Source 3d

Extract from an article from a newspaper entitled ‘The Daily Chronicle’ describing a case of ‘phossy jaw’, 2 June 1898, Catalogue ref: HO 45/9849/B12393D.


Further inquiries were made, and certain facts were elicited [drawn out] from persons working in the factory themselves. When confronted with these facts, Messrs. Bryant and May made a clean breast of it, and supplied him (Mr. Vaughan) with a long list of names of persons who were suffering from phosphorus poisoning contracted in their works. This was a very large firm, and was one of the leading firms of match makers in the kingdom. Under the circumstances, he desired to point out the seriousness of the case, and to press it home as much as he could.



Mr. Corser: This is a very bad case. The firm of Bryant and May is one of the largest in the country, and it behoves [it is necessary for them] them therefore to be all the more careful. I see no reason why I should not inflict the full penalty in each case – £10 for the breach of the special rules, and £5 in each case for not reporting, with 5 guineas [21 shillings] costs on the first summons and 2s [shillings] costs on each of the other summonses.


The fines and costs amounted to £25 9s.


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Sources 3a – e: Read these extracts from ‘The Daily Chronicle’ describing a case of ‘phossy jaw’.

Phosphorus is a chemical that glows in the dark and burns easily, which is why it was used to make matches.

  • What was ‘phossy jaw’?
  • Why is this newspaper reporting a story about phosphorus poisoning at the Bryant & May factory?
  • How had ‘phossy jaw’ affected the workers?
  • Do you think the result of the trial was a fair one?
  • If the firm Bryant & May knew about the problem of ‘phossy jaw’, why do you think they tried to keep it quiet for as long as they did?
  • How have these events been reported in this newspaper?
  • Why was the match girls’ strike and the development of ‘new unionism’ important in the context of the information provided by this source?