Letter – Nicholas Walton to John Ibbetson – 3 Feb 1776

Document Type: Letter
Date: 3 Feb 1776
Correspondent: Nicholas Walton
Recipient: John Ibbetson
Archive Source: TNA ADM 66 97
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To John Ibbetson Esqr.                 					Farnacres 3rd. Feby. 1776


      We now come to report upon the Petition of Thomas Fall of Langley Castle respecting the Damage that he sets forth to have been done to his Cattle by the Lead Mill Smoke; upon which we think it necessary to observe that the Lead Mill was chiefly built in 1766 was compleated in 1767 and begun to Work in June 1768; Whereas Mr. Fall sets forth that he did not enter till 12th. May 1769 we would therefore infer that the Lead Mill was either at Work or erected ready for that purpose when Mr. Fall viewed the condition of the Farm and made his Bargain with Mr. Thompson for the same; nor was any complaint made to us or came to our knowledge of any Injury he had received from the Mill, ‘til he made his complaint to the Gentlemen upon the view in the year 1774.   We do not doubt that he may have had the Losses he has specifyed, but whether some of them might not be owing to other causes and might have happened tho’ no Lead Mill had been there seems reasonable to us to suppose; but whatever part of the Loss sustained that has been in reality owing to the Mill, we have reason to think might have been less, had Mr. Fall made a more early representation of the Injurys he was from time to time receiving or supposing himself to have received, because the principal part of the little Farms appurtenant to the Smelt Mill which are occupied by the Mill Agent and Smelters, are much nearer the Mill than the Grounds occupied by Mr. Fall; those are eat chiefly by Cows, and the Mill Agent keeps a Horse.   The Smelters Farms having been occupied since Mayday 1773 and the Mill Agents almost ever since the Mill [struck out:’Agents almost ever since the Mill’] began to work; yet we have never heard of any disaster to their Cattle.   It is true that this is owing to their care and attention, never suffering their Cattle to grase upon any part where the Mill reek is driven by the Wind, or upon which it has been for some Days preceeding; and had Mr. Fall applied to the Mill Agent he would have been instructed in the same method, which if it had not prevented the whole, might have prevented a part of the Damage, at a much less expence than the Value of the Goods; the principal attention being to observe the course of the Wind, and to take the Cattel out or put them in accordingly.   It is also to be observed that the reek or Smoke of a Lead Mill is of such a Nature as not very readily to mix with the air, and frequently is driven in an unbroken Column or Current upon the Earth’s Surface to a Miles distance, nay we have ourselves seen the Smoke of Lead Mills at the distance of 6 or 7 Miles; it seems therefore that the Mill Reek is capable of affecting or of [underlined:’having the appearance of affecting’] so large an extent of Surface that tho’ Mr. Falls complaint was ever so well founded, yet it must appear a ticklish matter to enter into those kind of compensations.   Soon after the Mill was set to Work Gabriel Wren one of the Hospitals Tenants living lived then at the Dean Raw, about a Mile from the Mill; but some of his Cattle happening to stray upon a part of the Common where the Mill reek was one of his Cows Died, and he came to us for pay for her.   On examining into the circumstances of her Death, we were by no means convinced of its being in fact owing to the Mill Reek, and seeing the necessity of discouraging these kind of applications we observed to him the absurdity of such a supposition, as Mr Mulcasters Cattle that were still nearer ailed nothing; and that it behove him to take care that his Cattle did not stray where the Mill Reek was; since which Time we have had no further applications, nor have heard of any ‘til that of Mr. Fall; where as had we been willing to take it for granted, that Gabriel Wrens Cow had Died of the Mill Reek and had paid him accordingly we have reason to suppose that not a beast within two Miles of the Mill, could possibly have died of any other distemper but the Mill Reek.   As therefore Mr. Fall took the Farm after the Lead Mill was erected and since has omitted to put himself into the way of information how to avoid those Injurys as much as possible, we must leave the compensation that he ought to have to the Equity of the Board; but it seems to us that if a full determination upon the matter was postponed to the end of his Term which will only have three years to go at Mayday next, and in the mean time admonished to advise with the Mill Agent how to avoid these accidents, it would avoid the Example; and in the next general letting, it should be clearly understood that this kind of risque every Tenant must take upon himself to guard against in the most effectual Manner.   Respecting the Leading of Coals Lime &ca for the use of the Mill, we beg leave to observe that we have always endeavoured to keep the Business of the Mill distinct from the Farming Interest, by giving no preference to the Hospitals Tenants considered merely as such, but have endeavoured to employ such persons in every Branch as were most likely to answer the purpose.   No change has as yet been made of the Person employed to do the above Business and when there happens to be occasion, we beg to be at Liberty to employ Mr. Fall or any other Person that is likely to do it with the most punctuality or cheapest; for by this means we apprehend we shall be able to give the best Account to the Board of the Profit attending the undertaking; we must however observe that Thomas Brown Farmer of that part of Langley Castle Farm on which the Mill is built having with the greatest chearfullness accommodated the Hospital with every convenience that was required for the use of the Mill, it was on that Account in the first instance thought proper to employ him in carrying Coals &ca. for the Mill rather than any other Person, and as the Mill has been well served by Mr. Brown & since his Death by his Widow we have never had a wish to make a change.

      We are &c	N.W. Junr.  J.S.

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467