Child Employment Commission, 1841:: Benjamin Alcock


No. 30.- Benjamin Alcock, Collier, 33 years old :-

Wages vary from 16s. to 20s.
How old were you when you first went into the pits? -About ten or eleven.
Did you ever go to school? - I went to Sunday-school, and some few weeks to day-school.
Can you read and write? - Read, and write a plain hand. I got mine mainly at Seacroft Sunday-school, between Leeds and Tadcaster.
Was the work hard? - Very hard with us at that time, very. I don't say it was so with all; but it was with another lad and me, and I believe it injured me. I was down (ill) seventeen weeks.
Have you had good health? - I have enjoyed very good health, except about seven years since, when I was working wet work.
You were grown up, then? - Yes, I was three or four-and-twenty.
Why did you do that wet work? - It was a particular job that the steward wanted doing.
Did the steward pay you anything extra for doing it? - No, not a penny piece.
Have you ever been subject to any particular complaint except what you have stated as arising from wet work? - No.
Should you have been better in any way if you had worked shorter hours when you were a boy? - Why, as for that, I believe, had I not been working in that first instance so severely, I should have been better through life.
Have you known other instances of people being injured by being over-worked when they were young? - Why, there are what I have no doubt would have been finer, stouter children, if they had not been worked when they were young; but I don't recollect any other instance of sickness except my own.
Do you wish you had been to school when you were a boy? - Oh, I certainly do; it has been a great misfortune to me; I might have been in a better situation had I been a scholar; I had the chance of it.
Would you try to send your own children to school? - I am doing that; my eldest boy is at school.
Up to what age do you think of sending him to school? - I should not calculate on sending him to a pit till he be 13 years old or so.
Would you be content they should receive rather less wages, and have time to go to school? - If I could afford it, I would rather. Indeed, I consider getting them some learning is as good as leaving them a fortune.