Employment of Children in the Button Trade

In 1833, 1841 and 1864, the premises of Hammond Turner and Sons were inspected to check on the conditions under which children were working.



The 1833 inspection was limited to the one report given above. I have transcribed the full reports from 1841 and 1864, retaining the contemporary punctuation.

Just in case you find it confusing, prices, wages etc are expressed in pre-decimal Sterling, using pounds (l.), shillings (s.) and pennies (d.) - there were twelve pennies in a shilling and twenty shillings in a pound - and the expression &c. means etc.

The reports refer to button manufactories in Birmingham owned by various people:
1841: Mr Chatwin, Mr Thomas Hasluck, Mr Elliott (Regent Street), Mr Aston (St Paul's Square), Messrs Smith and Kemp, Mr Thomas Bullock, Mr TW Ingram, Pearl Button Trade 'AB'.
1864: Mr William Aston (Princip Street), Messrs Dain, Watts and Manton (Regent Street), Messrs Smith and Wright (Brearley Street West), Messrs J&T Chatwin (Great Charles Street), Messrs Iliffe and Player (Newhall Street), Mr J Cope (Cottage Lane), Mr E Lepper (Aston Road), Messrs Thomas Bullock (Cliveland Street), Mrs S Rowley (Clement Street), J Watson (St George's Street), William Lane (New Summer Street), Messrs G Layton (Little Charles Street), Mr S Darlaston (Branston Street), Mr J Matthews (New John Street)

The reports of which these are transcriptions were purchased from the excellent historical documents website www.lightage.demon.co.uk

I am compiling a list of the people named in these reports - watch this space if you have an ancestor who worked in the button trade as their name may be in the list.

It must be said that these reports are more interesting from a social history point of view than for the button-making details they contain! They make very sad reading - children were employed in this industry, as in so many others at the time, in conditions that were hard and with very long working hours. The inspectors pay close attention to the morals of the workers as well as to the provision, quality and privacy of privies in these factories.

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