Strontian Mines Inquest

by John Dye

Transcribed handwritten material from the office of the Procurator Fiscal of Tobermory, currently held in the Argyll Archive at Lochgilphead.

These notes are taken from recorded statements made at the time of the death of Duncan Cameron, killed by a rock-fall in the Strontian lead mine in 1851.

They are divided by Chapters and sub-edited headings for ease of reference. Set out below are the dramatis personae and, set out overleaf are the Chapter Headings.

The working conditions at the time and, the accounts of the fatal episode recall a very hard way of life in the mid-nineteenth century.

This was the time when poverty and starvation from the potato blight in the Western Highlands was at its height.


The document is quite long, and is broken up into ten chapters: click here to go to the chapter index.  Each chapter has links to the following one.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Duncan Cameron Member of a blasting party killed by a rockfall
Alexander Lowrie Working with him when he died
Alexander McMaster First shift in blasting party, who had gone home
Alexander McPhee First shift in blasting party, who had gone home
Duncan MacPherson In the next gallery when the stone fell
John Cameron The carter who bore the injured Lowrie home
James Floyd Superintendent of mine, responsible for safety
Donald Cameron Woodman of the pit and sub-inspector under Floyd James Barrat Manager of mine and shareholder
Sir James Riddell Landowner and shareholder in mine

Other parts were played by Hugh Macphee and Hugh MacPherson who were with Alexander Lowrie when he looked at the job originally, Alexander McMaster, who along with Donald McMaster, Archibald McMaster and Hugh McMaster were part of Cameron's woodman's team.

Doyle and Burns lived at the Irish house where John Cameron lit his pipe just before he heard the news and, James McMaster Boy went with Doyle to fetch out Cameron's body. Dr Reid attended Alexander Lowrie at home afterwards
Dugald McPherson Tailor told Alexander McMaster that Duncan Cameron was dead.

John Archibald and Angus McMaster were part of the squad hired to clear rubbish at Bellsgrove middle level of Strontian Mine and open up access to the vein where Duncan Cameron met his death

Wm Robertson JP took the depositions


CHAPTER ONE
ALEXANDER LOWRIE, A MINER WORKING ALONGSIDE DUNCAN CAMERON, WHO WAS KILLED, GIVES EVIDENCE

CHAPTER TWO
ALEXANDER MCMASTER, ANOTHER MINER IN THE PIECE WORK GANG, WHO WAS NOT ON SHIFT AT THE TIME, GIVES EVIDENCE

CHAPTER THREE
ALEXANDER MACPHEE, THE THIRD SURVIVOR IN THE PIECE WORK GANG, WHO WAS NOT ON SHIFT AT THE TIME, GIVES EVIDENCE

CHAPTER FOUR
JOHN CAMERON, HAVING FINISHED HIS EARLY SHIFT, WAS OUTSIDE THE MINE ENTRANCE WHEN DUNCAN CAMERON WAS KILLED

CHAPTER FIVE
DUNCAN MACPHERSON, WHO WAS WORKING CLOSE TO CAMERON AND LOWRIE WHEN THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED, GIVES EVIDENCE

CHAPTER SIX
THE EVIDENCE OF DONALD MCMASTER, WHO WAS EMPLOYED TO ERECT A STOOL AND REMOVE THE MIDDLINGS WHERE DUNCAN CAMERON WAS WORKING WHEN HE DIED

CHAPTER SEVEN
JAMES BARRAT, MANAGER OF THE MINES AT STRONTIAN, GIVES HIS EVIDENCE

CHAPTER EIGHT
HUGH MACMASTER SAYS HE FOUND THE LOOSE STONE AND REPORTED IT TO THE WOODMAN, WHO WANTED IT REMOVED, BUT WAS OVERRULED

CHAPTER NINE
DONALD CAMERON, "WOODMAN" OF THE MINE, TELLS OF THE EVENTS BEFORE THE ROCKFALL AND OF HIS REACTIONS AFTERWARDS

CHAPTER TEN
RANDOM NOTES RE-EXAMINING EVIDENCE