This extra credit opportunity is worth 2 points of extra credit PER question on your Unit 5 Test on MONDAY November 20.
Throughout the first half of the 19th century, England debated and passed a number of laws regulating working hours and conditions in factories. Many of these laws focused on protecting children working in factories and set limits on the amount of hours that children could work in factories. The Factory Act of 1850, for example, limited the weekly hours that children could work to 60 and daily hours to 10½. Throughout this period, several commissions were established to gather information on working conditions in factories. Further, many politicians, academics, doctors, and other public figures wrote books, pamphlets, speeches, and newspaper articles supporting or opposing regulation of the country’s growing factory system.
Directions: Read Document A and B and then answer the questions provided.
Document A: Dr. Ward (Modified)
Michael Ward was a doctor in Manchester for 30 years. His practice treated several children who worked in Manchester factories. He was interviewed about the health of textile factory workers on March 25, 1819, by the House of Lords Committee. The exchange below is an excerpt from the interview.
Question: Give the committee information on your knowledge of the health of workers in cotton-factories.
Answer: I have had frequent opportunities of seeing people coming out from the factories and occasionally attending as patients. Last summer I visited three cotton factories with Dr. Clough of Preston and Mr. Barker of Manchester, and we could not remain ten minutes in the factory without gasping for breath…
Question: What was your opinion of the relative state of health between cotton-factory children and children in other employments?
Answer: The state of the health of the cotton-factory children is much worse than that of children employed in other manufactories.
Question: Have you any further information to give to the committee?
Answer: Cotton factories are highly unfavorable, both to the health and morals of those employed in them. They are really nurseries of disease and vice.
Question: Have you observed that children in the factories have particular accidents?
Answer: When I was a surgeon in the infirmary, accidents were very often admitted to the infirmary, through the children's hands and arms having being caught in the machinery; in many instances the muscles, and the skin is stripped down to the bone, and in some instances a finger or two might be lost. Last summer I visited Lever Street School. The number of children at that time in the school, who were employed in factories, was 106. The number of children who had received injuries from the machinery amounted to very nearly one half. There were forty-seven injured in this way.
Source: House of Lords Committee (Interviewer) & Michael, W. (Interviewee). (1819).
Document B: John Birley (Modified)
John Birley was born in London in 1805. He lost both his parents by the age of 5, and he was sent to the Bethnal Green Workhouse. He soon began working at the Cressbrook factory. John was interviewed about his experiences as a child worker at the Mill in 1849. An article on his life was published in the newspaper, the Ashton Chronicle in May 1849. Below is an excerpt from the article.
Our regular (working time) time was from five in the morning till nine or ten at night; and on Saturday, till eleven, and often twelve o'clock at night, and then we were sent to clean the machinery on the Sunday. No time was allowed for breakfast and no sitting for dinner and no time for tea. We went to the mill at five o'clock and worked till about eight or nine when they brought us our breakfast, which consisted of water-porridge, with oatcake in it and onions to flavor it... We then worked till nine or ten at night…
Mr. Needham, the master, had five sons: Frank, Charles, Samuel, Robert and John. The sons and a man named Swann, the overlooker, used to go up and down the mill with sticks. Frank once beat me till he frightened himself. He thought he had killed me. He had struck me on the temples and knocked me dateless. He once knocked me down and threatened me with a stick. To save my head I raised my arm, which he then hit with all his might. My elbow was broken. I bear the marks, and suffer pain from it to this day, and always shall as long as I live…
I was determined to let the gentleman of the Bethnal Green parish know the treatment we had, and I wrote a letter put it into the Post Office… Sometime after this three gentlemen came down from London. But before we were examined we were washed and cleaned up and ordered to tell them we liked working at the mill and were well treated. Needham and his sons were in the room at the time. They asked us questions about our treatment, which we answered as we had been told, not daring to do any other, knowing what would happen if we told them the truth
Source: Birley, J. (19 May 1849). The Ashton Chronicle.