Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2

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Reports of Commissioners (1833): Factories, XX, 14 sqq. World History

Charles Harris, a boy working in the carding room of Mr. Oldacres’s mill for spinning worsted yarn, testified as follows:

302.

Extracts from a Parliamentary Report on Child Labor

I am twelve years old. I have been in the mill twelve months. I attend to a drawing machine. We begin at six o’clock and stop at half past seven. We don’t stop work for breakfast. We do sometimes. This week we have not. Nothing has been said to me by Mr. Oldacres or the overlooker, or anybody else, about having any questions asked me. I am sure of that. The engine always stops for dinner. It works at tea time in the hot weather; and then we give over at half past seven instead of eight, which is the general time. We have generally about twelve hours and a half of it. On Saturdays we begin at six and give over at four. I get 2s. 6d. a week. I have a father and mother, and give them what I earn. I have worked overhours for two or three weeks together about a fortnight since. All the difference was, we worked breakfast time and tea time, and did not go away till eight. We are paid for such overhours at the rate of 2d. for three hours. I have always that for myself.

What do you do with it?

I save it for clothes sometimes. I put it into a money club for clothes. I have worked nine hours over in one week. I got for that 5½d. I gave it my mother, and she made it up to 6d. and put it into the money club. She always puts by 6d. a week from my wages for that.

Then your mother gets what you earn by the overhours, don’t she?

No; I gets it for myself.

Do you work overhours or not, just as you like?

No; them as works must work. . . .

If overhours are put on next week, shall you be glad or sorry?

It won’t signify. I shall be neither glad nor sorry. Sometimes mother gives me a halfpenny to spend.

What do you do with it?

I saves it to buy shoes. Have never saved above a shilling for that; mother put more to it, and bought me a pair. . . .

Don’t you play sometimes after work’s over?

Yes, sometimes.

Well, are you not sorry to lose that?

No, I don’t mind about it. I am quite sure I don’t. I am sometimes tired when I have been at work long hours. I am not tired now i I have been at work all day except dinner i it is now five o’clock. I am sure I had rather work as I do than lose any of my wages. I go to school of a Sunday sometimes. I went first about a month ago. I have been every Sunday since. I can only read in the alphabet yet. I mean to go regular. There is no reason why I should not. I wants to be a scholar.

The father of two children in a mill at Lenton deposed as follows:

Long hours for two boys

My two sons (one ten, the other thirteen) work at Milnes’s factory at Lenton. They go at half past five in the morning; don’t stop at breakfast or tea time. They stop at dinner half an hour. Come home at a quarter before ten. They used to work till ten, sometimes eleven, sometimes twelve. They earn between them 6s. 2d. per week. One of them, the eldest, worked at Wilson’s for two years, at 2s. 3d. per week. He left because the overlooker beat him and loosened a tooth for him. I complained, and they turned him away for it. They have been gone to work sixteen hours now; they will be very tired when they come home at half past nine. I have a deal of trouble to get ’em up in the morning. I have been obliged to beat ’em with a strap in their shirts, and to pinch ’em, in order to get them well awake. It made me cry to be obliged to do it.

Did you make them cry?

Yes, sometimes. They will be home soon, very tired; and you will see them.

I [i.e. the government inspector] preferred walking towards the factory to meet them. I saw the youngest only, and asked him a few questions. He said, "I’m sure I shan’t stop to talk to you; I want to go home and get to bed; I must be up at half past five again to-morrow morning."

A family in the same town of Lenton gave the fallowing evidence:

The boy. I am going fourteen; my sister is eleven. I have worked in Milnes’s factory two years. She goes there also. We are both in the clearing room. I think we work too long hours; I’ve been badly with it. We go at half past five; give over at half past nine. I am now just come home. We sometimes stay till twelve. We are obliged to work over-hours. I have 4s. a week; that is for staying from six to seven. They pay for overhours besides. I asked to come away one night lately, at eight o’clock, being ill; I was told, if I went I must not come again. I am not well now. I can seldom eat any breakfast; my appetite is very bad. I have had a bad cold for a week.

Children beaten in the mill

Father. I believe him to be ill from being overworked. My little girl came home the other day cruelly beaten. I took her to Mr. Milnes; did not see him, but showed Mrs. Milnes the marks. I thought of taking it before a magistrate, but was advised to let it drop. They might have turned both my children away. That man’s name is Blagg; he is always strapping the children. I shan’t let the boy go there much longer; I shall try to apprentice him; it’s killing him by inches; he falls asleep over his food at night. I saw an account of such things in the newspapers, and thought how true it was of my own children.

Mother. I have worked in the same mills myself. The same man was there then. I have seen him behave shocking to the children. He would take ’em by the hair of the head and drag ’em about the room. He has been there twelve years. There’s many young ones in that hot room. There’s six of ’em badly now, with bad eyes and sick headache. This boy of ours has always been delicate from a child. His appetite is very bad now; he does not eat his breakfast sometimes for two or three days together. The little girl bears it well; she is healthy. I would prefer their coming home at seven, without additional wages. The practice of working overhours has been constantly pursued at Milnes’s factory.

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Chicago: "Extracts from a Parliamentary Report on Child Labor," Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2 in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, ed. James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1908), 281–285. Original Sources, accessed July 3, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NE73USM21H4T5IB.

MLA: . "Extracts from a Parliamentary Report on Child Labor." Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2, in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, edited by James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard, Vol. 2, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1908, pp. 281–285. Original Sources. 3 Jul. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NE73USM21H4T5IB.

Harvard: , 'Extracts from a Parliamentary Report on Child Labor' in Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2. cited in 1908, Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.281–285. Original Sources, retrieved 3 July 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NE73USM21H4T5IB.