Michael Ward

Michael Ward was a doctor in Manchester for thirty years. Dr. Ward was interviewed by Lord Kenyon's House of Lords Committee on 25th March, 1819.

Primary Sources

(1) Dr. Michael Ward was interviewed by Lord Kenyon's House of Lords Committee on 25th March, 1819.

Question: Give the committee information on your knowledge of the health of workers in cotton-factories.

Answer: I have had frequent opportunities of seeing people coming out from the factories and occasionally attending as patients. Last summer I visited three cotton factories with Dr. Clough of Preston and Mr. Barker of Manchester and we could not remain ten minutes in the factory without gasping for breath. How it is possible for those who are doomed to remain there twelve or fifteen hours to endure it? If we take into account the heated temperature of the air, and the contamination of the air, it is a matter of astonishment to my mind, how the work people can bear the confinement for so great a length of time.

Question: What was your opinion of the relative state of health between cotton-factory children and children in other employments?

Answer: The state of the health of the cotton-factory children is much worse than that of children employed in other manufactories.

Question: Have you any further information to give to the committee?

Answer: Cotton factories are highly unfavourable, both to the health and morals of those employed in them. They are really nurseries of disease and vice.

Question: Have you observed that children in the factories have particular accidents?

Answer: When I was a surgeon in the infirmary, accidents were very often admitted to the infirmary, through the children's hands and arms having being caught in the machinery; in many instances the muscles, and the skin is stripped down to the bone, and in some instances a finger or two might be lost. Last summer I visited Lever Street School. The number of children at that time in the school, who were employed in factories, was 106. The number of children who had received injuries from the machinery amounted to very nearly one half. There were forty-seven injured in this way.