Gillett Sharpe

Gillett Sharpe was born in Keighley in 1781. Sharpe, overseer of the poor in Keighley, was interviewed by Michael Sadler and his House of Commons Committee on 6th June, 1832.

Primary Sources

(1) Gillett Sharp was interviewed by Michael Sadler and his House of Commons Committee on 6th June, 1832.

Question: As overseer, have you had many persons whom you used to relieve from being cripples, and in a state they could not work, arising from the injury that you thought they had received in the factories?

Answer: We have had one we relieved that lost his arm; he had ten shillings a month; that was an accident; and there are others, by being crooked and deformed, and not able to get their living like other men, they are often upon the parish; they are not able to maintain themselves, and they are obliged to apply for relief.

Question: What do you think, from your own personal observation, has been the consequence of the length of labour endured by the children and young persons at Keighley?

Answer: I have observed that their health has been very much impaired by it in general, and that it is different in those places where they are not occupied in mills.

Question: Is the children's deformity is attributable to the too early and excessive labour of the children in the factories?

Answer: Yes; I consider that labour from too early an age, and long standing, have been the causes of it.

Question: Have you made any observation as to the moral effects of those long hours of labour?

Answer: Yes, I have.

Question: What have they been?

Answer: By being confined so long in the factory, with so little time for relaxation or instruction, they have been prevented from attaining that knowledge which children ought to have in the morning of life; for the time they are employed in the week is so great that they have no opportunity, except on the Sabbath day, of being instructed.

Question: Did the working in the factory have a bad effect upon the morals of the people employed.

Answer: Yes, we pay fifty pounds a month for illegitimate children.

Question: How much is allowed for each?

Answer: It is about 2 shillings a week.

Question: Do you know anything as to the state of morality in mills?

Answer: I am informed that in a certain mill where there are, I believe, eighteen young women working, there are twelve out of eighteen who have had illegitimate children; some one, some two, and some three each.