Edward Baines

The Social Educational and Religious State of the Manufacturing Districts (1843)


(Edward Baines, The Social, Educational and Religious State of the Manufacturing Districts (1843), pp. 27-28, 62; in J. F. C. Harrison, ed., Society and Politics in England, 1780-1960, New York: Harper & Row, 1965, pp. 190-92.  During the debates over the working conditions among factory workers, many argued that the new factory system had caused a deterioration in the moral and religious well-being of the workers. Baines, who chronicled and praised the new factory system, conducted a survey in Yorkshire and Lancanshire to counter such arguments.)


[THE returns made to our committee] establish the following important CONCLUSIONS, namely:

1st. That in these Manufacturing Districts there is Church and Chapel room for 45 per cent. of the entire population; and, deducting the Catholics, who fill their chapels several times in the day, the Church and Chapel room for Protestants cannot fall greatly short of 50 per cent.

2d. That that provision for the religious instruction of the community has been made, and is still supported, almost wholly by the voluntary zeal and liberality of the inhabitants,-no less than 682,795 sittings in Churches and Chapels having been provided within the present century, of which only 70,611 are in Parliamentary churches.

3d. That the provision for religious instruction is far more abundant, in proportion to the population, now than it was at the beginning of the century. The Church and Chapel accommodation has been increased 219 per cent., whilst the population has only increased 127 per cent.

4th. That Sunday Schools have been provided, and are supported and taught, by the voluntary zeal of the inhabitants, in which one in every 5 2/5 of the population are enrolled on the books,-which must include an immense proportion of all the children of the working classes.

5th. That 55 2/5, per cent. of the children in Sunday Schools are able to read, and are actually reading, the Holy Scriptures.

6th. That sixty-six thousand teachers are gratuitously engaged in the benevolent and pious duty of Sunday School instruction.

7th. That one in every ten of the population are taught in Day Schools, of whom only a small proportion in Dame and Factory Schools.

8th. That the proportions of the Established Church and other religious bodies, so far as the sittings in Churches and Chapels would indicate, are as follows, viz.: -Established Church, 377,104 sittings, -other Religious Denominations, 617,479: but probably the proportion actually attending the Churches would be less than this, in comparison with the other sects.

9th. That the proportions of Sunday Scholars taught are as follow, viz.; -in the Schools of the Established Church, 123,451,-in the Schools of all other Denominations, 285,080...


I might dwell upon the many institutions and associations for the diffusion of knowledge, and for the dispensing of every kind of good, which have arisen within the present or the last generation, and which flourish most in the Manufacturing towns and villages; -such as Mechanics' Institutes, Literary Societies, Circulating Libraries, Youths' Guardian Societies, Friendly Societies, Temperance Societies, Medical Charities, Clothing Societies, Benevolent and District Visiting Societies, &c.,-forty-nine fiftieths of which are of quite recent origin. The moral, intellectual, and physical good done by these associations is beyond calculation; and their existence is one of the most decisive proofs possible of the growth and commanding influence of true Christian principle in the communities where they have been formed.