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From fever to digestive disease : approaches to the problem of factory ill-health in Britain, 1784-1833 Paterson, Carla Susan 1995

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FROM FEVER TO DIGESTIVE DISEASE:APPROACHES TO THE PROBLEMOF FACTORY ILL-HEALTHIN BRITAIN, 1784-1833byCARLA SUSAN PATERSONB.A., The University of British Columbia, 1977M.Sc., The University of Sussex, 1978A THESIS SUBMITFED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of History)We acceptbis thesis as conformingto tHe req red standard:THEOctober 1995© Carla Susan Paterson, 1995K.,In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)_______________Department of_______________The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate . iA5’DE-6 (2188)—11—ABSTRACTIn the early decades of British industrialization, the ill-health of textile factoryworkers attracted considerable public interest and provoked discussion and debateamong a growing number of medical men, operatives, manufacturers, and social andpolitical commentators. Guided by previous studies of the “framing” of disease, thisdissertation examines how such ill-health was conceived, designated and responded to inthe period from 1784 to 1833.The dissertation reveals that workers themselves held a relatively constant viewof their condition. In the early part of the nineteenth century, they drew attention to avariety of ailments and throughout the period they saw a clear link between theirmaladies and the conditions of their labour. By contrast, medical understanding shiftedsignificantly, and as it traced a course more or less at odds with that of popularcomprehension, the nature and causes of worker suffering were substantially redefined.In the 1780s and 1790s, doctors identified the illness of factory labourers as“low, nervous fever,” an acute contagious disorder generated by the crowding andconfinement of human bodies. A generation later, in the period from 1815 to 1819, theill-health of mill workers was conceptualized, by a portion of the medical community,as “debility,” a poorly-understood state of constitutional feebleness attributed to aspectsof machine work. In the early 1 830s, medical authorities regarded factory workers’sickness primarily as “digestive disease” and located its source in habits and diet.The reconceptualization of worker ill-health yielded an ultimately optimistic—111—assessment of the consequences of industrial growth, failing to offer strong support todemands for legislative restriction of factory operation. It also served to sanctionchanging social relations through providing evidence of the physical and moraldistinctness of the manufacturing population.As medical theory altered, so, too, did practices of relief and assistance. Whilemill owners, and doctors, became increasingly unwilling to assume responsibility forthe well-being of the industrial workforce, operatives engaged ever more extensively inpractices of self-help. The expansion of the textile industry, however, ensured thecontinuation of their affliction and incapacity.-iv-TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract iiTable of Contents ivList of Tables VAcknowledgement viIntroduction 1Chapter One Fever and Factories 16Chapter Two Contagion in the House 40Chapter Three Relief and Regulation of the Poor 92Chapter Four The Factory Question Agitated 130Chapter Five Debility and the Machine 175Chapter Six The Changing Pattern of Provision 201Chapter Seven The Factory Eclipsed:Domestic Habits and Personal Failings 226Chapter Eight The Broken Bond 282Conclusion 313Bibliography 328Appendix I Contributions of Selected Manchester Medical Mento the 1815-1819 Debate on the Factory Question 357-vLIST OF TABLESTable I Position of Selected Manchester Medical Menon the Factory Question 170-vi-ACKNOWLEDGEMENTI would like to thank my supervisor, Professor Harvey Mitchell, for hisunfailing kindness and support and for his patience with a project that has gone onlonger than either of us anticipated. I would also like to thank Professor Peter Wardfor his willingness in assuming the position of co-supervisor and for his generousencouragement and advice.I would like to express my gratitude, as well, to Professor John Pickstone,Doctor Stella Butler, and other former members of the University of ManchesterInstitute of Science and Technology for welcoming me into their midst, guiding me tolocal libraries and record offices, and sharing their understanding of medical history.Their efforts helped me acquire a feeling for Manchester and its past that madesubsequent research all the more meaningful.—1—INTRODUCTIONAs textile mills assumed greater visibility in the landscape of early industrialBritain, so, too, the health of those who laboured inside the mills came to occupy agrowing space in public awareness. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenthcenturies, the condition of mill workers was a matter which provoked increasinglywidespread concern and controversy. Medical men, as well as manufacturers andoperatives themselves, became preoccupied with the possible links between machineproduction and human affliction and reacted in various ways to evidences of sufferingand distress. Their shifting understanding of and responses to the ill-health of themanufacturing population form the subject of my dissertation.The issue of worker ill-health has attracted historical attention since the 1930s,when it was taken up by the early American historians of medicine, Henry Sigerist andGeorge Rosen. In 1936 Sigerist wrote an article on the “Historical Background ofIndustrial and Occupational Diseases” and corresponded with Rosen, urging him toundertake a full-length study of occupational health.1 The following year Rosenpublished a short historiographical essay and in 1943 completed a monograph on‘Henry E. Sigerist, “Historical Background of Industrial and OccupationalDiseases,” Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 2nd series, 12 (1936), pp.597-609; Elizabeth Fee, “Henry E. Sigerist: His Interpretations of the History ofDisease and the Future of Medicine,” in Charles E. Rosenberg and Janet Golden (eds),Framing Disease: Studies in Cultural History (New Brunswick, N.J.: RutgersUniversity Press, 1992), p. 303.-2-History of Miners’ Diseases, to which Sigerist contributed an introduction.2 Aftertheir pioneering efforts, several decades passed with little appearing on the topic.3 Theearly 1980s, however, saw a resurgence of interest in occupational health on both sidesof the Atlantic which has continued to the present, and which has expressed itself inconference gatherings, research projects, and a spate of books and articles.4In their writings, Sigerist and Rosen argued for the need to take a broad socialapproach to the historical investigation of work-related sickness. According to Rosen,the “frame of reference” for such investigation should be “the social structure in itseconomic, technologic, political, religious and cultural aspects.”5 Later scholars have2George Rosen, “On the Historical Investigation of Occupational Diseases. AnAperçu,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 5 (1937), pp. 941-946; The History ofMiners’ Diseases: A Medical and Social Interpretation (New York: Schuman’s, 1943).3Exceptions include Ludwig Teleky, History of Factory and Mine Hygiene (NewYork: Columbia Press, 1948) and Donald Hunter, The Diseases of Occupations(London: The English Universities Press Ltd., 1955). A textbook on occupationalmedicine, Hunter’s work contained a lengthy historical introduction and was reprintedseveral times in the 1950s and 1960s.41n 1983 the British Society for the Social History of Medicine held a conferenceon “The History of Occupational Medicine,” some of whose papers appear in PaulWeindling (ed), The Social History of Occupational Health (London: Croom Helm,1985). In the same year the Hastings Centre in New York conducted a study ofoccupational health entitled “Moral Responsibilities and Moral Decisions in Science andEngineering.” The results of the study are contained in Ronald Bayer (ed), The Healthand Safety of Workers: Case Studies in the Politics of Professional Responsibility(New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). In 1994, at the annual meeting of theAmerican Association for the History of Medicine, the Sigerist Circle met to discuss“Occupational Health and the Politics of Knowledge.” In “Accidents and Ill-Health:The Hidden Wages of the Workplace,” Social History of Medicine 3 (1990), p. 292,P.W.J. Bartrip links the swell of interest in worker health in the U.S.A. to the passingof the first federal Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1970.5Rosen, “Historical Investigation,” p. 945.-3-.heeded their concern and have continued to be attentive to the role of economic,technological, political and cultural factors in shaping the experience of occupationalillness and the introduction of measures aimed at alleviating or preventing it.Some historians, such as Gill Burke and Alan Derickson, have shown how thetechnical innovations and economic expansion associated with industrialization increasedthe risks of disease, disability and death among workers.6 Examination of theincidence of worker sickness has often preceded a study of the responses it has evokedamong different and often-times conflicting social groups: workers and labourrepresentatives; managers and industrialists; professionals, including doctors, publichealth authorities, and even insurance executives; and state officials. Historians havetraced a variety of responses, ranging from fear, uncertainty, and apathy, to concern,conviction, and activism and have sought to elucidate the context of specific initiativesin the areas of health care, worker compensation, and preventive policy. They haverevealed how “a complex and ever-changing configuration of cultural, economic andtechnical factors” is responsible not only for alterations in the labour process, but alsofor the introduction of safety devices, workplace inspectors, and compensatoryschemes .‘‘6Gill Burke, “Disease, Labour Migration and Technological Change: The Caseof the Cornish Miners,” in Weindling, pp. 78-88; Alan Derickson, Workers’ Health,Workers’ Democracy: The Western Miners’ Struggle. 1891-1925 (Ithaca: CornellUniversity Press, 1988).7Rosenberg and Golden, p. 186. In addition to works already cited, recentstudies that investigate responses to occupational ill-health include: Anthony WohI,Endangered Lives (London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1983), chapter 10; David Rosnerand Gerald Markowitz (eds), Dying for Work: Workers’ Safety and Health in-4-Central to the issue of how the ill-health of workers has been dealt with inparticular historical circumstances is the problem of how it has been conceptualized.The problem has been explored in various ways. A number of historians have drawnattention to the ideological content of putatively value-free, scientifically-based ideasconcerning the relationship between work and health. Arlette Farge, for instance, hasshown how the medical discourse of the late eighteenth-century French deputy inspectorof workshops, Pajot des Charmes, expressed an ambiguous attitude towards the poor,as well as concerns for discipline and order.8 In her study of tuberculosis in twentieth-century Wales, Lynda Bryder has revealed how medical discussion of high mortalityrates supported economic interests and reflected the dominant ethos of self-help.9Studies such as these have added to the work of social historians of medicine who havequestioned traditional assumptions regarding the privileged status of medicalknowledge—and by extension, the legitimacy of the authority of medicalpractitioners—and who have promoted an alternative social-constructionist view ofTwentieth-Century America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987); HelenJones, “Women Health Workers: The Case of the First Women Factory Inspectors inBritain,” Social History of Medicine 1 (1988), pp. 165-181; Barbara Harrison, “‘Someof Them Gets Lead Poisoned’: Occupational Lead Exposure in Women, 1880-1914,”Social History of Medicine 2 (1989), pp. 171-195; Jacqueline Karnell Corn, Responsesto Occupational Health Hazards: A Historical Perspective (New York: Van NostrandReinhold, 1992).8Arlette Farge, “Work-Related Diseases of Artisans in Eighteenth-CenturyFrance,” in R. Foster and 0. Ranum (eds), Medicine and Society in France (Baltimore:Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), pp. 89-103.9Lynda Bryder, “Tuberculosis, Silicosis and the Slate Industry in North Wales,1927-1939,” in Weindling, pp. 108-126.-5-medicine.’0For such historians, it is not only the status of medical knowledge that is atissue, but the status of disease itself. While not denying the reality of pain andaffliction in human lives, they have been concerned to show that the forms such distressassumes are socially constituted. As Peter Wright and Andrew Treacher havecommented: “Illnesses really do exist, but as sufferings which have no necessary,transhistorical, universal shape.... [M]edicine is a form of social practice whichobserves, codifies and understands these sufferings.”1 One scholar who has takensuch an approach to the study of occupational disease is Karl Figlio. In an article inWright and Treacher’s essay collection, he argues that miners’ nystagmus, a syndromethat affected British miners at the end of the nineteenth century and that was scheduledunder the Workmen’s Compensation Act in 1907, only acquired its existence throughthe medico-legal practices associated with the Act.12 Another historian, Mel Bartley,has similarly maintained that heart disease assumed its modern guise as a disease ofaffluence rather than industry through practices of death certification and statistics‘°Peter Wright and Andrew Treacher (eds), The Problem of MedicalKnowledge: Examining the Social Construction of Medicine (Edinburgh: EdinburghUniversity Press, 1982).“Ibid., pp. 14-15.‘2Karl Figlio, “How does Illness Mediate Social Relations? Workmen’sCompensation and Medico-Legal Practices, 1890-1940,” in ibid., pp. 174-224. Seealso his earlier “Chlorosis and Chronic Disease in Nineteenth-Century Britain: TheSocial Constitution of Somatic Illness in a Capitalist Society,” Social History 3 (1978),pp. 167-197, and “What is an Accident?” in Weindling, pp. 180-206, in which he takesa social constructionist view of occupational accidents.-6-production.’3While the social-constructionist view of medicine has fulfilled an important taskin revealing the degree to which medicine is socially and culturally constrained, it has,as Charles Rosenberg has observed, “lost something of its novelty during the pastdecade.”4 Associated with a brand of criticism that stressed the legitimizing functionof theoretical knowledge and the dominating and oppressive features of modern society,it has seemed to some to be excessively programmatic and arbitrary.’5 In recent yearshistorians of medicine have begun to express new concerns and to develop neworientations to the study of health and disease. They have, for example, directedgreater attention to the lay experience of suffering and to the patient’s contribution tothe discourse on illness.’6 They have also taken a somewhat different approach to theproblem of disease conceptualization, considering it in terms of “framing,” rather than“constructing.” As discussed by Rosenberg, “framing” describes the process of“perceiving, naming, and responding to” manifest symptoms of suffering and‘3Mel Bartley, “Coronary Heart Disease. A Disease of Affluence or a Diseaseof Industry?” in Weindling, pp. 137-153.‘4Charles E. Rosenberg, “Introduction. Framing Disease: Illness, Society, andHistory,” in Rosenberg and Golden, p. xiv.‘5lbid., pp. xiv-xv.16See, for example, Roy Porter, “The Patient’s View. Doing Medical Historyfrom Below,” Theory and Society 14 (1985), pp. 175-198; Roy Porter (ed), Patientsand Practitioners: Lay Perceptions of Medicine in Pre-Industrial Society (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1985); Roy Porter and Dorothy Porter, In Sickness andin Health: The British Experience 1650-1850 (London: Fourth Estate, 1988);Dorothy Porter and Roy Porter, Patient’s Progress: Doctors and Doctoring inEighteenth-Century England (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989).-7-incapacity.’7 It encompasses both the defining of disease and the effects of suchdefinition “in the lives of individuals, in the making and discussion of public policy andin the structuring of medical care.”8 According to Rosenberg, historians haveneglected the “connection between biological event, its perception by patient andpractitioner, and the collective effort to make cognitive and policy sense out of thisperception.”9 His studies, and those contained in the volume edited by Rosenbergand Golden, seek to remedy the neglect.2°One essay, by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, examines an episode in theframing of occupational disease. It focusses on the controversy surrounding silicosis inmid-twentieth-century America and reveals how a flood of lawsuits from unemployedminers and quarrymen in the 1930s led to complex negotiations concerning theexistence, nature, and etiology of the disease.2’ Markowitz and Rosner show how‘7Rosenberg, p. xiii. See also Charles E. Rosenberg, “Disease in History:Frames and Framers,” Milbank Ouarterly 67 (suppl. 1, 1989), pp. 1-15; and CharlesE. Rosenberg, “Disease and Social Order in America: Perceptions and Expectations,”Milbank Ouarterly 64 (suppl. 1, 1986), pp. 34-55.‘8Rosenberg, “Introduction,” p. xvi.‘9lbid.20See also Roy Porter, “Gout: Framing and Fantasizing Disease,” Bulletin ofthe History of Medicine 68 (1994), pp. 1-28; Robert A. Aronowitz, “Lyme Disease:The Social Construction of a New Disease and its Social Consequences,” MilbankOuarterly 69 (1991), pp. 79-111.21Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, “The Illusion of Medical Certainty:Silicosis and the Politics of Industrial Disability, 1930-1960,” in Rosenberg andGolden, pp. 186-205. See also David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, Deadly Dust:Silicosis and the Politics of Occupational Disease in Twentieth-Century America(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991).-8-silicosis attracted intense interest and then disappeared from view, as new groupspressed for recognition of other work-related disorders.In its emphasis on the contested and contingent quality of disease definitions,Markowitz and Rosner’s paper is similar to an earlier study by Daniel Fox and JudithStone that also concerns itself with twentieth-century perceptions of lung disease.22Fox and Stone’s article investigates the dispute over coal miners’ illness that took placein the United States in the 1960s and discloses how, in a situation of politicalturbulence and medical uncertainty, miners succeeded in wrenching the definition oftheir condition away from medical experts and in having “Black Lung,” rather than“Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis,” established as a compensable disease.My dissertation also investigates the framing of occupational disease. It does soin the context of a period little discussed by historians of occupational health and yetone whose rapidly changing conditions offered fertile ground for framing: the lateeighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This was the era of the industrial revolutionand the establishment of the factory system of production.23 Both the number of22Daniel M. Fox and Judith M. Stone, “Black Lung: Miners’ Militancy andMedical Uncertainty, 1968-1972,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 54 (1980), pp.43-63.23Phyllis Deane, The First Industrial Revolution (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1967); Julian Hoppit, “Understanding the Industrial Revolution,”The Historical Journal 30 (1987), pp. 2 11-225; Arthur Young, “State of the CottonManufactory of Great Britain,” Annals of Agriculture 12 (1789), pp. 5 13-520; EdwardBaines, History of the Cotton Manufacture in Great Britain (London: H. Fisher, R.Fisher, & P. Jackson, 1835); Jennifer Tann, The Development of the Factory(London: Cornmarket Press, 1970); S.D. Chapman, The Early Factory Masters: TheTransition to the Factory System in the Midlands Textile Industry (Newton Abbot:David & Charles, 1967); S.D. Chapman, The Cotton Industry in the Industrial-9-factories and the number of children, men, and women employed in them increased atan astonishing rate in Britain as advances were made in the technology of preparing,spinning, and weaving textile fibres. While there were only two mills in Manchesterand its environs in 1782, there were ninety-nine in 1830. By 1833, the country as awhole contained over eleven hundred cotton factories, employing some 208,000individuals.24 My study considers how the manifest malaise of a new and rapidlyincreasing group of workers, the first to bear the brunt of large-scale machineproduction, was apprehended and dealt with. Its examination extends from 1784, whena group of Manchester doctors was called upon to investigate an outbreak of “factoryfever” at the small cotton manufacturing town of Radcliffe, to 1833, when a landmarkfactory act, the “Act to Regulate the Labour of Children and Young Persons in theMills and Factories of the United Kingdom,” came into effect.Although historians have directed attention to isolated incidents and to certainkey figures in the early discourse on factory health, previous investigation of the periodhas been partial and limited. It has also been misleading, in that it has singled outCharles Turner Thackrah, a Leeds surgeon whose study of The Effects of Arts. Trades.and Professions appeared in 1832, as the first to inquire into occupational healthRevolution (London: The Macmillan Press, 1972).24JT. Ward, The Factory Movement 1830-1855 (London: Macmillan & Co.Ltd., 1962), p. 4; Chapman, Cotton Industry, p. 70; B.R. Mitchell and PhyllisDeane, Abstract of British Historical Statistics (Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress, 1962), p. 187.-10-matters in Britain and as the original proponent of the concept of industrial health.25My study shows that Thackrah was only one of a large number of professional and layobservers who concerned themselves with problems of work-related ill-health. It offersa revised account of the development of interest in occupational health throughexamining theoretical and practical approaches to worker sickness in the fifty yearsprior to and including the appearance of Thackrah’s work.My dissertation is primarily concerned with explicating medical understanding offactory ill-health. It reveals that medical ideas were not fixed and that the prevailingillness of textile mill workers (which was characterized in the twentieth century as“byssinosis”) was defined in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries first as“fever,” then as “debility,” and then, primarily, as “digestive disease.”26 My studyexamines the origins and repercussions of these early notions of industrial ill-health. Itlocates the concepts in an ongoing discourse on factories and affliction, identifying theissues that aroused successive generations of inquirers, as well as the spokesmen whoaddressed themselves to the matter. While the condition of the manufacturing25A. Meiklejohn, “The Life, Work, and Times of Charles Turner Thackrah,Surgeon and Apothecary of Leeds,” biographical introduction to C. Turner Thackrah,The Effects of Arts. Trades. and Professions, 2nd ed. (1832; rpt. Edinburgh: E. & S.Livingstone Ltd., 1957), p. 39; Hunter, p. 119; George Rosen, “Charles TurnerThackrah in the Agitation for Factory Reform,” British Journal of Industrial Medicine10 (1953), p. 287.26For contemporary understanding of byssinosis, regarded as a dust disease ofcotton, flax, and hemp workers, see F.G. Ward, “Prescribed Respiratory Diseases1.—Byssinosis,” Health Trends 1 (1981), pp. 5-7; Jacqueline Karnell Corn,“Byssinosis—An Historical Perspective,” American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2(1981), pp. 331-352; Corn, Response, chapter 8.—11—population was discussed most fully by doctors, it was never an exclusively medicalconcern. From the beginning, workers, manufacturers, social commentators, andpolitical authorities also expressed interest in the well-being of the industrial poor.My study directs particular attention to the content and meaning of the conceptsof fever, debility, and digestive disease. It shows that while the boundaries of theseideas were fluid, with one running into another, the concepts nevertheless incorporateddifferent explanations of worker illness and conveyed varying messages concerning theconditions and relations of industrial production. Although, initially, attention centredon the socio-physical atmosphere of the mill, in later years, the temperature of factoryair, and then the diet and domestic habits of factory workers became a source ofconcern. As one conceptual scheme gave way to the next, accounts of ill-health andperceptions of the factory and factory population altered significantly.While the dissertation deals mainly with the beliefs and theories of medicalobservers, it also examines the views of those most intimately affected by the changingcircumstances of labour. I have found that while factory workers employed no distinctterminology to define their maladies (in contrast to other occupational groups, such asminers, who spoke of “black spit,” or grinders, who complained of “asthma”), theways in which they described their experiences of sickness and disability sometimesdiffered significantly from the manner in which medical men characterized them. Mystudy recovers something of the language of suffering mill workers, gauging its distance-12-and divergence from the parlance of professional spokesmen.27 It reveals how the gapbetween popular and professional perception fluctuated as medical understandingshifted.In its concern with the consequences, as well as the process, of diseasedesignation, my work also explores the correspondence and connection betweenprevailing ideas of ill-health and contemporary practices of relief and assistance. Ittraces the growing disinclination of mill owners to attend to the health needs of theiremployees, as well as the increasing capacity of workers to help themselves, and findsevidence both in theory and in practice of class distinction and separation.My study of disease framing is principally based on medical writings. In theearly industrial era, medical men, especially those resident in textile manufacturingcommunities, gave extensive consideration to the problem of worker sickness andadvanced their views in pamphlets, treatises, and articles. These are particularlyabundant for the periods from 1784 to 1802 and from 1830 to 1833, though lessplentiful for the years from 1815 to 1819, a time when discussion of factory health wasdirected by non-medical spokesmen and when medical opinion was marked byconfusion and dissension.I have supplemented the evidence derived from published works with thatcontained in the British parliamentary papers. The well-being of the factory work-force270n the study of language and the particular languages employed by varioussocial groups, see Peter Burke and Roy Porter (eds), The Social History of Language(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987); Robert Gray, “The Languages ofFactory Reform in Britain, c. 1830-1860,” in Patrick Joyce (ed), The HistoricalMeanings of Work (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 143-179.-13-attracted considerable legislative attention in the half-century from 1784 to 1833 andwas the subject of five parliamentary investigations. Although the “blue books”emanating from the last two of these investigations, the 1832 Select Committee onFactory Labour [P.P. 183 1-2 (706) XV] and the 1833 Factories Inquiry Commission[P.P. 1833 (450) XX, P.P. 1833 (519) XXI, P.P. 1834 (167) XIX], have been usedextensively by historians, earlier reports have received less attention. I have drawnparticularly on two less accessible and largely neglected House of Lords papers: the1818 Report on Amendment of the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act [P.P. 1818(90) XCVI] and the 1819 Report on the State and Condition of Children Employed inCotton Manufactories [P.P. 1819 (24) CX].As with published writings, the oral evidence contained in the reports of variousinvestigative committees must be used cautiously, with an eye to the circumstances thatled to its production and governed its appearance. Elicited to provide information andaid in decision making, the testimony of witnesses who appeared before Commons orLords committees was shaped by the questions and suppositions of committee members.The awareness of the members and the degree of constraint imposed on individuals’testimony could vary considerably. At the Select Committee hearings of 1832, the fulland leading questions put to London medical witnesses tended to limit their responses tomere affirmations, while the more open-ended queries addressed to provincialpractitioners allowed for detailed expression of opinion derived from personalexperience. The evidence of the provincial doctors seems, in this case, to have enabledthe committee to arrive at a state of knowledge which it then sought to have confirmed-14--by the London authorities. Examined critically, the testimony of medical witnesses,some of whom left no other trace of their views, constitutes useful material for thehistorian interested in perceptions and theories of illness.28If the parliamentary papers provide another means of approach to medicalthought, they also offer valuable insight into the experiences and ideas of workingpeople themselves. Together, the 1819 Lords report and the 1832 Commons reportcontain evidence from approximately one hundred factory workers, most of whom hadsuffered extensively from their time in the mills and many of whom had witnessed suchsuffering in their children, as well. While worker testimony was also structured by theinterrogations of committee members, its immediacy, specificity, and passion make it arich source of information and convey a degree of authenticity unmatched by anydescriptions from outside observers. Workers who appeared before parliamentarycommittees, and who often risked losing their jobs by doing so, willingly spoke onbehalf of themselves, their families, and their communities. Especially in 1832, it isapparent that operatives were chosen by local constituencies to represent and convey“the opinion of the people” to the legislature.29 Though this opinion tended to have amale bias, the female voice was not completely excluded. Male witnesses notinfrequently referred to the views of their wives and among those testifying in 183228My findings support those suggested by Robert Gray, “Medical Men,Industrial Labour and the State in Britain, 1830-50,” Social History 16 (1991), p. 26.29pp 1831-2 (706) XV; West Riding Central Committee, Memorandum[Leeds: 1832]; Gray, “Languages,” pp. 154-155.-15-were three young women from the West Riding.3°In its examination of the endeavours, both lay and professional, to grasp andremedy the problem of ill-health in the factory population, my dissertation aims toenrich our understanding of the socio-cultural milieu of late eighteenth and earlynineteenth-century Britain. From the outset, the sickness of factory workers was asocial and political concern, as much as a medical challenge; peak interest in the issuecoincided with times of politicization and confrontation between the lower orders andthe higher ranks. For those who viewed it from above, the malaise and afflictions offactory workers increasingly represented their “otherness” and called for strategies ofintervention. For those who experienced it as a burden of daily life, sickness andsuffering offered a means to articulate a new voice and to develop a new consciousnessthrough collective action. My investigation of the varied and changing approaches tofactory workers’ ill-health seeks to shed new light on the emergence of an industrialsociety.30P.P. 1831-2 (706) XV, 148-153, 195-199, 229-231. For further evidence offemale views, see a letter from “The Female Operatives of Todmorden,” in Examiner(26 February, 1832); quoted in Ivy Pinchbeck, Women Workers in the IndustrialRevolution 1750-1850 (London: George Routledge & Sons Ltd., 1930), pp. 199-200.-16-CHAPTER ONEFEVER AND FACTORIESAs these mills, or factories, are now becoming numerous in the country,and individually employ great numbers of persons; any circumstanceswhich may materially affect the health of those, who are engaged inthem, are certainly, matters of public concern.1In the late eighteenth century, interest in the health of factory workers wassparked by the appearance of an acute contagious disease, known generally as “fever,”in Britain’s northern manufacturing communities. Erupting in approximately a dozen1_ancashire cotton towns in the period from 1782 until 1796 and afflicting substantialnumbers of people, especially those among “the poor and labouring classes,” thedisease provoked fear and concern among local residents and prompted investigationinto the conditions responsible for its generation and spread.2Although in at least one instance inquiries were conducted by a lay observer, forthe most part the investigations were undertaken by a small, Manchester-based networkof reforming physicians. These men, who formed part of a larger circle of Dissentingmedical men, scientists, and intellectuals, were especially interested in problems ofinstitutional hygiene and management of the poor and were actively involved in theestablishment and reform of institutions which housed the poor. Their practice and1D. Campbell, Observations on the Typhus. or Low Contagious Fever(Lancaster: H. Walmsley, 1785), pp. 21-22.2lbid., p. 53.-17-preoccupations, together with existing theories of the affliction, shaped theirunderstanding of the outbreaks and instilled confidence in their ability to control andprevent such occurrences.One particularly controversial issue which attracted medical attention was therelationship between the disease and the growing number of spinning mills in the area.Although the persons most immediately threatened, the labouring poor, seem to haveperceived a simple and direct link between fever and factories, medical opinion wasless decided. While the physicians agreed that the conditions that prevailed in localmills were likely to intensify and exacerbate the spread of the disorder, they rejectedcontemporary prejudice against the new works and stopped short of naming the mills asthe primary source of fever. They also moved beyond a consideration of factories to anexamination of the conditions pertaining in the wider arena of the manufacturing towns.In their view, fever was as likely to arise in the homes of workers as it was in themills. Through their investigation, the problem of factory-related fever wastransformed into a larger problem of public health, one which encompassed the entirebody of the urban poor.IIn the 1780s and 1790s, the cotton trade experienced a period of unprecedentedgrowth and the number of factories in Britain increased spectacularly.3 The first large,3Phyllis Deane and W.A. Cole, British Economic Growth 1688-1859(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), pp. 183-186.-18-purpose-built cotton factory was erected at Nottingham in 1769. A four-storeybuilding, some 117 feet long and 27 feet wide, it was constructed by Richard Arkwrightto house his newly-patented water frame. In partnership with various individuals,Arkwright quickly went on to establish other cotton works, and by 1780 there weretwenty water-frame mills, principally in Lancashire and the Midlands.5 The success ofArkwright’s enterprise provoked hostility and rivalry among his contemporaries, andwith a court decision against Arkwright in 1781 and the annulment of his patents in1785, a phase of rapid construction ensued.6 According to one estimate, there wereone hundred and fifty Arkwright-type mills by 1790.During this period, factories were also established to spin cotton by means ofthe spinning jenny, invented by James Hargreaves and the mule, developed by SamuelCrompton. Although these machines were originally operated by hand and used in thehome, they were also employed in factories.8 Jenny factories ranged in size andcomplexity: while many were small concerns, containing several small jennies andperhaps one or two carding machines, others, which housed jennies with up to eighty4Jennifer Tann, The Development of the Factory (London: Cornmarket Press,1970), p. 7.5lbid.; Richard Guest, A Compendious History of the Cotton Manufacture(1823; rpt. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1968), p. 31.6Tann, p. 9.7Guest, p. 31.8M.M. Edwards and R. Lloyd-Jones, “N.J. Smelser and the Cotton FactoryFamily: A Reassessment,” in N.B. Harte and K.G. Ponting (eds), Textile History andEconomic History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1973), pp. 306-308.-19-spindles, were much larger. In 1779 one of these larger establishments was said tocontain “three hundred windows and upwards. “ Mule factories also varied in size.Although small at first and often occupying converted space, from the 1790s on, theybegan to be purpose-built and constructed on a larger scale.’° S.D. Chapman hasestimated that by 1797 there were nine hundred mule and water-frame mills inBritain.’1The water-frame mills and the larger jenny and mule factories broughtsignificant numbers of people together under one roof. In the 1780s and 1790s theArkwright mills typically employed three to four hundred workers each.’2 Most of theworkforce of the early mills was composed of children, assisted by a small number ofunskilled women and men (though as jennies and mules grew in size and complexity,they were increasingly operated by skilled men.)’3 Given the sparsity of thepopulation in many of the areas in which the first factories were established and thegeneral antipathy of local populations towards the new works, much of the early factory9[Ralph Mather], An Impartial Representation of the Case of the Poor CottonSpinners in Lancashire (London: 1780), p. 2.‘°S.D. Chapman, The Cotton Industry in the Industrial Revolution (London:The Macmillan Press, 1972), p. 29; Tann, p. 9.“Chapman, pp. 28-30. According to Thomas Percival, “Biographical Memoirsof Thomas Butterworth Bayley, Esq.,” in The Works. Literary. Moral, and Medical(Bath and London, 1807), vol. 2, p. 295, by 1802 such mills employed “severalthousand” persons.‘2RS Fitton and A.P. Wadsworth, The Strutts and the Arkwrights 1758-1830(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1958), p. 192.‘3J.L. and Barbara Hammond, The Skilled Labourer 1760-1832, 2nd ed.(London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1920), p. 53.-20-workforce was also comprised of migrant labourers.’4 The unskilled adult portion ofthe workforce was generally drawn from tramp labour, while up to a third of theyouthful portion consisted of parish apprentices, brought into the mills from variousparts of the country)5 The number of parish apprentices in a given locale couldsometimes be substantial; the Peel factories around Bury, for instance, employed almosta thousand apprentice children.’6IITowards the end of 1782, “fever” broke out in the town of Radcliffe Bridge,two miles from Bury, where a mill had been established by Robert Peel and hispartners the previous year.17 The disorder prevailed for approximately two years andaffected a significant number of people: a contemporary estimate put the number ofdeaths at almost fifty in the final year, although more recent studies suggest that therewere perhaps 350 cases, resulting in thirteen deaths.’8 In the minds of many of thelocal inhabitants, the progress of the disease was linked to the operation of the mill. Aresident of the neighbouring town of Stand, Peter Walker, spoke with almost two‘4Arthur Redford, Labour Migration in England 1800-1850, 3rd ed.(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1976), pp. 2 1-27.‘5lbid.16pp 1816 (397) III, 132.‘7[A.G.E Jones], “The Putrid Fever at Robert Peel’s Radcliffe Mill,” Notes andQueries 103 (1958), pp. 26-27.18Manchester Mercury, 2 November 1784; Charles Webster, “Two-HundredthAnniversary of the 1784 Report on Fever at Radcliffe Mill,” Bulletin of the Society forthe Social History of Medicine 36 (June, 1985), p. 65.-21-hundred people on the subject and found general agreement as to the “origin” of thecontagious malady.’9 As an anonymous observer reported:Most of the patients that were ill, having been asked where they caughtthe fever, either replied that they caught it themselves at the cotton mill,or were infected by others that had. Several were asked what kind oflabour they followed, who were first seized with the disorder. They allreplied, they were the people that worked in the cotton mill.. 20On the basis of his investigations, Walker launched an application to the mill owners todiscontinue the practice of night work.2’ Peel and his partners refused—according toPeel, “no Man in his Senses would have complied” with such a request—and the matterwas then carried before the local magistrates.22The magistrates, whose number included the prominent Unitarian, ThomasButterworth Bayley, and his close associates, Samuel Clowes and Doming Rasbotham,were a reform-minded group, well-disposed to act on the matter.23 Only the yearbefore they had been alerted to the problems of epidemic disease by an outbreak of‘9Manchester Mercury, ibid. Unfortunately little is known about Walker.[Jones], pp. 32-33, suggests that he may have been a handloom weaver, a carpenter, oran innkeeper. From the remarks of the local physician, Ellis Cunliffe, in theManchester Mercury, 23 November 1784, it would seem that Walker was a person ofsome social standing. Cunliffe refers to Walker as a “gentleman” with whom he hadhad some contact and indicates that he was a subscriber to the Manchester Infirmary.20 A Short Essay written for the Service of the Proprietors of Cotton-Mills. andthe Persons Employed in Them (Manchester: C. Wheeler, 1784), pp. 10-11.21Manchester Mercury, 2 November 1784.22Ibid 9 November 1784.23Margaret DeLacy, Prison Reform in Industrial Lancashire. 1700-1850: AStudy in Local Administration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986), pp. 70-82;Percival, pp. 287-305.-22-“gaol fever,” a well-known disorder associated with the crowded situation of prisons,and in the autumn of 1784, following “a representation.. .by Lord Grey de Wilton and agreat number of the most respectable inhabitants” of the area, they requested that theleading Manchester physician, Thomas Percival, and his colleagues at the ManchesterInfirmary, investigate the Radcliffe epidemic.24Percival was Bayley’s closest friend and, like Bayley, was a leading member ofManchester’s Unitarian “establishment.”25 Educated at the Warrington Academy andin Edinburgh, London, and Leyden, Percival came to be at the centre of a network ofDissenting physicians and was linked by ties of friendship and intellectual affiliation tosuch reformers as John Aikin of Warrington, John Haygarth of Chester, James Currieof Liverpool, and John Lettsom and John Fothergill of London.26 From the time of24DeLacy, p. 80. A. Meiklejohn, “Outbreak of Fever in Radcliffe Cotton Mills,1784,” British Journal of Industrial Medicine 16 (1959), pp. 68-69.25DeLacy, p. 72.26My account of Percival draws on Charles Webster and Jonathan Barry, “TheManchester Medical Revolution,” in Barbara Smith (ed), Truth. Liberty. Religion:Essays celebrating Two Hundred Years of Manchester College (Oxford: ManchesterCollege, 1986), pp. 167-171. See also Edward Percival, “Memoirs of the Life andWritings of Thomas Percival,” in Percival, Works, vol. 1, pp. i-ccxxxix; E.M.Brockbank, Sketches of the Lives and Work of the Honorary Medical Staff of theManchester Infirmary (Manchester: University Press, 1904), pp. 83-107; R.B. Hope,“Dr. Thomas Percival: A Medical Pioneer and Social Reformer, 1740-1804,” (M.A.thesis, University of Manchester, 1947); John F. Fulton, “The Warrington Academy(1757-1786) and its influence upon Medicine and Science,” Bulletin of the Institute ofthe History of Medicine 1 (1933), pp. 50-80; C. Booth, “Doctors from the YorkshireDales,” Proceedings of the XXIII Congress of the History of Medicine (London:1974), pp. 998-1001; Francis M. Lobo, “John Haygarth, Smallpox and ReligiousDissent in Eighteenth-Century England,” in Andrew Cunningham and Roger French(eds), The Medical Enlightenment of the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1990), pp. 217-253.-23-his arrival in Manchester in 1767 until his death in 1802, Percival undertook a widerange of studies and contributed significantly to the intellectual and cultural life of theregion. He spent much of the early part of his career engaged in “pursuits ofexperimental philosophy,” often in association with his friend and mentor, JosephPriestley, and, in 1781, as an outgrowth of weekly “conversation” meetings held at hishome, he established the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society.27Percival’s scientific and philosophical concerns were not divorced from thesocial realities of his day.28 During his lifetime, Manchester evolved from a smalltrading town into a manufacturing metropolis, the “heart of [the] vast system” of cottonmanufacture.29 Towards the end of the century, its population doubled every fifteen totwenty years and, by 1784, approached 50,000.° Like his associates, Percival wasconcerned with the industrial and urban transformations occurring around him and wasanxious to use his investigations to improve the conditions of life, especially of thecommunity’s poorest citizens.In the early 1770s, Percival became interested in the study of population,Edward Percival, pp. lxvii, lxxvi. On the Literary and Philosophical Societysee Arnold Thackray, “Natural Knowledge in Cultural Context: The ManchesterModel,” American Historical Review 79 (1974), pp. 672-709.28Webster and Barry, pp. 167-171.29John Aikin, A Description of the Country from Thirty to Forty Miles roundManchester (1795; rpt. New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1968), p. 3; W.H. Chaloner,“Manchester in the latter half of the Eighteenth Century,” Bulletin of the John RylandsLibrary 42 (1959-1962), pp. 40-60.30S.E. Maltby, Manchester and the Movement for National ElementaryEducation. 1800-1870 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1918), p. 12.-24-corresponding with Benjamin Franklin and the London statistician, Richard Price, onthe subject.3’ He set out proposals for increasing the exactness andcomprehensiveness of Bills of Mortality and, in 1773, contributed to a survey of thepopulation of Manchester and Salford.32Allied to his interest in population statistics was a concern with publicinstitutions, which were often the scene of extensive mortality. In 1771 Percival wrotean essay “on the internal regulation of hospitals,” in which he set out a plan for makinghospitals “more salutary to the sick, and consequently more useful to the public.”33 In1779 he gained the opportunity to put his ideas on hospital management into practicewhen he was elected Honorary Physician to the Manchester Infirmary. Although heresigned the position in 1780, due to poor health, he maintained a close tie to theinstitution and was appointed Physician Extraordinary in 1782. During his period oftenure and association, he pushed for the extension of hospital services and wasinstrumental in establishing the Infirmary’s home-patient service in 1781.31Edward Percival, p. xxix; B. Keith-Lucas, “Some Influences affecting theDevelopment of Sanitary Legislation in England,” Economic History Review 6 (1953),p. 291.32Thomas Percival, “Proposals for Establishing more Accurate, andComprehensive Bills of Mortality, in Manchester,” in Works, vol. 3, pp. 428-437. Seealso his “Observations on the State of Population in Manchester, and other adjacentPlaces,” and “Further Observations on the State of Population in Manchester, and otheradjacent Places,” in Works, vol. 4, pp. 1-37.33Thomas Percival, “Essay on the Internal Regulation of Hospitals,” in Works,vol. 4, pp. 170-179.J.V. Pickstone and S.V.F. Butler, “The Politics of Medicine in Manchester,1788-1792: Hospital Reform and Public Health Services in the Early Industrial City,”Medical History 28 (1984), pp. 230-23 1; Webster and Barry, p. 170.-25-Percival was interested not only in the regulation of hospitals, but also in theconstruction and management of prisons. He undoubtedly conversed with ThomasButterworth Bayley, when Bayley and Samuel Clowes undertook a study of theManchester House of Correction in 1782, and later was involved with Bayley in theestablishment of penitentiaries at Salford and Preston, built according to the plan ofanother well-known Dissenting reformer, John Howard.35 Percival evidently sawprisons and hospitals as very similar kinds of institutions, for when approached in 1790about the structure of a proposed county-hospital, he recommended the design ofManchester’s New Bailey prison.36His concern with issues of public health and his commitment to policies of socialreform made Percival a willing candidate for the task of heading the inquiry into theRadcliffe epidemic. According to the ensuing public report, he and his colleagues,John Cowling, Alexander Eason, and Edward Chorley, “undertook the task with thegreatest alacrity”.37 They visited the Radcliffe works and then reported back to themagistrates on October 8, 1784.In their report the physicians acknowledged that “a low, putrid FEVER, of a35DeLacy, pp. 76-77; Michael Ignatieff, A Just Measure of Pain: thePenitentiary in the Industrial Revolution. 1750-1850 (London: The Macmillan Press,1978), p. 62. G.B. Hindle, Provision for the Relief of the Poor in Manchester 1754-1826 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1975), p. 29, notes that Percival andBayley were also involved in obtaining an act of Parliament to establish a newworkhouse in Manchester.36Thomas Percival, Medical Ethics, ed. Chauncey Leake (Baltimore: TheWilliams and Wilkins Company, 1927), pp. 172-173; cited in DeLacy, p. 90.37Meiklejohn, p. 68.-26-contagious nature” had existed for some time at Radcliffe, but they were unable todetermine whether the disorder had arisen in the town’s cotton mill, or whether it hadbeen carried into the locale from some other place.38 They were convinced, however,that it had been “supported, diffused, and aggravated” by conditions within the factory:in particular, by the crowding, the “putrid effluvia,” and the excessive hours oflabour.39 They felt that the situation in the Radcliffe works was remediable and theymade a number of recommendations which they hoped the proprietors would follow.They proposed that the mill be better ventilated, that attention be given to cleanliness,and that the hours of work, especially of children under the age of fourteen, berestricted. The report was gratefully received by the magistrates, who ordered that it“be printed and distributed, so that every part of the community may receive the benefitof [the physicians’] salutary admonitions. “°Although Peter Walker and his allies were no doubt pleased with the outcome ofthe medical investigation, Robert Peel was less happy with the handling of the affair.In a letter to the magistrates, printed in the Manchester Mercury on October 26, heprotested that:in a Matter of so much Importance, were [sic] not only the property ofIndividuals is at stake, but a valuable of [sic] Source of Wealth to theNation, and a Manufacture that supplies the Looms of most of the CottonWeavers in Great-Britain, are threatened with Annihilation—it might have38Ibjd39Ibid.40Rev. Sir Wm. Clerke, Bart., Thoughts upon the Means of Preserving theHealth of the Poor, by Prevention and Suppression of Epidemic Fevers (London: J.Johnson, 1790), p. 7.-27-been expected that a cool and dispassionate Investigation into theAffair. . . would have been made previous to a Solicitation of magisterialInterference.41Though he had the highest opinion of Percival and his colleagues, Peel expressedsurprise at their findings and insisted that his mill was in no way responsible for thefever epidemic. “It is well known,” he argued, that the disorder “was first broughtfrom near Preston, (and has been very fatal in that part of the County without a CottonMill to occasion it) and was at least three Months in the Neighbourhood before anyPerson belonging to the Factory was seized with it.”42 Peel’s analysis was contestedby Peter Walker in the following edition of the Mercury and over the next few weeksthe two sides engaged in a verbal battle.43 Although the dispute, and the epidemicitself, seem to have died down by the end of November 1784, the memory of the feverat Radcliffe lingered longer and the epidemic was frequently referred to in the literatureon factories and health that developed over the next two decades.One of the earliest references appeared in the anonymous Short Essay writtenfor the Service of Proprietors of Cotton-Mills and the Persons employed in Them,published in Manchester in 1784. At several points the essay reiterated the views41Manchester Mercury, 26 October 1784.42Ibid43Manchester Mercury, 2 November 1784; 9 November 1784; 16 November1784; 23 November 1784; 30 November 1784.A Short Essay. It is unclear to whom this essay should be attributed. Though,traditionally, it has been considered the work of Thomas Percival—see, for example,Maitby, p. 13—more recently Webster, p. 66, has suggested that it was written by a layperson, sympathetic with Percival’s views and familiar with current medicalinvestigation.-28-expressed by Percival and his colleagues in the Radcliffe report. It made similarrecommendations concerning ventilation and cleanliness, and also pointed out theparticular vulnerability experienced by children in having to breathe foul air and workduring the night.45 The essay differed from the report, however, in that it took amore definite position on the cause of the Radcliffe fever. Appealing to the results ofscientific experiment and medical experience, the essay endorsed the popular view ofthe disease, namely, that it originated in the Peel factory.46 “Nothing less could beexpected” from the conditions which prevail in cotton mills, declared its author, “nor isthere any other method of accounting for it, that is founded on the smallest degree ofcomparative probability.”47At the same time as the epidemic prevailed in Radcliffe, a disorder “evidently ofthe same nature” afflicted the residents of Lancaster and the neighbouring cotton townof Ulverstone, as well as the employees at a six-storey cotton mill at Backbarrow.48According to a local physician, David Campbell:Those who were attacked perceived pains in the back, about the loins;and in the limbs; a giddiness in the head, as if under the effects ofintoxication; a listlessness and aversion to motion; want of appetite;disagreeable taste in the mouth, accompanied with thirst; sometimescoldness and rigours, with alternate flushings of heat.4945A Short Essay, pp. 12-19.46Ibid., pp. 5-11.47lbid., p. 11.48Campbell, pp. 19, 53-54; [Jones], p. 27.49Campbell, p. 57.-29-As the disease progressed, the patients became increasingly restless and uneasy. Theyexperienced delirium, confusion, and headache. Their cheeks became flushed; theireyes, dull and muddy; and their tongue, dry, hard, and sometimes furred. If thedisease ended fatally, “a tremulous intermitting pulse; deafness; and inability toarticulate, generally closed the scene. “5° Campbell termed the disease, “typhus, orlow contagious fever” and reported that in this region, too, it exacted a harsh toll. Heobserved five hundred cases in Lancaster, of which thirty-four proved fatal and notedthat at Backbarrow, 180 of the 250 workers contracted the disease and seven died.5’He pointed out that most of those affected at Backbarrow were children and that thedisease “handled them with great severity,” confining them to their beds for longperiods, producing violent symptoms, and resulting in considerable emaciation andweakness 52In 1785 Campbell published a treatise “on the Typhus,” which drew on hisexperience of the disease at Lancaster and Backbarrow and also contained therecommendations of the Radcliffe report. Though little is known of Campbell’s life, heseems to have shared something of Percival’s concern with matters of public health.He was the “original promoter” and Physician to the Lancaster Dispensary, establishedin 1781, as well as the initial Physician to the Lancashire Lunatic Asylum, and in the9bid., pp. 58-61.5’Ibid., pp. 54-55.52Ibid., p. 56.-30-1790s he corresponded with Percival on methods of controlling disease in largetowns.53 His practice among the poor at the Dispensary evidently stimulated hisinterest in fever and led to the writing of the work. Though intended primarily topublicize the use of opium as a treatment for the disease, it also addressed wider issuessuch as the causes and means of prevention of the disorder.Campbell’s view of the relationship of fever to the newly-established cottonfactories in the region was less indicting than that contained in the anonymous Essay.In discussing the epidemic at Backbarrow, Campbell argued that there was no reason tobelieve that the disease had originated in the town’s cotton works, and that it wasnecessary to make this point, “because there seems to be a prejudice in the country,against these novel manufactures, which would attribute inconveniences to them and tothe working amongst cotton, which in the present instances, do not appear to have anyfoundation. “ While he acknowledged that it was possible for the cotton used infactories to house contagion, and thus transmit fever, Campbell maintained that this wasthe case for textile materials and porous substances in general. He claimed that nodisease had arisen from “working this valuable commodity,” which, by creatingemployment and producing luxury articles, was “so great a source of nationaladvantage.In 1789 “an epidemic fever” again erupted in the cotton manufacturing region53Biographical notes on Campbell, District Central Library, Lancaster; Board ofHealth of Manchester, Proceedings and Observations (Manchester: 1806), pp. 67-71.54Campbell, pp. 19-20.55Ibid., pp. 20-21.-31-around Manchester. Once again the symptoms were “pain in the head, back, andlimbs,” delirium, restlessness, a quick, “soft,” sometimes intermittent pulse,inflammation of the eyes, and dryness and harshness of the tongue.56 Though thedisease was not particularly fatal in Manchester and Salford, there were “dreadfulaccounts of its ravages in some of the neighbouring towns.”57 Rochdale, Oldham,Bacup, and Bury, the centre of Robert Peel’s manufacturing interests, were especiallyhard hit.58 The severity of the outbreak among the lower orders in Bury induced itsmore prosperous residents to take steps “to alleviate, and, if possible, subdue thedisorder.”59 A charitable subscription was set up and the local rector, Sir WilliamClerke, turned to Thomas Percival for professional advice on handling the epidemic.Influenced by John Haygarth’s experience in dealing with smallpox in Chester,Percival provided Clerke with a series of recommendations, which were printed in anabridged form in handbills and distributed to the poor in the townships of Bury andElton.6° Percival’s advice was aimed at the control and prevention of fevers not onlyin cotton mills, but in large manufacturing towns. Although he gave specific attentionto factories, arguing that they “should be inspected and sedulously purified; and care56John Ferriar, “Epidemic Fever of 1789, and 1790,” in Medical Histories andReflections (Warrington: 1792, 1795, 1798), vol. 1, pp. 117-118.57Ibid., p. 120.58Clerke, pp. 7-10; F.E. Manning, “Sir Robert Peel the elder, and earlyFactory Legislation,” (M.A. diss., University of Bristol, 1932), p. 4.59CIerke, p. 6.60”Dr. Haygarth’s Rules to Prevent Infectious Fevers,” Reports of the Societyfor Bettering the Condition of the Poor (1800), Appendix II, pp. 9-11; Lobo, passim.-32-should be taken, not only of their privies, but that no dunghills or slaughter houses, bepermitted in their neighbourhood,” he also stressed the importance of prompt andpublic notification of fever cases, of restricting association between fevered persons andtheir family and friends, and of “regard to the general state of the whole body of thepoor.”61In a pamphlet outlining the manner in which the outbreak had been dealt with inBury, Clerke elaborated on the medical opinions he had received. Cognizant that“strong imputations have been thrown upon the pernicious system of working cottonfactories, as particularly injurious to the health of persons employed in them, derivingthe increase of epidemic fevers from their establishment,” he insisted that “for want ofa just discrimination, the cause and consequences are confounded.”62 Clerkemaintained that the supposition that disease originated in cotton mills was unfoundedand argued that fever was as likely to arise in the homes of the poor. He viewed thepresence of fever in factories as part of a larger problem of fever in towns and saw thekey to both in the institution of regulations and in the creation of “a sort of publicregister of fevers. “63The 1789 epidemic, which was most prevalent in Manchester and Salfordtowards the close of the year and then reappeared in the spring of 1790, captured theattention not only of Clerke and Percival, but also of one of Percival’s younger and61Ibid., pp. 16-20.62Ibid., pp. 21-22.63Ibid., p. 13.-33-closest associates, John Ferriar.M Graduating as Doctor of Medicine from Edinburghin 1781 and arriving in Manchester in 1785, Ferriar quickly became part of theintellectual circle centred on Percival and the Manchester Literary and PhilosophicalSociety. He also joined forces with a group of radical reformers, active in nationalcampaigns to abolish slavery and repeal the Test and Corporation Acts, as well as in alocal attempt to challenge the traditional Tory-Anglican leadership of Manchester.65In 1788 this group launched an attack on the ruling clique by proposing that the medicaland surgical staff of the Manchester Infirmary be enlarged. Though the move wasblocked by a conservative faction led by the Infirmary surgeons, one of the results ofthe contest was the appointment of Ferriar as a Home-Physician in October 1789. In1790 the reformers made another bid for expansion and, this time, after extensivepublic debate, succeeded in their efforts, with Ferriar now appointed as an HonoraryPhysician to the Infirmary.During the 1790s, Ferriar figured largely in Manchester’s medical life and, for atime, was more outspoken than Percival on matters of public health.66 His experiencewith the home and out-patient work of the Infirmary brought him into close contactTM”John Ferriar, M.D., of Manchester,” Palatine Notebook (April 1882), pp. 65-71, (May 1882), pp. 100-108; Brockbank, pp. 126-156; Jane Walker, “John Ferriarof Manchester, M.D.: His Life and Work,” (M.Sc. diss., University of ManchesterInstitute of Science and Technology, 1973).65Pickstone and Butler, pp. 232-242; Pauline Handforth, “Manchester RadicalPolitics 1789-1794,” Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society66 (1956), pp. 87-106.66John V. Pickstone, “Ferriar’s Fever to Kay’s Cholera: Disease and SocialStructure in Cottonopolis,” History of Science 22 (1984), p. 403.-34-with Manchester’s poor and he developed a particular interest in fever. The primaryfocus of his concern was the residences of the poor: the cellar dwellings and thelodging houses, which were scattered on the outskirts of Manchester and whichaccommodated many of the rural immigrants to the town. Lodging houses weregenerally old homes, comprised of tiny rooms, in each of which several people ate,slept, and often worked, on hand looms or on hand-operated spinning mules.67Ferriar was appalled by the filth and crowding of such establishments and by thefacility they gave to the spread of contagion. He declared that “the horror of thosehouses cannot easily be described; a lodger fresh from the country often lies down in abed, filled with infection by its last tenant, or from which the corpse of a victim tofever has only been removed a few hours before.”68Ferriar’s concern with fever also extended to cotton mills. In an article on the1789-90 epidemic, he observed that while much had been done to ventilate mills, feverremained a problem, noting that he had recently attended several cases “in the worststate of typhus, who had all worked in one cotton-mill, and all of whom became illabout the same time.”69 In a subsequent article on “the Prevention of Fevers in GreatTowns,” he left the question of whether fever originated in factories unanswered, butargued that under the current system of management, cotton factories acted “powerfully67Ferriar, p. 136; “John Ferriar, M.D.,” p. 70; Guest, p. 32; P.P. 1819 (24)CX, 331.68John Ferriar, “To the Committee for the Regulation of the Police, in theTowns of Manchester and Salford,” Bodleian Library: Gough Lancs. 30 (11), p. 2.69Ferriar, “Epidemic,” pp. 138-139.-35-to preserve and extend contagion.”7° Ferriar recommended that mill overseers attendto the ventilation and cleanliness of their works, adding that “the parents of the childrenso employed, should be enjoined to wash them every morning and evening, to keeptheir shoes and stockings in good condition, and above all never to send them to workearly in the morning without giving them food. “71 He proposed that public baths beestablished for the use of the poor and desired, as well, an end to the practice of nightwork. He was confident that by such means much might be done to alleviate the threatof fever in factories and that workers would “perhaps be less exposed to disease, thanin their own habitations. “72Not content merely to observe the progress of fever and treat its victims, Ferriarcampaigned energetically for the establishment of measures to bring the disease undercontrol. Through the volumes of his Medical Histories and Reflections he attempted toenlighten the public on the nature of the disorder, and in 1792 he addressed the newly-appointed Committee of Police for Manchester and Salford on the appropriate means ofcombatting it.73 Though the Committee was interested in Ferriar’s views, “privateinterests.., prevailed over those of the public, and nothing effectual was done” at thattime.7470John Ferriar, “Of the Prevention of Fevers in Great Towns,” in MedicalHistories, vol. 2, p. 197.71Ferriar, “To the Committee,” p. 3.72Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 199.73Ferriar, “To the Committee.”74Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 191.-36-In 1793 war broke out between England and France and in the summer of 1794,“the usual epidemic fever,” with symptoms “nearly similar” to those observed theprevious year, again reared its head in the poor quarters of Manchester.75 To thenormal causes of the disease, noted Ferriar:were now added, the influence of a burning summer, succeeded byvery wet, but yet warm weather, and the want of clothing, and failureeven of necessary food, in many families, occasioned by the decay oftrade, and the great numbers of workmen enlisted in the army, who lefttheir children to the slender support which could be earned by the labourof the mother.76The epidemic persisted until January 1795, and at one point resulted in as many as 156home-patients a week applying to the Infirmary for relief.77 Ferriar’s experience indealing with these individuals convinced him of the necessity of establishing “acommittee of health” in Manchester, as well as in other manufacturing towns.78 In1795 he proposed that such a committee assist the sick poor through erecting publiclodging-houses (where both the health and morals of recent arrivals to the town couldbe supervised), instituting clothing clubs, superintending sick clubs, aiding women atthe time of their lying-in, and providing rooms to receive the sick, with separateaccommodation for those suffering from fever.79Ferriar’s campaign was conducted at a time of growing tension and75Ibid., pp. 192, 194.76Ibid., p. 192.77Ibid., p. 193.78Ibid., p. 201.79Ibid., pp. 202-210.-37-apprehension. Political agitation, commercial distress, grain shortages and high foodprices combined to sharpen public awareness of the condition of the poor and instillfear of popular disorder.8° In the summer of 1795 such fear was realized when foodriots broke out in Manchester’s marketplace. Troops were called in and the poor wereurged to be “PEACEABLE.”8’Several months later, public anxiety intensified whenan “infectious fever” struck the town of Ashton-under-Lyne. Close to three hundredpeople were afflicted in less than three months, and although the disease, which wascommonly believed to have arisen in the local cotton works, did not cause extensivemortality, “a degree of terror was excited almost equal to that which the appearance ofthe plague would have inspired.”82The fever outbreak at Ashton-under-Lyne provided the final boost to Ferriar’sdrive to institute a committee of public health and on January 7, 1796, with ThomasButterworth Bayley in the chair, the first meeting of the Manchester Board of Healthwas called to order.83 The initial goals of the Board were wide-ranging andcomprehensive. Along the lines previously suggested by Ferriar, the Board aimed toprevent the generation of disease by attending to the dwellings of the poor, inspecting80John V. Pickstone, Medicine and Industrial Society (Manchester: ManchesterUniversity Press, 1985), p. 24.81Manchester Mercury, 4 August 1795; Hindle, pp. 116-117.82John Ferriar, “Account of the Establishment of Fever-Wards in Manchester,”in Medical Histories, vol. 3, pp. 43-44.83Ibid. pp. 45-46; Board of Health, pp. 1-4. On the establishment of the Boardof Health and its major achievement, the House of Recovery, see Pickstone, “Ferriar’sFever,” pp. 402-405; Pickstone, Medicine, pp. 25-27.-38-cotton mills, establishing baths, cleansing the streets, and superintending the markets; toprevent the transmission of contagious disease by establishing fever-wards; and toreduce the impact of disease through the provision of nursing care, wine, food, clothingand fuel. Of these, it was the plan to establish fever-wards which proved to be themost contentious. Because it attracted so much opposition, principally from the sameconservative faction that had opposed the expansion of the Infirmary several yearsearlier, it became the prime focus of the Board’s reforming efforts.85 Though the planwas successfully realized in the House of Recovery, founded in May 1796, much of therest of the Board’s preventive program did not come to fruition.One object, in particular, which was set aside, concerned the inspection andregulation of cotton mills. In the now famous “Heads of Resolutions” submitted to theBoard of Health on January 25, 1796, Thomas Percival stated that the Board’s attentionhad been particularly drawn to the state of the large factories in Manchester and itsvicinity and that inquiries had shown the degree to which such establishments injuredthe physical and moral well-being of employees through long hours of confinement,impure air, and lack of exercise.87 On the basis of the “excellent regulations, whichsubsist in several cotton-factories,” Percival was confident that the evils existing inThomas Percival, “Remarks,” in Board of Health, pp. 5-7.85Pickstone, “Ferriar’s Fever,” p. 405; “Report of the Committee of the Boardof Health,” in Board of Health, p. 49.“Fifth Annual Report,” in Board of Health, p. 218; Ferriar, “Account,” p.80.87Thomas Percival, “Heads of Resolutions,” in Board of Health, pp. 33-35.-39-others could be removed; he therefore felt justified “in proposing an application forparliamentary aid, (if other methods appear not likely to effect the purpose) to establisha general system of laws, for the wise, humane, and equal government of all suchworks.”88 Although the Board maintained an interest in factory conditions andsolicited information from well-known manufacturers such as David Dale, of Lanark, ittook no further steps to implement Percival’s call for legislative reform. In its firstannual report, it merely reiterated Percival’s views and repeated his proposal, whilealso announcing, with satisfaction, that factory owners throughout the country wereworking to improve their establishments.8988Ibid., pp. 34-35.89”First Annual Report,” in Board of Health, pp. 144-145.-40-CHAPTER TWOCONTAGION IN THE HOUSEIt must be observed, that the disadvantages of [cotton-mills], result frominattention to cleanliness and ventilation, for there can be no reason whya cotton-mill should be particularly unhealthy; on the contrary, I amsatisfied, from the experience of a friend, who has directed a large onefor several years, that by frequently washing the floors and frames, andby admitting fresh air, a cotton-mill may be rendered as healthy as aprivate house.’it is not owing to the nature of the business, that cotton mills areunfavourable either to the health or morals of those who are employed inthem, but to other causes.2Perhaps surprisingly, medical inquiry into the disease and death that prevailed infactories and factory towns in the late eighteenth century proceeded with little referenceto the effects of large-scale machine production on human health. Although medicalmen had long been interested in the influence of occupation on health, and althoughworkers themselves seem to have seen a direct connection between the operations theyperformed and the contagious disorder that threatened their existence, the physicianswho investigated the ill-health of the manufacturing population in the 1780s and 1790sgave little consideration to the processes of factory work.Recognizing the sickness that afflicted factory workers as “fever,” or more‘John Ferriar, “Of the Prevention of Fevers in Great Towns,” in MedicalHistories and Reflections (Warrington: 1792, 1795, 1798), vol. 2, pp. 198-199.2David Dale, “Correspondence,” in Board of Health of Manchester, Proceedingsand Observations (Manchester: 1806), p. 56.-41-specifically as “typhus,” or the “nervous” type fever that arose and spread inconditions of crowding and confinement, medical investigators focussed attention on thesocio-physical atmosphere of the factory. In their accounts, cotton mills were portrayedas houses of the poor, places in which large numbers of impoverished individuals werecongregated and which bore a close resemblance to other houses, both private andpublic, in which the poor resided. If medical observers did not regard factories asplaces of machine-dominated work, neither did they perceive factory workers asmachine hands. Such persons were discussed as the “industrious poor,” persons whoshared the moral capabilities of those in higher orders, though they sometimes lackedtheir understanding.Factory workers were also viewed in another, less positive, light as “strangers,”individuals whose background was unknown and whose intentions were suspect. Such aview is especially perceptible in the measures that were proposed to halt the spread ofdisease. Not content merely to examine the nature and causes of worker sickness,physicians and their associates also proposed methods of preventing and controlling ill-health. Although the proposals were diverse, some looking to the past and othersdirected at the present, they were linked through common concern for regulation andinspection, not only of factories and factory workers’ dwellings, but of the workersthemselves.IThe disorder that made repeated incursions in the manufacturing population inthe closing decades of the eighteenth century was discussed in a variety of ways:-42-simply as “fever,” or more particularly as “epidemic fever,” “malignant fever,”“infectious fever,” “low putrid fever,” “low contagious fever,” “low nervous fever,”etc. Yet it was regarded by contemporary observers as a single disorder, whosesymptoms varied little, if at all, at each appearance.3 It was also perceived as thesame malady that had long been seen in hospitals, prisons, ships, and army camps. In1785 David Campbell remarked that the disease:has sometimes been called the gaol, and sometimes the hospital fever,from its having originated, or raged with unusual violence in theseplaces. At other times, from a tendency to putrefaction, which has beenobserved to accompany it, in some situations, it has been denominated aputrid fever; and from spots, which in certain degrees of malignity, areapt to make their appearance, it has been called by the name of petechial(or spotted) fever.4He argued however, that as the disease was “not peculiar, either to hospitals or gaols”and “as neither petechiae or putrefaction” were essential to its existence, “the additionof such epithets have a tendency to furnish improper ideas, as well as create confusion,by an unnecessary multiplication of names for the same disorder.”5 Campbellpreferred to characterize the disease using “the technical term Typhus,” an appellationprovided some years earlier by the Edinburgh clinician and theorist, William Cullen.63D. Campbell, Observations on the Typhus, or Low Contagious Fever(Lancaster: H. Walmsley, 1785), pp. 19, 53, 54; Rev. Sir Wm. Clerke, Bart.,Thoughts upon the Means of Preserving the Health of the Poor, by Prevention andSuppression of Epidemic Fevers (London: J. Johnson, 1790), p. 3; Ferriar, p. 194;John Ferriar, “Remarks,” in Board of Health, p. 11.4Campbell, pp. 5-6.5lbid., p. 6.6lbid., pp. 6-7.-43-In a nosology, or “systematic arrangement of diseases,” outlined in 1769 andexpounded from 1776 to 1784, Cullen classified fevers according to their clinicalappearances.7 Designating them as an order in the class, Pyrexiae, he separated theminto two groups, periodic and continued, and separated the continued fevers into threegenera: Synocha, Typhus, and Synochus. A critical distinction, in Cullen’s mind, wasbetween those fevers that displayed “an inflammatory irritation” and those that showeda “weaker reaction. “8 He named inflammatory fevers Synocha and termed weakerfevers Typhus (from the Greek word for smoke or mist) to underscore one of theirpredominant characteristics, mental confusion and delirium.9 (He reserved the labelSynochus for fevers of a mixed type, those neither completely inflammatory nor weak.)In 1776 Cullen commented that his division was the “same with that of fevers intoInflammatory and Nervous, the distinction at present most generally received inBritain. “107William Cullen, Synopsis Nosologiae Methodicae (Edinburgh: 1769); WilliamCullen, First Lines of the Practice of Physic, 4 vol. (1776-1784). An Englishtranslation of the Synopsis appeared as William Cullen, Nosology. or. a SystematicArrangement of Diseases, by Classes. Orders. Genera, and Species (Edinburgh: W.Creech, 1800). On Cullen and eighteenth-century fever theory and practice see: DaleC. Smith, “Medical Science, Medical Practice, and the Emerging Concept of Typhus inMid-Eighteenth-Century Britain,” Medical History, Supplement No. 1 (1981), pp. 121-134; W.F. Bynum, “Cullen and the Study of Fevers in Britain, 1760-1820,” MedicalHistory, Supplement No. 1 (1981), pp. 135-147; Guenter B. Risse, “Typhus’ Fever inEighteenth-Century Hospitals: New Approaches to Medical Treatment,” Bulletin of theHistory of Medicine 59 (1985), pp. 176-195.8Cullen, Nosology, p. 37, quoted in Risse, p. 177.9Risse, ibid.10Cullen, First Lines, vol. 1, p. 517, quoted in Smith, p. 122.-44-The distinction between inflammatory and nervous fevers was a key feature ofeighteenth-century medical understanding. Prior to the eighteenth century, fever hadbeen regarded as a unitary disorder that expressed itself in the malfunctioning of thecirculatory system. Seen to result from stagnation of the blood, which then produced aquickened pulse, the disease was believed to be best treated through bleeding and otherantiphiogistic remedies. In the 1720s, however, physicians began to observe what theyperceived as a new kind of fever: one that was especially fatal among the poor; thatmanifested itself in nervous system symptoms, such as twitches, tremors, and delirium;that was slower to develop and left patients much more debilitated than usual; and thatdid not respond well to bleeding. By the 1730s, the concept of fever had expanded toinclude two main types: the traditional “inflammatory” fevers which were aided bybleeding, and the “slow” or “nervous” forms that could not bear it. The distinctionwas strengthened in the 1740s following a widespread epidemic that was particularlyprevalent among the urban poor and that was related by several commentators toeconomic hardship and to the conditions prevailing in prisons and workhouses. Thoughthe identity of the epidemic was initially in some dispute, an extensive inquiry by JohnBarker in 1741 determined that it was of the nervous variety.1’In the ensuing decades, medical men continued to differentiate nervous frominflammatory fevers and to associate the former with debility.’2 Struck by the“John Barker, An Inquiry into the Nature. Cause, and Cure of the PresentEpidemick Fever (London: T. Astley, 1742), discussed in Smith, pp. 130-131.‘2According to some theorists, debility served not only as the dominating featureof nervous fever, but also as its source. As Smith, p. 132, reveals, John Huxham,-45-feebleness and prostration that nervous fever brought in its wake, they increasinglyemphasized the need for supportive and stimulating therapies, such as wine, tonics,wholesome food, opium, and cinchona bark.’3 They also continued to relate thedisorder to institutions that housed the poor, both at home and abroad. Much of theleading investigation of fever in the latter half of the century was undertaken bymedical men with military and naval experience.’4 Physicians such as Sir JohnPringle, James Lind, Gilbert Blane, Robert Robertson, and Thomas Trotter describedthe illness they encountered in army camps, ships, and military hospitals and remarkedon its similarity to the malady that prevailed in civilian hospitals, prisons, andworkhouses. In his Observations on . . . Hospital and Jayl-fevers, John Pringle, forinstance, maintained that the disorder that arose in foreign hospitals, “in crowdedbarracks, and in transport ships,” was identical to that known in England as “jayldistemper,” an ailment that often afflicted the inhabitants of “large and crowdedcities.”5 In Medicina Nautica, Thomas Trotter similarly commented on theauthor of Essay on Fevers and their Various Kinds (London: S. Austen, 1750),maintained that nervous fever originated in “lax fibres and debility.” William Cullenexpressed a similar view. According to Bynum, p. 138, he regarded “debility of thenervous power” as the initial, and in some sense determining, stage of the feverparoxysm.‘3Bynum, pp. 144-147.‘4Peter Mathias, “Swords and Ploughshares: the Armed Forces, Medicine, andPublic Health in the late Eighteenth Century,” in J.M. Winter (ed), War and EconomicDevelopment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), pp. 73-90; Bynum,pp. 140-143.15John Pringle, Observations on the Nature and Cure of Hospital and Jayl-Fevers(London: A. Millar and D. Wilson, 1750), pp. 2-5.-46-connection between the typhus that occurred on board ships and that found in greattowns.16By the end of the century, the division between inflammatory and nervous feverswas complete. As medical observers concentrated attention on the health needs of thepoor, and on the nervous type of fever that seemed to arise wherever the poor weregathered, the category of inflammatory fever began to be excluded from the feverconcept.17 Though some theorists, such as Cullen, still spoke of “inflammatoryfever,” others found the term to be meaningless, and preferred to regard inflammationas a distinct local disorder and nervous fever (or simply fever itself) as a diseaseaffecting the entire bodily system. 18IIIf local physicians readily identified the disorder that swept throughmanufacturing communities in the 1780s and 1790s, they also expressed familiarity withits causes, especially its “remote” causes. As the Carlisle physician, John Heysham,commented in 1782, “under what circumstances [the disease] is first generated andproduced, we are well acquainted. It is the offspring of filth, nastiness, and confined‘6Thomas Trotter, Medicina Nautica (1797), discussed in Mathias, p. 80.170n eighteenth-century awareness of the condition of the poor, see Risse, p.179.18Bynum, p. 145.-47-air, in rooms crowded with many inhabitants.”9 A similar view was expressed threeyears later by David Campbell, who maintained:That a particular species of fever, is apt to be produced, in consequenceof persons residing in apartments, where there is not a sufficiently freecirculation of air; especially if crowded together, and accompanied withneglect of cleanliness, and a deficiency of proper food; repeatedexperience has so frequently, and so fatally demonstrated, that it wouldbe superfluous to take up time, in adducing instances, where it has sooccurred 20By the late eighteenth century, medical men were convinced that the crowding andconfinement of human bodies, especially those that were dirty and ill-nourished, gaverise to the form of fever known as typhus and they frequently referred to cases, such asthe Assizes at Oxford in 1577 and at London’s Old Bailey in 1750, in which suchconditions were believed to have spawned the disease.2’ They were less cognizant,however, of the specific means by which the conditions operated and by which thedisorder was perpetuated.In accounting for the generation and spread of typhus, theorists focused on thequality of the air in particular enclosed spaces and on the interplay between humanbodies and the atmosphere in such spaces. The influence of climatic and geographicfactors on human well-being had long been an accepted feature of medical thought, and‘9John Heysham, An Account of the Jail Fever, or Typhus Carcerum: as itappeared at Carlisle in the Year 1781 (London: T. Cadell, 1782), pp. 23-24.Although Heysham referred to the disorder that afflicted the residents of Carlisle as“jail fever,” he maintained that it spread through the town by means of a large weavingworkshop.20Campbell, p. 5.21Ibid. p. 9; A Short Essay written for the Service of Proprietors of CottonMills. and the Persons Employed in Them (Manchester: C. Wheeler, 1784), pp. 6-7.-48-since Thomas Sydenham’s elaboration in the seventeenth century of the concept of theepidemic constitution of the atmosphere had had particular relevance to theunderstanding of fevers.22 While remaining sensitive to the large-scale effects ofclimate and geography, however, late eighteenth-century fever investigators becamepreoccupied with the relationships pertaining between the environment and humanbeings on a more intimate scale.23 As Alain Corbin has argued, “the mainconsiderations were no longer altitude, exposure, the quality of space, and the nature ofthe winds, but the qualities of the confined, enclosed area of everyday life, the aerialenvelope and the atmosphere of bodies. “ Though they continued to direct someattention to the seasons and climatic conditions in which typhus was most likely toprevail—Campbell, for instance, noted that it was the product of “cold and temperateclimates” and that its malignancy was increased by “moist and raw air”—investigatorsexpressed greatest concern with the interior milieu of establishments which containedlarge numbers of people.25 They maintained that in situations of inadequate22Bynum, pp. 140-143; Smith, p. 124.23011 late eighteenth-century interest in the relationship between climate anddisease see L.J. Jordanova, “Earth Science and Environmental Medicine: TheSynthesis of the Late Enlightenment,” in L.J. Jordanova and Roy Porter (eds), Imagesof the Earth: Essays in the History of the Environmental Sciences, British Society forthe History of Science Monographs #1(1979), pp. 119-146; J.-P. Peter, “Disease andSick at the End of the Eighteenth Century,” in R. Forster and 0. Ranum (eds), Biologyof Man in History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), pp. 81-124.24Alain Corbin, The Foul and the Fragrant: Odour and the French SocialImagination (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986), pp. 20-21; see alsoJohn V. Pickstone, “Ferriar’s Fever to Kay’s Cholera: Disease and Social Structure inCottonopolis,” History of Science 22 (1984), pp. 405-406.25Campbell, p. 39. See also Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 192.-49-ventilation, the presence of massed bodies, especially those that were dirty, diseased, orhungry, poisoned the air around them.Explanations of the corrupting power of human bodies varied. In mid-centuryJohn Pringle had spoken of the air in places such as jails and ships being “pent up anddeprived of its elastic parts by the respiration of a multitude; or more particularlyvitiated with the perspirable matter, which, as it is the most volatile part of thehumours, is also the most putrescent.”26 Researchers later in the century continued torefer to Pringle’s descriptions, but following investigations into the chemicalcomposition of air, most notably by Joseph Priestley, they also began to employ a newterminology.27 In 1796 Thomas Henry, the distinguished apothecary, manufacturer,and friend of Priestley and Thomas Percival, explained to the Manchester Board ofHealth that when a number of people were confined in a room, they injured itsatmosphere by removing the “vital” part, leaving the impure “azote,” along with “asmall quantity of gas equally deleterious, formed by the union of the pure air with thecoaly part of the blood, which is thrown off as extrimentitious.”28 Underlying thedifferences of language was a view that through the workings of their bodies, humanbeings generated noxious effluvia or exhalations, which, if not sufficiently dispersed by26Pringle, p. 4.27Corbin, pp. 11-21; Joseph Priestley, Observations on Air (London: 1774).281\[ Farrar, Kathleen R. Farrar, and E.L. Scott, “The Henrys of ManchesterPart I: Thomas Henry (1734-1816), Ambix 20 (1973), pp. 183-208; E. M.Brockbank, Sketches of the Lives and Work of the Honorary Medical Staff of theManchester Infirmary (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1904), pp. 71-82;Thomas Henry, “Remarks,” in Board of Health, pp. 28-29. See also A Short Essay,pp. 8-9.-50-free-flowing air, were capable of tainting the environment and generating disease.Though the action of corrupted air was not completely understood, it wasbelieved to be capable of inducing typhus within human bodies, particularly those thatwere sickly or “delicate.”29 According to Thomas Percival, “like certain poisons,[foul air] effects an instantaneous change in the nervous system, by which the organs ofsecretion are disturbed, and the secretions themselves corrupted.”3° David Campbellprovided a slightly different explanation. He maintained that “when inhaled for toogreat length of time, or in too concentrated a state,” vitiated air “induced a state ofdebility in the system,” evidenced by the familiar symptoms of prostration, reducedappetite, and weakened pulse.3’ He argued, too, that while the “debilitating power”affected the whole bodily system, it exerted a particular influence on the “vessels of thebrain,” which became “distended with an unusual quantity of fluids, [and] from theirencreased bulk, and subsequent effusions, and suppurations, occasion head ach [sic],irritation, delirium, and death. “32The interaction between bodies and the atmosphere did not end with theappearance of disease. Once afflicted, a fevered individual was seen to be capable ofinfecting other people (especially those who were debilitated by poverty, disease, or29Thomas Percival, “A Narrative of the Sufferings of a Collier.. .withObservations of the Effects of Famine. . . and on the Action of Foul Air on the HumanBody,” in The Works. Literary. Moral, and Medical (Bath and London: 1804), vol. 4,p. 293.30Ibid., p. 294.3’Campbell, pp. 30, 114.32Ibid., pp. 114-115.-51-depression) through the production of contagion, “a subtile, active, and virulentsubstance” that escaped the sick body and entered and gave rise to similar symptoms inothers.33 Contagion was also believed to impregnate the clothing of fever sufferers, aswell as “wool, cotton, silk, fur, feathers, and all articles of the like nature, either intheir raw or manufactured state,” and furniture, walls, and floors, and in this state, too,was believed to convey its malignancy to other persons, often in a more forcefulmanner than when it arose directly from the sick individual.MWhile acknowledging the existence of contagion, fever theorists expressedconsiderable uncertainty regarding its nature and operation. In 1785 Campbell notedthat “the volatile something” was “rather traced by its effects, than known by anyparticular appearances,” adding that it could sometimes be detected by an “earthydisagreeable” smell, like that of rotten straw.35 Some investigators spoke of contagionas a type of vapour or gas. In 1792 John Ferriar noted Mr. St. John’s view that “thepoison of fevers is a peculiar gas exhaled from the surface” of the body, while in 1796,one of Percival’s correspondents, Dr. Garnett, argued that it likely consisted of33Heysham, p. 23. Though late eighteenth-century theorists employed theconcept of contagion, they should not be regarded as strong “contagionists.” In termsof the analytic categories discussed by Charles Rosenberg in “Explaining Epidemics,”in Explaining Epidemics and Other Studies in the History of Medicine (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 293-304, their understanding of fever wasmore “configurational” than “contaminationist.”Campbell, pp. 7-8.35Ibid., pp. 127, 31-32; on the significance of and growing interest in smellssee Corbin, passim.-52-“hydrogen gas, charged with animal substances.”36 While agreeing that it could betransmitted only by contact, or over a very short distance, medical observers were insome dispute over the exact manner by which contagion entered other bodies. In asubmission to the Manchester Board of Health in 1796, “A.B.” stated that the“avenues” by which it gained access was “at present a controversial point”; hemaintained that contagion was “first received into the stomach. “‘ John Ferriar, onthe other hand, argued that it acted initially on the nervous system, and was“propagated by an impression on the olfactory nerves. “38 David Campbell maintainedthat “as the infectious vapours are first received into the mouth, the saliva will ofcourse be impregnated, with the seeds of contagion, and if taken into the stomach, maybe thus the means of giving rise to the disease. Medical uncertainty anddisagreement extended to the manner in which contagion acted on the body of a soundindividual, and particularly on the degree to which it caused putrefaction of the bodilyfluids. Considering the matter, Campbell concluded that it was probable that contagionwas “absorbed into the system,” where it acted upon “the irritable and muscular fibres”and possibly circulated with the fluids.4°36John Ferriar, “Origin of Contagious, and New Diseases,” in MedicalHistories, vol. 1, p. 240; Dr. Garnett, “On Purifying the Air of infected Apartments,”in Board of Health, p. 43.37A.B., “Remarks and Observations,” in Board of Health, pp. 35-36.38Ferriar, “Origin,” p. 236.39Campbefl, p. 34.40Ibid., pp. 127-128.-53-IIIn considering the outbreaks of disease which occurred in manufacturing towns,and especially in trying to establish the nature of the relationship between typhus andthe new spinning mills, medical men directed their attention to the social and physicalenvironment of the mills. To their minds, the most threatening aspect of the factory layin the number of people crowded within its walls. Whether they viewed the factory asa producer or a propagator of fever, they were alarmed by the capacity and design ofthe new establishments. As the author of the Short Essay written for.. .the Proprietorsof Cotton Mills. and the Persons Employed in them described them:Cotton Mills are large buildings, but so constructed as to employ thegreatest possible number of persons. That no room may be lost, theseveral stories are built as low as possible... .The number of people whowork in the mill must certainly be proportioned to the size of it. In alarge one I am informed there are several hundreds: from whence it isevident, a very considerable division must be allotted to eachapartment.4’Medical spokesmen maintained that the closeness and confinement of such a multitudeof persons, especially those whose bodies or clothes were dirty or diseased, corruptedthe air inside the mills and facilitated the spread of typhus in the factory workforce.Some commentators went further. Alert to “the prodigious dangers of bothputrid and licentious promiscuity,” they argued that the poisonous influences ofcongregated individuals permeated not only the physical, but the moral atmosphere ofthe mills.42 Thomas Gisborne, a Staffordshire clergyman and friend of Thomas41A Short Essay, p. 9.42Corbin, p. 101.-54-Percival, stated that when all manner of workers were gathered together in one room,“the contagion of vice [was] unrestrained, and shame itself extinguished by theuniversality of guilt. “ In his mind, depravity served as the moral counterpart offever and was as virulent in its action. Gisborne was not alone in perceiving ananalogous relationship between physical illness and vicious behaviour. Prison and poorlaw reformers of the day also recognized the connected possibilities of disease andimmorality in situations of crowding.Medical authorities were apprehensive not only of the corrupt exhalations andinfluences emanating from the bodies of factory workers, but also the filth of factoryfloors and machinery, and the offensive smells and effluvia arising from privies,candles and lamps, and machine oil. Such factors, they believed, contributed to thefouling of the air and to the generation of fever.45 They were critical, as well, of thelong hours and night work that were common in the early cotton mills, and wereespecially worried about the effects of these on young workers. In their investigationof the Radcliffe epidemic, Thomas Percival and his colleagues maintained that “theactive recreations of childhood and youth” were essential to the “growth, vigour, and43Thomas Gisborne, An Enquiry into the Duties of Men in the Higher andMiddle Classes..., 4th ed. (London: B.&.J. White, 1797), vol. 2, pp. 399-400; IrvineLoudon, “The Concept of the Family Doctor,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 58(1984), p. 354, note 26.Margaret DeLacy, Prison Reform in Lancashire. 1700-1850: A Study in LocalAdministration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986), pp. 81-82; Sir FrederickMorton Eden, The State of the Poor... (London: J. Davis, 1797), vol. 1, p. 422.45A. Meiklejohn, “Outbreak of Fever in Radcliffe Cotton Mills, 1784,” BritishJournal of Industrial Medicine 16 (1959), pp. 68-69; A Short Essay, p. 9; Ferriar,“Prevention” p. 197; Campbell, pp. 25-27; Henry, p. 30.-55-the right conformation of the human body,” and that long factory hours obstructed thephysical and moral needs of young persons.46 In a similar vein, the author of theShort Essay asserted that:Youth is the time in which, if ever, the foundation of health must belaid, and strength of constitution acquired; and nothing can morepowerfully tend to prevent either, than the want of pure air, and loss ofproper sleep, at proper hours. With respect to the latter circumstance,every one knows that sleep in the day is not so refreshing orstrengthening, as sleep in the night.47Though the practice of night work seems to have abated towards the end of the century,it was still sufficiently prevalent for John Ferriar to refer to it as a “cause of fever” in1795.48 Ferriar argued that when factories operated at night, their atmosphere wasimpaired through the use of candles and lack of opportunities for ventilation. Hemaintained, too, that “watching is particularly severe, and prejudicial to children, at theearly age when they begin to be employed in these works.”49 Like other spokesmenhe was alarmed by the consequences of night children occupying beds that day childrenhad just climbed out of, adding that “such is the natural appetite for fresh air, thatmany of these creatures prefer rambling the fields, during part of the time allotted to46Meiklejohn, p. 69.47A Short Essay, p. 18. In a submission to the Manchester Board of Health in1796, Dr. Bardsley, “Remarks,” in Board of Health, p. 27, similarly declared that “ithas been universally the opinion of the highest medical authorities, that (in the northernclimates at least), sleep is more advantageous during the night than in the day.”48Ferriar, “Prevention,” pp. 197-199.49Ibid., p. 197.-56-them for sleep.”5°These features—the crowding of workers, the contaminating influences ofphysical and moral decay, and the length of time and portion of the day in whichindividuals were confined in the factory milieu—pertained more to the domiciliarycapacity of the mill than to its productive purpose. With their extensive experience ofthe domestic conditions of the poor and wide-ranging interest in the structure andhygienic management of institutions which accommodated the poor, investigators offactory ill-health in the late eighteenth century concentrated their attention on the spacewithin the factory and had little to say about the productive activity that occurred there,or about the effects of such activity on human well-being.They had little to say, for instance, about the raw materials utilized in the mills.In his writings on the manufacturing system, Thomas Gisborne denied that suchmaterials had any relevance to the problems at hand, stating that the cotton manufacturewas injurious “not by any noxious quality in the article operated upon, but by externalcircumstances usually attending the operation.”5’ Other observers acknowledged thepresence of raw cotton, but accorded it only a minimal role in the production ortransmission of disease. The author of the Short Essay, for instance, pointed to cottondust, vitiated by the operation of the machinery, as only one of a number of secondaryagents capable of corrupting factory air.5250Ibid., p. 198.51Gisborne, vol. 2, p. 392.52A Short Essay, p. 9.-57-According to prevailing medical theory, porous materials such as cotton werecapable of attracting and holding contagious particles and thus could serve as powerfultransmitters of disease. As “A.B.” stated to the Manchester Board of Health, “allporous substances retain infection; and especially such as are of a light texture, ascotton, whether manufactured or otherwise; the fibres of which, having a disposition torepel one another, do leave spaces for the lodgment of infectious particles.”53Although factory workers seem to have feared the infection-carrying capability of thecotton they handled—at Ashton-under-Lyne such anxiety was heightened by the feverthat broke out in the pickers’ room of the local mill—medical investigators were atpains to downplay the possibility. “On the subject of the propagation of infection incotton-mills,” advised John Ferriar, “it may be necessary to observe, that although ithas been supposed that fever may be imported in the cotton, and though this opiniondoes not seem improbable in itself, yet no direct proof of fevers originating from thissource has ever been obtained.”54 The chief threat to factory workers’ health, as faras Ferriar and his colleagues were concerned, arose from the assemblage of workersthemselves and not from exposure to the raw cotton. Even the Ashton-under-Lyneepidemic was traced on the basis on “very respectable authority” to the human factor ofa “girl who went to be employed as a picker at Ashton. “The lack of attention directed to the potentially harmful qualities of raw cotton is53A.B., p. 38.54Ferriar, “Remarks,” p. 17. See also Campbell, p. 20.55Ferriar, “Remarks,” p. 18.-58-at odds with contemporary discussion of the dangers inherent in more traditional formsof work. In his remarks on manufacturing, Gisborne contrasted the production ofcotton with work involving mercury and lead, arguing that the latter was dangerousowing to the substances used.56 Medical men had long been interested in the effectsof metallic substances on health.57 At the beginning of the eighteenth century,Bernardino Ramazzini devoted the opening section of his authoritative treatise, jMorbis Artificum, to the diseases that beset miners and craftsmen, such as gilders,potters, and painters, who handled metals.58 At the end of the century, physicians andsurgeons continued to discuss the problems associated with mining and mineral work.In 1790 a Birmingham surgeon, William Richardson, produced a work for “metallicartists,” which included a survey of the manner in which various metals impaired thehealth of those who came into contact with them.59 He introduced the subject bystating:In the application of metals to the different arts, the persons employed,are often injured to a great degree, by some of the particles entering theirbodies; either in consequence of being swallowed with the spittle, drawn56Gisborne, vol. 2, p. 391.57George Rosen, The History of Miners’ Diseases (New York: Schuman’s,1943).58Bernardino Ramazzini, Diseases of Workers , trans. Wilmer Cave Wright,intro. George Rosen (1713; rpt. New York: Hafner Publishing Company, 1964), p.15.59William Richardson, The Chemical Principles of the Metallic Arts: with anAccount of the Principal Diseases incident to the Different Artificers... (Birmingham:R. Pearson, 1790). Thomas Percival was also interested in the occupational effects ofmetals, particularly lead. See his “Observations and Experiments on the Poison ofLead,” in Works, vol. 3, pp. 447-507.-59-in along with the breath, or absorbed by the pores of the skin.60Unlike the situation in the factory, where it was the contagion from other workerswhich was believed to be taken in with the spittle, in the mines and metal workshops, itwas the dust (and vapours) from the raw metals which were believed to enter and harmworkers’ bodies.In the late eighteenth century metallic particles were seen to exercise harm intwo ways, either through chemical poisoning, as in the case of work with lead,mercury, or arsenic, or physical injury, as with the grinding of iron.61 Though rawcotton could be viewed as a carrier of poison, it was not seen to poison in and of itself.Nor was it seen to injure in a physical or mechanical fashion. This is evident from anessay on pulmonary consumption written by the Bristol physician, Thomas Beddoes.62In the essay Beddoes singled out occupational groups whom he believed wereparticularly likely to contract consumption, and although he included both metal andtextile workers in his list, he attributed their liability to very different circumstances.He maintained that the disease arose in needle-grinders, stone-cutters, and brass castersbecause of “external injury” done to the lungs by the “hard” particles of metal.6360Richardson, p. 180.61Ibid pp. 180-182; James Johnstone, “Some Account of a Species of PhthisisPulmonalis, peculiar to Persons employed in pointing Needles in the NeedleManufacture,” Memoirs of the Medical Society of London 5 (1799), p. 91.62Thomas Beddoes, Essay on the Causes. Early Signs. and Prevention ofPulmonary Consumption (Bristol: T.N. Longman and 0. Rees, 1799). See also hisHvgeia: or. Essays Moral and Medical on the Causes affecting the personal Health ofour Middling and Affluent Classes (Bristol: R. Phillips, 1802-1803), vol. 2, pp. 24-34.63Beddoes, Essay, p. 62.-60-With weavers, spinners, and carpet-manufacturers, however, he negated the influenceof “small, floating particles” and pointed to sedentariness and confinement as the chiefcausal factors.MMedical investigation of the degree to which factories endangered the health oftheir occupants was virtually silent not only about the materials used in the mills, butabout the machines that dominated their interiors. The sight, noise and smell of thehuge, power-driven machinery no doubt overwhelmed the people forced to workalongside it. One witness, Robert Blincoe, recalled that when he was sent as anapprentice to the Lowdham Mill, near Nottingham, in 1799, he “heard the burringsound before he reached the portal and smelt the fumes of the oil with which the axlesof twenty thousand wheels and spindles were bathed. The moment he entered thedoors, the noise appalled him, and the stench seemed intolerable.”65 Once introducedto the work, he reportedly “set to with diligence, although much terrified by thewhirling motion and noise of the machinery, and not a little affected by the dust andflue with which he was half suffocated. “66 The experience of workers like Blincoefound little expression in learned accounts. Medical men said nothing about the noiseof factory machinery and although Thomas Henry and the author of the Short Essay64Ibid. p. 64.65John Brown, A Memoir of Robert Blincoe. an Orphan Boy: sent from theWorkhouse of St. Pancras. London. at Seven Years of Age. to endure the Horrors of aCotton-Mill... (Manchester: J. Doherty, 1832), p. 20. Although published in 1832,the account was based on notes taken from Blincoe in 1822 and 1824.66Ibid-61-mentioned the presence of rancid machine oil, they referred to it as a substance whichcontributed to the contamination of factory air and not something which directlysickened the workers.67 In their writings, medical observers were also silent about theinteraction between whirling machine parts and human frames and limbs. They saidnothing about the pace of machine-dominated work and nothing about the movementsand postures demanded by machine work, although “violent and irregular motions andunnatural postures of the body” were considered by Ramazzini and his followers to be aprolific source of disease.68 As well, they made no reference to the accidents thatresulted from such work, though they often encountered the victims of machineaccidents in the infirmaries and dispensaries to which they were attached.69IIIIn the socio-medical discussion of the disease and death that prevailed inmanufacturing towns, the factory was represented not as a new type of workplace, but67Henry, p. 30; A Short Essay, pp. 9-10.68Ramazzini, p. 15. Writers on hygiene, such as Francis J.P. de Valangin, ATreatise on diet, or the Management of Human Life... (London: J.& W. Oliver,1768), pp. 211-266, who regarded motion and rest as one of the non-naturals, alsobelieved that immoderate and violent motions and strained postures injured health.Although Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 205, described factory work as a “sedentary”employment, “attended with little bodily labour within doors,” this was a traditionalway of referring to occupations involving textiles and was not an accurate portrayal ofmachine spinning or minding.69Brown, p. 26; Sir John Sinclair, The Statistical Account of Scotland(Edinburgh: W. Creach, 1791-1799), vol. 15, p. 35, vol. 20, p. 184; MarjorieCruikshank, Children and Industry: Child Health and Welfare in North-West TextileTowns during the Nineteenth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press,1981), p. 42.-62-as a house of the poor. As such, it was seen to have much in common with other typesof houses in which the poor resided. John Ferriar’s assertion that ventilation andcleanliness could render a cotton factory “as healthy as a private house,” suggests thatin the 1780s and 1790s spinning mills were regarded in much the same way as thelodging houses and cellar dwellings in which the manufacturing poor dwelt.7° In eachof these types of establishment, individuals were seen to be crowded together forlengthy periods of time, cut off from supplies of fresh air and natural light, andexposed to the pernicious influences of filth and putrid exhalations.7’ Forinvestigators such as Ferriar, factories and lodging houses served as equally potentbreeding grounds of fever.The ease with which the discussion of fever shifted from a consideration offactories to a scrutiny of the housing conditions of the poor is partly explicable by themultiple roles that both factories and workers’ dwellings served in the late eighteenthcentury. Cellars and lodging houses were not only places where people ate and slept,they were also scenes of domestic production. Similarly, cotton factories were not onlycentres of production, but also places of residence. Because of their reliance on waterpower, eighteenth-century mills were frequently established in rural settings, where thepopulation was scattered.72 In attempts to secure and mold a suitable labour force,70Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 199.71Ibid., pp. 178-189, 196-199.72Arthur Redford, Labour Migration in England 1800-1850, 3rd ed.,(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1976), p. 21.-63-many factory masters built cottages or established villages for their workers.73 Manyalso employed parish apprentices and necessarily became involved in the business offeeding, clothing, and lodging. At New Lanark, for instance, David Daleaccommodated several hundred apprentice children in a boarding-house near themills.74 For at least two of the children, who had been sent to the factory in poorhealth and who had no relatives to care for them, the Lanark works served solely as aplace of residence. According to Dale, the two were maintained in the boarding-housefor several years, though they were never employed in the mills.75Factories were not only likened to private dwellings, they were also regarded ashaving much in common with public institutions in which large numbers of the poorwere confined. Indeed, in his remarks on the efficacy of ventilating and cleaning,Ferriar compared a cotton factory first to a private house and then to a hospital.76Other medical men also conceived of cotton mills in much the same manner ashospitals, army camps, workhouses and prisons. For instance, in a discussion of thepernicious stench of privies, David Campbell stressed the importance of the matter for735• Pollard, “The Factory Village in the Industrial Revolution,” EnglishHistorical Review 79 (1964), pp. 516-519; Stanley D. Chapman, The Early FactoryMasters (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1967), pp. 157-160.74Thomas Bernard, “Extract from an Account of Mr. Dale’s Cotton Mills atNew Lanerk [sic], in Scotland,” Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition. . . ofthe Poor 2 (1800), p. 364; Dale, pp. 61-63. The number of children reportedlyincreased from 270 in 1792 to 500 in 1800.75Dale, pp. 54-55.76Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 199.-64-“the health of factories, barracks, and all places where many people reside.”77Such comparisons were not limited to local observers. In 1797, Sir FrederickEden, investigator of the state of England’s poor, transferred arguments which werebeing advanced against workhouses to manufactories, stating that “the objections whichhave been repeatedly urged against parochial work-houses, and houses ofindustry.. .seem to be no less applicable to those places, in which great numbers of boysand girls are thronged together, at the spinning wheels, the loom, or any othermechanical employment.”78 The following year, John Mason Good, physician atLondon’s Coldbath Fields prison, produced a treatise on “maintaining and employingthe poor” in workhouses, in which he repeatedly referred to “the cotton manufactory atGLASGOW” as an exemplar of the “order, and regularity” he believed should prevailin parochial workhouses.79The view of the factory articulated by medical and social commentators seems tohave corresponded closely to popular perceptions. As Arthur Redford has pointed out,early cotton manufacturers, such as David Dale or the Buchanan brothers at Deanston,in Perthshire, experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining labour for their millsbecause of the reluctance of the local population “to be employed in what they called ‘a77Campbell, p. 27.78Eden, vol. 1, p. 420.79John Mason Good, Dissertation on the best Means of Maintaining andEmploying the Poor in Parish Workhouses... (London: Cadel & Davis & Morton,1798), pp. 49, 141, 146; Michael Ignatieff, A Just Measure of Pain: the Penitentiaryin the Industrial Revolution. 1750-1850 (London: The Macmillan Press, 1978), p. 60.-65-public work.’ “80 Evidence suggests that working people often perceived of mills as aform of workhouse or prison.81It is not surprising that factories, hospitals, workhouses, and jails were linked inthe minds of eighteenth-century observers, for, as Michael Ignatieff has argued in hishistory of the penitentiary, these institutions shared many roots.82 The cotton factoryof the late eighteenth century was foreshadowed by late seventeenth and eighteenth-century bridewells, houses of correction, and houses of industry, in which masters ofoutwork trades, often textiles, contracted for the work of the inmates and in which themotives of labour, discipline and profit were closely entwined.83 The factory cameinto existence at the same time as proposals were being put forward for the reshapingof Poor Law institutions; as hygienic reforms were being made in hospitals, ships, andarmy camps; and as prisons were being transformed into penitentiaries. Ignatieffargues that such reformations and transformations were closely related, and that theywere linked to demands for political reform as well. He identifies them as the work of80Redford, pp. 21-24.81Ibid p. 24. In 1799, the London radical, John Thelwall, Monthly Magazine(1 November 1799), quoted in E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English WorkingClass (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1968), pp. 378-379, questionedwhether a large factory was anything “but a common prison-house, in which a haplessmultitude are sentenced to profligacy and hard labour, that an individual may rise tounwieldy opulence.”82lgnatieff, passim.83Ibid., pp. 13-14, 3 1-32, 111; Ignatieff, pp. 36-37, points out that the profitmotive operated not only on the part of the outwork masters, but also on the part ofjailers and nurses, who charged institutional residents fees for services rendered. Seealso A.P. Wadsworth and J. de L. Mann, The Cotton Trade and Industrial Lancashire1600-1780 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1931), p. 406; Redford, p. 24.-66-a reform constituency, composed of Nonconformist, moderate or radical Whig doctors,scientists, and manufacturers, whose personal interest in regimen and disciplineextended to a concern with the hygiene and morals of the poor. The interests ofthese reformers often overlapped, as exemplified in the figure of Thomas Percival,who, as noted in the previous chapter, was active not only in the investigation offactories, but also in the expansion of Manchester Infirmary, the founding of theManchester Board of Health, the construction of penitentiaries, and the establishment ofthe Manchester Poor House.It might be argued that the inclination of late eighteenth-century reformers wasto differentiate institutions housing the poor and to create, out of the heterogeneousasylums of the past, specialized institutions catering to the needs of particular groups ofthe poor.85 In support of such an argument, one could point to Gilbert’s Act of 1782,which removed the profit motive from poor relief through its prohibition on “farming”the poor, or to remarks made by Thomas Bernard, founder of the Society for Betteringthe Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor, in which he distinguishedbetween the types of treatment appropriate to “the idle and criminal” sorts of the poorand those suitable for “the friendless and distressed.”86Ignatieff, pp. 57-71.85Gertrude Himmelfarb, The Idea of Poverty: England in the Early Industrial(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), p. 83, makes such an argument.86lgnatieff, p. 111; A.W. Coats, “Economic Thought and Poor Law Policy inthe Eighteenth Century,” Economic History Review 13 (1960), p. 43; Thomas Bernard,“Preliminary Address to the Public,” Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition.of the Poor 1 (1798), p. xv.-67-The appearance of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, however, suggests that at theclose of the century reformers still tended to view public institutions in a non-specificand almost interchangeable way. Inspired by a factory built by his brother, Benthampublished the Panopticon in 1791 as a plan for prisons.88 He emphasized, though, thatthe scheme was equally applicable to “houses of industry, work-houses, poor-houses,manufactories, mad-houses, lazarettos, hospitals, and schools,” and maintained that bymeans of its particular design, the various goals of such institutions could be achieved:Morals reformed, health preserved, industry invigorated, instructiondiffused, public burthens lightened, Economy seated, as it were upon arock, the Gordian knot of the Poor-Laws not cut, but untied—all by asimple idea of Architecture.89Bentham enshrined the profit motive as an essential element in the operation ofestablishments for the poor, arguing that they should be managed by keepers, whowould retain the profits generated by the work of the occupants, and whose self-interestwould ensure discipline and good health.9°Though Bentham’s ideas seem to have run counter to the prevailing stream ofofficial thought—they received little support when elaborated in 1798 in PauperManagement Improved and were decisively rejected in 1810 by a parliamentarycommittee dealing with penitentiaries—they corresponded to the confused reality of87Jeremy Bentham, Panopticon: or. the Inspection-House... (Dublin: 1791).88lgnatieff, p. 110.89Bentham, p. 139-140.90Ibid., pp. 42-79.-68-establishments containing the poor.9’ In the late eighteenth century, factories,workhouses, and prisons still functioned in similar ways. In a penitentiary at Preston,for instance, prisoners laboured for a local cotton magnate, Mr. Horrocks, picking andweaving cotton in huge workshops.92 Less than twenty miles away at the Radcliffemill, local residents and apprentices worked for another such eminent figure, RobertPeel, who was said to have “insisted upon a system of punctuality and regularity whichapproached the discipline of military drill.IvIf the cotton mill of the 1780s and 1790s was not regarded as a unique place ofwork, neither were its inhabitants perceived as distinctive sorts of labourers. Theimage of factory workers as “hands,” or automatons, was to come later. In thisperiod mill workers were discussed most often as the “manufacturing” or “industriouspoor,” persons who engaged in productive activity, and who displayed many of themoral attributes of their social superiors.95 In the literature on fever and poverty,9’In Pauper Management Improved, Bentham argued that the relief and controlof the “whole body of the burdensome poor” should be vested in a national companymodelled on the East India Company; see Himmelfarb, pp. 78-83; Ignatieff, pp. 112-113.92lgnatieff, p. 97.93[A.E. G. Jones], “The Putrid Fever at Robert Peel’s Radcliffe Mill,” Notesand Oueries 103 (1958), p. 32.On this point I disagree with Ignatieff, pp. 67-68.95See, for example “Establishment of a Committee...” in Board of Health, p. 1;Campbell, p. 21. Raymond Williams, Culture and Society 1780-1950 (New York:Harper & Row, 1958), pp. xi-xii, points out that in the late eighteenth century the-69-factory workers were, in general, apprehended sympathetically as fully human beings,whose “vices and faults” were those “of an unfavourable situation, rather than ofindividual delinquency.”96 If their moral stature was not seen to be identical to that ofthe higher orders, it was nonetheless, believed to be considerable. From observingtheir conduct, “every day, in the most trying situations,” Ferriar, for one, wasconvinced that the poor who resided in manufacturing towns possessed many“virtues.Such a view was strengthened by contemporary investigation of the nature andcauses of typhus. Typhus was seen to arise most often among “the poor andlabouring” sorts of people.98 By emphasizing the role that “moral” causes, such asanxiety and poor spirits, could play in its production and progress, fever theoristsaccorded factory labourers a physical and moral nature which was essentially the sameas that of higher-ranking individuals.99 As well, in asserting that the effluvia whichissued from impoverished bodies only acquired malignant potency in situations ofwords “industry” and “industrious” referred not only to manufacturing activities andinstitutions, but also to such human attributes as perseverance and diligence.96Thomas Bernard, “Prefatory Introduction to the Second Volume,” Reports ofthe Society for Bettering the Condition.. .of the Poor 2 (1800), p. 14.97Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 204.98Campbell, p. 53.99lgnatieff, pp. 60-61, argues that eighteenth-century medical men saw a closerelationship between physical illness and mental or emotional disturbance, and that thisview derived from David Hartley’s materialistic philosophy. DeLacy, p. 88, deniesthat physicians such as Percival and Ferriar were materialists, although sheacknowledges their interest in the link between physical and psychic disorders.-70-overcrowding and confinement, medical investigators exculpated the labouring poorfrom direct personal responsibility for the spread of disease and immorality. In theirjudgement, it was not individual workers who were defective; rather, it was situationsin which they were massed that constituted the threat to public health.10°For all their mental and moral capabilities, however, mill workers were not seento have an adequate understanding of the problems of contagion and health. Percivalspoke of the “credulity” of the poor and of their “prejudices” concerning treatment,while Ferriar described “their want of knowledge, and want of foresight.”°’According to those with professional expertise, the flawed understanding of themanufacturing community frequently gave rise to practices, such as visiting andoffering mutual aid, which unintentionally resulted in greater harm than good. To takebut one example, cited by the Medical Committee of the Manchester Infirmary:A boy employed at a cotton-mill, brought the fever into his family inFleet-street, consisting of his father, mother, and seven children. From ascarcity of beds, the infected person slept in turn with the rest of thefamily; in consequence of which, they all became infected: the diseaseproved fatal to the mother and one daughter. The family were humanelyvisited by the mother’s sister, who resided in Southern-street. Shecaught the fever, and communicated it to her daughter, who slept withher. The mother died; and the daughter, with difficulty, struggledthrough the disease.This family were visited, and attended upon, by a neighbour inPriestner-street.100Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 202.‘°‘Clerke, pp. 17, 18; Ferriar, “Origin,” p. 241. For similarly held views ofthe French peasantry see Harvey Mitchell, “Rationality and Control in FrenchEighteenth-Century Medical Views of the Peasantry,” Comparative Studies in Societyand History 21(1979), pp. 82-112.-71-This last person became infected by the fever, and imparted it to herhusband, and one child. The husband, wife, and child, all perished bythe disease.The fever, after attacking five more of the family, still rages in thehouse—after an interval of seven weeks from the attack of the firstindividual.102In the view of medical observers, the “abuses and errors” that prevailed within thefactory population required and legitimated “instruction and assistance from the moreenlightened” sectors of society.’°3Assistance from above was desirable for another reason as well, for, in additionto being seen as misguided, the ever-increasing numbers of poor persons whocongregated in the manufacturing towns were regarded as “strangers. “104 In the lateeighteenth century, the term “strangers” applied particularly to industrial immigrants,who lacked settlement rights in their new parishes and who could not claim statutoryrelief in times of sickness or need.105 While many of the manufacturing poor werestrangers in this technical sense, they also were perceived in a more general way as‘°2Board of Health, pp. 45-46.‘°3John Ferriar, “Account of the Establishment of Fever-Wards in Manchester,”in Medical Histories, vol. 3, p. 91. See also Clerke, p. 11.‘041n “Observations on the Bills of Mortality for the Towns of Manchester andSalford,” Memoirs of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society 3 (1790), pp.159-173, Thomas Henry argued that “the introduction of machinery” had led to “a veryconsiderable increase of inhabitants” in Manchester and Salford. He estimated that thepopulation of these towns had increased from 29,151 in 1773 to 48,681 in 1786. Thegrowth of other manufacturing towns was equally rapid; see John Aikin, A Descriptionof the Country from Thirty to Forty Miles round Manchester (1795; rpt. New York:Augustus M. Kelley, 1795), pp. 227-305 passim.105Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 192, uses the term in this way.-72-“unrecommended or unknown” persons, whose presence was concealed in the opaqueand subterranean dwellings of the towns.106 Such a view was especially evident inManchester and its environs in the 1790s, when, as John Pickstone has argued,industrial depression, harvest failure, and the outbreak of war with France led toinstability and growing apprehension of unrest among the poor.107In the volumes of his Medical Histories and Reflections, John Ferriar was atpains to point out that it was “persons newly arrived from the country,” who were mostlikely to fall prey to the causes of fever.108 He spoke of such persons being hiddenaway in “small, dark cellars,” “dark, narrow courts, or blind alleys,” and maintainedthat very often their existence was ignored even in the houses in which theylodged.’09 In his account of the 1789-1790 epidemic, he related an especiallypoignant case of a woman named Jane Jones, who was “fresh from the country” andwho had contracted fever by entering an infected lodging house.”° Because themistress of the house did not wish to admit her “imprudence” in admitting a newcomer,Jane’s condition was kept secret and her illness was only revealed “by the screams of‘°6Thomas Percival, “Remarks,” in Board of Health, p. 6.‘°7John V. Pickstone, Medicine and Industrial Society (Manchester: ManchesterUniversity Press, 1985), p. 24.‘°8Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 183.‘°9lbid., p. 193; John Ferriar, “Epidemic Fever of 1789, and 1790,” in MedicalHistories, vol. 1, p. 137.“°Ferriar, “Epidemic,” pp. 126-127.-73-the poor creature, which were heard in the adjoining house.”111It was not merely the presence of strangers which demanded attention at theclose of the eighteenth century, their mobility, too, was cause for concern. In his essayon fever prevention, Ferriar maintained that “at present, the workman, after leaving thewarehouse, wastes his evening in the alehouse, or strolls about the streets and fields toa late hour, for the purposes of intrigue,” and in his “Advice to the Poor,” hecautioned that such behaviour occasioned “much sickness. “112 Socio-medicalinvestigators were particularly alarmed by the manner in which the movements of thepoor contributed to the spread of fever. They warned of the danger of “irregularpatients” returning to work and carrying the disease back into the factories, and of“passengers” and persons in search of employment transmitting the infection from onelocale to another.113VFor all their difficulty, the problems posed by fever were not seen to beinsoluble. Although the local populace was stirred to agitation by the epidemics thatswept through their communities, medical spokesmen maintained an attitude of reasonedcalm and, while not underrating the urgency of the matter, were confident about their11“2Ferriar, “Prevention,” pp. 205-206; John Ferriar, “Advice to the Poor,” inMedical Histories, vol. 3, p. 217.‘13Clerke, p. 22; Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 197; Ferriar, “Remarks,” pp. 19-20; Ferriar, “Account,” pp. 44-45; Percival, “Remarks,” p. 6.-74-abilities to bring the disorder under control. Even in the initial investigation of thefever that prevailed at Radcliffe, Percival and his colleagues spoke with assurance:they were “fully satisfied” that the disease in question was a low, contagious fever;they were “decided” in their view that it had been intensified by conditions such asovercrowding and confinement; and they “trust[ed]” that the factors they had identifiedwere “not without remedy.”114 Such confidence can be attributed to theenvironmentalism of late eighteenth-century medical thought, which emphasized thepossibilities of understanding and controlling the relationship between human beings andtheir surroundings.115 It also derived, no doubt, from previous experience inconfronting fever and from the availability of a rich body of fever literature, whichindicated ways of preventing and managing the disease.In the 1780s and 1790s, socio-medical investigators advocated a number ofsolutions that aimed to avert the threat of fever in factory settings. One approach,favoured by Thomas Gisborne, was a return to traditional socio-economic practices andrelations. In his Enquiry into the Duties of Men in the Higher and Middle Classes ofSociety, Gisborne argued that factory owners should urge their employees to live insmall villages, rather than populated towns, and, wherever possible, should supply themwith work in their homes, rather than bring them into the factories)’6 Hemaintained, too, that the owner of a mill should exercise close, paternal authority and‘14Meiklejohn, p. 68.“5Jordanova, pp. 119-146.“6Gisborne, vol. 2, pp. 396-397, 401.-75-supervision over his workers:Let him acquire their confidence and secure their attachment by joininguniform mildness and affability of behaviour to the firmness requisite forthe maintenance of his authority. Scrupulously abstaining from everymark of pride and superciliousness, let him convince them that he hastheir interest at heart, by studying their comforts; by advancing themlittle sums of money beforehand, when sickness, or an approaching rentday, or the necessity of laying in fuel against winter, or some otheremergency, distresses them. Let him acquaint himself, as far as may bepracticable, with each of his workmen, individually, and observe histemper and dispositions, his habits of life, and the state of hiscircumstances, that he may be able to admonish him occasionally in sucha manner as may be most likely to be beneficial. Let him uniformlyshow favour to the meritorious, and check the idle and profligate. Andnever let him forget the efficacy which he may give to his owninstructions and reproofs, by his own virtuous example.’17By means such as these, Gisborne believed, the worst excesses of the manufacturingsystem would be curbed.Gisborne’s proposals drew strength from numerous studies, which promoted thebeneficial effects of domestic labour and rural environs on the health and morals of theworking poor. In 1800, in the second volume of his Reports of the Society forBettering the Condition. . . of the Poor, Thomas Bernard held up “the industrious andthriving cottager” as a social ideal and advocated the possession of a cow, a piece ofground, and a cottage as the state most conducive to virtue, contentment, andprosperity.’18 In 1789, the Bath physician and associate of Thomas Percival, William7Ibid., pp. 402-402. In “A General View of the Situation of the MiningPoor,” Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition.., of the Poor 1 (1798),Appendix 1, p. 385, Gisborne similarly urged the proprietor of a mine “to attach hisworkmen to himself.”“8Bernard, “Prefatory Introduction,” pp. 6-10.-76-Falconer, published An Essay on the Preservation of the Health of Persons employed inAgriculture, which enumerated the benefits derived from country employment.”9Falconer argued that agricultural work was constant, diverse, and pursued in open air,free from “putrid exhalations.. .which are well known to taint the air in large cities, andin manufactories of every kind, where great numbers of people are assembled in asmall compass.”2° Furthermore, it involved a wholesome diet, freedom fromanxiety, few temptations to licentiousness, and regular, day-time hours. Thesignificance of the last factor was explained by reference to the quality of the air:Falconer noted that night air was commonly believed to be less healthy than thatencountered during the day, and that this was “confirmed by chemical experiments,which tend to shew that the air exhaled by vegetables, whilst the sun is above thehorizon, is much more pure and fit for respiration than that which issues from them inthe absence of the sun.”2’ Falconer argued that as a result of such salubriousconditions agricultural workers were exempt from many of the diseases which afflictedother sorts of labourers, and that the illnesses they were likely to experience weremarkedly different from those of other workers. He contrasted individuals engaged in“9William Falconer, An Essay on the Preservation of the Health of Personsemployed in Agriculture... (Bath: R. Cruttwell, 1789); Francis Lobo, “JohnHaygarth, Smallpox and Religious Dissent in Eighteenth-Century England,” in AndrewCunningham and Roger French (eds), The Medical Enlightenment of the EighteenthCentury (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 220, 223.‘20Ibid., p. 2.‘2’Ibid., p. 3. Such experiments were conducted by Joseph Priestley, amongothers, and as Corbin, p. 15, points out, contributed to “an optimistic vision of aprovidential design that caused vegetation to correct the air that animals had corrupted.”-77-rural labour with “the effeminate inhabitants of populous towns,” stating that while thelatter were liable to putrid ailments, the former, whose bodies were “robust andathletic, of a firm fibre and dense blood,” were more commonly afflicted byinflammatory disorders.122Falconer’s essay was perhaps familiar to the Edinburgh surgeon and politicalwriter, Benjamin Bell. Bell had a special interest in agriculture, which he described in1802 as a pursuit “favourable at once to population, to the morals, the health, and thehappiness of mankind,” and in a collection of essays published in 1802, he proposed ascheme for improving agriculture through the distribution of premiums.123 As part ofhis plan he suggested allotting small plots of land, sufficient for a garden and a cow, topersons engaged in manufacture. In response to the argument that agriculture andmanufacturing should be pursued independently, Bell cited the example of broad-clothmanufacturers. Unlike cotton workers, “who in general are collected together in greatnumbers, often to the extent of more than a thousand,” he declared, those whoproduced broad-cloth:almost every where work separately and unconnected with each other,122Falconer, p. 34. As Marie-France Morel, “City and Country in Eighteenth-Century Medical Discussions about Early Childhood,” in Medicine and Society inFrance: Selections from the Annales Economies. Sociétés. Civilisations, vol. 6, editedby Robert Forster and Orest Ranum, translated by Elborg Forster and Patricia M.Ranum (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1980), pp. 48-65, shows, thecontrast between the effects of city and country life was a common theme of eighteenth-century French medical literature.‘23Benjamin Bell, Essays on Agriculture, with a Plan for the Speedy and GeneralImprovement of Land in Great Britain (Edinburgh: Bell and Bradfute, 1802), pp. iv,243-301.-78-and employ all the hours which they devote to relaxation and amusement,in the care of their gardens and other small portions of ground that theypossess... .Nor does this variety of occupation make them worsetradesmen, or induce them to work less, as some speculative men havesupposed it would do, while, in various ways, it tends to make themmore virtuous citizens. These manufacturers are every where noted fortheir industry, and for the quantity of cloth which they produce; and weall know that the article itself, which has long been considered as thestaple commodity of our country, is the best of its kind that any wherecan be met with.’Bell conceded that it may have been advantageous for “a few large money-proprietors”to gather workers together and benefit from the profit of their labour, but, he asserted,“this being highly detrimental both to the morals and the health of those whom theyemploy, and being thereby injurious to the whole nation,” it was necessary to restrictsuch enterprises though the application of “some check or regulation.”125Topographical accounts showed that where the pursuit of gardening oragriculture was combined with that of manufacturing, residents enjoyed good health anddisplayed virtuous qualities. In A Description of the Country from Thirty to FortyMiles round Manchester, the Manchester physician, John Aikin, depicted the conditionsprevailing in some of the towns in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He found that atLeeds, “the dispersed state of manufactures in villages and single houses over thewhole face of the country” was extremely conducive to virtue and contentment.126Similarly, at nearby Huddersfield, he was impressed with “the comparative healthiness‘Ibid., pp. 288-289. Bell’s view of the advantages of small-scalemanufacturing was not new. As Wadsworth and Mann, p. 384, reveal, in 1757, JosiahTucker similarly compared the benefits of small and large-scale industry.‘25Bell, pp. 289-290.‘26Aikin, p. 574.-79-of a manufacture carried on in rural situations and at the workmen’s own houses. “‘Leeds and Huddersfield were woollen manufacturing centres, but contemporaryobservation showed that it was also possible to combine the practices of agriculture andmanufacturing in cotton manufacturing regions.One place where this was achieved with apparent success was at Catrine, inAyr. Catrine was an industrial village, built around a cotton-twist mill and a jeaniefactory, established by Claude Alexander and his partner, David Dale. In the 1790s,the inhabitants of the village were described by the resident minister, Robert Steven, asbeing in sound health.’28 Steven believed that their condition was largely due to thepractice of renting small pieces of land, which were attended after work hours in theraising of potatoes and keeping of cows. “The exercise, and smell of the new turned-up earth,” he wrote, “must undoubtedly be beneficial to their health; and theiremulation to have the best and cleanest crop renders them all very industrious. It is anextremely pleasant sight, on a fine summer’s evening, to see such a number of peopleso usefully employed.”29 According to Steven, the residents of Catrine were notonly healthy, they were moral. Steven attributed their “sobriety” and “regularity” to“the indefatigable attention of Mr. Alexander,” a proprietor cast in the mould ofGisborne’s ideal type, who undertook “to learn the real character and circumstances of‘27Ibid., p. 554.‘28Sinclair, vol. 20, p. 177.‘29Ibid-80-each individual.”30Although Gisborne advocated an adherence to the ways of the past in hisEnquiry into the Duties of Men, he was not totally opposed to the new industrialsystem, for he also believed that humankind had benefitted from the introduction ofmachinery, being enabled by this development “to emerge from a state of barbarism tocivilization, to exchange dens and caves for comfortable houses, coverings of raw skinsfor clean and convenient clothes, acorns and wild fruits for salubrious food, [and]unlettered ignorance for books and knowledge.”’31 Gisborne’s attitude to thetechnical and social changes of his day was marked by an ambivalence, which also canbe seen among contemporary writers on population. Until the late eighteenth century,investigators of population believed that large towns and cities were unfavourable to thegrowth in numbers they held to be desirable.’32 Thus, in 1767, in an essay on “theincrease and decrease of mankind,” Thomas Short referred to cities as “Golgothas, orPlaces of the Waste and Destruction of Mankind.”33 One aspect of urban life whichwas sometimes implicated in the charge of waste and destruction was the presence ofindustry. In 1757 for instance, in a Dissertation on Numbers of Mankind in Ancientand Modern Times, Robert Wallace spoke of the “operose manufacture” of various‘30Ibid., p. 180.‘31Gisborne, Enquiry, vol. 2, p. 383.‘32D.E.C. Eversley, Social Theories of Fertility and the Maithusian Debate(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959), p. 36.‘33Thomas Short, A Comparative History of the Increase and Decrease ofMankind... (London: W. Nicoll & C. Etherington, 1767), p. i.-81-sorts of goods.’34By the late eighteenth century, however, the views of those concerned with theprogress of population had shifted and large towns and industrial activity were nolonger regarded in quite the same manner. In a “Defence of his Pamphlet onPopulation,” published in 1782, John Howlett at one point described “arts andmanufactures” as:a secret successful war upon a large proportion of our species.... If Warcan tell its dismal tale of thousands slain in the field.. .Arts andManufactures can present as long a catalogue of our fellow creaturessuffocated in mines and pits, or gradually poisoned by the noxiouseffluvia of metals, oils, powders, spirits &c. used in their work...135In a earlier passage, however, he maintained that the manufactures found in towns suchas Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham aided the species by providing employmentto the residents of nearby rural parishes. Howlett likened such parishes to a “Polypus,”which was able to regenerate its limbs, or population levels, after these had been cutoff through emigration to the towns.’36 He argued that rural inhabitants wereencouraged to marry early and have large numbers of children in the expectation thattheir offspring would find employment in the manufacturing centres.Similar views were expressed in 1786 by the Manchester manufacturer andmedical practitioner, Thomas Henry. In a paper read before the Manchester Literary‘34Cited in Eversley, p. 39.‘35John Howlett, “Defence of his Pamphlet on Population,” Gentleman’sMagazine 52 (1792), p. 526.‘36Ibid pp. 474-475.-82-and Philosophical Society, Henry asserted that large towns acted unfavourably onhuman longevity.137 By drawing in persons from other locations, he explained, theyended many lives through the effects of impure air, infection, and alterations in modeof life. Henry maintained, however, that large towns were not as detrimental to theprogress of population as they might seem, for by their manufacturing presence theyoffered inducements to marriage, “and, therefore, if life be more speedily wasted, it isprobably, reproduced in a far greater ratio.”38 “A sensible, industriousmanufacturer,” Henry declared, “considers his children as his treasure, and boasts thathis quiver is full of them; for where children can be employed at an early age, the fearof a large family is not only diminished, but every child that is born may be regardedas an addition of fortune.”39Thus, while there were many in the late eighteenth century who were opposed tolarge-scale industrial development and wished to revert to an existence they saw asmore balanced and orderly, there were others, such as Henry, who were accepting ofand even ascribed positive benefit to the realities of contemporary urban, industrial life.Faced with problems of health and morality among a growing and largely unknownmanufacturing population, such persons advocated not a return to traditional ways, butthe regulation of present conditions. Given the prevalent concern with the factory as ahotbed of fever and licentiousness, much of their attention focussed on the regulation‘37Henry, “Observations,” pp. 168-170.‘38Ibid., p. 170.‘39Ibid., pp. 170-717.-83-and management of factory conditions, especially those that pertained to the quality ofthe factory atmosphere.In their report on the epidemic at Radcliffe, Percival and his colleagues putforward a number of “practicable regulations,” which were aimed at improving thestate of the air within the Radcliffe works.14° The physicians advised leaving thewindow casements and “three large western doors” of the mill open at night and duringthe noon recess, erecting fire places “with open chimnies,” sweeping and washing thefloors, scraping and whitewashing the walls and ceilings, burning tobacco, washing andventilating the privies, employing a purer oil in the machinery, and enjoining “a strictobservance of cleanliness” on those employed in the mill.’41 The samerecommendations were contained in David Campbell’s Observations on the Typhus, andsimilar proposals appeared in the anonymous Short Essay, in John Ferriar’s essay onfever prevention, and in Thomas Henry’s submission to the Manchester Board ofHealth.’42 Such advice centred on the practices of ventilation, cleanliness, andfumigation.Interest in ventilation was not new in the 1780s and 1790s. Half a centuryearlier, the London physician, Stephen Hales, produced a treatise on “ventilators,”which described how “great quantities of fresh air may with ease be conveyed into‘40Meiklejohn, p. 68.‘41Ibid., pp. 68-69. They also proposed restricting the time persons spent in themill, so as to ensure the physical well-being of child workers, in particular, and toprovide opportunities for education.‘42Campbell, pp. 23-29; A Short Essay, pp. 12-19; Ferriar, “Prevention,” pp.198-199; Henry, “Remarks,” pp. 31-33.-84-mines, gaols, hospitals, work-houses and ships, in exchange for their noxious air.”43Following the “Black Assize” of 1750, in which some fifty people in London’s OldBailey died apparently as a result of a fever carried into the court by two Newgateprisoners, Hales, along with John Pringle, worked at developing ventilators forNewgate prison.’ In the ensuing decades, further attention was directed to theventilation of ships, camps, and hospitals.’45 Through ensuring the “circulation of theaerial fluid,” ventilation was perceived to sweep away noxious bodily exhalations and torestore the “antiseptic property of air,” thereby disinfecting the space within large,public establishments.’46By the end of the eighteenth century, medical advisors promoted an arsenal ofventilating devices. Percival and his associates, as noted above, recommended the useof open windows and doors. In situations where this was not convenient, DavidCampbell suggested that “two tubes, of diameters proportioned to the size of theapartment” could be inserted from outside, “one of which should enter at the top, and‘43Stephen Hales, A Description of Ventilators: Whereby Great Quantities ofFresh Air may with Ease be Conveyed into Mines. Gaols. Hospitals. Work-Houses andShips, in Exchange for their Noxious Air (London: W. Innys, 1743).‘Ignatieff, pp. 44-45.‘45Corbin, pp. 94-100, 105-110.‘46Ibid., pp. 94, 102; Pickstone, “Ferriar’s Fever,” pp. 405-406. Oneighteenth-century medical and social ideas of circulation, see Anne Marcovich,“Concerning the Continuity between the Image of Society and the Image of the HumanBody: An Examination of the Work of the English Physician J.C. Lettsom (1746-1815)” in P. Wright and A. Treacher (eds), The Problem of Medical Knowledge:Examining the Social Construction of Medicine (Edinburgh: University Press, 1982),pp. 69-86.-85-the other at the bottom of the room, at opposite sides.”47 By this means, hebelieved, there would be “a pretty constant ingress and circulation of fresh air”;furthermore, if the bottom tube were made of iron and positioned so that it travelledthrough a stove or fireplace, the air entering the apartment could also be warmed.’48In 1796 Thomas Henry proposed modifications to such a plan, suggesting that “variouschannels” be provided for the ingress of fresh air, and that “earthen tubes” be usedrather than iron, since the latter left the air “in a burnt and injured ste.”49 Henryalso put forward a method of his own for transporting pure air into factories. Herecommended the use of an “iron vessel” containing manganese, which was to beconnected to the interior of a mill by a series of tubes. “When the vessel is exposed toa red heat,” he explained, “a large quantity of pure or vital air will be separated, andpass into the room, and contribute essentially to the restoration of the injured air.”5°He added that the cost of instituting such a plan would be minimal since manganese hadthe capacity to reabsorb “its pure part” upon exposure to the atmosphere.’5’Although ventilation was regarded as an important preventive measure,especially in new mills, it was not seen to be adequate for the task of purifying older147Campbell, p. 18.‘48Ibid., pp. 18-19.‘49Henry, “Remarks,” pp. 32, 31.‘50Ibid., pp. 3 1-32. See also Dr. Garnett, “Hints,” in Board of Health, pp. 41-44. Farrar, Farrar, and Scott, p. 202, point out the similarity between Henry’s planand contemporary schemes of pneumatic medicine.‘51Henry, “Remarks,” p. 32.-86-mills, or those in which contagion was present.’52 In such cases, more vigorousmethods of control were required. One of these consisted in routines of cleansing,especially washing, not only with water, but with more pungent, disinfectantsubstances.’53 Percival and his colleagues advised the weekly use of “strong limewater, or.. . water impregnated with the spirit of vitriol or the acid of tar” for the floorsof the Radcliffe factory and a monthly and then thrice-yearly wash of “lime, freshburnt, and as soon as it is stacked” for the mill’s walls and ceilings.’54 The author ofthe Short Essay added that one afternoon a week, the floors and frames of factorymachines should be scraped and “afterwards be washed with vinegar, or some vegetableacid.”55To complement such procedures, medical men also recommended the practice offumigation. In so doing they referred to the authority of James Lind, the naval doctor,who promoted the use of fire and smoke for the purification of the vessels under hiscare.’56 Lind favoured the smoke of tobacco, brimstone, arsenic, and gunpowder,which David Campbell speculated were “disposed to act chemically” on contagiousmatter.’57 In the case of cotton factories, Lind’s practices had to be adjusted‘52A Short Essay, p. 13.‘53Corbin, pp. 103-104.‘54Meiklejohn, p. 68.‘55A Short Essay, p. 16.‘56James Lind, Two Papers on Fever and Infections (1763); Corbin, p. 65.‘57Campbell, pp. 44-45.-87-somewhat. Percival and his colleagues pointed out that the burning of brimstone wouldproduce an acid which would be harmful to the cotton. They therefore recommendedthat the Radcliffe works “be fumigated weekly with tobacco,” while the author of theShort Essay believed that much advantage might also be derived from “burning woodand other vegetable productions that yield a subtil [sic] volatile acid, such as pitch andtar, &c.”158For the physicians charged with finding solutions to the problems of fever,purification of the space within factories demanded control not only of the air, floorsand machine frames, but also of human bodies. As Alain Corbin has remarked withrespect to hospitals, “ventilation was not enough; individual behaviour patterns had tobe changed.”59 Patterns of cleanliness, in particular, were a source of concern.Like Percival and his associates, John Ferriar advised that “personal cleanliness shouldbe strongly recommended and encouraged” among the factory population and that childworkers, especially, should be kept clean.’60 In his “Advice to the Poor,” a series ofrules which were drawn up for, though never distributed by, the Manchester Board ofHealth, he informed mill workers that they should keep their “persons and houses asclean” as possible and that they should “not regret the loss of an hour’s wages” when‘58Meiklejohn, p. 68; A Short Essay, p. 14. The benefits that were believed toarise from the use of vegetable substances in fumigating and cleaning parallel thoseattributed to gardening and agriculture, providing further evidence of the observationmade by Corbin, p. 15, that vegetable substances were seen to act as an antidote toanimal corruption.‘59Corbin, p. 107.‘60Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 189; see also Clerke, p. 20.-88-pursuing cleanliness, although in his original remarks to the Board he acknowledgedthat “the attention of the poor [was] diverted from cleanliness by the value of theirtime,” and suggested that monetary rewards might be given to mothers who contrivedto keep their children clean.’6’Medical concern for the regulation of the poor extended beyond cleanliness. Inhis “Advice,” Ferriar offered directions concerning where the poor should live, howthey should obtain clothing or furniture, what their duty was concerning inoculation,how they should deal with sickness in their neighbourhood, and when they should allowtheir children to be employed in factories.’62 Similarly, in the plan that he preparedfor the control of fever at Bury, Thomas Percival prescribed a regimen not only forfever victims, but for “the whole body of the poor,” and gave particular instructionsconcerning temperance and diet.’63 In addition, medical men directed attention to theinteraction and mobility of the manufacturing poor. Ferriar, for instance, warning ofthe hazards of “incautious visits” to the sick, argued that access to fever victims shouldbe restricted, that such persons should be retained in fever wards “till their clothes andpersons [were] sufficiently purified,” and that they should not be permitted to resumefactory employment “without leave from their physicians.At the end of the eighteenth century, the key to successful regulation of both the‘61Ferriar, “Advice,” p. 213; Ferriar, “Remarks,” pp. 16-17.‘62Ferriar, “Advice,” passim.‘63Clerke, p. 20.‘64Ferriar “Remarks,” pp. 19-20.-89-physical and social conditions of manufacturing centres lay in the principle ofinspection. In 1800, the philanthropist, Thomas Bernard, observed that although cottonmills were still “in their infancy,” their numbers were escalating and “without publicattention” they would be destructive of health and morals.165 To minimize theirharmful effects, Bernard proposed a number of regulations, culminating with thedemand that factories:.be liable to the periodic inspection of the magistrates, who should havepower to order the regular whitewashing and cleaning, and the warmingand ventilating of the work-rooms; and who should receive quarterly ormonthly reports, from each manufactory, of the number, the health, andthe respective ages, of all the apprentices and other persons employedthere.’66Inspection was deemed especially necessary to ensure the well-being of factoryapprentices, who, in the words of John Aikin, served “unknown, unprotected, andforgotten by those to whose care nature or the laws had consigned them.”67 In 1797,Thomas Gisborne argued that the condition of apprentices should be monitored throughregisters and quarterly returns, as well as by having magistrates visit the factories intheir vicinity and examine “the situation and treatment of the children.”168The advocacy of inspection also applied to the factory town. Manchester, inparticular, was believed to require the watchful gaze and “interference of a public‘65Bernard, “Extract,” pp. 370-371.‘9bid., p. 373.‘67Aikin, p. 219.‘68Gisborne, Enquiry, vol. 2, p. 395.-90-body.”169 For John Ferriar, it was the town’s lodging houses which stood in greatestneed of surveillance. In 1792, he recommended to the newly-formed Committee ofPolice that lodging houses be brought under a system of licensing and that they besuperintended by “Inspectors,” who would visit the houses and be “empowered to takeproper steps for checking infection wherever it appears. “170 In his view, such asystem would be doubly advantageous: it would not only do much to control thegeneration and spread of contagion, it would also “answer a very desirable purposerespecting the police,” permitting authorities to keep “a constant check.., on houses,which at present are the refuge of the most profligate and dangerous part ofsociety.”171 In 1795, Ferriar amended his proposals, suggesting that immigrantworkers would best be housed in “public lodging-houses, on the plan of barracks orcaravanseras.”172 He believed that in such institutions, where they would be placed“in a more conspicuous point of view,” workers “would be saved, at once, from thedanger of disease, and the hazard of ruinous idleness.”’73In 1796, concerns for scrutiny and watchfulness coalesced in the agenda of theManchester Board of Health, which aimed to inspect “the general accommodations of‘69Ferriar, “Remarks,” p. 11.‘70John Ferriar, “To the Committee for the Regulation of the Police, in thetowns of Manchester and Salford,” Bodleian Library: Gough Lancs. 30 (11), p. 2; seealso Ferriar, “Epidemic,” pp. 141-143.‘71Ferriar, “To the Committee,” p. 2.‘72Ferriar, “Prevention,” p. 202.‘73Ibid., pp. 202-206.-91-the poor,” as well as:• . .cotton-mills, or other factories, at stated seasons, with regular returnsof the condition, as to health, clothing, appearance, and behaviour of thepersons employed in them; of the time allowed for their refreshment atbreakfast and dinner; of the number of hours assigned for labour; and ofthe accommodations of those. . . who are not under the immediate directionof their parents or friends.’74The Board was assisted in its endeavours by the Strangers’ Friend Society, a Methodistcharity, founded in Manchester in 1791. Established to relieve persons not entitled toparochial aid, the Society was especially notable for its use of volunteer Visitors, whowere “daily to seek out objects of real woe,” among the manufacturing population,“and to visit their miserable retreats; and, after inquiring minutely into the nature oftheir complaints, to afford them that relief their circumstances called for. ““fl In therapidly-expanding situation of the manufacturing city, where face-to-face contact wasbecoming increasingly difficult, agencies such as the Board of Health and the Strangers’Friend Society aimed to practice the kind of close and careful supervision that ThomasGisborne had recommended to factory proprietors.‘74Percival, “Remarks,” pp. 5-6.‘75Pickstone, “Ferriar’s Fever,” pp. 408-409; G.B. Hindle, Provision for theRelief of the Poor in Manchester 1754-1826 (Manchester: Manchester UniversityPress, 1975), p. 82.-92-CHAPTER THREERELIEF AND REGULATION OF THE POOR• . . it must be much for the interest of every gentleman, as well as theneighbourhood in which he lives, to attend to the health of all hisservants...’• . . though a spirit of benevolence already prevails among the inhabitantsof Manchester, it may add strength to its exertions to shew, that thehealth of the rich is often nearly connected with the welfare of theneedy 2In the judgement of the Lancaster physician, David Campbell, fever was adisorder “which equally attracts the attention of the magistrate, the manufacturer, andthe faculty.”3 In the latter decades of the eighteenth century, the fever epidemics thatprevailed in northern cotton towns not only attracted the attention of magistrates, cottonmanufacturers and members of the medical faculty, they also impelled such persons toaction and gave rise to concerted efforts to prevent the contagious disorder and toimprove the condition of those most threatened by it.The most immediate response came from the magistrates for the County ofLancaster, who not only initiated investigation into the Radcliffe epidemic, but were led‘A Short Essay Written for the Service of the Proprietors of Cotton Mills. andthe Persons Employed in Them (Manchester: C. Wheeler, 1784), p. 17.2john Ferriar, “Epidemic Fever of 1789, and 1790,” in Medical Histories andReflections (Warrington: 1792, 1795, 1798), vol. 1, p. 136.3D. Campbell, Observations on the Typhus, or Low Contagious Fever(Lancaster: H. Walmsley, 1785), p. 4.-93-by the ensuing medical report to impose restrictions on the hours that parish apprenticescould be employed in cotton factories. In the following years, authorities inBirmingham and the West Riding also launched inquiries and passed resolutionsconcerning the treatment of factory apprentices. While the actions of the magistratesmight be viewed as the first, local attempts at limiting the operation of textile mills,they affected only a small proportion of the factory workforce, and are betterunderstood as assertions of more traditional concern for protecting and regulating theparish poor.In the minds of the medical and social theorists who expounded on the problemof factory health, the responsibility for preventing fever and attending to the needs ofthe fevered poor lay not so much with local authorities, as with persons whose wealthderived from the labour of the poor. Appealing to principles of moral obligation andself-interest, and espousing a view of mutual dependence of rich and poor, physiciansand philanthropists urged the prosperous inhabitants of manufacturing towns to respondto the conditions that expert investigation had revealed.It appears that the manufacturing community was receptive to such urging, forin the two decades following the Radcliffe inquiry, factory owners were remarkablyactive in making charitable provision for the poor and in introducing preventivemeasures in their mills, with one individual going so far as to sponsor a national bill forthe protection of the health and morals of apprentices. Although seemingly directed atself-regulation, the endeavours of textile manufacturers primarily aimed at managing thelives of factory workers.-94-Attention to the efforts of those in positions of power and influence should notobscure consideration of the initiatives of mill workers themselves. While little isknown of the manner in which workers accepted the provisions made for them, it isclear that, in the 1780s and 1790s, the factory population began to respond in its ownways to the threats of sickness, suffering, and death. Adults relieved one anotherthrough the agency of friendly societies, protested against the conditions of theiremployment, and interceded with authorities, and even children demonstrated a capacityfor resistance.IIn the autumn of 1784, the attention of the magistrates for the County Palatineof Lancaster was drawn to the issue of factory health by the fever epidemic that grippedthe cotton town of Radcliffe.4 Wary of the devastation that could result, ThomasButterworth Bayley and his associates on the bench acted swiftly, commissioning amedical inquiry and then resolving at the Manchester Michaelmas Sessions “to Refusetheir Allowance to all Indentures of parish Apprentices, who shall be Bound to Ownersof Cotton Mills or other Manufactories, in which Children are obliged to Work in theNight or more than Ten hours in a Day. “ They ordered that the resolution be4A. Meiklejohn, “Outbreak of Fever in Radcliffe Cotton Mills, 1784,” BritishJournal of Industrial Medicine 16 (1959), pp. 68-69; [A.G.E. Jones], “The PutridFever at Robert Peel’s Radcliffe Mill,” Notes and Oueries 103 (1958), pp. 26-28.5Margaret Delacy, Prison Reform in Lancashire. 1700-1850: A Study in LocalAdministration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986), pp. 70-82; “OrderBook,” Manchester, 14 October 1784, Lancashire Record Office.-95-transmitted to the authorities of the neighbouring counties, as well as published inManchester and Liverpool.6While the immediate impact of their actions is unknown, it seems that no long-lasting change was effected. In 1792, one of the magistrates, Samuel Clowes Junior,maintained that the situation of parish apprentices was as bad as that of Negro slaves,and in 1796, the condition of factory workers in and around Radcliffe again became amatter of public concern.7 In February 1796, a month after Percival outlined hisresolutions on factories to the Manchester Board of Health, the Guardians of the Poorin Birmingham decided to hold an enquiry into the well-being of the children they hadapprenticed to the Peel factories in Lancashire.8 Although initially satisfied with whatthey found, reports of bad treatment led them to undertake a second investigation and inJune 1796, they sent two visitors, Samuel Bolton and Thomas Robinson Junior, toexamine the state of ninety-seven children apprenticed to the Peel works at Radcliffe,Hinds, and Somerset.The visitors were instructed to inspect diet, clothing, accommodation, hours ofwork, provision for education, general treatment, and health at each mill. Conditionsapparently varied; in the eyes of the visitors, the worst mill was Radcliffe. But even at6”Order Book.”7Manchester Mercury, 31 January 1792. Although the image of factory workersas slaves was prevalent in the 1830s, Clowes’ reference appears not to have capturedthe imagination of his eighteenth-century contemporaries.8Thomas Percival, “Heads of Resolutions for the Consideration of the Board ofHealth,” in Board of Health of Manchester, Proceedings and Observations (Manchester:1806), pp. 33-35; F.E. Manning, “Sir Robert Peel the elder, and early FactoryLegislation” (M.A. thesis, University of Bristol, 1932), pp. 17-19.-96-Somerset, where conditions were relatively better, the visitors reported that “many ofthe Poor Children flocked around us and cryed to come home. “ Bolton and Robinsonjudged the conditions at all three mills to be negative, commenting that “the boysbegged they might not stay longer.”0 Although the Guardians seem not to have takenany immediate steps to halt the flow of apprentices to Lancashire, a decision wasevidently made later to refrain from sending children to the Peel factories. In 1816,Theodore Price, a Warwick magistrate and Guardian of the Poor, stated that it wascommon knowledge that Birmingham magistrates would not apprentice children tocotton factories and that this situation had existed for some time.”The decisions of the justices in Manchester and Birmingham perhaps influencedauthorities in the West Riding of York, for at the Wakefield Sessions in 1800, the WestRiding magistrates enunciated a comprehensive set of measures concerning theapprenticing of pauper children.’2 They resolved that they would not allowapprentices to be bound unless surviving parents, the parish overseers, and the proposedmaster had been examined by the magistrates; that they would not normally allowchildren to be bound to masters in parishes other than their own; and that they wouldnot “on any account, allow of the apprenticing ofpoor children to the masters or9Guardians’ Minute Book, quoted in Manning, p. 18.‘°Ibid.“P.P. 1816 (397) III, 124; Manning, p. 19.12” Resolutions of the Magistrates of the West Riding of the County of York, atthe Wakefield adjourned Sessions, 22d May, 1800,” Reports of the Society forBettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor 4, Appendix I,Supplement IV (1803-1805), pp. 20-22.-97-owners of Cotton Mills or other works of the kind, where such poor children shall beobliged to work in the night time, or for an unreasonable number of hours in the daytime. “13 They also deemed it expedient that the overseers of the poor should berequired to make general returns of the condition of parish apprentices at least twice-yearly, “in order that the justices, who are the legal guardians of such poor children,may the better do their duty, and render the situation of a parish apprentice morecomfortable, and less dreaded than at present. “14As B.L. Hutchins and A. Harrison pointed out in their study of factorylegislation, the decisions of late eighteenth-century local authorities to refrain fromapprenticing poor children to particular factories belong to the realm of poor lawadministration, and should be viewed as actions under the Elizabethan poor law, ratherthan as innovative attempts at factory regulation.15 The decisions were restricted tochildren in the care of the parish, who formed no more than a third of the populationeven of rural mills.16 They were directed at protecting such children and regulatingthe conditions of their apprenticeship, rather than at imposing constraints on theoperation of the new textile mills. Such resolutions must be set in the context ofwidespread concern over apprenticeship, which marked the middle and latter decades of13Ibid., p. 21.‘4lbid., p. 22.‘5B.L. Hutchins and A. Harrison, A History of Factory Legislation, 3rd ed.(1926; rpt. New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1966), p. 9.‘6Arthur Redford, Labour Migration in England 1800-1850, 3rd ed.(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1976), pp. 28-29.-98-the eighteenth century. The power of the traditional regulators of apprenticeship, theguilds, having broken down, it became apparent that the treatment and training ofapprentices was open to considerable abuse.17 Numerous attempts were made in theseyears to safeguard and regulate the position both of ordinary apprentices and thoseobtained from parochial authorities.That the efforts of the authorities in Birmingham and the West Riding fall intothis category, and that they show a blindspot to the massive industrial changes takingplace, is evident by their similarity to the actions taken a generation earlier with respectto the conditions prevailing in domestic industry. In 1772, following several notoriouscases of ill-treatment of domestic workers, magistrates in Manchester ordered thatprospective masters submit to examination, and insisted that overseers pay frequentvisits to the children they had bound out, in order “to enquire whether they are treatedwith Humanity by their several Masters and Mistresses, and are provided by them withproper and sufficient Cloaths, Meat and Lodging; and also duly taught and instructed inthe several Trades and Occupations they are to learn.”’8IIWhile the inquiries and resolutions of local authorities were no doubt regarded‘7Ivy Pinchbeck and Margaret Hewitt, Children in English Society (London:Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969), vol. 1, p. 249.‘8LS Marshall, The Development of Public Opinion in Manchester. 1780-1820(Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1946), p. 65; A.P. Wadsworth and J. deL. Mann, The Cotton Trade and Industrial Lancashire 1600-1780 (Manchester:Manchester University Press, 1931), p. 407.-99-favourably by those concerned with the health of the factory population, it was wealthymill owners who were deemed primarily responsible for attending to the needs of themanufacturing poor. In the second volume of the Reports of the Society for Betteringthe Condition of the Poor, the London philanthropist, Thomas Bernard, stated ingeneral terms that the possession of “rank, power, wealth, influence” carried with it aburden of “real accumulated responsibility” to the poor, while in an Enquiry into theDuties of Men in the Higher and Middle Classes of Society, Thomas Gisborne spokemore specifically of the moral duties of persons engaged in trade and business.19Gisborne enumerated two guiding principles of commercial morality: the first, “that noman stands authorised. . .to enter into, to continue in, any species of traffic or business,which. . . in any way tends on the whole to impair the happiness of the human race,” andthe second, “that every trader is bound, in following his occupation.. .to conduct it onsuch principles, and to direct it, as far as may be possible, to such objects, as toadvance the comforts, the prosperity, the intellectual, moral and religious improvementof his dependents, of his neighbours, of his countrymen.”2°Gisborne argued thatfactory proprietors were morally obliged to take every measure, however costly, topreserve the health of their employees. “Let [the factory owner] not think himself atliberty to barter the lives of men for gold and silver,” he declared, “let him not seek‘9Thomas Bernard, “Prefatory Introduction to the Second Volume,” Reports ofthe Society for Bettering the Condition.. .of the Poor 2 (1800), p. 28; David Owen,English Philanthropy 1660-1960 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964),pp. 104-109; Thomas Gisborne, An Enquiry into the Duties of Men in the Higher andMiddle Classes..., 4th ed. (London: B.&J. White, 1797), vol. 2, pp. 201-403, passim.20Gisborne, vol. 2, p. 207.-100-profit by acting the part of the executioner.”2’Lest the affluent manufacturers and other wealthy inhabitants of cotton towns notbe swayed by moral considerations alone, medical and philanthropic advisors alsomaintained that the rich themselves would benefit from assisting the poor. In a study ofthe “Origin of Contagious, and new Diseases,” John Ferriar asserted that by “minuteand constant attention” to the wants of the poor in large towns, the rich might do muchto disarm “the virulence of animal poisons,” and argued that such attention constituted“an act of self-preservation,” no less than “virtue. “22 Gisborne, too, believed that theimperatives of morality coincided with self-interest. In advocating that factory ownersinculcate habits of cleanliness among their employees, he cited testimony from a“gentleman,” very experienced in cotton mills, who avowed that cotton factories wherethe inhabitants were the “least numerous, and most cleanly and comfortable” were alsothe “most profitable.”23 Gisborne remarked that he could see no reason why the sameshould not hold for all manufactories. He also argued in more general terms that bycarefully supervising the well-being of his workers, a manufacturer would not onlyfulfil “an indispensable duty,” but at the same time further his own success. Amongother benefits, he would infuse his workers with a sense of “personal attachment,”which would “contribute to secure him from the machinations of any unprincipledcompetitor, who may be base enough to tempt them by bribes to betray their master’s21Ibid., p. 396.22John Ferriar, “Origin of Contagious, and New Diseases,” in MedicalHistories, vol. 1, pp. 246, 248.23Gisborne, vol. 2, pp. 396-397.-101-operations, or to desert him for the purpose of entering into a rival manufactory.”24In advancing their arguments for entrepreneurial concern, commentators such asBernard, Ferriar and Gisborne drew support from a view of society which emphasizedthe connectedness of its component parts. According to Thomas Bernard, both the richand the poor were “parts of one harmonious whole,” and “while each does his duty inhis station, each is, reciprocally, a support and blessing to the other.”25 In hisMedical Memoirs, the Quaker physician, John Coakley Lettsom, also espoused aphilosophy of social cohesiveness, stating that the poor:are a large, as well as a useful part of the community; They supply thenecessary and ornamental articles of life; and they have, therefore, a justclaim to the protection of the rich...26In 1790, the Bury clergyman, the Rev. Sir William Clerke, similarly maintained thatthe rich, whose prosperity derived from the industry of the poor, should be impelled topreserve the health of such a “numerous and valuable.. .class of people” by “knowledge24Ibid pp. 403-404. Redford, pp. 22-23, indicates that the mobility of earlyfactory workers constituted a serious problem for their employers.25Bernard, p. 27.26J•• Lettsom, Medical Memoirs of the General Dispensary in London(London: 1774), p. v; quoted in Robert Kilpatrick, “Living in the Light’:Dispensaries, Philanthropy and Medical Reform in Late-Eighteenth-Century London,”in Andrew Cunningham and Roger French (eds), The Medical Enlightenment of theEighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 268. See alsoJ.C. Lettsom, Hints Designed to Promote Beneficence. Temperance. and MedicalSociety (London: 1801), vol. 1, p.184; quoted in Francis M. Lobo, “John Haygarth,Smallpox and Religious Dissent in Eighteenth-Century England,” in Cunningham andFrench, p. 233.-102-of the necessity of mutual dependence.”27Clerke was particularly concerned with motivating the rich to take steps toprevent and suppress fever. His concern was shared by many lay and professionalobservers, but especially by John Ferriar, who was Manchester’s leading public healthadvocate in the 1790s. As part of his propagandizing efforts, Ferriar stressed the linkswhich the progress of fever revealed between the condition of the rich and that of thepoor. He pointed out that while contagious disease was not generated in “the closerooms of an elegant house,” it could enter such rooms by “secret avenues” (such as thesale of infected clothing or visits among servants), and there drastically repay the“neglect or insensibility” of the well-to-do.28 In Ferriar’s opinion, “the safety of therich [was] intimately connected with the welfare of the poor,” and it was in thisconnection that “the true danger of luxury” lay, for when “voluptuous habits” led tothe withholding of superfluities, a rich individual not only injured himself, butcontributed “to the diseases and destruction of thousands. “29Late eighteenth-century social theory corresponded closely with medical ideasconcerning fever and institutions housing the poor.3° Just as factories, prisons, and27Rev. Sir Wm Clerke, Bart., Thoughts upon the Means of Preserving theHealth of the Poor, by Prevention and Suppression of Epidemic Fevers (London: J.Johnson, 1790), pp. 3, 23-24.28Ferriar, “Origin,” pp. 241-243.29Jbjd pp. 246-247.30Anne Marcovich, “Concerning the Continuity between the Image of Societyand the Image of the Human Body—An Examination of the Work of the EnglishPhysician, J.C. Lettsom (1746-1815),” in Peter Wright and Andrew Treacher (eds),The Problem of Medical Knowledge: Examining the Social Construction of Medicine-103-ships were seen as enclosed spaces, in which individuals were connected by means ofthe atmosphere, in which disease or depravity could readily spread, and in which healthwas maintained through ventilation and free circulation of air, so society was regardedas a closed structure, in which the different orders were linked through bonds of mutualobligation, in which the impaired condition of one could affect another, and in whichequilibrium was maintained through the circulation of wealth. For the socio-medicalinvestigators of the late eighteenth century, fever not only demanded the attention ofwealthy manufacturers, it also offered valuable instruction in the importance ofredistribution.3’IIIIn the latter decades of the eighteenth century, cotton manufacturers seem tohave heeded the concerns of writers on disease and poverty and to have taken theirsocial obligations seriously. Research shows that in at least two of the major cottoncentres, Manchester and Bury, mill owners made extensive voluntary provision for thepoor, especially at times of fever. In Bury, a charitable subscription was set up in1789, to relieve the poor afflicted by the fever epidemic that broke out that year.32From December 1789 to January 1792, a total of £246 was collected, principally from(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1982), pp. 69-86. See also Kilpatrick, pp.254-280.31John V. Pickstone, “Ferriar’s Fever to Kay’s Cholera: Disease and SocialStructure in Cottonopolis,” History of Science 22 (1984), p. 406.32Clerke, passim.-104-persons whose “property and opulence” arose from the labour of the poor.33 As wascustomary at the time, the disbursement of the funds and administration of the charitywere managed by a committee drawn from the subscribers, and in this case, waschaired by the local rector, William Clerke. Nearly half of the funds collected went tothe provision of medical attendance and medicines, while much of the remainder wasdistributed in the form of bedding, clothing, and wine. In addition to providingrelief, the Committee distributed a series of “Rules for the Prevention and Suppressionof Epidemic Fevers.”35 The regulations, which were based on advice which Clerkehad solicited from Thomas Percival, were concerned with cleanliness and ventilationand with the need to reduce unnecessary social intercourse. Rewards were promised tothe heads of households in which the rules were observed, while the withdrawal ofsupport was threatened to those who ignored them. The business of overseeing theobservance of the regulations, and of providing information on the state of poorfamilies, was assigned to an Inspector, appointed and paid by the Committee.36Over four hundred persons were relieved in the two years of the charity’s33Ibid., p. 23; “Bury Fever Relief Book, 1789-1790,” Lancashire RecordOffice, CBB2, CBB3. It is likely that Robert Peel and his partners were among thesubscribers, since, as Manning, p. 4, states, the industrialists were so powerful andinfluential they controlled every institution in the town.34Review of Thoughts upon the Means of Preserving the Health of the Poor, byRev. Sir Wm Clerke, Bart., in Medical Commentaries (December 1791), p. 362.35Clerke, pp. 13-14.36Clerke, p. 21; Review of Thoughts, p. 362.-105-existence.37 Given the extent of the Peel cotton works, it is likely that most of therecipients were associated with the mills.38 Considering Bury’s rapid populationgrowth, it is likely, too, that a sizeable number were industrial immigrants, unable, bythe laws of settlement, to benefit from statutory assistance.39 From surviving recordbooks, some further idea may be formed of their identity and the nature of theirdistress.’° Many of the charity’s recipients evidently belonged to large households,and to households which were headed by women, especially widowed women. Theirlevel of poverty appears to have been profound; very often the recipients lacked themost basic of household goods. Thus we find that on January 12, 1790, WidowKenyon, of Mooreside, was supplied with a bed, one coverlid, one sheet, one blanket,one bolster, one shift and two boy’s shirts worth a total of £1.10. 10.’ Similarly, inFebruary 1790, “Hartley’s Orphans” were provided with one bed, one bolster, onecoverlid, and one pair of blankets, worth £1.4. 10. (One wonders what became of theseorphans for the records show that the items were subsequently returned to the37Review of Thoughts, p. 359.380n1y a few years later, John Aikin, A Description of the Country from Thirtyto Forty Miles round Manchester (1795; rpt. New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1968),p. 268, reported that the size of Peel’s mills was “such as to find constant employ formost of the inhabitants of Bury and its neighbourhood, of both sexes and all ages.”39Aikin, p. 266, indicates that in the period from 1773 to 1795, Bury’spopulation doubled.40”Bury Fever Relief Book,” passim.41Ibid., p. 18.-106-charity.)42 While a few individuals received only a single disbursement from theCommittee, most remained recipients of the charity for days or months. ThomasWarburton of Bury-Lane, for instance, received physic for his family on December 23,24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 1789; one sheet, one blanket, one shirt, and one shift onJanuary 1, 1790; and half a pint of wine on January 3, 5, 22, 28, 31, and February 2,1790. The length of time that families remained on the books is perhaps anindicator of the period of their greatest distress. Entries in the record books show thatfever often resided in households for a considerable time, attacking and leavingmembers in rhythmical succession. Thus we read that on January 15, 1790, tenshillings was paid to Mr. Barlow for his attendance upon, and the subsequent recoveryof two members of Richard Kellet’s household, that on January 29, a further fiveshillings was paid for the recovery of a third, and that on February 7, another fiveshillings was paid for the recovery of a fourth member of the household.Bury was not the only place where charities for the relief of the manufacturingpoor were set up. G.B. Hindle and John V. Pickstone have devoted considerableattention to the provision of relief in late eighteenth-century Manchester, and haveemphasized the charitableness of the town’s manufacturers, as well as their close42Ibid., p. 52.43Ibid., p. 35.Ibid., p. 14.-107-association with the reforming physicians of the Manchester Infirmary.45 Althoughstatutory aid was available to poor persons having settlement rights in Manchester,recent immigrants to the town did not qualify for such support. In years of distress,“strangers” among the poor were assisted by dispensations from voluntary committees,comprised of men who were normally engaged in the pursuit of commercial success.46In the 1790s, as the economic and political situation of the region worsened through theoutbreak of war and a massive downturn in the cotton industry, such committeesoperated with increasing frequency.47In 1793, the year that war was declared and financial and industrial crisis rockedthe town, the Manchester Poor Committee was established. Assisted by the Strangers’Friend Society, a Methodist charity whose mission was to seek out and relieve theindigent with no claim to parish funds, the Poor Committee collected subscriptionsthrough a house-to-house canvass, and called on local clergy to support the causethrough charity sermons and collections. The Committee’s efforts coincided withpolitical agitation among the unemployed operatives of the town, as well as the seditiontrial of Benjamin Booth, “one of the new Patriotic Society.”48The Committee concluded its affairs in the summer of 1794, just as the45G.B. Hindle, Provision for the Relief of the Poor in Manchester 1754-1826(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1975), pp. 78-128; Pickstone, p. 406;John V. Pickstone, Medicine and Industrial Society (Manchester: ManchesterUniversity Press, 1985), pp. 24-3 1.46Hindle, pp. 106-107.47Pickstone, Industrial Society, p. 24.48Hindle, pp. 78-89; 112-113.-108-contagious fever that had maintained a hold in Manchester since the 1789-1790epidemic, again flared into epidemic proportions. The new outbreak was attributed byJohn Ferriar to the lack of food and clothing in many poor families, brought about bythe economic slump and the enlisting of husbands and fathers in the army.49 Notingthat in many instances families were forced to subsist on “little more than cold water,”Ferriar criticized the existing system of parochial relief, pointing out that many of thepersons who contracted fever were ineligible for assistance, and that the allowance forthose who did qualify was very small: a sick woman burdened with four or fivechildren, for instance, received only two shillings a week.5° The epidemic persistedthrough the summer and autumn, and in December 1794, a new committee “for theRelief of the Sick Poor afflicted with Epidemic Fever” was set up.5’ At its initialmeeting, the Committee received a lengthy report from Ferriar and his fellowphysicians at the Infirmary, outlining the causes of the epidemic and recommendingvarious measures. With the help, once again, of the Strangers’ Friend Society, theCommittee took action “as far as the Funds of the Town would permit,” supplyingbeds, clothing and food to the sick poor, and providing for the ventilation andwhitewashing of infected houses.52Although the Committee was effective to some degree, there were problems49John Ferriar, “Of the Prevention of Fevers in Great Towns,” in MedicalHistories, vol. 2, p. 192.50Ibid., pp. 192-193.51Hindle, p. 113.-109-with the scope of its operations. Because it was established to relieve the fevered poor,those who were poor, but not sick, were not entitled to receive any benefits. At ameeting of the Weekly Board of the Infirmary, it became evident that the borderlinebetween poverty and illness was beginning to blur: it was pointed out that manyapplications for relief were turned down every day because the applicants were not ill,and that other applications were granted on the basis of deception, with individualsfeigning sickness in order to procure relief. It was emphasized, too, that “exposure tohunger and cold” very often precipitated the onset of fever, and thus that poverty was abetter object of charitable endeavour than fever alone.53 Accordingly, in January1795, a new subscription was launched for the general relief of the poor.M A total of£1332 (over and above the poor rates) was collected in the first quarter of the year.Almost half the sum was expended in the form of food, while much of the remainderwent to the provision of clothing, bedding, and coals. The distribution of the goodsdepended on the efforts of “visitors,” who were to investigate and make daily reportson the condition of impoverished households. “Idle and dissolute characters,” withoutsettlements in the town, were to be relieved and then reported to local authorities, inorder that they be sent back to their places of origin.55For the remainder of 1795 and into 1796, Manchester’s middle class continuedto express its concern for the poor through the establishment of committees and raising53Ibid., p. 114; Ferriar, “Prevention,” pp. 185-186.54Hindle, pp. 114-115.55Ibid., p. 114.-110-of subscriptions. During these months, the critical links between food shortages,poverty, disease, and unrest were underscored by the food riots that broke out inManchester’s marketplace in July 1795 and by the fever that reappeared a few monthslater in Manchester’s Poor House, as well as in the neighbouring town of Ashtonunder-Lyne.56 The “terror” evoked by the epidemic at Ashton-under-Lyne was aprecipitating factor in the establishment of the Manchester Board of Health and thefounding of the fever hospital, or House of Recovery, in May 1796.The manufacturing community supported these new ventures as willingly as theysupported the work of the earlier committees. The initial meeting of the Board ofHealth was attended by several large factory owners and industrialists, who, in JohnFerriar’s words, “were desirous to use every means for preserving the health of thepersons employed by them.”58 Although the creation of a fever hospital was opposedby a conservative faction of property owners and medical men, the “liberality” of themajority of the townsfolk enabled the Board to raise a subscription “abundantly56Ibid., pp. 116-119; Manchester Mercury, 4 August 1795; John Ferriar,“Account of the Establishment of Fever-Wards in Manchester,” in Medical Histories,vol. 3, pp. 43-44.57Ferriar, “Account,” passim; Board of Health, pp. 1-4.58Among those attending the meeting were Robert Owen, manager of PeterDrinkwater’s Bank Top Mill, George Lee and George Philips, owners of a largeSalford cotton mill, and a “Mr. Marsland,” who was likely either Samuel Marsiand,owner of an industrial estate at Choriton, or Peter Marsland, a cotton manufacturer whoshortly after donated the land upon which the Stockport House of Recovery was built.Board of Health, pp. 2-3; Ferriar, “Account,” pp. 46; W.H. Chaloner, “Robert Owen,Peter Drinkwater and the Early Factory System in Manchester 1788-1800,” Bulletin ofthe John Rylands Library 37 (1954), pp. 78-102; Pickstone, Industrial Society, p. 68.—111—sufficient for the first demands of the establishment.”59The provisions of the House of Recovery were but a more thorough-goingversion of the charity dispensed through the earlier committees. The creation of theHouse allowed individuals who had contracted fever in their homes or factories to bebrought into a hospital environment. Such persons had previously been visited ashome-patients and given medicines and wine by the physicians of the Infirmary. TheHouse of Recovery, however, supplied a space in which they could be received,provided with food, and placed under the care of nurses and the regimen of institutionallife.60 It offered a clean, well-ordered residence, in place of the unhygienic,disorderly space of the lodging-house or cellar, as Ferriar made clear when he praisedthe “attendance, and the comforts experienced by the patients.”61 Like the reliefcommittees formed earlier in Manchester and Bury, the House of Recovery attemptedto relieve the fevered poor by remedying their domestic environment and to regulatesuch persons by scrutinizing their behaviour and subjecting them to a system of rules.IvThe charitableness of late eighteenth-century manufacturers stemmed from manysources, one of which was an attachment to the beliefs and traditions of Nonconformity.Though not all factory owners were Nonconformists—the Peels, in fact, wereAnglican—the values of Nonconformity pervaded the early manufacturing community,59Ferriar, “Account,” p. 65.60lbid., pp. 64, 66-69.61Ibid., pp. 86-87.-112-just as they did the reforming medical community.62 Nonconformists were bound by acommitment “to feel, and to alleviate the distress of [their] fellow citizens”: Unitariansemphasized the importance of “humanity” and justification solely by works; Methodistsbelieved in the necessity of disposing of excess and burdensome wealth; and Quakersfelt compelled to lend assistance to those in need.63 Prosperous manufacturers notonly felt obliged to contribute to the charitable schemes that were launched for themanufacturing poor, they also favoured the methods that were used to assist and reformthe poor. Preoccupied with matters of discipline and order in their personal andbusiness lives, the new industrialists supported the extension of such managementtechniques to the lives of the poor.MThe support of charity was not only a religious duty, it was also a way forDissenting factory owners to bypass “the Anglican-dominated parochial machinery” and62Stanley D. Chapman, The Early Factory Masters (Newton Abbot: David &Charles, 1967), pp. 195-199; Michael Ignatieff, A Just Measure of Pain: ThePenitentiary in the Industrial Revolution 1750-1850 (London: The Macmillan Press,Ltd., 1978), pp. 58-71.63T. Kennedy, A Sermon Preached in the Independent Chapel. Mosley Street.Manchester. for the benefit of the Infirmary. Dispensary and Lunatic Hospital andAsylum (Manchester: 1792), p. 25, cited in J.V. Pickstone and S.V.F. Butler, “ThePolitics of Medicine in Manchester, 1788-1792: Hospital Reform and Public HealthServices in the Early Industrial City,” Medical History 28 (1984), p. 245; Chapman, p.196; Kilpatrick, pp. 261-264.TMlgnatieff, pp. 62-63; Neil McKendrick, “Josiah Wedgwood and FactoryDiscipline,” Historical Journal 4 (1961), pp. 30-55; E.P. Thompson, “Time, WorkDiscipline and Industrial Capitalism,” Past and Present 38 (1967), 56-97.-113-establish themselves in the communities in which they lived.65 The provision ofvoluntary relief was very much a public affair in the late eighteenth century, withsubscription lists being published in the local press and subscribers meeting publicly tooversee the workings of charitable organizations. By becoming involved inphilanthropic ventures, factory proprietors were able to achieve both visibility andrespectability.As well, the support of charity was a means of allaying the anxieties and fearsprovoked by the appearance of fever. Coinciding with grain shortages and occurringagainst the backdrop of Revolutionary activity in France, fever not only threatened tostrain existing systems of poor relief, to disrupt rhythms of factory production, and totransmit itself to the middle and upper classes, it also represented in acute physicalform the disorder which seemed to be swelling among the labouring poor. By theclosing years of the Revolutionary wars, especially, subscriptions to voluntary reliefschemes constituted a defence of existing order; as John Pickstone has remarked, suchschemes “were the philanthropic, progressive aspect of social control.”66VIn the 1780s and 1790s, factory proprietors attended to the health of theiremployees not only through the arena of community relief, but also by instituting65Pickstone, “Ferriar’s Fever,” p. 404; Robert Glen, Urban Workers in theIndustrial Revolution (London: Croom Helm, 1984), pp. 52-53; Hilary Marland,Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield 1780-1870 (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 140-142.66Pickstone, Industrial Society, p. 29.-114-measures within their own works. In the years following the enquiry into the state ofthe Radcliffe mills, “several proprietors of large factories” were said to have “adoptedregulations favourable to health and morals.”67 The implementation of suchregulations evidently resulted from the publicity surrounding medical investigation andintervention. In 1798 John Ferriar maintained that one of the advantages of theestablishment of the Board of Health and House of Recovery was that “the owners ofcotton-mills [had] been instigated, by the facts brought before them, to pay a morescrupulous regard to the health of their work-people,” while in its first annual report,the Board of Health itself commented on the “generous spirit of improvement” that hadbeen evoked among factory owners, “not only in the town and neighbourhood ofManchester, but in different parts of the country.”68The health measures undertaken by manufacturers—which were said to havearisen from an equal mixture of “judgement and benevolence,” or “good sense andhumanity”—consisted of greater attention to cleanliness and ventilation, as well as thepartial abandonment of night work.69 For Dissenting industrialists, who shared in thegrowing middle-class preoccupation with cleanliness, attention to the physical condition67Thomas Percival, “Biographical Memoirs of the late Thomas ButterworthBayley, Esq.” in The Works. Literary. Moral, and Medical (Bath and London: 1807),vol. 2, p. 294.68Ferriar, “Account,” p. 78; “First Annual Report,” Board of Health, p. 144.69Ferriar, “Account,” p. 79; A Short Essay, p. 10; Ferriar, “Prevention,” p.198; Percival, “Thomas Butterworth Bayley,” p. 294; Thomas Percival, “Narrative ofthe Sufferings of a Collier. . . and on the Action of Foul Air on the Human Body,” inWorks, vol. 4, p. 293. Chapman, pp. 195-199, elaborates on the way in which earlyfactory masters were simultaneously committed to principles of laissez-faire economicsand Christian morality.-115-of their premises was not only an agreeable means of expressing concern for the poorpersons in their employ, it was also a method which made good social and economicsense: it promised to stem the threat of fever and to produce a healthier and morevirtuous work-force, and to do so without impinging in any significant way on theoperation or productive capacity of the mills.7°One individual who perhaps carried an interest in factory management furtherthan any other was Robert Peel, the Bury manufacturer. In 1790, Peel enteredParliament and in 1802, he brought in a bill “for the preservation of the health andmorals” of factory apprentices Ironically, in 1784, when fever first broke out in thevicinity of the Radcliffe mill, Peel opposed interference in the cotton industry andresented the fact that local magistrates had been called on to intervene in the disputeconcerning the origins of the disease.72 Over the next two decades, however, hisperspective shifted, perhaps because of his increasing association with Thomas Percival,the chief investigator of the epidemic. Although Peel’s operations were based in Bury,he maintained a warehouse in Manchester, which he visited at regular intervals andwhich gave him the opportunity to meet Percival and become familiar with his viewsand his involvement in institutions such as the Manchester Board of Health.73 Peel70Pickstone, Industrial Society, p. 16, refers to the “polite concern withcleanliness” which arose in the mid-eighteenth century.71Manning, passim; 42 Geo. III c. 73.72Manchester Mercury, 26 October 1784.73R.B. Hope, “Dr. Thomas Percival: A Medical Pioneer and Social Reformer,1740-1804” (M.A. thesis, University of Manchester, 1947), p. 122.-116-evidently came to share a number of Percival’s concerns, for in June 1796 he joined theBoard of Health and later became President of the House of Recovery.74By 1802, Peel employed approximately fifteen thousand persons, of whomalmost a thousand were parish apprentices.75 According to testimony given severalyears later, he was able to visit his mills only occasionally and found it difficult tosuperintend them at a distance.76 When he did visit the factories, he “was struck withthe uniform appearance of bad health, and in many cases, stinted growth of thechildren.” Discovering that, not only in his own mills, but in cotton works all overthe country, children were overworked and little attention was given to cleanliness andventilation, and receiving assistance from “Dr. Percival and other eminent medicalgentlemen of Manchester,” he proceeded to introduce his regulatory bill.78As originally constituted, the bill was limited to bettering the condition ofapprentices in the cotton industry. There were many who felt it did not go far enough.The Manchester magistrate, Thomas Butterworth Bayley, for instance, maintained thatthe provisions of the bill were “too partial and limited in their operation, to answer the74Ibid., [Jones], p.32.75Hope, p. 122; PP. 1816 (397) III, p. 132. Manning, p. 5, states that thefigure of 15,000 includes hand loom weavers, but that the majority of the 15,000 werefactory employees.‘76pp 1816 (397) III, 132-144.9bid., 132.78Ibid., 132-133.-117-important and necessary purposes of reformation. “ Bayley was opposed to factoryowners employing apprentices from distant places and to “the dissolution of familyconnections” that resulted from such a practice.8° With his fellow magistrates, hewrote to M.P.s urging them to oppose the bill in its present form.81 The criticismexpressed by the Manchester authorities reinforced objections raised in the House ofCommons. At various readings of the bill, members advocated that its terms beamended. They argued that the number of apprentices who obtained parochialsettlements, and thereby the number who were sent to distant cotton factories, shouldbe restricted; that the provisions of the bill should extend to other industries; and, mostpersistently, that the terms of the bill should be enlarged to include free-labourchildren. 82 On May 18, for instance, Lord Beigrave rose to declare that the benefitsof the bill should be more widely distributed. He pointed out that by applying only toapprentices, the bill undercut itself, for manufacturers would still be able to hire freelabourers to work during the night and the occurrence of night labour would militateagainst the practices of ventilation and cleanliness the bill promoted.83Peel’s reply to his fellow members was revealing. He stated that several of theamendments which had been brought forward “encroached on the secrecy of the trade,79Percival, “Thomas Butterworth Bayley,” p. 294.80Ibid.81pp 1816 (397) III, 140; Manning, p. 39.82Parliamentarv Register 17 (6 April 1802); 18 (14 April, 4 May, 18 May, 2June 1802).83Ibid., 18 (18 May 1802).-118-and went to violate the freedom of individuals to extend their commerce,” and that theinclusion of free labourers, in particular, would be “extremely prejudicial” to the cottonindustry. “It was right,” he maintained, “that apprentices who were compelled tolabour, should have the periods of work and relaxation regulated by law; but withregard to free labourers, there could be no reason why the Legislature should interferein their voluntary tasks.”85 He asserted that he was opposed to “hazardousinnovation,” and argued that improvements should be made gradually, based onexperience, rather than in a single leap, guided only by theory.86The debate in the House notwithstanding, Peel’s bill passed into law almost ashe had drafted it. According to its title, the new act was intended “for the betterpreservation of the health and morals of apprentices and others, employed in cotton andother mills, and cotton and other factories,” but in the preamble, the provisions of theact were more narrowly restricted to cotton and woollen mills in which “three or moreapprentices, or twenty or more other persons” were employed.87 Despite the seeminginclusion of free labourers in the form of “other persons,” the regulations of the actapplied almost exclusively to apprentices, the only exception being the initial clausepertaining to the whitewashing and ventilation of factory premises. According to theterms of the act, apprentices were to be supplied with clothing; their sleeping rooms9bid.85Ibid86Ibid., 18 (18 May, 2 June 1802).8742 Geo.III c. 73.-119-were to be segregated by sex; they were to be instructed in reading, writing andarithmetic, as well as religion; and they were not to work more than twelve hours aday, or at night. The act required that the justices of the peace annually appoint twovisitors, who should “from time to time” inspect and report on the condition of theapprentices and mills in their jurisdiction. If the visitors encountered evidence of fever,or other contagious disorder, they were to insist that the “master or mistress” of themill call in medical assistance. Offenders against the act were to be liable to finesranging from forty shillings to five pounds, and mills were to be registered with thelocal clerk of the peace.88In his study of Peel and early factory legislation, Frederick Manning observedthat the passage of the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act differed from theenactment of later factory legislation in that it did not excite the same degree of“violent opposition” that the later efforts provoked.89 As we have seen, the oppositionthat Peel encountered in the House of Commons came from those who wished to carrythe legislation further, and it was Peel himself who resisted this. Manning attributedthe relative unanimity with which the bill was received to the traditional composition ofa House, “in which commercial and manufacturing interests were still very littlerepresented. “9° While it is true that the House represented chiefly landed interests, itis also true that the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act differed significantly from88Jbjd89Manning, p. 37.9°Ibid.-120-later factory acts. As is evident from its provisions, the Act of 1802, like the localmagisterial resolutions which preceded it, was concerned primarily with regulating theconditions of life of parochial apprentices, and only incidentally with restricting theoperation of textile mills. In their history of factory legislation, Hutchins and Harrisonhave argued that the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act “was in reality not aFactory Act properly speaking, but merely an extension of the Elizabethan Poor Lawrelating to parish apprentices.”9’ “The Government, having taken upon itself theresponsibility of bringing up and placing out these children,” they state, “found itselfcompelled, when need was shown, to attempt to regulate their conditions of work.”92Though worked out on a grander scale, Peel’s attempts to remedy the conditionof factory labour were similar to other, less prominent, expressions of manufacturingconcern. Guided by the findings of medical science, Peel applied himself to the task ofimproving the conditions of a group of factory workers whose need could be judged tobe greatest (since they not only worked, but lived within the confines of factory space)and at the same time, feasibly and economically met. By his own account, Peel wasled to introduce a factory bill “by motives of humanity,” but in the minds of himselfand his entrepreneurial associates, humanity had to be balanced by the dictates of soundbusiness sense, which, in this instance, meant interfering neither with the conditions ofthe majority of free factory labourers, nor with the operation of factory machinery.9391Hutchins and Harrison, p. 16.92Ibjd93P.P. 1816 (397) III, 140.-12 1-Several years after the passing of the 1802 Act, Peel pointed out that in promoting thebill, he “had a great deal of care upon [his] hands to prevent the manufacturersuffering, as well as the apprentice,” and asserted that his opponents had been directedmore by “their humanity than by their good sense.”94VIThe effect of the various measures undertaken by magistrates, manufacturers,and medical men in the 1780s and 1790s is difficult to evaluate. While some actions,such as the provision of linen and food, no doubt aided the poor and were gladlyreceived by them, others, such as the visits by inspectors and the imposition of rules,were more ambiguous in intent and perhaps less willingly received. Furthermore, suchpositive benefit as the initiatives did convey was restricted by their limited scope: forevery mill owner who attended to the cleanliness of his establishment or shut it down atnight, there were others who did nothing, and for every person who was aided by thecharities set up in towns such as Manchester and Bury, there were others who wentempty-handed. It has already been emphasized that the local magistrates’ resolutions,as well as the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act, applied only to parishapprentices, who constituted a minority of the early factory workforce. It was also thecase that the 1802 Act, which relied for its effectiveness on the vigilance of localofficials, carried little force. While some justices took their visitation duties seriously,94Ibid.-122-others did not.95 Several years after the passage of the Act, a Middlesex Clerk of thePeace remarked that if “Parliament intended this Act should have any Effect the Entryshould have been enforced by a penalty, and it should have been someone’s Business tosee it enforced; as it is, it will ever remain a Dead Letter, and will soon be rankedamongst the Obsolete Acts.”96In examining late eighteenth-century responses to the problem of factory health,it is necessary to focus not only on the endeavours of mill owners and justices of thepeace, but also on the efforts of those most immediately threatened by disease,disability, and death. In the 1780s and 1790s, factory workers and their families werenot simply passive recipients of aid from above. Just as they maintained their ownviews of the relationship between ill-health and work in the cotton mills, so, too, theyemployed their own resources in the struggle to evade the worst consequences offactory life.Adult male workers increasingly joined forces through the agency of friendlysocieties. Although these working-men’s associations had existed prior to theeighteenth century, they began to proliferate in the industrializing north in the latter halfof that century.97 H.F.M. Maltby has determined that between 1776 and 1788 ten95Hutchins and Harrison, p. 18.96Quoted in J.L. and Barbara Hammond, The Town Labourer 1760-1832(London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1920), p. 154.P.H.J.H. Gosden, The Friendly Societies in England. 1815-1875 (ManchesterUniversity Press, 1961), pp. 1, 24; P.H.J.H. Gosden, Self-Help: VoluntaryAssociations in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London: B.T. Batsford, 1973), p. 9;W.T. Bushrod, “The Development of the Great Affiliated Friendly Societies from theirHumble and often Obscure Origins in the Eighteenth Century” (M.A. thesis, University-123-friendly societies were established in Manchester and Salford, while in 1797, SirFrederick Eden also counted ten societies in both Bury and Preston.98 It is likely thatmany of these societies, which went under the name of “Benevolent,” “Amicable,” or“Humane” Societies, were composed of members of various occupations.99 However,societies devoted especially to the needs of cotton factory operatives also existed at thistime.In 1795, a friendly society was established at the Deanston cotton works, inPerthshire. It was open to male workers between the ages of eighteen and forty-fiveemployed at the Deanston mill, as well as other operatives in the area.’°° The menpaid one penny a week, or four shillings four pence a year, into the society’s coffer,from which they received five shillings a week if bed-ridden, and two shillings sixpence if convalescent. Their widows received a pound annually. The society wasinitially prosperous, due in large part to its youthful membership, but as its membersgrew older, it began to experience difficulty. It was forced to raise its subscriptionrates in 1815 and 1819, and to disband entirely in 1834.Another society which was established specifically for factory workers, theFriendly Associated Cotton Spinners of Manchester, held its first meeting in Januaryof Manchester, 1924).98H.F.M. Maitby, “Early Manchester and Salford Friendly Societies,”Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 46 (1929), pp. 32-40;Sir Frederick Eden, The State of the Poor (London: J. Davis, 1797), vol. 2, pp. 295,369.99Ibid.‘°°“Factory Inspectors’ Reports,” P.P. 1839 [159] XIX, App. 5, pp. 102-103.-124-1795 at the Three Horse-Shoes, in the marketplace.101 In the preamble to their“Articles, Rules, and Orders, and Regulations,” the Friendly Associated Spinnersprovided a clear statement of their raison d’être, declaring that:Whereas the Township and Neighbourhood of Manchester contain a greatnumber of Cotton Spinners, many of whom have settlements in distantparts, and when afflicted with sickness, or other misfortunes, cannotobtain relief without bringing a charge and burden on the inhabitants ofthe respective Township, and Places wherein they reside; and then only asmall allowance, insufficient to support themselves and families; it istherefore agreed amongst them to form a society, in order to raise a fundfor the maintenance of such as shall hereafter be in distress, and todefray the funeral expenses, of those who may die members of thissociety.’°2The Society was open to male spinners, who were required to pay an initial entrancefee and then a weekly subscription of three pence. The rules promised that if amember should “fall sick, blind, or lame, and thereby become incapable of working”(provided these afflictions were not brought on through “intemperance, ordebauchery”), he would receive five shillings six pence weekly for the first year, andthree shillings six pence thereafter, as long as the situation required.103 As well, if hewas without work (again provided that this was not the result of personal wrong-doing)he would be relieved for the duration of the unemployed period. Finally, if a memberwas to die, his widow or next of kin would receive five guineas to cover the costs of a‘°‘Articles. Rules, Orders, and Regulations. Made, and to be Observed, by andbetween the Members of the Friendly Associated Cotton Spinners... (Manchester:1795).102Ibid103bid., p. 13.-125-funeral. 104It is likely that many early factory workers not only joined friendly societies, butalso practised their own forms of medicine. This was certainly the case for workersengaged in other occupations. In an essay on lead poisoning, Thomas Percivalobserved that lead workers in Sheffield, who were “frequently and violentlydisordered” rarely applied to the medical faculty for aid, adding that they relied insteadon “certain popular remedies.. .which are chiefly of the laxative kind. “105 Similarly,he noted that “in Derbyshire, when the miners or smelters of Lead find themselvesaffected with the asthma, they usually leave their occupation for awhile, and work atthe lime kilns, experience having taught them that the fixed air, or mephitus, arisingfrom the calcination of lime stone, is an effectual and speedy remedy in thisdisorder.”106 It would be surprising if cotton factory operatives did not draw from asimilar store of practical remedies and empirical knowledge when confronted bysickness and suffering. As is evident from works such as William Buchan’s DomesticMedicine, household and popular medical practices prevailed throughout the towns andvillages of eighteenth-century Britain.’07‘04A similar society was established several months later in Stockport; seeArticles. Rules. Orders, and Regulations, Made and to be Observed, by and betweenMembers of the Friendly Associated Mule Cotton Spinners... ([Stockport]: 1795.)‘°5Thomas Percival, “Observations and Experiments on the Poison of Lead,” inWorks, voL. 3, p. 463.‘°6lbid., p. 460.‘°7William Buchan, Domestic Medicine: or a Treatise on the Prevention andCure of Diseases by Regimen and Simple Medicines, 13th ed. (London: A. Strahan,1792); Charles Rosenberg, “Medical Text and Social Context: Explaining William-126-On occasion, the workers employed in the early cotton mills attempted not onlyto secure their physical well-being, but also to alter the conditions of their employment.In September 1779, several thousand Lancashire operatives protested against theintroduction of large spinning machines into factories. They “pulled down and broke inpieces several hundreds of the Carding, Doubling, and Twisting Engines and largeJennies; and.. .set fire to and burnt down one of the large Patent Machines,” and thenwent on to petition Parliament, requesting the use of the large spinning machinery betaxed.’°8 Though noteworthy by their size, the 1779 riots were not the only instanceof popular protest. In June 1805, a dozen or so men from the parish of Whitney, inOxfordshire, created a “very great riot, rout, and tumult” to prevent parish officialsfrom transporting six girls to a Warwickshire cotton mill, where they were to serve asparish apprentices.109 As Joan Lane has remarked, the involvement of the men maybe viewed as a “form of corporate, community action that resisted the removal ofvillage children” to distant factories)’0Knowledge of the horrific conditions encountered by factory children inspirednot only corporate action, but also individual parental exertion. A cloth manufacturer,Buchan’s Domestic Medicine,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 57 (1983), p. 27.‘°8[Ralph Mather], An Impartial Representation of the Case of the Poor CottonSpinners in Lancashire (London: 1780), p. 2; [Rev. Thomas Barnes], Thoughts on theUse of Machines. in the Cotton Manufacture (Manchester: J. Harrop, 1780); Journalof the House of Commons 37 (1778-1780); J.L. and Barbara Hammond, The SkilledLabourer 1760-1832, 2nd ed. (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1920), pp. 53-56.‘°9Joan Lane, “Apprenticeship in Warwickshire Cotton Mills, 1790-1830,”Textile History 10 (1979), pp. 168-169.“°Ibid., p. 169.-127-William Kershaw, recalled that in the 1790s, when he was employed as a piecener in awoollen mill, he was frequently abused by the slubber under whom he was placed.11’On one occasion, toward evening, he was beaten so hard he began to vomit blood. Onreturning home, he related the incident to his mother, but begged her not to intervene,lest he should be beaten again. The following morning, the mother followed her son tothe mill, and in Kershaw’s words:came to the slubber that had used me in that way, and gave him asharp lecture; and when she had done she retired into the engine-feeder’shouse, and left me to my work; and as soon as she was gone, he beat meseverely again for telling, when one of the young men that served thecarder, went out and found my mother, and told her, and she came inagain and inquired of me what instrument it was I was beaten with, but Idurst not do it; some of the by-standers pointed out the instrument, thebilly-roller, and she seized it immediately, and beat it about the fellow’shead, and gave him one or two black eyes.”2It appears that even parents who were separated from their children fought toimprove their well-being. Some time after the passage of the Health and Morals ofApprentices Act, William Wilberforce, one of the M.P.s who had advocated theextension of Peel’s bill, recalled that his efforts had been strengthened by the appeal of“an honest and hard-working couple,” whose child had been “barbarously torn fromthem and sent down to a distant cotton mill.”3 “I have since conversed with thesepeople,” Wilberforce stated, “and seldom have heard a more artless, affecting111P.P. 1831-2 (706) XV, 46-47.112bid., 47.“3R. Coupland, Wilberforce: A Narrative (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923), p.433; quoted in Manning, p. 38.-128-tale. “114Further evidence of intercession from a distance is contained in the well-knownMemoir of Robert Blincoe, written in the 1820s as a polemic against juvenile labour bythe journalist, John Brown, but based on the real-life experiences of “an orphan boy,”Robert Blincoe, at the turn of the century.115 Among the children initiallyapprenticed with Blincoe at Lowdham Mill, in Nottinghamshire, were two girls, Fannyand Mary Collier, whose mother lived in London. “Finding their health declining fromexcess of labour, bad provisions, and want of wholesome air and exercise,” the girlswrote to their mother, who then travelled to Lowdham to observe the situation in themill for herself.”6 Significantly, the mother did not approach the factory manager orproprietors, but waited until she returned home and then directed her grievances at theparish officers of Saint Pancras, the family’s home parish. According to Brown, themother’s entreaty, which coincided with parliamentary discussion of Peel’s bill,persuaded the Saint Pancras officials to send a committee to Lowdham to investigate thestate of their former charges. After interviewing the apprentices, and inspecting theirliving conditions, the committee, in association with the local magistrates, secured anumber of reforms: hours were reduced, improvement in accommodation and dietwere planned, and several of the supervisory personnel were let go. As Brown relates,however, the benefits of the reforms did not last long, for soon after the visit of the“4lbid.“5John Brown, A Memoir of Robert Blincoe (Manchester: J. Doherty, 1832),pp. 26-27.“6lbid-129-Saint Pancras officers, Lowdham Mill ceased operation and the majority of theapprentices were sent to a new factory in Derbyshire, where conditions proved to beeven worse.What of the vast numbers of factory children and youths who had no parents, orwhose parents were unable to assist them? It appears that even these workers were ableto engage in limited forms of resistance. Perhaps the most typical response to theintolerable and destructive conditions of factory life was the act of running away.Newspaper ads, such as that placed in the January 31, 1792 edition of the ManchesterMercury listing the names and descriptions of five apprentices who had “eloped” fromthe Pendleton firm of William Douglas and Co., testify to the frequency of thepractice.”7 So, too, do the short average terms of employment listed the wage booksof the early textile mills.”8 Running away was clearly not an easy option—at theRadcliffe mill, children were reportedly denied shoes in an attempt to forestall theirescape—yet even contemplation of the act must have brought some sense of purposeand capability.”9 Recalling his own plan to run away from Lowdham Mill, RobertBlincoe asserted: “I cannot deny that I feel a glow of pride, when I reflect that, at theage of seven years and a half, I had courage to resent and to resist my oppression, andgenerosity to feel for the sufferings of my helpless associates. “o“7Manchester Mercury, 31 January 1792.“8Redford, p. 22.“9According to Manning, p. 18, despite having no shoes, five of the sixteenBirmingham children apprenticed to the Radcliffe mill managed to run away.‘20Brown, p. 20.-130-CHAPTER FOURTHE FACTORY QUESTION AGITATEDThat the question regarding the necessity of legislative interference toregulate the employment of children in cotton factories, a question whichhas agitated the public feeling for a number of years, unsettled the mindsof the working classes, and introduced among them a spirit of discontentand insubordination. . . ought not to be left much longer undetermined, is aposition which no one will venture to controvert.1With the passage of the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act in 1802, interestin the relationship between factories and worker health declined for a number of years.Although opposition to the Act was voiced by some mill owners and the plight ofapprentice children received periodic attention in Parliament, the Act was on the wholeignored and the issue of factory health attracted little public concern. The relativequiescence of the decade or so following 1802 provides a marked contrast with thedissension and disturbances that characterized the period from 1815 to 1819. In theseyears, the problem of the link between textile manufacture and physical well-beingagain rose to prominence, becoming one of the central and divisive topics in theagitation concerning the establishment of a new factory act.The demand for new factory legislation was formally enunciated by RobertOwen in January 1815. For the next four and a half years, until the passage of theCotton Factories Regulation Act in July 1819, the necessity and legitimacy of restricting‘An Examination of the Cotton Factory question with Remarks upon TwoPamphlets (London: Longman and Co., 1819), p. 3.-13 1-the conditions of “free” factory labour was disputed throughout the industrial regions ofthe Midlands and north, as well as in the legislative assemblies of the south. Addressedin numerous petitions and pamphlets, and taken up by three parliamentary committees,the “factory question,” as it came to be called, became a major focus of publicattention.Consideration of the factory question, and of the matter of worker ill-health, wasinspired by different conditions than those which gave rise to the late eighteenth-centuryinvestigation of factories and fever. As the cotton industry continued its phenomenalexpansion, factories grew both in number and size. With the advent of steam powerand the development of mule spinning, the composition of the factory workforcealtered: apprentice labour declined and the employment of adult male spinnersincreased. Distinguished by their organization in unions, as well as by a semiautonomous position on the factory floor, the spinners emerged as active and outspokenindustrial leaders. They conducted strikes for better wages and from 1814, championedthe cause of shorter factory hours.Early nineteenth-century attention to the ill-health of mill workers not only arosefrom different sources than its eighteenth-century counterpart, it also assumed amarkedly different form. Fuelled by the growing awareness and capability ofoperatives themselves, and by increased antipathy between the workers and theirmasters, the new discourse on factory health developed as an impassioned andacrimonious debate that resounded on a national scale. In its new form, the voices oflay commentators achieved much greater audibility: both workers and manufacturers-132-spoke out at length about the reputedly pernicious conditions of factory work. Thevoice of professional expertise, on the other hand, became less clear. In attempts tobuttress their position, both the advocates and opponents of factory legislation appealedto the authority of medicine, but although a large number of doctors, from London, aswell as the textile towns, offered views on the matter, they were unable to make adecisive contribution to the question of how factory employment impinged on workerhealth. Unlike the late eighteenth-century observers of fever, medical men in theperiod from 1815 to 1819 were divided, and while they spoke with conviction, theirtestimony revealed considerable uncertainty.IThe years between 1802 and 1815 were not devoid of interest in matters offactory health. The passage of the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act in December1802 sparked some comment, principally on the consequences of the new legislation.In February 1803, manufacturers from Manchester, Glasgow, Preston, Leeds, Keighly,Tutbury and Holywell expressed opposition to the Act, calling it “prejudicial” and“impracticable.”2 A few months earlier, Messrs. Whitaker and Merryweather,proprietors of a cotton mill in Burley, near Otley, prepared a series of “Observations,”which detailed their objections to the statute.3 They pointed out that night work, which2llouse of Commons Journal, 11, 14, 22, 25 February 1803; cited in J.L. andBarbara Hammond, The Town Labourer (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1920),p. 152.3”Observations on an Act passed in the last Session of Parliament, respectingApprentices employed in Cotton and other Factories,” Reports of the Society for-133-was no longer to be performed by apprentices, was essential to the profitable operationof their mills, and that as non-apprentice “free” labour could only be got to do thework “upon very disadvantageous terms,” the Act imposed a heavy burden on millowners.4 They argued, too, that the provision which the law made for education wasonerous and, if adhered to, would “amount to a surrender of all the profits of theestablishment. “ They were most opposed, however, to the visitation clauses of theAct and detailed the manifold consequences that would ensue if cotton mills wereopened to visits by magistrates:All subordination will be at an end.. .the Mills and Factories will becomea scene either of idleness and disorder, or of open rebellion; or themasters, harassed and tired out by the incessant complaints of theirapprentices, and the perpetual interference of the visitors, will be obligedto give up their works; and some of them, after being involved indifficulties (resulting from the operation of the Act) may perhaps becomebankrupts, or be obliged to remove to a foreign country, leaving theirapprentices a grievous load upon the parish where they were employed.6Not all manufacturers, however, shared the sentiments of Messrs. Whitaker andMerryweather. In September 1802, the recently-formed Society for Bettering theCondition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor reported that a Mr. Bannatine,owner of a cotton mill at Rothsay, on the Isle of Bute, was “perfectly satisfied” withthe provisions of the Act, and that the foremen of mills in several parts of England andBettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor (1803-1805),Appendix, pp. 10-16.4lbid., p. 11.5lbid., p. 12.6lbid., pp. 13-14.-134-Scotland, though initially opposed to the restrictions, were now convinced of theirvalue.7 The Society itself was eager to promote the benefit of the legislation. OnDecember 3, 1802, the day after the Act was passed, it produced a report counteringMessrs. Whitaker and Merryweather’s objections and assessing an account of their millprovided by a Leeds surgeon, Mr. Hey. The report found the conditions in the Burleymill to be much less benign than Mr. Hey had stated, and argued that even if thefactory was well run, it still provided no case against the legislation. It concluded thatthe provisions of the Act were “essential,” not only for the well-being of apprenticeworkers, but also for that of the “community at large.”8Discussion of the provisions of the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act seemsto have been shortlived: after December 1802, the Reports of the Society for Betteringthe Condition.. .of the Poor no longer refer to the statute and after February 1803, theHouse of Commons Journal no longer records protest from mill owners. Yet the issueof worker health did not die altogether. In the ensuing decade, several attempts weremade in Parliament to restrict and improve the condition of factory apprentices. InMay 1804, William Wilberforce introduced a bill “for the better regulation of parishapprentices.”9 The fate of the bill is unclear, but since in 1807 Colonel Bathhurst7”Extract from an Account of the Cotton Mills at Rothsay in the Isle of Bute,”Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition.. .of the Poor, (1803-1805), p. 63.8”Report of a Select Committee of the Society,” Reports of the Society forBettering the Condition.. .of the Poor, (1803-1805), Appendix, p. 10.9House of Commons Journal, 23 May 1804.-135-again introduced such a bill it must have been allowed to die. 10 Bathhurst’s bill wasdefeated in the House of Lords on a trifling assertion relating to church attendance, andin 1811, Wilbraham Bootle, introduced yet another bill, forbidding parish officers fromsending apprentices more than forty miles from their home parish.” Bootle’s bill wasstrenuously opposed by the London authorities and was referred to a parliamentaryCommittee, which did not present its findings until 1815. In 1816, the bill finallypassed into law.’2The report prepared by Bootle’s Committee revealed a general state ofindifference concerning the circumstances of apprentice labour. It showed that littlewas known of the actual workings of the binding-out system and that the fate of almostone-quarter of the apprentices sent out from the metropolitan parishes in the years 1802to 1811 was unaccounted for.13 Four years later, a parliamentary paper on theoperation of the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act similarly indicated the extent towhich contemporary observers had lost interest in the well-being of factoryapprentices.’4 The paper contained lists of mills registered and visitors appointedunder the terms of the Act, as well as copies of the reports made by the visitors. There‘°Hammonds, p. 154.“Ibid., 42 Geo. III c. 46.1256 Geo. III c. 139; Hammonds, pp. 154-156; William Smart, EconomicAnnals of the Nineteenth Century (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1910, 1917),vol. 1, pp. 441-442.‘3Hammonds, p. 155.‘4P.P. 1819 (66) CVIII; for further evidence see P.P. 1816 (397) III, 115, 168,316, 320.-136-were only thirty-six reports in total, three-quarters of which were submitted in the firstthree years of the Act’s operation. While the low number of reports suggests thatmagistrates and visitors were negligent in carrying out their duties, the brevity of theaccounts signifies that such visits as were made were generally perfunctory. Thereports point to the laxity of factory masters, as well. Though tending to becongratulatory rather than critical in tone, they revealed numerous instances of mastersignoring the provisions of the Act.The interest in factory health that persisted in the period from 1802 to 1815tended to focus on the conditions of apprentice labour. Yet, as was evident from thereports submitted after the enactment of the Health and Morals statute, apprentices nolonger formed a substantial portion of the factory workforce. In 1806, the Rev. JohnWhalley Master, Visitor of Factories in the Hundred of Leyland in Lancaster, suggestedto the Court of Quarter Sessions:the Propriety of some Attention being paid to the prevailing Custom ofemploying Children in Factories as hired Servants, at so much per Week,by which Means the present Act of Parliament is rendered in a greatmeasure nugatory. The Obligation upon them, so far as respectsApprentices, not extending to Children who are hired by the Week orlonger Period.’5The discussion of worker health that took place in the years immediately following1802 was not only minimal, therefore, it was also directed at an aspect of the problemwhich no longer had much significance.15P.P. 1819 (66) CVIII, 135.-137-IIApprentices had never formed the majority of the factory workforce; even in thelate eighteenth century, they usually constituted only a third of the population even ofmills in outlying districts.’6 In the early years of the nineteenth century, however,their numbers declined substantially. As Bootle’s Committee report showed,approximately fifteen hundred apprentices were bound from the metropolitan parishes toprovincial factory masters in the period from 1802 to 1811, a figure roughly equivalentto only one per cent of the population growth of Lancashire at the time.17 In 1816,Sir Robert Peel provided a major reason for the decline of apprentice labour:• . .owing to the present use of steam power in factories, the Forty-secondof the King is likely to become a dead letter. Large buildings are nowerected not only as formerly on the banks of streams, but in the midst ofpopulous towns, and instead of parish apprentices being sought after, thechildren of the surrounding poor are preferred, whose masters being freefrom the operation of the former Act of Parliament are subjected to nolimitation of time in the prosecution of their business...18Steam power had begun to be used in cotton mills in the 1790s, and while exactfigures comparing the use of water and steam are not available for the early years ofthe nineteenth century, it is apparent that steam was becoming the predominant form ofpower. By 1800, it was responsible for approximately one-quarter of the cotton spun in16Arthur Redford, Labour Migration in England 1800-1850, 3rd ed.(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1976), p. 29.17Ibid., p. 32.18pp 1816 (397) III, 133.-138-Britain.’9 Over the next two and a half decades, the number of steam engines in themanufacturing districts increased dramatically. In 1800, Manchester had thirty-twoengines, producing a total of 430 horsepower. By 1825, this figure had increased to240 engines producing 4760 horsepower, while Lancashire as a whole contained 1400steam engines yielding 25,000 horsepower.2°Freed from the need to be sited onisolated mountain streams, cotton factories were increasingly located in urban centreswith easy access to labouring populations.As Peel also suggested, the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act itselfcontributed to a decline in the employment of parish apprentices. By confining its mostimportant restrictions to apprentices, it created a legislative distinction between twoclasses of factory labour, apprentice and “free,” and to the degree that it was adheredto, promoted the use of unrestricted free workers.2’ The passage of time also helpedensure that parish apprentices would not be employed in cotton mills for more than ageneration. Where they had been placed in relatively humane situations, the workersoften thrived sufficiently to raise new sets of children, who were then available as freelabourers 22‘9G.N. von Tunzelman, Steam Power and British Industrialization to 1860(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), pp. 177-179; Richard Guest, A CompendiousHistory of the Cotton Manufacture (1823; rpt. London: Frank Cass and Co. Ltd.,1968), p. 32; G.W. Daniels, The Early English Cotton Industry (Manchester:Manchester University Press, 1920), p. 126; S.D. Chapman, The Cotton Industry inthe Industrial Revolution (London: The Macmillan Press, Ltd., 1972), p. 19.20von Tunzelman, pp. 3 1-32.21Redford, p. 29.-139-The increasing use of non-apprentice labour was not the only discernible changein the cotton industry. The industry also continued to grow at an unprecedented pace.The quantity of raw cotton spun in factories rose from 18.67 million pounds in 1788 to110 million pounds in 1817, while the number of spindles used to process the cottonincreased from 1.94 million in 1788 to 6.65 million in 1817.23 By the end of the firstdecade of the nineteenth century, cotton had become the most important textile industryin Britain, overshadowing the more ancient trades of wool, linen, and silk. By1811, cotton mills employed some 100,000 workers.25 Thus, by the time of the earlynineteenth-century debate on the factory question, the cotton industry had achieved amuch greater physical presence than it had in the eighteenth century.If the industry as a whole expanded, there was one part whose growth wasespecially notable. This was the fine-spinning sector. The earliest cotton mills, basedon Arkwright’s water frame, were capable of spinning only very coarse yarns. Sixtyhanks per pound, termed “60s,” was the finest that Arkwright was able to achieve.26In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, however, demand began to move awayfrom the coarse yarns necessary for fustians and calicoes toward the finer yarns used23y Tunzelman, p. 182.24Phyllis Deane and W.A. Cole, British Economic Growth 1688-1959(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), pp. 184, 191.25Ibid., p. 191. According to P.P. 1816 (397) III, 323, Manchester millsemployed nearly one-quarter of these workers.26Chapman, p. 21.-140-for muslins.27 The demand was met by Samuel Crompton’s mule, which wasconceived as a manually-operated machine, but which was rapidly associated withsteam.28 By the end of the century, the steam-powered mule was able to spin“300s. “29 By the early years of the nineteenth century, the cotton industry hadbecome divided into two main branches: that which still produced coarse yarns on thewater-frame and that which produced fine yarns on the steam-driven mule. Of these, itwas the fine-spinning branch, which was concentrated in Manchester and Glasgow andled by a number of large, oligopolistic firms, which was clearly becoming the leadingsector.3° Representing the “white heat of technology, as then understood,” it attractedconsiderable attention from contemporary observers.31Fine-spinning mills differed considerably from the older water-frame factories.They required higher temperatures and they also employed a different type of labourforce. Whereas water-frames, and the throstles by which they were succeeded, wereoperated chiefly by children and unskilled women, mules were operated by skilled malespinners, assisted by child piecers. These spinners were more like craftsmen thanproletariat. Not only were they the highest paid group of cotton factory workers, theyalso exercised a certain degree of control in the labour process: they were paid by the27von Tunzelman, p. 179.28Ibid., pp. 176, 180.29Chapman, p. 21.30P.P. 1816 (397) III, 231; von Tunzelman, p. 184.31von Tunzelman, ibid.-14 1-piece, and it was they, rather than the mill owner or manager, who hired andsupervised the piecers.32 Though they constituted only a fraction of the factoryworkforce—it is estimated that in 1818, Manchester mills employed twenty-two hundredspinners out of a total population of twenty thousand operatives—the spinners assumeda leading role in industrial activity.33 From the 1790s, mule spinners in Manchester,as well as its satellite towns, combined in unions and launched strikes for increasedwages.34 By the second decade of the nineteenth century, they were well prepared tolend their strength to the struggle for new factory legislation.IIIDebate over the establishment of a new factory act was set off at a Glasgowmeeting of textile manufacturers held on January 25, 1815 and attended by RobertOwen, master of the New Lanark cotton works. At the meeting, Owen raised twoissues for the consideration of his associates: the desirability of a remission of cotton32William H. Lazonick, “Industrial Relations and Technical Change: The Caseof the Self-Acting Mule,” Cambridge Journal of Economics 3 (1979), pp. 23 1-262;P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 99, passim. G.J. Wood, The History of Wages in the CottonTrade during the past 100 Years (1910), cited in R.G. Kirby and A.E. Musson, ThVoice of the People: John Doherty, 1798-1854 (Manchester: Manchester UniversityPress, 1975), p. 15, states that in the period from 1814 to 1822, fine spinners inManchester earned 32s. per week. From this sum, the spinners paid their piecers on adaily basis. According to “The Cotton-spinners’ Address to the Public,” The AnnualRegister.. .for the Year 1818 (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1819), Chronicle,p. 101, in 1816, the clear weekly wage of Manchester spinners amounted to 24s.33J.L. and Barbara Hammond, The Skilled Labourer 1760-1832 (London:Longmans, Green, and Co., 1920), p. 97; Donald Read, Peterloo: The ‘Massacre’and its Background (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1958), p. 15.34Kirby and Musson, pp. 13-15; Robert Glen, Urban Workers in the EarlyIndustrial Revolution (London: Croom Helm, 1984), pp. 68-70.-142-import duties and the need for restriction of the conditions of factory employment.With regard to the latter, Owen asserted that the cotton industry was “destructive ofhealth, morals and social comforts,” and proposed that no child under the age of twelveshould be permitted to work in “cotton or other mills of machinery,” that the dailyhours of work in such mills should be restricted to ten and a half (with an additionalhour and a half for meals and recreation), and that no child should be hired into a millwithout first passing a test of education.35 Not surprisingly, the manufacturersendorsed Owen’s first concern, but rejected his second. Not easily daunted, Owentravelled to London, where he succeeded in having the cotton tax reduced and where hepresented his reform proposals to members of the government. “I was in general wellreceived,” he later recalled, “and had much promise of support.”36 After meetingseveral times with interested members, Owen amended the proposals and requested thatSir Robert Peel introduce them in Parliament.Owen serves as a fitting link between late eighteenth-century commentators onfever and early nineteenth-century agitators of the factory question, for, like Peel, hewas present in Manchester in the 1780s and 1790s and associated with those who wereparticularly concerned with the connection between factories and health. Owen arrivedin Manchester in 1788 and after a time in the drapery business, in machine-making and35J.T. Ward, The Factory Movement 1830-1855 (London: Macmillan & Co.Ltd., 1962), p. 20; J.T. Ward, “Owen as Factory Reformer,” in John Butt (ed),Robert Owen: Prince of Cotton Spinners (Newton Abbot: David and Charles, 1971),p. 103.36Robert Owen, jjf (London: Effingham Wilson, 1857), vol. 1, p. 115.-143-as an independent spinner, became manager in 1792 of a large fine-spinning mill ownedby Peter Drinkwater.37 Four years later, he assumed management of another largeManchester firm, the Choriton Twist Company, which in 1799 bought out the ScottishNew Lanark mills from David Dale. In 1800, Owen left Manchester to marry Dale’sdaughter, Caroline, and assume control of the New Lanark factory.During his time in Manchester, Owen entered with some degree of success intothe cultural life of the town and became acquainted with such men as Thomas Percivaland John Ferriar.38 In 1793 he joined the Manchester Literary and PhilosophicalSociety and in 1796 aided Percival in drafting resolutions for the Manchester Board ofHealth, including the proposal “for parliamentary aid.. . to establish a general system oflaws, for the wise, humane, and equal government of all [manufacturing] works.”39Though the degree to which he was influenced by his association with Manchester’scultural elite is unclear, it is evident that by 1815 Owen had developed a personalinterest in factory reform, indeed in reform at large.As revealed in his New View of Society, Owen spent a number of years at NewLanark working out a plan of moral education, which he believed should be applied to37W.H. Chaloner, “Robert Owen, Peter Drinkwater and the Early FactorySystem in Manchester 1788-1800,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 37 (1954), pp.78-102.38E M. Fraser, “Robert Owen in Manchester, 1787-1800,” Memoirs of theManchester Literary and Philosophical Society 82 (1937-1938), pp. 29-41; V.A.C.Gatrell, “Introduction,” in Robert Owen, A New View of Society and Report to theCounty of Lanark (1813-1814, 1821; rpt. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1970), pp.25-26.39Thomas Percival, “Heads of Resolutions,” in Board of Health of Manchester,Proceedings and Observations (Manchester: 1806), p. 33; Gatrell, p. 24.-144-the nation as a whole and which he maintained would yield “industrious, intelligent,virtuous, and valuable members of the state.”4° The legislative proposals that he putto his fellow manufacturers and then to members of the government formed part of hismore encompassing scheme of reform. By 1813, Owen himself had discontinued thepractice of hiring children under the age of ten, in order that they be afforded anopportunity for education which he provided in the “New Institution.”41 He clearlydesired that the same opportunity be extended to all factory children. In the NView, he noted that even at ten, children were not ready for constant employment andthat it would be better for them, their parents, and society in general if they did notbegin factory work until they were twelve, “when their education might be finished,and their bodies more competent to undergo the fatigue and exertions required ofthem. “42In the breadth of his reform vision, Owen had more in common with theManchester physicians of the 1780s and 1790s than with those who took up the factoryquestion after 1815. Unlike Percival and Ferriar, whose proposals regarding factoryreform were wide-ranging and interwoven with plans for urban improvement, thepersons who became involved in the early nineteenth-century factory agitationconcentrated almost exclusively on the issue of restricted work hours.40Owen, New View, p. 196.41Ibid., pp. 123, 142-147.42Ibid., p. 123.-145-IvOn June 6, 1815, Sir Robert Peel brought Owen’s reform bill before the Houseof Commons.43 The bill met with little opposition from members of the House, butowing to the lateness of the session and to Peel’s desire that it “be put into the mostperfect state that was attainable,” he thought it advisable not to press for its completionat that time. The bill was circulated during the parliamentary recess and thenreintroduced the following spring.On April 3, 1816, Peel queried the benefit of machinery having been introducedinto the nation’s manufactories and advocated the measure that in 1802 he hadstrenuously opposed: limitation of the labour of non-apprentice labour. Heacknowledged that it might be said “that free labour should not be subjected to anycontrol,” but argued that “surely it could not be inconsistent with our constitution, toprotect the interests of these helpless children.”45 He concluded his submission by43As amended, the proposals stipulated that children were not to be employed in“Cotton, Woollen, Flax and other Mills” until ten years of age, that the hours of workfor those under eighteen was to be restricted to ten and a half per day, with anadditional hour and a half for meals, and half an hour of instruction for those in theirfirst four years of employment, and that justices of the peace were to appoint paidvisitors, who were to oversee the workings of the act. P.P. 1814-1815 (394) II, 739.‘The Parliamentary Debates 31 (6 June 1815), p. 625; P.P. 1816 (397) III,132.45The Parliamentary Debates 33 (3 April 1816), pp. 884-885. Peel’s uncertaintyregarding the benefits of mechanization provides an instance of the early nineteenthcentury questioning of technical progress that Maxine Berg addresses in The MachineryOuestion and the Making of Political Economy 18 15-1848 (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1980). The controversy considered here as the “factory question”may be viewed as part of a larger debate that Berg discusses as the “machineryquestion.”-146-moving for the appointment of a Select Committee.Despite opposition from several of the members, one of whom argued thatcotton mills had been much improved in recent years, particularly with respect to thequality of their air, a Select Committee was appointed.46 The Committee sat fromApril 25 to June 16, 1816 and heard evidence from forty-seven witnesses, includingPeel, Owen, a number of manufacturers hostile to the proposed legislation, a group ofManchester merchants associated with the town’s Sunday schools who supported thelegislation, several metropolitan physicians and surgeons and one northern surgeon.47The metropolitan doctors, whose experience lay in the large London hospitals or amongthe middle and upper orders of society, testified on the basis of “general reasoning”and “knowledge of animal economy,” rather than “acquaintance with the facts.”48They were critical of the long hours and “confinement” of factory children, but theirconcern with confinement differed somewhat from that of the late eighteenth-centuryinvestigators of factory fever. Whereas Percival and his associates had been primarilyconcerned with confinement as a factor which contributed to the corruption of air andthe generation of disease, the London doctors regarded it as an impediment to a healthyregimen, arguing that it obstructed the “natural appetency of all young creatures toloco-motive exercise, and the open air,” and that it prevented the free movement of46The Parliamentary Debates 33 (3 April 1816), p. 886.47P.P. 1816 (397) III.48Ibid., 29-49, 5 8-59. The witnesses included the physicians: Matthew Baillie,Christopher Pemberton, George Leman Tuthill, and Sir Gilbert Blane and the surgeons:Ashley Cooper, Anthony Carlisle, and Richard Ogle.-147-thought and limbs.49The views of the northern surgeon, Kinder Wood of Oldham, derived from amore intimate knowledge of the workings of the factory system, yet also deviated fromthe perspective of the earlier investigators. Though Wood expressed concern with thestate of factory air, it was the temperature of the air, rather than the degree ofventilation, that he regarded as particularly injurious. He maintained that the currentoperation of factories, especially of the small, make-shift mills around Oldham,impaired the health of workers, leaving them thin, scrophulous, and debilitated, and headvocated the regulation of both temperature and hours.5° The testimony of Wood andthe London doctors notwithstanding, the Select Committee failed to come to anydefinite position on the advisability of further legislation. Parliament was nearing theend of its session when the Committee completed its inquiries, and no immediate actionwas taken. The following year Peel fell ill, and it was not until 1818 that the issue offactory reform was again broached in the House.In the meantime, agitation was building outside Parliament. From the time thatOwen’s bill was brought into the Commons, manufacturers in various parts of thecountry began to show signs of apprehension and to unite to protect their interests.5’49Ibid.50Ibid., 191-208.51k was not only cotton manufacturers who were apprehensive. Soon after thebill was introduced, a number of earthenware manufacturers gathered together toconsider the effects of the proposed act. They resolved to oppose the legislation,believing it to be unnecessary in the case of their own industry, and sent one of theirnumber, Josiah Wedgwood, to represent them at the Select Committee hearings. P.P.1816 (397), III, 62.-148-Joseph Dutton, a Liverpool ironmonger who conducted a tour of Lancashire factoriesand then gave evidence before the Select Committee, reported that mill owners inManchester were alarmed by the bill and that he could only gain entry to one factory inthe town.52 Similarly, George Gould, one of the Manchester merchants whosupported the bill, stated that he encountered difficulty in visiting local mills and thatthere were many “that even a friend cannot get to look at,” the owners being “sotenacious to keep people out.”53 By 1816, factory owners in the town had formedthemselves into a Committee, which soon proved to be a powerful lobbying group)4Cotton manufacturers in other parts of the country began to unite as well. Anumber of master spinners in the neighbourhood of Mansfield, Nottinghamshiregathered together and deputized one of their number, Henry Hollins, to attend theproceedings of the Select Committee and to hand in various papers concerning theconditions in their mills.55 In a like manner, twenty-four factory owners in Prestonsent William Taylor, manager of the extensive Horrocks, Miller and Co. cotton works,to London to act as a deputy on their behalf.56 Manufacturers in Glasgow wereparticularly energetic. On April 3, 1816 they held a meeting to consider the legislativeproposals. They prepared a petition opposing Owen’s bill and appointed a delegation,52Ibid., 298.53Ibid., 99-100.TMlbid., 83; P.P. 1818 (90) XCVI, passim.55P.P. 1816 (397) HI, 186.56Ibid., 260.-149-consisting of Henry Houldsworth, Archibald Buchanan, and Adam Bogle, to testifybefore the Select Committee and to oversee the progress of the bill. Over the next fewweeks, members of the group worked diligently to prepare for the hearings, gatheringinformation on the conditions at New Lanark, on the status of education among thepoor, and on the state of manufactories in Scotland. They also drafted an anti-billpetition, which they intended to have signed by factory workers in the area, andprocured the services of “an exceedingly fit person,” who, “merely for the payment ofhis expenses,” promised to accomplish the task.57At the same time, however, factory operatives throughout the textile regions ofthe Midlands and north were seizing the opportunity to express their own views.Shortly after the introduction of Owen’s bill, cotton workers in Carlisle presented theCommons with a petition complaining of the practice “of employing children in CottonMills for a length of time daily, which is not only evidently injurious to their health,but dangerous in an eminent degree to the morals of the youth of both sexes,” andurging members of the House to “adopt such measures as will be the means of puttinga stop to such a serious evil.”58Not surprisingly, the greatest degree of support for the proposed act came fromManchester, the centre of the cotton trade. As a response to an extension of workhours that had occurred as the trade was recovering from an lengthy slump, Manchester57”Sederunt-book of the Cottonspinnërs and other manufacturers, &c. &c.,”Glasgow, 3 April, 1816, Strathclyde Regional Archives: T-MJ 100.58The Parliamentary Debates 34 (26 April 1816), pp. 1-2.-150-mule spinners had already established a short-time committee in 1814. From 1816,however, operatives took on the cause of supporting Owen’s bill and, over the nextthree years, dedicated themselves to the task with unexampled determination.Though the spinners themselves contributed to the funds of the short-timecommittee, the body was largely supported by donations from a local merchant,Nathaniel Gould, who reputedly gave £20,000 to the cause during his lifetime, and left£5,000 after his death in 1820.60 Gould not only financed the efforts of thecommittee, he also worked tirelessly on its behalf, lobbying members of Parliament andsoliciting support from prominent citizens. In 1816 and 1817, he approached a numberof local clergy and medical men, requesting their opinion of the effects of factory workon child health. Drawing on extensive experience among the poor, as well asobservation of children in Sunday schools, the doctors reported that they had littledifficulty in distinguishing children who were employed in mills from those who werenot, and maintained that thirteen or fourteen hours of labour per day, along with hightemperatures, impure air, and lack of exercise had a decidedly detrimental impact onhealth, causing workers to become pale, sickly, emaciated and deformed.6159P.P. 1840 (504) X, Q. 8475; Kirby and Musson, p. 346; Glen, p. 70.60Kirby and Musson, p. 346; [Samuel Kyddi, The History of the FactoryMovement (London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., 1857), vol. 1, pp. 61-64; Ward,Factory Movement, p. 23.61[Nathaniel Gould], Information concerning the State of Children Employed inCotton Factories (Manchester: J. Gleave, 1818); P.P. 1816 (397) III, 286-287, 328-329. The doctors who provided Gould with testimony in 1816 and 1817 included JohnMitchell, Honorary Physician to the Manchester Infirmary; William Simmons,Honorary Surgeon to the Infirmary; Henry Dadley, Surgeon to the Manchester PoorHouse; John Windsor, Surgeon to the Manchester Eye Institution; Thomas Bellot,-15 1-VIn January 1818, the Manchester short-time committee adopted a petitioncontaining the signatures of some six thousand operative spinners, many of whom werealso the parents of factory children, and requested that John Hollis, a spinner who wasout of work because of ill-health, take it to Westminster.62 The petition detailed the“extended labour” endured by factory workers and denounced the delayed progress ofOwen’s bill.63 A few weeks later, the owners and occupiers of a number ofManchester mills drew up a petition of their own, asking that Parliament appoint aspecial commission to investigate the state of cotton mills, and compare it with theconditions prevailing in other manufactories.M The petitions were presented to theCommons in eariy February and served to redirect the attention of the House to thequestion of legislative restriction and to set off a further year and a half of turmoil anddebate.On February 19, Peel brought a moderated form of the 1815 bill before theHouse.65 The amended proposals evoked some support. Sir John Jackson, forSurgeon and Man-midwife to the Manchester Lying-in Charity; and John JohnsonBoutfiower, a Salford surgeon.62Kirby and Musson, p. 348; [Gould], p. 3.63Kirby and Musson, p. 348.TMhe Parliamentary Debates 37 (16 February 1818), pp. 440-441.65pp 1818 (61) I, 91. In its new form, the bill applied only to cotton factories;it lowered the age of admission to nine years, restricted the work day only foremployees under the age of sixteen, increased the length of this day by half an hour,made no provision for education, required that visitors be appointed only uponcomplaint, and made no provision for the payment of such visitors.-152-instance, voiced his approval, arguing that since the House had turned its attention tothe condition of slaves abroad, it could not reasonably ignore the state of factorychildren at home.66 However the bill also provoked a good deal of hostility. GeorgePhilips, a silent partner in the huge Salford firm of Philips and Lee, was stronglyopposed to the measure and criticized the Manchester workers’ petition, suggesting thatit was the product of a conspiracy of “four or five persons,” who had secretlydispatched emissaries and circulated papers throughout the country.67Over the next two months, tension increased as members continued to disputethe issue and as petitions flooded in from towns such as Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge, Stockport, Blackburn, New Lanark, Glasgow, Halifax, and Royton.68 Aparticularly poignant appeal came from factory workers in Warrington, who stated inpart:The principal Cotton Mills in this Town & neighbourhood work fromhalf past five in the morning till half past Eight at night So that the poorChildren are calld out of Bed at 5 in the Morning and it is nine at nightwhen they get Home Some of them being under Six many of them underEight years of age We feel exquisitely for these in the Winter timeComing out of the warm Bed Cloathed in Rags or half naked through theCold frost & snow winds & Rain many of them barefoot into the HotRoom were no Air is permitted to enter that can be prevented as it is66The Parliamentary Debates 37 (19 February, 1818), p. 565. Jackson’s remarknotwithstanding, the comparison of the condition of factory workers to that of slaveswas not frequently made until the 1830s, when it became a common part of the rhetoricof factory reform.67Ibid., p. 561; Anthony Howe, The Cotton Masters 1830-1860 (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 92-93.68The Parliamentary Debates, 37 (23 February 1818), pp. 581-588; (2 April1818), pp. 1182-1183; (6 April 1818), pp. 1188-1189; (10 April 1818), pp. 1259-1263;38 (17 April 1818), pp. 169-175.-153-Injurious in the Manufacturing especially in the Spinning of Cotton Wecould mention Several Instances of both Males & females now in ourEmploy above 16 years of age who are not four foot high and whosepallid looks and emaciated frame would almost affect the callous Heart ofthe arrogant Mr Phillips and call for the sympathetic tear of that affectedfriend of the poor Mr Curwen [another M.P. opposed to the bill] If thatpretended Philanthropist could be prevailed on to visit our Mills or theCotton Mills at Preston and stay in one of them a whole Day On seeingthe Spinners so close and attentive to their work from Morning till nightscarce allowing Himself time to go and make water eating his Breakfastand afternoons Repast (and Sometimes His dinner) while hard at workAnd working so hard that the veins on His Arms appear like Ropes asthick as ones fingers The three Children Employed by him as piecers areequally attentive and assiduous in their Respective occupations. SupposeHe should enquire “Why do you exert yourself and work so very hardand keep so close to? The answer would be Something of the followingnature “We have a Large Family My Father being 40 years old orupwards is unable to Spin the Quantity required consequently has lost Hiswork or is severely afflicted with the Rheumatism, Asthma,Consumption, or some other Disease Incidental to old [age] or is Dead.or I have a wife and three or four Children in to work and our Wagesare now Reduced so low that I am obliged to exert myself to the utmostof my power to earn as much as will be barely Sufficient to procure thenecessaries of life, besides I must do the quantity required or I shall losemy work In the card Rooms He would find them equally attentive &Diligent where the Squallid fumes would almost suffocate him. We thinkIf He has one grain of Charity or the least degree of Humanity He wouldSay we Deserved to participate [in] the liberty of our fellowSubjects.. 69On April 27, after several hours of debate, the new proposals were put to the vote andthe bill finally passed the Commons.7°Outside Parliament, interest in the condition of factory workers was heightenedby incidents such as a fire at Come Bridge, where seventeen female workers locked in69”Papers relating to the Cotton Factory Bill,” British Library: BM MSS 40275ff. 192, 193.70The Parliamentary Debates 38 (27 April 1818), pp. 342-371.-154-a cotton factory for the night shift burned to death, and by the eruption of a pamphletwar, fuelled by the contributions not only of workers and manufacturers, but also ofintellectual spokesmen.71 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for instance, authored aparticularly fervent tract that took issue with the argument of non-interference with freelabour, declaring that if factory labour “were indeed free, the employer wouldpurchase, and the labourer sell, what the former had no right to buy, and the latter noright to dispose of; namely, the labourer’s health, life, and well-being.”72In Manchester, controversy grew especially intense during the months the billwas before the Commons. Both the advocates and opponents of the bill strove to gathersupport for their cause and in attempts to garner the prestige of scientific backing, bothsides appealed to members of the medical community. Nathaniel Gould continued tosolicit the testimony of local physicians and surgeons and at the end of March publisheda pamphlet “for the use of the members of both Houses of Parliament,” whichcontained the first-hand accounts of almost a dozen prominent doctors.73 He and his71Ward, p. 24. See, for example, the pamphlets contained in The Factory Actof 1819 (New York: Arno Press, 1972).72[Samuel Taylor Coleridge], Remarks on the Objections which have been urgedagainst the Principle of Sir Robert Peel’s Bill (London: W. Clowes, [1818]) p. 2;Alfred Cobban, Edmund Burke and the Revolt against the Eighteenth Century: AStudy of the Political Thinking of Burke. Wordsworth. Coleridge and Southey (London:George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1960), pp. 214-215. As H.C. Robinson, Diary.Reminiscences, and Correspondence (Boston: Fields, Osgood, and Co., 1869), vol. 1,p. 386 reveals, Coleridge produced two pamphlets in support of Peel’s bill.73[Gould]. The medical testimony provided in 1816 and 1817 was supplementedby that of Samuel Argent Bardsley, Senior Physician to the Manchester Infirmary;William Winstanley, Honorary Physician to the Infirmary; Michael Ward, physicianand former Surgeon to the Infirmary; William Wood, Man-Midwife Extraordinary tothe Manchester Lying-In Charity; and Robert Agnew, a Manchester physician.-155-associates also approached magistrates, merchants, manufacturers, and other membersof Manchester’s professional and bourgeois classes, requesting that they sign a petitionin favour of Peel’s bill. On April 6 they presented the Commons with the signatures ofover seventeen hundred of the town’s “principal inhabitants,” including those of thirtymedical men, who “most feelingly deplore[d] the sufferings” of factory labourers andearnestly solicited the enactment of restrictions that would “reduce the working hours inCotton Mills to reasonable limits.” ‘The Mancunian opponents of the measure were equally active. On April 14,they applied to Gould’s printer for a copy of the pamphlet, believing it to be “highlyprejudicial” to their interests.75 A few days later, they, too, petitioned the Commons,praying that the progress of the bill be halted in order that they have time to gatherevidence to counter the charges made in the work. On April 19, the chairman of theCommittee of Cotton Spinners, Mr. Douglas, called a meeting of the “whole of theMedical Men of Manchester,” including those who had previously signed Gould’spetition, and requested that the doctors visit the factories and Sunday schools in74The Parliamentary Debates 37 (6 April 1818), pp. 1188-1190; “To theHonourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland inParliament assembled,” in Answers to Certain Objections made to Sir Robert Peel’sBill, for Ameliorating the Condition of Children Employed in Cotton Factories(Manchester: R. and W. Dean, 1819), pp. 66-68. According to John Foster, “TheMaking of the First Six Factory Acts,” Bulletin of the Society for the Study of LabourHistory 18 (1969), pp. 4-5, the petition was “largely signed by the calico-printing andmerchanting community,” whose interests were antagonistic to those of masterspinners. For a list of the physicians and surgeons who signed the petition, and ofthose who subsequently changed their views, see Appendix I.75The Parliamentary Debates 38 (17 April 1818), pp. 169-170.-156-Manchester and its vicinity in order to collect information on the state of millworkers 76On May 7, 1818, Lord Kenyon introduced Peel’s bill in the House of Lords.The following day, the Earl of Lauderdale presented the Lords with a petition from theManchester master spinners, requesting that they might bring forward medical evidenceto buttress their case against the bill. Though Kenyon urged that the progress of thelegislation not be delayed and maintained that sufficient testimony had been heard bythe 1816 Select Committee, Lauderdale was adamant that the manufacturers and theirwitnesses be received: “Were their lordships prepared to encroach upon that greatprinciple of political economy, that labour ought to be left free,” he asked, “andwithout taking upon themselves the trouble of investigating the subject?”77The Committee was finally agreed to and met from May 20 to June 5, 1818.78It received petitions from workers and factory masters throughout the country and heardevidence from twenty-one witnesses, including nine Manchester medical men, who hadundertaken their inquiries at the request of (and, as testimony revealed, in theexpectation of payment from) the Committee of Cotton Spinners.79 The doctors76pp 1818 (90) XCVI, 95, 119, passim.77The Parliamentary Debates 38 (7 May 1818), p. 548; (8 May 1818), p. 578-579; (14 May 1818), pp. 646-649.78P.P. 1818 (90) XCVI.79Ibid., 126, passim. The doctors included Edward Holme, Henry Hardie, andEdward Carbutt, Honorary Physicians to the Manchester Infirmary; Gavin Hamiltonand James Ainsworth, Honorary Surgeons to the Infirmary; William Robert Whattonand Thomas Turner, Surgeons to the Manchester Workhouse; and Samuel Barton andWilliam James Wilson, Surgeons to the Manchester Eye Institution. The Committee-157-presented a very different picture of factory health than that provided by their associateswho had contributed to Gould’s pamphlet. It was also an assessment that was at oddswith the views advanced two years earlier by the London physicians and surgeons.Being very careful to speak only from the “Facts,” and referring to statistical dataacquired through mass observation in the mills, the Manchester doctors gave agenerally favourable account of factory health, arguing that mill workers enjoyed acomparatively better state of well-being than labourers in other occupations.8°Theirunwillingness to go beyond the facts, or to make a “judgment” based on scientific ormedical principles, led them to make some remarkable statements, however.8’ Whenasked, for instance, if a child could be kept standing twenty-three out of twenty-fourhours, Edward Holme, the most distinguished member of the group, replied that hewould wish to see such a case demonstrated and if “it should appear that the Personwas not injured by having stood Three-and-twenty Hours, I should then say it was notinconsistent with the Health of the Person so employed. “82 The evidence of the non-medical witnesses, though not always as startling in nature, was equally unfavourable tothe cause of legislative reform, but, as in 1816, no immediate action was taken.Parliament was again almost at the end of its session when the Committee completed itsalso heard evidence from two non-Mancunian medical witnesses: Thomas Wilson, asurgeon and apothecary from Bingley, West Riding, and William Paulson, a surgeonfrom Mansfield, Nottingham.80Ibid., passim.8’Ibid., 19-20, 32, 43.82Ibid., 20.-158-hearings and on June 5, proceedings were postponed until the following session.VIIn the summer of 1818, operative spinners in Manchester went on strike.83Though the strike was primarily directed at an increase of wages (which had beensignificantly reduced since 1816), the length of the work day and the conditions of millwork were also contentious issues. In one statement, the spinners protested:We believe there is no species of labour so fraught with the want ofnatural comforts as that the spinners have to contend with, deprived offresh air, and subjected to long confinement in the impure atmosphere ofcrowded rooms, continually inhaling the particles of metallic or vegetabledust, his physical powers become debilitated, his animal strengthdwindles away, and few survive the meridian of life, and the grave isoften the welcome asylum of his woes. His children!—but let us draw aveil over the scene!—our streets exhibit their cadaverous and decrepitforms, and any attempt to describe them would be impossible.The strike grew increasingly violent towards its conclusion and some “respectable”advocates of Peel’s bill repudiated all connection with the striking employees, arguingthat the turn-out had nothing whatever to do with the progress of the bill.85 Theauthor of one pamphlet, for instance, asserted that “no two objects can well be moredistinct, or rather opposite, than those contended for by a body of deluded men, andthose designed by this humane but calumniated Bill. “86 The opponents of the bill,however, held the supporters to blame for the disturbances. A spokesman in 181983Hammonds, Skilled Labourer, pp. 96-109; Read, pp. 103-104.TMQuoted in Kirby and Musson, p. 348.85Hammonds, Skilled Labourer, pp. 105-106; Kirby and Musson, p. 348.Answers, p. 39.-159-perceived “an intimate connexion between the measures pursued by the advocates of SirRobt. Peel’s bill, and the deplorable scenes of riot and blood-shed, which, duringseveral months last year, disturbed and disgraced this district.”87 In the end the strikefailed, though the Manchester masters did agree to restrict the length of the factory dayto twelve hours.88Worker activity did not cease with the failure of the strike. WhileManchester’s short-time advocates continued to issue appeals in the local press andcirculate pamphlets arguing their case, operatives in other parts of the country alsostruggled to advance the bill.89 In Holywell, North Wales, for example, workers atthe Cotton Twist Company mills decided to send a petition to the House of Lords.Lacking expertise in such matters, they wrote away for assistance, and in Novemberwere visited by Thomas Worsley, an emissary from a workers’ committee at Stockport,Manchester and Bolton, who had attended the Parliamentary session the previous springand whose own health had suffered as a result of factory employment.90 Worsleycalled a meeting at the Black Horse, a public house located between the mills, andhelped the Holywell workers draft a petition, which was then confiscated by the millsuperintendent, Edward Kenworthy. The following Friday evening, the workers drew87Examination (London: Longman and Co., 1819), pp. v-vi.88Kirby and Musson, p. 348.89Examination, p. 4.90”Despatch,” in ibid., p. 140; P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 21, 140.-160-up a second petition, at “Mrs. Woodcock’s at Greenfield.”9’ After successfullysending it off, they continued to demonstrate their support for the bill; in Kenworthy’swords, they became “generally more disobedient, and shewed more Independence oftheir Employers.”92 Several operatives left the mills, with the employees of onedepartment turning out entirely and heading for Manchester.93In February 1819, Lord Kenyon presented the House of Lords with the petitionfrom Holywell, as well as one from Stockport, “praying that a bill similar to thatproposed last session, for limiting the hours of the labour of children, might beintroduced and passed.“ In his remarks, Kenyon argued that the evidence gatheredthe previous session had been very one-sided, and he moved for the appointment of anew committee. He was opposed by the Earls of Lauderdale and Grosvenor, whowarned that a renewal of inquiry would reignite the scenes that had disturbedManchester the previous summer, and who argued that since some mill owners hadalready voluntarily restricted their hours of labour, “the majority would soon followtheir example.”95 Kenyon responded that not more than a quarter of Lancashire’s millowners had limited their hours, with three-quarters of the mills still operating fourteenand a half hours a day, and argued that while the actions of the Manchester masters91P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 140, 146-147, 373-374, 377.92Ibid., 376.93”Statement of James Knott,” in Examination, p. 139.94The Parliamentary Debates 39 (8 February 1819), p. 339.95Ibid., pp. 341-342, 347.-16 1-“showed the justice of the principle” of Peel’s bill, they also “afforded the strongestmotive for passing it into a law.”96 Despite the opposition of Lauderdale andGrosvenor, a new Committee was formed.Unlike its predecessor, which sat for only two weeks, the 1819 Committee metfor two and a half months: from February 26 to May 10, 1819Y’ It heard evidencefrom eighty-four witnesses and for the first time, the people most intimately affected bythe measure, mill workers and their families, gained the opportunity to present theircase directly.98 In often moving tones, the workers spoke of the deleteriousconsequences of factory employment and argued that the factory population desired areduction in work hours, even if this also entailed a reduction in wages. They gavedetails of the long hours, high temperatures, laborious and dusty conditions of factorywork, as well as the beatings and loss of meal-times to which young employees wereespecially subject. Many also spoke of the suffering they had endured through theirtime in the mills. Joseph Mercer, a thirty-seven year old operative from Chorley,described the “Stoppage at [his] Breast” and cough, which he attributed to “Being hardwrought and over-heated and fatigued,” while John Frost, a thirty-two year old spinnerfrom Stockport, referred to the lameness brought on from having to stand for so manyhours, and which was so severe that at times he had to be carried to work.99 The96Ibid., p. 343; (25 February 1819), p. 653.97P.P. 1819 (24) CX.98Ibid., 5-242.99Ibid., 81, 53.-162-two men were likely nearing the end of their lives as factory hands, for as testimonyrevealed, by the time they passed forty, operatives were generally no longer capable ofproducing the same quality and quantity of work and were forced to seek otheremployment.The witnesses spoke not only of their own suffering, but also of the harm doneto their children and to family life. George Paxton, a spinner and factory father,testified that his children were often too fatigued to take their meals:when they get Home at Night they cannot eat; I got a Strap to awakenmy own Children, my Feelings got the better of my Passion, and I didnot beat them; and what was the more impeaching to my Feelings wasthey could not eat their supper when they got Home; I reflected upon it,and in Vexation of Spirit I could not eat my Own Supper; and we allwent to bed crying.’°°The workers also gave evidence concerning the previous year’s visits by the Manchesterdoctors in the employ of the Committee of Cotton Spinners. They revealed that in anumber of instances the doctors had been misled concerning the true state of the mills:that measures had been taken to improve the appearance of the workers; that workers inbad health had been discharged prior to the doctors’ arrival; and that conditions withinthe mills, such as the temperature of the air and the speed of the mill machinery, hadbeen altered at the time of the visits.’0’The testimony of the workers’ representatives was followed by that of eleven‘°°Ibid., 221.‘°‘Ibid., 162-163, 185-188, 191, 193, 205.-163-medical men, principally from Manchester and Stockport)°2 These doctors had alsovisited factories and Sunday schools, but their approach to the question of factory healthdiffered substantially from that of the physicians and surgeons who had testified theyear before. When Llewellyn Jones, for instance, was asked if he would base hisopinion on established theory or recent observation, he responded:If the recent Cases I had seen bearing on the Subject agreed with theKnowledge and general Principles alluded to, I should think that the bestFoundation for any Opinion; but if I had seen only One or Two Cases, Ishould give an Opinion in Conformity with the generally receivedPrinciples of medical Science, rather than on the Authority of One orTwo Cases.103The conclusions of the medical witnesses also differed substantially from those given atthe 1818 enquiry. Reasserting views that in some instances they had advanced since1816 and 1817, the doctors maintained that employment in cotton factories was highlyprejudicial to physical well-being, that the general state of health of factory childrenwas very poor, and that the only effectual means of bringing about improvement wasthrough legislative restriction.After the supporters of Peel’s bill had testified, some two dozen opponents,mainly manufacturers and their representatives, presented their case to the Committee.Testifying with the opponents was Edmund Lyon, a physician to the Manchester‘°2lbid 243-320, passim. The group consisted of William Winstanley, MichaelWard, and Thomas Jarrold, Manchester physicians; William Simmons, John JohnsonBoutfiower, Thomas Bellot, and Henry Dadley, Manchester surgeons; Peter Ashton andJohn Graham, Stockport surgeons; William Dean, a surgeon at Slaithwaite, nearHuddersfield, and Llewellyn Jones, a Chester physician.‘°3lbid., 313.-164-Infirmary, who in 1818 had signed Nathaniel Gould’s petition championing the bill.104In addition to signing the petition, Lyon had also responded to the overtures of theCommittee of Cotton Spinners, visiting three Manchester mills and several SundaySchools. Though his examinations were cursory—in one day, for instance, he and anassociate examined 327 workers at James Kennedy’s Great Ancoats Street mill—theyostensibly contributed to a change of view.105 Unwilling to take a thoroughly positivestance on the matter of factory health, Lyon nevertheless averred that “any Inference tothe Prejudice of Mill Owners, drawn from a comparison between Persons working inCotton Mills and those who are not compelled to work at all, would be extremelyunfair,” and maintained that the condition of cotton factory workers was notsignificantly different from that of “almost any of the various Classes of manufacturingLabourers, indispensable in a Commercial Country like this.”106Lyon was not the only medical man to retreat from the position advanced inGould’s petition. Two of the doctors who had testified against the bill at the 1818Committee hearings, and several who had undertaken investigations on behalf of theCommittee of Cotton Spinners, had also been signatories to the petition.107 Not all ofManchester’s physicians and surgeons evinced a change of heart, however. Among thedocuments submitted to the 1819 Committee was a “Declaration,” signed by a number‘04lbid., 345-349.‘°5lbid., Appendix 8, 516.106bid., 346, Appendix 9, 532.‘°7See Appendix 1.-165-of magistrates, clergymen and medical men who had earlier supported the petition andwho now confirmed “the Sentiments to which we then subscribed,” stating that nothinghad “occurred to alter the Views we then entertained of the Expediency and Necessityof the Measure. “108VIIOn June 14, the Committee hearings were discussed in the House of Lords, withLord Kenyon observing “that though the evidence of the medical men was upon thispoint contradictory, yet that there were amply sufficient facts given in evidence toprove that the ill state of health” of factory children “imperiously called for legislativeinterference to prevent that waste of human life which such a system produced. “109On July 2, 1819, the measure that had excited such conflict and controversy in thepreceding four years passed into law.”° In its final form, the Cotton FactoriesRegulation Act was a much diluted version of the proposals originally put forward byRobert Owen. The Act prohibited employment in cotton mills by children under theage of nine and restricted the length of the work day for persons under the age ofsixteen to twelve hours, with an additional hour and a half for meals, and, in the caseof water-powered mills, with the possibility of a further hour to make up time lost due108pp 1819 (24) CX, Appendix 7, 515. The medical signatories to theDeclaration included the physicians: Samuel Argent Bardsley, Michael Ward, JohnMitchell, and Thomas Jarrold, and the surgeons: William Simmons, William Wood,Thomas Bellot, Henry Dadley, and John Johnson Boutfiower.t09The Parliamentary Debates 39 (14 June 1819), pp. 1130-1134.11059 Geo. III c. 66.-166-to irregular water supplies. It made no provision for education and also failed to makearrangements for inspection. To those who were concerned with the well-being of thefactory work-force, it quickly became apparent that this Act, like the Health and Moralsof Apprentices Act of 1802, was destined to be ineffective. In 1825, J.C. Hobhousereported that only two convictions had ever been obtained under the law.”With the passage of the Act, agitation on the factory question came to anend—at least for a time—and the debate on worker well-being that had grownincreasingly contentious, yet inconclusive, also drew to a close. The discourse onfactory health that unfolded in the years between 1815 and 1819 was substantiallydifferent from that which had taken shape in the 1780s and 1790s. One of the chiefdifferences was that the persons with greatest personal experience of the matter, theoperatives, gained a voice in the proceedings. At a time when working-class Radicalswere intent on making their views heard, mill workers from towns throughout theMidlands and north expressed their concerns and demands for a shorter day throughpetitions, demonstrations and parliamentary testimony.”2 While their voice had acompelling immediacy, however, it was, in the era of Peterloo, not free from restraint.In 1819, an operative spinner named Matthew Carter, revealed that when theManchester doctors had visited his mill the previous year, workers had been hamperedfrom giving true descriptions of their health. Carter stated that he had asked a work“1llammonds, Town Labourer, p. 169.“2On the growth of working-class Radicalism in the period leading up to thePeterloo “massacre” of 1819, see Read, pp. 35-56.-167-mate, James Ogden, “how he had got on, and what he had said; if he had mentionedhis Son’s Deformity; and he said, They only asked me Three simple Questions, and Icould not speak as our Masters were there; except they asked me, I could not tell themanything.”13 Numerous other workers testified that they had been discharged as aresult of providing information on the state of their health.”4The voice of the workers was offset by that of their employers. Although onlyone factory owner, Robert Peel, had contributed to the late eighteenth-centurydiscussion of factories, by 1816, manufacturers throughout the country began to speakout. While a good many factory owners, particularly those associated with thepowerful Manchester Committee of Cotton Spinners, took a negative stand on thequestion of legislative interference, there were some who aligned themselvesdifferently. A number of master spinners from Bolton, Stockport, Halifax, andHuddersfield, for instance, publicly supported a limitation of hours and voluntarilyrestricted the operation of their mills. The masters feared competition from theirneighbours, however, and were anxious that the hours to which they adhered be madegeneral through the enactment of Peel’s bill)15 In the view of one local observer,“an invincible Jealousy regarding the Hours of Work pervades the whole Race ofCotton Spinners,” though “collectively and individually a strong Wish is expressed forsuch legislative Restrictions as will apportion the Hours of Confinement, Labour, and“3P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 206.“4lbid., 47, 82, 139, 188-189, 199, 221-222.“5”Papers,” f. 180; The Parliamentary Debates 38 (27 April 1818), p. 359; P.P.1818 (90) XCVI, 4 P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 251, 256, 283.-168-Refreshment.”116Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the early nineteenth-century debate wasthe degree to which medical men were divided. Especially in Manchester, where thecontroversy centred, the divergence in medical thought was “proverbial. “117According to George Philips, “those who knew Manchester knew the difficulty therewas to get the medical men there to agree in the same opinion. . . . When he hadmentioned to a friend Dr. Henry’s opinion, the reply was, ‘You know that if Dr. Henrythinks one way, Dr.______is sure to think another. ‘“118 Manchester’s medical mennot only disagreed with one another, they also dissented from views they themselveshad espoused. As noted earlier, several physicians and surgeons changed their minds inthe course of the debate, supporting legislative restriction and then expressingcontradictory views on the condition of factory workers’ health.The reasons for the disagreement within Manchester’s medical community arenot immediately apparent. The difference in opinion does not seem to have been asimple matter of integrity versus impropriety, for even the witnesses who testifiedbefore the 1819 Lords Committee were reluctant to impugn the character of thosecolleagues who had allied themselves with the Committee of Cotton Spinners, while inthe view of a later observer, both the supporters and opponents of Peel’s bill were men‘16P.P. 1819 (24), CX, 272-273.117The Parliamentary Debates 38 (27 April 1818), p. 361.“8jbid-169-of honour.’19Was the division related to differences in political or religious affiliation? Suchdifferences had figured prominently a generation earlier in the dispute concerning theexpansion of Manchester’s Infirmary.’20 The possibility is heightened by the fact thatthe debate on factory health was not, as some would have it, a neutral, “scientific”issue, but a highly politicized and emotionally charged subject, which was entangledwith the question of the legitimacy of restricting free labour and which provokedresponses based on “principle” and “feeling.”2’ Insufficient evidence prevents adetailed linking of the political and religious views of Manchester practitioners withmedical opinion on the factory question. Such evidence as does exist, however,suggests that, in terms of religious affiliation at least, proponents were more united thandivided: attachment to Dissent seems to have characterized both supporters andopponents of Peel’s bill, as well as those whose views altered.In other respects, too, legislative supporters and opponents appear to haveshared common ground. As Table I reveals, their educational backgrounds weresimilar, with individuals from each group having trained not at the traditional seats oflearning at Oxford or Cambridge (from which Dissenters were barred), but at the newer“9P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 271, 302; Edward Mansfield Brockbank, Sketches of theLives and Work of the Honorary Medical Staff of the Manchester Infirmary from itsFoundation in 1752 to 1830 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1904), passim.‘20J.V. Pickstone and S.V.F. Butler, “The Politics of Medicine in Manchester,1788-1792: Hospital Reform and Public Health Services in the Early Industrial City,”Medical History 28 (1984), pp. 227-249.121[Gould], p. 17; P.P. 1818 (90) XCVI, 131; P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 320.-170-Table I: Position of Selected Manchester Medical Men on the Factory QuestionSupported Opposed ChangedRestriction Restriction MindNumber of practitioners 25 1 1 7EducationEdinburgh 3 4 2London 3 2 2Leyden 2 1 —Glasgow 1 — —Not known 19 5 4Professional statusPhysician 7 5 3Surgeon 19 6 4Positions heldtInfirmary 8 6 5Eye Institution 3 1 1Lying-In Charity 4 — 1Workhouse 1 3 —None traced 1 1 2 1Membership in “Lit. and Phil.”t 2 3 1None traced 23 8 6Commenced practice in Manchester1785-1789 3 — —1790-1794 5 1 21795-1799 — — 11800-1804 1 — —1805-1809 4 2 —1810-1814 — 2 21815-1819 1 4 1Notknown 11 2 1*Individuals may appear more than once under these headings.tThis information relates to the period up to 1819.For sources, see note 122.-17 1-schools at Edinburgh and London, and at Leyden.’22 In terms of professional statusand institutional association legislative advocates and critics also resembled one another.Both groups were comprised of physicians, as well as surgeons, and both wereconnected with Manchester’s major medical institutions, as well as the Literary andPhilosophical Society which had close ties to the Infirmary)23One way in which the two groups seem to have differed is in the length of timeindividuals had resided in Manchester. Table I indicates that the supporters of factoryreform tended to have commenced practice ten, twenty, or even thirty years previously,while the opponents were, for the most part, recent arrivals to the town.124 It appearsthat the reform cause was upheld by more senior medical men, a significant number ofwhom would have been present during the earlier outbreaks of fever and would havebeen cognizant of prior concerns for the regulation of cotton mills. Opposition toreform, on the other hand, seems to have taken root among younger men, who, in the‘22The forty-three practitioners referred to in Table I constituted more than halfof Manchester’s medical men, whose numbers, according to John V. Pickstone,Medicine and Industrial Society (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), p.44, rose from fifty-one in 1815 to seventy-eight in 1820. Sources for the table, whichis modelled in some respects after the Table I contained in Robert Gray, “MedicalMen, Industrial Labour and the State in Britain, 1830-50,” Social History 16 (1991), p.23, include: [Gould]; “To the Honourable the Commons”; P.P. 1818 (90) XCVI;P.P. 1819 (24) CX; The Parliamentary Debates 38 (27 April 1818), pp. 360-361;Brockbank, passim; Frederic Boase, Modern English Biography (Truro: 1901); ThDictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917).‘23Arnold Thackray, “Natural Knowledge in Cultural Context: The ManchesterModel,” American Historical Review 79 (1974), pp. 684-686.‘24This finding is similar to that of Gray, pp. 21-27. Gray argues that in the1830s and 1840s medical support for the ten hours cause was strongest amongestablished “burgesses” and weakest among “spiral isls, active, ambitious practitionerswhose positions were less stable.-172-situation of professional overcrowding and competition that prevailed in post-warManchester, may have been inclined to align themselves with a powerful middle-classgroup such as the Committee of Cotton Spinners.1 It may be, too, that theCommittee believed it could exert more influence over the younger doctors than themore established practitioners and so placed more pressure on them. Such a strategyseems to have prevailed in the case of William James Wilson, a surgeon who arrived inManchester in 1813 and several years later founded the Eye Institution.’26 Testifyingin 1818, Wilson revealed that he had originally signed Gould’s petition supportingPeel’s bill as a “Friend to Humanity,” but had then been confronted by the Committeechairman, Mr. Douglas, who told him that the petition contained false information andwas harmful to the interests of the master spinners. After being approached four timesby Douglas, Wilson finally undertook the investigation that ended in his volte-face.’27Even on this point, however, the evidence is inconclusive, for significantexceptions exist within the ranks of both older and younger practitioners. EdwardHolme, a long-time Infirmary Physician, who had served as a secretary and reader toThomas Percival and joined with him in the establishment of the Board of Health,might have been expected to espouse the need for legislative reform.’28 Instead, he‘25Pickstone, pp. 44-48.‘26Ibid• Brockbank, pp. 269-272.127pp 1818 (90), XCVI, 90-91.‘28Brockbank, pp. 191-199.-173-adamantly denied it.’9 Three other senior practioners, William Henry, an InfirmaryPhysician who had also served as a secretary to Percival, Gavin Hamilton, an InfirmarySurgeon, and Robert Killer, a former Infirmary Surgeon, initially lent their support toPeel’s bill, but then opposed the measure.’3° Exceptions can be found within theranks of newer men, as well. Thomas Radford, a surgeon who arrived in Manchesterin 1818, endorsed the bill and unlike some of his fellows was not subsequently inducedto change his mind.’3’Perhaps the disagreement and reversals of opinion that distinguishedManchester’s medical community in the years from 1815 to 1819 have as much to dowith the issue in dispute as the characteristics of the disputants. As the followingchapter will argue, in the early years of the nineteenth century, the problem of factoryhealth was reconstituted, and in the process, became more perplexing. Instead of asingle, identifiable disease, debate now centred on a host of symptoms and afflictions,whose consequence and connections were not immediately apparent. In attempting tomake sense of the manifold complaints of the factory population, commentatorsassumed differing positions, not only on the quality of worker health, but also on theappropriate standard for industrial well-being. Their dissension and vacillation revealthe degree to which, having resurfaced in the altered circumstances of nineteenth129pp 1818 (90) XCVI, 5-24.‘30Brockbank, pp. 186-188, 190, 235-240; “To the Honourable the Commons”;The Parliamentary Debates 38 (27 April, 1818), p. 361; P.P. 1818 (90) XCVI, 98-104.‘3tBoase, vol. III, p. 7; “To the Honourable the Commons.”-174-century industry, the problem of factory health was not yet resolved.It seems reasonable to conclude that the differences of opinion that characterizedManchester’s medical men were for the most part genuine, arising from a sense ofobscurity and cannot be attributed merely to mendacity or self-interest. Though strivingfor a precise understanding of the condition of the industrial workforce, medicalspokesmen were puzzled by the manifestations of ill-health that prevailed in themanufacturing population and were unable to agree on their significance, their sources,or on the necessity of a measure aimed at easing worker suffering.-175-CHAPTER FIVEDEBILITY AND THE MACHINEthe Fever is not among the Diseases to which [factory workers] areliable; [factory work] seems to produce Chronic Complaints moreparticularly; in the first instance a great deal of Debility, and ChronicComplaints ensue.’It is, in fact, difficult to say which part of the system suffers most in oneemployed in a factory; for it is the whole constitution which appearsaffected, and may be attributed to heat, and confined air, to which I mayadd, long and constant exertion.2In the years from 1815 to 1819, the problem of factory health not only attractedgreater interest and inspired greater disagreement than it had a generation earlier, it wasalso perceived in a new way. Whereas in the 1780s and 1790s, investigators had beenpreoccupied with the acute, epidemic fever that swept through Lancashire’s burgeoningindustrial communities, in the early years of the nineteenth century, proponents becameconcerned with a different set of health issues and the link between fever and factorieswas disclaimed. Through petitions and parliamentary testimony, mill workers drewattention to a multitude of ailments that, in their judgement, were brought on by factoryemployment. While medical opinion on the incidence and significance of workermaladies varied, physicians and surgeons who supported the introduction of a new‘P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 296.2J Jackson, “On the Influence of the Cotton Manufactories on the Health,”London Medical and Physical Journal 39 (1818), p. 465.-176-factory act expressed views that were remarkably similar to those of the operatives.They maintained that cotton factory workers presented a distinctly sickly appearance,that they suffered from a variety of illnesses, chiefly chronic in nature, and that thesewere directly attributable to the conditions of machine work.While recognizing that the health of the manufacturing populace was far fromgood, legislative supporters were unable to specify a particular factory disease. Theyobserved that mill labourers were pale and delicate-looking, that their growth wasstunted, that they aged prematurely, that they frequently experienced inflammation ofthe eyes, swelling and distortion of the lower extremities, glandular diseases, coughs,colds, and consumption, but within the panoply of symptoms and disorders, no oneitem predominated. Indeed, medical reformers argued that, unlike other forms ofemployment, cotton factory work led not so much to any single localized complaint, asto a general condition of constitutional weakness and exhaustion they termed “debility.”In their view, the characteristic paleness, slenderness, glandular diseases, etc., offactory workers were signs or effects of a debilitated state.The concept of debility was not new. It had occupied an important place in theeighteenth-century theory of nervous fever and, as such, had figured in older accountsof the health of the industrial workforce. In the early part of the nineteenth centuryhowever, an interesting shift occurred. As fever apparently abated (at least in thefactory towns) and as the disease also came to be redefined, the concept of debility wasseparated from that of fever and debility itself came to be regarded as the fundamentalaffliction of mill work.-177-As medical spokesmen expounded on the sources and signs of debility, newviews of the factory and its inhabitants emerged. While not neglecting the issue ofatmospheric impurity, early nineteenth-century doctors expressed particular concernwith the temperature of factory air and with the laboriousness of the work performed inan overheated environment. Through their examination, the factory was revealed to benot merely a receptacle of human bodies, but a place of machine-dominated labour.In a similar manner, persons confined within the factory were portrayed asmachine labourers, and even as machine components. Medical observers made muchof the “dull,” “spiritless” appearance of factory children, and in so doing, strengthenedthe contemporary perception of operatives as mechanical “hands” or “living machines.”Medical inquiry also provided evidence of the “otherness” of the factory population.Finding that mill workers could readily be recognized by such attributes as the tone oftheir skin, the shape of their limbs, and the smell of their breath, and postulating thattheir constitutions were in a state not shared by persons of higher social standing, earlynineteenth-century theorists contributed to a belief, that grew stronger with the passageof time, in the physical distinctness of the manufacturing poor and in the biologicalrootedness of class difference.IIn the years of agitation over the factory question, advocates of legislativerestriction argued that factories exacted a severe and wide-ranging toll on human health.Drawing on personal, as well as professional experience, they described numerous waysin which the well-being of persons was injured by their experience in the mills.-178-Speaking before the 1819 Lords Committee, a Wigan overlooker, George Swanton,gave a grim account of the suffering he had witnessed on the factory floor. He notedthat he had employed healthy, “Red-looking” children and that within a period of fourto six weeks, he had seen their “Colour quite fade, and their Eyes sink in theirHeads.”3 He observed, as well, that his work-mates were frequently “both knockkneed and hump-backed”; that they were often afflicted with “sore Eyes,” coughs, andcolds; that they often fell “into a Consumption or Wasting”; and that young workers,especially, were extremely tired at the end of the day, lacked appetite for their food,and were often forced to abandon their position after a short period “on account of illHealth.”4Corroborating testimony was offered by a thirty-six year old spinner, RobertHyde, who felt particularly qualified to speak on the matter, since not only he, but twoof his children, were employed in a Manchester fine-spinning mill. Hyde expressed his“Pleasure, as a Parent of Children,” in informing the Lords Committee of “the Evilsthat exist in a Cotton Mill,” and revealed that his own children, who had once been“far stouter and rosier,” were now “delicate and weakened in the Joints.”5 Hemaintained that the condition of young workers deteriorated within a fortnight or monthof their entering the factory, and offered his own health as evidence of the “Asthmatical3P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 89.4lbid.5lbid., 132-133.-179-Complaints, Declines, and Rheumatism” that prevailed in cotton mills.6 Hecommented on the deformity, fatigue, and impaired appetite of mill workers, and onbeing questioned about their general state of health, judged it to be “very indifferent,”explaining that operatives were “always complaining of Sickness and Pains,” and werefrequently absent from work.7While the opinions of workmen such as Swanton and Hyde were not endorsedby the entire medical community, they did gain a sympathetic hearing within the campof legislative supporters. Medical men who spoke out on the need for factory reform inthe period after 1815 not only accepted the workers’ view of their condition, they alsooffered accounts that substantiated lay perceptions. The Manchester physician, RobertAgnew, indicated in 1818 that he had long been distressed by the conditions endured byfactory children and explained that, through devoting an hour or two each morning toadvising the poor, he had had ample opportunity of observing at first hand the situationthat prevailed in spinning mills. He maintained that young mill workers were“emaciated, pale, and feeble” and that they were subject to “affections of the spine,distortions of the lower extremities.. .coughs, hoarseness, and affections of the lungs. “He argued, too, that persons employed in factories from an early age seldom achievedfull growth and frequently died at an early age.A similar assessment was provided by one of the surgeons to the Manchester6lbid., 133.7lbid.8[Nathaniel Gould], Information concerning the State of Children Employed inCotton Factories (Manchester: J. Gleave, 1818), pp. 21-22.-180-Eye Institution, John Windsor. Though not having practised among the poor asextensively as Agnew, Windsor nevertheless believed that the “countenances oflabourers” in cotton factories were “generally of a paler hue than those of labourers inother manufactories, or other kinds of business” and that their bodies were “of adelicate and slender frame.”9 He asserted, as well, that cotton factory workers wereparticularly liable to “rheumatic affections... catarrhal complaints and coughs,” and toscrofula, which manifested itself in a number of ways, “sometimes exhibiting itself inthe eyes, in the form of inflammation there, sometimes in the mesenteric glands of thebowels.. .often in the glands of the neck, and very often in the forms of white swellingsin the joints, and of consumptions in the lungs. “10The assortment of afflictions described by Agnew and Windsor was observed byalmost all the physicians and surgeons who contributed to pro-legislative pamphlets ortestified before the 1816 and 1819 parliamentary committees. Anxious to aid in theindictment of the current system of factory operation, yet lacking the dramatic evidencethat the epidemics of acute, contagious fever had presented a generation earlier, medicalreformers sought other indicators of ill-health. Focusing on outward physicalappearance and alert to the insidious progress of chronic disease, they diagnosed amultifarious cluster of ailments. At first glance, at least to the twentieth-centuryobserver, the paleness, delicacy, deformity, stunted growth, premature aging, coughs,inflammation of the eyes, joint swelling, consumption, and glandular disease detected in9lbid., p. 12.‘°Ibid., pp. 12-13.-18 1-the factory population seem disparate and unrelated. Further enquiry, however,suggests that such symptoms and disorders can be linked through another conditionascribed to factory workers, that of debility.Though a key concept in the early nineteenth-century lexicon of factory health,debility was a difficult and somewhat obscure notion. 11 Not explicitly defined by itsproponents, the term apparently referred to a state of feebleness and depletion thatpervaded the entire bodily system. Medical critics of factory labour employed a varietyof expressions to describe such a state and to argue that the circumstances of industrialwork induced an unacceptable deviation from the standard of sound bodily health.They fulminated against the undermining of natural “vigour,” the wasting of“strength,” the “languor of constitution,” the “relaxation” of the body, the exhaustionof the “frame,” the depression of “mental and bodily energies,” and the “general injuryand loss of tone” caused by long hours of work in a polluted and overheatedenvironment. 12As such description indicates, debility was conceived not as a specific disorder,or as a distinct entity that entered the body, but as a general condition of physiologicalimpairment and malfunction. Though occasionally spoken of as a “disease,” debility‘1The concept pertained to more than just the debate on factory health. It wasan important component in the late eighteenth and nineteenth-century understanding ofpathology, though as James Copland, A Dictionary of Practical Medicine (London:Longman, Green & Longmans, 1844), vol. 1, p. 473, remarked, the idea provokedconsiderable perplexity and “scarcely any two [writers on pathology] have agreed as tothe manner of discussing it, or as to its nature.”12•J 1816 (397) III, 286-287; [Gould], passim; P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 243-320.-182-was usually regarded as an intermediate state hovering on a continuum betweenwellness and actual sickness. Such a view was expressed by William Dean, a surgeonat Slaithwaite, who characterized the workers at a local cotton mill as “weak anddebilitated in a general Way,” explaining that while “not labouring under Disease, theycould not be said to be well. “13 Debility was seen to occupy an uneasy position onthe continuum, however; as most commentators agreed, it frequently degenerated intosome form of localized disorder. William Simmons, a Senior Surgeon to theManchester Infirmary, argued that when cotton factory workers were in a state ofdebility, they were “more readily susceptible of the impression of the occasional causesof disease, which produce topical affections of various kinds, sometimes acute, butchiefly of a chronic nature.”4In Simmons’ view, debility typically gave way to the sore eyes, white swellingsof the joints, and consumption associated with scrofula.15 A chronic disease, affectingmainly children and youths and characterized by the formation of abscesses in variousparts of the body, scrofula was regarded as “the endemic disease” of the cottonmanufacturing region.16 Though its etiology was a matter of some dispute, WilliamDean traced its origins to debility manifesting itself in the glandular system, stating that‘3P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 285.14[Gould], pp. 17-18.‘5P.P. 1816 (397) III, 287.‘6lbid.; Elizabeth Lomax, “Hereditary or Acquired Disease? Early NineteenthCentury Debates on the Cause of Infantile Scrofula and Tuberculosis,” Journal of theHistory of Medicine 32 (1977), pp. 356-374.-183-“when the glandular Part of the Body loses its Tone, it produces Obstruction in thatGland [and] that Obstruction forms a Scrofulous Tumour in that particular Part.”17Scrofula was not considered to be the only consequence of debility, however.For Kinder Wood, an Oldham surgeon, one of the most significant effects of debilitywas a thin, delicate physique. Wood explained to the 1816 Select Committee thatunder the conditions of factory employment, the digestive organs of young workersbecame “debilitated with the other parts of the system,” rendering the workersincapable of deriving benefit from the food they consumed and promoting thedevelopment of a “slender configuration.”18 In the opinion of the Chester physician,Llewellyn Jones, debility and digestive impairment resulted not only in a “meagre”appearance, but in a “pallid” complexion.’9 Other observers maintained that debilitypredisposed workers to physical deformity. The Manchester surgeon, William Wood,accounted for operatives’ distorted spines and limbs by reference to the effects oftemperature on the process of assimilation, arguing that “when the body becomesrelaxed and emaciated.. .the consequence is, that deformities in the spine, legs, kneesand andes [sic] often take place.”2° Medical men also asserted that debility led topremature aging and early death. Robert Agnew, for instance, maintained that the“constitutions” of factory workers were “older at forty, than men employed at other‘7Lomax, passim; P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 282.18pp 1816 (397) III, 196.‘9P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 312.20[Gould], p. 22.-184-occupations at sixty” and that “very few [factory workers] arrive at old age.”2’In the view of such spokesmen, the effects of debility were considerable, aswere the pathways by which particular disorders ensued from the state of overallweakness. While the digestive system was most often singled out as the avenuethrough which local afflictions developed, other bodily systems and processes alsoreceived attention. Agnew, for instance, pointed to “deficient solidity of ossification”as a cause of deformity, as well as “swelling of the joints, and other scrophulousappearances,” while William Winstanley spoke of the loss of “healthy actions” not onlyin the digestive, but also in the respiratory system.22 In the early years of thenineteenth century, the relationship between ill-health and industrial production proveddifficult to specify. Confronted by the manifold reality of sickness and suffering, yetlacking the kinds of evidence that would permit a direct linking of disease and work,medical men traced complex and sometimes contradictory lines of causation, using theconcept of debility to mediate between the specific afflictions of factory workers andthe particular circumstances of factory labour.IINeither the idea of debility, nor its association with the industrial workforce,originated in the years between 1815 and 1819. As has been argued in Chapter Two,the idea was important in the eighteenth century, particularly in relation to the21Ibid., pp. 21-22.22Ibid., pp. 21, 25.-185-understanding and treatment of fever. Confronted by what seemed to be a new form offever, whose course and symptoms were significantly different from those of the olderinflammatory form of the disorder, eighteenth-century physicians developed a theory offever that emphasized its connection with debility. Debility was implicated inunderstanding the origins of typhus, in explaining who was most likely to contract thedisease, and, especially, in rationales of treatment. For late eighteenth-century medicalmen it was imperative that sufferers of typhus receive stimulating remedies, rather thanbe subjected to bloodletting.The new theory did not prevail for long, however. In the early years of thenineteenth century, doctors began to reject the “doctrine of debility” and to revert tothe therapy of bleeding.23 One of the most influential opponents of the doctrine wasthe London physician, John Armstrong, who argued in 1816 that the debility that hadhitherto characterized typhus was only apparent, that in reality typhus was a“congestive,” “inflammatory” disease, and that its most appropriate remedy was“immediate, copious bloodletting. “24 Armstrong’s ideas exerted wideappeal—according to the Edinburgh Medical Journal there was scarcely a doctor in thecountry who did not profess familiarity and agreement with his work—and within a few23Peter H. Niebyl, “The English Bloodletting Revolution, or Modern Medicinebefore 1850,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 51(1977), pp. 463-483. See alsoJohn V. Pickstone, “Dearth, Dirt and Fever Epidemics: Rewriting the History ofBritish ‘Public Health’, 1780-1850,” in Terence Ranger and Paul Slack (eds),Epidemics and Ideas: Essays on the Historical Perception of Pestilence (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 138-142.Ibid., p. 465.-186-years, fever was again held to be an inflammatory disorder, best treated with thelancet.25 As Henry Clutterbuck, a physician to the General Dispensary in London,remarked in 1819:A great revolution is taking place in the treatment of this disease. Bloodletting, which, but a few years ago, was looked upon with abhorrence inthe cure of contagious fever.., is proved, by ample testimony, to be notonly the most powerful, but the safest of remedies.. •26Accompanying the reversal in theory and practice, and of particular relevance todisputants of the factory question, was an apparent decline in the local incidence offever. Witnesses to both the 1816 and the 1819 parliamentary committees asserted thatlevels of fever in Manchester and its environs had decreased since the 1790s, owing tothe establishment of fever-wards.27 While the opponents of legislative reform coulduse the decrease to argue that the problem of factory ill-health had eased, supporters ofa new factory act maintained that the problem had merely changed and that althoughfever no longer abounded in the manufacturing districts, workers now suffered fromdebility and the chronic disorders to which it gave rise.In the early years of the nineteenth century, medical understanding of factorysickness underwent a significant reorientation. In the wake of both a theoretical shift25Ibid., p. 466.26Henry Clutterbuck, Observations on the Prevention and Treatment of theEpidemic Fever (London: 1819); quoted in Niebyl, p. 471.27P.P. 1816 (397) III, 199, 338; P.P. 1819 (24) CX, 296. John Pickstone,Medicine and Industrial Society (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), pp.26-27, remarks that while Manchester’s House of Recovery was generally credited withreducing the incidence of fever, the actual effect of the institution is difficult todetermine.-187-and an apparent epidemiological decline, investigators transferred their attention fromepisodes of acute, contagious disease to an underlying condition of systemic weakness.Severed from its links to fever, debility assumed central place in the discourse onfactory health.IIIIn endeavouring to account for the debility that prevailed in the manufacturingpopulation, medical men concerned themselves with particular aspects of the industrialworkplace. While not ignoring the factors that spokesmen a generation earlier hadsingled out, they formulated a new view of the circumstances within the factory thatconstituted risks to health. Like their predecessors, they were attentive to the state ofthe factory atmosphere, but in the 1810s, it was the temperature, more than the purity,of the air that was deemed pernicious.In an era in which private rooms, such as a doctor might occupy, were evidentlyseldom kept above sixty degrees Fahrenheit, and in which a temperature of sixty-five toseventy degrees Fahrenheit was considered almost dangerously high, medical observerswere alarmed by the degree of heat that factory workers were forced to endure.28Visiting local factories and encountering temperatures that ranged from the high sixtiesto the high eighties, they themselves experienced considerable discomfort. TheStockport surgeon, John Graham, for instance, toured the Carr mill and was “verymuch affected” by its eighty-five degree temperature: “I broke out into a Sweat,” he28P.P. 1816 (397) III, 193; [Gould], p. 23.-188-recalled, “and I felt myself extremely unwell. “29 Graham was perhaps able to toleratemore than the Manchester physician, Michael Ward, who with some associates visitedthe Frith factory, where the temperature rose from sixty-two to sixty-eight degrees in amatter of minutes. According to Ward:The Time we staid was very short; we were so much incommoded by theHeat of the Atmosphere, and the Dust and Closeness of the Place. . . thatwe were extremely glad to get away, and made use of all our Exertionsto get out as quick as we could; we were in the Factory about Eight orNine Minutes; the Thermometer kept rising all the time we werethere.3°In the view of early nineteenth-century doctors, heat acted as a powerful sourceof debility and chronic illness. According to J. Jackson, a surgeon from Bolton-leMoors:The heat necessary for the easy working of cotton machinery averagesabout 780 Farh.; the operation of which, in producing bilious disordersand obstructions of the viscera, is universally acknowledged,—andderangement in the functions of the viscera produce the chronic diseasesto which [cotton workers] are subject.3’Kinder Wood, the surgeon from Oldham, was more succinct, declaring that “too muchheat, by inducing debility, [is] the foundation of scrophula and consumption.”32Factory critics expressed concern not only about the temperature of mill air, butalso about an issue that to their minds was closely related, the Laboriousness of millwork. For the factory visitor, Joseph Dutton, cotton work was laborious precisely29pp 1819 (24) CX, 256.30Ibid., 260.3’Jackson, p. 464.32pp 1816 (397) III, 202.-189-because of the atmospheric conditions that prevailed in the mills. Though himself anironmonger, Dutton argued that factory work was more fatiguing than labour in the irontrades because of the heat and dust in which it was carried out. Contrary to those whomaintained that mill work consisted principally of “employment of the hand and eye,”Dutton insisted that it required exertion of the whole body: “the lungs, mostundoubtedly, by a difficulty of respiration; and indeed I may say, every pore of thebody, by profuse perspiration.William Simmons, Senior Surgeon to the Manchester Infirmary, carried theargument a step further by referring to the exertion that derived from movement of thelimbs. In his opinion, the level of activity demanded of operatives compounded thedebilitating effects of high temperature by increasing “the heat of the body,” inducingperspiration, and causing a loss of strength.34 He maintained that factory work wasnot only strenuous, but continuous, and warned that “by daily repetition,” the fatigueincurred by constant activity “becomes excessive, and the vigour of the body isgradually exhausted: hence the diseases of spinners are for the most part diseases ofdebility.”35Having practised at the Infirmary for almost thirty years, Simmons was a long33Ibid., 301-302, 332.Ibid., 287.35[Gould], p. 17.-190-time observer of the links between manufacturing and ill-health.36 His views areparticularly revealing, in that, while continuing to refer to older issues, such as theeffects of crowding and the quality of factory air, they also show the influence of newconcerns and represent a significant departure from eighteenth-century thinking. In astatement prepared for use by the 1816 Select Committee, for instance, Simmonscommented on “the breath of so many crowded together,” but saw this as a factorcontributing to the increased temperature, rather than the pollution, of factory air.37He also maintained that while experiments had been conducted “in order to ascertainhow many cubic feet of atmospheric air are consumed in a given time,” these were“imperfectly applicable” to the current consideration of the factory question becausethey failed to account for the activity of mill workers. He asserted that although suchexperiments were valid “in a state of rest”:the increased frequency of respiration during labour will demand acorresponding increase in the supply. If, for example, two gallons of airare the necessary quantity when the pulse beats eighty strokes in aminute, when raised to a hundred in the same space of time, a fifth morewill be required.38In Simmons’ perception, it was the exertion, and not merely the confinement, of humanbodies that was a major source of industrial ill-health.The hours of factory labour also attracted medical attention. Physicians and36E.M Brockbank, Sketches of the Lives and Work of the Honorary MedicalStaff of the Manchester Infirmary (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1904),p. 282.37P.P. 1816 (397) III, 286.38Ibid., 287.-19 1-surgeons who supported legislative restriction of the cotton industry were adamant thatthe thirteen, fourteen, and even fifteen hours a day demanded of mill workers were“highly injurious to their general health. According to the Manchester physician,William Winstanley, the baneful effects of factory labour intensified through the dayand were most harmful in the final hours of employment. In a statement supplied toNathaniel Gould, he asserted:When the frame is exhausted towards the close of a protracted day’slabour, then effort continued, even for half an hour, becomes incalculabyinjurious and oppressive; and it is these last hours of almost previouslyexhausted exertion that depress the mental and bodily energies, draw offto unnatural purposes the supports and supplies of young and growingconstitutions, and produce at last an emaciated, vigourless, and stuntedpopulation.4°Labouring for long hours in an overheated environment, cotton workers oftenexperienced drastic temperature changes as they left the factories at night, and this too,in the opinion of contemporary observers, constituted a serious health risk. Medicalwitnesses were as apprehensive of the consequences of sudden cold as the effects ofexcessive heat, arguing that the transition from the almost “tropical” conditions insidethe mills to the frequently inclement conditions outdoors weakened the constitution andled to coughs, colds, “catarrhal complaints,” inflammation of the lungs, and9[Gould], p. 19.9bid., pp. 25-26. The attention directed by Winstanley and others to the finalportion of the work-day forms an interesting precedent to the “last hour” debatesparked two decades later by Nassau Senior, who contended that factory owners’ profitsdepended on the labour performed in the last hour of employment. See Kenneth 0.Walker, “The Classical Economists and the Factory Acts,” Journal of EconomicHistory 1 (1941), pp. 171-172.-192-consumption.41 The physician, Michael Ward, pointed out that while “People whovisit heated Rooms, as Places of Amusement or otherwise, on coming out into the openAir, take care to provide additional Covering to guard against the Inclemencies of theWeather,” great numbers of factory workers left the mills “covered with nothing but aragged pair of Breeches, and what they call a Shirt, open down to the Waist, and whicha poor Person would scarcely pick up,” and consequently were subject “to all thoseoccasional Causes of Disease from which some Mischief arises. “42In contrast to late eighteenth-century investigators, whose interest in issues ofatmospheric corruption left little room for consideration of the operations of factorywork, early nineteenth-century medical reformers concerned themselves w