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It's a tough job...

Orphaned children, who were the responsibility of their parishes under the Poor Law, were farmed out to factories. This apprenticeship would usually last until the children were in their late teens or, as you can see in the Indenture of John Walton and Harriet Senior, their twenty-first birthday (also see Images 2 and 3 above).


The system was often abused. Many children were homesick, or found that they could not take the life of an apprentice, and tried to run away. However, the mill owner effectively 'owned' the apprentice and would advertise in the newspaper for people to find their runaways, often for a fee (see Image 4 above).


In some factories and mills, female runaways would have the hair cut off as a punishment. This would shame them, be a warning to others, and make them easy to spot if they tried to run away again.


Abused - when something is used in a way it is not meant to be

Apprentice - child or young person who is learning a trade

Effectively - might as well have

Indenture - contract between an apprentice and their master

Orphan - someone whose parents have died

Parish - local area

Poor Law - law passed in 1837 which forced poor people to go into a workhouse to receive help from the state


Links to the other 'Craft Made From Graft' resources are at the bottom of this page.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Huddersfield Local Studies Library | 

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