John Allett

John Allett started working in a textile factory when he was fourteen years old. Allett was fifty-three when he was interviewed by Michael Sadler and his House of Commons Committee on 21st May, 1832.

Primary Sources

(1) John Allett interviewed by Michael Sadler and his House of Commons Committee on 21st May, 1832.

Question: Will you state whether the hours of labour has been increased.

Answer: When I went at first to factories, I was at work about eleven hours a day, but over time this has increased to fifteen, sixteen, and sometimes to eighteen hours. I have seen by own children seem quietly lively; but towards the end of the week, they begin to get fatigued.

Question: Are they almost continually on their feet?

Answer: Always. There can be no rest at all.

Question: Were they excessively sleepy?

Answer: Very sleepy. In the evening my youngest boy has said, "father, what o'clock is it?" I have said perhaps, "It is seven o'clock." "Oh! is it two hours to nine o'clock?" I cannot bear it; I have thought I had rather almost have seen them starve to death, than to be used in that manner. I have heard him crying out, when getting within a few yards of the door, "Mother, is my supper ready?" and I have seen him, when he was taken from my back, fall asleep before he could get it.

Question: When did that child first go to the mill?

Answer: Between six and seven years old.

Question: Do more accidents take place at the latter end of the day?

Answer: I have known more accidents at the beginning of the day than at the later part. I was an eye-witness of one. A child was working wool, that is, to prepare the wool for the machine; but the strap caught him, as he was hardly awake, and it carried him into the machinery; and we found one limb in one place, one in another, and he was cut to bits; his whole body went in, and was mangled.