Glossary of Coalmining Terms
also some Scottish words and legal terms

 

 

 

   Coalmining   |  Legal Terms   |  Scots Words   

This glossary is only of terms mentioned in this website and is not intended to be a comprehensive guide.

 


Coalmining


Arles

A sum of money paid when a collier, bearer or other person agrees to work at a colliery.

 

Banksman

The person who unhooked the tubs of coal at the top of the shaft

 

Bounty payment

Payment made to a collier or bearer on agreeing to work at a colliery for a specified time; usually for one years service beginning from 3 July.

 

Chews

Middle sized pieces of coal.

 

Coal Bearer

A Coalbearer was a person (usually the wife and children of the collier) who brought the coal from the coalface to the foot of the shaft, or all the way up to the surface. The coal was carried in creels on their backs.

 

Coalhewer, Collier

The name originally used for those working at the coalface cutting the coal. the term 'Coal Miner' was not used until much later.

 

Coal Miner

Originally a 'miner' was a person who cut tunnels through rock - usually to allow colliers and bearers to reach different seams, or making a 'level' for drainage of the water. It has now become used for all types of underground coalworkers.

 

Coalgrieve

A person usually appointed by the Overseer of the colliery to supervise the work, take the payments for coal sales, keep accounts etc. (the range of duties could vary considerably depending on the size of the colliery)

 

Creel

A basket used by coalbearers to carry the coal on their backs.

 

Darg

A days work. Often used to describe a sum of money paid for a days labour doing oncost work.

 

Edge seams

Seams of coal coming to the surface at a very steep angle. In Midlothian they are found in a line stretching roughly from Loanhead through Gilmerton and Duddingston.

 

Fire engine

A steam powered engine used to drain water from mine workings by pumping it to the surface or an exisiting 'level' . The earliest were Newcomen engines

 

Fathom

The unit of measurement used for measuring the depth of coalworkings. Equivalent to six feet or sometimes 5 ft 4 3/4 inches

 

Filling/Fillers

Loading coal at the bottom of the shaft into tubs or buckets to be raised to the surface. The men doing this were known as 'fillers'

 

Gin

A wooden type of winding device used to raise coal and colliers or bearers to the surface. usually powered by a horse or sometimes water.

 

Great Coal

Large blocks of coal. These could sell for almost double the price of small coal so a skillful collier would try and prize out large blocks and limit the amount of small pieces he produced while coalhewing.

 

Hewing

cutting the coal at the coalface. A collier was also known as a 'coal hewer'.

 

Horse Gin

A wooden type of winding device used to raise coal and colliers or bearers to the surface

 

Level

A long horizontal tunnel leading to the lowest part of the land, allowing water to drain from the coalworkings without the aid of machinery. These are sometimes referred to as "Adit" or "Day" levels. (One at Duddingston was 3 miles long with it's exit at the sea).

 

Load

A measure of coal; usually eqivalent to a number of tickets.

 

Mine

Originally a term for a tunnel connecting coal seams together below ground, rather than the entire colliery or the shaft.

 

Miner - see Coal Miner

 

Oncost

Oncost is a collective term covering all the other types of work performed at the colliery apart from coalhewing. Oncost accounts cover all the expenditure at the coalworks apart from payments to coalhewers for their coal.

 

Overseer

The colliery manager.

 

Oversman

A person appointed by the coalgrieve to supervise the work underground.

 

Panwood

Name given to small or inferior types of coal; often used in saltpans, lime burning or pumping engines

 

Pickman

Literally, someone using a pick i.e. a coalhewer.

 

Redding

Maintaining the height of the underground passages by cutting away the rock above the roadway to maintain their height as the roof was crushed down.

 

Small Coal

Small pieces of coal. These sold at a lower price than the larger pieces known as great coal.

 

Stair Pit

A pit where the coal was brought to the surface by coalbearers climbing up a series of ladders or stairs.

 

Ticket

measure of coal equvalent to a number of burdens or counters

 

Tub

Quantity of coal equal to about a quarter of a ton. This was the unit of measurement often used where gins were used to raise the coal.

 

Wood Coal

Name given to small or inferior types of coal; often used in saltpans, lime burning or pumping engines



Coalmining Legal Terms Scots Words  Return to Top


Legal


Action

Civil court proceedings (also referred to as a Cause)

 

Assoilzie

To decide in favour of the defender in a court action

 

Averment

A statement declaring something to be true.

 

Avizandum

The judge taking time to consider or make judgement in a case.

 

Caution

Security to ensure that a task is carried out or carried out correctly; it can be thought of as being similar to a bail bond. (rhymes with station)

 

Condescendence

Statement of the facts by the pursuer in a civil action which they will rely on to prove their case.

 

Court of Session

The Supreme Civil Court in Scotland

 

Decree

Decision of the court in civil cases

 

Defender

The person who is the subject of a civil action

 

Diligence

Legal procedure where someone owed money takes steps to ensure payment of the money owed

 

Haver

Someone who has documents in their possession which they are required to produce in court

 

Interlocutor

A decision or order by the court given during the proceedings but not the final decision.

 

Irregular Marriage

There were 3 lawful ways in Scotland:

1) Both parties simply declaring in front of witnesses the they consent to take each other as man and wife
2) By a verbal promise that they would become man and wife followed by sexual intercourse.
3) By a cohabitation and repute - the man and woman live together as man and wife giving the impression that they are married.

 

Precognition

Obtaining knowledge of the facts of the case that are relevant and may have to be proved in a trial.

 

Procurator Fiscal

The Public Prosecutor in criminal cases

 

Pursuer

The person bringing a court action against another. The equivalent in English is the 'Plaintiff'

 

Sheriff

A judge in the Sheriff Court



Coalmining Legal Terms Scots Words  Return to Top


Scots words


See the new Dictionary of the Scottish Language website.

Banns

The reading out in church of a couples intention to marry. The banns were read out for 3 weeks in a row and had to be read out in the parish of residence of of both the bride and groom. A marriage without banns was known as an irregular marriage

 

Kirk Session

A meeting of the Mininster and church elders of a church

 

Heritors

Landowners in the parish with a heritable obligation to contribute to the upkeep of the parish church

 

Mortcloth

A cloth used to cover the dead person before burial. The cloths were owned by the Kirk Session and the money raised by payments for using the cloths often went towards supporting the poor. The payment for using the mortcloths depended on which one was used. The cloths could vary in their size (big,middle,small); type (velvet or cloth); and condition (best, 2nd, 3rd). For instance the best big velvet cloth would be most expensive. This is an example but it could vary from church to church.

 

Pounds Scots

A Scots pound was equivalent to 20 'old' pence sterling.

 

Shillings scots

One Scots shilling was equivalent to one 'old' penny sterling.

 

Tollbooth

The burgh jail. In addition to criminals, it often held debtors or people imprisoned as a result of civil court actions.


Coalmining Legal Terms Scots Words  Return to Top

 

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