Issue date
12 Mar 2001

Working hours and conditions

THREE COMMENTS made in that day and age go to the heart of the matter

"You must just tell the Queen Victoria that we are guid loyal subjects; women people here don't mind work, but they object to horse-work; and that she would have the blessings of all the Scottish coal-women if she would get them out of the pits, and send them to other labour."

Isabel Hogg, 53 years old, coal-bearer, quoted in report of 1842.

And

"Every man acquainted with the political history of the last half-century must know that the labour of children was actually pointed out to the manufacturers by Mr. William Pitt, as a new resource by which they might be enabled to bear the additional load of taxation which the necessities of the State compelled him to impose.

"The necessity for labour created by this taxation has not yet abated; because the immense capital taken away by the enormous expenditure of the great wars arising out of the French Revolution has not been replaced . . ."

W. Cooke Taylor, Factories and the Factory System (1844).

And

"We find that instances occur in which children are taken into these mines to work as early as four years of age, sometimes at five, and between five and six, not infrequently between six and seven, and often from seven to eight, while from eight to nine is the ordinary age at which employment in these mines commences."

from the 1842 report of the Children's Employment Commission (Mines).

 

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