NameThomas WAKENSHAW [641], [694], [695], [696]
Birth1 Jul 1802, Earsdon, Northumberland, England [697], [694], [695], [696], [698]
Birth MemoPossibly born in Hartley, Northumberland
Christen1802, Earsdon, Northumberland, England [188], [698] Age: <1
Chr MemoDate on document hard to read. Looks like Oct 31st
Death17 Jun 1890, Stakeford, Northumberland, England [697] Age: 87
OccupationCoal Miner [697]
FatherThomas WAKENSHAW (~1782-)
Misc. Notes
1. Taken from a book found on, “The Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend”, Aug 1890, page 379:
“On the 17th of June, Mr. Thomas Wakenshaw, a veteran Northumbrian miner, died at his house at Stakeford, near Bedlington, at the advance age of 88 years. He had been identified with many of the labour struggles which occurred during the second quarter of the present century. Until his death he was the only man in his district still living that had passed through the perils and the pains of the battle for unionism sixty years ago. He was appointed the representative of Netherton and Glebe Collieries in 1831 and 1832 to attend the delegate meetings of miners held in Newcastle. During the strike of 1844, Wakenshaw earnestly supported the efforts of Martin Jude, Mark Dent, Christopher Haswell, and the other leading miners of that day.”

2. Obituary from the Blyth Examiner, 21 June 1890, page 6, Death of Mr. Thomas Wakenshaw, Last of the Old Miners’ Representatives:

“On Tuesday morning, Mr. Thomas Wakenshaw died at his house at Stakeford, near Bedlington, at the advanced age of 88 years. The old man, who had been identified with many of the labour struggles that occurred during the second quarter of the present century, passed away quietly and peacefully to his rest. His end has been anticipated for some time, and when only a few days ago, Mr. Richard Fynes and Mr. John Bryson called to see him, the veteran, conscious of his coming death, asked those around him to lift him up that he might gaze for the last time on the face of Mr. Fynes, who had struggled side by side with him at one time for the emancipation of the miners, and that he might look on Mr. Bryson, who, with Mr. Fynes, had shown him thoughtful kindness from time to time in his old age. Until his death, Wakenshaw was the only man in the district still living who had passed through the perils and the pains of the battle for unionism sixty years ago.

The Stakeford veteran was born in the vicinity of a small landsale colliery in Northumberland, and while he was still young his family removed to Bellington Glebe, where his intelligence by and by having won the confidence of the men, he was appointed as the representative of Netberton and Glebe Collieries in 1831 and 1832 to attend the delegate meetings held in Newcastle. The great “beat up” of the miners at that time was at the Cock Inn, which stood on a site close to where the General Post Office now stands, and, as times were troublous with strife, the old delegates, the forerunners of the present race of pitmen, had no easy task in hand. There was a determined strike at the time, the men would neither listen to persuasion nor reason, and excesses of all kinds were common in the county. Great damage was done in the Bedlington district, for about 1,500 men visited the collieries, did considerable injury to property, and laid the pits that were working idle, even threatening to set them on fire if their demand was not complied with.

Wakenshaw and his colleagues strove hard to prevent such outages, but for a time their efforts were in vain. The leaders of the men, however, were indefangable [sic] in their endeavors to secure a favorable issue, and about the middle of June success was that a working day of twelve hours was established for boys, who frequently, almost generally, had to work before that time eighteen hours per diem. In these days of nine hour shifts and eight hours agitations, the concession may be regarded as a poor one, but it meant comfort and consolation to the poor pit lads of the time. The strike had its disadvantages, however, to the leaders, and amongst the rest. Wakenshaw and his family were thrown out of work, and sought employment in vain at many parts of the county. Ultimately, but after a very long interval, they secured work at Whitley Colliery, to which they removed.

During the strike of 1844, Wakenshaw was one of those who supported with all the energy and ability he possessed the efforts of that hardy band of leaders, which embraced Martin Jude, Thomas Pratt, James Ballantine, Mark Dent, George Thompson, George Charlton, Matthew Elliott, Edward Richardson, William Mitchell, Christopher Haswell, Thomas Hay, John Tulip, T. Clough, Robert Archer, Wm. Stoves, Wm. Hammond, and many others. He was at that time appointed chairman of the committee of the Durham and Northumberland Miners’ Association, and for a long while discharged the duties with more than ordinary sound sense and with conspicuous ability. The year was one of determined resistance on the part of the owners and of a decided stand on the part of the men, and it was the most trying period through which the coal trade of the two counties has ever passed.

On the 30th of July in that year, whilst the strike was still in existence, a great gathering was held on Newcastle Town Moor. Mr. Mark Dent presided, and Wakenshaw seconded a motion thanking the shopkeepers and others who had supported the men in their struggle. The conflict between capital and labour in this instance ended in favour of the employees. After the conclusion of the strike, the union of Durham and northumberland Miners became a wreck, and Wakenshaw with other leaders, consequently suffered. In 1849, 1850, and 1851, another union was in existence, with Mr. Thomas Weatherley, now of Pelton Fell, as secretary, but that union also was broken up. The men in short had become disorganised, and strife and trouble prevailed for years.

In 1852, the owners had given notice of their intention to re-impose the system of binding the men, and it was met at once by a direct sprit of resistance. A meeting was called by Mr. R. Fynes, to be held at Horton, near Blyth on Christmas Day, and was attended by between 3,000 and 4,000 miners. The yearly bond was finally buried at this gathering, and at this meeting Wakenshaw was one of the supporters of the motion that a union of Northumberland miners be established. A delegate meeting afterwards confirmed the resolution to form a union, and Messrs. Elliott, Dixon, Wakenshaw, Nicholson, and Wilson were appointed the first executive committee. A junction, however, was again affected with the miners of Durham, but it did not work satisfactorily, and the union for Northumberland alone, now in existence, was then established.

In all the work that led up to the promotion of the present union, the officials of which were re-elected on Saturday, Thomas Wakenshaw took part. His advise was always for federation, and his sound sense, couched in firm, fairly fluent, and homely language, was always aimed in the direction of peaceful measures. There may have been some who commanded more attention in the old battles that were fought for the emancipation of the miners, but there never, probably, was one who fought more persistently and more conscientiously than he did. The men who fought in the past, with the battles they won, are now, however, almost all forgotten. There are a few who remember their services with gratitude, and on Christmas Day, 1882, when Mr. Fynes gave an entertainment and medals to the old veterans of Northumberland and Durham at Blyth, Wakenshaw was amongst the number. Two-thirds of the old men who took part in that feast have since then passed away. Thomas Wakenshaw was the only survivor of that daring band of men who fought for the miners and the pit laddies in that far distant time of 1831, and he now has passed away in his turn. In his declining years the old man was little known to the general body of miners in the district where he resided. And yet few had fought the battle of the men so bravely and fearlessly as he had done, and fewer still deserved more than he did the gratitude of his class.” [188]

3. In the 1881 UK Census the name is spelled Walkenshaw.
Birthabt 1827, London,, England [695], [696], [699]
Deathaft 1901 [700] Age: 74
Misc. Notes
1. Listed as widow in 1891 & 1901 UK Census, living with her son, Mark. [699]
ChildrenThomas (~1843-)
 John (~1849-)
 Mary (~1860-)
 Mark (~1870-)
Last Modified 28 Mar 2010Created 7 Mar 2011 Mark C. Wakenshaw