Letter – Nicholas Walton to John Ibbetson – 20 Apr 1768

Document Type: Letter
Date: 20 Apr 1768
Correspondent: Nicholas Walton
Recipient: John Ibbetson
Archive Source: TNA ADM 66/96
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To John Ibbetson Esq. 				Farnacres 20th April 1768



        In answer to the Boards Order of 9th March respecting the Persons necessary to be employed in carrying on the Business of the Lead Mill and Expenses attending the <Outset>, according to the best Information we can get, they are as follows.


 An Agent in Alston Moor for delivery of the Ore to the Ore Carryers.

 An Agent at the Mills for Superintending the Business there and keeping the Accounts thereof.

 An Agent for Receiving and Sale of the Lead at Newcastle.

      The Duty of these Agents we apprehend will be as follows

      The delivery Agent will be obliged to a daily attendance during the Season that the Ore is generally carryed from the Mines, which is about May day to Martinmas - the Mines themselves being at considerable distances from each other he will not only be fully employed for the Season, but often obliged to make use of an Horse in going from one Mine to another: his business will be to see that the Ore is duly Weighed to the Carriers, and to take an Account of the Quantities delivered to each, & from what Mine. This Account will not only be a foundation whereon the Ore Carryers are to be respectively paid, but will be a Check upon the Mill Agents Account of the Quantity of Ore received at the Mill, so that there may be no embezzlement of Ore in the Carriage. This Business is entirely seperate from the Duty of the Moor Master, who, beside surveying the Mines, sees that one fifth part of all the clean Washed Ore is delivered for the use of the Lords of the Manor, and safely kept apart by the Tenant til Sold, or otherwise disposed of; but as the Heaps so delivered, frequently lay for a considerable Time; and when disposed of are gradually delivered as the Ore Carriers happen to come in, or occasion requires; the Ore is again Weighed to the Ore Carryers and the whole Quantity ought to Tally with the Moor Masters Account from whence embezzlement is prevented while laying at the Mines.

      The Mill Agents Duty is to take an Account of the Sale of the Pokes of Ore delivered by the Carriers; & occasionally to weigh such of them as at happen to look Short in order to be a check upon the Carryers. To see the Ore Weighed to the Smelters and the Produce Weighed from the respective Hearths, and delivered to these Refiners, taking an Account of the Produce of the Refinery in Silver and Lead; and an Account of the Deliveries to the Carriers in order to convey the same to the Market for the Lead at Newcastle.

      In the above Articles the Agent Acts as a Clerk but as a Person is generally made use of for an Agent who has been bred in some one of the branches aforementioned, and has a competent knowledge of the rest; he also Acts as Superintendant of the Smelting Refinery & Reducing; together with the working of the Slags, Tests and whatever else concerns the Manufacture of the Lead and Silver at the Mill. He also gives an Account to the principal Agents of whatever is or maybe wanted from time to time, for carrying on the Business of the Mill.

      In regard to the Agent for the Sale of Lead at Newcastle, as he will not be so immediately wanted, and as our Enquiries hereupon are not quite mature; we beg leave to postpone what we have to Offer on this head to a future consideration.

      We suppose it will be our business to control all the Agents before mentioned, and to attend the Settling of the Mill Accounts, and payment of the Workmen Carriers & accounting with the Directors for the Profits as is done for the rest of the Estate.

      In Alston Moor the Company, besides their Agents for directing and inspecting the Mines, keep two Agents for Delivery of Ore, one at £40 p Annum, and the other at £20. Sir Lancl. Allgood has one at £30 p Annum; all these Agents do other Business in taking Account of the Receipt of Timber & Materials brought by the Carryers for the Mines; but have not to go to distant places; as will be the case with the Hospitals Agent, for this Service Joseph Hilton, Son of the Moor Master offers himself at the rate of £20 a year; but as we apprehend it is of consequence that the Hospitals Agents should appear amongst others of the same class, in a respectable Light and as he is a young Man of Great Sobriety, and qualified much beyond what this Service requires, we cannot recommend it to the Commissioners to offer less, than £25 p Annum, but rather £30, in which case, he should also be considered as an Assistant to the Moor Master, whose duty within these three years, has become so heavy on Account of the great increase of the Mines, that in fact he has been obliged to employ this young Man as an Assistant.

      For a Mill Agent we have a Person very well recommended to us, whose name is Peter Mulcaster, he has for many years been, and stil is, employed by the Lead Company, as a Refiner, but who has been for a number of Years constantly in the Way of seeing the Smelting (the Refinerys bring generally contiguous to the Smelting Houses) and endeavouring to qualify himself in every part of the Business for an Agent; two of his Brothers bred in the same way having done so before him, one being employed by Sir Walter Blackett, and the other by the Company; and being himself equally Sober and attentive, we doubt not but that he will give full satisfaction. The Company at present give their Agent £30 p Year an House to live in, and Coals for Fire; they generally have two or three Acres of Land at a moderate price to keep a Cow - Peter Mulcaster is willing to serve the Hospital for the same price and advantages, but as it is expected that the Company will shortly raise their Agents Salaries, he will expect to be raised in the same proportion: and indeed considering the degree of Experience, Skill, and attention, that is necessary to form a good Mill Agent, we cannot but be surprised at the smallness of the Salary,and accordingly should have recommended it to the Directors, to have given more, had it not carryed the appearance of unhinging the Agents of others.

      In regard to the other Persons to be employed, such as Ore & Lead Carriers, Smelters, Refiners, Labourers etc as they all work by weight, their Number will depend upon the Quantity of Lead to be made, but to give the Directors the best Idea we can of this matter, we will suppose the Quantity of Ore, for the present year to be 3600 Bings being about one Quarter part of the Quantity raised last year, which was sold to the Governor & Co.

      The Ore is carryed from the Mines to the Mills entirely on Horseback; Galloways being employed carrying two Pokes of Ore, each weighing 1Cwt, that is 1/8th of a Bing, consequently a Bing is carryed by 4 Galloways; therefore the Quantity above Specified will require 14,400 teams of Galloways to carry it and at 6s p Bing will cost £1080; and about 15 Galloways are attended by one Man.

      The Hospitals Mill we reckon when got fully to work, will employ 12 Smelters at 3 Hearths, which will Smelt the above Quantity in about 41 Weeks. They produce about 6 Fodders of Lead p Week at an Hearth of 24 Cwt p Fodder, and as the price p Fodder is about 6s the Smelters make about 9s p Week Wages.

      The Slagg Hearth will employ two Men, and will turn out about 2 Fodder p Week, at about 10s6d p Fodder.

      The two Refining Furnaces will employ two Refiners at each, and will run down about 16 fodders p Week into Litharge, for which the Govr. & Co. pay 2s10d pFodder, including the whole management of the Tests, and taking off the Silver. The Reducing the Litharge into Lead by the Reducing Furnace, will be about 1s6d p Fodder, and two Persons at one Reducing Furnace, will reduce the same Litharge into Lead.

      NB above one fourth part of the Alston Moor Lead is not refineable: there are no Labourers employed at the Mill, except to Weigh the Ore to the Smelters, which is one Half penny p Bing, and to Weigh the Lead from the Smelters and Refinery which is two pence pFodder; and which Extra Service is often done by the Smelter and Refiners themselves at the above Prices; but as the Hospitals Refinery stands at about 40 yards distance from the Mill, on account of the Water, some Extra Expence will be incurred in the removal of the Lead to the Refinery.

      With regard to the Expence of the Outset, the Mill, Refinery, Peat Houses and Conveniences for which we have now paid, is £1327.18.103/4, of which we shall shortly give a particular Account to the Board; and we imagine before the Mill is got fairly to Work this sum will become £1400, the Particulars of which last Estimation is Enclosed. But the Setting agoing an Undertaking of this kind, quite new, and in a new Place; consists of such variety of particulars that even those versed in the Business, would probably be far from remembering them all; whereas we, who were never concerned in such a work before, must desire stil more Latitude. We should therefore be glad to receive an Order to do the needfull, which we shall endeavour to execute upon the best Terms possible.

      The Quantity of Peats that we procured last year cost £51.4 ... 1/2 and are capable of doing somewhat more than 2/3 of the Lead expected to be Smelted this year, and it would be proper immediately to put in hand the digging of a fresh Quantity, not only to complete the years Service but to go on next year, til they can be fresh procured. We shall further want for the years Service about 100 Casks of Bone Ashes, which we suppose will come to about 1/3 a Guinea a Cask, but as these together with the Peats Coals and Lime( the two last Articles being to be procured near the place need not be amassed in quantities) will be included in the Current Charges of Smelting; we do not therefore comprehend them in the Charges of the Outset.

      We must beg leave to observe to the Board that Even the Expence of Building the Mill, can hardly be charged to the Outset of Smelting; because the Dues on Advertising the Mill, immediately Sold for 7s p Bing more than understood had been offered before the Mill was mentioned, which in that Year's Dues alone, amounted to above £1000; we therefore reckon, that as the Dues have ever since sold nearer the Estimated Price, that the very name of the Mill has more than built it.

      We beg leave further to advertize the Board that as the Mill is at a distance from any Village, it will not only be necessary to build an House for the Agent, but also some Cottages for the Smelters; but as we can hardly tell what conveniences of this sort will be wanted, till we begin, we shall postpone a further Account of that matter to the Board, till then.

      We are Sir Your most & Humble Servts.

      Nich Walton Junr

      J. Smeaton


P.S. We beg to receive the Boards Commands respecting the fixing of the Mill and Delivery Agents, as soon as possible; as till that is done, we cannot get forward with the Carriage of the Ore.

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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