150 years ago: Unpaid wages

Daniel Walne, of Pulham and Brockdish, was a regular face at the local Petty Sessions – both as plaintiff and complainant.

On 31 May, 1867, he charged John Bunn with leaving his service without giving proper notice.

According to the complainant, Bunn had, by 17 May, been in service to Daniel Walne as team man for six and a half years. At first he had 12s per week and a cottage, garden, and half an acre of land rent free. This arrangement lasted for a year. After the first year, the agreement became a weekly one, at the same wages. The deal was that either side could give a week’s notice to leave.

Daniel gave Bunn a week’s notice to leave at one point, but was unable to find a replacement man and therefore asked Bunn to stay on. Within a year, the men again ‘had words’. Bunn stopped working on 17 May, apparently without giving his week’s notice.

Daniel’s wife Frances said that she remembered her husband calling Bunn to the house on a Saturday night, telling him to leave on that day week. She added that afterwards the defendant continued in her husband’s service.

It was then John Bunn’s turn for examination. He agreed that Walne had given him notice at one time. His side of the tale was that he was not being paid. By 4 February he was owed £4 8s 6d. For another 12 weeks John continued to work, but had another ‘reckoning’ with Walne on 29 April. By then he was owed £8 15s 9d – but still received nothing. John told Walne that he could not go on – he was falling into debt and starving his family. Walne promised to have the money in a few days. The next Tuesday the men ‘had a word or two about putting some peas into the garden. Walne began to swear, and said I might be off, and be ——.’ John claimed that he stopped work a week after his notice was given.

John explained that he had also put a complaint into the County Court for a total of £9 0s 9d, and having done so was served with a summons to the petty sessions.

The bench ruled that there was no case, dismissed the information and told Daniel Walne to pay 6s 6d costs.

(Norfolk Chronicle, 8 June 1867, Page 6, Column 5)

This ties in with what has already been discovered about Daniel. He was, it seems, hellbent on living the life of a country gentleman, without the income to do so. He was regularly drunk and in debt, and found himself in court several times for both offences. Far more about Daniel appears in The Moated Grange by Elaine Murphy, a book I was able to contribute to – as Daniel’s 3x Great Granddaughter.

Details of the County Court case also appear in the paper. Daniel coughed up £8 7s 9d leaving much less in dispute but the case still ‘occupied a long time, the evidence on both sides being very unsatisfactory’. Frances Walne kept a diary. In it, she had written ‘Bunn came in to reckon. Had £5 10s, and Daniel owes £7 10s’. There was also a memo that showed the last payment was for £1.

In the end, Daniel could not prove that he had already paid the final £1 in contention and was ordered to pay it. His Honour suggested that Daniel should have paid the plaintiff weekly and kept better accounts.

(Norwich Mercury, 8 June 1867, Page 3, Column 4)

I rather suspect Daniel didn’t have the money available to pay when he should have done. By the time cases reached court (this would not be Daniel’s last), a relative appears to have helped him out to avoid more severe consequences. It seems very possible that help was forthcoming from his rather more successful cousins, one of whom was Alfred Septimus Walne, and another D. Henry Walne, both of whom appear elsewhere on my blog.

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