What is the earliest work age you have found?

+10 votes
Bearing in mind how long we educate our young people for nowadays, and what kind of age they began working, I started to wonder what age my ancestors began working.

I knew my mother left school at age 14 and went straight to work as a housekeeper for a doctor, but I was a little surprised to see one of my older ancestors was working at age 8 plaiting straw. I have since found another aged 10 doing the same job. I suspect there will be a pattern evolving where education gradually becomes more important for young people as we edge closer to the here and now, rather than it being a huge leap.

What is the youngest age your ancestors began working and have you seen such a pattern emerging in your country. I am from the U.K.
in The Tree House by Wendy Sullivan G2G6 Pilot (149k points)

3 Answers

+4 votes
The one that springs to mind his my Gtx4 grandfather - he was working at 13 years old in a mineral water place.

He was born in Wales, UK.

The others were either 14 and upwards or doing apprenticeships from about age 13/14.
by Living Bowling G2G6 Mach 5 (60.0k points)
+3 votes
I have a couple of relatives who worked as "Breaker Boys" in the Pennsylvania coal mines at ages 8 and 9.  These boys worked at the coal breakers picking slate out of the coal.
by Star Kline G2G6 Pilot (567k points)
+2 votes

I found one 5 year old lacemaker . I suspect that she went to a lacemaking school http://www.afamilystory.co.uk/history/northamptonshire-lace.aspx. Long hours for a small but very necessary income.

I've also come across a nine year old farm boy.

by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (390k points)

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