1832: Testimony


BURNS, CHARLES; age 13; examined 1st June, 1832

1. What were your hours of working at Mr. Hives, of Leeds? ⸺From half past five in the morning till eight at night.

2. Had you any time allowed you for your breakfast there? ⸺No.

3. Nor for your drinking? ⸺No.

4. How much time had you allowed you for your dinner? ⸺Forty minutes.

5. Had you sometimes to clean the machinery at your dinner hour? ⸺Yes; and had to wipe all the machines.

6. How long did that take you, generally? ⸺About a quarter of an hour, and sometimes twenty minutes.

7. Pray how often were you allowed to make water? ⸺Three times a day.

8. And were you allowed to make water at any time you wanted? ⸺No; only when a boy came to tell you it was your turn, and whether we wanted to or not, that was the only time allowed us; if we did not go when he came round, we could not go at all.

9. Could you hold your water all that time? ⸺No; we were forced to let it go

10. Did you then spoil or wet your clothes constantly? ⸺Every noon and every night.

11. Did you ever hear of that hurting any body? ⸺Yes; there was a boy died.

12. Did he go home ill with attempting to suppress his urine? ⸺Yes; and after he had been home a bit, he died.

13. Were you beaten at your work? ⸺If we looked off our work, or spoke to one another, we were beaten.

14. If you had not gone so fast as the machine, should you have been beaten? ⸺If we let the machine stop half a minute we should have been beaten.

15. When you retired for the purposes of nature, how long would they allow you to stop? ⸺If we were longer than five minutes we got beaten; and if we stopped longer they would not let us go out another time, when it was our turn.

16. Was the mill very dusty? ⸺Yes.

17. What effect had it upon your health? ⸺The dust got down our throats, and when we went home at night and went to bed, we spit up blood.

18. Is it not likewise, in what is called hot-water spinning, extremely hot in these mills? ⸺Yes, very hot.

19. Is not the place full of steam? ⸺Yes, and the machinery throws off water perpetually; so that we are wet to the skin by the hot water. And in winter time as soon as we get home our clothes are quite still with the frost.

20. What did you get for your breakfast and drinking? ⸺I had tea, sometimes coffee, and butter, and bread; and my tea, for fear of wanting to make water, I used to throw out of the window.

21. In either of the mills you were in, Mr.Marshall’s or Mr. Hive’s, were you allowed to sit down? ⸺No.

22. Were you not allowed to sit down during the whole of the day? ⸺If we did, we should get beaten; we had nothing to sit on unless we sat upon the frame by getting upon it.

23. Is it a common thing for you children to be beaten in this sort of way? ⸺Yes, there used to be screaming among the boys and girls every time of the day, and they made black and blue marks on the shoulders.

24. Where was this? ⸺At Mr. Hive’s.

25. Are accidents often occurring at these mills? ⸺Yes.

26. State any that occurred within your own knowledge? ⸺I had a sister who worked at Marshall’s, and she got killed there by accident.

27. Were you able to attend the night-school? ⸺No.

28. Were you able to attend the Sunday-school? ⸺I was not able to go; I should have been too late; I had to rest on the Sunday morning.

Charles Wing, Evils of the Factory System: Demonstrated by Parliamentary Evidence (1837)

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