Source 6 - Description of Leeds

Edwin Chadwick was born in 1800 near Manchester. Moving to London, he became a lawyer and also began writing for the Morning Herald and other newspapers. In 1832, he became Assistant Commissioner to the Poor Law Commission and was promoted to Chief Commissioner the following year. He was also chief author of a report that recommended limiting children's work to 6 hours a day.

Chadwick first became involved in sanitary reform in 1839 when the authorities in Whitechapel requested his help while dealing with a local epidemic disease. Later, he embarked on a nationwide investigation into public health. He published his findings at his own expense, in the Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain in 1842.

In 1847, after an inquiry into the health of London, Chadwick began a campaign that resulted in the passage of the Public Health Act of 1848. He was also a commissioner of the Board of Health until he retired in 1854. He was recognised for his public services and gained a knighthood in 1889.

This source is an extract from Chadwick's Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain. It describes a typical house and its occupants in Leeds.

  • What factors do you think might have existed to force working class people to live in such houses?

Taken from: Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain
Author / Creator: Edwin Chadwick
Date: 1842
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: G.13877-80