Mary Bucktrout

William Dodd toured Britain in 1841 to collect evidence to help Lord Ashley and the factory reform movement. His book The Factory System: Illustrated was published in 1842. The book included and interview with Mary Bucktrout from Leeds.

Primary Sources

(1) William Dodd, The Factory System: Illustrated (1842)

Mary Bucktrout was a fine girl of fourteen years of age. She was working in the card-room of Mr. Holdsworth's flax mill in Leeds, and met with an accident while taking out some waste flax from the machinery, by order of the overlooker; "who," she says, "threatened to fine her 6d. a time, if she did not keep her machine clean". She has lost by this, and a preceding accident, the right arm, a little below the elbow, and the thumb of her left hand. Her master had given her one shilling, which is all she had; and the father of the girl, who is a poor working man with five children, has been obliged to support her since. She had been working two years in the same mill. She is remarkably interesting girl, and is at present in St. John's School, under the care of Dr. Hook, the vicar of Leeds, receiving such instruction as may enable her to undertake the management of an infant school. I was extremely pleased to hear her read, to see her write. The manner in which she holds her pen is rather curious; for this purpose she has a contrivance made of leather, somewhat similar to the two forefingers of a left-hand glove; these are fixed together, in close connection with a small leathern tube, for holding the pen, which, by means of this tube, is made to lie on the upper side of her two forefingers, and is moved up and down, in the act of writing, by the first and second joints of the said finger. In this school there is also a governess, who has lost one arm by an accident in a factory.