By Peter Kirby
Peter Kirby's analytical survey of kid hard work through the commercial revolution asserts that the focus by means of a few historians and social commentators upon small numbers of industrially-employed childrens has diverted realization from the real function of the operating baby in the context of the kinfolk, the hard work marketplace and the country. Kirby convincingly argues that in the eighteenth and 19th centuries, baby hard work supplied a useful contribution either to financial development and to the earning of working-class families. The booklet additionally discusses the foremost concerns considering the research of kid's employment.
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Additional resources for Child Labour in Britain, 1750-1870 (Social History in Perspective)
The author is presently conducting a study (ESRC project no. R000239222) ‘Productivity and Household Economy in a Tyneside Mining Community, 1790–1870’, which investigates the connections between household strategy and the workplace. 48. R. Mitchison, ‘Scotland, 1750–1850’ in F. L. ) The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750–1950 (Cambridge, 1990), vol. 1, p. 176. 49. Kussmaul, Servants in Husbandry, p. 37. A Taunton bobbin-net manufacturer told the Factory Commission in 1833 that parents would often ask him to take their children for no pay ‘merely to keep them from contracting habits of idleness and mischief ’: Factory Commission, PP 1833, XX, p.
Serving a properly indentured apprenticeship in a parish conferred a right of settlement which allowed access to a range of benefits such as parish relief and access to common land. Most parish authorities attempted to restrict employment opportunities to their own 38 CHILD LABOUR IN BRITAIN, 1750–1870 young parishioners whenever possible because the employment of an outsider might render a settled inhabitant unemployed and thereby tend to increase the burden on the local poor rate. In the pre-industrial economy, therefore, settlement laws acted to promote a degree of security of employment for settled apprentices and servants.
There is little hope of deriving much useful evidence about the general conditions of child labourers from such evidence, though such novels do provide a great deal of information about the beliefs and aims of their (mainly) middle-class authors. 66 Despite such problems of bias and omission, it is possible to develop an equitable approach to the study of child labour in the past. Since the employment of children formed an integral part of the overall social and economic structure, such an approach requires the examination of a much wider range of demographic and labour market sources than those dealing solely with child employment.