Anthony Errington (1778-1848): Biographical Entry

1:231 ERRINGTON, Anthony, Untitled, MS, 25 loose pages, paginated as 40pp. (c.17,000 words). MS in the Local Studies Collection, Gateshead Public Library. Other copy, ‘Coals and Rails: the autobiography of Anthony Errington, Tyneside colliery waggonway-wright, 1776-c.1825’, transcribed and edited byP.E.H. Hair, TS, 67pp. + 17pp. introduction. Copy held in Brunei University Library and Keele University Library.

Born 1778 at Felling, in parish of Jarrow (‘Jarrah’). Died 1848 at Felling. Son of a waggonway-wright. Brothers and sisters (no detail). Educated at dame school and school at ‘Low Huerth’ (to age 13). Married, 1798.4 children alive in 1809. Remarried, 1818(?). 2(1) children. Lived in and around Tyneside for whole of life.

At age 13 variously employed as blacksmith, repairing waggons and waggonway for 2 or 3 nights a week down the pit, and also as a farm labourer; apprenticed to father as a waggonway-wright (1790-99); journeyman, working in several collieries near to Newcastle.

Devout Roman Catholic. No mention is made of other interests or activities outside of work and living.

An immensely vigorous piece, written between 1823 and about 1830, the narrative ends around 1825 with Errington still employed in colliery work. Many stories and anecdotes are related concerning childhood, schooling and the dangers of pit-life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries but no mention is made of any political interest or activity, by himself or others. The MS version lacks any punctuation and is spelt as the author spoke, in Tyneside dialect. The edited version arranges the anecdotes in chronological order, adds punctuation, retains most of the original spellings, and provides explanatory notes and additional information.

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