Skip to main content

Full text of "The rise of the great manufacturers in England, 1760-1790"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on Hbrary shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/| 

■ Z54.5L 

394,619 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^1 

^^^^^^^^IBSITT dF ^^^^^^^K ^ 

HH^^Th^ls^f the Great Manufacturers | 

of England, 1760-1790 ] 




' ' pWMstkd I'o ih» rAouuTY or ira os-ibvatb schc-Ji. 


A 11 wn town. Pii' 

_ J 

VXvsjS . •I'^WMwVjOPftvX 


The Rise of the Great Manufacturers 

in England, 1760-1790 











Printers and Publishers 

Allentown, Pa. 








I TL* work was originally undertaken with the view of ascer- 

( taining tne relation of public opinion in England in the latter 

( part of the eighteenth century to the invention and application 

j of mechanical methods of production. The investigation was 

broadened into a study of the early effects of the new methods of 
production on the reorganization of economic classes. The period 
covered is one of undisturbed development preceding the wars of 
the French Revolution. The field of labor as well as of capital 
was included in the scope of the inquiry, but only the latter as- 
pect of the subject has been incorporated in the present paper. 
j \xi (vA The sources upon which the student must depend for knowl- 

\ . ^ ^ edge of this subject are in many instanceiS remote from the more 

familiar archives of political and economic history. The account 

of the General Chamber of Manufacturers of Great Britain, for 

instance, has been derived in part from the Chamber's resolu- 

! Jj \ tions and official notices published in the advertising columins of 

the daily press. It will be observed that extensive use has been 

made of the controversial literature of the period studied. In 

the use of such works, questions of authorship, motive, and bias 

I ^ in the statement of facts give rise to serious difficulties in the 

exercise of critical judgment. But in view of the importance of 
\^^ contemporaneous opinion in stimulating invention and economic 

t - Ni progress and in affording evidence of the emergence of new eco- 

j \ nomic groups, and in view of the conflicts of these groups with 

i ^ other groups and with the government, the controversial litera- 

Q>^ ture of the time cannot be ignored. 
^ The study has been undertaken and pursued during the pro- 

^^ found disturbance of war, and access, to the sources in England 




has not been possible. Publication of the results of a more com- 
prehensive study must therefore be deferred till English ar- 
chives as well as American sources have been utilized. For gen- 
erous assistance in the preparation of the present paper, the 
writer is indebted to various librarians and to members of the 
history faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. He desires to 
acknowledge in particular the guidance and inspiration of Pro- 
fessors E. P. Cheyney and W. E. liingelbach. 

W. B. 

University op Pennsylvania., 
Philadelphu, Pa., 

April, 1919. 

; 1 

I ■ 





I. The Bra of Invention 1 

II. The Economic Basis of the New Industrial Group 26 

III. The General Chamber of Manufacturers of Great Britain 49 
Bibliography 82 



IN ENGLAND, 1760-1790 


The Era of Invention 

Previous to the rise of the great manufacturers incident to 
the transition to mechanical production, the productive resources 
of England were mainly in the hands of the landlords and mer- 
chant princes. The basis of the former class was the control of 
natural ^resources ; the basis of the latter was an elaborate and 
monopolistic commercial system. The great manufacturers, who 
rose rapidly to a sense of unity and a position of power during 
the first half of the reign of George III, were possessed of neither 
commercial monopoly nor a monopoly of natural resources. 
Their origin was in the transition to mechanical production; 
their economic basis was in the superior productive and competi- 
tive power of the new machines. 

The rise of the new manufacturers was accompanied by an 
extreme individualism as well as by great power. Their power 
grew out of the use of machines, but their individualism was in- 
dependent of the transition to mechanical methods. For that 
transition was not an individualistic but a social creation, the 
result of widely diffused interests and organized activities on the 
part of the people of the time. The names most commonly asso- 
ciated with the devising of new methods of production are Har- 
greaves, Arkwright, Crompton, Cartwright and Watt. But 
while these men were working out the problems of their textile 
and power inventions, literally thousands of other men were 


working with perhaps equal ardor to solve the same or similar 
problems of mechanical improvement; national and local socie- 
ties were organized to stimulate and reward inventive activity; 
and the government paid large sums in recognition of the work 
of inventors and passed numerous laws for the protection of in- 
ventions. The period of the textile inventions was a period char- 
acterized by what may be termed a prevailing spirit of invention. 

Interest in mechanical improvement found expression in 
many ways. One of its manifestations was an increase in the 
number of patents for inventions. The number of patents issued 
during the fifteen years from 1760 to 1775 was approximately 
the same as the number issued during the preceding sixty years. 
The number issued during the quarter of a century from 1760 to 
1785 equaled the number issued during the preceding century 
and a half. ^ During no decade preceding 1760, with the one ex- 
ception of the years 1690-1699, did the number of patents rise to 
100, and the number during that decade was only 102. In the 
decade beginning in 1760, the number of patents granted was 
205, and each succeeding decade was marked by a very rapid 
increase. * 

The mechanical interests of the time found expression not 

* Compiled from Woodcroft, Titles of Patents of Invention, Vol. 1. 
The exact figures follow : 

Number of patents 1700-1760, 379; Number of patents 1617-1760, 743; 
Number of patents 1760-1775, 370; Number of patents 1760-1785, 776. 

* Compiled from Woodcroft, Titles of Patents of Invention, Vol. I. 
Following are the numbers of patents issued during the decades since the 
Restoration : 

1660-1669, 31 

1670-1679, 51 

1680-1689, 53 

1690-1699, 102 

1700-1709, 22 

1710-1719, 38 

1720-1729, 89 
Later decades also witnessed rapid increases in patent grants. 

1730-1739, 56 
1740-1749, 82 
1750-1759, 92 
1760-1769, 205 
1770-1779, 294 
1780-1789, 477. 


only in the increasing number of patents, but also in greater 
variety in the nature of the inventions. According to Bennett 
Woodcroft's classification of inventions for use in official publi- 
cations, there were 396 kinds of inventions patented during the 

I years 1700 to 1785, and of these groups, 168 were added during 

the years 1760 to 1785. ^ 

The greater inventive activity of the late eighteenth century 

\ is evident not only from a comparison of the number and the 

variety of the patents, but a;lso from a comparison of the nature 
of the inventions represented by the patent grants. The early 
patents were in many cases issued not for definite, tangible in- 
ventions, but for ideas and suggestions, and for vague, undefined 
devices and processes in some instances not far removed from 
the occult arts of the middle ages. * During the period of in- 
creased inventive activity, as well as before, patents were issued 
for worthless inventions. But the more definite, workable nature 
of the patents issued during the later period, in comparison with 
the tendency toward vagueness, extravagance and speculation in 
the earlier patents, affords a sharp contrast. This contrast is to 
be explained dn part by the general increase in mechanical and 
scientific knowledge ; and in part by the more rigorous enforce- 
ment of the rules for submission of definite specifications, draw- 
ings and models in order to secure patents. ^ 

The increase in the number and the variety of patents issued 
and the more explicit nature of the inventions indicate clearly 
a rapid growth of interest in mechanical improvement. So ap- 

• Compiled from Woodcroft, Subject-matter Index of Patents of In- 
vention, Vol. 1. 

• For a few instances of such patents, see Woodcroft, Titles of Patents 
of Invention, Vol. 1, p. 2, patent granted to Ramsey and Wildgosse; p. 28, 
to Worcester; p. 44, to Becher; p. 51, to Ayscoghe; p. 52, to Smartfoot; 
p. 54, to Porter and White; p. 57, to Williams and Marwood; p. 63, to 
Winball ; p. 69, to Aldersey ; p. 92, to Payne. 

• Concerning patent law and practice, see below, pp. 8, 9. 


parent to the people of the time was this tendency that it called 
forth in 1776 a book of verse entitled The Patent, • The follow- 
ing passage is a facetious but none the less significant expression 
of the inventive spirit evidenced by the patent records : 


Hail to the patent ! which enables man 

To vend a folio or a warming pan. 

This makes the windlass work with double force, 

And smoke-jacks whirl more rapid in their course ; 

Confers a sanction on the doctor's pill 

Oft known to cure, but oft'ner known to kill. 

What man would scruple to resign his breath 

Provided he could die a patent death ! 

The time may come when nothing will succeed 
But what a previous patent hath decreed; 
And we must open, on some future day, 
The door of nature with a patent key." 

The increased number, variety, and definiteness of patents 
are by no means the only ways in which the prevailing spirit of 
invention found expression. The securing of a patent was an ex- 
pensive proceeding, and was merely the initial step in the pro- 
tection of the rights of the inventor. Because of this fact, and 
of the further fact that other methods of rewarding inventors 
were devised, there was an immense inventive activity unre- 
corded in the patent office. One of the chief purposes of the 
Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Com 
merce, as well as of various local societies, was to promote me- 
chanical improvement by offering premiums as a substitute for 
patent rights. Extensive inventive activity by men either care- 
less of their rights under the patent laws, or unable to assert their 
claims, will become apparent in the discussion of the work of 

•Reviewed in the London Magazine, 1776, p. 383. 


these societies. It will suffice at this point to state by way of il- 
lustration that Hargreaves did not patent his spinning jenny 
till several years after its invention; that Crompton's **mule" 
was never patented; and that before the time of Hargreaves' 
jenny, premiums were paid for four different machines, none of 
which were patented, for spinning more than one thread at a 

The question of the best method of rewarding inventors, as 
well as other aspects of popular interest in mechanical progress, 
found frequent expression in the various types of current litera- 
ture. A survey of accounts of this kind reveals innumerable de- 
vices, many of them unpatented, and some of them highly suc- 
cessful. These accounts are significant because they show not 
only an extensive inventive activity but also a widespread public 
interest in the subject. The briefest analysis or enumeration of 
popular contemporaneous records having to do with inventions 
would carry the discussion afield. It is necessary, therefore, to 
mention only a few characteristic instances. The Annual Regis- 
ter had a department regularly devoted to ** Useful Projects." 
In 1764 a new periodical. The Wonderful Magazine, devoted to 
the recording of ** things out of the common road," was adver- 
tised. ^ The Museum Rusticum et Commerciale, begun in 1764, 
unofficially patronized by the Society for the Encouragement of 
Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and devoted to the recording 
of new and valuable discoveries, was of such interest, according 
to the editors, that ** there was scarcely a newspaper or magazine 
in the kingdom" that had not reprinted portions of its contents. • 
A book entitled The Patent has already been mentioned. Among 
the numerous references to inventions and inventors in the liter- 
ary journals of the time, there is one of special significance be- 
cause of the light it throws on the mechanical interests of the 

* In Lloyd '« Evening Post and British Chronicle, Vol. 15, p. 320. 

• Vol. 1, Preface ; Vol. 2, Advertisement. 



people about Manchester before the introduction of cotton fac 
tories. This account is a sketch of the life of Adam Walker, a 
self-taught mechanic of the north of England, who about the 
middle of the century introduced practical education at Manches- 
ter, in keeping with the needs of **a town of trade;" gave lec- 
tures on mechanics in Manchester and neighboring towns, — ^lec- 
tures so popular that in many of the smaller towns buildings 
large enough to accommodate his audiences could not be secured ; 
and himself invented about a score of devices, most of which 
were never patented. ® Classical allusions, of great interest to the 
cultivated classes of the time, were in many instances reinter- 
preted in the light of mechanical interests. One writer even as- 
serted that many pagan gods were ** mortals who had signalized 
themselves by their beneficial inventions," and had been re- 
warded with deification. ^® 

Interest in the question of rewarding inventors was per- 
haps the most important aspect of the contemporaneous discus- 
sions, because of the reaction in stimulating further inventive ac- 
tivity. As early as 1774 a booklet appeared which vigorously 
defended the legal rights of inventors on the basis of their pub- 
lic value. This work opposed the idea of the superiority of the 
** polite arts," and asserted that these are of much less value 
than **new inventions and discoveries in the arts and sciences." 
Popular support of this view is evidenced by the following lines 
by an anonymous rimester : 

* * 'T is great, 't is wonderful, sublime, 

No doubt, to build the lofty rime ! 

But, deaf to what the poet sings, 

Though charm his muse the ear of kings, 

The patriot sees more wit and good in 

The invention of a marrow pudding." 

• European Magaeine, Vol. 21, pp. 411-413. 

^Edward Goodwin of Sheffield, in Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 56, 
Pt. 1, pp. 25, 26 (1786). 


It was urged in particular, by Kenrick and others, that in recog- 
nition of inventive ability a more liberal patent law should be 
enacted. ^^ 

Of the various general discussions of the proper method of 
rewarding inventors, the most important was that of Sir John 
Sinclair, President of the Board of Agriculture. In 1795 he 
definitely formulated a plan which had been developing for more 
than a decade as a result of his extensive interests, foreign 
travel, and correspondence. This plan was a remarkably liberal 
and comprehensive system for combining the adequate reward- 
ing of inventors with objects even more important. He proposed 
**a general agreement among the powers of Europe and the 
United States of America, for the purpose of rewarding those 
who make any useful discovery," and for taking means **to have 
the same rapidly extended and brought to its ultimate state of 
perfection." Each country was to set aside an adequate sum 
for the rewarding of **any new invention," which was thence- 
forth to become generally available. The plan was to be carried 
out by a system of boards and secretaries cooperating in the 
various countries, — a definite international organization with 
comprehensive aims and powers. So optimistic was he concern- 
ing his plan that he believed that such a system of international 
cooperation for the promotion of common, peaceful interests 
would tend to do away with warfare, and would promote the 
development of a new and wholesome system of international re- 
lations. His attempt to carry out such a far-sighted and ideal 
policy — and serious attempts were made — were ineffective be- 
cause of the wars and jealousies of the time. But his recognition 
of the importance of inventions and their far-reaching possibili- 

" W. Kenrick, An Address to the Artists and Manufacturers of Great 
Britain, pp. 16, 32, and passim. 



ties is nevertheless significant evidence of interest in mechanical 
progress. ^* 

Proposals for changes in the methods of rewarding inventor*} 
were justified by the fact that in practice much injustice and in- 
equality prevailed. To be sure, the accounts of persecuted and 
ill-treated inventors have been exaggerated, as in the case of 
Hargreaves. ^^ But inventors, as well as persons of other pur- 
suits, unless possessed of wealth or position, not only had pre- 
carious legal rights (as witness the laws against debtors) but 
found extreme difficulty in maintaining such rights as they 

The prevailing view of the time conceded the desirability 
of making special provision for the rewarding of the inventor in 
ways other than by merely allowing him* to profit by the appli- 
cation of his invention to its intended purpose. Sir John Sin- 
clair held, as has been noted, a distinctly socialized conception 
of inventions. And the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, 
Manufactures and Commerce viewed inventions as the legitimate 
property of the public. But even in these instances it was agreed 
that special recognition of inventors in some form was desirable. 

There were three principal methods of rewarding inventors : 
(1) patents; (2) special privileges or compensations granted by 
the government; and (3) private aid, usually in the form of pre- 
miums and medals granted by societies. 

The law of patents then in force was the famous Statute of 
Monopolies, 21 James I, c. 3, sees. 5 and 6. This law, which in 

^European Magazine, Vol. 28, pp. 76-78; Sinclair, Essays on Miscel- 
laneous Subjects, pp. 381-385, 391 (London, 1802). The extensive nature 
of Sinclair's connections is shown by his Correspondence (London, 1831), 
particularly Vol. 2, devoted mainly to America and the Continent. See also, 
for further discussions of methods of rewarding inventors, James Peacock, 
Proposals for a Magnificent and Interesting Establishment, pp. 11, 12; and 
New and Old Principles of Trade Compared, p. 82. 

"See accounts in Baines, History of the Cotton Manufacture, pp. 161 
163, 189, and Abram, History of Blackhum, p. 209. 


general condemned monopolies, made an exception in the case of 
inventions. Patents for inventions might be issued for a period 
of fourteen years. The principles of the law have remained sub- 
stantially unchanged. Parliament indeed enacted no important 
change even in the procedure for granting patents before the 
year 1835. But the increase of governmental offices and the elab- 
oration, of procedure, combined with the more exacting require- 
ments of the courts concerning specifications, ^* caused legal 
rights to have precarious value except in the cases of the more 
important inventions in the hands of the relatively well-to-do. 
Estimates of the cost of securing a patent range, so far as ob- 
served, from £80 to £143. The difficulties and annoyances in- 
volved in the proceedings are suggested by the fact that in a 
specimen bill forty-four separate items are listed. The main- 
taining of patent rights was further complicated by the neces- 
sity of securing separate and distinct patents for Ireland and 
Scotland. ^^ 

It is to be observed that the state of the patent law and prac- 
tice is not of itself indicative of increased inventive activity ; but 
the difficulty of asserting patent rights gives added significance 
to the increase in the number of patents beginning about 1760. 

There was an implicit recognition of this difficulty, as well 
as an increasing interest in greater rewards for inventors, mani- 
fest in the more frequent resort to special governmental grants 

"Tlie vagueness of Arkwright's specifications led to the annulling of 
his patent. This case, as well as others indicating a more rigorous ap- 
plication of the law, is discussed in Davies, Collection of the Most Import- 
ant Cases Respecting Patents of Invention. 

^Statutes of the Realm, Vol. 4, Pt. II, p. 1213 (21 James I, c. 3, 
sees. 5, 6) ; Robert Frost, Treatise on the Law and Practice Relating to 
Letters Patent for Inventions, Vol. 1, pp. 1-4; H. F. Moulton, The Present 
Law and Practice Relating to Letters Patent for Inventions, p. 2; William 
Hands, The Law and Practice of Patents for Inventions, pp. 12-15; W. Ken- 
rick, An Address to the Artists and Manufacturers of Great Britain, pp. 40; 
41, and passim. 


of money or privileges. Previous to the year 1760, such special 
grants, though not unknown, were extremely rare. One of the 
few instances was a reward of £14,000 voted to Sir Thomas 
Lombe in 1731, not however, for a new invention, but for ma- 
chines introduced from Italy for the manufacturing of silk. 
Lombe 's petition was for an extension of his patent. This 
aroused extensive opposition, and the matter was compromised 
by the payment of the above sum in recognition of his great 
services in securing for England models of the machines which 
had been the basis of Italy's superiority in the manufacture of 
silk. " 

In contrast with the paucity of special rewards for new 
inventions before 1760, the period immediately following aboimds 
with such rewards. George III on several occasions showed per- 
sonal interest in new inventions and in providing rewards there- 
for. But the main recourse of inventors seeking public patron- 
age was the House of Commons. The funds and privileges 
granted, however, were not entirely in the nature of rewards. 
Many of the grants were specifically for the purpose of making 
experiments and tests. 

One of the most noteworthy cases of special governmental 
aid was the exceptional grant of £20,000 to John Harrison for his 
device for determining longtitude at sea. This case is significant 
for a number of reasons. It is not only an example of special 
grants as a method of rewarding inventors but is also an illus- 
tration of the desire on the part of the government to foster in- 
ventive activity ; for the reward was oflfered before the invention 
was made, and was paid by installments as the device was de- 
veloped and perfected. Moreover, the government conducted ex- 
tensive experiments and tests to aid the inventor and to verify 
his claims. It is one of many instances of inventions resulting 

« t 

; ; '. "Commons Journals, Vol. 21, pp. 782, 795, 798, 840, 842, 855. 


from conscious, persistent, cooperative effort. As early as 1713 a 
law was passed offering a reward of from £10,000 to £20,000 for 
a practical method of determining longitude at sea. In 1753 
the reward was still unassigned, and another act was passed **to 
render more effectual*' the law of 1713. During the years 1761 
to 1780, the problem led to the enactment of no less than nine 
laws, as well as to the making of a great variety of experiments 
and the expenditure of large sums of money. John Harrison, 
who, like most of the other great inventors of the time, was of 
humble parentage and meager, self-acquired, education, spent 
long years in his attempt to solve the problem defined by parlia- 
ment. His efforts culminated in 1772 in the perfecting of a de- 
vice which met the requirements of the most rigorous tests. As 
a result, an act was passed in 1773 appropriating £8750, the sum 
of £11,250 having been paid to him in the course of his experi- 
ments. ^^ 

In addition to the granting of general patent rights and of 
special rewards and aids, the interest of the government in me- 
chanical improvement was evidenced by the passing of various 
laws for the protection of machines and the maintenance of 
British monopoly in their use. ^® 

Neither the granting of general patent rights nor of special 
aids was regarded as an adequate method of rewarding inventors 

"12 Anne, St. 2, e. 15; 14 George II, c. 39; 26 George II, c. 25; 
2 George III; c. 18; 3 George III, c. 14; 5 George III, cc. 11, 20; 10 George 
III, c. 34; 13 George III, c. 77, see. 29; 14 George III, e. 66; 17 George 
III, c. 48; 20 George III, c. 61. Accounts are given in the European Mag- 
azine, Vol. 16, pp. 235, 236 ; in the Annual Register , 1765, 2d part, pp. 113- 
133, and 1777, 2d part, pp. 24-26 ; and in the Dictionary of National Biog- 
raphy, Vol. 25, pp. 35, 36. For other instances of parliamentary grants and 
royal favor, see Commons Journals, Vol. 32, p. 240; Vol. 33, pp. 534, 600, 
609, 664, 745; Vol. 34, pp. 382, 740, 746-748, 756; Vol. 35, pp. 142, 207, 
343; Vol. 36, pp. 30-33, 238; Vol. 37, pp. 367, 368, 392, 393, 422; Vol. 40, 
pp. 613, 1024; Vol. 47, pp. 416, 478, 546, 762; Universal Magazine, Vol. 49, 
pp. 52, 107; European Magazine, Vol. 11, p. 211; and Gentleman's Maga- 
zine, Vol. 56, Part I, p. 26. 

" Concerning these laws, see below, p. 44, ff. 


and stimulating improvement. Some of the defects of the pat- 
ent system have already been mentioned. The method of reward- 
ing inventors by special grants was criticized on various grounds. 
It is obvious that rewards of this nature were unequally dis- 
tributed, and were apt to be the result not of merit but of influ- 
ence. An inventor without merit might secure recognition 
through political agencies, and a man deserving recognition but 
lacking connection with parliamentary and ministerial forces 
was likely to be neglected. Minor improvements and devices or 
processes of dubious merit were at times the subjects of pro- 
longed discussion, while many of the most important inventions 
were entirely unnoticed. ^® 

While criticisms of special grants to inventors were well 
founded, it is nevertheless true that such grants afford import- 
ant evidence of public interest in mechanical progress and of a 
desire to make inventions common property. As for the other 
governmental method of rewarding inventors, namely, the grant- 
ing of patents, the vast increase in the number and kinds of 
patents is proof, as has already been set forth, of widespread in- 
ventive activity. A study of a third form of reward, the grant- 
ing of premiums and medals by societies, affords evidence alike 
of extensive inventive activity by individuals and of organized 
interest on the part of the public. Rewards by societies and 
patronage by the government are alike significant as indicating 
the part played in the mechanical transition by organized social 
forces as contrasted with the spontaneous, uncorrelated activities 
of individual inventors. 

The principal society interested in the granting of premiums 
for inventions was the Society Instituted at London for the En- 

"For criticisms of special grants as a method of rewarding inventors, 
see Parliamentary History, Vol. 38, pp. 311, 467-472, 538; Parliamentary 
Register, Vol. 4, pp. 358-370, 378-382, 392, 396; W. Kenrick, An Address 
to the Artists and Manufacturers of Great Britain; and Gentleman's Maga- 
zine, Vol. 56, Ft. I, p. 26. 


couragemeDt of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, founded in 
1754, and commonly known as the Society of Arts. Its pur- 
poses and activities were so characteristic of the spirit of me- 
chanical and material progress pervading the period of its early 
history as to justify a somewhat detailed account. 

The early history of the Society of Arts unquestionably 
coincided with a period of great inventive activity. The period 
is to be compared, in this respect, not with the following but 
with the preceding period. In contrast with earlier times, the 
profusion of mechanical interests and activities was remarkable. 
By a writer of the time, the change was not considered as merely 
coinciding with the origin of the Society of Arts, but was attri- 
buted largely to the founding of that society, which he charac- 
terized as **one of the most remarkable epochs in the history of 
the arts.''^° This is of course an exaggeration of the society's 
influence. But the work of the society, even when subjected to 
a more critical view, merits a more prominent place in the his- 
tory of the time than has commonly been given it. 

Its organization was not without precedent. The Dublin 
Society, organized as early as 1731, was characterized by Lord 
Sheffield as ''the first institution of its kind in Europe." It 
was a semi-official body, serving as a sort of ''board of trade, 
manufactures and useful arts,'' particularly agriculture. It was 
at first supported by private subscriptions, but soon secured 
parliamentary aid, the usual subsidy granted each session being 
£10,000. Its relation, however, to invention was slight ; only in 
its general purpose of encouraging the useful arts did it serve 
as a precedent for the English society. -^ 

The London society was organized in 1754 by William Ship- 
ley. Shipley, realizing the need of patronage for the success 

*• Encyclopedia Britannica, 3d Ed., Vol. 17, pp. 586, 587. 
" Sheffield, Observations on the Manufactures, Trade, and Present 
State of Ireland, pp. 204, 260; Young, Tour in Ireland, Vol. 2, pp. 131-133. 


of such a project at that time, ** found means to engage a few 
persons of rank and fortune to meet at Peele's Coffee House in 
Fleet Street, and to adopt a plan for promoting arts and com- 
merce." Prominent among these original members were Lord 
Folkstone, Lord Romney, and Dr. Stephen Hales. ^^ 

The plan of the society was comprehensive. The oflScers 
consisted of a president, twelve vice-presidents, a secretary, an 
assistant secretary, a registrar, and a collector of the subscrip- 
tion money. There were six committees, each concerned with a 
special field, and each, with one exception (the committee on ac- 
counts), meeting weekly. Four general meetings of the society 
were held each year. Candidates for membership might be 
nominated on recommendation of three members, and election 
to membership required a two-thirds vote of the members voting. 
Perpetual membership required a fee of twenty guineas; and 
subscribing membership, not less than two guineas. In 1783 
there were 481 contributing members, and the number rapidly 
increased thereafter. Many of the prominent men of England 
were members. The names of inventors and manufacturers occur 
side by side with the names of lords, gentry and high officials. 
Arkwright, Matthew Boulton, and Josiah Wedgwood, as also 
Wedgwood's sons, were members, and Cartwright was at one 
time a candidate for the position of secretary of the society. ^* 

The nature of the society's activities is indicated by its com- 
mittee organization and by the premiums and medals offered. 

" Transactions of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manu- 
factures and Commerce, Vol. 1, Introduction; Vol. 3, pp. 124-128; Vol. 4, 
Preface, pp. xvii, xviii (Shipley 's portrait forms the frontispiece to Vol. 4) ; 
Vol. 55, Preface; Dossie, Mem^oirs of Agriculture and other Oeconomical 
Arts, Vol. 1, p. 28 ; Encyclopedia Britannica, 3d Ed., Vol. 17, p. 587 ; Wood, 
History of the Boyal Society of Arts, p. 1, ff. 

" Transactions, Vol. 1, pp. 276-281, and lists of members in the various 
volumes; Anderson, Historical and Chronological Deductions of the Origins 

of Commerce, Vol. 2, p. 407 (Ed. 1764); [Strickland], Memoir of 

Edmund Cartwright, p. 162. 


Its five committees (excluding the committee on a<icounts) were 
concerned with (1) correspondence and agriculture; (2) colo- 
nies, trade, and manufactures; (3) mechanics; (4) polite arts; 
and (5) chemistry. But mechanical interests were by no means 
confined to the committee on mechanics. The terms applied to 
the committees were arbitrary. Agricultural implements were 
under the jurisdiction of the committee on agriculture ; and the 
other committees similarly promoted inventions in their respect- 
ive fields. Its interests even in connection with ** polite atts" 
were in reality quite largely practical. The term included de- 
signing and other branches which the society recognized as of 
great importance to English manufacturers, branches in which 
there was special need of improvement due to the superiority of 
the French. The society was interested in improvements of 
various kinds ; but its most noteworthy work was the promoting 
and rewarding of inventive activity. The principal method used 
was the bestowing of medals and premiums. ** There should be 
a bank of generosity to which such [inventive] genius may with- 
out diflSculty apply, and from which, with certainty, it may ex- 
pect the reward of merit as well as a mark of honor. ' ' This was 
the society's ideal, which, it was claimed, has ** undeniably proved 
the surest means of employing and applying such genius to na- 
tional benefit.'' " 

The wide variety of the society's interests in stimulating 
and rewarding inventive activity is evidenced by the following 
list, far from complete, of devices or piiocesses for which pre- 
miums were offered and paid during its early years : ^^ Plows of 
many types, thistle cutters, scythes, mechanical turnip slicers, 
drills, threshers, horse-hoes, bee-hives, and a large number of 

** Transactions, Vol. 1, pp. 27, 28, 44-49, 280, 281; Dossie, Memoirs, 
Vol. 1, pp. 32-308. 

"Compiled from Transactions, Vol. 1, pp. 3-62; and W. Bailey, Ad- 
vancement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, 


improved processes and products connected with agriculture; 
crucibles, retorts, and numerous devices and processes in chem- 
istry; combing and carding machines, reels, winding and doub- 
ling machines, spinning wheels and spinning machines, looms and 
stocking frames, and many improved fabrics, processes and de- 
signs in the manufacture of cloth; a method of measuring dis- 
tances ; carriages and minor improvements connected with them ; 
handmills, windmills, sawmills, tidemills; hydraulic engines; 
diving bells; methods of floating stranded vessels; compasses, 
valves, gun harpoons, ventilators, umbrellas, locks, augurs, jacks, 
cranes, pulleys, hinges, guages, timepieces; a universal standard 
of weights and measures. The proportion of premiums awarded 
to premiums offered was small. In 1784, a typical instance, 
premiums were offered for 167 items. The number of awards 
the following year was only twenty- two. The society's purpose 
was attained if its suggestions of needed improvements were 
acted upon, even if the resulting invention never came into its 
possession. During the years 1754 to 1782, its awards totaled 
the sum of £28,212, 11 s. 4 d. A large proportion of the awards 
were honorary, and in some cases pecuniary rewards were re- 
turned by inventors. The public-spirited nature of the society's 
work is indicated by the fact that it rewarded inventors who 
were unable to secure patents, and those, also, who were willing 
to contribute their inventions to the public. Rewards were never 
granted for patented inventions; and all machines and models 
for which premiums or medals were awarded, as well as others 
donated to the society, were not to be patented, and were kept 
on public exhibition. ^® 

Indeed, the ultimate purpose of the society was not merely 
to promote ** inventions, discoveres and improvements," but also 
'*the laying open any such to the public." The repository of 

*^ Transactions, Vol. 1, pp. 62, 269, 270; Vol. 2, pp. 271-346; Vol. 4, 
pp. 231-239; Vol. 20, Preface, pp. iv-vi. 



the society was open to the public, according to announcement 
in 1783, every day except Sunday and Wednesday. It was 
stated that since material progress depends **on the improvement 
of mechanical engines,'* **the society have from their institu- 
tion invariably endeavored, by every means in their power, to 
bring forward to public use and notice all such machines as have 
a tendency to promote that end.'' The models and machines in 
their repositories have been **open to the free and uninterrupted 
examination of all persons,'' and from these exhibits **it is well 
known great advantages have arisen, as well to the ingenious 
workmen as to the learned and scientific observers. ' ' ^^ 

Evidence of contemporaneous recognition of the importance 
of the Society of Arts is abundant. In 1765 the city of Liverpool 
gave the society £100, and in the same year, London contributed 
£500 to its treasury. The popularity of the Transactions was so 
great that a third edition of the first volume, for 1783, was 
printed in 1786. Later volumes also were soon reissued. Com- 
mendations of the society's work by writers of the time are ex- 
tremely numerous and in tone superlative, as when Arthur 
Young expressed the view that for every guinea spent by ''this 
most laudable society, ' ' the country had been benefited a thous^- 
and pounds. The office;ps of the society were themselves not un- 
willing to solicit supj^rt on the basis of the praise generously 
bestowed upon the society, and on the ground of the public bene- 
fits accruing from its work. Samuel More, the secretary, wrote 
that no nation had ever received **more real advantage from any 
public body whatever than has been derived to this country from 
the rewards bestowed by this society." ** 

Closely connected in origin and purpose with the national 
society were various local organizations. The compiler of the 

** Transactions, Vol. 1, p. 65, Vol. 13, Preface, p. xv. 
'^ Annual Begister, 1765, pp. Ill (Chron.), 136 (Chron.) ; Annals of 
Agriculture, Vol. 1, p. 64; Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 59, Pt. 1, p. 478. 


Transactions claimed in 1783 that **a great and general effect" 
of the society's work had been not only to produce mechanical 
improvements ** every year increasing,'' but **to excite and dif- 
fuse a spirit of improvement." Another writer stated that 
*' among its benefits is the establishment of other similar bodies." 
Robert Dossie, writing fourteen years after the founding of the 
society, stated that its aim, **to cherish invention and propagate 
intelligence of this sort, ' ' was being emulated not only by many 
individuals but also by ** several country societies." ^' 

Even the Royal Academy of Arts, founded in 1768, was dis- 
tinctly influenced by the Society of Arts. To the influence of the 
two organizations has been attributed the success of Englishmen 
in overcoming their deficiency of taste and skill in drawings, 
designs, and patterns for their rapidly developing textile fab- 
rics and other industries in which they were previously sur- 
passed by the French. It is in this light that Wendeborn, a crit- 
ical German observer, discusses the Academy. The honor of hav- 
ing called the Academy into being was claimed distinctly by the 
Society of Arts. '• 

The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, like the 
Royal Academy of Arts, had aims less practical and concrete 
than those of the London society. But it is worthy of mention 
for two reasons. Its organization was infiuenced by the success 
of the Society of Arts ; atid its interests included the application 
of science to the promotion of mechanical improvement, particu- 
larly in the manufacturing enterprises about Manchester. Under 
its auspices there was organized in 1783 a ** mechanic school," 
under the name of the Manchester College of Arts and Sciences. 

^Transactions, Vol. 1, pp. 40, 41; Encyclopedia Britannica, 3d ed., 
Vol. 17, p. 586 ; Dossie, Memoirs, Vol. 1, Preface, p. x. 

"•Wendeborn, View of England towards the Close of the Eighteenth 
Century, Vol. 1, p. 230, Vol. 2, pp. 194, 197 ; Transactions, Vol. 1, pp. 46-49. 
Wendeborn notes also the organization in 1773 at Liverpool of a Societj 
for the E^GOuragement of Designing, Drawing, and Painting. 


The founders of the school hoped to make it *'a kind of oracle, 
which those might consult who were engaged in mechanical im- 
provements, and who might here, at once, gain that information 
which it might cost them months and years to obtain by their 
own unassisted efforts." The influence of the London society 
appeared in a plan for a repository for the exhibition of ma- 
chines and models of all sorts, particularly in textile manufac- 
turing. But the plan, though credited by the founders to the 
London society, was even more ambitious and far-reaching. In 
the first place, there was to be not merely an exhibit of machines 
and models, but accompanying instruction in mechanical prin- 
ciples. In the second place, instead of having an exhibit in one 
place only, it was proposed that such a '* mechanic school," with 
an exhibit and instructors, should be establisihed *'in every large 
town, and particularly in the center of every important manu- 
facture." This plan was proposed in 1782. As a result, the Col- 
lege of Arts and Sciences was founded the next year. The of- 
ficers of the Literary and Philosophical Society were governors 
of the College. The plan of 1782 was altered, and certain fea- 
tures of a less practical or technical nature were adopted, but im- 
portant elements of the original proposals were included, the 
principal aim being the investigation of physical and chemical 
sciences and their application to improvements in arts and manu- 
factures. '^ 

A society similar to that at Manchester, namely, the Liter- 
ary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, was founded near 
the end of the century, and was devoted largely to *'the scientific 
study and utilization of the two great natural products of this 
part of the country, coal and lead," to **the introduction of me- 

*^Memoi/r8 of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, Vol. 
1, pp^ X, 80-89, Vol. 2, pp. 16-29, 42-46 j and a circular of the "College of 
Arts and Sciences instituted at Manchester, June 6, 1783," dated July 9, 


chanical and other improvements," and to **the establishment oE 

such other manufactures as are peculiarly adapted to this 

neighborhood. ' ' '* 

The various local societies devoted specifically to the en- 
couragement of agriculture, manufactures and useful arts aflPord 
further evidence of the spirit of material progress powerfully 
stimulated by the national society. One of the earliest of these 
societies was observed by Arthur Young in Lancashire during 
his northern tour. It met regularly at Manchester, and like the 
London society, oflfered premiums of various kinds. To its influ- 
ence, Young attributed much of the progressive spirit there pre- 
vailing. '• 

The year 1777 witnessed the origin of the ** Society Insti- 
tuted at Bath for the Encouragement of Agriculture, Arts, Man- 
ufactures and Commerce,'' almost identical in name, it will be 
observed, with the London society. It was organized for the 
counties of Somerset, Wilts, Gloucester and Dorset and the city 
of Bristol. It offered premiums, largely for experimental im- 
provements in agriculture and the invention of implements ; and 
it engaged in various activities of such importance as to lead at 
length to the publication of a series of Letters and Papers, some- 
what similar to the Transactions of the society at London. '* 

The activities of a similar society at Odiham in Hampshire 
included experimental farming as well as the awarding of pre^ 
miums, and the society's interests included manufacturing as 

** Plan of the Litera/ry and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, pp. 5-7. 

"Young, Six Months' Tour through the North of England, Vol. 3, 
p. 194, ff ; To the President of the Agriculture Society at Manches- 
ter, An address by Thomas B. Bayley, 1776. 

*^ Although the London Society did not begin the publication of its 
Transactions until 1783, it had previously issued various premium books and 
other publications, and had secured wide publicity by means of the press 
and special series under its patronage. Concerning the society at Bath, 
see Bules and Orders of the Society Instituted at Bath, etc.; Letters and 
Papers, Vol. 1; and the Annual Begister, 1789, p. 72 (2d part). 


well as agriculture. An interesting phase of its work was the 
buying of improved seeds and implements, and their resale, to 
non-members as well as members, at net cost, **in order to make 
the use of them more common. " "^ 

Various similar societies are mentioned more or less prom- 
inently in the press of the time, as the Lewes, Leicester, Durham, 
Kent, South Devon, East Biding of York, and Melford societies. 
A writer in 1781 observed the prevalence of such organizations, 
supported, he stated, like the London society, *'with such liber- 
ality" as to promise far-reaching results. *• 

In view of the importance of the transition to mechanical 
production in the textile industries in relation to the rise of the 
new type of manufacturers, the connection of the Society of Arts 
with the invention of the textile machines forms a pertinent in- 
quiry. "^ 

Hargreaves' spinning jenny is thought to have been invent- 
ed in 1764, but was not patented till 1770. Arkwright's device 
was patented in 1769. The Society of Arts early offered prem- 
iums for improvements in the spinning wheel, but in 1760 they 
** carried their speculation further," wrote Kobert Dossie in 
1768. * * They offered a premium for the best invention of a ma- 
chine that would spin six threads of flax, cotton, wool, or silk, 
and require only one person to work and attend it. ' ' The prem- 
iums offered in that year were £40 for the best machine, and £20 
for the next best. In 1761 the premiums were raised to £50 and 
£25 ; arid in 1763, to £100 and £50. That the idea was familiar 
to members of the society before the invention of the spinning 
jenny and the water frame is shown by contemporaneous state- 

'^ Annals of Agriculture, Vol. 2, pp. 425, 426; Vol. 3, pp. 231-239, 304, 
ff, 481-490; Vol. 4, pp. 195-197, 321, 322; Vol. 5, pp. 286, 287. 

^ AnnAial Begister, 1781, p. 104 (2d part). 

" Such an inquiry is particularly desirable because of the fact that 
even careful students of these inventions have often ignored the work of the 
society, and have in some eases been misinformed concerning it. 


ments of Robert Dossie, who discussed the views of some of the 
members concerning the spinning machine patented by Lewis 
Paul in 1738. These members, according to Dossie, feared that 
mechanical resources had been exhausted in the expensive at- 
tempt to bring this machine to perfection. And yet, because of 
the pressing need of a better method of spinning, the society, at 
three different times, and with increasing rewards, published its 
proposals calling the attention of inventors throughout the coun- 
try to the nature and urgency of the problem. •* 

Nor were the society's efforts without results. On March 
25, 1761, before a joint meeting of the committees on manufac- 
tures and mechanics, John Webb operated a device for spinning 
two threads and reeling at the same time. The committee 
awarded him the sum of £20. On the same day, Thomas Perren 
received a reward for a wheel with which, as with Webb's de- 
vice, one person could spin two threads at one time. The com- 
mittee reported that ' ' it had been used with success. * ' In April 
of 1762, Thomas Perren received another premium for a wheel 
for spinning coarse linen. This kind of spinning had required 
two persons, *'one to draw out the flax or hemp, and the other 
to turn the twisting wheel." Perren 's wheel not only required 
only one operator but twisted the thread much more accurately. 
In 1763 George Buckley presented an invention which in ac- 
cordance with the society's proposal, spun six threads at a time 
and was operated by a single person. The committee found the 

" Dossie, Memoirs, Vol. 1, pp. 96-98 ; Transactions, Vol. 1, p. 33. See 
also Mantoux, La Bevolution IndustrieUe, pp. 207, 208. Mantouz's thor- 
ough and comprehensive work is here in error. He states that the society 
had in view * * not the construction of a spinning machine — the idea did not 
enter the minds of its members — ^but only an improvement of the wheel." 
Obviously the exact offer of prizes by the society escaped his notice. 
Baines in his History of the Cotton Manufacture also fails to note the vital 
distinction between a machine and a mere improvement in the wheel made 
by the society in its proposals (p. 154). Even Wood's excellent History of 
the Boyal Society of Arts (pp. 257, 258) is here in error. 


machine imperfect, but possessed of merit, and it was adjudged 
capable of improvement. To encourage the inventor in perfect- 
ing it, the committee awarded him twenty-five guineas. On 
April 11, 1764, William Harrison secured an award of £50 for a 
device which, though enabling the operator to spin only two 
threads at a time, was regarded as having great merit, both by 
the society and by the press. The Annual Register referred to it 
as **a masterly improvement'' which, if generally introduced, 
would greatly benefit the nation and **soon increase, by one-third 
perhaps, the number of our most useful hands. ' ' For minor im- 
provements in the ordinary wheel various premiums were 
awarded. ^* 

The attempt of the Society of Arts to solve the problem of 
mechanical spinning was but one of many measures it undertook 
to improve textile manufacturing. The catalog of machines and 
models on exhibit in 1783, and published in the first volume of 
the Transactions, includes a variety of inventions. In addition 
to several other improvements in spinning, there are listed an 
invention for combing, three machines for winding and doubling, 
three machines for winding silk, four looms, including two 
stocking frames, and certain other devices. The inventors of the 
improved stocking frames, in 1765 and 1766, each received £100 ; 
and the invention of 1766 was regarded as of such importance 
that '*a considerable body'' of manufacturers rewarded the in- 
ventor by a subscription. *® 

It is to be observed from the preceding statements that thr3 
society attempted, with some measure of success, to solve the 
problem of mechanical spinning before the time of Hargreaves. 
In 1783, two years before Cartwright's first power-loom patent, 

"W. Bailey, Advancement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, pp. 
195-202; Annual Register, 1764, pp. 66, 67 (Chron.) ; Museum Busticum 
et Commerciale, Vol. 4, pp. 72, 73. 

"^ Transactions, Vol. 1, pp. 314-316; Dossie, Memoirs, pp. 136, 137. 


the society offered premiums for the solution of the problem ot 
mechanical weaving. Its offer was continued during the two suc- 
ceeding years. Even before this proposal was made, the society's 
earlier premiums, according to its own claims, had produced 
**very extraordinary improvements in the loom," the improve- 
ments in the stocking frame probably being referred to. ** 

The influence of the society in bringing about the transition 
to mechanical production in the textile industries cannot be es- 
timated with accuracy. The editor of the Transactions (1783) 
believed, though he did not positively assert, that **the great im- 
provements in spinning, which have taken place within twenty 
years in these kingdoms, particularly in the cotton works in Lan- 
cashire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, etc., are to be assigned to 
the premiums offered and paid by this society." ** Such a view 
is of course unverifiable. Indeed, the evidence justifies the con- 
clusion that the work of the society, though important, was but 
one of a number of manifestations of a very general interest in 
the improvement of the instruments of production. 

The facts of the case abundantly warrant the statement that 
the people of the time were extensively interested in mechanical 
improvement. Men were stirred by a keen sense of change and 
.readjustment reaching to the material foundations of society. 
The general aim, which constituted the first phase of the pre- 
vailing spirit of invention, was to bring about a more effective 
utilization of the material environment. To that end, as the 
second phase, men devised new instruments and processes. The 
final phase was the application of these inventions to productive 

The mechanical revolution was tiot the work of a few indi- 
viduals frequently opposed and unrewarded; it was rather the 
creation of social forces finding expression, to be sure, in the 

"^Transactions, Vol. 1, pp. 32, 217, 218; Vol. 2, p. 338; Vol. 3, p. 292. 
^ Transactions, Vol. 1, pp. 32, 33. 


work of individuals, but even more significantly in governmental 
patronage and in organized, cooperative activities. The men who 
grasped the new machines and by means of them attained wealth 
and power in a newly forming industrial society — the great man- 
ufacturers — were utilizing instruments which were in their ori- 
gin distinctly social. 


The Economic Basis op the New Industrial Group 

The preceding discussion has viewed the great inventions as 
the natural outcome of a remarkable and widespread outburst of 
inventive interest and activity. The great manufacturers in a 
few cases contributed personally to the stock of new inventions, 
but in most instances they merely utilized the devices of other 
men — of men who labored not so much because of hope of reward 
from the manufacturers for the use of their devices as because of 
the inspiration of the prevailing spirit of invention. 

These new machines constituted the instruments of the 
power of the new industrial class. The industrial value inherent 
in the new machines was of course the result of their productive 
and competitive power. This is an obvious fact — so obvious, in- 
deed, that its importance has perhaps not been duly recognized. 
To the people of the time, the fact was far from obvious or com- 
monplace, nor was its importance without recognition. 

By putting oneself in the place of a contemporary observer, 
and by remembering, too, that the eighteenth century mind was 
markedly rational and restrained, we may the more readily per- 
eeive the significance of the superlatives applied to the new in- 
ventions. They are described as ** great and extraordinary;" 
**most wonderful;" ** astonishing;" ** amazing;" '^ almost mirac- 
ulous;" ** unparalleled in the annals of the world." Their ef- 
fect is beyond description, but is likened to a sudden explosion. 
They have reached an ** incredible" perfection, with productive 
value ** beyond the powers of calculation." They give a facility 
to labor ** scarcely conceivable." They have laid **the founda- 


tions of a very extended commerce/' and their effect on industry 
has been progress ** rapid beyond example." The transforma- 
tion is described by various writers as a ** revolution." They 
have enabled the cotton industry to make '*a gigantic stride/' 
to attain an *' enormous height/' and to achieve a '* progressive 
and astonishing increase." As a result of * ingenious machin- 
ery/' the cotton industry **has burst forth as it were, on the 
country in a moment, giving a spring at the same time to the 
industry of the people, unexampled in the annals of the world." 
The inventions have caused Manchester goods '^to spread in ten 
'thousand forms and colors, not only in these kingdoms, but over 
all Europe; and even into distant continents." They are ex- 
pected to produce ** great changes in the appearance of 

the civilized world," and the magnitude of their benefits **can 
scarcely be estimated." The ** discoveries and improvements" 
of the early years of George Ill's reign ** diffuse a glory over 
this country unattainable by conquest or dominion, ' ' and prom- 
ise to '^ stamp a lustre" on his Majesty's reign '^to the latest 

Such are some of the terms of unmeasured praise recurring 
in the writings of the time in recognition of the productive value 
of the new machines. Most writers contented themselves with 

*» AnnaU of Agriculture, Vol. 9, pp. 286, 502, Vol. 10, pp. 253, 281, 579, 
Vol. 12, pp. 513, 514; European Magazine, Vol. 11, pp. 364, 367, Vol. 20. 
p. 216; Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 57, Pt. 1, p. 465; Transactions (of the 
Soeietj of Arts), Vol. 1, pp. 34, 35; Encyclopedia Britannica, 3d ed.. Vol. 
5, pp. 488, 489, Vol. 10, Art. Manchester; Chambers* Encyclopedia, Dedi- 
cation, Vol. 1, pp. i, ii (1786) ; Life of JRobert Owen, Vol. 1, p. 52; J. Aikin, 
Description of the Country from thirty to forty miles round Manchester, 
pp. 172, 174; T., Letters on the UtiUty and Policy of Employ ir^g Machines 
to Shorten Labor, pp. 4, 9; New and Old Principles of Trade Compared, 
pp. 32, 33; T. Giftborne, An Enquiry into the Duties of Men, p. 551; [Og- 

den], A Description of Manchester by a Native of the Town, p. 90; 

An Important Crisis in the Calico and Muslin Manufactory, p. 1 (quoted 
bj Mantoux, La Revolution Industrielle, p. 248) ; Anderson, Historical and 
Chronological Deduction of the Origin of Commerce, ed. 1789, Vol. 4, pp. 
705, 706. 



indefinite exelamations coneerning the nature of the transforma- 
tion, but some attempted definite statements or estimates. 
Crompton's machine often carried 150 spindles and drew weft 
'^to an exact fineness up to 150 hanks in the pound." A tourist 
in the north of England wrote of the ** incredible circumstance" 
of one pound of cotton having been spun by machinery into 356 
hanks, each hank containing 840 yards, a total length of 169.9 
miles. He adds that to enumerate the various kinds of cotton 
goods then made ^ ^ would be to count the sands of the sea. ' ' An- 
other writer marvels at the fact that **with one great water 
wheel, above 4000 threads of cotton yarn are spun at once, of 
which the finest muslins are manufactured." A manufacturer 
estimated in 1791 that by means of machines, ** ability to spin 
was increased an hundred fold" in twenty years. ** 

The exact extent of the increase of productive power cannot 
be ascertained. The increase was by no means uniform, nor was 
it limited to a given period or to a given process or branch of 
manufacture. A modern estimate for the spinning of cotton 
yarn of forty hanks to the pound is to the effect that in 1812 
labor was fourteen times more productive than in 1779, (a vast 
increase of productive power already having taken place), nine 
times more productive than in 1784, and four times more pro- 
ductive than in 1799. *^ 

From the point of view of accuracy, the value of such esti- 
mates, either contemporaneous or recent, is extremely question- 
able. Indeed, to the writers of the time, the extent of increased 
productive power appeared to be measureable not so much by the 
perfection of mechanism and the resulting enlargement of out- 

*• Aikin, Description of the Country Bound Manchester, pp. 172, 

174; European Ma^aeine, Vol. 20, p. 216; Anderson, Historical and Chro- 
nological Deduction of the Origin of Commerce, ed; 1789, Vol. 4, pp. 705, 
706; H. Wansey, Wool Encouraged without Exportation, p. 67. 

*T. Ellison, The Cotton Trade of Great Britain, p. 55. 


put, as by the rapid growth of those industries in which the 
labor-saving devices were being used. 

It was estimated that the income from cotton manufactur- 
ing, including wages, increased from £200,000 in 1768 to 
£7,000,000 in 1788. The gross value of cotton goods, as late as 
1781, was £2,000,000, while in 1787 it had increased to 
£7,500,000. In the processes of manufacture, the value of the 
cotton was increased 1000^© to 5000%. In 1769, not more than 
50,000 wheels were employed in spinning cotton ; twenty years 
later, the number of spindles was nearly 2,000,000. The cotton 
spinning machinery in operation in 1789 could spin an amount 
equal to the output of one million hands with the spinning wheel. 
An estimate of the number actually employed in the factories for 
spinning cotton in 1788 was 110,000, almost half of the number 
being children. On this basis, the productive power of labor in 
spinning was increased by means of the improved machinery 
more than ninefold. The figures are probably exaggerated; but 
since the tendency to exaggerate applied to both sets of figures, 
the proportion would remain about the same. In the view of one 
writer, **the progressive and astonishing increase of this manu- 
facture will be best explained" by the recent four- fold increase 
of cotton imports, w'hich in 1787 amounted to 22,000,000 
pounds. *• 

* Aikin, Description of the Country Round Manchester, p. 178, 

ff. (including extensive quotations from An Important Crisis in the Calico 
and Mttslin Manufactory in Great Britain Explained) ; Annals of Agricul- 
ture, Vol. 12, pp. 513-520; Encyclopedia Briihnnica, 3d ed., Vol. 5, Art. 
Cotton (written about 1790 — see Bibliography). The figures given in An 
Important Crisis were used not only by Aikin but also to some extent by 
the other writers here cited. See critical note concerning this work in S. J. 
Chapman's article on Cotton Manufacture in the 11th edition of the Ency- 
clopedia Britannica, Vol. 7, p. 285. It is not maintained that the figures 
cited above are accurate, nor did the writers themselves pretend an exact- 
ness of information. But there is significance in the fact that important 
writers of the time gave credence to the estimates in an attempt to state 
more definitely the extent of the remarkable growth of industry due to the 
new methods. 


The rapid growth of industry in the new manufacturing 
centers was accompanied by a general economic expansion. 
Further evidences of the remarkable productive power and value 
of the new machines were observed by the people of the time in 
the rapid increase of wealth and growth of population resulting 
from their use, together with the shifting of wealth and popula- 
tion to the north of England. 

The effect of the inventions on Manchester and the surround- 
ing region was a subject of frequent comment and marvel. An 
indication of the change is to be found in the contrast between 
the accounts in the second and third editions of the Encyclopedia 
Britannica. The article on Lancashire in the second edition, 
published as late as 1780, mentioned in detail the streams of the 
shire, stating that the region was thoroughly watered, but other- 
wise the only significance assigned to the streams was to the ef 
feet that one of them * * is noted for producing the fattest eels in 
England.'' The article on Manchester makes no mention of in- 
ventions, and merely states that the town is prosperous and has 
** several curious manufactures known at London by the name 
of Manchester goods. ' ' In the article on Lancashire in the third 
edition, there is a vivid picture of the industrial processes going 
on along the rivers and canals of the region. The article on 
Manchester *^ describes the rapid growth of the city in wealth, 
industry and population. It is estimated that the city trebled 
its population in fifty years, the immediately preceding years in 
particular having witnessed the building of innumerable houses 
and a rapid congestion of population, which is estimated at 
68,580. The city was remodeled, and the new streets were ** spa- 
cious and airy;'' 2,000 street lamps were installed and nearly 
two hundred watchmen were employed by the city. It is esti- 
mated that 20,000 of its population were employed in the fac- 

*^ From internal evidence it is ascertained that this article was written 
in 1792. See Bibliography. 


tories connected with the cotton industry, the remarkable pro- 
gress of the city is specifically credited to **the happy concur- 
rence of ingenuity and industry" and **the astonishing improve- 
ments daily making in its numerous manufactures.'* 

The rate of increase of population is not definitely ascer- 
tainable. That it was extremely rapid is evidenced by the fol- 
lowing vital statistics *® comparing the years 1765-1767 with the 
years 1783-1785 : 

Average annual number of christenings, 1765-67 900 

Average annual number of christenings, 1783-85 1838 

Average annual number of marriages, 1765-67 367 

Average annual number of marriages, 1783-85 807 

Average annual number of burials, 1765-67 811 

Average annual number of burials, 1783-85 1468 

A tourist in 1791 ventured to estimate the population of 
Manchester as having doubled in thirty years, but even this in- 
crease had fallen far short of the increase of wealth — ^the city 
has been ** enriched by the cotton manufactory beyond the pow- 
ers of calculation." To another observer, the ** prodigious num- 
bers of people" employed there is ** almost incredible."" The 
growth of the place is further evidenced by data in contempor- 
aneous city directories. During the transition, several direc- 
tories were published, including the years 1773, 1781, 1788, and 
1794. The number of names of ** principal inhabitants" (such 
alone were included) in 1773 was 1530; in 1781, 1920; in 1788, 
2580 ; and in 1794, 5444. Probable variations in the proportion 
of ** principal inhabitants" to the total population lessen the 
value of the figures. Perhaps more significant is the increase in 
the number of thoroughfares listed. The number of thorough- 

*In Manchester Memoirs,, Vol. 3, pp. 163-167 (compiled by Thomas 
Henry, F. B. S.). 

^European Magazine, Vol. 20, p. 216; G. A. Walpole, New British 
Traveller, p. 470. 


fares included in the directory of 1773 was 167 ; 1781, 197 ; 1788. 
260 ; and 1794, about 600. The number given for 1794 followed 
an extensive remodeling of the city, and the statement is made 
that 61 of the streets had been **laid out but not built upon." 
Before the remodeling of the city, the tendency seems to have 
been to concentrate the new population on the existing thorough- 
fares; afterwards, a tendency toward dispersion naturally ex- 
isted. »® 

The growth of the city was not entirely the result of the 
new inventions; but their preponderant influence was recog- 
nized throughout the country, and particularly at Manchester. 
The general view was expressed by one of Manchester's leading 
citizens, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Barnes, when he spoke of Man- 
chester as a town **the opulence, and even the very existence of 
which, depends on manufactures, and these again upon arts, ma- 
chinery, and invention." Again, we read that if it were not 

for **the engines for carding and spinning cotton wool the 

trade of this country [the region of Manchester] could never 
be carried on to any great extent." Another writer even more 
explicitly asserted the relation between invention and industrial 
growth. The success of the attempts **to substitute mechanical 
for human power," by making production cheaper, more expe- 
ditious and more perfect, **has expanded the villages of Lan- 
cashire into towns next to the metropolis. ' ' ^^ 

The effect of mechanical power at Manchester was remark- 
able ; so also was its influence at Birmingham and in the regions 

"Compiled from Directories as quoted and described in John Har- 
land's Collectanea Relating to Manchester and Its Neighborhood, pp. 119- 
154 (Vol. 68 of Chetham Society Publications). 

"Manchester MemoirSf Vol. 1, p. 89; Annudl Register, 1779, pp. 228, 
229 (Chron.) ; Annals of Agriculture, Vol. 9, pp. 534, 535. See also the 
emphatic protest of the Lancashire^ justices in 1779 against the riots of that 
year, on the ground of Lancashire's dependence on the new machines: An- 
nual Register, 1779, p. 233 (Chron.) ; Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 49, p. 609. 


surrounding these cities, in Staffordshire, and at Liverpool, the 
commercial metropolis of the regions undergoing industrial 
transformation. But the iron and pottery industries experienced 
a much slower progress ; and moreover, the progress in these in- 
dustries depended on local resources even more than on mechan- 
ical improvement. The cotton industry was virtually destitute 
of local natural resources, and was unsupported by the power 
and prestige of men of the class of Matthew Boulton the iron 
master ; and the revolution in this industry was in a unique sense 
a creation of machines. In the regions around Manchester the 
change was almost as marked as at the metropolis. Manchester 
is described as the ** center'' of the new system, the whole of 
which had developed with a ** rapid and prodigious increase 

unparalleled in the annals of trading nations." Various 

other towns are described as ** sub-centers, or satellites around 
Manchester;" and **the whole intervening country takes its 
character from its relation to them." Again, the neighboring 
sub-centers are described as ** appendages" or ** branches." 
** Manchester is the stock of that vast tree which has lately 
grown with such wonderful rapidity, and spread its branches 
through so large an extent of country, — ^the cotton manufac- 
ture." The extent of the spread of power spinning impressed a 
tourist in 1791 as being so vast that it could be but temporary, 
** for there is scarcely a stream that will turn a wheel through the 
north of England that has not a cotton mill upon it." ^^ 

The increase of population in the north of England was not 
confined to the new manufacturing centers, but wherever ob- 
served, it was attributed by many writers to the influence of the 
industries in these centers. The increase in the agricultural re- 
gions and in the port towns was a subject of frequent comment. 

■* Aikin, Description of the Country Bound Manchester, pp. 3, 

4, 176 (see also a review of Aikin 's work in the AncUytical Beview of No- 
vember, 1795) ; European Magazine, Vol. 20, p. 140. 


The country parishes around Manchester and Birmingham sent 
streams of population to these towns, and yet the country re- 
gions themselves increased in numbers of people. This was due, 
it was held, to increased demand for farm products by the peo- 
ple of the new manufacturing centers, just as migration from 
England to the colonies creates a demand for English goods in 
the colonies, and by adding to opportunities for employment 
leads to an increase of population at home. The manufacturing 
industries not only created an increased demand for farm pro- 
ducts, but also fostered various subsidiary industries. Thus the 
growth of population, wealth, and land values in the regions 
around Manchester and Birmingham, as well as in these cities, is 
accounted for by the productive power of the new methods of 
manufacturing. *' 

The industrial expansion in the north of England was a 
national as well as a local asset. The ability of the country to 
meet the financial demands of war and extravagant administra- 
tion was attributed by some writers to the increase of wealth due 
to invention. "The genius of Watt, Wedgwood, and Ark- 
wright has counteracted the expense and folly of the America:', 
war." The vast increase in wealth and revenues was primarily 
attributed by William Pitt in 1792 to the same cause. " 

The remarkable development of the north was vividly de- 
scribed by Arthur Young, who wrote in 1792 that "all the ae- 

"R«v. John Hewlett, An Examination of Dr. Price's Etmy on the 
Population of England and Wales, pp. 6, 15, 16, 22, 133, l.")!, 153; Howlett, 
in Gentleman'g Magazine, Vol. 52, p. 475; J. Wilson, A letter, Commer- 
cial and Political, Addressed to the Ht. Honorable William Pitt, pp. 6, 7, 
24 (on aothoTsbip, see Bibliogr&phj) ; Aikin, Degcription of the Country 

Bound Manchester, pp. 5, 6, 170; Annals of Agriculture, Vol. 7, 

pp. 463, 484, Vol. 18, p. 552, Vol. 19, p. 254 ; Radcliffe, Ongin of the Nem 
System of Manufacture Commonlji Called "Power Loom Weaving," pp. 59, 
60, 83, 66. 

**Wil8on, Letter, Commercial and Political, pp. 6, 7; Increate of Man- 
ufaetvres, Commerce ond Finance, p. 9B; Parliamentary Sietory, Vol, 29, 
p. S33. 


tivity and industry of this kingdom is fast concentrating*' there, 
and the whole kingdom is seeking ^'as immediate a connection 
with coals and manufactures, by means of inland navigation, as 
possible. ' ' '' 

This expansion of northern industries by virtue of mechan- 
ical power was not without cost to less progressive industries. 
Indeed, one of the chief manifestations of the productive power 
of the new machines was the outrivaling of old, established, dis- 
tinctly national industries by the cottons, exotic, laboring 
against monopoly, tradition, and various legal disadvantages, 
and supported merely by superiority of method. 

Comments concerning the encroachment of cotton fabrics 
upon wool, linen and silk are very general. We are told that at 
Wigan, **the cotton manufactory, as in all other places [about 
Manchester], intrudes upon the old staple of the place." The 
wool manufacture at Kidderminster is described in 1773 as **in 
a very flourishing state;" but in 1780 the same writer finds a 
condition of decay and poverty. The war is given as one cause 
of decline, but the rivalry of cotton is emphasized. ** Cotton 
stuffs are now (1780) universally preferred to worsted stuffs, 
and to mixtures of worsted and silk." '• 

The encroachment of ** Manchester goods" upon the so- 
called ** staple" was indeed ** universal," that is, national rather 
than merely local, and was so serious as to arouse grave fears 
in the minds of public men as well as of woollen manufacturers. 
Dean Tucker complained of **the prodigious disuse of coarse 
woollen goods throughout every part of the kingdom, ' ' owing to 
the fact that silks, cottons and linens, ** combined in a thousand 
forms, and diversified by names without number, are now almost 

" In Annals of Agriculture, Vol. 16, p. 552. 

•• Aikin, Description of the Country Bound Manchester, pp. 294, 

406, 438; T. Nash, Collections for the History of Worcestershire (quoted in 
Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 52, pp. 485-487); European Magazine, Vol. 
20, p. 140. 


the universal wear.*' Another writer (Ruggles) complained in 
1790 that ** every woman in the kingdom is clothed in these 
[cotton] fabrics ; most of our household furniture [fur- 
nishings] is made of them. ' ' He, as well as other writers, urged 
that the use of cottons should be discouraged officially; and he 
referred approvingly to the action of a local society in opposing 
the popular consumption of cotton goods. A dealer in woollens 
expressed the fear that woollen manufacturers and their families 
would be driven *4n quest of bread to Manchester,'' the iron 
manufacturing centers also being mentioned in the same connec- 
tion as outrivaling other industries. Lord Sheffield accounted 
for the decline of the West of England woollen manufactures in 
two ways: because of **the use of Manchester goods in many 
articles wherein superfine woollens were formerly used;" and 
because of migrations from the West of England to the West 
Riding of Yorkshire. '^ 

The latter part of Lord Sheffield's explanation of the decline 
of the West of England woollen industry — the migrations to the 
West Riding of Yorkshire — is suggestive of another important 
manifestation of the productive value of machines, namely, the 
superiority of the more progressive woollen manufacturers over 
those who failed to adopt the machines, For in the West of Eng- 
land, the woollen manufacturers were slow in making the transi- 

" Josiah Tucker, Reflections on the Present Low Prices of Coarse Wools, 
pp. 8, 9 (for an extract from his proposed method of enforcing the use of 
woollens by a system of virtual serfdom or peonage, see Bischoff, Compre- 
hensive History of the Woollen and Worsted Manufactures, Vol. 1, pp. 225- 
228) ; T. Ruggles, The History of the Poor, Vol. 1, pp. 99, 195; A Woollen 
Draper's Letter on the French Treaty, pp. 27, 28; John Lord Sheffield, Ob- 
servations on the Manufactures, Trade and Present State of Ireland, p. 190. 
See also The Contrast; or, A Comparison between Our WooUen, Linen, Cot- 
ton and Silk Manufactures, pp. 14, 48, 49 ; Historical and Political BemarJcs 
upon the Tariff of the Commercial Treaty [with France] , pp. 166-168 ; Gen- 
tleman's Magazine, Vol. 52, p. 137; Badcliffe, Origin of Power-Loom 

Weaving, p. 61; W. Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Com- 
merce in Modern Times, Pt. 2, pp. 625, 654, 655. 


tion, while in the West Riding, of Yorkshire the transition fol- 
lowed quickly upon the revolution in cotton manufacturing. A 
woollen manufacturer, arguing in 1791 for the introduction of 
machines into the western counties, wrote that the manufactur- 
ers of Yorkshire, **by dint of such machines and en^nes, not only 
use all their wool, but send down into the west country and buy 
it up out of the very mouths of the wool dealers and clothiers, 
and thereby take our trade with it." ^® 

The effects of the new devices on the growth and shifting of 
wealth, population, and domestic .competitive power constitute 
an impressive demonstration of the economic basis of the new 
manufacturers in the productive value of mechanical methods. 
Not less important is the increase of competitive power in over- 
seas markets, resulting from the use of the new machines. This 
was indeed to the people of the time the chief justification for 
their introduction, the chief argument in extenuation of admit- 
ted evils of temporary unemployment and maladjustment. 

In the decades immediately preceding the transition, the 
question of the effects of labor-saving machines was discussed 
theoretically by various writers, and the consideration most fre- 
quently urged in favor of machines was their value in enabling 
England to compete with other countries. As the transition 
progressed, and practical opposition to labor-saving machines de- 
veloped, the same argument became the chief defense of the 
champions of the new order. 

In the early, theoretical aspects of the controversy, it was 

"H. Wansey, Wool Encouraged without Exportation^ p. 69. To the 
same effect as the statements by Wansey and Sheffield are various others. 
See for instances the statement by another woollen manufacturer, John 
Anstie, Observations on the Importance and Necessity of Introducing Im- 
proved Machinery into the Woollen Manufactory ^ pp. 10-14; and by Sir 
Joseph Banks, P. R. S., in the preface to a pamphlet, Observations on a 
Bill Belating to Wool, etc., p. v. See also Anruils of Agriculture, Vol. 9, 
pp. 503, 504; Annual Register, 1780, p. 197 (Chron.), 1781, p. 196 (Chron.). 


held that command of trade depends on the relative cheapness of 
the commodities offered for sale. England, by reducing the price 
of its commodities, by means of labor-saving inventions, is not 
taking work away from its own laborers ; it is by that means re- 
taining markets which would otherwise be lost to more progres- 
sive nations, or to nations where labor and other costs of produc- 
tion are cheaper. It thus prevents the loss of markets and in 
consequence the loss of employment by workmen. Indeed, it may 
by this means not only retain existing trade but gain new 
markets; and while this may '^ starve the rival workmen," is this 
not to be preferred to allowing other nations to starve our own 
workmen? But labor-saving inventions are to be desired not 
only because of their value in enabling the inventive nation to 
supply the existing demand in the world's markets but also be- 
cause by cheapening commodities they increase the demand and 
lead to enlarged consumption and interchange. No sale can be 
so sure as that *' founded upon cheapness of price," which guar- 
antees **a sure and quick vent" for commodities. Labor-saving 
machines, in brief, are *'of prodigious use in rendering commod- 
ities cheap, and maintaining great numbers of people." *• 

This theoretical justification of labor-saving machines is in 
accord with the views of later writers. The argument recurs in 
a multitude of forms. And to the theoretical argument was 
added the appeal to experience. 

By way of contrast, it is interesting to observe the attitude 
toward French manufacturers before and after the transition. 
There is an account written in 1763 of a newly established cam- 

■• Sir James Steuart, An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Econ- 
omy, Vol. 1, pp. 121-123; Laws and PoUcy of England Belaiing to Trade, 
p. 42 (quoted in Political Essays concerning the Present State of the British 
Empire, p. 213); W. Harte, Essays on Husbandry, p. 38; Political Essays 
concerning the Present State of the British Empire, pp. 168, 169, 209-219. 
The last-named work summarizes the controversy and cites various other 


brie industry in Sussex. It is stated that **the workmen that are 
now employed there are chiefly French;" but the hope is ex- 
pressed that by the apprenticing of English children, **the se- 
crets and mysteries'* of French artisans may soon become known 
to Englishmen. *** Two decades later, the superiority of English 
manufacturers, due to the use of machines, was so obvious as to 
lead them to support the treaty with France for opening up the 
French market. 

An important export to France, as well as to other coun- 
tries, consisted of fustians, the extent and importance of the fus- 
tian trade depending distinctly upon the new methods of manu- 
facturing. A statement of the value of the fustian trade in 1785 
was to the effect that **it brings home to us an annual return of 
above a million sterling from foreign nations;" and the trade 
was said to be more valuable than **an inexhaustible gold mine." 
In 1787 a member of the House of Commons told that body that 
he had seen Manchester goods worn in Normandy within a few 
miles of the chief rival French establishment; and these goods 
had forced their way into the French market in spite of govern- 
mental aid given to the French, the costs of freight, and risks 
of smuggling. Lord Sheffield stated that ** Manchester goods are 
carried from England into France, and there sold as French 
manufactures." Arthur Young commented on the ** almost 
miraculous" state of the cotton industry, and the ability of Eng- 
lish manufacturers to import much of their raw cotton from 
France, pay a French duty of a penny a pound, work it up ** un- 
der the double freights, insurance, and charges — ^land the fabric, 
under 12^^ duty, and undersell those of France from 12 to 20 
per cent and in some articles, much more. * ' "^ 

^Museum Rusticum et Commerciale, Vol. 1, pp. 174-177. 

•* J. Wright, An Address to Parliament on the Late Tax Laid on 

Fustian and other Cotton Goods, p. 7; Parliamentary History, Vol. 26, 
p. 484; Sheffield, Observations on the Commerce of the American States, 
p. 28; Annals of Agriculture, Vol. 8, p. 482, Vol. 10, pp. 253, 254. 


Toung, in explaining this condition, assigned to the new ma- 
chines the chief, though not the only influence, for the French, 
he said, were beginning to copy English machines. He attributed 
the power of English cotton manufacturers to **Yast capitals,*' 
and '^such a mass of attendant skill, invention, nerve, and vigor, 
that no competition can stand before them." It is stated un- 
equivocally by another writer that the superiority of English 
manufacturers of ironware, silk, and hosiery, and chief of all of 
cotton goods, is one of 'Hhe amazing and happy effects of me- 
chanical combinations. " It is impossible, asserts a keen German 
observer of foreign as well as of English conditions, for the Eng- 
lish to sell their goods cheaper than foreigners ** otherwise than 
by the use of machines. ' ' Again we read that the effect of the 
use of the inventions, particularly in Lancashire, has been to 
enable Englishmen to produce their commodities ** cheaper, more 
expeditiously, and more perfectly,'* and **to bring the various 
articles to market in that state of perfection which now so emi- 
nently distinguishes the fabrics of England from those of any 
other country." " 

It is seen that theoretical writers anticipated the competi- 
tive value of machines; that the use of machines was accom- 
panied by an ** almost miraculous" power of English manufac- 
turers; and that the superior competitive power of the English 
was commonly viewed as one of **the amazing and happy effects 
of mechanical combinations. ' ' To this view bore witness not only 
the various general writers cited above but statesmen and public 
ofScials as well and the manufacturers themselves. William Pitt, 

•* T., Letters on the Utility and Policy of Employing Machines to Short- 
en Labor, pp. 4, 5, 6, 9, 10; Wendeborn, A View of England toward the 
Close of the Eighteenth Century, Vol. 1, pp. 235, 236; Rev. A. C. Schom- 
berg, m Annais of Agriculture, Vol. 9, pp. 534, 535. See also Kenriek, An 
Address to the Artists and Manufacturers of Great Britain, p. 18; Histor- 
ical and Political Bemarlcs upon the Tariff of the Commercial Treaty, p. 81; 
[William Eden] , A Short Vindication of the French Treaty, p. 26. 


in his great speech of February 12, 1787, in support of the treaty 
of commerce with France, made the mechanical superiority of 
English manufacturers the principal basis of the liberalism of 
the treaty. Josiah Wedgwood, testifying before a committee of 
the House of Lords in behalf of the manufacturers generally, 
stated that ** there are articles of the utmost consequence to the 
manufactures of this kingdom, as they enable us to baffle all com 

petition with foreign markets These are the machines, 

presses, dies and tools, in which the manufacturers of Great 
Britain excel all the world. " "^ 

The recognition by Englishmen of the competitive value of 
their inventions was closely connected with the interest mani- 
fested by foreigners and particularly the attempts by foreigners 
to apply them to their own industries. The Manchester manu- 
facturers had become so powerful, we are told by a member of 
the House of Commons in 1785, as to be **the pride of this coun- 
try and the envy of foreign nations ;*' and again we read that the 
English cotton industry **has excited the. admiration and 
jealousy of all Europe. ' ' •* 

But the attitude of foreigners was by no means confined to 
admiration, envy, or jealousy. They attempted in various ways 

"Tor characteristic views of public officials and manufacturers, see 
Parliamentary History, Vol. 25, p. 842, Vol. 26, pp. 384, 385, 395, 544; 
^ Parliamenta/ry Begister, Vol. 10, p. 214; Commons JoumaZs, Vol. 37, pp. 
882, 926; Report of the Lords of the Committee of Council (on Irish Reso- 
lutions, 1785), p. 56; Minutes of the Evidence taken before a Committee 
of the House of Commons (on Irish Resolutions, 1785), p. 34; Minutes of 
the Evidence taken before a Committee of the House of Lords (on Irish 
Resolutions, 1785), p. 148 (Wedgwood's statement quoted above); Gentle- 
man's Magazine, Vol. 49, p. 609; Annual Register, 1779, p. 233 (Ghron.) ; 
Sheffield, Observations on the Commerce of the American States, p. 28; Let- 
ter from a Manchester Manufacturer to the Bight Honorable Charles James 

Fox, pp. 14, 15; Anstie, Observations on Introducing Improved 

Machinery into the Woollen Manufactory, p. 15 and passim; Wansey, Wool 
Encouraged without Exportation, pp. 49, 67-70. 

** Parliamentary History, Vol. 25, p. 489; British Merchant for 1787, 
p. 27 (by a writer hostile to the political views of the manufacturers).. 


to secure a knowledge of English devices and to make use of 
them in their own industries. They induced English working- 
men and even master manufacturers and capitalists to go abroad 
They offered rewards to English inventors and artisans to induce 
them to settle abroad. They sent agents to England with letters 
of introduction by which they might secure access to English 
factories for the purpose of securing drawings and first-hand 
knowledge. They appropriated public funds for the encourage- 
ment of factories of the English type. They employed drafts- 
men to copy drawings and specifications from the British patent 
records. They sent representatives to investigate English ma- 
chinery and methods. They offered to purchase English goods 
on condition that samples of the implements with which the 
goods were made were sent with the goods. They attempted to 
stimulate interest in mechanical improvement by public exhibits 
of models of English machines. The principal countries involved 
were Prance, Austria and the Empire, Prussia, Holland, Swit- 
zerland, and the United States. But to Englishmen the chief or 
at least, the most successful of sinners against the attempted 
monopoly of their inventions was Prance. That the Prench early 
succeeded, by the aid of Englishmen, in securing and operating 
the new cotton machinery is attested by many witnesses. Arthur 
Young, for instance, in his Travels, speaks of Rouen as **the 
Manchester of Prance;*' and factories there as elsewhere were 
established and conducted, he informs us, by Englishmen. •' 

** Concerning foreign interest in English inventions, see Commons 
JoumalSf Vol. 47, pp. 559, 560; Parliamentary History, Vol. 26, pp. 544, 
552; Parliamentary Register, Vol. 10, p. 214; Minutes of the Evidence 
Taken before a Committee of the House of Lords (on Irish Besolutions, 
1785), pp. 148, 149, 249, 250; Wendeborn, View of England, Vol. 1, pp. 233, 
234; Meteyard, Life of Josiah Wedgwood, Vol. 2, pp. 551, 552; Wheeler, 
Manchester: Its Politicai, Social and Commercial History, Ancient and 
Modern, p. 171; Life of Bohert Owen, Vol. 1, p. 31; Historical and Polit- 
ical BemarJcs upon the Tariff of the Commercial Treaty, p. 89, n.; The Brit- 
ish Merchant for 1787, p. 18 and passim; A Complete Investigation of Mr, 


The experience of Englishmen with the competitive value 
of their inventions, combined with the various attempts of for- 
eigners to obtain and apply them in their own industries, led to 
the adoption of a policy of monopoly. "" In the absence of in- 
ternational patent laws, Englishmen naturally sought to pre- 
serve for their own use the advantages of their inventions by a 
purely national protective system ; and other nations, not bound 
by an international system to respect the patent rights of Eng- 
lishmen, naturally made it difScult for Englishmen to pursue 
their national policy with respect to patents effectively. Indeed, 
many held it to be impossible, and such a view was made the 
basis of opposition to more liberal trade regulations such as were 
embodied in the Irish Resolutions and the treaty of commerce 
with France, for it was held that since the competitive advantage 
due to superior machinery would be temporary, due to access of 
foreigners to English methods, it was necessary to continue the 
old protective system in commerce. •'^ 

Views concerning the difficulty of preventing foreigners 

Eden's Treaty, p. 80 and passim; French, Life and Times of Samuel 
Crompton, pp. 191, 192 ; Sheffield, Ohservations on the Manufactures, Trade, 
and Present State of Ireland, pp. 200, 201; Journal and Correspondence of 
William, Lord Auckland, Vol. 1, p. 516; Young, Travels in France, 2d ed., 
pp. 523-530, 553, 554 (including quotations from French writers and man 
ufacturers) ; F. Dumas, Etude sur le trait e de commerce de 1786 entre la 
France et VAngleterre, pp. 70, 152-157; G. S. White, Memoir of Samuel 
Slater, pp. 3(5, 37, 71, 283-298. 

" It has been asserted that * ' the policy of endeavoring to retain the ad- 
vantages of machinery for England alone was mooted, but never very ser- 
iously pursued, and it was definitely abandoned in 1825." (Cunningham, 
Growth of English Industry and Commerce in Modern Times, Pt. 2, p. 609). 
The evidence supports the view that such a policy was not merely mooted 
but seriously and comprehensively followed. 

" British Merchant for 1787, pp. 18, 57-63 ; View of the Treaty of Com- 
merce with France, pp. 8, 30-33; Taaiiamentary History, Vol. 26, pp. 493, 
552, 576; Minutes of the Evidence taken hefore a Committee of the House 
of Lords (on Irish Resolutions, 1785), pp. 253-255; Beport of the Lords of 
the Committee of Council (on Irish Resolutions, 1785), pp. 70, 82. 


from utilizing English inventions were, however, exaggerated in 
order to make the political arguments against commercial liber- 
alism appear stronger. In any case the difSculty did not deter 
those interested from attempting to retain exclusive use of the 
machines, and this attempt assumed a number of forms. Legal 
protection was not the sole reliance. Writers and inventors 
were careful not to describe the machines in detail for fear of 
furnishing information to rivals. Workingmen were urged, ou 
grounds of patriotism and self-interest, as well as because of the 
legal penalties, to refrain from taking abroad their skill and me- 
chanicsd knowledge. Manufacturers closed their mills against 
visitors, the outer doors being kept locked to prevent the entrance 
of spies and foreign agents. The government was urged to pro- 
vide proper rewards for inventors in order to induce them to re- 
frain from going to other states with their inventions. The ques- 
tion aroused very general and persistent interest, and held a 
place of prominence in the controversies that raged around such 
policies as the Irish Resolutions and the treaty of commerce with 
France. •* 

The main support of those who sought to reserve to Eng- 
lishmen the use of the new machines was a comprehensive system 
of laws to prevent the inventions or a knowledge of them from 
reaching foreigners. 

Laws of this type were not unknown before the great transi- 
tion to mechanical power, but the earlier statutes involved ma- 
chines which were distinct forerunners of the later epoch-mak- 

•■ [Ogden], Description of Manchester, p. 93; Baines, History of the 
Cotton Manufacture, p. 190; Kenrick, An Address to the Artists and Manu- 
facturers of Great Britain, pp. 47, 48; T., Letters on the Utility and Policy 
of Employing Machines to Shorten Labor, p. 7 and passim; Life of Bohert 
Owen, Vol. 1, p. 31; Julia Wedgwood, The Personal Life of Josiah Wedg 
wood, pp. 228, 229; Meteyard, Life of Josiah Wedgwood, Vol. 2, pp. 551, 
552; Wheeler, Manchester, p. 171; Parliamentary History, Vol. 25, p. 941; 
Vol. 26, pp. 390-392; Commons Journals, Vol. 47, pp. 499, 1088. 


ing textile inventions, namely, the stocking frame and the mech- 
anisms used in the manufacture of silk. The law to prohibit the 
export of the stocking frame (7 and 8 William III, c. 20, sees. 6 
and 4 in Statutes of the Realm, sees. 8 and 9 in Pickering's 
Statutes at Large) was based on the fact that by means of this 
invention ** great quantities are wrought oflF in a little time,'* 
and the purpose of the law, as of later similar statutes, was to 
retain for Englishmen the exclusive benefits of the invention. 
Silk manufacturing as well as the hosiery industry had been car- 
ried on for a considerable period antedating the factory system 
by machinery of an extensive and elaborate type. This machin- 
ery was of Italian rather than English invention, and yet at 
length in 1750 it also became the subject of protective legislation 
(23 George II, C.13). 

This law, as well as a law of 1719 (5 George I, c. 27), sought 
by another means to safeguard mechanical skill — namely, by for- 
bidding skilled workmen to leave the country and by imposing 
penalties upon any who induced or aided them to emigrate. 
There is no evidence that the main intent of the law of 1719 at 
the time of its passage was to protect English machines from for- 
eigners, but it later acquired considerable importance in this con- 

The law of 1750 applied not only to the silk industry but for- 
bade the export of tools and utensils and the emigration of work- 
men employed in the manufacture of woollens as well as of silks. 

This law was but one of many forms of protection enjoyed 
by the woollen manufacturers. They had long had a monopoly 
of raw materials and of the home market, and their natural and 
legal advantages rather than their mechanical superiority, 
formed the chief source of their economic strength. When the 
newer industries, particularly cotton manufacturing, developed, 
their condition was the reverse of that of the woollen industry. 
Having neither natural nor legal advantages, the strength of the 


cotton manufacturers depended primarily upon superiority of 
methods. Soon after the invention of improved spinning ma- 
chines, the question of protecting them from foreigners by legis- 
lation similar to the laws protecting the hosiery, silk, and woollen 
manufacturers was raised in parliament, and the result was the 
law of 1774 (14 George III,"c. 71), forbidding the export of tooh 
or utensils used in manufacturing cotton or cotton and linen 
mixed. This law was used as a weapon against the rebellions 
American colonies, although the nest year, 1775, witnessed a 
slight relaxation of the laws against the export of machines to 
the North American colonies {15 George II, c. 5). 

The laws outlined above foi01)ade the export of machines, but 
this was inadequate, because the machines might be reproduced 
abroad by means of models, sketches, or specifications. In 1781 
this defect in previous laws was remedied by a new law (21 
George III, c. 37) forbidding the export not only of the ma- 
chines themselves but of models or plans or similar information 
concerning machines used in the manufacture of the principal 

By 1782, another branch of textile manufacturing, in addi- 
tion to spinning and weaving, had developed mechanical meth- 
ods vastly superior to earlier processes. This was the printing of 
cloth, particularly of cottons and linens, by means of cylinders 
tn place of blocks. In consequence, a law (22 George III, c. 60) 
was enacted to prohibit the export of machines used in printing, 
and also to forbid the emigration of artisans. 

Legal protection was thus afforded textile manufacturers 
against the use of their machines by foreigners, but in the mean- 
time there had also been developed in the metal industries a 
large number of devices and processes second only in importance 
to those in the textile industries. The manufacturers insisted. 


particularly in connection with the Irish Resolutions of 1785, •• 
that the laws be made to include the improvements in these in- 
dustries. In 1785 a law (25 George III, c. 67) was enacted to 
prevent the export of machines and of models or plans of ma- 
chines used in the iron and steel industry, and also to prohibit 
the emigration of artisans. In the year following, a law (26 

George III, c. 89) supplanted the act of 1785 by a detailed list 
of tools and utensils. This law was temporary, but was renewed 
from time to time till 1795, when it was made permanent (35 
George III, c. 38). 

In 1825 a parliamentary committee favored the repeal of 
these laws, partly because of laissez-faire views, and partly on 
the ground that the existing state of the laws was so chaotic as to 
render enforcement difficult. In some instances licenses were 
granted for the export of machines legally prohibited, but ac- 
cording to a committee reporting in 1841, in the processes con- 
nected with spinning and weaving the policy of monopoly was 
maintained, licenses for the export of spinning and weaving ma- 
chines never having been granted. Means were frequently found 
to evade the laws, but their enactment and the persistent adher- 
ence to the policy of monopoly afford significant evidence of pub- 
lic recognition of the productive and competitive power of the 
great inventions. ^® 

This new power was thus recognized, guarded, and fostercl 
in various ways by the people of the time. The fact that the 
transition was so rapid, and the fact that it was so largely con- 

'^ British Merchant for 1787, pp. 57-63; Minutes of the Evidence taken 
before a Committee of the House of Lords (on Irish Resolutions, 1785), 
pp. 148, 248-258. 

^Report from the Select Committee on the Laws Belating to the Ex- 
port of Tools and Machinery, 1825, pp. 2-9, 47-51; First Report and Second 
Report from the Select Committee appointed to Inquire into the Operaiion 
of the Existing Laws Affecting the Exportation of Machinery, 1841, partic- 
ularly Second Report, p. iv. 

« * * * - 
^ J « * rf 


fined to Britain, gave to the British industries affected an in- 
calcolabte advantage. In a word, the singular productive and 
competitive power of the machine afiforded an unparalleled 
economic basis for the rapid development of manufacturing en- 
terprises, and out of these there arose a new industrial group — 
the great mannfacturers. 

The General Chamber op Manufacturers of Great Britain 

It has now been seen that the inventions were in the first 
place essentially the result of a prevailing spirit of mechanical 
progress, consciously recognized and fostered by writers, by the 
government, and by the concerted efforts of various non-profit- 
making organizations. It has been shown, further, that the pro- 
ductive and competitive value of the new devices was widely 
recognized in the writings of the time, in the ready acceptance of 
machine-made commodities by consumers, and in attempts on the 
part of the government as well as of manufacturers to maintain 
for Britain a monopoly of their use. 

The extensive manifestations of public spirit attending the 
transition favored a public-spirited control and utilization of the 
inventions. But other influences tended in the opposite direc- 
tion — that is, in the direction of an organization of the new sys- 
tem of manufacturing on the basis of private initiative and pri- 
vate profit-making unrestrained by public control and conscious 
efforts to make the inventions minister to public welfare. Among 
these latter forces may be mentioned the prevailing dissatisfac- 
tion with the old system of public control of industry ; the acute- 
ness of party conflicts, which focused attention on political is- 
sues and maneuvers ; the discrediting of the government during 
the crucial period of industrial transition by the failure of 
George III and his ministers in foreign and colonial policy and 
domestic reform ; and the acceptance by Pitt and his followers of 
laissez-faire doctrines. During the earlier stages of the organiza- 
tion of mechanical production, the forces of individualism and 


private gain therefore prevailed with slight restraint. The lat- 
ent disadvantages of such an organization to the laborers and the 
public developed somewhat later under the influence of the pol 
icy of reaction and repression connected with the French wars 
into a system of industrial control essentially anti-social. But 
the disadvantages were at first not fully apparent, and the or- 
ganization of the system assumed a form that was largely spon- 
taneous, undirected, and unrestrained, and in consequence the 
benefits derived therefrom by the workers and the larger public 
were secondary and merely incidental to the benefits secured by 
the manufacturers who fashioned the system. 

The individual members of the new group have in most 
instances remained obscure. Josiah Wedgwood of the StaflFord- 
shire p tteries, and Matthew Boulton, the Birmingham ironmas- 
ter, arc probably the best known members of the group. Sir 
Richard Arkwright, whose name is most commonly associated 
with the origin of the factory system, had little to do with the 
organized activities of the group. By virtue of his control of 
patents, a fight was waged against him, which tended to unify 
the group but to isolate from it the man who, more perhaps than 
any other, was its creator. Even Arkwright 's career is little 
known and has been the subject of numerous controversies 
rather than of well-informed discussion. Jedediah Strutt, the 
Derbyshire hosiery manufacturer and partner of Arkwright, is 
more frequently mentioned because of his inventions and his as- 
sociation with Arkwright than because of his work as a manu- 
facturer. Robert Owen, whose career as a manufacturer began 
at Manchester, has left a remarkable and enduring record of his 
life in his autobiography, but his fame is based mainly upon ac- 
tivities and views beyond the scope of the present study. Thomas 
Walker, a prominent cotton manufacturer and exporter at Man- 
chester, who represented Manchester in seeking the repeal of the 
cotton tax in 1785, and who was otherwise active in the new 

• • 


group, is better known because of his political activities as a local 
Whig leader than because of his career as a manufacturer. Rob- 
ert Peel, pioneer cotton printer of Lancashire, was also an in- 
ventor, and he has been rescued from obscurity mainly by means 
of the fame of his son, the first Sir Robert Peel, and of his grand- 
son, the prime minister. The first baronet of the name had at- 
tained such eminence because of his father's wealth and his own 
manufacturing enterprises as to become in 1790 a member of 
parliament and a **very respectable gentleman," and he, there- 
fore, because of his own career as well as that of his more illus- 
trious son, was able to emerge from the obscurity of the work- 

As for the manufacturers generally, they belonged to hum- 
ble families, and most of them probably sought wealth without 
thought of fame ; and their relations to the beginnings and organ- 
ization of a group that was ultimately to control the country were 
for the most part dictated by the prospect of immediate eco- 
nomic advantage. If there were those who coveted a lasting rep- 
utation by means of industrial pursuits, they were forestalled in 
most cases by lack of '* respectability" if not by lack of dis- 
tinctive achievement. 

That the members of the new group, particularly in the tex- 
tile industries, were recruited from diverse and relatively humble 
classes is commonly recognized. ^^ But notwithstanding their 


See Mantouz, La Bevolution Industrielle, pp. 379, ff.; Hammond, The 
Town Laborer, pp. 7-11. For contemporaneous comments, see Annual Beg- 
%8ter, 1792, Pt. 2, p. 37 (Chron.) ; Life of Bohert Owen, Vol. 1, pp. 22, 37, 
and passim; Minutes of the Evidence taken before a Committee of the 
House of Commons (on Irish Besolutions 1785), pp. 25, 30; Minutes of the 
Evidence taken before a Committee of the House of Lords (on Irish Beso- 
lutions, 1785), pp. 227, 239; J. Wright, An Address to Tarliam^nt 

on the late tax laid on Fustian and other Cotton Goods, p. 27 ; John Holt, 
Survey of Lancashire, 1794 (quoted by Hasbach, English Agricultural La- 
borer, p. 105) ; Gisborne, An Enquiry into the Duties of Men, p. 571. Com- 
ment on the humble origins and narrow outlook of the early manufacturers 



showed a mmrkftd tendenej to became differentiated into a dia- 
t'mft eUflu 

An eridewx of this tenden^ s to be foond in tlie spirit of 
antat^Tii5(m between the landed elaMcs and new BannfactnreriL 
Thi.^ was perfaap^ due in port to tbe disruption of the old estab- 
liiihed »tratifieation of agrieiiltiiral elasHS. The jeooianrir tend- 
ed to become absorb^ in the new industrial elaases; a few of the 
jeomen became eapitali^ie mannfaetnrers^ hot most of them, in 
the region of Lancashire, probably became factory workers. The 
new indn5rtriai also interfered seriously with the preeminenee of 
the aristocracy. There is complaint of the '^inundation of new 
men/^ who *' expel the ancient families, destroy the venerable 
mansions of antiqnity, and place in their stead what seemeth 
f^ood in their own eyes of glaring brick or ponderous stone ;" and 
the countrj' Is urged '*to preserve the memory of those persons 
and those houses whose light is in its wane." The same tendency 
is observed by another writer, who, instead of lamenting, re- 
joices in the rewards of industry in the form of elegant houses 
supplanting the old mansions in the region of Manchester and 
Preston. In reference to the latter town he says that **from the 
number of genteel families with which this town formerly 
abounded, it got the epithet proud. Trade and manufactures 
have made a revolution in this matter," however, and ** instead 
of cards, therefore, for killing time, cards are used by which 
thousands may live." " 

i« int^rettinglj illustrated by the cases of two of the greatest and wealthiest 
of the cotton manufacturers who, in 1785, while expressing their intention 
to remove their enterprises to Ireland, stated before parliament that thej 
had never visited that country. 

'• Aikin, Description of the Country Bound Manchester, pp. 23, 

44, 192, 205, 206, 283, if.; Holt, Survey of Lancashire, 1794 (quoted in 
Hasbach, English Agricultural Laborer, p. 105) ; The Topographer, Vol. 1, 
(for 1789), Preface, pp. iii, iv (London, 1789); European Magazine, Vol. 
20, pp. 216, 217. 


The spirit of disdain assumed .by the landed class toward 
the manufacturers is illustrated by the experience of Cart- 
wright, whose social status was compromised by his ventures in 
manufacturing; by the faint praise accorded Arkwright upon 
his death, who was criticised for his frugality and crudeness, and 
described as a useful though not a great character ; and by the 
custom in Lancashire of denying to manufacturers the privi- 
lege of becoming magistrates. A moralist of the time observed 
this tendency, and he condemned **<the aristocratic prejudices 
and the envious contempt of neighboring peers and country gen- 
tlemen who disgrace themselves by looking down 

on the man raised by merit and industry from obscurity to 

At Manchester this attitude was early apparent, and group 
antagonism was reciprocal. Evidence to this effect is found, for 
instance, in the writings of a Manchester clergyman. Rev. 
Thomas Bancroft, giving expression to the hostility between the 
manufacturers and the aristocracy, and to the growing class con- 
sciousness of the former, and foretelling the destined preemi- 
nence of the industrial group of the north of England. Ban- 
croft, as early as 1777, in poems in the form of letters addressed 
to a friend at Cambridge, described the manufacturing activities 
at Manchester (**Mancunium"), and continued: 

* * This is fustian, rank fustian, I hear you exclaim ; 
But be gentle, my friend, ere you damn it to fame. ' ' 
And concerning Manchester's busy industrial leaders, whom the 
aristocracy looked upon as *' servants around,'* he wrote: 


[Strickland], Memoir of Edmund €artwright, pp. 84, 85; Aii 

nual BegisteTy 1792, Pt. 2, p. 37 (Chron.) ; Hansard's Parliamentary De- 
hates, Vol. 26, p. 100; Gisborne, An Enquiry iiito the Duties of Men, p. 571. 
For a similar discussion, based on the view that **in the school of Mr. 
Burke, trade and manufactures sound meanly,'' see J. Wilson, A Letter, 
Commercial and Politicalf pp. 32, 33. 


**Such are England's true patriots, her prop and her pride; 
They draw wealth from each state while its wants are sup- 
ply 'd; 
To mankind all at large they are factors and friends, 
And their praise with their wares reach the world's farth- 
est ends. 

Is it then, ye vain lordlings ! ye treat us with scorn, 

Because titles and birth your own fortunes adorn t 

What worth to yourselves from high birth can accrue t 

Are your ancestors' glories entailed upon yout 

And is your lazy pomp of much use to a nation t 

Are not parks and wide lawns a refined devastation t 

But peace — 't is presumption, — ^too much would demean 

To hold converse with upstarts, a vulgus profanem. 
Their blood in pure currents thro' ages conveyed 

It were impious to taint with the contact of trade." 

In a succeeding letter he describes the early vicissitudes and 

later triumphs of Industry in Venice and Holland, and in pro- 

phetic strain foresees the shifting of power in England to the 

industrialized north of England : 

**At length (thanks to heav'n) she is freed from her thrall, 
And her weeds has thrown oflf to reign empress o'er all. 
Yet her mansions in chief she has fixed on our shore. 
Where freedom and justice maintain her in power. 
See around — ^but around it were needless to roam ; 
For the climax reversed, we may look nearer home. 

For thy glory, Mancunium, these tributes are paid."'* 
The new manufacturers, it is evident, became serious rivals 

^* Quoted in John Harland, Collectanea Eclating to Manchester and Its 
Neighborhood, Vol 2, in Chetliam Society Publications, Vol. 72, pp. 216-218. 


in the north of the aristocracy, and began early to assume a 
position as a distinct and important group, so that it was no 
longer possible for ''the indolent and ignorant Great" to class 
them with the laborer and ''confound them indiscriminately 
with the refuse of mankind.** '* 

Many of the manufacturers had indeed emerged from what 
the "Great*' were often disposed to look upon as "the refuse 
of mankind.** But their rise involved a strengthening of the 
barriers already existing between employers aiid employees in 
manufacturing enterprises ; and the enlargement of these barriers 
is another manifestation of the early differentiation of the new 
manufacturers from other groups. The idyllic pictures of the 
domestic system of manufacturing painted by the opponents of 
the factory system must unfortunately be largely discounted; 
and in lace manufacturing, in hosiery making, in mining, and 
perhaps most notoriously of all, in agriculture, conditions were 
not markedly better than in the factories. Indeed, a study of 
the sources of factory labor in the late eighteenth century indi- 
cates that the condition of the working classes during the period 
of the present investigation was improved, or in any case was 
prevented from becoming worse, by means of the opportunities 
afforded by the factories. ^* But aside from the question of wel- 
fare, the factory laborers in any case began to assume the traits 
of a definite, distinct group ; and the emergence of this new type, 
the industrial proletariat, during the late eighteenth century, 
sharpened the contrast between employer and employee, and 
further differentiated the new manufacturers from other groups. 

The clear distinction between manufacturer and laborer 

"W. Kenrick, An Address to the Artists and Manufacturers of Great 
Britain, p. 20 (applied by the author in a slightly different but similar 

^ Such a study has been made by the writer, but the results of the study 
cannot conveniently be incorporated in the present paper. 

THB nmor thb 

WM indeed largdj the result of the transitioii to meehanieal 
metbode; but the diflEerenees between manafaeturer and mer- 
ebant had hmg been mailed, and partienlarlj so in the ease of 
merehants in foreign eommeree. The mereantile elaas, indeed, 
stood next in status and infloenee to the landed aristocracy, and 
both looked with eondeseension ap<m the petty manufacturers of 
the older type. The differentiation continued to a large extent 
during the early stages of the rise of capitalistic manufacturing, 
and was noted by Robert Owen, who contrasted the early cotton 
manufacturers about Manchester with "the foreign merchants, 
or rather the merchants in the foreign trade." A similar dis- 
tinction was made by Robert Peel in 1785. The differentiation 
was not a result of the transition ; it tended to survive from an 
earlier period. But it did not survive intact ; and herein is the 
significance of the relations between merchants and manufactur- 
ers as an indication of the rise of a new capitalistic group of 
manufacturers. The older manufacturers, of a petty type, found 
it impossible to act as their own selling agents in the larger 
markets. But this was not the case with the new manufacturers, 
whose enterprises became highly capitalized and extensive in 
scope. They began in consequence to supplant the merchants 
and to assume on their own account the functions formerly 
monopolized by the trading class. This tendency seems to have 
been accelerated by the disasters to commercial houses resulting 
from the American Revolution and the extensive European eco- 
nomic coalition against England during the war. Goods were 
being shipped at the risk of the merchants, who suffered severely ; 
while the capital invested in manufacturng remained intact. 
**Our manufacturers," we are told by a writer in 1793, **with 
their skill and their capital unimpaired, began early to explore 
new markets and to improve those already known ; and from this 
date [the American Revolution] commenced that rapid increase 
of export to the Continent of Europe Since the last peace 


[1783] our manufacturers have almost universally acted 

as merchants, and shipped their goods on their own account." ^^ 

The fact that the new manufacturers were able, financially 
and from the point of view of business organization, to become 
their own factors in foreign trade indicates, furthermore, their 
differentiation from the older type of petty manufacturers. The 
contrast between the two groups was emphasized by the contro- 
versy in 1789 over the Piece Goods Bill, involving a duty on the 
sale by auction of certain types of goods, — a controversy des- 
scribed by speakers in parliament as a '^ competition between the 
small and the great manufacturers. ' ' A similar regrouping and 
conflict among woollen manufacturers was evidenced by the pe- 
tition of West Biding of Yorkshire clothiers in 1794 against the 
tendency toward capitalistic organization in the region of the 
modernized woollen industry. The petitioners complained that 
the manufacture of cloth **with a very trifling capital, aided by 
the unremitting labour of themselves, their wives and children, 
united under one roof,'* — a system which **has so happily long 
prevailed in Yorkshire, is now in danger of being broken in upon 
and destroyed," by a new system, '* supported by great cap- 
itals," and carried on in ** large factories." ^® 

An exact comparison of the capital invested under the new 
organization of industry with the capital previously invested is 
impossible. Ideas of what constituted capital were not clearly 
defined. But by a study of the impressions made upon the people 
of the time, and by casual statements of individual incomes, it is 
evident that by 1790 there was an unprecedented development 
of capitalistic production. Robert Owen wrote of **the new 

^ Life of Bohert Owen, Vol. 1, p. 37; Minutes of the Evidence taken 
"before a Committee of the House of Commons (on Irish Besolutions, 1785), 
pp. 20,' 21; J. Wilson, A Letter, Commercial and Political, pp. 21-23; Aikin, 
Description of the Country Bound Manchester, pp. 182, 184. 

"Parliamentary Begister, Vol. 26, pp. 444-447 (Ist pt.); Commons 
Journals, Vol. 44, pp. 544, 545, Vol. 49, pp. 276, 277. 


great cotton lords/' and incidentally of one man in particular, 
who, about 1790, ''made seventeen thousand pounds of profit in 
each of two successive years," and ''had made great advances to 
become a first-rate and leading 'cotton lord.' " Various cotton 
manufacturers testified in 1785 that they paid from £20,000 to 
£26,000 a year in excise taxes alone. It was stated at Arkwright's 
death in 1792 that his son and daughter each received £200,000, 
and that his cotton factories were "worth as much more." The 
increase of wealth among the woollen manufacturers in the more 
progressive centers was also very marked. An estimate was 
made in 1791 that manufacturers then living, who had begun 
business with very small capitals^ were then worth £500,000, and 
in one or two cases, not specified, worth even more. Such sums, 
in contrast with the petty capitals ordinarily invested in manu- 
facturing, and in view of the relatively large purchasing value 
of money, are of no mean significance. The capital invested in 
manufacturing enterprises about Birmingham and in Stafford- 
shire by such men as Boulton and Wedgwood was also very ex- 
tensive. But the value of the metal industries, and even of the 
potteries, was perhaps more largely a gift of nature than a crea- 
tion of the new methods. ^* 

The wealth of the new manufacturers, their power at home 
and in foreign commerce, and their claims to public recognition, 
were matters of frequent comment. Arthur Young, who seems 
never to have lost an opportunity to contrast the skill, enter- 
prise, and scorn of legal support on the part of the new manu- 
facturers with the conservative, petty, and monopolizing spirit 

^Life of Bohett Owen, Vol. 1, pp. 31, 40; C. S. Parker, Sir Bohert 
Peel, Vol. 1, p. 4; Minutes of the Evidence taken "before a Committee of 
the House of Commons (on Irish Besolutions, 1785), pp. 8, 18, 30; TarliO' 
mentary History, Vol. 25, pp. 838, 852; Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 55, 
Pt. 1, p. 449; Annual Begister, 1792, Ft. 2, p. 37 (Chron.) ; Annals of Ag- 
riculture, Vol. 17, p. 114; Thoughts on the Causes of the Present Failures, 
pp. 5, 7, 13, 14. 


of the older types, attributed the superiority of the former in 
part to machines and in part to larger capital. Go to France, he 
exclaims, with characteristic exuberance, and look for such a man 
as Arkwright, and you will look in vain. **Can one man, with 6 
or £8,000 capital, bear the rivalry of another, with £100,000?'' *« 

It was inevitable that the newly risen * 'lords'* of industry 
should demand political recognition. In the debates of the time 
on the com laws, the navigation system, taxation, and commer- 
cial laws and treaties in general, their economic status and their 
interests were reiterated in various forms. In connection with 
the debates on the treaty of commerce with France (1787), it 
was asserted by a member of parliament that the manufacturers 
were mentioned by every speaker. The statement was almost 
literally true. A member of the House of Lords asserted that, 
weighed in the balance with men of such ingenuity and enter- 
prise as certain of the new manufacturers, '^ ministers and anti- 
ministers would together kick the beam. " *^ 

In view of their status and the recognition of their import- 
ance, and in the light of the current agitation for the reform of 
parliament, it is naturally to be supposed that the new manu- 
facturers would have sought to bring about a change in the 
electoral and representative system such as would have given 
them a proi)ortionate voting power in the House of Commons. 
The press and political leaders in favor of a reform of parlia- 
ment were not slow to seize upon the growth of the new indus- 
trial class as an argument for reform. It was indignantly as- 
serted that **the monied interest is not represented at all." The 

■•In Annals of Agriculture, Vol. 7, pp. 272, 273. See also, Josiah 
Tucker, Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects, pp. 34, 35; 
Commons Journals, Vol. 36, pp. 15, 239, 953, 954; Thoughts on the Causes 
of the Present Failures, p. 13; Increase of Manufactures, Commerce and 
Finance, pp. 40-47, 59, ft, 

*^ Parliamentary History, Vol. 26, p. 494; Parliamentary Begister, Vol 
18, p. 34 (2d part). 


ipreatest manufacturer or merchant ''has not the privilege of a 
beggar in a Cornish borough. Accordingly, the great manufac 
turing towns of Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, &c., have 
no representation in parliament." Similar contrasts were re- 
peatedly made by Wilkes, Fox, and various others. ®* 

And yet it is a singular fact that the manufacturers them- 
selves were indifferent in respect to reform. During the period 
of most vigorous and most general agitation, when petitions in 
large numbers from nearly every part of the country assailed 
the House of Commons, the new industrial centers were not 
enough interested to send petitions. ^' The absence of such peti- 
tions, in spite of the many appeals to these regions to support 
reform, afforded the opponents of reform an opportunity which 
they cleverly utilized. A speaker in 1783 (Mr. Powys), in op- 
posing Pitt's motion for a reform bill, minimized the importance 
of various petitions. ''Manchester and Birmingham, however, 
he was determined to hear, and to pay particular attention to. 
They were great trading towns, and their petitions ought not to 

be slightly passed over, in the usual manner He must 

have the whole of what they contained explicitly and distinctly 
made known to the House, and for that purpose desired the 
clerk to read them. The clerk turned over and over again ; but 
no such petitions being found, he told Mr. Powys that neither 
Manchester, Birmingham, nor Sheffield were in the list. Not in 
the list! said Mr. Powys — good God, what a misfortune!" Lord 
North also called attention to the lack of petitions from these re- 

** Political Begister, Vol. 2, pp. 224, 225; Parliamentary Begiater, Vol 
3, p. 439; Parliamentary History, Vol. 18, p. 1292, Vol. 23, p. 863, Vol. 24, 
p. 999, Vol. 30, p. 789. 

"Commons Journals, Vol. 39, January to May, 1783; Vol. 40, Febru- 
ary to AprU, 1785. During the revival of reform agitation in connection 
with the French Bevolution, these regions continued indifferent to the move- 
ment. A petition from Sheffield in 1793 (Parliamentary History, Vol. 30, 
p. 776) is an exception, but the tone of the petition indicates that its basis 
was not economic but political — an outgrowth of revolutionary sympathies. 


gions, and twitted the proponents of reform for having taken 
great pains to secure petitions with the result that they were 
able only to say: '*What horrid sound of silence doth assail mine 

There is further and more positive evidence of the indiffer- 
ence of the new manufacturers to parliamentary reform. Even 
Pox, who at the time was representing himself as a champion 
of the manufacturers, and who would eagerly have availed him- 
self of any evidence of their interest in reform, explained their 
indifference on the ground that they were ** threatened with 
ruin'* by the cotton tax of 1784 and by the Irish Resolutions of 
1785, and were **on the eve of emigration" to Ireland and else- 
where, and for that reason considered it **no time to set 

about making improvements in the constitution." That the at- 
tempts of politicians to gain the support of the manufacturers in 
political issues was opposed by leading manufacturers is indi- 
cated by their own statements. *' 

Furthermore, there is evidence that the industrial classes 
at Manchester and Birmingham experienced a species of pride in 
their aloofness from politics, other than the promotion of eco- 
nomic policies directly involving their own interests. This aloof- 
ness existed in local as well as national politics. These cities noi 
only had no representation in the House of Commons, but lacked 
as well the chartered privileges prized by many of the older 
cities. They were governed by an old and simple organization, 
in which the traditional restrictions of charters and gilds played 
no part. Manchester was ruled, indeed, by the steward of the 
Lord of the Manor. The manufacturers prided themselves on 
desiring to wear no ** party-colored robes," and it was frequently 

** Parliamenary History, Vol. 23, p. 837; Vol. 25, pp. 458, 459. See also 
Ibid,, Vol. 23, pp. 850, 851; Vol. 24, p. 988; Vol. 25, pp. 463, 466, 467. 

'^ Parliamentary History, Vol. 25, pp. 466, 467; The Journal and Cor- 
respondence of William, Lord Auckland, Vol. 1, pp. 92, 93. 


held that the lack of representation and the absence of chartered 
and gild reflations were among the chief advantages of these 
towns. For "thereby the attention of the indostrioua manufac- 
turer can geldom be called off, by the interference of party in- 
terest; and that grand principle which should ever animate a 
flourishing commercial establishment universally pervades the 
great body of the inhabitants, that of the uninterrupted appli- 
cation of each individvul who composes it to his own peculiar 
concerns. " *' 

It is apparent that the manufacturers of the new type were 
little interested in parliamentary representation, or even in local 
politi<^. For the most part they desired to be let alone and al- 
lowed "uninterrupted application" of their energies to their 
"own peculiar concerns." 

But when their "own peculiar concerns," that ie, their eco- 
nomic interests, were directly involved in affairs of polities, they 
were not slow to manifest an interest in political life. And it was 
this connection between their economic interests and polities 
that counteracted the individualistic tendency of the manufac- 
turers and furnished the incentive for comprehensive group or- 
ganization. But before the influence of politics upon the general 
organization of the manufacturers is discussed, mention should 
be made of earlier manifestations of the tendency toward organ- 

A general organization was not without basis in preexisting 
local groups of manufacturers and merchants. Woollen manu- 
facturers of York, Lancaster and Chester were organized with a 
semi-official status in 1777, and later the woollen manufacturers 

"[Ogden}, A Deseription of Matmheater, pp. 93, 94; A Companion to 
the Leasovieg, etc., pp. 15, 18 ; John Campbell, Political Survey of Britain, 

Vol. 1, p. 323 ; Aikin, Description of the Country Bound Manchetter, 

p. 191; Wright, An Address to Parliament, pp. 28, 27; Hanunond, 

row* Laborer, p. 47. 


of other regions were allowed to organize in a similar manner. 
Iron manufacturers of Salop, Worcester, Stafford and Warwick 
organized and held quarterly meetings previous to the general 
organization of the manufacturers in 1785. Organized bodies, 
made up in some places of merchants and manufacturers, in 
other instances of manufacturers only, existed in several of the 
leading towns, including Manchester, Birmingham and Liver- 
pool. *' 

There was thus a local basis for a general organization. Sug- 
gestions, moreover, for a general organization had been made 
before 1785, and independently of the political situation in that 
year, out of which the actual organization emerged. 

One of these suggestions was contained in a petition to the 
House of Commons as early as 1779. The organization therein 
proposed was for another purpose, however, and was to include 
only the cotton and linen manufacturers. This petition set 
forth the need for a reorganization of capital in manufacturing. 
It asserted that *'a manufactory for making and printing cot- 
ton and linen cloths upon a more extensive plan than has hitherto 
been practiced would be of great benefit to the kingdom ;'* that 
for such a purpose, **a very large capital or joint stock'* is neces- 
sary; that ** several persons are willing to subscribe considerable 
sums of money for the purpose ;'^ that the existing state of the 
law would make the subscribers individually resjwnsible, and 
would impose many difficulties; and that a bill is desired, pro- 

. •^Commons Journals, Vol. 37, pp. 393, 773; Vol. 39, pp. 250, 455; 
Vol. 40, pp. 78, 611, 647, 761, 867, 998, 1000, 1024; Parliamentary History, 
Vol. 25, pp. 365, 840; Parliamentary Register, Vol. 21, pp. 275, 276; Min- 
utes of the Evidence taken before a Committee of the House of Commons 
(on Irish Resolutions, 1785), pp. 47, 70; AnnaZs of Agriculture, Vol. 10, 
pp. 402-418; Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, March 9, 1785; R. Brooke, 
Liverpool as It Was during the last Quarter of the Eighteenth Century, 
p. 232; J. A. Langford, A Century of Birmingham Life, Vol. 1, pp. 315, 
316, 359. 


viding for a special organization 'Mnto a separate and distinct 
body politic and corporate," with liberties and privileges sub- 
ject to regulation by parliament. A bill to this effect was 
ordered, but the project was apparently dropped, and the or- 
ganization of the new industries assumed a form highly indi- 
vidualistic instead of in accordance with the older tjrpe of quasi- 
public chartered company, prevalent in commercial enterprises. 
The idea was revived in 1788, although again without result, by 
Manchester manufacturers, who proposed to obtain permission to 
form a company modeled after the East India Company. •* 

Another suggestion for a national organization, broader in 
scope than that outlined above, was made in 1783. At that time 
it was proposed to form a ''Chamber of Commerce," which was 
to be auxiliary to the government, furnishing information and 
advice in connection with commercial and industrial policies. It 
was suggested, apparently, by knowledge of the chambers of 
commerce on the Continent. *• 

Neither of these ideas was carried out. The actual organ- 
ization included manufacturers other than those in the cotton 
and linen industries, as was proposed in 1779, but it included 
manufacturers only, excluding merchants, whom the plan of 
1783 would have recognized prominently. It was not concerned 
primarily with the administration of business, as was the plan 
of 1779, and its relation to the government was different from 
the relations proposed in both of the earlier plans, 

Organization was a natural accompaniment of the rise of 
the new manufacturers to a position of wealth and recognized 
importance in the economic life of the country. But the indi- 
vidualistic tendencies and the diversity of interests among th«3 
manufacturers raised up serious obstacles, and the stimulus nec- 

•■ Commons Journals, Vol. 37, pp. 108, 147 ; Wheeler, Manchester, p. 175. 
•• Plan of the Chamber of Commercey a work reriewed favorably in the 
Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 53, Pt. 1, p. 331. 


essary for organized unity was political. The needed stimulus 
was a common antagonism to the excise and Irish policies of the 
government of William Pitt. 

In 1774, Richard Arkwright & Company had succeeded in 
securing the modification (14 George III, c. 72) of earlier re- 
strictions on the manufacture, sale, and use of cottons, and the 
industry) developed with unparalleled rapidity. Among the 
most urgent and most difficult of the problems confronting Pitt 
when he became head of the government in 1783 was the reor- 
ganization of finance. As a part of his fiscal policy he secured 
the enactment in 1784 of a new cotton tax, which considerably 
increased the amount of the revenue and provided for methods 
of collection extremely obnoxious to the manufacturers. This 
law (24 George III, c. 40) met with a furious storm of hostility, 
due less to the extent of the taxation than to **what is still 
worse,'* the fact that their ** liberty and property" were ** fet- 
tered and embarrassed." They objected to excise laws in gen- 
eral, but held that the cotton tax was the most harmful of ex- 
cises because of **the amazing number of excise oflScers neces- 
sary," whose influx tends fatally **to disturb the harmony and 
arrangements of their manufactures, to deprive them of per- 
sonal liberty, and the free exercise of their property. ' ' *® 

In view of the prevalence of high taxes and of excise meth- 
ods not essentially diflferent from those embodied in the cotton 
tax, the extreme hostility that the cotton tax aroused is explic- 

•• Commons Journals, Vol. 34, pp. 435, 436, 496, 497, 708, 709, 805, 
Vol. 40, pp. 642, 760, 819; Minutes of the Evidence Taken before a Commit- 
tee of the House of Commons (on Irish Resolutions, 1785), p. 66; Minutes 
of the Evidence Taken before a Committee of the House of Lords (on Irish 
Resolutions, 1785), p. 222; Parliamentary History, Vol. 25, pp. 362, 365, 
366, 480; Parliamentary Register, Vol. 17, p. 425, ff.. Vol. 18, p. 91, ff.; 

Wright, An Address to Parliament on the Late Tax, etc., pp. 37-55, 

and passim; Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, April 6, 15, 18, 1785; 
Dowell, History of Taxation and Taxes in England, Vol. 4, pp. 343-3^6. 


able only on the grounds that it was in the first place, ill adapted 
to the new and complex STstem of mechanical and large-scale 
prodnction in the cotton indnstry; and in the second place, out 
of harmony with the rising: tide of individualism and laissez- 
faire, which was rapidly overwhelming t-he old system of govern- 
mental relations to industry. 

Organized opposition to the excise first assumed the form of 
a committee of four manufacturers, including Thomas Walker, a 
local Whig leader, delegated by Manchester manufacturers to 
represent them at London in an effort to secure the repeal of the 
law. In January, 1785, Walker and one of his associates were 
brought before the Committee on Trade and Foreign Plantations 
and questioned concerning Irish relations, in an effort to secure 
from them, without their knowledge of the object of the ques- 
tioning, stRtements which wonld commit them to the policy later 
presented to the public in the form of the Irish Resolutions. The 
statements made by the manufacturers on this occasion, which 
they understood was concerned with the cotton tax, were used by 
the government in an attempt to discredit the manufacturers by 
securing evidence of inconsistency and self-seeking, as well as 
to cause them to commit themselves unknowingly to the princi- 
ples of the government's Irish policy. Walker and his associate 
were later repeatedly confronted with quotations from their 
statements, and cross-examined, and treated in a manner which 
was characterized by a member of parliament as "most acanda- 

By such methods the government defeated its own ends with 

"Btfport o/ the Lordi of the Committee of Council (on Irish Resolu- 
tiouB, 17S5), pp. 53-61; Minutes of the Evidence taken before a Committee 
of the Home of Commong (on Irish BesolutionB, 1785), pp. 6, 47-90; Min- 
ute* of the Evidence taken before a Committee of the House of Lord* (on 
Irish BeBoIutions, 17S5), pp. 185-190; PaTliamentary Hittory, Vol. 25, p. 

837 ; Aikin, Veieription of the Country Bound Manchetter, pp. 263, 



respect to the Irish Resolutions as well as the cotton tax. Man- 
chester manufacturers were needlessly embittered, and were 
forced to associate the government's fiscal policy at home with 
its commercial policy toward Ireland; and they were provided 
with a raison d'etre for their skillful utilization of the influence 
of the whole body of manufacturers against both policies. Hence- 
forth the two policies were inextricably joined, and the whole 
force of industrial influence was directed against both. 

The Irish question, ever a thorn in the side, was rendered 
acutely piercing in the case of Pitt's government, 1783-1785, by 
pressure of disturbed conditions inherited from the preceding 
ministry. Pitt, recognizing Ireland's newly acquired legislative 
independence, was at once confronted with the problem of eco- 
nomic reorganization. His policy, formulated in the so-called 
Irish Resolutions or Propositions, came from the Irish parlia- 
ment for consideration in the English House of Commons in 
February, 1785. 

According to Pitt 's own interpretation, his policy embraced 
two ''capital points," namely, the admission of Ireland to par- 
ticipation in England's colonial and foreign trade (with certain 
restrictions), and the mutual reduction of tariffs on manufac- 
tured goods to the rate in that kingdom where existing duties 
were the lower. Various important exceptions, however, were 
made in favor of the landed class, merchants, and older types 
of manufacturers, while no attempt apparently was made to con- 
ciliate the newer manufacturers. For instance, the Irish had 
equal access to the raw materials and the implements and ma- 
chines used in the cotton manufacture, whereas English wool of 
all descriptions, fuller's earth and other materials, and the tools 
and utensils used in the manufacture of wool were denied export 
to Ireland. The chief advantage to be gained by Ireland was 
by a provision that importations from foreign states were to be 
''regulated from time to time in each kingdom on such terms 


as may afford an effectual preference to the importation of simi- 
lar articles the growth, product or manufacture of the other." 
This provision, though stated in general terms, was primarily 
intended to secure the importation of Irish linens into England 
to the exclusion of foreign linens ; and the English cotton, iron, 
and pottery manufacturers resisted this extremely illiberal pol- 
icy of exclusion on the ground that it hindered reciprocal com- 
mercial relations with those countries which were seeking a linen 
market in England. *' 

The Irish Resolutions, like the cotton tax, encountered the 
fierce hostility of the newer manufacturers. The exclusion of 
foreign linens to the prejudice of reciprocal commerce was but 
one of many reasons for opposition as set forth by the manu- 
facturers. Pitt himself, in his private letter of January 6, 1785, 
to the Duke of Rutland, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, "' quite 
frankly admitted the probability of the shifting to Ireland of 
certain English industries in consequence of the Resolutions. 
Many of the manufacturers shared Pitt's view — an attitude ill- 


The text of the Resolutions as thej passed the Irish parliament an<1 
as outlined above may be found in Parliamentary History, Vol. 25, pp. 312- 
314. For text of the revised Resolutions, as amended in the English House 
of Commons, see Ibid., pp. 934-942. The Resolutions were explained and in- 
terpreted in Beport of the Commissioners of Excise to the House of 

Commons, in Beport of the Commissioners for His Majesty *s Cus- 
toms, both published in 1785, and in Correspondence between the Bight 
Honhle, William Pitt and Charles, DuJce of Butland, Lord Lieutenant of 
Ireland, 1781-1787, particularly in Pitt's letter of January 6, 1785, pp. 55- 
75. See also J. H. Rose, William Pitt and Natioftai Bevivdl, c. 11, and 
J. G. S. MacNeill, Constitutional and Parliamentary History of Ireland till 
the Union, c. 17. Concerning the attitude of the manufacturers toward the 
exclusion of foreign linens, see Minutes of the Evidence Taken before a 
Committee of the House of Commons (on Irish Resolutions, 1785), pp. 181- 
183; Minutes of the Evidence Taken before a Committee of the House of 
Lords (on Irish Resolutions, 1785), pp. 150-152, 176, 177; Lords Journals, 
Vol. 37, pp. 312, 323, 324; Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, March 23, 
1785. • 

** Cited in the preceding footnote. 


adapted to reconciling them to the government's policy. Such a 
view of the effect of the Resolutions was promoted by the fact 
that ''so long as water power was the chief agent employed in 
manufacturing [and it was of course the chief agent in 1785], 
Ireland offered, in some directions, great attractions to cap- 
ital. ' ' ®* These attractions, combined with alleged discrimina- 
tions in policy in favor of certain manufacturers in Ireland, were 

set forth at length by the manufacturers as the basis of opposi- 
tion to the Resolutions. "' 

The most important of the various arguments urged against 
the Irish Resolutions by the manufacturers was the contrast in 
the tax policies of the two kingdoms. Pitt himself admitted the 
force of the argument, first in private, and at length in consent- 
ing to the modification of the cotton tax. ®* 

The vital connection between the Irish Resolutions and the 
question of taxation, particularly the excise laws, was set forth 
in resolutions of Manchester manufacturers, April 11, 1785. 
These resolutions provided for the appointment of delegates to 
go to Ireland to negotiate for the transfer of the cotton indus- 
try to that country. The manufacturers desired "to justify 
their conduct to their countrymen, for adopting a measure so re- 
pugnant to their feeling, and so ruinous to the nation, as trans- 
planting the cotton manufacture.*' In order to do this, they set 
forth the evils of the excise laws, and contrasted ''these de- 

*^ Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce in Modem 
Times, Pt. 2, p. 846, n, 

** These arguments are to be found in the petitions of the manufac- 
turers in the Journals of the two houses; in the pamphlet literature of the 
time; and particularly in Beport of the Lords of the Committee of Coun- 
cil Belating to Trade and Foreign Plantations, Minutes of the Evi- 
dence Taken before a Committee of the Rouse of Commons, and Minutes 
of the Evidence Taken before a Committee of the House of Lords (on Irish 
Resolutions, 1785). 

** Correspondence between Pitt and Butland, pp. 62*64 ; 

Parliamentary History, Vol. 25, pp. 323, 324, 338. 


structive and obnoxious systems" with the ''unbounded pro- 
fusion*' of advantages oflfered by the governments of both king- 
doms to manufacturers in Ireland. Various manufacturers re- 
ceived attractive offers from Ireland, and many of them testi- 
fied before parliament that if the Irish Resolutions were adopted, 
they intended to transfer their enterprises to Ireland. •^ 

In the case of the cotton manufacturers, these threats were 
used in part as weapons against the cotton tax. * * The Manches- 
ter people,'' wrote the Marquis of Lansdowne, **have contrived 
artfully enough to confound the taxes lately imposed on manu- 
factures with the Irish propositions. ' ' It has already been seen, 
however, that the connection was virtually forced upon them 
in the first place by the government. *® The connection between 
the two policies having been made, it was cleverly seized upon 
by the cotton manufacturers and made the means of uniting the 
manufacturers in general against the tax on cottons as well as 
against the proposed Irish settlement. Out of this situation, 
which gave to the manufacturers a feeling of common interest, 
arose the General Chamber of Manufacturers of Great Britain. 

This organization was not limited to the new capitalistic 
manufacturers, but the initiative and the moving force were 
with them. The new capitalistic industries consisted in the main 
of three groups: Wedgwood's Staffordshire potteries; the iron 
foundries and plants about Birmingham ; and the manufacturing 

•^ Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, February 26, April 15, 18, 1785 ; 
Minutes of the Evidence Taken before a Committee of the House of Com- 
mons (on Irish Resolutions, 1785), pp. 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 29, 32, 49-51, 
59, 60, 66, 67, 76; Minutes of the Evidence Taken before a Committee of 
the House of Lords (on Irish Resolutions, 1785), pp. 6, 10, 57, 172-174; 

Wright, An Address to . . Tarliament, p. 60 ; Gentleman *s Magazine. 

Vol. 55, Pt. 1, pp. 234, 449. 

•■See above, pp. 66, 67; Rutland M88. (Historical MSS. Commission), 
Vol. 3, pp. 201, 202; Minutes of the Evidence Taken before a Committee 
of the House of Commons (on Irish Besolutions, 1785), p. 89; Gazetteer 
and New Daily Advertiser, April 18, May 2, 1785. 


and printing of cotton centering at Manchester. Each of these 
groups participated spontaneously and in a measure independ- 
ently in the movement for a general organization. 

The part played by Josiah Wedgvv'ood seems to have been 
the result of his hostility to the Irish Resolutions. On February 
21, 1785, he wrote to Matthew Boulton, saying that he intended 
to recommend the organization of ^'a Committee of Delegates 
from all the manufacturing places of England and Scotland to 
meet and sit in London all the time the Irish commercial affairs 
are pending," and he was not withoiit hope that such a body 
would be useful ^^upon others as well as the present occasion." 
He had his designer, John Flaxman, make drawings ''for the 
manufacturers' arms," and enlisted the interest of Lord Shef- 
field, who was a bitter opponent of the Irish Resolutions. *^ 

The share of Birmingham in the movement for organiza- 
tion is less clear. The manufacturers there were organized, how- 
ever, and their local organization sent circular letters to the var- 
ious manufacturing towns of the region, suggesting cooperation 
to oppose the government's excise policy. ^^^ 

But the chief influence in the movement was exerted by 
the cotton manufacturers. This was recognized later by the 
Birmingham Chamber, which called upon Birmingham to emu- 
late Manchester in its liberal support of the General Chamber. 
The cotton manufacturers had been active at London for some 
time in seeking the repeal of the cotton tax. Thomas Walker 
and three other Manchester manufacturers had been delegated by 
Manchester to work for its repeal. When the Irish Resolutions 
came up for discussion, and opposition developed, the Manches- 
ter manufacturers saw their opportunity and cleverly seized it. 
On March 3, 1785, a general meeting of fustian manufacturers 
was held at Manchester to consider the two questions — ^the tax 

••Meteyard, Life of Josiah Wedgwood, Vol. 2, pp. 485, 495, 496, 539. 
"• Parliamentary History, Vol. 25, pp. 365, 366. 


and the Irish Propodtions. At this meeting they resolved to 
"correspond with every manafactoring body in the kii^om," 
in order to secure cooperation against what they designated the 
fatal combination of oppressive taxes at home and commercial 
favoritism to the Irish. It was further resolved that the action 
taken at the meeting should be published in the papers through- 
out the manufacturing region. ^"^ 

Results were soon manifest. On March 12, it was reported 
that " manuf aetnrers are assembling" at London from various 
parte of the kingdom. A meeting had already been held in Lon- 
don, at the London Tavern, on March 7 ; and the cotton manu- 
factorers, having the advantage of a committee of delegates al- 
ready in touch with the situation, secured action at this meet- 
ing which at the outset connected the Irish policy with the ques- 
tion of excise, and committed the manufacturers to a joint con- 
sideration of the two questions. Another meeting was called, 
which "all manufacturers" were requested to attend, bnt spe- 
cial invitation was accorded the representatives of the leading 
industrial centers. "" 

During the succeeding week, a committee was appointed, 
with Wedgwood as chairman. Associated with Wedgwood were 
John Silvester and Richard Walker, both of Manchester, and 
Robert Peel, the great Lancashire cotton printer. On March 12 
this committee met and issued a call for another general meet- 
ing for March 14. At the meeting convened on the 14th, there 
was organized a definite body to be called the Chamber of Man- 
ufacturers of Great Britain, and to consist of "each member 

"* LtagtorA, A Century of Birmingltam Life, Vol. 1, pp. 328, 329. 

Aifcin, Detoription of the Cowttry Eound Maneheiter, pp. 263, 264; 

Uinvtes of the Evidence taken before a Committee of the Bouae of Com- 
mont (on Irish BeaolutiooB, ITSS), p. 47; Minutes of the Evidence taken 
before a Committee of the Boitee of Lords {on Irish BesolutionB, 1T8S), 
p. 186; Oaietteer and New Daily Advertiter, March 9, 1786. 

'*' Gaeetteer and Sevi Daily Advertiter, March 9, 12, 1785. 


of a commercial committee, being a manufacturer." It was re- 
solved unanimously that the society * * do not cease with the pres- 
ent business/' and to that end a permanent secretary, Henry 
Smeathman, was appointed, and stei>s were taken to perfect the 
organization. **^* 

At the various meetings of the Chamber, the chairmanship 
was held by different men. At a meeting of March 10, previous 
to the formal organization, the presiding officer was Sir Herbert 
Mackworth, a manufacturer who, as a member of parliament and 
a man of social standing, lent '' respectability" to the organiza- 
tion, an attribute deemed essential to the Chamber's influence. 
The chairman of the meeting of March 14 was Wedgwood, who, 
though not a member of the aristocracy, was nevertheless in- 
vested with a respectability denied to the more ** vulgar" and 
less artistic textile manufacturers. The meetings of March 16 
and 17 were presided over by Richard Walker of Manchester. 
On March 22, the chairman was Matthew Boulton of Birming- 
ham. It is important to note that at this meeting, even more 
than at earlier meetings, the prominence of the cotton men was 
manifest. Mr. Silvester of Manchester, as head of the committee 
on organization, reported for the committee a plan of organi- 
zation which was adopted. He stated that the committee had 
'^ received many letters from various parts of the kingdom, ap- 

^ British Merchant for 1787, p. 10; Gazetteer and New Daily Adver- 
tiser, March 9, 14, 15, 16, 1785. See also Meteyard, Life of Josidh Wedg- 
wood, Vol. 2, pp. 540, 541, where it is intimated that the organization waa 
begun and directed almost exclusively by Wedgwood. It is stated that Nich- 
olson, an employee of Wedgwood, was secretary, and that Ghisholm, Wedg- 
wood's private secretary, formulated the regulations governing the Cham- 
ber. It is evident that Meteyard has grossly overemphasized Wedgwood's 
part. Nicholson was temporary secretary during an early meeting, and on a 
later occasion acted for the secretary (see Gazetteer and New Daily Ad- 
vertiser, February 19, 21, 1787), but the first permanent secretary was 
Henry Smeathman; and the permanent organization was effected, as will 
be seen below, by a committee presided over by a Manchester manufacturer. 


proving highly of the institution of a Chamber of Manufactur- 
ers of Great Britain/' The committee recommended, he further 
reported, that the Chamber promote, by means of circular letters 
and in other ways, the organization of local bodies of manufac- 
turers, whose common interests should find expression in the cen- 
tral body. To distinguish the local chambers from the national 
oiganization, it was recommended that the word ''general'' be 
prefixed to the title of the Chamber. The committee's recom- 
mendations were unanimously adopted. It was decided, also, 
that the body should be a permanent organization. 

At later meetings^ the committee presented further details 
of organization, which the Chamber adopted. The body was to 
consist of manufacturers only, and the membership fee was 
fixed at one guinea per year. It was to have a permanent sec- 
retary, and standing committees, and upon these the burden of 
work was to fall. Permanent quarters were arranged for at 38 
Fenchurch Street. It was declared repeatedly to be strictly non- 
partisan, and its object was set forth as the promotion of manu- 
facturing, which was ** independent of party." The memberii 
were national representatives of local manufacturing industries, 
"delegated by fheir several communities for the purpose of 
watching over their interests." The manufacturers, by means 
of the Chamber, were to form '*one great chain," pledged to the 
strengthening of each link. Again, the object was set forth as 
that of ''watching over their interests at large as one aggregate; 
and of furnishing government, if required, such impartial and 
true information as they need from time to time, for the protec- 
tion of the commerce and manufactures of the empire at large. ' ' 
But while the purposes were thus set forth as being comprehen- 
sive and permanent, the initial unifying force was hostility to 
specific governmental policies. *•** 

^Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, March 23, April 6, May 2, 
1785; Bntish Merchant for 1787, pp. 10, 11; Meteyard, Life of Josiah 
Wedgwood, Vol. 2, pp. 540, 541. 


As a result of the organized activities of the manufacturers 
in opposition to the Irish Resolutions and the cotton tax, a flood 
of more than sixty petitions deluged the House of Commons — 
petitions usually representing large groups of manufacturers, 
very similar in content, and commonly denouncing the English 
system of taxation as well as the proposed readjustment of Irish 
relations. The government first yielded on the excise issue. On 
May 10, a bill was passed repealing the more obnoxious features 
of the law of 1784. The cotton manufacturers continued, nev- 
ertheless, in opposition, in company with the other members of 
the General Chamber, and Pitt again yielded by introducing the 
Resolutions in a new form, including many modifications de- 
manded by the manufacturers. Immediately thereafter the Gen- 
eral Chamber held a general meeting and resolved to notify its 
constituents and ask them to petition for further delay. Then 
followed a second deluge of petitions, conforming closely to the 
recommendations of the General Chamber. Although Pitt se 
cured the adoption of the revised Resolutions, the revision itself 
was a virtual defeat at home and the cause of the not unexpected 
rejection of the entire plan in Ireland. Thus ended in defeat, 
at the hands of the General Chamber of Manufacturers, a policy 
which had engaged the utmost power of the minister, and which 
had been regarded by him as vital to himself and to the 
empire. ^^^ 

A significant result of the struggle over the excise and the 
Irish Resolutions was the focusing of attention on the problem 
of liberalizing commercial policy. So far as Anglo-Irish rela- 
tions alone were concerned, the Irish Resolutions themselves 
tended to break down the barriers of the old system, but the 
policy, as was previously stated, was not without serious limita 

*•■ Commons Journals, Vol. 40, pp. 576-1088 (texts of the petitions re- 
ferred to above) ; Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, March 9, 23, April 
6, 15, 18, May 14, 1785; Parliamentary History, Vol. 25, p. 362. 


tions of a monopolistic nature. The newer manufacturers con- 
demned in particular the preferential clause excluding foreign 
linens as out of keeping with desired reciprocity. This attitude 
of the manufacturers, while occasioning hostility between them 
and the government so far as the Irish Resolutions were con- 
cerned, was in reality in accord with Pitt's own growing convic- 
tion of the need for relaxing restrictions in foreign commerce. 
In consequence, the conflict, bitter as it was, pointed the way to 
a reconciliation between the government and the new group, rap- 
idly rising to industrial preeminence. 

An occasion for reconciliation was furnished by the revision 
of commercial relations with Prance. The treaty of commerce, 
signed on September 26, 1786, marked a notable advance in the 
direction of commercial liberalism. It provided for reciprocal 
liberty of residence, travel, the purchase and use of consumption 
goods, and the practice of religious faiths, within the European 
dominions of the two countries, ** freely and securely, without 
license or passport, general or special, by land or by sea." The 
principal commercial advantages gained by France were in re~ 
spect to wines and other commodities wherein she excelled by 
virtue of superior soil, climate and natural resources. The Eng- 
lish, on the other hand, benefitted chiefly by means of reductions 
in tariffs on articles in which England excelled not because of 
natural advantages but because of superior skill and enterprise, 
particularly cottons, irons, and pottery. ^®* 

The relations of the manufacturers to the treaty with France 
as well as to the Irish and excise policies were directed by the 
General Chamber of Manufacturers. Pitt publicly sought to be- 
little the Chamber, but its power aroused in reality his fear and 

^The texts of the treaty and the supplementary convention are in 
Parliamentary History, Vol. 26, pp. 233-255, 268-272, and in Commons 
JournaU, YoL 42, pp. 266-272, 289, 290. The treaty is also printed as an 
appendix to the first volume of the Journal and Correspondence of William, 
Lord Auckland. 


hostility rather than his contempt. In <H)nnection with the for- 
mulation of the treaty, he directed Eden, the negotiator, to listen 
to the members of the Chamber individually, and to conciliate 
them, but to give the Chamber collectively as little ** employ- 
ment or encouragement as possible." The members of the 
Chamber, however, preferred to deal with the treaty as a group. 
Numerous committee meetings were held, the Lords of Trade 
were interviewed, answers to various questions were secured from 
Mr. Eden, who negotiated the treaty, and extensive correspond- 
ence and interviews were conducted with manufacturers in var- 
ious parts of the country. The letters received were in general 
favorable to the treaty, though there is evidence that special 
weight was given to the sentiments of the cotton, iron and pottery 
manufacurers, who were enthusiastic in support of the treaty, 
and who had been from the first the chief factors in the Cham- 
ber. On the basis of its investigations, the committee in charge 
of the Chamber's relations to the treaty met on December 9, 
1786, at the Chamber's house on Fenchurch Street and adopted 
resolutions favoring the treaty. It was resolved that ''from the 
best information the committee can collect from the Chambers of 
Commerce and Manufactures" in various parts of the coun- 
try, and from other sources, the treaty, based upon ''liberal and 
equitable principles, promises to be advantageous to their manu- 
facturing and commercial interests by opening a new source of 
fair trade to both nations," and by "securing a continuance of 
peace and good oflSces between two great and neighboring na- 
tions, so advantageously situated for availing themselves of the 
blessings of peace and an extended commerce." *®^ 

^^^ Parliamentary History, Vol. 26, pp. 378-382; Parliamentary Begis- 
ter^ Vol. 21, pp. 162-164; Journal and Corrcsponden^ce of William, Lord 
Auckland, Vol. 1, p. 91; Langford, A Century of Birmingham Life, Vol. 1, 
pp. 327, 329; Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, December 12, 14, 1786, 
January 12, February 7, 12, 13, 17, 19, 21, 1787. 


Although the committee claimed that its action was based 
upon the carefully ascertained views of the constituents of the 
General Chamber, the resolutions of December 9, when pub- 
lished, gave rise to a controversy which divided the organiza- 
tion into hostile factions. Josiah "Wedgwood and the Manches- 
ter and Birmingham manufacturers had been responsible for the 
organization and early activities of the Chamber, and they con- 
tinued to direct its policies. It was claimed by the opponents of 
the treaty that the resolutions of December 9 were not repre- 
sentative of the sentiments of the manufacturers generally, and 
the resolutions were ascribed to the fact that "the Manchester, 
Birmingham and Staffordshire manufacturers have, of course, 
great sway in that body.'' Other manufacturers, it was de- 
clared, opposed the treaty, and had trusted the General Chamber 
to represent their views. But since those favoring the treaty con- 
trolled the Chamber, the opposing manufacturers, having been 
misrepresented till the treaty had been signed, **do not know 
where to communicate their thoughts, or how to collect the gen- 
eral sense and convey it with force to the minister. ' ' ^°® 

But they resolved not to yield without a struggle. In order 
to give effect to their views in the approaching vote on the treaty 
in parliament, they decided to contest the control of the General 
Chamber by the cotton, iron and pottery men. On February 6 a 
general meeting of the Chamber was held, and a debate of several 
hours took place on the propriety of the resolutions of December 
9 favoring the treaty. A new committee was appointed to secure 
further information concerning various aspects of the question. 
On February 10 another general meeting wa6 held. At this meet- 
ing the group favoring the treaty was severely criticized, hostile 
resolutions were adopted, and the House of Commons was peti- 
tioned to delay action in order to allow further consideration. 


Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, January 12, 1787. 


The controversy continued for some time, and although those 
favoring the treaty later at one time regained control, the di- 
vision in the Chamber served the purpose of the ministers in dis- 
crediting the organization ; and those who supported the treaty, 
gaining their ends in the adoption of the treaty, were less eager, 
apparently, to press the fight in the Chamber than were those 
who opposed the treaty. *"• 

In relation to the question of commercial liberalism, the im- 
portance of the division in the General Chamber of Manufac- 
turers over the treaty with France consists in the light it throwa 
on the alinement of the manufacturers. The older groups of man- 
ufacturers were wedded to monopoly. The cotton, iron, and pot- 
tery manufacturers, who were profiting little by monoiwly, and 
indeed were held in leash by trade restrictions, favored the break- 
down of the monopolistic barriers in order that they might the 
more readily extend their enterprises into new fields. 

In view of the undoubted importance of the General Cham- 
ber of Manufacturers, there is a remarkable lack of contemjwr- 
aneous comment. And yet the unmerited obscurity of the or- 
ganization is not inexplicable. The common attitude of conde- 
scension toward manufacturers by literary and political writers 
in part explains it, but the chief reason, no doubt, is to be found 
in the methods used by the Chamber. During the progress of 
the Irish Resolutions and of the bill to repeal the cotton tax 
through the House of Commons, the Chamber was so desirous 
of keeping itself behind the scenes that it refused even to petition 
the House. And yet the initial motive for its organization, it 
will be recalled, was to influence the government in the consider- 
ation of these measures; and it did exert a determining in- 
fluence. Its method was indirect, through local bodies, 

^^Gaeetteer and New Daily Advertiser, February 7, 12, 17, 19, 21, 
March 19, April 6, 1787; Journal and Correspondence of William, Lord 
Auckland, Vol. 1, p. 429; Julia Wedgwood, The Personal Life of Josiah 
Wedgwood, p. 224; BHtish Merchant for 1787, pp. 9-12. 


and by means of correspondence and consultations. When 
the Chamber divided in its attitude toward the treaty with 
France, factionalism led to the publication in the press of ac- 
counts of its debates; and one reason assigned by the Birming- 
ham Commercial Committee for opposing the faction hostile to 
the treaty was the belief that **the publication of the debates in 
the General Chamber of Manufacturers was exceedingly im- 
politic.'' "<> 

But while contemporary writers for the most part made no 
comment, exceptions may be noted. Arthur Young, as might be 
expected in view of the wide range of his observations and his 
agrarian sympathies and prejudices, wrote at some length con- 
cerning the Chamber, and looked with suspicion on the concerted 
action of the industrial group, fearing that the Chamber might 
be made a menace to **the landed interest." The Marquis of 
Lansdowne said in the House of Lords that he had no doubt that 
*'the Chamber of Manufacturers of Great Britain was very re 
spectable,*' and he hoped **they would keep themselves to their 
simple object, and not harbor the idea of setting themselves up 
as a body to overawe parliament, or to interfere with the polit- 
ical measures of the country." *** 

The fear expressed by Young, Lansdowne and others that 
the Chamber would lend itself to partisan and class politics 
proved indeed to be not without foundation. But in maintaining 
the permanent status and influence of the Chamber, the members 
encountered a more serious diflBculty. This was the diversity of 
interests represented, and particularly the great and growing 
divergence between the new capitalistic manufacturers, who 
were tending toward laissez-faire and commercial liberalism, and 

"• Gaeetteer and New Daily Advertiser, April 6, 1787. 

*" Thottghts on the Establishment of a Chamber of Manufacturers, in 
Annals of Agriculture, Vol. 3, pp. 452-455 (see also pp. 260^ 388) ; Parlia- 
mentary History, Vol. 25, p. 858. 


the older type of manufacturers, who continued to rely upon 
primitive methods and state support and protection. It was this 
divergence which was chiefly responsible, as already stated, for 
the division in the Chamber in 1787 in connection with the treaty 
of commerce with France. 

This vital defect in the plan of organziation of the Chamber 
serves better than anything else to point out the significance of 
the organization as an indication of the emergence of the great 
manufacturers, distinct from the older and more conservative 
types. And in spite of its defects and its obscurity, the General 
Chamber of Manufacturers was unquestionably a body of import- 
ance. In addition to its significance as an indication of the grow- 
ing strength and community of interest of the new industrial 
capitalism, it promoted the local organization of manufacturers 
and traders along substantially present-day lines ; and it may be 
regarded as a fore-runner, in effect if not in form, of modem as- 
sociations of manufacturers for maintaining lobbies, committees, 
and attorneys to promote their interests particularly as affected 
by politics. In its intolerance of governmental restrictions aind in 
its desire to extend commercial relations int6 new fields by 
breaking down the barriers of the old protective system, it was a 
herald of nineteenth-century liberalism. Its own immediate po- 
litical influence was a manifestation of the forces which, though 
checked by wartime reaction, culminated in the nineteenth cen- 
tury in the indirect domination of the state by the indtistrial 

The editions given below are the editions cited in the text. 


Abram, W. A., History of Blackburn, Town and Parish. Black- 
bum, 1877. 

Baines, Edward, Jr., History of the Cotton Manufacture in Oreat 
Britain. London. [1835]. 

A comprehexisiTe popular account of the rise of the cotton in- 

Baines, Edward, and Whatton, W. R., History of the County Pal- 
atine and Duchy of Lancaster, 4 vols. London, 1836. 
The biographical portions bj Whatton. 

Baines, Thomas, and Fairbaim, William, Lancashire and Che- 
shire, Past and Present. 2 vols. London, n. d. 

The part dealing with manufactures, commerce, and engineer- 
ing by Fairbaim. 

Bischoff, J., A Comprehensive History of the Woollen and Worst- 
ed Manufactures. 2 vols. London, 1842. 

An uncritical collection of sources connected hj the author's 

Brooke, R., Liverpool as It Was During the Last Quarter of the 
Eighteenth Century. Liverpool, 1853. 

Browning, 0., The Treaty of Commerce between England and 
France in 1786. In Transactions of the Royal Historical So- 
ciety, 1885, N. S., Vol. 2, pp. 349^64. 

Chapman, S. J., The Lam^cashire Cotton Industry. A Study in 
Economic Development. Manchester, 1904. 

A careful study dealing with labor as well as with capital in 
the cotton industry, and containing a valuable selected and crit- 
ical bibliography. 


Cnimingham, W., Orowth of English Industry and Commerce in 
Modem Times. Pt. 2. Cambridge, 1912. 

A standard work, with valuable bibliographies. 

Davies, J., A Collection of the Most Important Cases Respecting 

Patents of Invention. London, 1816. 
Dircks, H., The Life, Times, and Scientific Labors of the Second 

Marquis of Worcester. London, 1865. 

An annotated reprint of Worcester's Century of Inventions 
is added, as well as other documents, and bibliographies of early 
works on mechanical subjects. The work is an interesting but 
perhaps exaggerated commentarj on the crude and meager me- 
chanical knowledge of Worcester 's time. 

Dowell, S., A History of Taxation and Taxes in England, i vols. 

Vol. 4, Taxes on Articles of Consumption. London, 1884. 
Dumas, F., Etude sur le traite de commerce de 1786 entre la 

France et VAngleterre. Toulouse, 1904. 

Ellison, T., The Cotton Trade of Great Britain. London, 1886. 

French, G. J., Life and Times of Samuel Crompton. 2d ed. 

Manchester, 1860. 
Guest, B., Compendious History of the Cotton Manufacture. 

Manchester, 1823. 

The author attempts to disprove Arkwright's claim to the in- 
vention of cotton maehinerj, and attributes both the spinning 
jennj and roller spinning to Thomas Highs. A much-quoted and 
highly controversial work. Contains interesting documents and 

Hammond, J. L. and Barbara, The Town Laborer, 1760-1832. 

London, 1917. 

An enlightened and attractive studj. A bibliographj in- 

Hands, W., The Law and Practice of Patents for Invention. 

London, 1808. 
Helm, E., Chapters in the History of the Manchester Chamber of 

Commerce. London. [1902 ] . 
Humphreys, A. L., A Handbook to County Bibliography^ being 


a Bibliography of Bibliographies Relating to the Counties 
and Towns of Great Britain and Ireland. London, 1917. 
McCuIIochy J. R., The Literature of Political Economy. London, 


A * * classified catalogue, with historical, critical, and 

biograpliieal notes. ' ' Unless the author 's well-known preconcep- 
tions in favor of Bicardian economics are kept in mind, the 
criticisms are misleading, but the work contains valuable infor- 

MacNeill, J. G. S., The Constitutional and Parliamentary Uis- 
tory of Ireland tUl the Union. New York, 1918. 

Used in connection with the Irish Resolutions of 1785. Mainlj 
political, and based principally on non-contemporaneous accounts. 

Mantoux, Paul, La Revolution IndustrielU au XVIII ^ siecle: 
Essai sur les commencements de la grande indv^trie moderne 
en Angleterre. Paris, 1905. 

A comprehensiye and valuable studj, with extensive bibliog- 
raphy, in part critical. 

Meteyard, E., Life of Josiah Wedgwood. 2 vols. London, 1865, 


Lacking in critical apparatus and at times in critical insight, 
but useful particularly because of quotations from manuscripts. 

Moulton, H. P., The Present Law and Practice Relating to Let- 
ters Patent for Inventions. London, 1913. 

Owen, Robert, The Life of Robert Owen Written by Himself, 
London, 1857. 

Parker, C. S., Sir Robert Peel, from His Private Papers. 3 vols. 
London, 1891, 1899. 

Virtually a collection of sources. The first few pages of 
Vol. 1 deal with the prime minister's father and grandfather, 
both manufacturers. 

Badcliffe, William, Origin of the New System of Manufacture 
Commonly Called ^'Power-Loom Weaving.** Stockport, 

Contains reminiscences of the author's experiences during the 
I>eriod of transition to power spinning in the cotton industry. 

Bose, J. H., WilUam Pitt and National Revival. London, 1911. 



Rose, J. H., The Franco-Briiish Commercial Treaty. In English 
Historical Review, 1908, Vol. 23, pp. 709-724. 

[Strickland, Mary Cartwright], A Memmr of the Life, Writings, 
and Mechamcal Inventions of Edmund Cartwright. Lon- 
don, 1843. 

[Troughton, T.], The History of Liverpool. Liverpool, 1810. 

Wedgwood, Julia, The Personal Life of Josiah Wedgwood. Lon- 
don, 1915. 

Wheeler, J., Manchester: Its Political, Social, and Commercial 

History, Ancient and Modem. 1836. 
Of slight value. 
White, G. S., Mem^oirs of Samuel Slater. 2d ed., Phila., 1836. 
Wood, H. T., A History of the Royal Society of Arts. London, 



1. Oppicul Pubucations. 

Minutes of the Evidence taken before a Committee of the House 
of Commons (on Irish Resolutions). 1785. 

Minutes of the Evidence taken before a Committee of the House 
of Lords (on Irish Resolutions). 1785. 

The Report of the Commissioners for His Majesty's Cus- 
toms (on Irish Resolutions). 1785. 

Report of the Commissioners of Excise to the Committee of the 
Honorable the House of Commons (on Irish Resolutions). 

Report of the Lords of the Committee of Council Relating 

to Trade and Foreign Plantations upon the two Questions 
Referred to them by His Majesty's Order in Council of the 
14th of January last. 1785. (On Irish Resolutions) . 

Report from the Select Committee on the Laws Relating to the 
Export of Tools and Machinery. 1825. 


Thia report, and the two immediately following, while not con- 
temporaneous with the period under investigation, are used to 
show a continuation of the policy of monopolizing inventions be- 
yond the period in question. 

First Report from the Select Committee Appointed to Inquire 
into the Operation of the Existing Laws Affecting the Ex- 
portation of Machinery. 1841. 

Second Report from the Select Committer Appointed to Inquire 
into the Operation of the Existing Laws Affecting the Ex- 
portation of Machinery. 1841. 

Journals of the House of Commons. 

Journals of the House of Lords. 

Statutes at Large. 

Calendar of Home Office Papers of the Reign of George III 
(1760-1775). 4 vols. 

Manuscripts of the Duke of Rutland (Historical MSS. Commis- 
sion). 3 vols. 1894. 

Subject-matter Index of Patents of Invention from March 2, 
1617, to October 1, 1852. Compiled by Bennett Woodcroft, 
of the Patent 0£Sce. 2 vols. London, 1857. 

Used chiefly as an index to Woodcroft 's Titles of Patents of 

Titles of Patents of Invention from March 2, 1617 to October 1, 

1852. Compiled by Bennett Woodcroft. 2 vols. London, 


Titles only are given, but the reproduction is exact, and the 
information is usually complete enough to be definitely de- 

2. Publications op Societies and Miscellaneous Collections 

OF Sources. 

Tra/nsactions of the Society for the Encouragement of 

Arts, Manufactures and Commsrce. Published annually. 

Publication was not begun till 1783, but the early volumes 
contain extensive information concerning the earlier activities 
of the Society, compiled from the Society's records. 


The Advancement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce; or, 
Descriptions of the Useful Machines and Models Contained 
in the Repository of the Society for the Encouragement of 
Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Compiled by W. Bail- 
ey. London, 1772. 

One Hundred and Six Copper Plates of Mechanical Mach4nes and 
Implements of Husbandry Approved and Adopted by the 
Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and 
Commerce, Compiled by A. M. Bailey. London, 1782. 

Museum Bu^ticum et Commerciale: or. Select Papers on Agri- 
culture, Commerce, Arts, and Manufactures. 6 vols. Lon- 
don, 1764-1766. 

Under the patronage of members of the Society of Arts. 

Memoirs of Agriculture and other Economical Arts. Compiled 
by Robert Dossie, with the support of the Society of Arts. 
2 vols. London, 1768. 

Memoirs of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. 
London, 1785, etc. 

College of Arts and Sciences Instituted at Manchester, June 6, 
1783. (A circular dated July 9, 1783). 

Letters and Papers of the Society at Bath for the Encourage- 
ment of Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. 
Bath, 1783, etc. 

Rules and Orders of the Society Instituted at Bath, etc. Bath, 

PUm of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon 
Tyne. 1793. 

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. The 
Royal Society adhered in the main to its traditional interest 
in abstract philosophy and pure science. A notable excep- 
tion was the publication of Dr. Thomas Percival's Observa- 
tions on the State of Population in Manchester and Other 
Adjacent Places, in Vol. 64 (1774), pp. 54-66, Vol. 65 
(1775), pp. 322-335, and Vol. 66 (1776), pp. 160-167. 


Collectanea Relating to Manchester and Its Neighborhood. Ed- 
ited by John Harland. 2 vols. Vols. 68 (1866) and 72 
(1867) in Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with 
the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester, published 
by the Chetham Society. 

Cobbett's Farliamentdry History. Vols. 15-30, London, 1813- 

The Parliamentary Register. Volumes 1-30, 1775-1791. 

An unofficial but contemporaneous publication of parliamen- 
tary debates. Not as authentic as Cobbett 's Parliamentary His- 
tory, but containing some matters of value not found in the lat- 
ter work. 

The Journal and Correspondence of WUliam, Lord Auckland. 
Edited by George Hogge. 4 vols. London, 1861. 

Vol. 1 contains important papers as well as correspondence re- 
lating to the treaty with France, 1786. 

Correspondence between the Right Honble. William Pitt and 
Charles Duke of Rutland, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 
1781-1787. Introductory note by John Duke of Rutland. 
Edinburgh and London, 1890. 

Valuable especially in connection with the Irish Besolutions. 

Langford, J. A., A Century of Birmingham Life. 2 vols. Bir- 
mingham, 1868. 

This work consists almost wholly of extracts from local con- 
temporaneous literature. Indifferently organi7«d. 

3. Pebiodicals. 

Annals of Agriculture. London, 1784, etc. 

Edited by Arthur Young, who was also the principal con- 

Annual Register. London, 1758, etc. 

European Magazine and London Review. London, 1782, etc. 

The Oazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, London. 

Chiefly useful for the official announcements, resolutions, etc., 
of the General Chamber of Manufacturers and other commercial 


and indattrial bodies. Its news items and comments are also 
valuable if proper account is taken of their political bias. 

Oentleman's Magazine. London. 

New Annual Register. London, 1780, etc. 

Of slight value; political and literary almost ezclusiyely. 

4. Works of Reference^ Histobt, Travel^ and Description. 


Aikin, J., A Description of the Country from Thirty to Forty 
MUes Bound Manchester* London, 1795. 

Compiled and edited by a physician and writer of note. Pub- 
lished in 1795, but described by the publishers as a ''laborious 
undertaking," requiring long labor. Badford's Directory of 
Manchester, published in 1788, omitted a description of manu- 
factures on the ground that this would have ' ' anticipated in some 
degree another wc^rk [which has] long been preparing for the 
public. eye, viz.. A, Description of Manchester and the country 
twenty miles round,"— an obvious reference to Aikin's work. 
(John Harland, CoUectanea Eelaiing to Manchester, p. 138). A 
work of great value. 

Anderson, A., An Historical and Chronological Deduction of the 
Origin of Commerce. 4 vols., revised ed., London, 1787, 

Baldwin, T., Airopaidia, Chester, 1786. 

Described by the author as ''an introduction to aerial navi- 
n gation." 

Companion to the Leasowes, Bagley, and Enville, to 

Which Is Prefixed the Present State of Birmingham. Lon- 
don, 1789. 

Encyclopedia Britannica. Ist, 2d, and 3d eds. 

The third edition was published later than the period covered 
by this study. Internal evidence shows, however, that the articles 
used in the present study were written not later than 1792. 
In the article on Manchester, reference is made to / ' the mar- 
riages in Manchester and Salford from January 1791 to January 
1792.'' Hence the article was not written earlier than 1792. 
In the same article is a further statement to the effect that a 
certain work ''will be published in the early spring of 1793." 
This article was therefore compiled in 1792. The article on cot- 
ton states that the quantity of raw cotton consumed six yean 


earlier was 11,000,000 pounds. Approzimatelj 11,000,000 pounds 
were consumed, aecording to a table given in the same article, 
both in 1782 and in 1784. The date of compilation of this 
article was therefore either 1788 or 1790. 

Harte, W., Essays on Husbandry. 2d ed., London, 1770. 

[Ogden, JamesJ, A Description of Manchester. By a Native of 
the Town. Manchester, 1783. (Reprinted under the title, 
Manchester a Hundred Years Ago, edited by W. E. A. Axon. 
Manchester, 1887. The edition used is the reprint). 

Peacock, J., Proposals for a Magnificent and Interesiing Estab- 
lishment. London, 1790. 

Affords singpilar evidence of the induitrial and mechanical 
interests of the time. 

Bungles, T., The History of the Poor; their Bights, Duties, and 

the Laws Respecting Them. 2 vols. London, 1793, 1794. 

A work which had appeared serially in Toung 's Annali of Ag- 
riculture. Written from the not too enlightened point of view 
of a country gentleman, but apparently an attempt to give an 
unbiased account. 

Stone, T., An Essay on Agriculture. Lynn, 1785. 
Opposed to labor-saving machines. 

Walpole, G. A., New British Traveller, London, 1784. 

Wendebom, F. A., A View of England towards the Close of the 

Eighteenth Century. 2 vols. London, 1791. 

Translated by the author from the original German edition. 
The author states in his preface that ''he wrote merely for the 
instruction of his own countrymen," that is, Germans; that ''it 
was much read on the continent and has been translated into 
other languages." He states further that he came to England 
at the age of twenty-five and ministered twenty-two years to a 
German congregation in London. Critical of English life. 

Young, A., A Six Months' Tour Through the North of England. 
4 vols., 2d ed., London, 1771. 

[Young, A.], il Six Weeks' Tour Through the Southern Counties 
of England and Wales. Dublin, 1768. 

Young, A., Tour in Ireland. Edited by A. W. Hutton, with bib- 
liography of Young's works. 2 vols. London, 1892. 

Young, A., Travels during the Years 1787, 1788 and 1789 Un- 


dertaken more Particularly mih a View of Asceriaimng the 
CMltivation, Wealth, Resources, and National Prosperity of 
the Kingdom of France. 2d ed., London, 1794. 

Useful particularly in eonnection with the commercial treaty 
with France, and with French interests in English inventions. 

5. Books and Pamphlets of a CoNTBOVEBSUii and Critical 


Anstie, J., Observations on the Importance and Necessity of In- 
trodudng Improved Machinery into the WooUen Manufac- 
tory, [especially] of the Counties of WUts, Olouces- 

ter and Somerset. London, 1803. 

Bj a woollen manufacturer. Written later than the i>eriod 
studied, but affording all the more valid evidence of the lateness 
and the sectional nature of the transition to improved methods 
in the woollen industry. 

An Answer to the Complete Investigation of Mr. Eden's Treaty. 
London, 1787. 

Favorable to the treaty. 

Bentham, Jeremy, Defense of Usury, to Which Is Added a 

Letter to Adam Smith, Esq., L. L. D., on the Discourage- 
ment of Inventive Industry. Philadelphia, 1796. 

Written in 1787. A vindication of ''inventive industry." 

The British Merchant for 1787. Addressed to the Chamber of 
Manufacturers. London, 1787. 

Hostile to the treaty with France, and to the General Chamber 
of Manufacturers because of its support of the treaty. 

Chalmers, George, An Estimate of the Comparative Strength of 
Oreat Britain during the Present and Four Preceding 
Beigns. London. 

This work went through a number of editions, the editions 
used being those of 1786 and 1794. The author states (ed. 

1794, p. ii) that ' * the former editions were translated 

into the languages of the Continent. ' * Controversial, but based 
on an extensive study of facts. 


A Complete Investigation of Mr. Eden's Treaty. London, 1787. 
Opposed to the treaty. 

The Contrast; or, a Comparison between our Woollen, Linen, 
Cotton and Silk Manufactures. London, 1782. 

Eden, W., Four Letters to the Earl of Carlisle The Third 

Edition, to Which Is Added a Fifth Letter on Populaiion. 
London, 1780. 

[Eden, W.], A Short Vindication of the French Treaty from the 

Charges Brought against It in a late Pamphlet, Entitled, A 

View of the Treaiy of Commerce voith i^rimce. London, 1787. 

Of flpeeial mterest because written by the negotiator of the 

Gisbome, T., An Enquiry into the Duties of Men in the Higher 
and Middle Classes of Society in Chreat Britain. Oh. 13, On 
the Duties of Persons engaged in Trade and Business. Lon- 
don, 1794. 

A popular work on morals, taJdng into account changing in- 
dustrial conditions. 

Historical and Political Remarks upon the Tariff of the Commer- 
cial Treaty. London, 1787. 

An anonymous but careful analysis of the treaty, with ex- 
tensiye notes on preceding treaties and on industrial conditions. 

Howlett, J., An Examination of Dr. Price's Essay on the Popula- 
tion of England and Wales. Maidstone. [1781 ( Y) ]. 

Hewlett, in opposition to Dr. Price, was one of the principal 
champions of the view that population was increasing, particu- 
larly in the industrial regions. A valuable work. The author 
also contributed useful articles to the Annais of Agriculture 
and the Oentleman's Magaeine. 

The Increase of Manufactures, Commerce and Finance. London, 

Kenrick, W., An Address to the Artists and Manufacturers of 
Oreat Britain Respecting an Application to Parliament for 
the farther Er^ouragemsnt of New Discoveries and Inven- 
tions in the Useful Arts. London, 1774. 

DEC 151920