Scriven's Report on Child Labour in the pottery industry
Teachers and Clergy reports



previous: Testimony of the Workers (3)


Teachers and Clergy reports

[ Rev. R. E. Aitkens, incumbent of Hanley ]


SHELTON BRITISH SCHOOL for Boys. (Day-school)

No. 116. Joseph Lundy,  aged 23

"I am master of this school; have been appointed one year. It is supported by donations and voluntary subscriptions; I do not know that there is any endowment. 

We have 180 on the books; about 100 attend daily; the absence of the rest is occasioned by the poverty of the parents who are unable to provide them with clothing : know many of the parents, and cannot attribute the absence of the boys to any other motive than that which I have already stated.

I receive 60 per annum as salary; the boys contribute towards the amount by payments of 2d. per week; most of them pay up well; there are a few that are in arrear, resulting likewise from the parents' poverty. 

None of these boys work in the factories : their respective ages vary from 6 to 13, not many are so old as 13, not above two; they are taken from school between the ages of from 9 to 12, and apprenticed to the works. 

They attend here five days in the week, and six hours every day ; in winter only five hours. They, are taught reading (chiefly Scriptural), writing, arithmetic, geography, English history, spelling, and grammar; if they remain any time they make great proficiency; they are surprisingly clean in their persons, and well- conducted and respectful m their manners. We have no religious worship during school- time, but every week we have a lecture, delivered by one or other of the dissenting ministers, on subjects of a moral and religious character. Instruction is given by no others but the ministers and myself.

We have no industrial schools in the parish that I am aware of. Have received a training in the central school in London for a teacher, and upon the same principle as that which is taught here.

Have not had sufficient experience to be enabled to judge whether there is any difference in the characters and habits of the boys who have been educated here, and now at work, and between others. The children appear to be well fed, healthy, and well clothed."

December 2nd. (Signed) JOSEPH LUNDY.

This establishment is situated in a high and healthy part of the town, and is in external appearance a noble-looking building; its internal arrangements are good, as being lofty, spacious, well ventilated and cleanly, capable of holding at least three times the number that meet daily. The master a well-informed and intelligent man. Inspected children same time, and found them as above described.

SHELTON BRITISH SCHOOL for Girls. (Day-school)

No. 117. Sarah Bereft,   aged 25


"I am mistress of the British girls school; I have been appointed nearly two years. We have 108 on the books; out of these about 84, on the average, attend daily : the absence of the rest I attribute to the trade of the potteries being so bad, and in some instances to the mothers, who keep the children at home to do the household work in their absence.

The institution is supported by voluntary subscriptions and donations, not by endowment. Some of the children pay 2d. per week each; some come by the recommendation of the subscribers for nothing. I receive a salary of 40. per annum from the committee; if I had more children than 100 I should receive a difference in pay, but that has never been the case.

I was named for the duties of a teacher in the Borough-road school, called the Central School, and teach here upon the same principle as there. The books used are the Bible and Testament; we have no others. I teach orally; the instruction given in this way is in grammar, geography, spelling and arithmetic; arithmetic ; and practically teach the girls needlework and knitting.

They are not very regular in their attendance, but show a desire to learn; their time however, is often cut short by their being called away to work at the factories at a very early age. The youngest child present is 3 years, the oldest 12; at present there are two of 12 years, 16 of 10 years, 13 of 9 years, and 16 of 8 years; all the rest are still younger: they are mostly clean, well conducted, and respectful : they attend five days in the week, from nine till four in the winter, and to five in the summer, with two hours between for meals and play. 

We have no devotional exercises during school-time, but have lectures delivered by the different dissenting ministers once a week, on moral and religious duties.

Have not had sufficient experience to be enabled to form a correct opinion as to the comparative difference in the moral habits of those who have left the school any time and gone to work, and those at present under instruction."


This school-room is over the boys, and the same remarks will apply. The mistress appear to be very capable of imparting instruction. Inspected children some time, and found them well dressed, cleanly, and under very good discipline.

HANLEY and SHELTON NATIONAL SCHOOL, Boys established 1816 (Day-school.)

No. 118. Edward Chell


"I have been master of this establishment 13 years. It is supported by subscriptions, donations, and voluntary contributions; there is an endowment subject to circumstances, or more properly a benefaction. During my time I have trained many teachers for other schools ; was trained myself at the Central School at Sheffield, where I obtained a certificate of competency.

The Madras system, as founded by Dr. Bell, is followed here, which I believe to be the best for the working classes (if not departed from as is too common in the present day) that could be devised. 

The education consists in reading, writing, and spelling, from religious books, such, for example, as Mrs. Trimmer's on the Old and New Testament, parables, miracles, and discourses of our Saviour, with other works published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Arithmetic is also taught but neither history or geography, simply because I believe the time allowed to children in their class of life is not sufficient to give them anything more than a smattering or very superficial knowledge of such subjects; the elder boys themselves being trained by the master to assist; the great object being that 300 or 400 should be taught as easily as three or four. I receive a salary of 70 per annum, which is independent of payments made by the boys of 2d. per week per head; this provides for the current expenses of the school.

Prayers are always read by the master, or head monitor, on the opening and closing of the duties of the day. All the boys are conducted to the parish church on Sunday mornings; there being no service in the afternoon, the boys again assemble at two o'clock, when prayers from the Liturgy and religious readings are performed by the clergyman or the master; the former takes on these occasions an active part. Children are admitted at the age of 5, and continue as late as 12; it rarely happens that they remain to this age, as they are taken early to work in the factories.

Generally speaking they have a desire to acquire knowledge; the parents also show a disposition to advance their education in most eases, when poverty does not throw an obstacle in their way. Have about 120 on the books."

December 5th. (Signed) EDWARD CHELL.

This institution is well situated and is a spacious, airy, and well-ventilated building, capable of containing three times the number in daily attendance.

No. 119. LETTER from the Rev. R. E. Aitkens, incumbent of Hanley :-



"To the inquiries which you have been pleased to submit to me respecting the moral condition of the children employed in the manufactories in this place, I cannot give any additional evidence to that which you have received from the worthy master of the National School, which you read in my presence before him, and which with some slight alterations, in which he concurred, I confirmed viva voce. I am not sure whether it was expressed in your notes that the school is under the superintendence of the incumbent of Hanley.

Respecting the two subjects of inquiry (at the bottom of p.10 and the top of p.11) to which, by your marginal mark, you have directed my especial attention, I beg to offer the following observations, which are the result of considerable experience.

I have almost invariably found that the habits invariably acquired by women, rendering them more or less fit to perform their duties as wives and mothers, depend infinitely less on the occupations by which they procure their maintenance, than in their domestic training by the instructions and examples of their mothers. Let the mother be industrious, notable, decorous, and devout, and generally you will find her daughters of the same character, whether they continue to reside at home and earn their livelihood by the use of the needle, or whether they are employed in the manufactories. I have uniformly found the case in this rank of life similar to the oft-debated and endless question of the respective advantages of public or private schools among the higher and middle classes of society. In both cases the eventual moral habits of individuals will depend more on the dispositions which they bring from home than what they acquire in the school or manufactory."



previous: Testimony of the Workers (3)