Miscellaneous - Strikes, Riots & Court Cases


Mobbing and Rioting At Airdrie
John Harper, collier, James Rice, collier, William Graham, miner or collier, William Herbertson and Hugh Herbertson, miners or colliers, and John Overin, were charged with the crimes of mobbing and rioting for the purpose of obstructing and deforcing officers of the law in the execution of their duty, in having, on the night of Thursday 22nd of September last, assembled opposite the house of Frederick Cowperthwaite, innkeeper, Stirling Street, Airdrie, in which was William Brown, messenger-at-arms, having in custody five of the workmen at Ballochray Colliery, for the purpose of riotously and tumultuously rescuing, by the aid of the mob then and there assembled, the said prisoners, from. the hands of the said William Brown, and in having in a riotous and tumultuous manner, and in breach of the peace, invaded the said house, and with large stones and other heavy missiles, and with a log of wood, destroyed the door and windows of the house, and demolished and destroyed, or taken away, in a lawless, theftuous, and masterful manner, great part of the furniture, and large quantities of spirits, wines, &c., which belonged to the said Frederick Cowperthwaite, and with having attempted to set fire to the said house, by throwing large quantities of hay, straw, and other combustibles into the passage of the house, for the purpose of igniting the same; by all which riotous conduct, continued for the space of three hours, the said mob succeeded in liberating the prisoners from the custody of the said William Brown and his assistants—the prisoners being all and each of them actively engaged aiding and abetting the said mob in these unlawful acts.

All the prisoners pleaded Not Guilty. The diet against Hugh Herbertson was deserted in the meantime, owing to the absence of a witness. Mr Montgomery, for the prisoners, objected to the expression theftuouslv in the indictment, which neither stated nor contemplated a charge of theft. The Lord Advocate not objecting to this, the word was omitted.

A great number of witnesses were examined by the Crown. It was clearly proved that a most serious riot and destruction of property took place on the occasion libelled; and certain prisoners, who were miners, and in the custody of the police, were forcibly liberated by the mob. Exculpatory witnesses were examined at length, on the part of William Herbertson, by Mr Shand. Counsel on both sides having addressed the jury, the Lord Justice-Clerk summed up the evidence ; and the jury, after retiring for a quarter of an hour, returned a verdict of guilty against all the prisoners, recommending Graham and Herbertson to the leniency of the court. Sentence – Harper, Rice, and Overin transportation for seven years, Graham and Herbertson imprisonment for fifteen months.

The prisoners were then removed from the bar.

Counsel for Harper and Rice, Mr M'Duff Rhind. For Graham and Overin, Mr J. M. Montgomery. G. Cotton, S.S.C., agent. For Wm. Herbertson, Mr Charles Shand, J. Marshall, S.S.C., agent. [Scotsman 23 November 1842]

17 March 1853

Culpable Homicide - Robert Scott, a pitheadman at Rawyards, New Monkland, was charged with having, on the 17th March last, at No. 3 Pit, at Airdriehill, wickedly and feloniously attacked and assaulted the now deceased Michael Bamrick; and did, with a hammer, strike him one or more blows about the head, and did otherwise maltreat and abuse him so that his skull was fractured, in consequence of which the said Michael Bamrick died on the 18th day of April thereafter. Prisoner pleaded not guilty, and the case went to trial.

Mr. Moncrieff appeared for the defence.

From the evidence it appeared that on the day libelled, in consequence of a previous difference, a number of men had gone to the pit in question, followed by a crowd from the contiguous village of Whiterigg, and quarrelled with the coal trimmers employed at the pithead, and a fight ensued between several of the opposing parties, in which the Whiterigg men were seen to use a shovel, a bar of iron, and to throw missiles. Scott, the pitheadman, interfered to stop the fight, and forcibly took one of the pitheadmen who was under his charge out of the melee. The Whiterigg men then attacked Scott, and one of them struck him on the back of the head with the flat portion of a shovel, and three men were in the act of following him up to renew the assault, when Scott seized a hammer that lay within his reach on the boiler scat, and, the men having closed in on him, he struck one of them named Michael Bamrick on the head with the hammer, inflicting the injury which caused his death.

The trial occupied five hours; after which the Advocate-Depute spoke at considerable length, asking for a conviction. Sir. Moncrieff followed in a very brilliant defence, claiming an acquittal. Lord Ivory then reviewed the evidence with an elucidation in favour of the prisoner, who had always borne an unblemished character. The jury retired for a short time, and returned into Court with a verdict finding the prisoner not guilty, by a large majority, and he was dismissed from the bar. [Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Friday, September 29, 1854]


The Ejectments - The cases of ejectment from miners' houses at West Longrigg and Roughrigg were decided by Sheriff Balfour at Airdrie, on Tuesday. There were 43 cases from the former colliery, in all but two of which warrants were granted; from to latter there were 62 cases, in which they were all granted. Eight days' notice was allowed, the Sheriff remarking that he had given the men twice the number of days they were entitled to, and they had therefore nothing to complain of. [Fife Herald 25 April 1878]


The Ejection of Miners On Strike – Yesterday, the cases of ejection of miners on strike brought in the Airdrie Sheriff Court by Messrs W. Black & Sons, Stanrigg, again came up, when Mr Thomson, for the men, said the matter had been settled, and the men were willing to go back on Friday. Mr Russell corrected a statement by Mr Thomson last week, to the effect that the men had been subjected to a sixpenny reduction, which was afterwards reduced to threepence, the fact being that they were informed they would be reduced 6d per day, which was equivalent to 3d per ton, and this only after a similar reduction had been made in other collieries in the Airdrie and Slamannan district. His Lordship continued the case till Tuesday, and if the men had not returned to work on Friday morning, instant ejection would be given. [Scotsman 9 May 1894]