Hood Family and Coal Mining

Strike at Gilmerton Colliery in 1823

Precognition relating to an 'illegal combination' and strike at Gilmerton Coalworks and an assault on George Pride, a collier



A precognition was an initial investigation into the circumstances of an alledged crime, used to establish the facts and decide if a prosecution should proceed.

Unfortunately the statements from all the people involved and the petition of the inhabitants of Gilmerton were destroyed, probably soon after the case was closed. Apart from the correspondence below, the only other surviving papers are the petitions against those colliers who were briefly put in prison while awaiting questioning:

Petition against David Pentland

Petition against George Kerr and others ( Archibald Muir, James Brown, Charles Robertson, James Campbell and David Armour)

Petition against Francis Gordon and others ( David Craig, John Robertson, ___ Blyth, ___ Blyth, ___ Blyth, John Richmond, William Reid, George Kerr, William Irvine, William Crombie, and William Sharp)


Fiscal Edinr Recd 27th Novr 1823
Precognition as to an assault on George Pride -
no one in custody
note within
29th Novr 1823

Dear Sir
I hand you a precognition relative to an assault committed on George Pride a collier at Gilmerton -- from the statement contained in the information from Mr Burnett WS. - certificate of Mr Peacock Surgeon and report of an officer who was sent to enquire into Prides situation, the Sheriff thought it proper to go and examine him and others at Gilmerton.
As Pride was then in a way of recovery some time was allowed to elapse before any further examinations were taken, to see if any information should be obtained as to the aggressors, but none has been got which appears to warrant any proceedings with a view to punishment - Pride is now recovered and at work - if any directions are received from the Kings Council they will of course be attended to. - I remain
Dear Sir
Your m[ost] ob[edient] ser[vant]
Arch[ibal]d Scott
Edin 27 Nov 1823

Edinburgh 27th November 1823

The Papers are
Information from Mr Burnett WS
Report of Mr Thomas Peacock
Petition for a Precognition
Declaration of George Pride
Do ________ Margt Naismyth and others
Letter of Mr Peacock

Adam Rolland Esq
Crown Agent

Opinion on Precognition for assault on George Pride
29 Nov 1823

Precogn for Assault on George Pride
This being a very aggravated case of assault committed by an unknown number of persons in company upon one, it is very is desirable that some person should be punished for it.
There is little doubt that Pride could identify some persons who assaulted him if he was not afraid to speak out. Endeavours should be made to dispel his fears, and he should be particularly examined if he was turned out of any committee a few days previous to the assault, and if so, who were present on that occasion.
James Brown seems to be the person against whom there is most evidence. He and Alexander Brown should both be examined as accused persons and if they declare to an alibi some persons shd be got to identify them as being among the crowd who committed the assault.
If another witness could be got to identify James Brown and he was proved to be one of the committee who turned Pride out of doors on Saturday evening preceding the assault it would authorise a prosecution.
Charles Robertson should be examined as to what passed at the committee.
29th Novr 1823

Dear Sir
I send you a Precognition relative to certain illegal proceedings and combination on the part of the Colliers at Gilmerton, which were so alarming at one time that a party of Sheriff officers and a number of men were sent out for some day and nights to protect the inhabitants, as to which the Sheriff had communications with the Lord Advocate at the time - the Precognition was commenced in consequence of a recommendation of the Solicitor General, before whom a memorial was laid by Mr Marshall the tacksman of the Coalliery and the Sheriff had some communication with Mr Dundas on the subject. As matters were now adjusted between Marshall and the men who he continues to employ at the works, it is thought the Crown Counsel would not judge it necessary that any further proceedings should be taken, the more especially as it is so very difficult, if at all possible to get direct evidence against any individual, and those who were most likely the principal aggressors, suffered some imprisonment.
No further information can be obtained with regard to the assault on George Pride, the Precognition as to which was formerly with you and returned for further inquiry - it is put up with the other papers - I remain
Dear Sir
Your mo O S
Archd Scott

Edin 14 April 1824
Adam Rolland Esq Crown agents

Fiscal Edinburgh
Recd 15th April 1824

Precognition as to the
Combination amongst the
Colliers at Gilmerton

Mr R has only sent the letter in this case, as matters seem to have been adjusted - But if Mr Solr wishes to see the Precogn, which is voluminous, it will be immedly sent -

Perjury of Mason
Assault on Pride
Recd April 17.

I understand that no person is in custody on any charges arising out of this case. - The investigation and inquiry may perhaps have done good. At present I think the proceedings may lie over.
April 18. John Hope

[most of the papers referred to in the list below, no longer exist - only the petitions relating to the colliers briefly put in jail were kept, the others were probably destroyed soon after the case was closed due to it's 'voluminous' size]

The papers sent are
Copy petition of the Procurator Fiscal against George Kerr and others
Declaration of John Marshall
      Do _____  James Crosbie
      Do _____ William Mitchell
      Do _____ John Love
      Do _____ George Kerr
      Do _____ James Brown
      Do _____ Charles Robertson
      Do _____ Andrew Jack
      Do _____ John Campbell
      Do _____ John Wilson and others
2d   Do _____  Robert Burns
      Do _____ Margaret Hunter and others
Copy Petition against David Mason junior
Declaration of D. Mason
Deposition of John Weir and others
Copy petition against David Pentland
Declaration of David Pentland
      Do _____ John Weir and others
      Do _____ William Pringle and others
Copy petition against Francis Gordon and others
Declaration of John Marshall and others
      Do _____ Thomas Stevenson and others
      Do _____ George Kerr
      Do _____ John Richmond
Declaration of William Reid
      Do _____ Francis Gordon
      Do _____ Mr Gillan and others
Petition of the inhabitants of Gilmerton
Declaration of Andrew Wilson and spouse

The precognition is at the National Archives of Scotland - reference: AD14/24/259



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