Matthew Crabtree

Matthew Crabtree was born in Dewsbury in 1810. Matthew was interviewed by Michael Sadler and his House of Commons Committee on 18th May, 1832.

Primary Sources

(1) Matthew Crabtree was interviewed by Michael Sadler and his House of Commons Committee on 18th May, 1832.

Question: At what age did you first go to work in a factory?

Answer: Eight.

Question: Will you state the hours of labour?

Answer: From six in the morning to eight at night.

Question: Will you state the effect that those long hours had upon the state of your health?

Answer: I was very much fatigued at night when I left my work; so much so, that I sometimes could have slept as I walked, if I had not stumbled and started awake again; and so sick that I could not eat, and what I did eat I vomited.

Question: What work did you do?

Answer: I was a piecener.

Question: Will you state to this committee whether piecening is a very laborious employment for children?

Answer: It is very laborious employment; pieceners are continually running to and fro, and on their feet the whole day. It is commonly very difficult to keep up with the work.

Question: State the condition of the children towards the latter part of the day.

Answer: Towards the close of the day, when they come to be more fatigued, they cannot keep up very well and they are beaten to spur them on.

Question: What were you beaten with?

Answer: A strap.

Question: Anything else?

Answer: Yes, a stick sometimes: and there is a kind of roller, which runs on the top of the machine.

Question: What is the effect of the piecening upon the hands?

Answer: It makes them bleed' the skin is completely rubbed off, and in that case they bleed perhaps in a dozen parts.

Question: Do you take your food to the mill?

Answer: Yes. It was frequently covered by flues from the wool; and in that case they had to be blown off with the mouth, and picked off with the fingers, before it could be eaten.

Question: Did you attend the Sunday School?

Answer: Not very frequently. I very often slept till it was too late for school-time, or for divine worship; and the rest of the day I spent on walking out and taking the fresh air.

Question: How many grown-up females had you in the mill?

Answer: Perhaps there might be thirty-four or so that worked in the mill.

Question: How many of those had illegitimate children?

Answer: A great many of them; eighteen or nineteen of them, I think.

Question: Did they generally marry the men by whom they had children?

Answer: No.

Question: Is it your opinion that those who have the charge of mills very often avail themselves of the opportunity they have to debauch the young women?

Answer: No, not generally; most of the improper conduct takes place among the younger people that work in the mill.