Poverty and the Poor Law

The system of providing for the poor was centuries old, and attempts to reform it in the 18th century had failed

Poor Law reform

By the 1830s, as public concern grew, Parliament acknowledged the need for a comprehensive reform of the Poor Law

Children and chimneys

Parliamentary concern about the employment of child labour initially focused on chimney sweeps apprentices

Early factory legislation

Large numbers of young children employed in textile factories triggered demands in Parliament for new laws to stop these abuses

The 1833 Factory Act

The 1833 Factory Act marked the beginning of government inspection of factory conditions

Later factory legislation

Further campaigning led to a shortened working day for women and children and tightened safety regulation

Coal mines

Revelations about the employment of women and children in mines shocked respectable society and aroused alarm in Parliament

Also in this section

Follow the major pieces of reforming legislation in the order in which they were passed in Parliament during the 19th century