Patience Round – Mystery of Great Aunt Pat is solved!

00105465%20-%20229x231The strike is over!
One of the characters of the family my Mother and Aunts talked about was Great Aunt Pat. When I started working on the family tree I could find no trace of her. There was Auntie Pat who was really Martha ( who decided that M names should have nicknames beginning with a P I wonder?)
All I could recall about Great Aunt Pat was she was a real character, tiny “birdlike” smoked a clay pipe and lived to 103. Mum described seeing her in her old age and folks coming to see her as she was famous. She was also said to have the ability to read tealeaves and palms and was uncannily accurate.
Years went by and I still could not link this lady to our family. It was a memory of me taking Grandma Brook, who was really only the Grandmother of a second cousin as my own that sparked the link.
I already had a lot of Rounds in my tree and eventually I linked the Thomas Round who married Patience Pearson nee Sidaway in 1875 as the Great Uncle of my Mother’s Aunt Ria. Hence when my Mother and siblings visited the Round Family and their cousins talked of Great Aunt Pat, she became their Great Aunt Pat too!

OCTOBER 21st 1910: two days ago on Wednesday 19th October, a meeting of striking chainmakers was called at Grainger’s Lane, where it was announced that 153 employers in the hand-hammered section of the chain trade had signed a “white list”, guaranteeing that they would start to pay all their home workers the new rate immediately, rather than wait until February next year.

Patience Round, at the centre of this trio of women chainmakers.
Patience Round, at the centre of this trio of women chainmakers.
The Trade Board Act of 1909 stipulated that, “The minimum timerate for making (from iron supplied by employers) Hand- Hammered Chain up to and including 11/32, shall be two pence half-penny an hour net and clear of all deductions where the employer provides, in addition to the iron, workshop tools and fuel on the premises where the work is carried on, but in all other cases the minimum time-rate shall be three pence three farthings net and clear of all deductions”.

The atmosphere in the school building was said to be subdued rather than triumphant, and unusually quiet, like a prayer meeting. A few of the small shop-owners had still not signed by the time the meeting broke up, but pressure has since been brought to bear and we can now report that all the foggers have agreed the new rate.

The strike, that closed chain shops in Cradley Heath, Cradley, Old Hill and Quarry Bank, and has involved more than one thousand women over the past ten weeks, has finally ended, and the world has borne witness to a famous victory achieved by the women chainmakers! We recall the words of seventy-nine year old Patience Round when she spoke to the press at the beginning of September after bravely defying her employers by joining the strike. “These are wonderful times. I never thought that I should live to assert the rights of us women. It has been the week of my life — three meetings and such beautiful talking.

In the whole of my life I have never stopped working in the shop for more than two days. I have learned to love the forge, for in the winter the glowing fire keeps me warm and the bright sparks keep me cheerful.

They tell us that when the winter comes we shall have three pence half-penny an hour.

That will be riches, but the time seems so long.”

At last I can fit a family memory into its rightful place and move on to the next mystery – who was Fanny Cox?

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