Tree Design Artwork by Amanda Hillier
You probably have heard of Waterloo – the famous battle that the Duke of Wellington fought and won against Napoleon in 1815. You may have heard of the Battle of Peterloo that occurred at St Peter’s Fields , Manchester in 1819 when cavalry charged into a crowd of about 70,000 people who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation, but do you know about The Battle of Cinderloo that took place here in Telford?
It occurred at Old Park on 2 February 1821, after colliers and ironworkers went on strike and marched throughout the area against a significant cut in their wages. Local Yeomanry were called in to disperse the men, by which time the crowd had grown to about 3,000 local men, women and children. The Yeomanry confronted the crowd who had heard of their imminent arrival and had retreated to the slag mounds at Old Park. The Riot Act was read.
When the crowd refused to disperse, the soldiers opened fire and two colliers, William Bird and Thomas Gittins died as a result of their injuries sustained that day. Another, Tom Palin, deemed the ringleader, was hung in April 1821 for felonious riot. In addition, 8 other men were sent to trial. One, Samuel Haywood, was due to be hung along with Palin, but received a last-minute reprieve, with instead a sentence of transportation, which pardoned the following year. The other men received 9 months in jail with hard labour. Their names were: Christopher North, John Grainger, Joseph Eccleshall, John Payne, Robert Wheeler, John Amies and John Wilcox.
Three members of the Cinderloo 1821 Project and keen family historians decided to try to research the family history of these men. We wanted to give them the recognition they deserved for trying to stand up for their rights to a fair wage, in order to stave off the inevitable hardships and deprivations which would occur if their already low pay was to be cut again by the industrialists.
We feel these men’s lives should be remembered and celebrated for standing up for their rights. We have made tremendous progress tracing information on them and their families, despite the paucity of records available prior to the census years. Where possible, we have found details of their families, what happened to them, and where they were likely to have lived and worked.
Burial records for the three men who died as a result of the protest:
What have we found so far?
We have been amazed to trace descendants of the eleven men to far flung corners of the world including USA, Australia, Argentina and Dawley. People have contacted Cinderloo1821 and provided information to help our research.
A fascinating report on the Gittins family was provided to us by John M Smith of North Carolina, who was delighted to find he was related to Thomas Gittins, having traced his family tree back into the early 17th Century. Its well worth a read to learn about the historical changes witnessed by his family.
Our research is work in progress, but you can download the latest list of surnames we have traced with a connection to the eleven miners in the link below. Is your name among them? Do you recognise a few local names?
How can you get involved?
Could YOU be related to one of the Cinderloo protesters? Would YOU like to find out more, or explore a possible family connection? Maybe you have a similar name, or you know that some of your ancestors worked as miners, or maybe you simply know that your family has lived in the area for many years and would like to learn more about them.
Then why not start your own family tree?
There are many avenues of study open to you and your family (see links at the bottom of the page for further information):
- free records available online;
- free access to records from some of the companies like Ancestry from your local library;
- free online study courses & newsletters;
- magazines to purchase; and
- best of all, the friendly members of your Local Family History Societies and Local History Societies 
We would love to hear about what you find and connect the names of the past with people living today, so please get in contact.
 Selection of Family History Magazines: https://www.thoughtco.com/top-genealogy-magazines-for-family-history-1422150