Evidence of Samuel Coulson, a factory worker, of the condition of children
    From the Report of the Committee on Factory Children's Labour, 1831-2
  5047 At what time in the morning, in the brisk time, did those girls go to the mills?
In the brisk time, for about six weeks, they have gone at 3 o'clock in the morning, and ended at 10, or nearly half past at night.
  5049 What intervals were allowed for rest or refreshment during those nineteen hours of labour?
Breakfast a quarter of an hour, and dinner half an hour, and drinking a quarter of an hour.
  5041 Was any of that time taken up in cleaning the machinery?
They generally had to do what they call dry down; sometimes this took the whole of the time at breakfast or drinking, and they were to get their dinner or breakfast as they could; if not, it was brought home.
  5054 Had you not great difficulty in awakening your children to this excessive labour?
Yes, in the early time, we had them to take up asleep and shake them, when we got them on the floor to dress them, before we could get them off to their work; but not so in the common hours.
  5056 Supposing they had been a little too late, what would have been the consequence during the long hours?
They were quartered in the longest hours, the same as in the shortest time.
  5057 What do you mean by quartering?
A quarter was taken off.
  5058 If they had been how much too late?
Five minutes.
  5059 What was the length of time they could be in bed during those long hours?
It was near 11 o'clock before we could get them into bed after getting a little victuals, and then at morning my mistress used to stop up all night, for fear that we could not get them ready for the time; sometimes we have gone to bed, and one of us generally awoke.
  5060 What time did you get them up in the morning?
In general me or my mistress got up at 2 o'clock to dress them.
  5061 So that they had not above four hours' sleep at this time?
No, they had not
  5062 For how long together was it?
About six weeks it held; it was only done when the throng was very much on; it was not often that.
  5063 The common hours of labour were from 6 in the morning till half-past eight at night?
  5064 With the same intervals for food?
Yes, just the same.
  5065 Were the children excessively fatigued by this labour?
Many times; we have cried often when we have given them the little victualling we had to give them; we had to shake them, and they have fallen to sleep with the victuals in their mouths many a time.
  5066 Had any of them any accident in consequence of this labour?
Yes, my eldest daughter when she went first there; she had been about five weeks, and used to fettle the frames when they were running, and my eldest girl agreed with one of the others to fettle hers that time, that she would do her work; while she was learning more about the work, the overlooker came by and said, `Ann, what are you doing there?' she said, `I am doing it for my companion, in order that I may know more about it,' he said, `Let go, drop it this minute,' and the cog caught her forefinger nail, and screwed it off below the knuckle, and she was five weeks in Leeds Infirmary.
  5067 Has she lost that finger?
It is cut off at the second joint.
  5068 Were her wages paid during that time?
As soon as the accident happened the wages were totally stopped; indeed, I did not know which way to get her cured, and I do not know how it would have been cured but for the Infirmary.
  Were the wages stopped at the half-day?
She was stopped a quarter of a day; it was done about four o'clock.
  Did this excessive term of labour occasion much cruelty also?
Yes, with being so very much fatigued the strap was very frequently used.
  5075 Have any of your children been strapped?
Yes, every one; the eldest daughter; I was up in Lancashire a fortnight, and when I got home I saw her shoulders and I said, `Ann, what is the matter?' he said, `The overlooker has strapped me; but', she said, `do not go to the overlooker, for if you do we shall lose our work'; I said I would not if she would tell me the truth as to what caused it. `Well,' she said, `I will tell you, father.' She says, `I was fettling the waste, and the girl I had learning had got so perfect she could keep the side up till I could fettle the waste; the overlooker came round, and said `What are you doing?' I said, `I am fettling while the other girl keeps the upper end up'; he said, `Drop it this minute;' she said, `No, I must go on with this'; and because she did not do it, he took a strap, and beat her between the shoulders. My wife was out at the time, and when she came in she said her back was beat nearly to a jelly; and the rest of the girls encouraged her to go to Mrs. Varley, and she went to her, and she rubbed it with a part of a glass of rum, and gave her an old silk handkerchief to cover the place with till it got well.
Evidence of Samuel Coulson, a factory worker, of the condition of children (Report of Committee on Factory Children's Labour, 1831-2 (XV) p.192 etc) 1832, reprinted in Bland, A.E., P.A. Brown, and R.H.Tawney, English Economic History: Select Documents, Bell, 1914, pp. 510-3.