CORNISH-L ArchivesArchiver > CORNISH > 2010-10 > 1288021884
From: Catherine Quayle <>
Subject: Re: [CORNISH] Mining Terms
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2010 08:51:24 -0700 (PDT)
Hello Mike in Redruth -
At New Almaden here in California, the position of Mine Captain was one of importance, responsibility and respect. It was a title and position awarded by the mine manager and/or owner and the Captain there oversaw the several shafts and workings of the huge mine as well as the 350 plus men who worked in them. I suppose the position here was different than back home, just as were many other things, but the Cornish stuck to the familiar terms even in unfamiliar situations.
Sowena -Kitty in cloudy Northern California
--- On Mon, 10/25/10, Michael Kiernan <> wrote:
From: Michael Kiernan <>
Subject: [CORNISH] Mining Terms
Date: Monday, October 25, 2010, 1:23 AM
The term Mine 'Captain' spread around the world from Cornwall as the Cornish
Miner went in search of places to dig holes. No formal requirements were
required to adopt the title - just general aclaim for someone who had a good
knowledge and generally superintended other miners. It is a very old custom
dating perhaps from the seventeenth century when miners from Prussia /
Germany made a short appearance in Cornwall. They were very regimented and
had rankings rather akin to armed forces.
On the question of Ton. In the Nineteenth century the legal ton was 20cwt.
of 112 lbs, or 2240 lbs. Different from a tonne or a metric ton. But these
things are never simple and in different districts it varied. In Cornwall
the mining ton was 21 cwt. of 112 lbs or 2352 lbs !
Over the past couple of centuries glossaries have been published explaining
Cornish mining terms. My favourite was printed in (I think) the 1840s by the
Mining Journal which explained Spanish mining terms and the Mexican/Spanish
variety compared with Cornish terminology. This was almost as confusing as
Fathers Day in Camborne. The latest I've seen is a small booklet published
by Dyllansow Truran of Redruth in 1991 ("A Glossary of Mining Terms" Edited
by W. G. Orchard. ISBN 1850220530).
M. Keith of Canada mentioned "who worked in pairs". I think maybe this
should have been 'Pares' which is a Cornish mining term meaning a gang or
party of men - not just two chaps working together. But on the other hand
language evolves and the Colonies have rather changed meanings and spelling
over the decades. Is this an example of why we should stick to the original
spelling in the document and not 'correct' it ?
Mike. (the Pedant), Redruth.
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