Child Employment Commission, 1841:: John Laycock


No. 26.- John Laycock, 51 years old :-

     Wages a sovereign. Went into pits afore he was 6 years of age. Can tell of his father coming hugging* him home at night. Liked it very well; was forced to work or else must not have bread; never went to school; cannot read, is sadly letten down with that; feels t'want of that; it is a sad letting down to a man. Work was not too hard when he went; never did him any harm; always had as good health as any man need to have; never laked much for sickness in his life.
Has sent two boys into pits, they were not much turned 6 years of age; they have both thriven, but one got a misfortune, and has never been into t' pit sin; they must go young or they cannot bend their bones to it; it would mash them to bits if they went when they were 13; they could not do. If they only went to the pits part of the day, they would get more play and more larning, but parents cannot do wi' boys playing; they want sommut to eat, and hungry lads mun ha' sommut; his own boys go to night-school; get on very well.
Are boys fresh to go to night-school after their work? - They are fairish, like in a middling way, some days they are worse than other some.
It is not so good a thing for women and girls to work about the pits; its fitter for men than women. In former times women were forced to do any thing to get a bit of bread. His first wife pulled (coal in the pits) a long time before he married her; second wife never did; first wife had learned to cook and so on properly, although she worked in pits; would not like to send a girl of his own to work about the furnaces; has one, but she will never come.

* Carrying.