Edward Holme

Edward Holme was a doctor in Manchester. Dr. Holme was interviewed by Lord Kenyon's House of Lords Committee on 22nd May, 1818.

Primary Sources

(1) Edward Holme was interviewed by Lord Kenyon's House of Lords Committee on 22nd May, 1818.

Question: How long have you practised as a physician in Manchester?

Answer: Twenty-four years.

Question: Have you, in Manchester, occasion to visit any public establishments?

Answer: I am physician to the principal medical establishments. The medical establishments with which I am connected, and have been for twenty-four years are, the Manchester Infirmary, Dispensary, Lunatic Hospital and Asylum, and the House of Recovery.

Question: Has that given you opportunities of observing the state of the children who are ordinarily employed in the cotton-factories.

Answer: It has.

Question: In what state of health did you find the persons employed?

Answer: They were in good health generally. I can give you particulars, if desired, of Mr. Pooley's factory. He employs 401 persons; and, of the persons examined in 1796, 22 were found to be of delicate appearances, 2 were entered as sickly, 3 in bad health, one subject to convulsions, 8 cases of scrofula: in good health, 363.

Question: Am I to understand you, from your investigations in 1796, you formed rather a favourable opinion of the health of persons employed in cotton-factories.

Answer: Yes.

Question: Have you had any occasion to change that opinion since?

Answer: None whatever. They are as healthy as any other part of the working classes of the community.

Question: If children were overworked for a long period, would it, in your opinion as a medical man, affect their health so as to be visible in some way?

Answer: Unquestionably; if a child was overworked a single day, it would incapacitate him in a great measure for performing his work the next day; and if the practice was continued for a longer period, it would in a certain time destroy his health altogether.

Question: Then you are to be understood, that, from the general health among the children in the cotton-factories, you should form an opinion that they were not worked beyond their physical powers?

Answer: Certainly not.

Question: The result of your observation did not indicate any check of growth arising from their employment.

Answer: It did not.

Question: Would you permit a child of eight years old, for instance, to be kept standing for twelve hours a day?

Answer: I did not come here to answer what I would do if I had children of my own.

Question: Would it be injurious to a child, in your judgement as a medical man, if at the time he got his meals he was still kept engaged in the employment he was about?

Answer: These are questions which I find a great difficulty in answering.

Question: Who applied to you to undertake the examining of these children in Mr. Pooley's factory?

Answer: Mr. Pooley.

Question: Suppose I put this question to you. If children were employed twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen hours out of twenty-four, should you think that conducive to the health of a delicate child?

Answer: My conclusion would be this: the children I saw were all in health; if they were employed during those ten, twelve, or fourteen hours, and had the appearance of health, I should still say it was not injurious to their health.

Cotton factories in Union Street, Manchester (1835)
Cotton factories in Union Street, Manchester (1835)