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Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. No institutional affiliation. LOG IN. In this Book. Additional Information. Table of Contents. Cover pp.

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Acknowledgments pp. Part I: Overviews pp. Preparing Children for Adulthood in New Netherland pp. Mothers and Children in and out of the Charleston Orphan House pp. Notes pp. Bibliography pp. Contributors pp.

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Index pp. This was the route famously described by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist when Oliver was offered, together with the sum of five pounds as a "porochial 'prentis". The contract was conditional, as Dickens explained, "'upon liking' — a phrase which means, in the case of a parish apprentice, that if the master find, upon a short trial, that he can get enough work out of a boy without putting too much food into him, he shall have him for a term of years, to do what he likes with.

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The Poor Law Amendment Act had intended to abolish the apprenticing of workhouse children, since it contradicted one of the Act's guiding principles, that of "less eligibility" i. Although use of the apprenticeship system continued after under the New Poor Law, it became the subject of much criticism. In , a Royal Commission on Children's Employment in Mines and Manufactories reported that workhouse boys in South Staffordshire, some as young as eight, were being sent on "apprenticeships" of up to twelve years working in coal mines.

In fact, the boys were usually employed as "hurriers" — conveying corves large baskets of coal from the coal face to the bottom of the pit-shaft from where it was raised to the surface. As a result, unions in the coal-mining areas of South Staffordshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire were asked to provide detailed information on the children who had been apprenticed in the mining industry in recent years. The return from the Dewsbury Union is shown below. Five-year-old Thomas Townend was a matter of some embarrassment for the Dewsbury Guardians as he was far too young to be bound as an apprentice.

The Guardians claimed that when he had been received from a township workhouse his age had been ascertained by informal enquiry and recorded as seven years. Once the error has been discovered, he had immediately been sent back from the mine. However, Children's Employment Commission was told that the boy had only been returned to the workhouse after his grandfather and friends had threatened to report the matter to the Poor Law Commissioners. In their return, the Burton-upon-Trent Guardians were at pains to point out the care they employed when placing children for apprenticeship: premiums in money were not allowed and the boys were instead provided with two full suits of clothes; any master applying for a boy was required to produce a certificate of character from the minister and officers of the parish in which he resides; a trial period of at least six weeks was required, at the end of which the boy was brought before the magistrates and strictly questioned as to his food, lodging, moral and religious instruction, and especially whether he had any objection to the apprenticeship being formalised.

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The Children's Employment Commission's report on mines also included evidence from one workhouse apprentice, William Hollingsworth, revealing how he had had to work underground continuously for up to sixteen hours a day:. Girls, too, were occasionally sent to work down mines as the Commission found in reports from Halifax:. Critics of the use of apprenticeship, such as Kay-Shuttleworth, proposed that pauper children should be instead provided with "industrial training" within the poor law system, ideally in separate children's industrial schools , each serving a number of unions.

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Kay was particularly influenced by Mr Aubin's privately run school at Norwood which accommodated more than a thousand residential pupils largely taken from Metropolitan poor-law unions. The work of the Central Society for Education and its publication Industrial Schools for the Peasantry also stimulated interest in this approach. Although only a small number of unions initially set up such establishments, there was a gradual decline in the use of apprenticeship for pauper children.

It did not disappear entirely, however — between and , the Norwich Incorporation apprenticed boys into twenty trades, although eighty per cent of them went into shoe-making. The Poor Law Apprentices Act of improved the lot of workhouse apprentices, making their mistreatment an offence, and requiring them to receive reqular visits from their union's relieving officer.

From the s onwards, an increasing number of unions began to provide some kind industrial training within their workhouses, although the resources required to do this made its quality somewhat variable — for girls, it usually included domestic training to fit them for service; for boys in rural areas, training was largely in agricultural work.

Some unions were more enthusiastic — Guiltcross in Norfolk even went as far as establishing a workhouse farm for the purpose. The children's cottage homes sites set up from the s onwards also often included industrial training facilities. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.

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