Machinistes liégeois et namurois dans le Borinage au XVIIIe siècle et au début du XIXe siècle. Les Rorive, les Dorzée, les Goffint. Contribution à l'histoire industrielle et sociale.

Machine-Workers From Liege And Namur In The Borinage Late Xviiith Early Xlxth Centuries. Contribution To Industrial & Social History: The first steam-engines of the continent (Newcomen type) were sent from. England as a number of component parts and assembled on the spot. Although historians have attributed engines of this kind in the Borinage to engineers from Liège or Namur, no proof of this has been forthcoming in order to verify the origin of several such engineers and their social background. Three families appear in this study. The Rorive family from Liège is found to be settled in the Borinage in May 1747. The Rorives were a particularly prolific family and in three generations gave birth to 20 engineers or engine-operators. Members of the family adapted themselves with varying degrees of success to technological innovations and several of them remained at worker level and aspired to no higher social status. However, the second family studied, the Dorzées from Vedrin (near Namur), where there are leadmines, built machines themselves in the Borinage, in the North of France and near La Louvière and Charleroi and the second generation succeeded in establishing a company wich functioned until 1940 : François-Joseph Dorzée of the third generation became so important that between 1859 and 1897 he was mayor of his Commune, Boussu. The third family studied, the Goffints also became from Namur. Not only did Jean-François Goffint manage the machines under his charge but also owned one of them : he loaned out his machine to coal companies and finally became himself a mine owner. Only one of his sons was an engineer and like his brothers he eventually lived on the income from his property and investments. The fact that the youngest son of Jean-François Goffint became a doctor and one J ( his daughters married a doctor shows how far the Goffint family had risen in the social scale. Interesting observations can be made from this study : this new form of industrial technique gave rise to a new social group but since the development of this particular engine was extremely rapid, the handing down of traditional knowledge was insufficient as can be seen in the case of the Rorive family. Moreover it appears that Jean-François Goffint became rich not through being an engineer but through owning a means of production.