1827 - 01/01/1892
Leaseholder of Crown Farm
“ the men needed to understand I cannot afford to pay more…….I offered a rise for the fitter ones”
The leaseholder of the 400 acre Crown Farm, Robert Hambidge came from a long line of farmers in Icomb, a few miles northwest of Ascott under Wychwood. He had been farming at Crown Farm for about 7 years when the incident occurred.
His workers were on the minimum wage of 10s a week. They asked for an increase to 14s a week. This being a crucial time of year for the farm, Hambidge agreed to the increase for the most efficient workers, but not those whose capacity he regarded as limited by age or infirmity and gave assurances that there would be plenty of piece work for them. His offer was refused and the men were unanimous that unless they all received the increase they would withdraw their labour. When he stood firm they gave a week’s notice of their intention to withdraw their labour.
This was official procedure arising from the Liberal Government Act of 1871 making Unions and their activities legal except for the action of preventing anyone else from working. Of course this tied the strikers’ hands but perhaps someone in Ascott realised that it did not tie the hands of their wives and daughters who were not members of the Union.
After a couple of weeks without labour Robert Hambidge decided on action. He hired two young men, John Hodgkins and John Millin from Ramsden and on the 12th of May went off to Stow Fair leaving these lads with instructions to begin hoeing a bean field.