Thomas Spooner was born in Southey Green, Sheffield. He was the third child of John Spooner, a cutler working in the growing Sheffield industry.
Thomas would also join the cutlery business as a grinder. This process was a danger to the lungs because of the dust and our Thomas was lucky to live as long as he did.
He married Hannah Parker in 1785 and together they had four sons: John, George, Samuel and Joshua. Hannah died in 1804 and a year later Thomas re-married. His second wife was a widow, Alice Boulton nee Barnes. They also had four children: Henry, Elizabeth (our ancestor), Hugh and Ruth.
I am proud to report that Thomas is the earliest ancestor we know of to engage in industrial action (unless you include our Jewish forebears who went on strike against the Pharaohs). The tradition carries on down to the Miner’s Strike of 1984/5 and beyond. Of course, then as now, the story depends on who is telling it.
Thomas and his comrades had established a Grinders’ Fund; there was no financial provision for illness or retirement at that time. One Samuel Walker refused to contribute and a demonstration was called outside his premises. The indictment says they “unlawfully, riotously, routously and tumultuously did assemble and gather themselves together to disturb the peace of our said Lord the King”
They were fined £5 each and bound over to keep the peace for two years in the sum of £40 each – large amounts for working men in 1823, which probably made the need for a Grinders’ Fund that much greater. I wonder if Samuel Walker ever did contribute?
Baptised Thomas Spooner on 25 February 1756
Married Alice Boulton (nee Barnes) on 12 February 1805
Buried 16 May 1832