From official report of the parliamentary commision. That the shameful practice of child labor should have played an important role a child of 4 years teaching English the Industrial Revolution from its outset is not to be wondered at.
The displaced working classes, from the seventeenth century on, took it for granted that a family would not be able to support itself if the children were not employed. In Defoe’s day he thought it admirable that in the vicinity of Halifax scarcely anybody above the age of 4 was idle. 120,000 domestic servants in London alone at mid-century, who worked 80 hour weeks for one halfpence per hour — but many more were not so lucky. Many children worked 16 hour days under atrocious conditions, as their elders did. Ineffective parliamentary acts to regulate the work of workhouse children in factories and cotton mills to 12 hours per day had been passed as early as 1802 and 1819. Recent Work on Child Labor Humphries, Jane.