Childrens Employment Commission 1842
The following extracts are from the report by R F Franks to the Children's Employment Commission on the East of Scotland District which was published in 1842.
Redding Collieries, Stirlingshire
- (The Duke of Hamilton.)
No.222. Mr. John Johnson, overseer of his Grace the Duke of Hamilton's coal mines at Redding, in the county of Stirling:
We employ at present between 400 and 500 miners, 127 of whom are females; our numbers vary with demand for coal; seldom less than the returned number.
Sixty of the persons returned are not 13 years of age; few go below before they are 9 or 10 years, as they are of little use, except for opening trap-doors, or some such employment.
We do not interfere or exercise any control over our colliers as to the ages of taking children in; they regulate the same amongst themselves.
I am of opinion that unless children begin to work when they are 11 or 12 years of age it would be of disadvantage to them afterwards.
Females of 18 years and upwards assisted, when they choose, by their children, draw and push the corves [carts], which contain 8cwt. of coal, from the workings to the bottom of the shaft.
Very few accidents of a serious nature has occurred; one miner was killed near two years since, by the roof dropping; every precaution is used to prevent them; the colliers do not descend the shaft but always by trap [step] stairs and air-courses are carried to the extremities of the workings.
In order to encourage education, a school-house has been built and a properly appointed teacher resides there; many send their children; we make the payment of school-fees compulsory, and all male adults, married or single, contribute 4d. a-fortnight and colliers are then free to send all their children.
No.223. Mr. Alexander Morton:
I am teacher of the Redding Colliery School; the fees for education are discharged by fortnightly payments at the count-table of the office, and my payment is according to the number who attend.
Every collier's child is admitted without further payment, but they are negligent in sending their offspring; some weeks since 100 children, male and females, attended, they then fell off to 79 and now only upwards of 60.
The night-school frequently has 40 to 50, but the exhausted state the children are in prevents due application; and where parents are allowed to take their children into mines so early they lose all taste for instruction.
Many do not feel the value of education till very late; and it is not uncommon for lads of 18 or 20 years of age to come here to get their writing prior to their getting married.
I have a collier at school who married a few weeks since and has just commenced learning to read and write. There are very few instances of illegitimate children in this part, though the females are very numerous, but it frequently occurs that women are delivered of children very shortly after marriage.
The colliers have gradually improved in their conduct since a missionary, provided to take charge of the locality, has preached amongst them; he is away at present but is expected shortly to return.
[The school was very thinly attended at the period of my visit, and many were not the children of colliers; scarcely one exceeded the age of 11 years; they were badly provided with books and were not in a great state of progression.]
No.224. James Watson, 9 years old, coal-filler
Worked below five months; throws over father's coal; never goes down the shaft in a basket, always by the trap-stair with the women; the pit is "an awful frightsome place;" "is gai dark;" works from eight in the morning till six at night; when I do not play I gang to the night-school; knows a few short sentences in the penny-book.
No.225. David Guy, 7 years old, trapper:
I gang at half five [half-past four] in the morning and come up at half six at night.
I open an air-door below; it is no very hard work, but unco long, and I canna hardly get up the stair-pit when work is done.
Sister and brother work below and we all work for mother, as father was killed a wee while since [nine months ago] by a stone from the roof.
[Cannot read; has not been to school since down, near nine months.]
No.226. Catherine Thomson, 11 years old, putter:
Wrought below one year; works with sister, who is 13 years of age; starts to work at six in morning, and return six at night.
We both work on father's account and draw his coal; the hutchies hold 8cwt., which we have first to fill before we draw; the distance we draw is said to be full 1000 yards.
I suffer much from pains in my knee, which was crushed some time ago by a hutchie [cart] below; when injured, was off idle many weeks - [the knee appeared much inflamed, and slightly contracted] - I can scarcely stand after I have been running and pushing all day.
Dr. Graham, of Polmont, attended me and opened the knee; much standing always causes me to suffer great pain.
When work is full we draw six and seven hutchies daily.
Am rather deaf, as had my ear injured five years ago, by a caning across the head when at school and father does not choose to send us in consequence.
[Has very little knowledge of reading; is very delicate; scarcely any scriptural information.]
No.227. John Thomson, coal-hewer:
I am the father of Catherine Thomson and Hannah Dawson Thomson; they work with me below ground at present and they much complain of the labour but have need for them just now.
My reason for keeping the lassies so long from school arose from the master sorely thrashing my daughter Catherine over the head in a violent manner [five years ago], and her hearing has been defective ever since.
She was laid idle for 12 months and was attended by Dr. Graham, of Polmont.
Although I pay towards the school I send my son to Mrs. Phillips's, who has taught him to read in three months, after he had been at the colliery school 12 months and had not got the length of the letters.
[I saw Dr. Graham the same day I took this evidence, at Stoney Rig Colliery and read my notes to him; he promised his best attentions and after the lapse of some days I wrote him at Polmont on the subject and have not yet received a reply.]
No.228. Thomas Walker, 13 years old, coal-hewer:
We usually work 12 to 13 hours, starting at two in the morning, and returning three, four and five at night, when no bad air is in the pits.
I have been below three years and am wrought on the 20-inch seam; after hewing my coal have to push four hutchies, of 8 1/2 cwt., to pit-bottom; it requires some strength to do the work.
There are many accidents here; my father has just had his collar-bone broken; and the son of William Guy, who was killed nine months gone, got his leg broken by roof falling.
[Well informed; reads and writes.]
No.229. George Murdoch, 11 years old, coal-hewer:
Hews coal on father's account; I go to work at two in the morning, sometimes three, and return at five next afternoon; we live at the Divities, Wallacestone, about half a mile from the pits.
Father pays to the Redding Colliery School but sends me to Mr. Webster, who is an old collier and teaches boys after he has done work; I have not been to the Redding School for some time, as father thinks more attention is paid other people's children than those of colliers.
[Reads and writes; not very well informed.]
[The Divities, in which Peter Murdoch, the father, lived, are a set of cottages built by squatting colliers. The walls, if they may be so called, are constructed of divit [turf] and the roofs are thatched with reeds and heather. They have a very singular appearance; and the one apartment is generally partitioned into as many as may be deemed necessary for the family and its appendages, viz. pigs, fowls, cuddies [donkies], and storegarden-stuff, grown during the summer in the ground adjoining the huts. They have no drainage, as the earth is of so boggy and turfy a nature as to absorb everything thrown upon it.]
No.230. Mary Sneddon, 39 years old, putter:
Works for support of family, with three sons, ages 8, 10, and 12, as husband was killed in a coal mine three years gone
Two eldest boys hew coal; youngest opens an air-door and I draw the five hutchies my boys hew; they canna do more in three days, as they get no flesh to eat to make them stout.
I draw soft coal on master's account - 10cwt. is a load; 8 1/2cwt. of splint-coal the load for great coal.
The boys and my little daughter are learning to read at night-school; my eldest boy is sore in the back from an injury some years since by fire, but he is obliged to work.
[None read; very poor neglected children; little straw mattress; no bed; scarcely a chair to sit down upon.]
Stoney Rigg Colliery
- parish of Polmont, Stirlingshire. - (John Johnson, of Blair Lodge, Esq., Proprietor.)
No.231. Mr. Alexander Borrowman, manager of Stoney Rig Colliery:
We employ at present males and females, which is the practice in this part of Stirlingshire - about 56 males and 30 females; one half may be under 18 years of age and the youngest 8 to 10 years old.
The females draw the coal and the men hew; the work is severe, but the women do not seem to object to it after they have been at it some time. It certainly renders them not very fit for other employment, and they seem to feel that much.
Colliers are very negligent of their children's education; for, though we have no school attached to the works, yet our engineer is very fit to instruct the younger persons, and he takes pupils at very low fees; but few send their children, probably not more than 20 to 25.
The working seams are 28 to 36 inches in thickness, the main-roads 40 to 48 inches; the longest road at present does not exceed 400 yards.
No.232. Mary Hunter, 10 years old, putter:
I assist sister Ellison to draw the hutchies; she is 14 years old; we gang at six in morning, and come at five and six at night with brother John, who hews the coal with father; brother is 12 years old and been five years and a half below.
We drag the coal in bagies, which have no wheels, to main-road, and fill the hutchies; three bagies fill one hutchie; can't say how many bagies would fill three hutchies; it would require guid lot.
We go to Mr. Robert Anderson's school at night, when done early, to get the length of the reading; we no go to kirk, as have no claes [clothes.]
No.233. Margaret Hipps, 17 years old, putter:
On short shifts I work from eight in the morning till six at night; on long ones until 10 at night; occasionally we work all night. When at night-work, from six at night till eight and ten in the morning.
Only bread is taken below; and the only rests we have are those we have to wait upon the men for while picking the coal.
My employment, after reaching the wall-face, is to fill a bagie, or slype, with 2 1/2 to 3 cwt. of coal. I then hook it on to my chain and drag it through the seam, which is 26 to 28 inches high, till I get to the main-road - a good distance, probably 200 to 400 yards. The pavement I drag over is wet, and I am obliged at all times to crawl on hands and feet with my bagie hung to the chain and ropes.
I turn the contents of the bagies into the carts till they are filled; and then run them upon the ironrails to the shaft a distance of 400 to 500 yards.
It is sad sweating and sore fatiguing work, and frequently maims the women. My left hand is short of a finger, which laid me idle four months.
[Reads and writes. Very ill-informed. Is a fine personable woman, above the middle Stature and rather stout.
It is almost incredible to believe that human beings can submit to such employment, crawling on hands and knees, harnessed like horses, over soft slushy floors more difficult than dragging the same weights through our lowest common-sewers, and more difficult in consequence of the inclination, which is frequently one in three to one in six.]
Glen-End and Somerhouse Collieries
-parishes of Polmont and Muiravonside, County of Stirling. William Thompson, of Meadowbank, Esq., proprietor.)
No.234. William Thomson, Esq., Glen-End Collieries:
I employ at this moment in the Glen-End Mine 29 males, heads of families, 9 or 10. females and some few girls: only seven men drawing coal at Somerside; but as soon as the works are finished in Somerside Mine females and children will be employed in numbers.
We have no control over the miners; they regulate their own affairs. Most of the people employed live at the village of Woodfoot, one mile and a half away.
No school at present near the works, nor any benefit society that I am aware of.
No.235. John Gordon, age 12, coal-hewer:
I work 12 and 14 hours every day and never work less than 9 and 10 days in the fortnight. Mother and sister work below. Sister is 10 years of age. Their work is very, very sore as the braes [hills] they draw up are heavy.
[Neither John nor his sister Elizabeth can read: very ignorant destitute family.]
No.236. Helen Thompson, 14 years old, putter:
Began to work below ground two years gone. Brother George is only 12 years old and has been five years in the mines: he and I push father's work. It is sair work and very filthy for lassies. I don't like it, but forced to it. I go down at seven morning and take father and brother's breakfast as they leave early.
[Reads very badly.]
No.237. Agnes Marshall, 10 years old, putter:
Draws with ropes and chains the bagies through the 27-inch seams; and sister, who is eight years and a few months old, assists: she pulls and shovels the small coal and lifts the big pieces at top of the hutchies. Brother, who is seven the 24th of next May, assists us to push.
We do not like the pit, nor the work, it is so sore crushing; but father says we shall like it when we are used to it, I was in the big-spell when at school: not been since below, which is six months.
Mother has not worked the last two months, as she nurses the baby: she had it soon after she left the pit.
Carron Company's Coal & Iron-stone Mines
- parishes of Falkirk, Larbert and Bothkenner, Stirlingshire. - (Joseph Dawson, Esq., Manager.)
No.238. Joseph Dawson, Esq.:
In the Carron Collieries and iron-stone pits the miners and many of their wives and children have wrought all their lives, and very few changes take place. Every reasonable thing that can conduce to their comfort and accommodation is granted, and no dispute of any importance has taken place amongst our colliers and miners for some years.
Three schools connected with the collieries, supported partly by the company and partly by small fees stopped at the count-table every fortnight from each adult. The children attend well, as few parents like to pay for what they have no return.
A friendly society, from which members receive a weekly allowance when sick or superannuated, or certain allowances to friends after death, has existed nearly 80 years, undergoing at periods certain alterations. This society is supported by nearly all those who work in the collieries or the foundry and a large surplus fund exists.
The numbers employed in the collieries of the company do not exceed at this period 327 persons. Most of our iron-stone pits are worked by contractors, who engage whom they please. Many of these pits being far away we find it more convenient so to do.
The foundry is quite distinct in its operations to the mines: in the former the youth, after they have reached their 12th or 14th year, are bound to the company for 12 years, and are turned over to their fathers or friends [relations] who hold them for five years. The seven after-years is nominal service, for they receive the pay of men after they have served the first five years; and if they choose, which is rarely the case, may depart.
All work in the foundry is done by the piece, and wages vary according to the quality of the work.
There are upwards of 1030 men and boys, 84 of whom are under 13 years of age; they are sons of the workmen.
The usual number of hours are 12, out of which they have one hour allowed for dinner, and half an hour for breakfast: their labour is of the ordinary kind.
No part of the work requires the aid of very young children; and I believe few are employed in our collieries under 12 years of age: this in collieries is left to the discretion of the parents.
Few accidents have occurred in our mines. Within the last two years a man was killed by the fall of the roof and a serious one took place in the foundry. The men usually left in charge of the blast-furnaces on the Sunday had their attention taken off by some friends visiting, and they omitted to feed the stove, which caused the interior to fall in and force out the melted metal: six men and one boy were killed on the spot.
No.239. Ann Waugh, 16 years old, putter:
Wrought below eight years. Works on the long days 15 and 16 hours: two in the morning till five and six at night. On the lay days [short days] only eight hours, as the gin only works three days a-week.
I draw in harness and sister hangs on and pushes behind. The work is gai sair, and we often get knocked down as the cart descends the brae. The cart holds 5cwt. of coal.
I can only read - [Reads very little] - as father took me down o'er early.
No.240. James Waugh, aged 60, coal-hewer:
Wrought all my life on this work. Have been married more than 40 years, and have had 12 children: seven are alive and work in the mines.
I took my children down early to keep them out of mischief. My daughter has only been at work five years, the other three she did little below ground but play: it was for her safety I took her down.
When I first wrought as a full man I could earn 3s. a-day, no one can do much more now, and then my 3s. would get me flesh at half the price, and oatmeal at two-thirds its present price, and the meal was bought by heavy-weight (Dutch). We now buy flesh and meal by the light weight, and whiskey by the large measure.
[The old colliers all called out for a return of the big weights with as much zeal as Hogarth's called for a return of the eleven days.]
No.241. Elizabeth Paterson, 70 years of age:
I worked in Redding and Carron mines till I was blind. I remember brawly my earning 4d. a day as a girl, but when I got the length of a woman could get 1s. a-day, which is as women get the now; and though coal-carrying was harder than putting, we never worked longer than the consumpt of one candle, which was much shorter labour and food was na si dear: canna remember prices but know the markets were cheaper and money bought more.
No.242. Janet Murdoch, 12 years old, pumper:
Have wrought in the mines four months; when at coal-work descended at five in the morning, came up at five, six, and seven at night; but alternate mornings went down at two and returned at ten in the morning.
My present employment is to bucket the water and lift [carry] to level face. The work is constant and most wearying, as the place is low I lift in, not being four feet high. My earnings are 10d. a-day and it costs me 7d. to l0d. weekly for my oil and cotton.
Father and mother are dead; six children were left, the youngest is seven years of age; we all live together, as four brothers work in the foundry. My father was the colliery teacher for many years.
[Reads and writes remarkably well, and very well-informed girl; rather delicate.]
No.243. Robert Mackey, 14 years old, coal-hewer:
Works 15 and 16 hours daily 3 days in the week, and 7 to 8 hours other 3 days. The short days are those we prepare the work in, on which days the females, who puts our work, are paid 18d. per day; after paying the women, our oil, pick-sharpening, and cotton, we can earn 27s. a-week and do so, except when prevented by bad air or other causes.
We take bread and cheese below, as no one can bring us food, the distance below ground being near two miles away; it takes us 40 minutes to walk after we get down.
[Reads and writes well, as do all the family; the father has wrought at Carron all his life.]
No.244. John Sutherland, 14 years old, moulder:
Father brought me to the foundry when I was eight years of age; was first at the dressing [cleaning the sand off fancy cast pieces of metal], am now at the moulding, and bound to the company for 12 years; am turned over to father for 5 years. I do not dislike the work; we have enough of it, both brother and I.
We start together at 5, and sometimes 6, in the morning and lay by at 5 and 6 at night, whiles later.
Get porridge brought in the morning at 8 o'clock; am not long eating it, as work will not admit; dines at 1, on tatoes and herring, or kail; does not rest long, perhaps 20 minutes or so.
[Reads badly and very deficient; says he goes to night-school at times.]
No.245. William Sutherland, 9 years old, moulder:
I work in same shop as brother John and father; I work at the wee boxes [small moulds], and have done so nine months; can't say I dislike it, though I often get burned. Don't know that I ever staid awa with sores. I go sometimes to the night-school to get some reading - [reads badly]; when I go I wash and shift mysel.
No.246. Michael Hurley, 12 years old, dresser:
Works for father as dresser. Dressing is cleaning the casts from the loam, and knocking off the overcastings fit for the magazine [warehouse]; the work is not hard or difficult to learn.
I work 12 hours; have two rests, half an hour for breakfast, when first bell rings, and one hour for dinner, the second bell. [Reads well, and writes indifferently.] When work is over I go to Robert Smith's night-school, held in Carron club-room.
No.247. George Oswald, age 16 years, moulder:
Wrought five years at Carron foundry; was the first three years in the magazine [warehouse] to put away the work and run about.
Am bound to Carron Company, have been so two months; have to serve John Godfrey for five years more, at moulding. I was turned over to John by the company, and after five years expect to get full wages. Although bound to serve seven years after to the company, may go away if I like; very few apprentices do, as there are no better masters.
Mother gets my earnings, 5s. a-week, as father is dead and she has six of us to support; have two brothers, aged 12 and 18 years, at these works, who assist to support family. Youngest brother earns 3s., and eldest takes away 10s. and whiles 12s.
Not been to school for five years; could read and write and do a little at counting before I came; have nearly all but the reading.
I do not. gang to kirk, as my clothes do not suit on Sabbath; I stay in house or gang about.
My meals are always sent to foundry; porridge for first meal and tatoes and broth for second, and work as soon as eaten.
[Reads pretty well, spells badly and writes indifferently; much neglected.]
No.248. Robert Gorden, 15 years old, moulder:
Wrought five years; not bound or under any restriction; takes away 5s. and 5s. 6d. a-week to mother. Father was killed when the fatal accident occurred near two years since, by the bursting of one of the blast-furnaces. Do not dislike the work.
[Pretty well informed; reads and writes well.]
No.249. Alexander Hurley, 14 years old, dresser:
I have wrought four years at Carron; could read and write before I came; am apprenticed and turned over to my father's cousin; he pays my wages to father. When out of apprenticeship may go if I choose.
[Reads well, writes badly, nor very well informed.]
No.250. John Hoskin, 13 years old, smith:
Works in the smithy, has done four years and a half; has wrought 12 hours, sometimes longer. Has two rests for meals: breakfast half an hour, dinner one hour; we do not go out, as live far away, a full mile, at Grahamston. I fit and file the grates on father's account; can't say what he gets for me, as he works by the piece; do not know whether he contracts for his work.
[Reads a little, and can just shape the letters.]
No.251. Peter Brown, about 14 years old, smith:
Have always wrought at smith's work; did so in father's life, with two brothers, who work with me at Carron. Work 12 hours, as most boys do; can get 5s. a-week; has been able earn as much since. Father lost his life by explosion of the blast-furnace, in November, 1839.
[Reads and writes very well. Most of the boys whose fathers lost their lives by the above accident have been well placed.]
Falkirk Iron Company
-Grahamston, parish of Falkirk, Stirlingshire.
No.252. Graham Hardie, Esq., managing partner of the Falkirk Iron Company:
We employ about the works near 400 men and boys, sometimes we exceed the number; their occupations are those common to foundries, as moulding, casting, dressing, &c. &c.; it has been a practice to pay by the piece for casting, and it is ours to do so by contract with our men, who pay the boys employed by them set wages while they are learning to mould.
The boys are taken very young to the work, many not reaching the age of seven and eight years and many do neither read nor write, nor are they likely, after beginning to work, ever to learn to read or write.
Our workmen need nothing so much as education, they are becoming more and more ignorant; those above 25 years of age who read and write are the best workmen; in fact, the best educated are the best workmen, and most easily managed.
A limitation of age would be desirable for boys working; if education were given, and if not allowed to work till 12 to 14 years old, a superior class of workmen would be formed.
We have no school in connection with the foundry, but there are schools, libraries, and societies in the immediate neighbourhood. Until last year a sick society existed, and was managed by the workmen; it is now broken up by dissensions.
No.253. William Adams, 10 years old, dresser:
Works for John Hanger; done so 12 months; two other laddies assist; works from half six [half-past five] till six and seven at night; gets 2s. 6d. a-week. Porridge and dinner, sometimes sent, at others run home to; gets enough to eat at times; is allowed 20 minutes to each meal.
Could read a little before at the foundry work. Father is dead, and mother has to find food for seven of us.
[Reads very badly; cannot spell own name.]
No.254. James Thompson, 11 years old, dresser:
I have been 3 years at work, 18 months in this foundry; am 12 and 14 hours at work; I get 3s. 6d. a-week when my work is approved. Work for Richard Kidster. Dressing is no hard work, but we get enough of it; should like less work if could gang to school, but mother cannot afford to pay, as father is dead and she has 13 children; 3 work here, 1 is at service. Was at reading 3 years ago; forgot all - [can scarcely make out the letters]. Does not go kirk for want of clothes.
[Lives in Grahamston; 1 small room contains 2 beds; 5 boys sleep in one bed; mother, witness, and 3 sisters sleep in second bed.]
No.255. Andrew Laing, about 12 years old, moulder:
Wrought 4 years at pot-moulding; works every day 12 to 14 hours; rests 20 minutes to each meal; runs home, as mother lives in Grahamston; master gives me 3s. 6d. a-week. I canna read, as never at any school. Father was a moulder, but has been discharged for hard drinking; mother gets my wages; have 3 sisters, 2 are at service.
[Very ignorant and destitute.]
No.256. Donald Elder, 9 years old, moulder:
Wrought 3 months at pot-moulding; does so on James Anderson's account; he pays me 2s. a-week; will give me more when I can work more; cannot do muckle just now, as had been down with the fever just before commenced working here. Mother is dead; live with father; he sent me to school and go to night-school at times.
[Reads well and writes; can repeat Scripture lessons and Catechism.]
No.257. Robert Fotherington, 12 years old, moulder:
Began to work 3 years ago; does not mind it now, did when first at it, as the metal sore burned me and threw me idle.
I get 3s. 6d. a-week from my master, Richard Glen, to whom I was bound a year since by father. We work very long hours, whiles 14 and 15. I go to night-school when home, and change myself on those nights, not otherwise. I go twice a-week, rarely more.
[Reads very badly; obliged to spell each word.]
No.258. William Morrison, 11 years old, dresser:
Only been 4 months at work; works from 5 in morning till 6 and 7 at night; do not like such long hours, as have only two rests of 20 minutes each during day. Can earn 2s. 6d. a-week. Do not dislike the work. William Grainger is my master; he has four other laddies in his employ, some men have seven. We get our licks occasionally. Cannot write, was never taught; used to go to school.
[Can read a little; cannot answer the questions in Child's Catechism.]
Bantaskine and Callendar Colliery
- parish of Falkirk, Stirlingshire. - (John Wilson, Esq., Bantaskine.)
No.259. John Wilson, Esq.:
I much approve of the present inquiry and think it has long been wanted in this part of Scotland, as the masters have found it impossible to restrain their colliers from taking very young children and females below ground.
I consider some legislative enactment necessary, as I and others have attempted many times to exclude children under a certain age, as also females, without success; in fact, were we now to attempt so to do we should lose our best working colliers.
I have advanced so far as to allow females to work in one mine only, that which has a bout-gate and where the coal runs to the daylight.
A restriction of age at which children should work in mines is most essential; they are put to work too soon and it tends much to corrupt their minds, it is injurious to their growing strength, and I seldom find them desirous nor urged by their parents to receive further education, and consequently have not that knowledge requisite for after-life; 12 or 13 years of age is the least that children should descend mines, and that depending on strength and education.
I have a school of my own in the work, and use all my influence to get all the children attend. There are two evening-schools for those who are wrought in the mines, but they do not attend to my satisfaction. I have also a library, but I find many very backward to read, especially those who are unlearned and ignorant.
My best servants are those who have been best taught in their youth; they take an interest in the schools and many have become teachers of the younger branches.
No.260. Rebecca Simpson, 11 years old, putter:
Am wrought with sister Agnes, who is 12 past [12 years and 6 months old]; we go together at six in the morning and return at six at night. Sister draws the carts with ropes and chains, and I push behind; when it is difficult to draw, brother George, who is 14 years old, helps us up the brae; the carts hold 7cwt., and we run them about 200 yards; we run 14 rakes every day we work. We are wrought 9 and 10 days in the 12.
Mother is dead; she had 12 children and are alive. Married sister keeps house.
[Reads the Bible very well, and repeats the replies to the questions in the Catechism; does not well understand their meaning.]
No.261. Alexander Simpson, 17 years old, coal-hewer:
Began to work at 10 years of age; I work 16 hours per day five and six days in the 12, and 12 hours the other five.
Our place of work is fairly ventilated. The brae in the mine is rather steep; three years ago was mastered by a hutchie while backing down the brae, which crushed me nearly to death; was off work five weeks. Father takes our wages; he is no very strong, as suffers from bad breath. Reads and writes.
[Reads very well, and well informed.]
No.262. Jane Simson, 22 years of age, pumper and putter:
I sometimes work 12 hours at pumping in the mine, and after a short rest have returned to push the coal for father; have done so very often and even worked the three courses, taking rests only of half an hour or so between each; by so doing we get more time to look about us when out of the mine. I like daylight best, but have never done other work.
No.263. Ann Hamilton, 17 years old, putter:
Has wrought below three years; was at farm service and worked in fields before, but father took me down at Bo'ness and have worked below ever since; been at Bantaskine nine months; is wrought with brother on uncle's work, and has two sisters who push and fill father's coal.
I work from seven in the morning till seven at night; I fill and draw 14 to 16 hutchies of coal, each hutchie hold 5 1/2 to 7cwt. of coal; the severest part of the labour is drawing the bagies from the wall-face to main-road; there is no horse-road on our side of the pit, consequently have to draw near three-quarters of a mile.
Lads are no fit to stand the work like women. I have repeatedly wrought the 24 hours, and after two hours rest and my peas [soup] have returned to the pit and worked another 12 hours. It is quite our own will, but make more money by it.
[Reads and writes very well and well informed.]
[The Hamiltons were living at Woodfoot, near one mile and a quarter away from Bantaskine, in a lodging-house of small size; in two small apartments were placed three beds; three sons slept with uncle in kitchen; three daughters, 17, 16, and 14, in a small bed adjoining; father, mother, and three children in a moderate-sized bed in next room; and the other apartments were equally crowded; the front of the house was one huge mass of dung and filth. I was told by a neighbour that much fever had existed in the place, in fact it hardly ever was free from some malady or other.]
No.264. James Sneddon, 9 years old, putter:
I assist brother Charles to push the carts: he is no forward of eight years. Sister draws, she is 15 years gone. Eldest brother, who is 13, draws sometimes, but he is no very strong, as he has been crushed by stones dropping on him when father worked at Bo'ness some months ago.
We work from six in morning till four and five at night; get porridge before we gang and take pieces of oatcake with us.
Was never wrought at the reading; was in the big spell at Bo'ness; not been to school since.
[Very ignorant, and apparently much neglected.]
No.265. Mrs. Scott Dobie:
I have lived in the village of Woodfoot and kept house upwards of 50 years and have been well acquainted with the working people, colliers and others. I do not think colliers are so well off as they were 40 years or 50 years ago. I feel certain they do not drink so hard as they did, nor do they appear to feed so well; their children are much neglected, and are very ill clothed; has heard many complain that their money does not go so far in the markets as it formerly did, and that it prevents them keeping their wives up or sending children to school.
Believes there is a great deal of truth in what they say, for of late years flesh has doubled in price and oatmeal 40 or 50 years since was 8d. the peck, and the weight was 17 to 20 ounces to the pound.
The poor have much increased, and are much worse provided for in this part of the country.