Did your ancestor work in a factory as a child? Read through this fascinating account, which offers insight into the daily working conditions for children in the early nineteenth century.
In 1842, the Earl of Shaftesbury participated in creating a commission of inquiry to investigate the working conditions of children in Great Britain and Ireland. The Royal Commissioners of Inquiry created two reports. The first dealt specifically with the coal mines and the second investigated a variety of trades such as manufacturing textiles, iron, tobacco, and printing. The pieces of the report found in this record set pertain only to Ireland. The parts pertaining to England and Scotland can be found in Britain, Children's Employment Commission Part 2, 1842.
The sub-commissioners collected evidence from employers and adult and child factory workers, along with local clergy and medical professionals. The investigation looked at the working hours, ages of employees, environmental conditions, accidents and equipment safety, and the moral and religious condition of the child labourers. In interviews with the child workers, the children were asked whether they could read or write, if they attended worship or Sunday school, what their wages were, and if they lived with their parents. For example, at Messrs. Hancock and Sons, tobacco and snuff manufactory in Newry, you will find that David Scott, 14 years old, ‘has been at work four years, so that he came at 10: can read, not write; does not go to a Sunday-school, but goes to a place of worship; lives with his parents; earns 3s a week’.
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