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Inhuman Treatment

From The Times, Saturday 9 January 1830

Inhuman treatment of four children at Heyside, near Oldham

From the depositions taken at the workhouse, Royton, Jan. 5., and at the sessions-room, Oldham, Jan. 7, before the Rev. J. Horden, One of His Majesty's justices of the peace for the County of Lancaster.

About noon on Saturday, Jan. 2, a woman residing at Oldham-edge, observed a girl pass her house in a most wretched condition, apparently wandering she knew not whither, shivering with cold, and her features bearing the impression of famine. The good woman, melting with pity, questioned the girl from whence she came, and whither she was going? but all the information she could obtain was, that her name was Hannah Bell; that she came from Mr. James's; the name of the place she did not know; and that she was then leaving her situation. From the deplorable condition of the child, and the mastery of her narrative, the woman was induced to take her to the police-office at Oldham, where, on being further questioned, she stated there were three others at the place she had left in as bad a state as herself: it was also ascertained that she could be taken care of; and after she had been revived by nourishments, he wrapped her in a cloak, and placing her in a cart, conveyed her to Heyside, where she pointed out the house of one Jonathan Buckley, at a place called Bull-cote. Mr. Chadwick entered, and asked to see the other apprentices. Buckley demanded to know by what right Mr. Chadwick interfered about the apprentices; and Mr. Chadwick gave him to understand that if he did not produce them, and surrender them up, he would take such measures as would compel him to do so: Buckley still refusing, the officer waited on the Rev. J. Horden, at Shaw, who immediately accompanied him to the house, where they found Sarah Home and Hugh Carr, two of the four apprentices, waving fustian, John Hoy was laid on a miserable pallet up stairs, blind and lame from the wounds he had receive don being beaten; and Hannah Bell was already under their protection. The girl Home was in worse condition than Bell. She was so feeble she could scarcely throw her shuttle across, and was carried from the loom by Mr. Horden himself. In consequence of the shocking state of the children were in, it was determined to removed them at once to the workhouse: they were accordingly wrapped up, placed in a cart, and conveyed thither; and the wretch, their master, was taken into custody, and placed in the lock-ups at Shaw.
Sarah Home appears to be about 16 or 17 years of age; her visage is long and pale, her eyes heavy and dim, her skin shrivelled, her foot wounded, and her belly greatly discoloured. She, together with Bell, was laid upon a couch by the fire. She was in a very feeble state, and in a voice at times scarcely articulate, deposed as follows:- I know that something will be done to me if I don't tell the truth: I know I shall go to a bad place when I die. I was to go to Buckley a month on trial, but he did not take me back, and I stopped with him ever since. I have not been bound to him: I was to weave, but he beat me so I could not. He beat me with a rope with knots at the end of it. He beat me any where, where the rope might light, and sometimes he beat me with a stick. [Here she deposed to several attempts of her master to seduce her and subsequently stated that he was more violent with her, in consequence of her refusals to submit to his wishes.] He beat me at all times of the day; he beat me last Friday (New Year's day, I have been winding. I could not make my cloth strong enough, my foot was so sore with his kicking me down stairs. It was good while since he kicked me down stairs. He had me winding a good bit after. He set me to winding, because I could not treat the treadles down; my foot was so sore I could not weave. We had not plenty of meat; in general we had three meals if we did our work. Sometimes we had porridge twice a-day, sometimes three times, and sometimes potatoes made into hash. We never had any butcher's meat, he used that himself. When we did not do our work, we had sometimes one meal a day and sometimes two of porridge. When we did not do our work, he used to keep us up till one or two o'clock in the morning, and we got up between six and seven. He set us three yards a-day to weave, of cords.
The Overseer, in answer to a question from Mr. Horden, stated that three yards, of that description, would be a good day's work for a stout man.
I could not weave the quantity he set me to do. We worked till between two and three on Saturday morning last (the day they were removed.) He used to say we could do a yard in four hours. I have woven three yards in one day. It took me till one or two in the morning. On Saturday nights we gave over about twelve o'clock, and on other nights, if they wanted to go to bed, we gave over. By they, I mean the family; he used to go to be and leave his wife and his mother with us. We never went to bed sooner than twelve. In general, when he overliad himself, we lay till seven o'clock; but when he got up, we did the same; he did not make any regular practice; we got up at all times. We got up between five and six on Saturday (the day they were removed_. While I was winding on Saturday morning, he and his mother kept saying they wished I would go away, and Alick throttle me, telling me to run off. Buckley sometimes wove a bobbin or two himself, then he would go into the house, or come to look at our cloth, and if it was not right he would flog us. He begun his work after he had had his breakfast, and now and then his wife, would come and weave a little. He has struck me on my head with the strainingu-up-pin (generally a piece of iron about 18 inches long, and 1¼ in circumference.) He hit me hard with it. He used to strike me hard and make my head bleed. He would come and try how our work was for hardness, and if it was not hard (tight) enough, he would pull us off our seat board and kick us. He kicked me on my belly. He also hit me on the side with his flat. He did not go to any place of worship on the Sunday; we went no further than the door stones, and when he had used us so bad, he made us go up stairs, when he made us so sore with beating. We had not as much as we could eat; he used to measure our porridge in a little bowl; sometimes we had milk, and sometimes we had treacle to them.
Mr. Horden now asked the prisoner if had any question to put to the witness?-He said, "I think there needs not many; she has sworn, has she not? What did you grandmother say when I fetched you? Did she not say I must be on my guard, and that she could give you a place, but no praise?
Girl. –No, she did not.
Did she not say that your father died in Lancaster?
Girl.-No, she did not; my father was then living.
The wretch, with the greatest effrontery, made some allusions to the character of two of the girl's sisters, but Mr. Horden, on account of their irrelevancy, would not suffer them to be answered. He then proceeded:- "How many days have you sat for half a yard a-day?"
Girl.-Our bellies were so empty we could not weave, and our backs were so sore.
It was always so, was it?-Yes, it was.
Who kicked you down stairs, Sarah, was it me?-Yes, it was you.
Buckley.-Allow me to ask that boy a question.
Mr. Barlow.-Not now.
Buckley.-It's of n' use my asking her any more question. I have witness who will come forward to contradict her.
James Hoy, an orphan from the Duke of York's Asylum, at London, and who, in the commencement of the previous examination, had, in consequence of severe pains, been removed to another room, was now brought back. He had a mature look for his size, which was that of a boy about 12 years of age, though, according to the regulations of the institution from whence he came, and the length of his servitude, he should be in his 21st year. His manner, at times, was confused, he seemed rather deaf, but when he understood a question, he answered it readily and with precision. His legs were swollen and discoloured, his body also bruised and wasted; his thighs and posteriors were shrivelled to the bone, and his loins were covered with sores. His head had been beaten almost to a jelly. The surgeon exhibited a wound on it which, he said, penetrated to the skull. The bosom of his shirt was bloody; the hear about his ears, and the ears themselves, were clotted with stiffened gore; they had grown flat to his head with the healing of frequent wounds, and when brought to the workhouse he was quite blind. Being seated on a low seat, with his body resting on the couch-chair, he was examined as follows:-
Mr. Barlow.-When were you bound apprentice to Buckley?-It is going on six years. I was bound for seven.
Where from:-From the Duke of York's School, at London, under Colonel Williamson.
What have you done since?-I have woven fustian.
What quantity did you master set you to weave per day?-Three yards.
Was it strong fustian?-I can't tell.
Mr. Horden.-Was it broad or narrow?-It was narrow.
At what time did you begin to weave in the morning?-Sometimes before six, sometimes before six, sometimes it was after six, and sometimes seven.
What was the general time?-Oh, he wakened us as soon as he had a mind; he never heeded what time it was.
How late at night did you weave:-Till between one and two o'clock.
Was it over after two:-Ay, sometimes till between two and three, and 12 of a Saturday.
You know what it is to take an oath?-Oath! yes.
You know what it is to take an oath; If you do not tell us what is true, what will be done to you?-I do not know.
Is it right to tell lies?-No.
What will be done to those who do tell lies?-They will be sent to a wicked place.
When was the last time you were till between two and three o'clock?-I have not woven since my eyes were made up. It's been two or three days.
Mr. Barlow.-What was the constant time of your beginning to weave?-Ay, he knocked my eyes up, and then sent me to bed.
Did you ever get up at seven o'clock?-No; it was between one and two, except on Saturday nights.
Did you begin as soon as you got up in the morning?-Ay.
Had you any play times?-Sometimes at pastimes, non so oft.
Did you ever weave your three years?-Ay, I wove it many a time.
Mr. Horden.-When you wove that, what time did you get up; and leave off working?-In summer at five, and held till dark.
Was it in summer or winter you worked till between one and two?-Every winter.
What time in summer?-Nine or ten.
When worked till between one and two, what times did you get up again?-Before six in general.
Mr. Barlow.-What had you to ear?-Porridge and potatoes.
How many meals had you a day?-Sometime two, some-times three, and sometimes one. Sometimes we had milk, and sometimes treacle with our porridge.
Had you never any butchers' meat?-No.
Had Buckley any himself?-None so oft; sometimes he had a bit, and sometimes he'd give me a bit of it. We had not as much as we could eat at none of our meals.
Mr. Horden.-Did he abuse you any way?-Ay, he abused me very badly.
What did he do to you?-He beat me with a rope; and with his fist, and his clogs; he throttle me round the neck so as I could not shriek none.
Where was it he beat you?-In the loom-house.
Where; on your body?-Any where, where he could; sometimes on my head, sometimes on my body.
Are there any wounds on you head?-Ay, its full 'o wounds.
The surgeon unbound the boy's head, and exposed the wound before-mentioned.
Mr. Barlow.-Did your master make that mark at present on you head:-Ay, an' then sent me to bed,-he would not beat me any more; he made it, I believe, on Thursday I lay in bed two days.
What did he to do it with?-With a rope; sometimes he beat me on the head with a birch rod; the thick end.
Mr. Horden.-Was it a knotted rope:-Sometimes it had a great know on, as big as my fist, and that which made that mark was a knotted one.
The Surgeon said it was reasonable to suppose the rope was a knotted one.
Mr. Horden.-You said, when he knocked your eyes up, he put you to bed; how did he knock your eyes up?-With his fist, because I was crying out: he struck me with his fist over my eyes, because I would not let him pull my breeches down, to beat me with a rope, then his wife came and pull'd 'em down, an' he beat me an' she beat me'at after.
Has he made all the marks now on your boyd?-Ay, him an' his wife too.
When he kicked you, where did he kick?-He kicked my thick.
Had he clogs on when he kicked:-Ay, he ever had his clogs on. I was in bed two days an' two nights till Saturday, when a gentleman came and fetched me down stairs. I could not see; he did so by me once before.
What had you to eat when you were in bed?-On Saturday I had some toasted loaf with butter on, and other days porridge. I had porridge twice a-day, and sometimes three times. He would beat me till I could not weave, and then send me to bed. He beat me very often. He beat me very badly. He knocked my eyes up till I had to lay in bed, and he had to employ a doctor a fortnight till I was well.
Who did he employ?-He employed Dr. Edward.
Did he ever let you go out on Sundays?-Ay, sometimes to Heyside.
But never to church?-No, never, never, nothin' oth' sort; I never went since I came to live with him, and only once to school.
Mr. Barlow.-What part of the house were you in on Sunday?-I stopped at home on Sunday.
Mr. Horden.-Did he lock you up?-No, I was in the house all Sunday, and sometimes he'd let me go to Heyside, but never any further.
What age are you?-I can't tell properly; they reckon I am 14, but I never did know my age.
There was now a pause in the examination, and some conversation relative to the regulations of the Orphan-school from when the boy came. He seized a favourable opportunity, and addressing Mr. Horden, said, "My master has 8s of mine which Colonel Williamson gave me when I came away. I gave them to my master to save for me: has he a right to keep them?-Has he a right to take them from me?
Mr. Horden.-No, no, he has no right to it whatever.
He was asked if he was any bigger since he came to live at Heyside? and he replied, "No; no bigger than when I came; I don't think I am."
Mr. Barlow (to the prisoner).-Have you any questions to ask of this boy?
Prisoner.-No; I will leave that to another trial.
In answer to a question by Mr. Barlow, the surgeon stated, that he considered Hannah Bell and Hugh Carr out of danger. Hoy, he thought, was threatened with an inflammation in the head, and Sarah Home had some signs of an incipient consumption; he would not, however, pronounce positively as to Hannah Bell. Her deposition, which as follows, was therefore taken.
I am an apprentice to Jonathan Buckley, of Bull-cote, near Royton. I was bound by the overseers of Lancaster, to George Slacks, of Manchester, bornbasin-weaver. I have live with Buckley two years and a fortnight this Christmas. I can't tell how long I lived with Slacks, but I left him because his wife died. Buckley set me to weave eight-shaft fustian. I was to do three yards a day. I could not weave a yard in five hours. I was sometimes six. I did not in general do my whole work. I could not do it. In summer we used to go to bed sooner, but in winter it was one, two, or three o'clock when we went, and he made us work till that time. Very often, this winter, we have had only one meal a-day, which was porridge, and when we were late with our work we had nothing to them.
Mr. Barlow.-When you had only one meal, had you as much as you could eat?-No, Sir. He limited me to one meal a-day because I did not do my work, and I did not do it because I could not, I was so beaten and so hungry. He beat me often with a rope with a great know at the end, and he has many time got the yard stick and beaten me over my head and made great lumps on the top of it. He struck me hard,-as hard as he could.
The surgeon stated that she was very much bruised, particularly on the back.
Mr. Horden.-What did he make those wounds on you back with?-With a rope, and with kicking me. Every time he saw me off my loom, he kicked me. He kicked me allover my body. He gave me this black eye with a rope last week. I don't know the day.
What made you hair come off from your head?-It was with lugging me.
What did he do it?-Because I did not weave my cloth strong enough.
(She became sick, and a little water was given to her. After some time the examination proceeded.)
I had not strength to make my cloth strong enough. He kept beating me as hard as he could last week. He would not let me go out on Sundays, but kept me upstairs, and would not let me have my frock on.
Can you write?-No, Sir.
Take hold of the pen, then.
Girl.-I could write once, but I cannot now.
This poor creature was as miserable a looking object as the other girl, perhaps more so. Her hair had been pulled up in places by the roots, leaving the scalp bare and white, her back was growing out, and there were extensive bruises on the loins. Her body was wasted, and he limbs like those of the other two-discoloured and swollen. Her voice was, however, clearer, and on the whole she appeared stronger.
Mr. Horden now intimated that he would take the deposition of the boy Carr, and such others as might be necessary on Thursday, at Oldham. The prisoner was therefore handcuffed, and conveyed by Mr. Chadwick to the lock-ups at that place. He is a low and rather stout built man, with an extraordinary and displeasing cast of countenance, on which, throughout the whole of the examination, not the faintest emotion could be traced. It is said that he has four or five children of his own, who, unlike the poor orphans he maltreat, look remarkably well. Hugh Carr, the boy who has yet to be examined, was apprenticed by the overseers of Manchester to one Buckley Wolfenden, who some years ago was tried at Lancaster on a charge of manslaughter, in consequence of the suspicious death of one of his apprentices. He was, we believe, acquitted, and on his return home was received by the neighbourhood with bonfires and public rejoicings; during his absence, Carr was transferred to his late employer and his former indentures were cancelled. Buckley, the prisoner, then applied for him as an apprentice, but in consequence of the representations of Mr. Hardman, the overseer of Royton, Mr. Foster refused to bind him, and Buckley was ordered to return him to the workhouse: instead, however, of do doing, he brought him back again, and shortly afterwards meeting with his mother at Oldham, he made a contract with her for his services for three years, and the child has remained with him since. His appearance is much better than that of the others: his back, however, is sorely bruised; his head wears the marks of recent wounds; and his ears, like those of poor Hoy, have grown flat to the sides of his head.
About two years since the overseers of Royton wrote to the governor and trustees of the Duke of York's Asylum, informing them of the manner in which several of their apprentices had been treated by the weavers of Heyside, to whom they were bound; the letter was promptly answered, and Mr. Hardman was assured that no more children should be suffered to come from that establishment to Heyside. Since, then, however, several have been sent down, from which we may infer, that unless the public promptly step forward, the orphans of our brave soldiers who have fallen in the service of their country will still be left to perish under tortures and privations such as are now disclosed.
Oldham, Thursday,
Mr. Leach, the surgeon, who has attended the unfortunate children since their removal to the workhouse, today signed a certificate that they were not in danger. Buckley, their master, was then brought before Mr. Horden, and informed that he must find bail for an assault, with intent to commit a rape, on the body of Sarah Home,-himself in 60L, two sureties in 30l each; that in the other three cases he would be indicted for an assault, and would be required to find bail, himself in 40L and two sureties of 20L each, and that 48 hours' notice must be given. He was then reconducted to the lock-ups. A communication has been forwarded from the overseers of Royton, to the Governors of the duke of York's school, relative to this atrocious transaction, and as to the general treatment of apprentices at Heyside and its immediate neighbourhood. A warrant has also been issued for the apprehension of the man named Alick, who was stated to have wantonly maltreated one of the poor girls. The discovery of these enormities has created a great sensation in the country, and all classes call loudly for the exemplary punishment of the perpetrators.

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