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Do you think that Thomas Priestley's evidence to the Middlesex magistrates is totally accurate?

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Introduction

Do you think that Thomas Priestley's evidence to the Middlesex magistrates is totally accurate? Thomas Priestley and Joseph Sefton were apprentices at Samuel Greg's Quarry Bank Mill. Thomas Priestly was 13 when he ran away and Joseph Sefton was 17. They were bound by an indenture - which is a legal document binding an apprentice to an owner - in exchange for food, clothing, shelter and work. In 1806 Priestly and Sefton ran away from the Mill, but were later caught - supposedly stealing apples - and were taken before the Magistrates. Priestly was interviewed by the Magistrates. However, there is an argument that Priestley's report may be inaccurate. The first reason for this is that Thomas Priestly, as aforementioned, had an indenture against him. ...read more.

Middle

He had to sign his indenture with a non specific mark, because he could not write his name. The language in the transcript from his hearing also uses quite sophisticated language. For example, Priestley is recorded as saying 'cotton manufactory' and 'consented before the magistrate.' I would suggest that the transcript is a Clerks interpretation of what Priestley said. This argument is further supported by Sefton's transcript, which uses similar language, such as 'I have consented before the magistrates at this office.' If we take this argument further, it could even be considered that maybe, very little of this is Priestley's own words. As he was illiterate, he could not check what he had been given to sign. Further evidence of inaccuracy comes from where Priestley said the money that they spent came from. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that the doctor, personally verified (through his records) that he had treated Priestley lends Priestley credibility. Furthermore, it cannot be suggested that Sefton did not run-away from the Mill to see his mother. Priestley was a thirteen year old, who had had his finger torn off by a machine (supported by Doctor Holland's records). Life at the Mill must have been hard and it is unreasonable to suggest that he would not have wanted to see his Mother. Overall, I believe that he was telling the truth about his motives to leave. However, I am certain that based on the evidence; he was lying about his Mother's Crown funding his and Sefton's trip. I also believe that he was probably exaggerating the Mills conditions. ?? ?? ?? ?? Adam Pearson-Davies ...read more.

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