Wages, employments of
families and children
[ wages ] [ employment
of families ] [ employment of children ]
12) Their wages are considered the best of any
staple trade in the kingdom, averaging, when in full work-that is, 12 hours per
day, or 72 hours per week (deducting 1.30 hour for meals): -
Plate, Dish, and Saucer Makers
Moulders and Modellers
Oven Man (per Oven)
Painters, Landscape and Flower
Jiggers, Mould-runners, Oven-boys, Dipper's-boys,
Cutters, Handlers, Apprentice Painters, and Figure Makers, boys and girls
between the ages of 8 and 18, average weekly 2s. 0½d.
13) The processes being such as
to admit of the employment of whole families father, mother, and some two,
three, or more children - their united earnings are sometimes £3. or
week: but, proverbially improvident, and adopting the adage,- "sufficient
unto the day is the evil thereof", they squander the proceeds of their
labour in gaudy dress, or at the skittle-ground and ale-house; so that, when
overtaken by illness or other casualty, and thrown for a few days out of work,
they resort to their masters for a loan, or to the parish workhouse for
14) The employments of children are various and
dissimilar; in some of the rooms great numbers are congregated together, while
in others there are only one or two; the painting, burnishing, gilding,
flower-making, moulding, figure-making, and engraving, constitute literally
schools of art, under the superintendence of- masters and mistresses.
first and second are to be seen the apprentice boys and girls (each working in
separate rooms), whose ages vary from 8 to 17: the boys are seldom taken before
14. Both serve an apprenticeship of seven years, and receive in the first year
1s. per week, 1s. 6d. the second, 2s. the third, 2s. 6d. the fourth; for the
fifth and sixth they get half price of the adult journeyman or women, and on the
seventh their, full price, allowing a drawback to the master of 4d. in
They are seen sitting at their clean tables, at a comfortable distance
from each other, and in an airy, commodious, and warm room, well ventilated, and
heated by a stove or hot plate, on which they dress their meals. The women who
superintend their work are generally selected from among the rest on the
premises on account of their good moral conduct and long servitude.
commence their duties at six in the morning in summer, and at seven in winter,
and leave at six. In the midst of their occupations (which have in reality more
the character of accomplishments) they are allowed the indulgence of singing
hymns. I have often visited their rooms unexpectedly, and been charmed with the
melody of their voices. In personal appearance they are healthy, clean, and well
15) The processes and
departments to which I beg leave to direct your especial attention are the
dipping, scouring, throwing, plate, saucer, and dish making, and printing, as
those in which very young children are found.
The effects I have observed in
the first and second, on many of the older hands, and the evidence I have
recorded from all, have satisfied me that they are the most pernicious and
destructive in the whole process of potting. It is true that in many instances
persons have been known to have worked as dippers many years without any
material consequences resulting, or being perceptible, and they will tell you
"'tis not so bad now as formerly, when a greater proportion of the
poisonous metal entered into the composition of the liquid;"
but even in
them, whose constitutions may have been less susceptible of its influences, I
have been able to trace in their dull and cadaverous countenances its
insidious workings. In most of the rooms there are one or two adults, with
their attendant boys, whose business it is to bring the ware in its rough, or,
in the phraseology of the potter, in its biscuit state, from the warehouse or
painting-room to the tub. By constant handling, the fingers become so smooth
and delicate that they sometimes bleed, and thereby render the process of
absorption more certain and rapid.
The dipping itself; performed by the man,
is momentary, and, when completed, the article is passed on to the boys for
shelving and drying; the liquid consists of borax, soda, potash, with whiting,
stone, and carbonate of lead, finely ground and mixed together with water; for
coarse goods a large proportion of lead is used, and in some cases arsenic.
Both men and boys have their hands and cloths almost always saturated with it;
and reckless of the danger they incur, seldom or ever change, or use
precautionary measures, frequently taking their meals in the same room,
sufficiently satisfied to wipe their hands on their aprons.
I have never seen
rooms provided for cleansing, although it appear in some of the returned
schedules that there is plenty of water and at their command. From their
disregard of prophylactic measures; you will not be surprised that paralysis,
colica pictonum, epilepsy, and a host of other nervous diseases; are to be met
with in all their aggravated forms.
The most constant, however, is that of
partial paralysis of the extensors of the hands in men, and of epilepsy in
children, accompanied at all times with obstinate constipation of the bowels
and derangement of the alimentary canal.
But the strongest assurance that can
be adduced of the deleterious effect that this process has on children, to be
found in the evidence of the men themselves, who, when their affections have
been appealed to as fathers of families, have invariably, to the question
"Would bring your own son to the dipping-tub?" replied "No" and in the instance of John Cooper he continued because I love my
child, and would rather that should live."
the average amount of weekly
wages for men in this department is 30s., for boys 5s., which is higher than
in many others, and obtained as an equivalent for "the risk they
run." This pay is a strong temptation to the thoughtless and improvident
parent, who, regardless of consequences to their offspring, permit them, so
long as they reap the advantages of their labour, to continue in this
Phthisis is a very prevalent disease here. It has been asserted by
some writers that the oxides of lead by absorption is very capable of rousing
it into action, and the dipping-tub, already sufficiently notorious for its
poisonous contents, is made to swell the number of its victims. I confess
that, throughout my inquiry I have not been able to attribute any case to it,
and am therefore disposed to believe that this malady, so common, owes its
rise and progress to other processes, and these are in the scouring,
ground-laying, sifting-rooms, and hot-houses.
16) In the two first it is rare to find young
children. As, however, I may not have occasion to refer to them again, it may be
as well to convey some information as to the kind of work carried on. When china
ware is to he fired it is first placed in coarse earthen vessels called saggers
- these contain a quantity of finely pulverized flint; this, during the firing,
attaches itself strongly to the china; some two, three, or more young women, are
employed to scour it off with sand-paper and brushes; the particles float
abundantly in the atmosphere of the room, and cover their persons just as
plentifully as flour does the miller; in every act of respiration a considerable
quantity is deposited on the mucous surfaces of the fauces, trachaea, and
bronchial tubes, and being acutely angular and irritating soon occasions
thickening of these membranes, as evidenced by their small weak voices: asthma,
chronic cough, tubercular development, consumption, soon follows, and death.
Some of them will escape for a time, whilst others become easy preys. The
ground-laying is generally performed by men, and consists in dapping the ware
with the metallic oxides by means of a piece of cotton wool, the ware being
previously moistened with some adhesive fluid. The air becomes charged as in
scouring, and the consequences are of the like character.
17) The class of children whose
physical condition has the strongest claims to consideration is that of the
"jiggers" and "mould-runners", who, by the very nature of
their work, are rendered pale weak diminutive and unhealthy; they are employed
by the dish, saucer, and plate makers; their hours are half past five in the
morning to six at night, but in numberless instances they, are required to
labour on to eight, nine, or ten, and this in an atmosphere varying from 100
to 120 degrees; all these extra hours being occasioned, nine times out of ten,
by the selfishness or irregularities of their unworthy taskmasters.
work by the piece: however much there may be on hand to accomplish they seldom
or ever work after Saturday noon, and often not before the following Tuesday
or Wednesday morning, but spend the hard earnings of the previous days idly
and unprofitably; once gone, they again "buckle to", and work like
Each man employs two boys, one to turn the jigger, or horizontal
wheel, from morning to night; the other to carry the ware just formed from the
"whirler" to the hot-house and moulds back. These hot-houses are
rooms within rooms, closely confined except at the door, and without windows.
In the centre stands a large cast-iron stove, heated to redness, increasing
the temperature often to 130 degrees. I have burst two thermometers at that
point. During this inclement season I have seen these boys running to and fro
on errands, or to their dinners, without stockings, shoes or jackets, and with
perspiration standing on their foreheads, after labouring like little slaves,
with the mercury 20 degrees below freezing.
The results of such transitions
are soon realised, and many die of consumption, asthma, and acute
inflammations. It is admitted on all hands that their work is the most arduous
and fatiguing of all others. Of this there is abundant proof on turning to the
evidence of John Johnson (No; 48), Longport which is confirmed by many others.
It will appear that a good workman can; and frequently does, make eight score
dozen saucers a week, each dozen counting thirty-six pieces: each piece is
carried twice to and fro, and weighs (mould and bat) two pounds, but, as two
pieces are carried at the same time, they will count but as one, and as four
pounds on every trip.
18) Let us first calculate the weight absolutely
borne, then the distance run bare-footed. Eight times 20 is 160: 36 times 160 is
5760 pieces, of two pounds each, carried in six days of only 72 hours, which,
multiplied by 4 (the weight of two moulds and bats), gives 23,040 pounds;
divided by 6, the number of working-days in the week, will give 3840 pounds a
day, of twelve hours, without deducting the so-called one and a half hour for
meals, which, by the way, they never get.
19) The average distance from
the whirler to the centre of the stove is an honest 7 yards; the same back
will make 14: 14 times 5760 yards gives 80,640, or 45 miles 1440 yards in a
week, which, divided by 6, gives 7 miles 1120 yards per day: besides this,
they have to mount one, two, or three steps, to place the pieces upon the
But this is not enough; their master requires them, whilst he is
taking his pipe or his pot, to wedge the clay in the yard, collect the half
dried pieces from the shelves again, to come half an hour or more before him
in the morning, to get coals in, ashes out, and sweep and make ready for him
the room, or anything else that may be wanted, and probably has to walk a mile
before and after his work: If the master's propensities prompt him to loiter
away the early days of the week, he works the extra hours on "middle
days", to make up his losses; thus the child, the almost infant child, is
taxed with three or four hours' increased exertion, to the sacrifice of his
health, his morals, and every domestic comfort that he would otherwise enjoy,
and this without the least remuneration, as, in every case, his wages are the
same whether he works the twelve hours or sixteen.
The evil is lamented by the
honest workman, by the children, by their parents, and universally by the
manufacturers; - who acknowledge their inability to correct it themselves
without incurring the risk of exciting tumult, and thereby occasioning some
delay in the execution of their orders, as the processes are so linked in with
each other, that, by losing one set of men, the others are rendered useless.
Should a remedy be suggested, the children would have reason to hail the day
of their emancipation from toil little removed from slavery.
20) My attention was particularly directed to the
little "handlers:" they are engaged very young to make handles for
cups, &c. For this purpose two blocks of plaster of Paris are used with the
half figure moulded on each, so that when brought together a perfect whole is
formed out of the clay placed between by pressure. To accomplish this they throw
themselves with all their strength upon the mould, and wriggle themselves whilst
in the horizontal position, the blocks bearing forcibly on their chests. The
sternum and ribs not having acquired sufficient maturity, it is easy to believe
that this practice is likely to flatten the chest, interfere with the functions
of the heart and lungs, and thereby become another prolific source of
consumptive disease. I have stripped and examined some scores, but must admit
that I have found but few of such cases as I have described.
21) In the printing-room there
may be one or more presses, depending on the size of the room. To each press
there is one male printer, two female transferrers, and one cutter; this last
is an easy employment, and undertaken by very young girls.
The moral training
of these children depends on the character of the printers; if they are
profligates or drunkards they are sure to suffer, as their minds are impressed
with the language and indecent examples of those in authority over them, and
they are unfortunately too commonly practised, the women being often worse
than the men.
22) In the "throwing", "turning", "sagger", "sorting", and "placing" rooms; "slip-kilns", and "ovens", children
are only occasionally found. In the first these there is one man with two women;
in the second, one young woman with one man, often alone; these are said to be
the emporiums of profligacy; from oral evidence of the magistrates and clergy,
and from some of the manufacturers themselves, I find that sexual intercourse in
these departments is of very common occurrence, and that bastardy, the natural
result is thought very lightly of.
The excellent rector of Longton (Dr. Vale)
observes: - "the young girls consorting with males in the works have no
sense of the sin of whoredom, or of the bestiality of uncleanness."
23) The subject of apprenticeship is one which
appears to me to be of immense importance, as influencing the moral characters
of a vast number of persons engaged in the peculiar trade of potting. From the
circumstance of my inquiries being limited to children under 13 years of age,
this subject has not hitherto engaged my attention.. However, as soon as I
received information of the extension of the inquiry, I immediately directed my
attention to the collection of evidence with the view to show the actual
condition of the latter.
24) On a reference to the
printed lists filled up by the manufacturers, there will appear to be some
thousands employed, between the ages of 13 and 21; these, with few exceptions,
are bound or a period of seven years, in the form and manner here annexed, as
twifflers, saucer-makers painters and pressers.
But the binding is only
nominal, and for this reason, that the parents are often unable, always
unwilling, to pay the stamp-duty of 1s., or even meet the master with 10s.
half way. In some few cases, where employers have a competent, well- disposed,
and active lad, taken either from the stove or jigger, they will sometimes
secure his services by providing the stamp themselves; but, where they take
40, 50, or 60, it is too much to expect that they would make it a general
What results ? That which is daily seen. A lad serves two, or three, or
more years, already at half the journeyman's wages, over which he holds
undivided control long before he has acquired a sufficient knowledge of its
real value; he will leave not only his parents' roof at 15 or 16, and take up
his abode with some worthless workmate, and squander his earnings in
profligacy and drunkenness, but will leave also his master's employ, and seek
labour at higher prices in a distant locality, laughing to derision any
efforts that may be made to reclaim him from a life of vice and idleness.
may be summoned before a magistrate: what then ? The case is dismissed, as
this functionary finds, on an examination of the document, that he cannot
adjudicate on, or take cognizance of it, as it is an illegal instrument.
25) But the mischief does not stop here. The
manufacturer suffers. The several departments of the trade are like so many
spokes of a wheel; take one away, and the rest will break down; abstract the
plate-makers or pressers, the oven ceases to our forth its volumes of smoke; the
dipper, printer, cutter, transferrer, painter, burnisher, all stand still: and
ask the reason, and they are answered, "Richard Roe has run away, and
master canna fetch him back."
The good journeyman suffers; for Richard Roe,
under pretence of his master having no further use for him, or of his having
served his time, finds a place at better wages than he had before, but under
that which the honest workman should receive; who, by this spurious importation,
is obliged to enter into an unfair competition, necessarily depreciating his own
value, or is thrown out of employ.
The proportion of stamped indentures, as
compared with others, is shown by the return of the distributor of the district,
and is as 13 to 3000, or more. I am led to infer, from sources of good
information, that if this duty was diminished from 20s. to 5s., every
manufacturer would avail himself of the benefit, behaving a direct interest in
the advancement of his servant, who would become a better workman; the parent
would benefit, by receiving the wages of his child as a compensation for his
board and lodging; society would benefit, by rearing up around it steady and
industrious youths; and I believe the Government would benefit, by a
considerable increase of its revenue, from sources perhaps hitherto considered
as only trifling.
26) Manufacturers pay their
workpeople every Saturday afternoon in the shape of "wage bills; these
are given to the heads of the several departments; take, for example, the
printing-room, where 12 men, 24 women, and 12 children are employed: one man
receives a list from the counting-house of the whole party, with the amount
due to each carried out against their names.
They then go "a changing" to some favourite public-house or beer-shop, of which by the way, there
are upwards of 400 of the lowest description. The landlord "takes care
to secure sufficient coin to meet the demand, and invariably expects a
percentage, or that a certain quantity of beer shall be "drunk on the
premises", for the privilege bestowed.
I need not observe, that these
dens of immorality are, on these occasions, crowded, and are calculated to
produce much mischief. Some of the better-disposed of the people obtain their
change of respectable tradesmen, who gain a profit by the sale of goods, or
receive five per cent discount.
There are other practices peculiar to the
people them selves which have a bad tendency, and are called by them "wedding ales", "foot ales", and "changing or parting
ales." By this is understood, when a party in either department is
married, or joins or leaves for another place, he or she is expected to treat
all round, and may expect rough usage if they refuse to accede to the "law."
I have seen young women who had taken the teetotal-vow, placarded
on the walls and beams of their workshops for not submitting to the exaction;
and this in one of the largest and best regulated factories that I have met
27) No machinery, in the common acceptation of
the term, is required, except at the grinding-mills, which are generally
detached from the premises, and in which children have no duties to perform.
Surgical diseases are therefore of seldom occurrence.