Children's Employment Commission 1842

The following extracts are from the report by R F Franks to the Children's Employment Commission on the East of Scotland District which was published in 1842.  Please note that these extracts are not directly from the report but are as quoted in  "Auchterderran - a Parish History" by Rev A M Houston

For transcripts from the original report, go to the 1842 Commission pages

Cluny & Carden Area

Mr. Alexander Goodall: "I have been 19 years connected with the management of my colliery, during which period no fatal accident, nor has any of a serious kind, taken place. In this part, very little disease exists amongst the men, as their habits and mode of life differ from most colliers. In the first place, very young boys have never been allowed to go below ground, and no females whatever work in our pits. I consider the keeping females out of the mines one of the most important points towards the improvement of the collier population, as it forces them to self-dependence, and as they are obliged to send their daughters into the fields, or to service, so they are compelled to seek wives from other trades than their own; and it is a singular fact that scarcely any one of our colliers have married upon colliers' daughters, as also a large number of the daughters of colliers are married to millers, ploughmen and other people. There is a school (Cluny) attached to the colliery, at which the majority of male and female children attend. They enter as early as 5 and 6 years and continue till 12, when the boys go down, as they are of no use before that age, although our seams are very thin, not exceeding 28 inches high, and our roads 42 inches. The number of men employed is 40 heads of families, 22 under 18 years of age, and 4 above 12 years of age. Few men marry about this quarter till 22 to 24 years of age.'

David Blair, 16 years old, putter: ' I have wrought between 3 and 4 years below I am employed to putt and fill; have not yet been putting at the coal wall. (Does not care about the work, though it is 'gey sair work') I work 10 hours daily, sometimes more and make 11 days out of 12. I earns 15 pence per day.' Reads and writes well: well informed: very musical: plays exceedingly well on the violin.

Mrs. Blair, mother of the said David: 'I have been married 34 years, and have no recollection of any females, or young children, being employed to labour below ground. The guid wives have an objection to their children being wrought until they have strength: and when they are working, they require good wholesome food sent down. I have five sons working with my man, and they have the porridge and meat sent down, and get it as regular as when at home. My father was a miller, and my daughter is married to one. Ten children alive: all read and write.'

William Herd, 12 years old, gin driver: 'I drive the horse round the gin: have done so 12 months. Could read and write before I was sent to work. My father is a collier: have 7 brothers and sisters: was 5 years at school. Father is an Episcopalian, and we go to Episcopalian Chapel. I know the Church Catechism.'

David Patterson, 15 years old, putter: ' I work 10 hours at wheeling the tubs: have done so 3 1/2 years: I works on another's account. Father died some years since at Perth.' Reads very well: writes badly: not very forward in Scripture knowledge.

Isobel Henderson, wife of J. Henderson, collier: 'I have lived at Clunie all my life. I have several daughters, who work in the fields: they get 1s. 6d. a week. We are very healthy, and can get work full 7 out of 12 months.'


When the Commission was sitting, there were employed at Dundownate (Dundonald) 47 males, 12 females. The manager, Mr Andrew Adamson for Messrs. Greive and Naysmyth deponed: 'Children and young persons are not directly employed by the proprietors, as a contract is taken by the men to do their own putting, and they generally employ those who do it quickest. Part of the work is done by winding coals from the working by incline wheels; the winding is generally performed by strong females. As boys are of little use before 12 years of age, none ought to be allowed to descend until arrived at it. We have no school or sick-fund belonging to this work.

James Mitchell, coal grieve, Dundonald: 'We have few colliers here who get the length of 50 years: more die off near 40. From the bad breath those who go earliest in life get touched with it soonest. We have had no accidents at this pit, but some people suffer from Rheumatism, as much water is below at times and they get it from damp work. Very young children are of little use, but the contractors take down who they like.'

Thomas Campbell 10 years old, hewer: 'Am learning to hew coal at Dundonald, with father: went down first with him: goes down now with brother, who is 18, and been 10 years below, and two sisters. Father is 46 years of age: he has long been gone in the breath: he has been idle three months with it, and no able to work at all. Brothers and sisters all read a little, and so do I: am wrought at the reading by John Ewan, at Shaw's Mill, about a mile away.'

Mary M'Kinley, 12 years old, putter: 'I work for Andrew Nichole, who contracts for our work. I make a shilling a day, and work 11 days in the fortnight. We are sorely worked by contractors, but obliged to do so, as work is uncertain hereabouts. Has a rest of half an hour at porridge time.'