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Factory Act 1802

Note The square brackets in the title and in section XVI of this Act are as printed in the original. Other square brackets are used to indicate added explanations.

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Factory Act 1802

Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.



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CAP. LXXIII

An act for the preservation of the health and morals of apprentices and others, employed in cotton and other mills, and cotton and other factories. - [June 22, 1802.]

WHEREAS it hath of late become a practice in cotton and woollen mills, and in cotton and woollen factories, to employ a great number of male and female apprentices, and other persons, in the same building; in consequence of which certain regulations are become necessary to preserve the health and morals of such apprentices and other persons; be it therefore enacted by the King's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same,

From Dec. 2, 1802, mills and factories employing a certain number of persons subject to the regulations of this act.

That from and after the second day of one thousand eight hundred and two, all such mills and factories within Great Britain and Ireland, wherein three or more apprentices, or twenty or more other persons, shall at any time be employed, shall be subject to the several rules and regulations contained in this act; and the master or mistress of every such mill and factory is hereby strictly enjoined and required to pay due attention to and act in strict conformity to the said rules and regulations.

The rooms shall be washed with quick lime and water twice a year, and care shall be taken to admit fresh air.

II. And be it enacted, That all and every the rooms and apartments in or belonging to any such mill or factory shall, twice at least in every year, be well and sufficiently washed with quick lime and water over every part of the walls and cieling thereof; and that due care and attention shall be paid by the master and mistress of such mills or factories, to provide a sufficient number of windows and openings in such rooms or apartments, to insure a proper supply of fresh air in and through the same.

Apprentices shall be supplied with two complete suits of cloathing, &c. and a suit shall be delivered yearly.

III. And be it further enacted, That every such master or mistress shall constantly supply every apprentice, during the term of his or her apprenticeship, with two whole and complete suits of cloathing, with suitable linen, stockings, hats, and shoes; one new complete suit being delivered to such apprentice once at least in every year.

Time of work not to exceed 12 hours. From June 1, 1803, no apprentices to be compelled to work between nine at night and six in the morning.

IV. And be it further enacted, That no apprentice that now is or hereafter shall be bound to any such master or mistress shall be employed or compelled to work for more than twelve hours in any one day, (reckoning from six of the clock in the morning to nine of the clock at night), exclusive of the time that may be occupied by such apprentice in eating the necessary


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meals: provided always, that, from and after the first day of June one thousand eight hundred and three, no apprentice shall be employed or compelled to work upon any occasion whatever, between the hours of nine of the clock at night and six of the clock in the morning.

In mills or factories wherein a certain number of spindles are used, apprentices may be employed in the night till certain periods.

V. And be it further enacted, That in any mill or factory, wherein not less than one thousand nor more than fifteen hundred spindles are constantly used in the carrying on of the manufacture, it shall and may be lawful for the owner or owners of such mill to employ his apprentices in the night until the twenty-fifth day of December one thousand eight hundred and three; and in any mill or factory wherein more than fifteen hundred spindles shall be employed, it shall and may be lawful for the owner of such mill to employ his apprentices in the night until the twenty-fifth day of June one thousand eight hundred and four; any thing herein contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

Apprentices to be instructed every working day for the first four years of his apprenticeship in reading, writing and arithmetick, &c.

VI. And be it further enacted, That every such apprentice shall be instructed, in some part of every working day, for the first four years at least of his or her apprenticeship, which shall next ensue from and after the second day of December one thousand eight hundred and two, if he or she is an apprentice on the said second day of December one thousand eight hundred and two, and for the first four years at least of his or her apprenticeship, if his or her apprenticeship commences at any time after the said second day of December one thousand eight hundred and two, in the usual hours of work, in reading, writing, and arithmetick, or either of them, according to the age and abilities of such apprentice, by some discreet and proper person, to be provided and paid by the master or mistress of such apprentice, in some room or place in such mill or factory to be set apart for that purpose; and that the time hereby directed to be allotted for such instruction as aforesaid, shall be deemed and taken on all occasions as part of the respective periods limited by this act during which any such apprentice shall be employed or compelled to work.

Apartments of male and female apprentices to be kept distinct, and two only shall sleep in one bed.

VII. And be it further enacted, That the room or apartment in which any male apprentice shall sleep, shall be entirely separate and distinct from the room or apartment in which any female apprentice shall sleep; and that not more than two apprentices shall in any case sleep in the same bed.

Regulations to be observed for the instruction of apprentices on Sundays.

VIII. And be it further enacted, That every apprentice or (in case the apprentices shall attend in classes), every such class shall, for the space of one hour at least every Sunday, be instructed and examined in the principles of the Christian religion, by some proper person to be provided and paid by the master or mistress of such apprentice; and in England and Wales, in case the parents of such apprentice shall be members of the church of England, then such apprentice shall be taken, once at least in every year during the term of his or her apprenticeship, to be examined by the rector, vicar, or curate of the parish in which


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such mill or factory shall be situate; and shall also after such apprentice shall have attained the age of fourteen years, and before attaining the age of eighteen years, be duly instructed and prepared for confirmation, and be brought or sent to the bishop of the diocese to be confirmed, in case any confirmation shall, during such period, take place in or for the said parish; and in Scotland where the parents of such apprentice shall be members of the established church, such apprentice shall be taken, once at least in every year, during the term of his or her apprenticeship, to be examined by the minister of the parish; and shall after such apprentice shall have attained the age of fourteen years, and before attaining the age of eighteen years, be carried to the parish church to receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper, as the same is administered in churches in Scotland; and such master or mistress shall send all his or her apprentices under the care of some proper person, once in a month at least, to attend during divine service in the church of the parish or place in which the mill or factory shall be situated, or in some other convenient church or chapel where service shall be performed according to the established religion in Scotland, as the case may be, or in some licensed place of divine worship; and in case the apprentices of any such master or mistress cannot conveniently attend such church or chapel every Sunday, the master or mistress, either by themselves or some proper person, shall cause divine service to be performed in some convenient room or place in or adjoining to the mill or factory, once at least every Sunday that such apprentices shall not be able to attend divine service at such church or chapel; and such master or mistress is hereby strictly enjoined and required to take due care that all his or her apprentices regularly attend divine service, according to the directions of this act.

Justices at their Midsummer sessions yearly shall appoint two visitors of such mills or factories, who shall report the condition thereof to the quarter sessions, &c.

IX. And be it further enacted, That the justices of the peace for every county, stewartry, riding, division, or place, in which any such mill or factory shall be situated, shall, at the Midsummer sessions of the peace to be holden immediately after the passing of this act for such county, stewartry, riding, division, or place, and afterwards yearly at their annual Midsummer sessions of the peace, appoint two persons, not interested in, or in any way connected with, any such mills or factories, to be visitors of such mills or factories in such county, stewartry, riding, division, or place; one of whom shall be a justice of the peace for such county, stewartry, riding, division, or place, and the other shall be a clergyman of the established church of England or Scotland, as the case may be; and in case it shall be found inconvenient to appoint one such justice and one such clergyman as aforesaid, it shall be lawful to and for such justices, and they are hereby required to appoint two such justices or two such clergymen; and the said visitors, or either of them, shall have full power and authority from time to time throughout the year, to enter into and inspect any such mill or factory, at any time of the day, or


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during the hours of employment, as they shall think fit; and such visitors shall report from time to time in writing, to the quarter sessions of the peace, the state and condition of such mills and factories, and of the apprentices therein, and whether the same are or are not conducted and regulated according to the directions of this act, and the laws of the realm; and such report shall be entered by the clerk of the peace among the records of the session in a book kept for that purpose: provided always, that in case there shall be six or more such mills or factories with any one such county, stewartry, riding, division, or place, then it shall be lawful for such justices to divide such county, stewartry, riding, division, or place, into two or more districts or parts, and to appoint two such visitors as aforesaid for each such districts or parts.

In case of infectious disorders prevailing, the visitors may require the master to call in medical assistance, &c.

X. And be it further enacted, That in case the said visitors or either of them shall find that any infectious disorder appears to prevail in any mill or factory as aforesaid, it shall be lawful for them or either of them to require the master or mistress of any such mill or factory to call in forthwith some physician, or other competent medical person, for the purpose of ascertaining the nature and probable effects of such disorder, and for applying such remedies and recommending such regulations as the said physician, or other competent medical person, shall think most proper for preventing the spreading of the infection and for restoring the health of the sick; and that such physician, or other competent medical person, shall report to the visitors, or either of them, as often as they shall be required so to do, their opinion in writing of the nature, progress, and present state of the disorder, together with its probable effects; and that any expences incurred in consequence of the provisions aforesaid for medical assistance, shall be discharged by the master or mistress of such mill or factory.

Penalty for obstructing visitors.

XI. And be it further enacted, That if any person or persons shall oppose or molest any of the said visitors in the execution of the powers intrusted to them by this act, every such person or persons shall for every such offence forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding ten pounds nor less than five pounds.

Copies of this act to be affixed in two conspicuous places of such mills or factories.

XII. And be it further enacted, That the master or mistress of every such mill or factory shall cause printed or written copies of this act to be hung up and affixed in two or more conspicuous places in such mill or factory, and shall cause the same to be constantly kept and renewed, so that they may at all times be legible and accessible to all persons employed therein.

Penalty on masters offending against this act.

XIII. And be it further enacted, That every master or mistress of any such mill or factory who shall wilfully act contrary to or offend against any of the provisions of this act, shall for such offence, (except where otherwise directed), forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding five pounds nor less than forty shillings [2], at the discretion of the justices before whom such offender shall be convicted as after mentioned; one half whereof shall be paid to the informer, and the other half to the overseers of the poor


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in England and Ireland, and to the minister and elders in Scotland, of the parish or place where such offence shall be committed, to be by them applied in aid of the poor rate, in England and Ireland, and for the benefit of the poor in Scotland, of such parish or place: provided always, that all informations for offences against this act, shall be laid within one calendar month after the offence committed, and not afterwards.

Mills or factories employing a certain number of persons to be entered in a book kept by the clerk of the peace, who shall receive 2s. for each entry.

XIV. And be it further enacted, That every such master or mistress shall, at the Epiphany sessions in every year, make, or cause to be made, an entry in a book to be kept for that purpose by the clerk of the peace of the county, riding, or division in which any mill or factory shall be situate, of every such mill or factory occupied by him or her wherein three or more apprentices or twenty or more other persons, shall be employed; and the said clerk of the peace shall receive for every such entry the sum of two shillings [10p] and no more.

Penalties and forfeitures how to be recovered.

XV. And be it further enacted, That all offences for which any penalty is imposed under this act, shall and may be heard before any two or more justices of the peace, acting in or for the place where the offence shall be committed; and all penalties and forfeitures by this act imposed, and all costs and charges attending the conviction of any such offender or offenders, shall and may be levied by distress and sale of the offenders goods and chattels, by warrant under the hand and seal of any two or more justices of the peace acting for the county, stewartry, riding, division, or place where such offence shall be committed, rendering the overplus (if any) to the party or parties offending; and which warrant such justices are hereby empowered and required to grant, upon conviction of the offender either by confession, or upon the oath of one or more credible witness or witnesses (which oath such justices are hereby empowered to administer); and in case such distress cannot be found, and such penalties, forfeitures, and costs shall not be forthwith paid, it shall and may be lawful for such justices, and they are hereby empowered and required, by warrant under the hands and seals, to commit such offender or offenders to the common gaol or house of correction of the county, stewartry, riding, division, or place where the offence shall be committed for any time not exceeding two calendar months, unless the said penalty, forfeiture, and costs, shall respectively be sooner paid and satisfied: provided always, that no warrant of distress shall be issued for levying any such penalty, forfeiture, or costs, until six days after the offender shall have been convicted, and an order made upon him or her for payment thereof; and no such conviction shall be removeable by certiorari [a writ issued by a higher court] or bill of advocation [in Scotland, moving a case to a higher court] into any court whatsoever.

Form of conviction.

XVI. And be it further enacted, That every such conviction before such justices may be made in the following form; to wit,

'County of      to wit. Be it remembered, That on the      day of      in the year      A.B. was, upon the complaint of C.D., convicted before      of the justices of the peace for the said county of      [or, for      of or in the said county of      as the case shall happen to be], in pursuance of an act, passed in the forty-second year of the reign of his Majesty King George the Third, for [or, as the case may be]. Given under our hands and seals, the day and year above written.'

Which conviction shall be certified to the next general quarter sessions, there to be filed amongst the records of the county, riding, or division.

Publick act.

XVII. And be it enacted, That this act shall be deemed and taken to be a publick act, and shall be judicially taken notice of as such, by all judges, justices, and others, without specially pleading the same.