"Cut a pile ?" Does anyone know what that means? (From an 1868 Newspaper in New Zealand)

+5 votes
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A pile of what?  Then I wondered if it was a phrase that would be taken for granted in 1868.  

James Howie vs. Stephen Rolfe - Defendant's son had cut a pile belonging to the plaintiff and was now sued to recover £ 2 value of said pile.  The defendant, who seemed to have no idea of proper behavior in a Court of Justice, admitted the debt, and judgment with costs was recorded.

in Genealogy Help by Pare Chase G2G6 Mach 1 (14.0k points)

3 Answers

+13 votes
 
Best answer
The piles were lengths of timber for road making, usually used to support an embankment or bridge - James Howie tendered to supply piles at 1s 2d per foot for up to 4 months; see Grey Road Board in  the Grey River Argus 9th May 1868
by Valerie Willis G2G6 Pilot (119k points)
selected by Lynda Crackett
Great research, Valerie.

Impressive!  Thank you so much Valerie Willis.  I saw a few references to road board in the Papers Past search last week, but didnt look at them, because mostly he was a Hotel Keeper in Greymouth, first the Royal, then the Masonic.  Howie & Co, Contractors.  Thanks I have added that to his profile.  yessmileyheart Love it! 

I wonder if he had taken up land? Cash was very hard to come by in those days,especially for fencing and stocking a new property which he would have been obliged to do in order to keep his title to any balloted land. We can imagine the frustration experienced when, in order to provide piles for a contract, he had to go into the bush, chop down a tree, trim it, and drag it out to where he was accumulating his stock pile of piles. Hard work.
+4 votes
Pare, I've had a look at the article on Paperspast. As it's in Greymouth, I wonder if it had something to do with gold mining. Did Rolfe mine in Howie's area and take his tailings which were worth 2pounds?
by Fiona McMichael G2G6 Pilot (214k points)

Hey Fiona, thanks for looking all the same.  I'm really starting to get a feel for this Greymouth Culture with its 42 pubs, and countless sly groggers shops.  smileyyes

+5 votes
As Valerie said, piles were lengths of timber used in supporting bridges etc.
by Amelia Utting G2G6 Pilot (213k points)

Lol. Alrightie then. wink

Piles were and are commonly used to support floor joists for houses, made of concrete these days, not wood. In my childhood home, the floor was badly ‘out of kilter‘ because some piles had sunk. Was ‘cut a pile’ used as a slang term, like ‘making a pile’ (of money), in which case it might have a different meaning ?. After the Christchurch earthquakes, very deep piles are often used, going way down to a stable substrate.

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