William Blizard

Sir William Blizard worked for twenty years as a lecturer on surgery and anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons. Sir William Blizard was interviewed by Michael Sadler and his House of Commons Committee on 21st May, 1832.

Primary Sources

(1) Sir William Blizard was interviewed by Michael Sadler and his House of Commons Committee on21st May, 1832.

Question: It is a known fact, that the factory system affords employment to females. Is the female able to endure long and active labour as the male?

Answer: Certainly not.

Question: Is not the female constitution particularly liable to present and permanent injury, by undue exertion or improper treatment at that particular period?

Answer: No doubt of it; it is admitted that at an early period the bones are not permanently formed, and cannot resist pressure to the same degree as at a mature age, and that is the state of young females; they are liable, particularly from the pressure of the thigh bones upon the lateral parts, to have the pelvis pressed inwards, which creates what is called distortion; and although distortion does not prevent procreation, yet it most likely will produce deadly consequences, either to the mother or the child, when the period.

Question: Do you think that a child under nine years ought, under any circumstances, to be sent to the labour of the mill.

Answer: Certainly not.

Question: Labour is undergone in a polluted atmosphere, rendered impure by the mixture of dust and flues constantly passing off from the material, would not, in your opinion, constitute an additional hardship as it regards the hands of the employed?

Answer: Oh, no doubt of it; I might enlarge upon this very much. With regard to that which is separated from the raw material, it is a foreign body, and, by being inhaled into the system, has a very material effect upon the small vessels of the lungs. With regard to the lungs, there is a certain quantity of pure air required; and if not supplied, it will pollute the whole frame.