Fife pre-1855 Accidents

This section contains newspaper reports on selected pre-1855 accidents in miscellaneous areas of Fife. Please check the indexes in the Accidents Section for other areas.

22 September 1768

We hear from Toryburn, that on Thursday last, as some quarriers were setting down a coal pit, and had almost finished, two of them being at the bottom, assisting two women that were removing some rubbish, which they were carrying to another place below ground, the water from an old waste broke through upon them, by which one of the men, and the two young women (sisters) were drowned ; the other man, hearing the noise of the water at a distance, immediately catched hold of a bucket, and called to the people above to draw him up , he had hardly got up, when the pit was full of water to the top. John Harvie (the man's name who was drowned) is much regretted, as he was an honest man, and has left a small family. [Caledonian Mercury 1 October 1768]

22 September 1773

SCOTLAND. Edinburgh, Sept. 28. We are informed from Culross, that on Wednesday last a coal-pit, belonging to Lord Cochran, overflowed with water, by which two men, who were in the bottom of the pit, lost their lives. At the time this accident happened, his Lordship was at the mouth of the pit, and being alarmed by a sudden noise, looked down to see what was the matter, when he observed the water rising with the greatest rapidity, and had scarcely time to save his life by flight, it having risen, in a few minutes, six feet above the mouth of the pit, and over- flowed a great part of the country adjacent, in such a manner as to render travelling impracticable. It is not easy to conjecture where such a vast quantity of water should have been collected as to fill this pit, which is supposed to be at least eighty fathoms deep. Had the sea been full, that circumstance might have been assigned as the cause of this extraordinary phenomenon, as the pit lies pretty near it ; but at the time the accident happened, it was at the lowest ebb. [London Magazine 1773]

24 September 1820

The following melancholy accident took place on Sunday, a few miles from Inverkeithing. A man, 83 years of age, and blind, returning from church without a guide, strayed from the road., and unfortunately falling into an old coal-pit, was killed. This is not the first accident of the kind that has happened in that part of the country. Notwithstanding the frequency of these melancholy occurrences, it is truly astonishing that proper care is not taken to secure such places of danger. [Caledonian Mercury 30 September 1820]

18 June 1821

On Monday afternoon a fatal accident happened at Wemyss colliery, in consequence of its having caught fire. Two young women were at the moment going down the shaft, and being met by a current of suffocating vapour, were instantly deprived of sense, and fell to the bottom. One of them was got out alive, but on Tuesday night she was still speechless, and little hope entertained of her recovery ; the other, when got out, was dead. The fire, by the assistance of an engine from Wemyss Castle, was extinguished on Monday night. [Caledonian Mercury 21 June 1821]

November 1824

Suffocation By Foul Air - A fatal accident took place lately at the colliery of Halbeath, near Dunfermline. Two boys, of about twelve years of age were diverting themselves near a new pit, which had been excavated only a few fathoms. One of the boys threw down the bonnet of his companion, who descended in the bucket to recover it and, having staid longer than was expected , the other boy swung himself down by the bucket rope to see what was the matter, when both of them were suffocated by the choak damp in the bottom of the pit, which was afterwards ascertained to be three feet in depth. [Scotsman 10 November 1824]

4 November 1824

On Thursday week, a collier of the name of Blyth, while working at Rothes colliery; met with an untimely end. The circumstances attending the death of this young man are peculiar, and singularly distressing. The seam of coal in the pit where he was working was only about twenty inches in height, and a mass of stone, forming part of the roof, fell upon him. There was so little room in the working, and the stone was so heavy, that it was found impossible to extricate him from his dreadful situation until the stone was blown with gunpowder. He survived during the whole of that tedious and awful process, and was taken out of the pit in life, but expired soon after. [Caledonian Mercury 13 November 1824]

14 September 1825

On Wednesday the 14th instant, as two men were working in a coal pit, on the estate of Kirkmay, near Crail, the foul air became so very strong, that they were nearly suffocated. The people above being apprised of their situation, immediately proceeded to pull them up, and after getting a considerable way up, both in one tub, one of them (a young man belonging to the muirs) became quite insensible, and was falling over, when the other caught hold of his clothes, but the ragged garment of a pitman not being strong enough to bear his weight, tore, and he was precipitated to the bottom and killed. [Edinburgh Advertiser 27 September 1825]

8 May 1826

Another distressing accident occurred near Ceres, on Monday last. A man named Ness, while working in a coal-pit, was very seriously injured, by the falling of a large piece of coal, which broke two of his ribs, and bruised him in a dreadful manner. Little hope was entertained of his recovery. [Caledonian Mercury 15 May 1826]

22 July 1827

In the beginning of last week a melancholy accident occurred in the vicinity of Kilconquhar. One of the men employed in sinking a coal pit on the estate of Henry Bethune, Esq. was ascending in one of the buckets used in drawing up the water, and when about two fathoms from the surface, unfortunately lost his hold, and was precipitated to the bottom, a depth of thirty feet. He was conveyed to his residence in a dreadfully bruised condition, and though surgical assistance was speedily procured, he expired the same evening. There was another man in the pit when the accident happened, but fortunately he sustained no injury. [Caledonian Mercury 28 July 1827]

4 September 1830

Fatal Accident - A dreadful accident occurred at Balbridge Colliery, near Dunfermline. On Saturday the 4th instant, while James Carney, servant to Mr Spouart, was on top of the engine, oling some part of the machinery, he missed his hold, and fell on the fly wheel, which so dreadfully mangled the poor man's head, that it was almost severed from his shoulders. He has left a wife and six children to lament his loss. [Caledonian Mercury 11 September 1830]

13 January 1834

Markinch - On Monday last a boy fell down one of the Balbirnie coal pits, and was killed. [Caledonian Mercury 18 January 1834]

24 January 1834

West Wemyss - A deep felt sensation was excited here on Friday last, by the occurrence of an accident of the most distressing kind, to Mr Thomas Crombie, master mason, at the Wemyss works, while he was superintending some repairs connected with the underground engines in Wemyss pit, and in the act of removing some brickwork, forming the outside facing of a flue, the interior of which was cut in the rock to the width of nearly two feet. From the heat to which this place had been subjected, the superincumbent mass had been loosened, and upon a removal of a part of the bricks, a large fragment gave way, which falling upon the unfortunate man killed him on the spot. [Scotsman 1 February 1834]

1 June 1834

Distressing Occurrence - One of the old coal pits in the neighbourhood of Balgonie, Fifeshire, was on Sunday week the scene of a fatal accident of a heart rending description. The choke damp from the mine below seems to have forced its way upwards through the loose earth, and from its comparative density, to have lain in the bottom of the pit, forming a pool of stagnant and heavy gas; which, though invisible to the eye, was charged with vapour destructive to animal life. The pit was about ten or twelve feet deep, with a sloping side; and three boys about 14 years old having perceived a dead mavis and a hawk lying at the bottom, one of them, with the curiosity so natural at that age, descended to get hold of the birds. When he reached the bottom he had only time to call to his companions that he felt sick, when he fell over. A second rushed to his assistance, and was immediately in the same state of helplessness. The third, frightened at seeing this, ran and gave the alarm, and several people soon collected round the pit. Two colliers both tried to raise the unhappy sufferers,but alas, the noxious atmosphere paralysed their strength so rapidly, that it was with difficulty they themselves could regain the pure air above. At length, Captain Peat succeeded in fixing a rope round the bodies of the two boys, and they were drawn up after being immured half an hour in the choke damp. Every effort was used to bring back life, but they proved quite unavailing. [Scotsman 11 June 1834]

Markinch- On the afternoon of Sunday last, about five o'clock, three young lads, about sixteen years of age, named Robert Clark, Joseph Adam, and Robert Ireland went into a plantation near Balgonie Cottage. One of them, Robert Clark, in looking down an old coal pit, let his bonnet fall in; and the pit being filled with rubbish to within 12 feet of the top, he went down to get it out. On reaching the bottom, he almost immediately called out to his companions that he was getting sick, and requested them to help him out. Joseph Adam went down to assist him, and also immediately fell senseless. Robert Ireland then instantly gave the alarm, and a number of persons were soon collected on the spot; and two colliers, George Johnston and John Hutcheson, in succession, attempted to rescue them, but were each of them obliged to be immediately hauled up again -the bad air depriving them of sense and nearly of life. Captain Peat (who had by this time arrived at the place) immediately descended, and succeeded in fixing a rope round the arm of Robert Clark, by which he was hauled up. The captain again descended for the purpose of fixing the rope on Joseph Adam, but those above having pulled too soon, it slipped, which caused some delay, and also exposed the Captain to considerable danger, by detaining him longer in contact with the bad air but the rope being let down, it was securely fixed, and both were hauled up. The medical gentleman, who had 4 been sent for, not having yet arrived, Captain Peat next proceeded to adopt means to restore animation ; and, with this view, he opened a vein in the arm of each, but all his exertions, combined with able medical assistance, which had now been procured, were unavailing, life being totally extinct, although the young lads had not been above fifteen minutes in the pit. [Caledonian Mercury 9 June 1834]

NB Joseph Adam aged 15/16, killed 1 June 1834, buried 4 June 1834, and Robert Ireland, aged 16, accidentally killed on 1 June 1834 [Source Fife FHS pre-1855 deaths index]

18 August 1834

A melancholy accident occurred at Wellwood Colliery, on Monday morning last; while three young women and a boy were descending the engine pit, which is about 50 fathoms deep, the rope suddenly gave way, and all four were precipitated to the bottom. Two of the girls, named Allan and Bowman, were killed on the spot, and the boy, named Forster, lived for about three hours; the other girl is still alive, but in a very dangerous state. The rope was apparently in good working order when the accident happened. A similar accident took place at the same colliery about three weeks ago, when one of the word and was descending the same pit, he fell out of the bucket, and was immediately deprived of life. And on Friday last, a young woman was killed at the adjoining colliery of Halbeath. [Scotsman 23rd August 1834]

Jane Allan age 17
Ann Bowman age 17, daughter of John Bowman
William Forrester age 14, son of Wm Forrester
[source; pre-1855 death index- Fife Family History Society]

7 October 1835

Last week a serious accident occurred at Fordel Colliery. A man was ascending the shaft in a bucket along with some iron pump work and when within a yard or 2 of the pitmouth, the rope twisted and snapped, and the unfortunate man was carried down and dashed to pieces. He has left a wife and 5 children.[Scotsman 17 Oct 1835]

William Laird, age 34 died 7 October 1835 from a fall down a coal pit [source; pre-1855 death index- Fife Family History Society]

4 October 1837

Coal Pit Accident - An unfortunate accident occurred at Blair colliery, West of Fife, on Wednesday the 4th curt. The person whose business it was to ascertain the safety of the mine, with a Davy lamp, incautiously went into the mine without using his Davy lamp, the fire-damp exploded, damaging the workings, and killing him and his son. Fortunately none of the other men had gone to their work. With ordinary precaution, and by the use of the Davy lamp, the mine is perfectly safe. [Caledonian Mercury October 12, 1837]

4 April 1838

Accident – On Wednesday the 4th instant, an accident of a serious nature occurred at the colliery at Drumcarro. While three men were in the act of ascending the pit after their day's work, by some inadvertency one of the hooks had not been put into the bucket, and unfortunately came out when they were a considerable distance from the bottom. A man of the name of William Wallace fell out and was killed on the spot. The others held by the chain until they were lowered again to the bottom and relieved. [Fife Herald, quoted in Scotsman 24 April 1838]

19 October 1838

Melancholy Accident - On Friday last a young woman, named Margaret White, while at her work in a coal pit at Aberdour, was struck dead, in consequence of a piece of coal falling from one of the tubs when at the top of the pit. [Caledonian Mercury 27 October 1838]

17 November 1838

Dysart - A distressing accident occurred at one of our coal-pits last week. The engine which draws the coal had been standing a few minutes, and without the least warning, so far as is known, the boiler exploded, and its top was carried to a considerable distance. The young lad who worked the handles, and a little boy about seven years of age, the son of the principal engineman, were so severely scalded, that they died shortly after. The engine is a common condensing engine, on Symington's principle. The sides and bottom of the boiler were of malleable iron, almost new, and the top was of cast-iron plates. Whether the joints had become corroded, or the safety valve choked or over- charged, cannot now be ascertained. The damage done to the engine is very considerable. [Caledonian Mercury 17 November 1838]

19 December 1838

A fatal accident happened to a collier of the name of Peter Greig, on Wednesday fortnight, while working a pit for coal on Methilhill. He was at work in the bottom of the pit, which was about 60 feet down, and while one of the tubs was about to be sent down, it got unhooked from the top, and fell on the unfortunate man's head, and killed him on the spot. He has left a widow and a large family to lament his sudden and melancholy death. [Fife Herald 3 January 1839]

16 February 1839

Kennoway – Fatal accident - On Saturday as William Kinley and Andrew Duncan, colliers belonging to Baintown, were ascending the shaft at Baigrie colliery, the rope by which the bucket was suspended gave way, when they were precipitated to the bottom of the pit. Duncan was killed on the spot and Kinley survived only a few minutes after he was brought up. They were steady, sober and industrious young men, much esteemed by their fellow workmen, and were both unmarried. Kinley was the support of a widowed mother, his father having been suffocated by noxious air about 30 years ago while sinking a pit in the same colliery. [Scotsman 20 Feb 1839]

26 April 1841

Distressing and Lamentable Accident – On Monday morning, a woman of the name of Bowman, who was employed at one of the coal mines belonging to Sir P. C. Durham, Fordel, went down, as usual, in one of the tubs to the bottom of the pit, when unfortunately one of the cleeks attached to the tub caught hold of part of her clothes when it was beginning yo ascend to the top, and not being able to extricate herself, she was carried upwards 14 fathoms, when she fell to the bottom, and was so severely injured that she died on Tuesday morning. What makes this the more distressing is, that the deceased was to have been proclaimed for marriage the ensuing Sabbath. Her brother, in a descending tub, passed her while being dragged up the pit. [Stirling Observer, quoted in Scotsman 1 May 1841]

[Name possibly Helen Bowman age 24, died 27 April 1841, buried 30 April 1841, listed as dying in an accident – Source Fife FHS pre-1855 Deaths CD. See also evidence of David Naysmyth & Catherine Walker to 1842 Royal Commission]

27 October 1841

Accident - Last week, on Wednesday, a melancholy accident occurred at the colliery lately begun at Scoonie Bridge. As a collier, of the name Hunter, a man somewhat advanced in life, was ascending the shaft, he lost his hold, somehow or other was thrown out of the bucket, and precipitated to the bottom of the pit. When taken out, life was not extinct, but he was unable to speak, and expired in a short time. He has left a wife and eight children, who reside at Thornton, where he was lately employed, to lament his mournful end. [Fife Herald 4 November 1841]

4 June 1844

Fatal Accident - On Tuesday forenoon, as a miner of the name of Ednie, who a few days ago had come from the neighbourhood of Gilston to work at Kilmux Colliery, was digging out a large piece of coal, it fell above him and killed him on the spot. He has left a wife and five or six children to lament his sudden and melancholy death. [Fife Herald 6 June 1844]

26 August 1844

Clunie Colliery – Melancholy and Fatal Accident - On Monday last, while two brothers of the name of Arnot, belonging to Kirkcaldy, were employed in doing some work on a scaffold about eighteen fathoms down a new pit, for the purpose of drawing of the water, they were both struck with a piece of wood that had by some accident turned over the edge of the pit-mouth. One of them having recovered a little, looked for his brother, and not seeing him, called his name, but no answer being returned, he thought he might have fallen into the water, which was from six to seven feet deep, and nearly up to the scaffolding. He put his foot over the scaffolding, and came in contact with his brother’s head in the water. He then called out "Murder” which being heard, the bucket with assistance was let down ; when in the course of a few minutes, both were drawn up - one of them much injured, and the other apparently lifeless. A surgeon was instantly sent for to Kirkcaldy (distant four miles), and, in the interim, everything that kindness and anxiety could suggest for the resuscitation of the more unfortunate brother was applied but in vain ; for, on examination, the doctor was convinced he had been killed by the stroke. The condition of the surviving sufferer being duly attended to, it is hoped, though his wounds are about the head, that he will recover. The deceased was in the prime of life, and has left a widow and a numerous circle of friends and relatives to deplore his untimely fate.-Fife Herald. [Stirling Observer 29 August 1844]

12 September 1844

Clunie Colliery - Fatal Accident - A fine young man of the name of David Blair, lost his life here on Thursday last under the following circumstances. He was at work in a pit in which there are two seams of coal wrought from one shaft, the one eighteen feet below the other. He was in the upper one, and waiting to hook on a tub of coals. He had been looking up the shaft, a thing which is often thoughtlessly done, while a tub of coals was ascending and a piece from off the tub struck him on the head and knocked him to the bottom of the shaft. Medical aid was promptly procured, but was of no avail, as the wound he had received was found to be mortal. He died in about three hours after being struck. The deceased was twenty years of age, unmarried. [Fife Herald 19 September 1844]

17 October 1844

Dunfermline - Last week, a melancholy accident occurred in one of the Elgin Colliery pits, a great mass of rock forming the roof of one of the chambers having fallen down, whereby one of the colliers was crushed to death ; while his companions near him made a very narrow escape. It was a considerable time ere the mass could be broken, and taken off the mangled remains of the unfortunate man. [Fife Herald 24 October 1844]

12 December 1844

Dysart - Fatal Accident -On the 12th current, a young man of the name of Michael Paton, one of the colliers employed at a coal-pit situated at the east end of this town, lost his life while at his work. The seam of coal which they are working in this pit is about three feet thick, and immediately above it is a layer of what the workmen term clay. It seems they work the coal from underneath the clay, and support the clay with wooden props until the coal is cleared away, when they remove the props and the clay falls down, It is then either stowed away in the waste, or conveyed up the pit. It would appear that he had left a considerable portion of the clay above where he was working unsupported, and a piece of it, supposed to be nearly a ton weight, gave way, and covered his whole body. Although a number of hands came promptly to his assistance, they found they were unable to remove the fallen mass without breaking it in two with wedges, which took too much time to be of any service in saving the life of their companion. Colliers are a very laborious and useful class of men, and if they would only be a little more circumspect and punctual in using those means of safety which lie within their reach, there would certainly fewer accidents befall them. Michael Paton was an expert workman, an obedient servant, and much respected by his employers and fellow-workmen. His father and mother are both dead. The former, it is said, lost his life in a similar way about 21 years ago. Mr Watt, the manager of the Dysart colliery, with his usual forethought and sympathy, was careful to have the body of the deceased cleaned and properly dressed before his relatives arrived from Balbirnie. [Fife Herald 19 December 1844]

26 June 1845

Fatal Accident – On Thursday last, a serious and fatal accident occurred in the Dysart Main Colliery. While two brothers, named John and Thomas Adamson, were employed in their daily avocations as colliers, a heavy mass of coal, weighing about five tons, gave way, and fell in upon them. John, the eldest of the two, was killed instantaneously; but fortunately the other, being rather far off, escaped with life, in consequence of a bucket, which stood close by, somewhat protecting him. The injuries he received, however, are of so dangerous a character that his life is despaired of. They have both families, who were altogether dependent on their earnings. - Fife Herald [Scotsman 28 June 1845] 

21 July 1845

Dysart - Serious Accident - On Monday last week, Robert Hunter, a miner, while engaged in his daily avocation at an ironstone pit situated in the immediate neighbourhood of this town, received a severe bruise on his left hand and arm, in consequence of the fall from the roof of the pit of a heavy mass of stone, supposed to be five or six tons weight. It is said that, had he been but one yard nearer the fall, he would have been killed on the spot - or one yard farther off, and he would have escaped uninjured. But, although he has thus been fortunate enough to make a hairbreadth escape with his life, his misfortune is nevertheless such as will render him comparatively helpless for life. The bones of his hand and wrist were found, upon examination, to be so sadly fractured that, in the opinion of Dr Todd of Dysart, Dr Greig of Leslie, and Dr Young of Kirkcaldy, it was hopeless to attempt even to heal the hand, far less restore him the use of it. Accordingly they recommended the amputation of the hand and wrist ; to this, however, the sufferer for some time refused to consent, but at last yielded to the advice of his medical advisers; and the sad but important operation was performed by Drs Todd and Greig. The unfortunate man also complains of his back, but it is not thought to be any way seriously injured. As yet little can be said regarding the progress of his recovery. [Fife Herald 31 July 1845]

1 October 1845

Perth Circuit Court. - The following cases, connected with Fife, were tried at the Perth Circuit Court of Justiciary last week:- Alexander Ness, charged with culpable homicide, he having in October last, while employed as the keeper of the pit mouth of a coal-field, at West Wemyss, in the county of Fife, after James Maters, overseer, had called to the surface, neglected to perform his duty , and allowed a boy to go and set the machinery in motion, when an empty bucket, getting entangled with the chain, it was precipitated into the pit, and struck in its descent the said James Maters on the head, so as to deprive him of life. The panel pled not guilty. After a trial which lasted four hours, the Jury unanimously found the panel not guilty. [Fife Herald 7 May 1846]

24 January 1846

On Saturday last an accident of a very distressing nature occurred at a colliery called Dirthill on the Donibristle coalfield. One of the engine boilers requiring some repairs the steam was raised to a higher pitch than usual in the other boilers, in order keeper on the work. Being an old boiler, it was unable to bear the extra pressure and burst. Just at that moment, Mr McKenzie, the teacher at the colliery, had come to the spot will take a walks with his little child of two years old in his arms. Both were dreadfully scalded and death speedily put an end to their suffering. Three smiths working in the adjacent boiler were also very severely burned by the scalding steam. Mr McKenzie was a young man lately married. His widow is left to lament his untimely fate [Scotsman 31st January 1846 ]

1 April 1846

Leven - Fatal and Distressing Accident - On Wednesday, a very melancholy accident took place at Durie Colliery. On that morning, while two of the miners were preparing to descend the shaft, something went wrong with the bucket, when one of them, named James Wilson, was precipitated to the bottom of the pit, and instantaneously killed, while the other workman was providentially preserved, he having caught hold of the chain. The unfortunate man, who thus met with such a sudden death, has left a wife and eight children to deplore his unexpected demise. [Fife Herald 7 April 1846]

1 July 1846

Coal Pit Accident - An accident of rather a serious nature took place on Wednesday morning at the West Gin coal pit, Earlsferry, the waste adjoining which contained a great deal of contaminated air. As Andrew Rolland, one of the colliers, was in the act of ascending in one of the buckets, he became quite sick, and in losing his power he abandoned his hold of the rope, and the consequence was that he was precipitated to the bottom of the pit from a height of eight or ten fathoms. He was, when taken up, dreadfully cut on the head, and he is so much internally injured that he is considered in a very dangerous state. [Scotsman 8 July 1846]

27 May 1847

Fatal Accident - One day last week a stone, several tons in weight, fell from the roof of a chamber in one of the Elgin pits, and instantly crushed to death a miner who was working beneath it. For two days previous he had noticed that the stone was loose, and said he would prop it up; but, with fatal procrastination, continued to work on without doing so. This working loosened the stone more and more, till it fell. His brother had just left his side a few minutes before, and so escaped. [Fife Herald 3 June 1847]

NB This miner has been tentatively identified as David Anderson

12 June 1847

Man Killed - A man of the name of George Younger, a workman about Teasses Colliery, met a painful death on Saturday week. He was employed in filling up an old pit which had stood open for many years, when the ground on which he stood slipped away with him, and caused him to fall to the bottom, a distance of about fifteen fathoms. He was taken out in a horrible condition, his ribs knocked in, and his collar-bone broken. Medical assistance was procured, but, from the first, it was evident that the case was hopeless, and he died within two or three hours afterwards. [Fife Herald 17 June 1847]

13 October 1847

Fatal Accident at Culross - About two o'clock on the morning of Wednesday last week, a fearful cry proceeding from the engine house was heard by the fireman at pit No. 1 at Comrie works. He immediately rushed to the spot and stopped the engine, when to his horror he discovered a young female employed at the work lying quite dead below the crank, with her body torn in a manner too shocking to describe. It is presumed the unfortunate woman had in the dark entered the engine house for a drink of water, and had gone too near the handle of the crank which caught her clothes and dragged her among the machinery. - Perth Courier. [Glasgow Herald 18 October 1847]

6 December 1847

Dysart – Four Men Killed – On the forenoon of Monday last, as the four men usually employed in the ironstone quarry were at their work, part of the roof fell in upon them. Men were promptly got to dig through and clear away the mighty mass of superincumbent matter lying above them, and their bodies were got out during the course of Monday night dreadfully mangled and life extinct. Three of them were married, the other not. Their names are M'Kenzie, Hutchison, Forker, and Hamilton, and were residents in and about Gallatown and Dysart [Fife Herald, quoted in Scotsman 11 December 1847]

Possible identities for these men are:
John Hamilton, labourer, buried 8 December 1847, Dysart
Thomas Forker, labourer, buried 8 December 1847, Gallatown
Thomas Hutcheson, buried 8 December 1847, Gallatown
[Source Fife FHS pre-1855 Deaths CD]

18 April 1848

Dunfermline - Fatal Accident - We regret to learn that on Tuesday afternoon last, David Spouart, and his son (William Spouart, aged 16), while working in one of the ironstone pits at Oakley, were both killed by an explosion of firedamp. [Caledonian Mercury 24 April 1848]

5 December 1848

Fatal Accident Near Dunfermline – On Tuesday last William White and William Gow – the former, the engineer, and the other a collier belonging to the Fordel Colliery, had occasion to descend the road side pit. Wm. White stood on a scaffold at the pit's mouth, which was to be lowered by a rope, and called to Wm. Gow that all was ready. He then stepped on the scaffold, when instantly the rope broke, and the unfortunate individuals were in a moment precipitated to the bottom of the pit – a depth of 40 fathoms, or 210 feet. As was expected, when they were approached life was extinct, and their bodies mangled in a dreadful manner. [Fifeshire Journal, quoted in Scotsman 16 December 1848]

Fatal Accident - Two Lives Lost - On Tuesday last, as James White, engineer, and William Gibb, collier, connected with the Fordel colliery, were about to descend into the pit called the Roadside Pit, and while standing on a scaffold ready to be lowered into the pit by a rope, the rope broke and both were precipitated to the bottom of the pit, falling a depth of not less than forty fathoms. It was apparent that they had been instantaneously killed, as both bodies were dreadfully mangled. The one has left a wife and two children, and the other a wife and three children, to lament their bereavement. [Caledonian Mercury 18 December 1848]

31 May 1849

Kennoway – Fatal Accident – On Thursday afternoon, as Peter Thomson, Bonnybank, was employed at his usual avocation, as a miner at Kilmux Colliery, he was instantaneously killed by the falling of a large mass of coal which crushed his head in a frightful manner. Thomson was a young man of about 20 years of age . – Fife herald [Dundee, Perth, and Cupar Advertiser 8 June 1849]

31 August 1849

Fatal Accident - As a young man named Campbell was on Friday last dragging a waggon underground in a coal pit at the Elgin Colliery, near Dunfermline, down an incline, the velocity of the waggon increased to such an extent that it run down the young man, who had no means of getting out of its way, and he was killed on the spot. - Fifeshire Journal. [Caledonian Mercury 10 September 1849]

23 January 1851

Fatal Coal-Pit Accident at Fordel - About ten o'clock on the night of Thursday last, an accident, attended with fatal consequences, occurred at No. 4 pit of the Fordel Colliery, under the following circumstances:- As James Anderson, bottomer, in the middle-seam, was engaged in putting the loaded coal tubs upon the cage to be raised to the surface, he had brought a tub forward, and, as is supposed, in a false belief that the cage was there, pushed the tub forward to be placed on it, whereas, as it appears, that machine had just left the top on its descent, and was not down at the level on which Anderson was employed. The consequence of this mistake was, that the poor man and the tub of coals were precipitated to the bottom, a distance of a hundred and ten feet, where he was killed on the spot. A similar accident, but not attended with fatal consequences, we understand, occurred a few days before at the Townhill Colliery Dunfermline. [Glasgow Herald 31 January 1851]

11 April 1851

Batchelor And Others vs Knox - In this case, the pursuers, the widow and children of the deceased Robert Pratt, sought to receive damages from the defender, who is the lessee of the Dunnikier colliery, near Kirkcaldy. The issue put to the jury was - "Whether, on or about the 11th day of April 1851, the said deceased Robert Pratt, while working in the service of the defender at the said colliery, was killed by the bursting of a boiler at the said colliery, through the fault of the defender, to the loss, injury, and damage of the pursuers?" The damages were laid at £1000. Evidence having been adduced to show that death was caused by the explosion, and that certain defects in the boiler had been pointed out before the accident happened, the Dean of Faculty, on the part of the defenders, consented to a verdict being taken for the pursuers, with £200 of damages in full. [Scotsman 24 March 1855]

3 June 1851

Kilconquhar - Melancholy Accident - On Tuesday week while John Paton a collier, residing at Largo Ward, in this parish, was engaged about the forcing pump of Cassingray coal pit, the handle of the windlass was by some accident forced out of the hands of the men who were working it, and being disengaged, struck Paton, who was one of them, a blow on the breast with such violence that he died in about five minutes after. He has left a widow and large family to lament his untimely end. We understand that no blame is attached to any one but deceased himself. [Fife Herald 12 June 1851]

14 July 1851

Accident -James Danks, roadsman underground, having gone down the Tom Pit, Elgin Colliery, on Monday week to ascertain whether the pit was cleared of fire-damp sufficiently to permit working, and have incautiously proceeded too far, the "Davy," or safety lamp which he carried, became filled with the foul air, which took fire and exploded, of course setting fire to the air around Danks, who was thrown to the ground by the explosion, and much scorched, especially where his clothes had taken fire ; he is now, however, getting better. [Fife Herald 24 July 1851]

17 April 1852

Fatal Accident On Saturday the 17th current, Grace Russell, a young woman about 15 years of age and employed at the Leadside pit of the Wellwood Colliery, assisting the banksman at the pithead - the part of the work which she had to perform being to shove the empty tubs into the cage when the full ones were drawn away by the banksman. The pit is divided into two compartments and the coals raised by two cages moving transversely, so that when the full one arrives at the top of the pit the empty one reaches the bottom. About two o'clock in the afternoon the young woman, by an unfortunate mistake, instead of running the tub into the cage, which was then even with the surface in the west division of the pit, she pushed it into the eastern division which was then open, and fell along with it to the bottom, a depth of 48 fathoms and of course was killed. The father of the unfortunate young woman who is a smith at the work, was in the pit when the accident took place, having gone down shortly before to shoe some of the ponies which are employed underground. [Dunfermline Journal 30 April 1852]

7 May 1852

Fatal Accident - On Friday morning, a melancholy accident occurred at Kilmux Colliery, by which James Laing, a man in the prime of life, was suddenly deprived of existence. While engaged that morning in his usual occupation, having undermined a large mass of coal, it fell before he was aware, or could get out of danger ; so that he was crushed to death almost instantaneously. The unfortunate man has left a widow and two children to deplore his sudden demise. [Fife Herald 13 May 1852]

11 June 1852

Mining Accident - On Friday forenoon, William Bethune, a miner, residing at Lundin Mill, was found lying dead in a coal-pit to the northward of that village; part of the roof of the pit having fallen down upon him while occupied in excavating the coal. He was a sober and industrious man, in the vigour of life, and was an elder of the United Presbyterian Congregation, here. He was about to leave off the occupation of a miner, and commence shop-keeping, but this melancholy and fatal accident has ended all his plans and earthly prospects. His death is universally deplored, while he has left a widow and two children to lament his untimely fate. [Fife Herald 17 June 1852]

15 November 1852

Accident - On Monday the 15th current, Peter M'Culloch a boy about 15 years of age, employed at the Tam pit of Elgin Colliery, while attending the trucks which are run between the coal seams and the bottom of the pit, on coming up an incline, the chain which connected the last truck, upon which he was standing, gave way, and when attempting to jump off, he fell in front of the truck, which went over him and broke his right leg a little above the ancle. [Dunfermline Journal 26 November 1852]

16 November 1852

A collier named Hunter [David Hunter], who resided at Crossgates, near Dunfermline, lost his life last week in a horrible manner. He had been going home in the evening and taking a short cut through a park disappeared. The ground above some old coal-workings having given way beneath his weight, the unhappy man was swallowed up into a grave of immeasurable depth. A number of coal-masters and miners were soon on the spot after the alarm was raised and efforts were made with grappling irons to recover the body, without success. The seam of coal had lain in a slanting position and had been wrought to within 6 fathoms of the surface, and thus when the earth fell down, it slid towards the bottom of the waste which was full of water, and allowed the body of the unfortunate man to be carried into the interior of the workings. Hunter left a widow and 7 children.[Scotsman 27 Nov 1852]

Extraordinary and Fatal Occurrence - David Hunter, miner, Crossgates, left his work at Halbeath to return home on Tuesday morning, 16th inst., when it is conjectured he had in the dark fallen into a large hole of an old coal pit which had given way on the road he was accustomed to take. Every exertion was made to recover the body, but, finding the earth still falling in, and the hole being full of water, they gave up the attempt as being both dangerous and fruitless. Several places have given way of late about the same pit. We understand they have commenced to fill it up. We are informed Hunter has left a wife and seven children to lament his loss. [Dunfermline Journal 26 November 1852]

15 December 1852

Fatal Accident at Balgonie Colliery - We regret to state that an accident of a fatal nature occurred at this place on Wednesday week to William Fergusson, engineer. He had been let down the engine pit by a rope to a depth of four or five fathoms for the purpose of repairing some of the buckets, and was very shortly engaged when the rope by which he was suspended broke. His body did not fall to the bottom, being arrested by some protuberance ; but it was, nevertheless, so mangled and bruised, that he died shortly after being taken up. We understand the authorities are making investigation into whether the rope by which the deceased was let down was in a sufficient state. [Fife Herald 23 December 1852]

7 January 1853

Crossgates - Fatal Accident - William Ratrie, coal hewer, was working below ground at the Cuttlehill coal pit, on Friday, the 7th instant, when a large stone from the roof of the pit fell upon him, bruising him in such a manner that he died five hours after. [Dunfermline Journal 28 January 1853]

22 September 1853

Fatal Accident - A fatal accident occurred at Leadside Pit, Wellwood Colliery on Thursday 22d instant. William Beveridge, miner, in attempting to get into the cage without giving the proper signal to the engine driver, it being the regulation of the pit that no person should go into the cage without giving warning, and when no warning is given the engine driver stops no longer than the full tub is removed from the cage at the pit mouth and the empty one replaced, which allows the man at the bottom ample time to do the same, the consequence was that Beveridge having give no warning, being only half way into the cage when the engine started and before any signal could be given he was raised a few feet up and crushed between the cage and the side of the pit, causing instant death. The deceased was married and had left a widow and six children. [Dunfermline Journal 30 September 1853]

11 May 1854

Fatal Accident - On the morning of the 11th current, a man named Adam Adamson was employed along with another man in cutting a mine in a coal pit at Donibristle Colliery, when they came to a slope in the road, which after repeated unsuccessful efforts to remove, still remained apparently firm, upon which the men sat down under to consult on the best means of displacing it. While so situated the stone suddenly became detached from the roof, and in the fall struck Adamson so severely on the head that he died about ten minutes thereafter. He was unmarried and 50 years of age. [Dunfermline Journal 26 May 1854]

22 June 1854

Serious Accident - Yesterday about 2 o'clock, Thomas Izat, a lad about 16 years of age, son of James Izat, Townhill, unfortunately met with his death there under the following circumstances. His usual place of employment was under ground, but a little before 2 o'clock he had come up the pit, and taken a seat on the frame in which the pirn works which winds up the pit rope, near the end where the crank works that drives the pirn. The engine was standing at the time, but a signal was made from from below ground that some persons wished to come up. The man who had charge of the engine set it on, not knowing that Izat was so near the crank, the first turn of which struck him on the back and produced instantaneous death. We understand no blame is attachable to any one but the unfortunate lad himself in taking a seat in such a dangerous position. [Dunfermline Journal 23 June 1854]

15 July 1854

Accident - On Saturday the 15th currt., while Joseph Innes, Cairneyhill, was employed at Milesmark ironstone pit, raising bricks by means of a windlass to the top of a stalk or funnel of an engine-house which is in course of erection. He was in a stooping position at the base of the stalk preparing a number of bricks to be raised, when a brick fell from the scaffolding at the top, a height of about 40 feet, and in the fall struck Innes on the back of the head and knocked him down, cutting and injuring him severely. Medical attendance was immediately procured, and it is hoped he is now on a fair way of recovery. [Dunfermline Journal 21 July 1854]

9 August 1854

Fatal Accident - On Wednesday, the 9th of August current, Betsey Cook, a pit head worker at Fordel Colliery, was about to replace an empty tub on the cage to descend the pit in which the coals are raised, and, lamentable to say, instead of placing it on the cage, she accidentally pushed it into the open aperture of the pit, and fell down after it to the bottom, a height of about 40 fathoms, and her body was so severely mangled that death was instantaneous. Cook was unmarried and is said to be about forty years of age, and had been working at the same employ for a number of years. [Dunfermline Journal 18 August 1854]