The Little Sweep

In Gray’s Walk, in Newport on the Isle of Wight, there is a plaque commemorating a young boy called Valentine Gray who was apprenticed to a chimney sweep called Benjamin Davies. Valentine was treated badly by his master. When, in January 1822 he was found dead in an outhouse in the town, there was a public outcry. He was just ten years old when he died. Valentine’s death led to the passing of the Climbing Boys Act which prohibited sending young boys up inside chimneys. Benjamin Davies was blamed for Valentine’s death and was convicted of manslaughter.


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