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RMA Children Apprenticed to Cotton Weavers
1815 to 1821

In 1829, the brutal beating of an apprentice cotton weaver and disappearance of another in the Village of Heyside, Nr. Oldham, Lancashire, led to an investigation of cotton weaver journeymen and their treatment of indentured apprentices obtained from the RMA.  This page deals with the children apprenticed to the cotton weaving cottage industry and the cotton factory of Samuel Oldknow Esq. between 1815 and 1829 and the treatment they received.

The entry column shows the child’s RMA entry registration number, followed by the name, age on entry, date of entry, the child's age when apprenticed, his or her date of discharge from the Asylum, the reason [A signifies articled apprenticeship], to whom apprenticed, the employer's address, and the trade in which the child was apprenticed.

Of the 62 children listed, 16 were boys and 46 were girls. The first child was apprenticed at age thirteen to Thos. Andrew of Hey, Lancashire, on October 1815. The second child, aged fourteen, went into the service of Thos. Harper. Harper was also a journeyman cotton weaver in the community of Hey. The first two boy apprentices were indentured to Henry Swift, journeyman weaver, in 1820 and 1821 respectively. Beginning in November 1821, however, an astonishing sixty-two girls between the ages of thirteen and fifteen were indentured to Samuel Oldknow of Mellow, Near Stockport. Cheshire, beginning 1821 and ending 1828. They served Oldknow as apprentice cotton spinners. Although Oldknow had the largest number of apprentices, all girls, no more was heard of them. One can only hope that he treated them fairly.  

James Buckley of Heyside, subsequently charged with child abuse and sent to prison with hard labour, obtained his first apprentice, Ann Conroy, age thirteen, in September, 1821. Of five children apprenticed to Buckley, four were boys including the last, Robert Stuart, whose disappearance gave rise to the investigation that led to Buckley's imprisonment.

Note: Samual Oldknow Esq. employed only girls from the Asylum although he is quoted by historians of Mellor, Nr. Stockport, Cheshire, as 'going to church regularly with boys' and of attending with assiduous concern to their spiritual welfare.

View the names of children apprenticed to Cotton Weavers
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