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Iron-Works, "Gaffer" or Agent

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  • Iron-Works, "Gaffer" or Agent

    First a comment. Barnett had said Mary's father was a "gaffer or gauger" at an iron-works. Another time it was written as "gaffer" or "ganger". (I assumed the last was pronounced GANG-er though it looks like GANGE-er.)

    Running "iron works gaffer" through the Welsh papers elicits the information the "gaffer"--the papers wrote this term with quotation marks--was actually the "agent"--not in quotation marks. Agent was apparently the correct term. Agent sounds a bit like gauger. I REALLY believe Joe B. had a hearing loss. Anyway, those are points to ponder.

    Now a question. In the U.S. we say "iron factory" or perhaps iron mill. I think it would have been the same in the Nineteenth Century. (Maybe How can add something here since Pennsylvania has steel mills.) I had assumed "iron works" was a colloquial term but the Welsh papers readily use the term in a hyphenated form, Iron-Works, frequently capitalized.

    Is/was iron-works the common term for such a place? Was it a particularly Welsh term?
    The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

  • #2
    Hello Anna

    A "ganger" - rhymes with "banger" - was a term used to describe "an overseer in charge of a gang of workmen" (OED definition). The term seems to have originated during the Industrial Revolution in 19th Century Britain, first recorded in the 1840s, which would fit in well with Kelly's timeline.

    Re "ironworks" - it's a common enough term used throughout Britain; or it was, when we had an iron industry to speak of Ditto steelworks.
    Kind regards, Sam Flynn

    "Suche Nullen"
    (F. Nietzsche)

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    • #3
      OK, Sam. I figured you would help here. Thanks.

      The good news is there was always trouble at the iron-works. (Hyphenated in the Welsh papers.) LOTS of news articles to work with.
      The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
        The good news is there was always trouble at the iron-works. (Hyphenated in the Welsh papers.)
        They seem to have hyphenated far more things back then, for some reason, than we would today. Take "Commercial-road", "Thrawl-street" or "Bethnal-green" for example; things like that crop up all the time. They loved their hyphens!
        Kind regards, Sam Flynn

        "Suche Nullen"
        (F. Nietzsche)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
          They seem to have hyphenated far more things back then, for some reason, than we would today. Take "Commercial-road", "Thrawl-street" or "Bethnal-green" for example; things like that crop up all the time. They loved their hyphens!
          So I have noticed and we may be returning that direction now. Things I was taught in grade school could be single words, like "everytime", raise the ire of spell check until it becomes two words. Then other things get hyphenated. Some of the hyphenations have to do with semi-technical terms and some seem to be by established usage. So-called is one of the latter. That is a term I use a lot in political writing and the standard spelling at this time seems to be with hyphen.

          Under U.S. terms for iron-works I should have added foundries and smelters among others. My original examples were weak but I am not from iron mining/processing country. Gold and silver were/are mined in my area.

          Which brings another question for you, Sam. A number of years back some huckster was advertising gold rings that were extra special--with extra special price--because the "rare" gold came from Wales or Ireland. (Two different offers at different times, actually.) I would think natural gold to be rare in the UK. In fact I would think it to be so rare it would not be found in commercial quantities.

          So, to what extent is gold found in Wales? Or Ireland? Or Scotland? I think someone once offered Scottish gold rings. Is gold found in these locations ore or nuggets? (Nuggets are formed through a process of accumulation and without ore containing mountains I would think nuggets would not be common.)
          The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
            So, to what extent is gold found in Wales? Or Ireland? Or Scotland?
            I can only speak about Welsh gold, which has been been mined since the Bronze Age. Much later, the Romans had a large gold-mining operation at Dolaucothi, Carmarthenshire, which was in operation for a number of years; indeed, the Romans practically emptied Dolaucothi of its gold. More recently, gold has been mined at Clogau in North Wales, and still is. It's this gold which is commercially available - it's pricey, because it's rare - and is used to make the wedding rings for members of the Royal Family.
            Kind regards, Sam Flynn

            "Suche Nullen"
            (F. Nietzsche)

            Comment


            • #7
              I had forgotten about Welsh gold used by the Royal Family.

              Here in the west lots of folks tried their luck finding gold and some did. Imagine if there was enough gold or a gold strike in Wales or somewhere in Britain, back in Victorian times! The overcrowded cities would have emptied in a hurry. Imagine the mayhem!

              (Where I live, gold is where you find it and it can still be found. I have done a bit of prospecting and spent a fair amount of time looking for the "lost" Blue Bucket Mine. A lot of the gold around here was placer gold, free ranging gold that could be panned, sluiced, etc.)
              The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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              • #8
                Hi Folks,
                There is also the question of Cornish gold which was found along with tin, copper and lead mining operations. Perhaps on a much lesser scale than Welsh and Scottish endeavours, but still important at certain times.

                Cheers,
                Merv
                Be nice to one another!
                Merv

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jachim3926 View Post
                  Hi Folks,
                  There is also the question of Cornish gold which was found along with tin, copper and lead mining operations. Perhaps on a much lesser scale than Welsh and Scottish endeavours, but still important at certain times.

                  Cheers,
                  Merv
                  Good point. This is one of the main reasons for Roman interest in the British Isles - and perhaps one of the driving forces behind the eventual invasion. Why but something when you can have it for nothing?
                  Best Wishes, Colin. :cool:

                  To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I discovered a letter written to the Monmouthshire Merlin (23rd March, 1844) which provides a possible Welsh language origin for the term ‘gaffer’: Y Diawl au Caffuhwy.

                    Calling Gareth... do you think the word was first Welsh (Caffuhwy) and became Gaffer in English or the other way round?

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                    • #11
                      I think they're separate. "Y Diawl a'u caffu hwy" means "the Devil take them". The OED doesn't give a precise etymology for 'gaffer', but speculates that "The analogy of the continental synonyms, French compère, commère, German gevatter, would suggest that gaffer, gammer are contractions of godfather" [= respected person, person in authority]
                      Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                      "Suche Nullen"
                      (F. Nietzsche)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The clipping in post #10 gives us an idea how Mary's father could have been a "gaffer in an iron works" and how her family could be "well to do."

                        Little by little we fit together tiny pieces that tend to support, rather than diminish, the whole. Look at the system described in the 1844 clipping! It's not like there is A gaffer in an iron works. Sounds to me like there could be a number of gaffers per pit or works. All this time I thought a gaffer was the head of a smelting operation.

                        It is more fun learning all these little things than it is to hunt for JtR.
                        The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                          I think they're separate. "Y Diawl a'u caffu hwy" means "the Devil take them". The OED doesn't give a precise etymology for 'gaffer', but speculates that "The analogy of the continental synonyms, French compère, commère, German gevatter, would suggest that gaffer, gammer are contractions of godfather" [= respected person, person in authority]
                          My mistake. Thanks, Gareth.,

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
                            The clipping in post #10 gives us an idea how Mary's father could have been a "gaffer in an iron works" and how her family could be "well to do."

                            Little by little we fit together tiny pieces that tend to support, rather than diminish, the whole. Look at the system described in the 1844 clipping! It's not like there is A gaffer in an iron works. Sounds to me like there could be a number of gaffers per pit or works. All this time I thought a gaffer was the head of a smelting operation.

                            It is more fun learning all these little things than it is to hunt for JtR.
                            Yes, Anna, it seems they could make a fair income from their activities. I wonder how an immigrant Irishman got into that game in the first place.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
                              It is more fun learning all these little things than it is to hunt for JtR.
                              Indeed. Our critics might like to note that finding out these "little things" is something that interests many, if not most, ripperologists far more than trying to "solve" the case.
                              Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                              "Suche Nullen"
                              (F. Nietzsche)

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