During the early years of the nineteenth century it was a common practice among overseers of the poor to apprentice their juvenile charges to mill-owners and other employers of factory labour. The system was one that gave much satisfaction, first to the parish authorities, as it cleared the unions of boys and girls who would otherwise need the support of the rates; and second to the manufacturers, as it enabled them to obtain labour in the cheapest possible manner. The practice, however, was one that imposed terrible hardships on the children; their working hours were long, they received no wages, they were fed and clothed improperly, they slept in relays, in filthy beds, and some, who attempted to run away, were fettered with chains. As a result of these disgraceful conditions an Act was passed in 1802 “for the preservation of the health and morals of apprentices and others employed in cotton and other mills.” Though this early enactment proved a step in the right direction, we know that the iniquitous system continued for many years in a more or less modified form. In 1811 a committee sat to consider the position of the parish apprentice, and the report, which was published subsequently, gave a most distressing account of his treatment at the hands of factory superintendents. 1 A second committee sat in 1815, and, on the recommendations of this body, an Act was legalised which 273forbade the directors of the poor to send union children a distance of more than fifty miles from their parish. 1