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1801 - “Chips” Forbidden

1st July. “Chips” (removal of scraps of wood) forbidden and sixpence paid in lieu to Shipwrights, their apprentices 4 pence a day during the first four years of their apprenticeship and 6 pence a day in the last three years of their apprenticeship. Caulkers, Joiners, Carpenters were allowed 4 pence a day, with 2 pence to their apprentices. Scavengers and labourers were allowed 3 pence a day.(see 1650, 1754 & 1830).

The original reason for this perquisite lay in three main reasons:

  1. The scarcity and cost of coal in southern England.
  2. The low rate of pay in Royal Dockyards.
  3. Wages would often be months and sometimes as much as a year in arrears.

The original meaning of chips was adze and axe chipping which could be used for fire kindling and could be carried under one arm and only gathered at leaving work. Abuse of the perquisite eventually lead to the rule that chipping had to be less than 3 feet in length. This ruling had a knock-on effect in the artisan dwelling houses of Portsmouth

regarding the size of cupboards, stairways, windows, shutters and doors, etc. Often if waste chipping were not available good timber would be cut to size, and it is recorded that a visit paid to the home of the Master Rope Maker not only showed fine furniture to that size but also two fine coffins for the day when he and his wife would have need of them. The abuse often led to other items being concealed in the chips.