As part of the parliamentary inquiry which led to the 1833 Factory Act, the Royal Commission conducted a widespread investigation into the working conditions within mills and factories. At the request of the House of Commons, their findings were published in a two-volume report in 1834 which ran to over 1,100 pages.
The bulk of the report contains responses by manufacturers to set lists of questions regarding the nature of their business and the treatment of children employed.
- What is the manufacture or description of work performed at this mill?
- What is the date of its erection, or application to its present purpose?
- Is the power employed steam or water, or both? If waterpower, state the name of the river or stream producing it.
- What is the power of the engine or wheel? Do you employ the whole power, or is part of it let off to other, and what purposes?
- How many persons are employed in your mill, (exclusive of those in the counting-house and warehouse department) distinguishing them into the following classes?
- What is the average of standing weekly wages of those who are paid by time, according to the following classes?
- What number and description of persons are paid by piece-work, and what is the average amount of their weekly earnings in a regular week's work, according to the following classes?
- What number and description of persons are employed in your mill, whose wages are paid by the workpeople under whom they work?
- Is the pay of those who receive standing weekly wages, the same per hour for over-hours, as during the regular time? If not, state the difference.
- At what hour does your regular day's work begin? and when does it terminate? If the regular hours are different at different times, distinguish the periods of alteration, and the reasons of them.
- If a water-mill, state how far your hours of work are dependent on the supply of water from other mills. State your usual hours of commencing and concluding work in droughty seasons.
- Is the regular day's work less on Saturday, than on the other days of the week? If so, is the time made up in any manner on the other live days, and how?
- What time is allowed for each meal, and at what hours are they usually taken? If any persons take their meals at a different time from the others, state the number, and why.
- Does the moving power stop during all or any of the meal-times? If not, mention the processes in which those are engaged who take their meals whilst at work.
- Explain your practice with regard to making up the time lost by reason of accidents to the machinery; or in water-mills by defect or excess of water, or injuries to the dam or watercourse. Is it allowed and paid for to the workpeople? is it lost to you and to them? is it made up by working extra hours? and if so, at what rate are the hands paid for that extra time?
- Is any time allowed to the hands during sickness, or absence from the mill arising from accidents? Explain your practice in this respect.
- How many regular holidays and half-holidays have your workpeople in the year besides Sundays?
- Explain your practice with respect to allowing holidays. Are the workpeople paid for any part of their holiday time? Is that time made up at any other time? If so, in what manner?
- Explain your rules with respect to fining for absence or irregularity, or to enforce obedience. What interval is allowed to elapse beyond the proper time of attendance, before the fine is imposed?
- Do you work more than one set of adult hands? If so, explain the succession and intervals of their labour.
- Have you ever employed more than one set of children to relieve each other during the labour of the same set of adult hands? State the objections to such a practice.
- Are corporal punishments sanctioned? If so, to what age are the children considered liable to it?
- Does the nature of your work require the employment of children under twelve years? State the processes in which the greatest number of young children are employed in your works?
- During how many days of the week has your machinery been at work for the purpose of your manufacture, during each quarter of the years 1830, 1831, 1832, beginning respectively 1st of January, 1st of April, 1st of July, and 1st of October? How many of these were Saturdays? N.B. This question has no reference to the hours of work, but to the days only
- During how many hours has your machinery been so at work in each quarter of the years 1830, 1831, and 1832?
- Have any alterations taken place in this mill since 1st of January 1830, (except in the answers to questions 5, 6, 7, 8,) other than you have mentioned in your answers?
- State any remarks you may be desirous of making on the subject of regulating the hours of factory labour by act of parliament.
The responses given by Hinchcliff and Horncastle of Cartworth are reproduced below.
Messrs. Hinchcliff and Horncastle, Cartworth
No. 66 Hinchcliff' fy Horncastle. ANSWERS of Messrs. Hinchcliff and Horncastle, Cartworth. A. 1. Scribbling, spinning, fulling, and finishing of woollen cloth. A. 2. Built in 1825. A. 3. Water and steam. The stream of water is called Ribbleden. A. 4. Twelve horse power. We employ the whole power. A. 5. Thirty five persons; viz. MALES. Under 10 years of age 10 and under 12 years 4 12 and under 14 1 14 and under 16 5 16 and under 18 1 18 and under 21 21 and upwards 17 A. 6. The standing weekly wages are: MALES. 10 and under 12 years of age 4s. 14 and under 16 5s. 4 d. 16 and under 18 10 s. 21 and upwards 18s. A. 7. Fourteen persons; viz. males. Under 10 years of age 10 and under 12 years 2, earning 12 and under 14 1, earning 18 and under 21 FEMALES. 2 1 2 4, earning 25s. FEMALES. 2, earning 3s. 6dl l 1, earning 3s. 6d* 2, earning 3s. 9d. 1, earning 6s. 1, earning 16s. 21 and upwards In a regular week’s work of seventy hours. A. 8. Nine ; viz. six billey piecers, two carder layers on, and one mule piecer. A. 9. It is the same. A. 10. The regular day’s work begins at six o’clock, a. m., and ends at eight o’clock, p. M., for the workmen paid by the week. We do not interfere with the hours of those who do by piece work; but they follow nearly the same rules, except in the winter season, when they commence later. A. 11. We work the steam when the supply of water is not sufficient. A. 12. The working hours on Saturdays are two hours fewer than on other days. The time is not made up on other days. A. 13. Half an hour is allowed for breakfast, viz., from half past eight to nine; one hour for dinner, viz., from half past twelve to half past one; half an hour for drinking, viz., from half past four to five o’clock, for the weekly men : with the others, we do not interfere, but they adopt the same time. A. 14. The moving power does not stop. The fulling department requires to be continually working. The finishers and others throw off their straps, except the scribbling engines, (commonly called tummers,) which are attended by an extra hand and the overlooker while the rest are at meals. A. 15. If a small time is lost, as it regards weekly men, we are the only losers, no deduction being made; but if half a day or upwards is lost, the same is lost to us and to the workmen, and it never has been made up by extra hour.;, A. 16. We have had no accidents, and have therefore found no rule necessary. A. 17. Four whole holidays, besides Sundays. A. 18. The men are not paid for lost time in holidays, nor is it made up. A. 19. If the men are one hour too late, that time is taken off their wages; but a shorter time is seldom noticed. A. 20. No. A. 21. We have never found it necessary to try two sets of children, as ours work cheerfully the full time. The children’s health and appearance will bear a comparison with those who never work in mills. We find the billey spinner (or slubber) will earn 31s. in a week of seventy hours, out of which he pays to his piecers and layer on 1 Is. for the week. Now, in case such slubber is necessitated to employ two sets of children, we think he must, on a fair calculation, pay 9s. per week to each set, or 7s. per week more than his present payment; and to make up this extra outgo, he must work fifteen hours and. three quarters extra time per week, or something more than two hours and a half per day. A. 22. Corporal punishments are not sanctioned by us, and we believe never inflicted. A. 23. A. 23. Not absolutely so; but we find that for biLley piecers the least children are generally the most expert. A. 24. Not keeping a regular time register, we cannot answer Questions 24 & 25 exactly; but we believe that our time averaged nearly full time for the whole of the years 1830 andl831, and also the first and second quarters of 1832. On the 14th of July, 1832, our works were at a stand on account of a turn out, and remained so till the 15th of October, on which day part of our men returned to work, but we had not our full complement of hands till January, 1833. A. 26. Prior to the turn out above mentioned in July, 1832, our regular working time was eleven hours and a half per day ; but when our hands returned to work, we stipulated for half an hour per day extra time, on account of an advance made by us in wages. A. 27. We consider all legislation injurious, unless parliament could legislate for the whole world. If they prohibit young children from working in mills and factories, they deprive the poor widow in numberless instances of all her dependence, except the usual parish allowance, which will amount to taking away one half or upwards of her own and her fatherless children’s bread. If they restrict children to ten hours per day, they might as well diminish the time to seven or eight hours, for it will compel the use of two sets of children; and, in order to meet the increased payment, the adult (who works by the pound or piece work, and pays the children,) will be necessitated to work two hours and ahalf or three hours per day extra. If they stop the moving power after it has run ten or eleven hours, they must either compensate us, or we shall be immense losers, as we stand upon a very high rental, and on a long lease. Yorkshire. Hinchcliff fy Horncastle. Hinchcliff & Horncastle.