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10 August

'I have known many a man beat his drawer. I have known men take liberties with the drawers, and some of the women have bastards.

August 10, 2009
2 min read

‘I know a woman who has gone home and washed herself, taken to her bed, delivered of a child, and gone to work again under the week.

I have a belt round my waist, and a chain passing between my legs, and I go on my hands and feet … There are six women and about six boys and girls in the pit I work in; it is very hard work for a woman. The pit is very wet where I work, and the water comes over our clog-tops always, and I have seen it up to my thighs; it rains in at the roof terribly. My clothes are wet through almost all day long. I never was ill in my life, but when I was lying in.

I am very tired when I get home at night; I fall asleep sometimes before I get washed. I am not so strong as I was, and cannot stand my work so well as I used to. I have drawn till I have bathe skin off me; the belt and chain is worse when we are in the family way. My feller has beaten me many a times for not being ready. I were not used to it at first, and he had little patience.’

Betty Harris, age 37, Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, 1842, Vol. XV, p. 84

On this day in 1842 the Mines Act came in to force, prohibiting the employment of females and boys below the age of 10 in mines.


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