Shame on the Industrial Revolution, Making Child-Slaves of Children, It Took a Gruesome Toll

Here is testimony from Robert Blincoe, 40 years after he was placed in the Pancras Workhouse in 1796 at the age of four and sent off with 80 other abandoned children to the Lambert cotton mill outside Nottingham. He gave testimony to a Parliamentary committee on child labor.

Released in paperback in 1988, Robert Hughes authored "The Fatal Shore" to alarm residents about the gruesome toll on underprivileged children of Great Britain, all under the complicit eye of factory overseers, physicians and government officials.


Blincoe continued: "Three or four of us have been hung at once on a cross-beam above the machinery, hanging by our hands, without shirts or stockings. Then we used to stand up, in a skip, without our shirts and be beaten with straps or sticks to prevent us from running away."

Doctors tended to side with their class allies. They went on record again and again that cotton lint, coal dust and phosphorous were harmless to the human lung, that 15 hours at a machine in a room temperature of 85 degrees did not cause fatigue, that ten-year-olds could work a full night shift without risk of harm.

Famous people in history employed children: Josiah Wedgwood, uncle to Charles Darwin, and heir to his father's great pottery in Staffordshire, employing 13 children under 10, 103 between 10 and 18. They worked at dipping ware in a glaze partly composed of lead oxide, a deadly poison.