ..

@ Theresa – yes, having been down a simple mine – good for tourists or feeble locals like me – I agree is terrifying, but how fascinating to find that treasure of ore ..

@ Jeffrey – so pleased you’ve enjoyed both the history and the back story re tin ..

@ Tara – you have been back a few letters I see: Quillets – they were beautiful weren’t they … while the smugglers risked life and limb to evade the revenue men … and then tin – lots of tin ..

@ Paula – I think it happens to us all .. we ‘forget’ how things are obtained or invented ..

@ Lisa – I’m glad you enjoyed this particular post, which was surprisingly relatively easy to write up ... I find things as I go along, and then draft and draw information together …

@ Nila – yes one thousand pounds must have been a terrible ransom to pay .. I don’t know how much it might equate to today .. but definitely a King’s ransom … and mining isn’t easy at the best of times …

@ Susan – life and times were hard in the outposts of Medieval England/Cornwall … and as you say demanding money for a war that had no effect on the Cornish was obviously more than they could take … it’s a defining period in Cornish history …

@ Mark – I’ve been down one mine and think I’d rather not go down another .. like you – except mine was a gold mine … not your black stuff!

@ Janie – that’s great .. thank you and I’m so pleased you find the history interesting ..

@ Maria – glad you enjoyed both the history and the geography ..

@ Rosie – that’s so good to know – that you enjoy the read and learn something new. I’m interested about the Phoenician crossing near you … as a tin route – presumably going up one of the ancient Ridgeways (trackways) – perhaps the Icknield Way … I’d love to know …

@ Betsy – thanks so much … I banter on, and am just delighted they’re interesting to read – I don’t remember learning history like this … but now I’m enjoying it … and we’re almost there … this time next week Z will have been posted!!

@ Munir – we owe a lot to our ancestors for all the graft and knowledge they put in to giving us the new technologies through the centuries …

Thanks so much .. I’m so glad you found this an interesting read … cheers Hilary

Mark Koopmans said...

I honestly never had any idea that Tin was ever considered valuable... but for something to have been mined for centuries...

Wow... I should have kept all those tin soldiers I used to have in my little tin box :)

Deborah Weber said...

How fascinating Hilary. I have a lovely specimen of cassiterite and I had no clue it was tin ore.

Trisha F said...

I have never heard of a massacre over tin mining! Amazing the things that get overlooked most of the time in history.

Great post :) Thank you for sharing!

Melissa Sugar said...

You have really put a lot of time into researching your post and should be commended. This is my first introduction into Tin mining. I had no idea arsenic was found in so many things . The first photo - the cliffs, looks like an area close to me on private property that used to be a salt mine and now it is this vast open water that is the prettiest color I've ever seen. People drive from all over to dive from the cliffs into the old salt mine where you then float easily without a raft.

Margie said...

You would make a wonderful History teacher, Hilary,
Bravo on another fascinating post.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mark - I know, when we do get to realise how we are where we are today ... the history sort of slots into place and surprises us. Your soldiers might well have been lead ones?! Not so healthy ..

@ Deborah - good heavens .. how extraordinary that I should have been able to enlighten you re your Cassiterite specimen: what fun things we can find out .. via blogging ..

@ Trisha - we had quite a few uprisings here ... especially once industrialisation started to come in ... wages were poor, and money needed to be raised by the King for skirmishes, wars etc ... or the people were exploited, as in the mills ...

@ Melissa - thanks for the visit. Some posts take me a long time, but not so long in the A-Z .. it's just making sure I cover a variety of subjects that make sense in the scheme of things ... to try and draw the concept together.

How interesting to read about your salt mine .. and that it's today as a 'swimming venue' ... no wonder people come to float ... a green-turquoise colour I'd guess.

@ Margie - thanks so much .. I keep wondering what genre I write - it varies so much ..

Cheers everyone and thanks so much - I'm delighted Tin Mining as amused and 'educated' you all a little ... next I'm uniting the realm! Hilary

Empty Nest Insider said...

It's hard to believe all of the agony the tin minors went through, as if working in the mines wasn't difficult enough. You always add such intricate details to your history lessons, Hilary!

Julie

J Lenni Dorner said...

That is really interesting.
My great-great grandfather was a tinsmith for a bit.

I love the pic of Wolf Hall.

samantha mozart said...

Hi Hilary. I reckon this is a history of mining, in general. Fascinating. I did not know that Cornwall is the most important and influential metalliferous mining regions in the world.

Coincidentally, I am currently watching "Wolf Hall" on our PBS TV here in the U.S. Cromwell is an intriguing person. Didn't know much about him, either, other than being familiar with his name.

Thank you.

Samantha Mozart
http://thescheherazadechronicles.org

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie - I hope I bring history to life in a short eclectic way .. so thank you for the comment. Mining is a tough way of life ..

@ J - so pleased you enjoyed the post .. and fascinating to read your great-great -grandfather was a tinsmith. I'm not sure about the Wolf Hall pic - but glad you saw something that triggered the thought of the book/tv series ...

@ Samantha - yes it is strange to think that Cornwall was and is so important in its research and mining methods over the centuries. Then of course all the miners who emigrated and started families overseas ... the Cornish connection ...

I haven't seen Wolf Hall - it came out when I was still recovering from the operation ... so somethings had to wait - I will watch it sometime .. I've the books here to read ...

Thanks so much to you three - I'm just so glad the tin mining post seems to have been happily received! Cheers Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

Lots of research here and I always love your attention to detail..
Seems like Cornwall had it quite rough.
I wasn't aware of Cornwall's influence as a mining region. Interesting.
Mining is such a dangerous undertaking. Seems like our miners are always on strike for one thing or another... when you look at it closely, can't really blame them...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

H Michelle - thanks ... I add in the information I think readers might want to know - but always there are questions! It's good though .. we're thinking about subjects and life in general ...

Cornwall was on a limb ... so always at the beginning or end of things ... or at 'peace' in poverty - seems to have been Cornwall's place in life ... now it's much more integrated ..... though many of us would be happy if it hadn't been found as such ... it throws up new challenges for the residents.

Cornwall, as well as the Welsh, certainly helped the world have mining and realising that wealth ..

So many names in South Africa reflect that ... Loveday Street in Jhb, and Baragwanath ... which I wrote about under B in the 2013 A-Zs ...

Cheers Hilary