Key dates

Elizabethan Poor Law: parishes to be responsible for their poor

Jonas Hanway, merchant and philanthropist, campaigns to improve working conditions for chimney sweeps' apprentices

Poor Law costing £1.25 million annually; in 1802, £4.25 million, and in 1832, £7 million

1788 - 'Act for the Better Regulation of Chimney Sweepers and their Apprentices'
Sets eight as minimum age for apprenticeship

20,000 apprentices employed in cotton mills

1802 - Health and Morals of Apprentices Act
The first piece of factory legislation

1819 - Cotton Mills Act
No child to be employed under the age of nine in cotton mills

1831 - Factory Act
Limits working day to 12 hours for those under 18

1833 - Factory Act
No children under nine to be employed in factories; most important provision was the appointment of factory inspectors

1834 - Poor Law Amendment Act
Reorganises poor relief under central control

1834 - Chimney Sweeps Act
Raises minimum age of apprenticeship to 10

1840, 1864 and 1875
Further Acts passed to limit the employment of children by chimney sweeps; only the last has any effect

1842 - Mines and Collieries Act
Women and young children under 10 forbidden to work in mines

1844 - Factories Act
Introduces safety regulation in factories

1847 - Factories Act ('Ten Hours Act')
Establishes the ten hour day for women and young people aged 13-18

1850 - Coal Mines Inspection Act
Appoints inspectors of coal mines

Census reveals more than 24,000 boys under 15 working in coalmining

Cotton industry employing 255,000 men, 272,000 women; woollen industry employing 171,000 men, 113,000 women

1860 - Coal Mines Regulation Act
Raises age limit for boys from 10 to 12

1867 - Factory Acts (Extension) Act
Brings all factories employing more than 50 people within the terms of all existing factory legislation; forbids the employment of children, young people and women on Sundays

1872 - Coal Mines Regulation Act
Pit managers to have training

1881 - Mines Regulation Act
Home Secretary empowered to appoint official inquiries into mine accidents

1891 - Factory and Workshop (Consolidating) Act
Raises minimum age of employment in factories to 11; consolidates all previous safety and sanitary regulations


You can access a biography of

Jonas Hanway

from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for free, online, using your local library card number (includes nine out of ten public libraries in the UK) or from within academic library and other subscribing networks.

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