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Its Origin and Development. 

Plate I. 

H.M. The King in Coronation Robes. 

Vv L5LI ^ jc, 


Its Origin and Development. 




82A, Farringdon Street, B.C. 

DRANE'S, Farringdon Street, Condon, E.G. 


It was originally intended that this work should be 
entitled " The History of the Silk Industry of the United 
Kingdom," and it was believed that quite a small volume 
would suffice to contain all the information procurable, 
but enquiries begun in the early months of the year 1911 
have resulted in establishing the fact that the Silk Industry 
was at one time and in one form or another carried on in 
a very wide area and at places hitherto unsuspected of 
having had any connection with it. 

Seeking, as was natural, in the early days of its develop- 
ment localities which provided water power and a supply 
of cheap labour, the industry became scattered, and it has 
remained so ever since. 

How far this disintegration and consequent lack of 
cohesion and unity of effort, political, economical, technical 
and educational, has led to the decline of the industry in 
this country it is impossible to estimate, but it is un- 
doubtedly a source of weakness, whether judged relatively 
to the prosperity of silk workers in other countries or to 
those engaged in the other branches of the textile industry 
in Great Britain and Ireland. 

It is not the object of this work to attempt to prove 
that our past or present fiscal policy has been either the 
salvation or the ruin of the silk industry in this country. 
The facts must be left to speak for themselves. The 
author has no intention other than to provide for the lovers 
of silk, and they are universal, and for those who take an 
interest in its welfare in this country, and they are many, 
a book which is a record of the origin and development 


of the silk industry in the United Kingdom, as far as it 
has been possible to collate it, in the hope that its publica- 
tion may be the means of eliciting much more fully facts 
which are not here recorded, and of substantiating others, 
concerning which there is an element of doubt. The main 
part of the book was, it should be mentioned, written during 
the early part of the War period, but for reasons which will 
be readily appreciated its issue has been deferred until now. 

For all failings both of omission and commission the 
author takes the fullest responsibility, for the rest, all the 
credit is due to those who have collaborated with him ; 
and it is his desire to place on record his deep indebtedness 
to Mr. Luther Hooper, Mr. J. A. Hunter and Mr. H. A. Slack, 
who, from the first, have borne the main burden of the vast 
amount of work which the production of this volume has 
entailed. Valuable assistance has also been rendered by 
Miss M. F. Billington, Mr. W. H. Manch6e, Mr. R. Snow, 
Major Geoffrey R. Y. Radcliffe, Mr. Fred Richards and 
others, amongst whom Mr. James Cramp for the chapter on 
" Coventry," Mr. Walter R. Rudd, Hon. Secretary of the 
Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, for " the History 
of the Old Norwich Silk Industry/' and Mr. R. S. Swirles, 
who contributed the chapter on " Ireland," are especially 
worthy of mention. 

The colour prints of the Coronation of the King and 
Queen, reproduced from the original drawings by Mr. S. 
Begg, appear in the book by Royal permission. The author 
respectfully acknowledges his gratitude for the gracious 
assent to his request, and takes this opportunity of expressing 
his thanks for the deep interest which Their Majesties have 
ever taken in silk, and their kindly solicitude that the most 
beautiful of all the textiles should become a great and 
prosperous industry in the United Kingdom. 



Clwpter. Page. 














12. MACCLESFIELD .. .. 127 

13. LEEK 138 

14. CONGLETON 146 


16. LANCASTER 170 


18. DERBY .. 198 

19. LEICESTER 212 

20. BRADFORD 218 

21. HALIFAX ^235 

22. BRIGHOUSE 247 

23. HUDDERSFIELD .. .. 252 







27. ESSEX - % 297 

28. KENT 312 


30. SCOTLAND 343 

31. IRELAND .... 371 


32. SILK FROM INDIA .. .. 378 

33. WASTE SILK ; ORIGIN AND USES . . . . . . 390 














44. THE EXHIBITION OF 1851 582 










INDEX 659 



1. feC.M. The King in Coronation Robes .. .. .. Frontispiece. 


2. H.M. The Queen 13 

3. Specimen of Old English Embroidery, the Syon Cope in South 

Kensington Museum . . . . . . . . . . 15 

4. Primitive Weaver from MSS. in British Museum . . . . 20 

5. Mediaeval Silk Weaver from an Early English MSS. belonging 

to Trinity College, Cambridge . . . . . . . . . . 22 

6. Indenture of Apprenticeship, dated February, 1519 from the 

original in the British Museum . . . . . . . . . . 23 

/ Houses in Spital Square . . . . . . . . . . 53 


( Church Passage, Spital Square . . . . . . 53 

[ Pelham Street, Spitalfields . . . . \ 

8. From Knight's "London, "1842 56 
( House in Booth Street, Spitalfields j 

9. Indenture of Apprenticeship, dated August, 1799 In the 

possession of the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 

10. Weavers' Houses in Menotti Street, Bethnal Green . . . . 60 

11. Wm. Anthony, 50 years' night-watchman in the Neighbourhood 

of Spital Square, Norton Folgate. " The Last of the Charlies " 62 

12. Christ Church, Spitalfields . . . . ( From Photographs in the ] 64 

< possession of the Rector, 1 

13. Interior of Christ Church, Spitalfields I the Rev. C. H. Chard j 65 

14. A Typical Spitalfields Silk Weaver, George Doree, at work . . 74 

15. Hand Loom in Workshop at Foleshill, Coventry . . . . . . 110 


Plate. Page. 

16. Weaving Room at the Coventry Technical School.. .. .. 124 

17. A View of Macclesfield 127 

18. Memorial to Charles Roe in Christ Church, Macclesfield . . . . 131 

19. Silk Weaving by Power in Macclesfield . . . . . . 135 

20. Park Green Mills, Macclesfield . . 136 

21. St. Edward's Church, Leek, dating back to the year 1400 . . 138 

22. Sir Thomas Wardle ..142 

23. William Lee, thinking out his problem of a Knitting Frame . . 175 

24. A Modem Knitting Frame (Cotton's System) 185 

25. Leaver's Lace Machine making Lace 260 inches wide . . . . 189 

26. Lombe's Mill, Derby. The first Silk Mill erected in England, 1717 198 

27. Lord Masham 226 

28. View of Halifax . . 235 

29. Silk Shawl in the Museum, Norwich 265 

30. Braintree Market in the Olden Days from an old print. . . . 299 

31. Weaving the Cloth of Gold for the Coronation Robes for King 

George V 308 

32. Figured Velvet Looms at New Mills, Braintree 310 

33. The Old Weavers' House, Canterbury 314 

34. The Canterbury Weavers' Pattern Book, dated 1685 . . . . 316 

35. Cottage Velvet Weaving, Sudbury, Suffolk 318 

36. Tring Mill 322 

37. Old Silk Mill, Malmesbury 331 

38. John Heathcoat. (See half torn block) 341 


Plate. Page. 

39. The Huguenot House, Sweeney's Lane, Dublin . . . . . . 372 

40. Hand-loom Poplin Weaver, who wrought for over 60 years at 

the Craft, chiefly for Atkinson and Co., in whose service he died 374 

41. Tapestry Portrait of George II. by John Vanbeaver . . . . 376 

42. Weavers' Hall, Coombe, Dublin 377 

Silk Spinning, Receiving and Opening Raw Material Silk Waste 403 


Boiling or De-gumming Silk Waste . . . . 403 

Combing Silk Waste 409 

44. ; 

Dressed Silk Spreading Silk Waste . . . . 409 

Drawing Preparatory for Spinning Silk Waste . . 412 

45. ; 


J> JJ 5J 5 J> ^KJ-A/ 

Spinning Silk Waste 416 


Gassing and Cleaning Yarn Silk Waste . . . . 416 

47. Weaver of Narrow Webs . . . . . . . . . . . . 449 

(Figured Velvet Loom, worked by draw boy, before the invention 

of the Jacquard machine . . . . . . . . . . 453 

Loom for weaving Silk Brocade, worked by the same method . . 453 

49. The Weavers' Flag 509 

50. Loom at the Silk Exhibition, Knightsbridge, 1912 Weaving 

Brocade 63in. wide for H.M. the Queen 550 

51. Charter granted to the Weavers' Company by Henry II. about 1155 556 

/ Staircase in the Hall of the Weavers' Company . . . . . . 564 


( Interior of the Hall of the Weavers' Company . . . . . . . 564 

53. William Morris. . 601 

54. Benjamin Warner .. .. .. .. .. .. ..611 

Plate II. 

H.M. The Queen in Coronation Robes. 




Except for the most primitive arts of life Great Britain The 
owes to foreigners, who have chosen or been compelled Origii 
by various circumstances to settle on her shores, almost of Arl 
all the numerous branches of Industry and Commerce and 
which she has, in the course of time, been able to develop. Craft. 
Amongst the occupations thus introduced to England 
by Alien artists, artificers and merchants, the manipulation 
of Silken Thread, Silk Weaving and Commerce in Silken 
Fabrics rank with the most important. 

It is not necessary to go back further than the Norman 
Conquest, in the eleventh century, to find England, as 
the invaders did, inhabited by a primitive people chiefly 
employed in agriculture, and intermittently engaged in 
warfare of more or less importance and extent. The 
simple life led by the Anglo-Saxons did not call for any 
high degree of perfection in the handicrafts which 
ministered to their daily needs. Objects of great excellence 
of design and workmanship or richness of material, 
such as gauzy silken robes or sumptuous embroideries, 
elaborately wrought gold or silver ornaments, or highly 
tempered steel weapons, were almost unknown, but when 
occasionally seen or told of, were popularly supposed to 
be the work of fairies and necromancers, or made by 
artificers under some kind of supernatural influence. 

It is true that in the religious houses, where learning The 
was so much cultivated that several English scholars Mona 
attained European fame and became friends and teries 
councillors of popes and kings, some knowledge of art and 
and craft was not uncommon : but it was, for the Artis' 
most part, confined to such institutions. There is good Hand 
authority for stating, that, in every region where a religious crafts 




The order wanted a new church or convent, it was an ordinary 

Monas- thing for the Superior, the Prior, the Abbot, or even the 

teries Bishop himself, to give the design, and for the monks to 

and fulfil, under his direction, every department of the 

Artistic execution of the work, from the meanest to the highest.* 

Handi- Illuminated writing and needlework were also practised 

crafts. in the monasteries and convents by the monks and nuns. 

These works were, however, mostly for church use, and 

were designed and executed by the religious, who from 

time to time were sent from Rome to prevent the people of 

England from relapsing into paganism. These works were 

at first, therefore, quite distinct from the ordinary life 

and occupations of the English people, and until they 

came to be practised by native artists and artificers, 

as they eventually did, cannot be considered as English 

art, craftsmanship or manufacture. 

In times of peace the chief occupations of the common 
people were husbandry, the breeding and tending of 
animals, the making of farming implements and rude 
domestic furniture, the preparation, spinning and weaving 
of wool and flax, and a limited amount of local and 
export trading. 

Wool the The chief product of the country was wool, which very 
Chief early became an article of commerce especially with 
Product. Flanders. To that country it was exported in con- 
siderable quantities, in exchange for finer and better 
finished cloth than the less skilful English weavers of 
that time could produce, as well as for other foreign 

Except at the Royal Court, and even there only 
occasionally, luxury or refinement were entirely absent 
from secular life. The nobles "spent jjtheir time in hunting 
and rough hospitality, ^whilst their ladies (convent taught) 
busied themselves with simple embroideries, useful needle- 
work or domestic duties. The dress materials, 
embroideries and household textiles of flax and wool, 
for daily wear and decoration, were made of homespun 
thread, whilst the festival garments were fashioned from cloth 
woven and dyed in Flanders. Silk and cotton were rarities, 

* Hope's Historical Essay on Architecture, chapter 21, 

Plate III. Specimen of Old English Embroidery, 
the Syon Cope, in South Kensington 



unknown except as royal treasures, or in the embroidery 
on some of the most precious vestments of the clergy. 

One of the earliest records of silk mentioned in the Silk in 
Saxon chronicles is that "Offa, Bang of Mercia, received Saxon 
a present of two silken vests from the Emperor Charle- Times, 
magne in 790." King Alfred also is said to have had 
amongst his royal treasures a few garments embroidered 
with silk, or woven of that material. 

It k is often erroneously supposed by students of the 
poetry and romance of antiquity and the Middle Ages, 
that the glowing descriptions of the dress and decoration 
of these periods are to be taken as literally true. A 
modern author, to quote one example out of many which 
might be chosen, contrasting the present time unfavour- 
ably with the past, says : " The love of beauty among 
the early races was not a narrow cult, nor was it the 
exclusive possession of a privileged few. It was the native 
gift of every human being." In proof of this assertion 
the author cites a passage from an ancient romance which, 
though very beautiful, is manifestly misleading as a 
picture of real life. " It is recorded in the history of 
Cuchulain that when a certain King Eochaid was going 
one day over the fair green of Bri Leith he saw, at the 
side of a well, a woman with a bright comb of silver and 
gold, and who was washing in a silver basin having four 
golden birds on it and little bright purple stones set in 
the rim of the basin ; a beautiful purple cloak she had 
and silver fringes on it, and a gold brooch ; and she had 
on her a dress of green silk with a long hood embroidered 
in red gold, and wonderful clasps of gold and silver on 
her breasts and on her shoulders. The sunlight was Literary 
shining on her, so that the gold and the green silk were License, 
shining out. Two plaits of hair she had, four locks in 
each plait and a gold bead at the point of every lock, and 
the colour of her hair was like the yellow flags in summer 
or red gold after it is burnished." 

This description is as beautiful as a design by the late 
Sir Edward Burne-Jones, which it suggests, but all that 
the sober historian can gather from it is, that, at the time 
the story was written, gold and silver combs and brooches. 



silver fringes to purple garments, green silken webs, gold 

embroidered, and beautiful women with golden hair, 

Influence which it was customary to wear in plaits, were to be seen. 

of the But to suppose that at the time to which the legend 

Norman refers women exquisitely clad were commonly seen 

Conquest, washing themselves by the roadside or that the materials 

and details of such dresses as that described were the 

productions of local handicraft, or that the whole scene 

ever existed except in the imagination of the romancer, 

is absurd. Such theories, moreover, are contradicted 

by the actual specimens of handicraft which have been 

preserved. The few really fine works which remain are 

of periods, and by artists, belonging to peoples known 

to have attained a high degree of culture. 

After the Norman Conquest, delicacy and richness, 
both of material and workmanship, seem to have 
characterised the dress and furnishings, not only of royalty 
but of the nobles and gentry. Chronicles of the twelfth, 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries abound with graphic 
descriptions of sumptuous pageants and elegant banquets, 
in which gorgeous clothing of silk and cloth of gold, and 
flashing jewels, as well as delicately prepared food and 
ingeniously decorated dishes, are described in minute 
detail and with evident appreciation. These things are 
set forth, not only, as hitherto they had been in fiction, 
by poets and romancers, but as sober descriptions of 
actual fact by veracious historians.* 

Oriental Several centuries elapsed, however, before the articles 

Silk of luxury thus described came to be of English manu- 

Weavers. facture. Such wares were mainly introduced into Northern 

Europe by foreign traders, who brought them from the 

East by way of Italy and Spain. In the twelfth century 

the settlement of Oriental silk weavers in Italy and Sicily 

took place, and rendered that country not only the market, 

but the manufactory, of silken webs for the rest of Europe.f 

The account by Matthew Paris of the festivities at 

the marriage of the daughter of Henry III. to Alexander, 

* Even in these descriptions much allowance must be made for rhetorical exaggeration. 

t It is necessary to note here that the work of embroidery, as distinguished from woven 
fabrics, must be excepted. A great deal of embroidery was no doubt executed during the 
twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in England, but the materials on which it was 
wrought were imported : and, moreover, the names of the artists recorded are mostly of 
foreign origin, such as Cheiner, Fitzode, Courteray and others. 


King of Scotland, in 1251, shows that the wearing of silk had 
then become general. He states that a " thousand 
knights appeared in vestments of silk. These were changed 
on the following day for similar garments of different 
colours." Also that " even citizens were present wearing 
cydades worked with gold over vestments of silk." 

One of the provisions of the Great Charter, made by The 
Henry III. in 1225, and confirmed by Edward I. and Great 
several succeeding monarchs, deals with the treatment Charter, 
the purveyors of foreign goods were to receive in order 
to encourage them to bring their costly wares more con- 
fidently to the English market. The section of the 
Charter referred to is as follows : 

Cap. xxx. 

" Merchant strangers coming into this realm shall be 
well used. 

"All merchants (if they be not openly prohibited before) 
shall have their safe and sure conduct to depart 
out of England, to come into England, to tarry 
in and go through England, as well by Land as by 
Water, to buy and sell, without any manner of evil 
tolls, by the old and rightful customs except in 
time of War. (2) And if they be of a Land making 
war against us, and be found in our Realm at the 
beginning of the wars, they shall be attached, 
without harm of body or goods, until it be known 
unto us, or to our Chief Justice, how our merchants 
be intreated there in the Land making war against 
us. (3) And if our merchants be well intreated 
there, their's shall be likewise with us." 

There is ample evidence to prove that these travelling Protec- 
merchants found a ready sale for their attractive goods tive 
in the various parts of the country they visited. Most Laws 
of them were no doubt small dealers who carried their for 
stock of goods in a pack, whilst the more important Aliens, 
retailers opened shops, and had warehouses in London 
and the principal seaport towns. 

There is extant a tax-gatherer's account, of the time 
of Edward I., giving an inventory of the stock of a 


mercator, most likely one of these travelling merchants, 
but whether English or foreign does not transpire. 

s. d. 

Item. A piece of woollen cloth . . . . 070 

,, Silk and fine linen [probably thread] . 100 

,, Flannel and silk purses . . . . 140 

Gloves, girdles, leather purses, and 

needlework . . . . . . 068 

Other small things 030 


The fact that it was considered necessary in 1225 to 
make a law for the protection of the merchant strangers 
suggests that a considerable number of English people 
had by that time themselves become dealers in these foreign 
commodities, and that they were disposed to quarrel with 
the strangers and prevent their doing business. This is 
the more probable as the different types of tradesmen 
and handicraftsmen were generally adopting the custom 
of gathering themselves together into trade guilds and 
fraternities for mutual protection and benefit. 

Statutes A perusal of the English statutes from the time of 

Regula- Henry III. forward demonstrates how curiously Royal 

ting and Parliamentary opinion fluctuated between protection 

Trade. and freedom, both as regards trading and manufacture. 

Although in a subsequent section these statutes will have 

to be considered in detail, it is necessary here briefly to 

notice those which bear particularly on the matter of the 

immigration of foreign workers in silk, such as thread 

twisters or throwsters, embroiderers, braid and ribbon 

makers and broad silk weavers, as well as merchants 

dealing in all these costly wares. There can be no doubt 

that by the end of the fourteenth century a considerable 

number of foreigners who dealt in and manipulated silk 

had settled in England. 



During the reign of Edward III. more than a hundred Acts 
of Parliament were passed for the purpose of regulating 
manufacture, trade and commerce. A very large pro- 
portion of these statutes dealt with textile manufactures 
and raw materials, and although silk is but rarely 
specifically mentioned, it cannot be doubted that silk 
workers, embroiderers, throwsters, cord and braid-makers, 
if not weavers, would be included in such statutes as 
Cap, v., 11 Ed. III. It is entitled :- 

" Clothworkers may come into the king's dominions 

and have sufficient liberties.''" 

" Item. It is accorded that all clothworkers of Strange 
Lands of Whatsoever Country they be, which will 
come into England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, 
within the King's power, shall come safely and 
surely, and shall be in the King's protection and 
safe conduct, to dwell in the same lands choosing 
where they will. (2) And to the intent the said 
clothworkers shall have the greater will to come 
and dwell here, our Sovereign Lord the King will 
grant them Franchises as many and such as may 
suffice them." 
Then again in 1344* :- 

" The sea shall be open to all manner of merchants to 
pass with their merchandise when it shall please 
And in 1353f : 

" Merchant strangers shall be taken in the King's 
protection for their wrongs shall receive double 

This last statute seems to suggest that the strangers 
still met with determined opposition, in their trading 
journeys or settlement, from the already established 

The first actual reference to silk in the statute book 
is in 1363,1 when it was enacted that : 

" Handy craftsmen shall use but one mystery, but handy- 
workmen may work as they did." 

* Cap. iii., 18 Ed. III. 
t Cap. xx., 25 Ed. HI. 
J 37 Ed. III., Cap. VI, 

tion of 
Trade in 
Reign of 


Begin- By this Act the different artificers, merchants, and 

nings of retail tradesmen were forbidden to deal in or work at 

Silk more than one particular class of goods or manufacture. 

Weaving They had to make their choice and declare it before a 

Industry. Justice of the Peace by a specified time, the penalty for 

neglecting to do so was imprisonment, or a fine, at the 

discretion of the judge. The exceptions to this rule were : 

" female brewers, bakers, weavers, spinsters and other women 

employed upon works in wool, linen, silk or embroidery, etc." 

It is added that "the King and Council had no intention 

to hinder these persons working as they will." 

Although not impossible, it is improbable that broad silk 
weaving was practised in this country at an earlier period 
than the fourteenth century. In fact, were it not for 
the evidence of a single drawing in a manuscript of that 
period, in which a weaver is depicted at work weaving 
a web which in the text is described as silk, it might be 
supposed that the art was not introduced till the fifteenth 
century. But, whether there were few or many weavers 
of silk then at work in England, it is certain that they 
were only employed in weaving the plainest kind of fabrics, 
for it cannot be doubted that the rich velvets, figured 
silks and damasks, on which the embroiderers exercised 
their skill, were imported from Italy by the merchant 
strangers so often mentioned in the statutes.* 

It would appear that very little broad silk weaving 

was attempted, but there is evidence that spinning 

thread from raw silk, twisting and plaiting the threads 

together, and preparing gold and silver threads for the 

use of embroiderers, as well as the twining of braids, 

ribbons, cords, purses, girdles and trimmings of all sorts, 

Employ- were done by English workers, and that their goods were 

ment of in very great demand. This branch of silk manufacture, 

Women, as well as the embroidery itself, gave employment to a large 

number of persons, particularly women and children, and had 

done so increasingly from the time of the Norman Conquest.f 

* 2 Rich. II., Cap. i. Aliens may sell wholesale, where they will, cloth of gold and silver, 
silk, sendal napery, linen cloth, canvas, and other such great wares etc. See also note in 
Appendix, where the whole of this important act is transcribed. 

^t Silk weaving has always been divided into two distinct branches, the Broad and the 
Narrow. All dress and furniture fabrics belong to the Broad branch, whatever their width 
may be, whilst all braids, ribbons, cords, galloons, etc., belong to the Narrow branch. These 
latter gave employment in the Middle Ages to vast numbers of people, as all braids, ribbons 
and narrow goods were made in single widths. 

Plate IV. Primitive Weaver, from MSS. 

in British Museum. 


At first, no doubt, English embroidery consisted of Begin- 
rude designs in outline, worked quite simply in coloured nings of 
wools on plain linen grounds. Precious threads of silk Silk 
and gold were, later on, sparingly used for very special Weaving 
works, on the fine cloth obtained from Flanders. Hardly Industry, 
ever, if at all, were silken fabrics used as grounds until 
the eleventh century, and it was not until the fourteenth 
century that, as revealed by the concise and formal entries 
in the Exchequer accounts, the embroiderers of apparel 
and furniture revelled in the use of cloth of gold and 
silver, curiously prepared threads of precious metal and 
silk, gems and pearls, and the woven silks, satins, damasks 
and velvets of Italy, Spain and the Orient.* 

In 1455 the second reference to silk is found in the 
recorded statutesf : 

"No wrought silk belonging to the mystery of silk 
women shall be brought into this realm by way 
of merchandise during five years." 
"It was shewed in the said Parliament by the Silk 
Women and Spinsters of Silk within the City of 
London, that divers Lombards and other Aliens, 
Strangers, imagining to destroy their Crafts and 
all such virtuous occupations for Women within 
this land, to the intent to enrich themselves and 
put such occupations into other lands, daily bring 
into this realm wrought Silk, Wrought Ribbands 
and Laces, falsely and deceitfully wrought, corses { 
of silk and all manner of other things touching the 
same mysteries and Occupations ready wrought, 
and will not bring in any unwrought Silk, as these 
were wont to do, to the final destruction of the 
said mysteries and occupations. It is therefore Protec- 
ordained and established that all such goods, if tion of 
brought in, shall be forfeited, and that every seller English 
of them shall, for every default, forfeit ten Workers, 
pounds (x )." 

* See Extracts from the Issue Rolls of the Exchequer from King Henry III, to King Henry VI., 
ed. F. Dixon ; also Catalogue of English Embroidery exhibited at the Burlington Fine Arts 
Club, A. F. Kendrick. 

t 33 Henry VI., Cap. v. 

J Generally supposed to signify stay laces. Original Document in Record Office, London, 


Protec- This Act was extended eight years later (1463), and 
tion of again in 1482, when the prohibition of wearing such 
English foreign wrought small silk goods was added. 
Workers. Bacon, in his History of Henry VII., says that all these 
small articles " the people of England could then well 
skill to make," but that all other silken fabrics were 
permitted unrestricted importation, " for that the realm 
had of them no manufacture in use at that time." 

This statement is correct in the main, but that there 
were more exceptions than the following single instance 
which is recorded in the Proceedings in Chancery in the 
Reign of Edward IV., 1461, cannot be doubted :- 

"George Damico, an Italian, v. John Burdean and 


" Plaintiff, because he exercises the art of weaving 
cloths of damask, velvets, cloth of gold and silver 
and other cloths of silk, by the King's high com- 
mandment in a house assigned to him at West- 
minster, and instructs others in the same mystery, 
is arrested on several feigned actions of debt and 
trespass taken out against him by certain merchant 
Strangers, wherefor he prays a Corpus cum causa 
to be directed to the Sheriff of London." 
It is interesting to notice in the above plea that the 
Italian weaver under the King's protection at Westminster 
not only practised his trade, but claims to have instructed 
others in the same. 

Introduc- The introduction of broad silk weaving into France 

tion of took place at about the same time as the event recorded 

Broad above shows it to have been practised in England. The 

Silk secrets of sericulture and the handicraft of broad silk 

Weaving, weaving seem to have been successfully retained in 

Italy for more than three centuries after being brought to 

that country from the East. It is said that attempts to 

induce silk weavers to remove from Italy to France were 

made as early as 1480, but that the establishment of the 

manufacture was not really successful until 1521, when 

noblemen, returning from the conquest of the Duchy of 

Milan, brought with them not only the Silk Weavers, but 

persons having a knowledge of sericulture. Towards the 

. j \BH\5 
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Medieval Silfy Weaver /rom an Early English 
MSS. belonging to Trinity College, Cambridge. 

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Indenture of Apprenticeship, dated February, 
1519 from the original in the British Museum. 


end of the century sericulture became acclimatised in 
France, but that country has always to a great extent, 
as England has altogether, depended on Italy and the 
Orient for her chief supply of raw silk. 

Whether the Italian silk weaver, Damico, was successful 
in obtaining protection against his enemies, and was able 
to continue his handicraft in Westminster is not revealed ; 
but there is a further record that cloths of gold, silver 
and silk, were being woven in London in 1473.* As 
the mystery was also, in the fifteenth century, introduced 
from Italy and Spain into the Netherlands, where it was 
quickly developed into an important branch of manu- 
facture, it is probable that from this time forward, seeing 
there was a great deal of intercourse between England 
and Holland, an increasing number of handicraftsmen, 
both native and foreign, found remunerative occupation 
in the art and mystery of Broad Silk Weaving in Great 

* Barton's History of Weaving. 



Rise of At the beginning of the sixteenth century the manu- 
British facture of all kinds of textile fabrics had attained to a 
Textile very important position in England. She not only supplied 
Industry, the greater part of the home demand, but provided a 
large quantity of goods for exportation. This was 
especially the case as regards the manufacture of 
linen and woollen stuffs. The weaving and finishing 
of the latter, in particular, had been carried to such per- 
fection, that, not only was English wool preferred to that 
of any other country, as heretofore, but the wool dyed 
and woven into cloth by the English manufacturers was 
acknowledged as the best obtainable, and was readily 
purchased in all the markets of Europe. 

The first improvements in the primitive manufacture 
of woollen cloth in England are said to have been 
owing to the methods of weaving introduced by a party 
of Flemish immigrants, who had been driven out of their 
own country by an inundation of the sea in the time of 
William the Conqueror. They craved the protection of 
the Queen, who was their countrywoman, and the King, 
influenced by her, permitted them to settle at Carlisle. 
There they and their successors laid the foundation of 
the woollen cloth weaving trade of Great Britain, which, 
during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, became localised 
in different parts of the country. 

This development was assisted from time to time by 
further immigrations of alien craftsmen, and more and 
more proficiency in the art was made. Sometimes 
these foreign weavers came in response to invita- 
tions of royal or noble patrons, and sometimes they were 
influenced by the spirit of mercantile adventure ; but, 
whatever the cause of their advent, it was generally 
opposed by previous settlers or the native weavers, who 



regarded them as objects of hatred and malice, and in their Import- 
short-sighted ill-will dubbed them, as is recorded, " cursede ance of 
f orrainers. ' ' * British 

It has been shown that during the five centuries sue- Textile 
ceeding the Norman Conquest, in which the manufacture Industry, 
of woollen cloths was being developed, the art of 
embroidering in silk, the manufacture of silken thread, 
the twisting, twining and weaving of cords, ribbons and 
braids of silk, and broad silk weaving had been introduced 
and improved intermittently by missionaries, traders, 
artists and craftsmen coming from Italy. The result was 
that all these branches of silk manufacture had become 
British industries of greater or less importance. The six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries are however distinguished 
by two events which did more than all else to establish the 
manufacturing arts, particularly that of silk manufacture 
and broad silk weaving, in Great Britain. These events 
were the immigration and settlement of great numbers 
of skilful handicraftsmen from the Netherlands in the 
sixteenth century, and from France, in even greater 
numbers, in the seventeenth. 

In order to ascertain the cause of the first of these Indus- 
important events and justly to estimate its effect, it is trial 
necessary to make a brief enquiry into the history, con- Suprem- 
dition, industry, and politics of the confederate cities acy of 
and States of the Netherlands ; this confederacy being the 
at that time the busiest and most prosperous country Nether- 
in the whole of Europe. The early history of the portion lands, 
of Europe now known as Holland, but anciently called 
Batavia and Friesland, lying beyond the boundary of 
the Roman Empire, and washed on the north by the 
North Sea, furnishes a remarkable instance of the 
supremacy of man in conflict with nature and circum- 
stance. This enthralling story has been told by other 
modern authors, and need not be repeated.! It cannot 
be doubted, however, that the indomitable spirit of the 

* " John Kempe," Barlow's History of Weaving. John Kempe and his company of 
cloth workers established a manufactory of fine woollen cloth in 1369. They were bitterly 
opposed by native cloth weavers, and had to be taken under the special protection of 
Edward III. 

f Rite of the Dutch Republic, Motley. 



acy of the 

ancient people, whose laws declared that " the race should 
be free as long as the wind blows out of the clouds and 
the world stands," survived. After centuries of develop- 
ment, the united cities and provinces of the Netherlands, 
having become supreme in Europe in art, science, manu- 
facture, and commerce, made their gallant fight for civil 
and religious liberty against royal prerogative, and 
religious intolerance. At the time when the long and 
bitter conflict of the Netherlands with the Emperor 
Charles V.* and his son Philip II. commenced, a con- 
flict which, in 1509, left Holland free and victorious and 
the centre of European commerce and finance, the 
Netherlands consisted of the Flemish and Walloon 
provinces, now known as Belgium, as well as those of 
Holland and Friesland. These provinces contained about 
three million inhabitants, who, for the most part, 
had gathered themselves into fortified cities. The cities 
were independent of one another and were governed by 
local municipalities, the officers of which were usually 
elected by the deans or wardens of the various guilds of 
Freemen of the town. The numerous dukes and counts, 
who had been nominally their rulers, had from time to 
time granted charters of privilege to the municipalities 
in exchange for a fixed rent charge, or special subsidies, 
secured on the revenues of the city and the goods of the 
citizens. These overlords were not slow to discover that 
the prosperity of their subjects was a matter of profound 
interest to themselves, and that the concession of 
privileges to the cities was a plentiful source of riches 
and strength. In this manner the communities had 
practically become little republics. In provincial matters, 
the towns took common council together, and their 
deputies met the nobles in the assemblies of the general 
government. Thus the free cities of the Netherlands 
had gradually become familiarised with Parliamentary 
action, f It is remarkable that in this Netherlands' 
Parliament the clergy, as clergy, had no part. The 

* Born in 1500, in 1606 he became Count of Flanders and Duke of the Netherlands, in 
1516 King of Spain, in 1519 Emperor of Germany and afterwards King of Jerusalem, and, 
by the grant of Pope Adrian the Sixth, lord of the whole new world. 

f History of Holland, Professor Thorold Rogers. 


Netherlands did not intrust their liberties to the Church. 
They were however quite devout and built magnificent 
churches and decorated them most lavishly, as indeed 
they did the streets of their cities and both public and 
private buildings. 

By the middle of the fifteenth century the cities of 
the Netherlands not only rivalled but surpassed those 
of Italy as manufactories and markets of commodities 
of artistic merit and intrinsic value. The merchants of 
Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Mechlin, Ypres, Mons, Amsterdam, 
Leyden, Haarlem and other cities, but above all others 
Antwerp whose port received two thousand five hundred The Rise 
ships at one time gathered into their warehouses, and of 
distributed to all parts of Europe, the richest raw materials Antwerp, 
and artificial productions from near and far. Raw and 
manufactured silks and sparkling jewels came from the East, 
spices and rare woods and precious metals from the West, 
wool and hides from Britain, and furs from the North, 
as well as all the raw materials for the use of their native 
craftsmen and the necessaries of life for their teeming 
populations. The painters of pictures, the architects, 
and the engineers of the Netherlands equalled in design, 
whilst they surpassed in technique and invention, the 
artists of Italy and Spain ; the schools of tapestry workers 
wove gorgeous sets of hangings and carpets excelling 
any that had been previously wrought ; the goldsmiths 
and workers in less costly metals were second to none 
in Europe. The weavers, the most numerous and 
powerful of all the craftsmen in the Netherlands, who 
had always been famous for the fine weaving and finishing 
of woollen cloth and the strength and delicacy of their 
linen fabrics, had at length learned from Italy and Spain 
the mystery of manipulating silk, so that in Mons, the 
capital of Hainault, as well as in Mechlin, Bruges and 
other cities, silk weaving, probably in all its branches, 
was practised on a very large scale. The fact that 
Mons was a great silk weaving centre is established by 
the town records referring to a revolt of the city, in 
which it is stated that " many of the rich proprietors 



Mons a 



Grant of 

" Great 

of the great cloth and silk manufactories, for which Mons 
was famous, raised and armed companies of volunteers 
at their own expense." Also that " De Leste, a silk 
manufacturer, who had commanded a band of volunteers, 
and sustained during the siege the assaults of Alva's 
troops with remarkable courage at a very critical moment, 
was one of the earliest victims to be executed by order 
of the commission of troubles after the recovery of the 
city by the Spaniards."* 

To return to the circumstances leading to the revolt 
of the United Provinces. Early in the fifteenth century, 
Philip surnamed the Good partly by purchase and 
partly by inheritance, had acquired the position of over- 
lord of the seventeen States of the Netherlands. He at 
once endeavoured to curtail their liberties, although he 
had previously sworn to maintain them. Philip died 
in 1467, and his son, Charles, succeeded in completing the 
work begun by Philip, and made himself absolute monarch, 
forcing many of the Flemish cities to resign their municipal 
rights. At the death of Charles in 1496, his daughter, 
Mary, succeeded him in the Netherlands, and the Nether- 
landers seized the opportunity of her need for their help 
in defending her inheritance against Louis XL of France, 
to obtain from her the Magna Charta of the Netherlands 
called the " Great Privilege." It was this constitution 
which Mary's grandson, Charles V., violated, and for 
the recovery and maintenance of which the Netherlanders 
took up arms against him and his son, Philip II. f Charles V. 
succeeded his father, Philip, as Count of Flanders in 1506. 
In 1516 he became King of Spain, and when only nineteen 
years of age 1519 he was elected Emperor of Germany. 

The points of the charter which the Emperor Charles 
sought to over-ride were two, viz., that providing for 
the popular control of taxation, and the freedom of religion. 
During the revolt, which lasted fifty years, thousands 
of the most learned, respected and industrious inhabitants 
of the dismayed provinces fell victims to the gallows, 

* Mons : sous lea Rapports Hietoriques et Statistiques, etc., par. F. Paridaens. (Mons, 

t The fifty years' struggle and its result is graphically told by Motley in The Rise of the Dutch 
Republic and The History of the Netherlands. 


the sword, the stake, the living grave, unmentionable 
horrors of torture and banishment.* The number of 
victims can never be accurately known, as it far out- 
stripped the possibility of record. Some of the per- The 
petrators of these crimes have an unenviable reputation Crime 
such as Alva, who, after his administration, which only of Alva. 
lasted five years, boasted that he had caused eighteen 
thousand six hundred inhabitants of the provinces to 
be executed ; and Noircarmes, President of the Blood 
Council, who condemned victims to torture and execution 
in batches of fifties and hundreds at a time without trial, 
and enriched himself with their confiscated property. 
During this period of revolt and persecution, thousands 
of Netherlanders came to England for sanctuary. They 
brought with them their several arts, many of which had 
been little, if at all, practised in England before that 
time. The drawloom for silk and linen pattern weaving 
is said to have been introduced into Norwich by Nether- 
landish refugees. It is certain that many of the lighter 
kinds of silk mixed fabrics were almost unknown previous 
to the immigration of the Flemings and Hollanders. 
Although they were not always made welcome by native 
craftsmen or previously established settlers, or allowed 
to begin work without opposition, the municipal records 
of the principal towns on the Eastern seaboard of England 
bear witness to the benefits conferred on the country of 
their adoption by the industrious refugee craftsmen. 
For instance, it is recorded that the trade of Norwich 
at the time of the immigration was in a very depressed 
state, as owing to the decay of the worsted manufacture, 
many weavers had been forced to leave their homes and 
go into the country to earn their bread. The Mayor and 
Corporation, being anxious to restore the prosperity of 
the community, waited upon the Duke of Norfolk, who 
was then at his palace in that city, and it was decided 
to invite to Norwich some of the strangers of the Low 
Countries, who, by leave of the Queen, had come to Refugees 
Sandwich and London for refuge from Alva's persecution, invited to 
Upon application to the Queen by the Duke, she gave Norwich. 

* See note, Appendix, Motley, p. 489. 


Refugees letters patent to thirty master weavers, each with ten 

invited to servants, to settle in the city of Norwich. These weavers 

Norwich, set up the making of baises, serges, arras mochades, 

curelles and such like goods, mingled with silk and linen 

yarn, which gave employment to a great many hands. 

Houses which had fallen into decay were now repaired 

and inhabited, and both the city and the country grew 

rich the latter by the great demand for farm produce, 

and the former by the profits from this new introduction 

of manufactures."* 

The baises and serges mentioned in the above record 
were light woollen materials, and probably only an 
improvement of stuffs already made in England, but the 
arras mochades were a fabric unknown to English weavers 
although probably familiar to the drapers or mercers. 
Mochado or mockado is frequently mentioned in sixteenth 
and seventeenth century literature, and, from this source, 
we learn that it was a material woven of silk, and wool, 
linen, or cotton, having a design woven in tufts and cut 
in imitation of silk figured velvet. The name often 
appears in inventories of the sixteenth century and later, 
as in the following : 

" A piece of redd mockadowe 21.5. 
iiij yeards of duble redd mockadowe 6.s. 
vj yeards of mockadow, black and redd 9.s. 6.d. 
xix yeards of mockadow, blewe and browne." 

Some The two latter items suggest a figured material in two 

new colours ; the former might be either plain or self-coloured. 

Fabrics. Pattern is suggested in a curious quotation. " My dream 

of being naked and my skin all overwrought with works 

like some kind of tuft mockado, with crosses blew and 

red."f Curelles, currelles or carrells, are mentioned with 

bays, fustians, and mockadoes as " works mixed with 

silk, worsted or linen yarn," in the Book of Drapery, 1570, 

belonging to the hall at Norwich. 

We also learn that Bombazines, % were first made in 
this country at Norwich, for, " In 1575 the Dutch 

* Blomefield's History of Norfolk. 
f Doctor Dee's Diary. 

j Dress material having a silk warp, and cotton, linen, or woollen weft ; similar to Irish 
poplin, but thinner and lighter. It became very general for summer wear. 


Elders presented in Court a new work called Bombazines, Intro- 
praying to have the ' search and seal ' of them to their duction of 
use, exclusive of the Walloons, who insisted that all white Bomba- 
works belonged to them ; but the Dutch, as the first zines. 
inventors, had their petition granted." Pepys, in his 
Diary, May 30, 1668, writes : ' Up and put on a new 
summer black bombazine suit." Bombazine, spelt 
Bombazeen, is quoted in a weaver's list of prices printed 
in London 1821. 

In the year 1570 the Bailiffs of Colchester, in Essex, 
wrote to the Lords of the Privy Council as follows : 
" Whereas of late a number of Dutchmen have come 
to this town of Colchester, about eleven households, to 
the number of fifty persons, small and great, where they 
made their abode longer than other strangers have been 
accustomed. We therefore called the best of them to 
know the cause of their coming, who answered they were 
a part of the dispersed flock of late driven out of Flanders, 
for that their consciences were offended with the Masse, 
and for fear of the tyranny of the Duke of Alva they 
came into this realm for protection, and that there were 
more of them at Sandwich, who wished to be permitted 
to come also with such sciences as are not usual with us, 
but weave sackcloth, make needles, parchment, weavours, 
and such-like, so that they shall not be any hindrance 
to any man or occupation here. We dare not presume 
to give them license of ourselves, but great profit might 
arise to the common estate of this town, greatly decayed, 
etc., and therefore we have given them friendly enter- 
tainment until we might signify the same to your Honours. Col- 
And we cannot but greatly commend them to be very Chester 
honest, godly, civil, and well-ordered people not given wel- 
to outrage or excess, etc." comes 

To this a reply was given (24th March, 1570) : " As Alien 
ye do acknowledge your towne to be benefited by their Weavers, 
being there, we are right glad that we first commended 
them unto you, and cannot but allow their conformity, 
your gentle handling of them, and the concord betwixt 
you, the which we trust God will increase with benefits 



towards you, etc." Signed by N. Bacon, O.S., T. Sussex, 
R. Leicester, and dated from Greenwich.* 

Norwich In 1570, Norwich was disturbed by a conspiracy of 

con- John Throgmorton and others to drive out the Flemish 

spiracy weavers. The plot was, however, discovered, and several 

to persons were arrested and condemned. It was the inten- 

banish tion of the malcontents to proceed, after collecting forces 

Flemings, at Harleston Fair, Bungay and Beccles, " to Norwiche in 

such a sodeyne as at the Mayre's feaste to have taken the 

whole cupborde of plate to have mayntayned the enter- 

pryse and by sound of trumpet and beat of tabour to have 

expelled the strangers from the city and realm." 

In 1578 Queen Elizabeth visited Norwich, and a pageant 
was arranged in her honour. In the procession various 
looms were " pourtrayed " : " Looms for worsteds, for 
russets, for darnix,f for mockads, for lace, for caffa, J and 
for fringe ; and upon a stage at one end stood eight small 
women children spinning worsted yarn, and at the other 
end many knitting worsted hose." 

Other records speak of " the perfection obtained in 
weaving tufted taffeties, cloth of tissue, wrought velvets, 
branched satins, and other kinds of curious silk stuffs " ; 
also of cloths called mildernix and powledavis, and the 
statement is made that these were " altogether brought 
out of France and other parts beyond the sea, and the 
skill and art of weaving the cloths was never known or 
used in England, until about this year (1587), when perfect 
art was attained thereto."|| 

Royal Most of the English monarchs appear to have had a 

Patron- lively appreciation of the advantage the introduction of 

age. new arts and improved methods of manufacture would 

be to their realm. With the exception, perhaps, of 

* Morant's History of Essex. 

t Durnix, darnex, dornex, darnec, dornock, darness. Table damask of checker and other 
patterns for which Tournay, or Dorneck, which was the Dutch name of the city, was famous, 
and from whence it was brought to Norwich. 

% Caff a. In a cotton MS. of the 16th century, " caffa damask " and " caffa diaper " are 
spoken of. Also in Cavendish's Negotiations of Thomas Woolsey (pub. 1641) is a description 
of a gallery where " There wes set divers tables, whereupon a great number of rich stuffs of 
silk, in whole pieces of all colours, as velvet, satin, damask, caffa, grograine, sarcenet, and 
of others not in remembrance." 

Linen sail cloths, first manufactured in Brittany, introduced into England in the time 
of Elizabeth. 

|| That this is not altogether true is proved by evidence in the preceding chapter, but the 
statement clearly shows the rarity of broad silk weaving before tliis time. 


Edward III., Queen Elizabeth was the most eager of Royal 
all the sovereigns to foster British industry. As soon Patron- 
as the troubles began, many merchants and manufacturers age en- 
of the Netherlands, who had agents and business correspon- courages 
dents in this country, left the disturbed provinces, and, immi- 
bringing their households and servants with them, took gration. 
up their abode in, and transferred their businesses en- 
tirely to England. 

By .the third year of Elizabeth's reign (1561), there had 
grown up a large colony of Flemish textile manufacturers 
at Sandwich, then a seaport, and the Queen caused " letters 
patent to be passed, sealed, and directed to the Mayor 
and Corporation of that town, to give full liberty to the 
strangers to inhabit the place, for the purpose of exer- 
cising their manufactures, which had not before been used 
in England." It was to Sandwich, therefore, that the 
fugitives from Alva's persecution came, in increasing 
numbers, as it grew more and more fierce. Some of those 
exiles were able to bring much of their wealth with them, 
but great numbers found it barely possible to escape 
with their lives. From Sandwich they were drafted, as 
invitation or convenience prompted, to London, Maidstone, 
Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Manchester, and many 
other town and country districts. 

But the most important immigration from the Nether- The 
lands took place in 1585. Its immediate cause was the Sack of 
infamous sack of Antwerp by the mutinous Spanish troops. Antwerp. 
The soldiers had received no wages for three years, so, 
electing a leader, they marched to the city of Antwerp, 
purposing to help themselves. Their action was connived 
at by the Spanish authorities. In this event, justly known 
in history as the Spanish Fury,* the most fearful 
atrocities were committed, no less than eight thousand 
unarmed people were slaughtered, four millions in hard 
cash stolen, an incalculable amount of valuable mer- 
chandise carried off and wasted, and irreparable injury 
done to all the public and private buildings. In addition 
to this about a third part of the manufacturers and 
merchants are said to have fled to England and other 

* Motley's Dutch Republic, 


The places of refuge. Many of these, like their predecessors, 

Sack of were most skilful weavers of damasks, and all varieties of 

Antwerp, silk, linen, and woollen fabrics, so that all chroniclers 

agree in ascribing the great development of the textile 

arts in Great Britain in the sixteenth century and the 

early part of the seventeenth, to their immigration. 


The arts of sericulture and silk weaving were slowly Italian 
but steadily developed and carried to a high pitch of Influence 
perfection in France after their first introduction from on Lyons 
Italy at the end of the fifteenth century. In several Industry 
districts mulberry trees were planted and cultivated 
successfully, and the rearing of silk worms, as well as the 
reeling and manipulation of silken thread, suitable for the 
different processes of silk manufacture, formed the principal 
occupation of large numbers of the inhabitants of the 
southern provinces of France. 

Many refinements of texture, richness and permanence 
of dye, and grace of design in the webs produced, also 
improvements in the mechanism of the loom and the 
various appliances for silk weaving, were devised by 
the French craftsmen and manufacturers during the two 
centuries which followed on the setting up of a few looms 
by the fugitive Italian silk weavers, who, in 1480, settled 
in France either at Tours or Lyons. The unremitting care 
and attention to minute details, necessary for the culture 
of silk and its use in textile art, made the manipula- 
tion of the gossamer yarn a task well adapted to the 
genius of the artificers of France, who have always been 
notable for delicacy of hand and aptitude of invention, 
both artistic and mechanical. 

For a considerable time after the industry was com- 
menced at Lyons by Italian weavers, the silken webs 
used as well as the appliances for weaving them, 
naturally continued to be similar to those of Italy ; in 
fact, until the second half of the sixteenth century the 
silk textiles of France cannot be distinguished, with 
certainty, from those of Italy. By that time, however, 
the French webs began to vary considerably from the 




Perfec- Italian type, both in design and elaboration of texture, 
tion of The improved technique gives evidence that the looms, 
French on which they were woven, had been rendered more 
Work. perfect in their mechanism, and that their capacity 
for varying the interlacements of the fine threads of 
warp and weft had been much improved. It is the fact 
that the silken webs of France woven in the latter part 
of the sixteenth century, and the seventeenth century, 
surpass for intricacy of technique, perfection of texture, 
purity of dye, harmony of colour, and gorgeousness of 
general effect, all the most notable works of silk weaving 
of any previous or succeeding age. It was in the southern 
provinces of France that silk weaving and sericulture 
were first introduced, and it was there also that these 
industries were developed into proportions giving occu- 
pation to hundreds of thousands of the population. 

It was also in that French province that the reformed 

religion, Calvinistic in its doctrines, took root and flourished ; 

it was consequently amongst the workers in the sericultural 

and silk manufacturing industries that the tragic effects 

of the persecutions of Protestants were most likely to be felt. 

The first persecution of the Huguenots, as the French 

Protestants were called, culminated in the massacre of 

St. Bartholomew, in 1572, and continued intermittently 

until 1599, when Henry of Navarre, notwithstanding the 

fact that he had for political reasons become a Roman 

Catholic, promulgated his famous Edict of Nantes. By 

this Edict, comparative liberty of conscience and freedom 

of worship were allowed to all French subjects. From 

the date of this Edict until it was revoked by Louis XIV. 

in 1685, persecution for religion, was less in evidence, and 

the various arts, crafts and manufactures of France 

revived and made extraordinary progress. It was during 

this period that the great industry of silk weaving reached 

the perfection to which reference has been made. 

States- In 1622 the young King, Louis XIII., called to his 

manship councils Armand Duplessis de Richlieu, who had recently 

of been made a Cardinal by the Pope. He soon became 

Richlieu. supreme in the affairs of Government, and succeeded in 

breaking the power of the various political factions by 


which the realm of France had been disturbed for many States- 
years. Under his regime the Huguenots ceased to exist manship 
as a political party, and as soon as this end was attained of 
he advised the King to issue the " Edict of Pardons." Richlieu. 
By this Edict, which was promulgated in 1629, the 
Protestants were confirmed in liberty of worship and 
equality with other French subjects before the law. 

Although these liberties had been amongst the 
provisions of the " Edict of Nantes," and had not been 
revoked, Protestantism and political parties had got so 
inextricably mixed that the Huguenots were punished 
partly as political rebels and also on account of their 
religion. Richlieu was wise enough to realise that the 
merchants, manufacturers and skilled artisans of France, 
who were for the most part Protestants, were necessary to 
the well-being of the State. When, therefore, all armed 
rebellion was overcome, Richlieu advised the King to grant 
religious toleration by issuing the " Edict of Pardons." Car- 
dinal Mazarin, Richlieu' s successor, favoured the same policy, 
and during his ministry also the Protestants had liberty 
and rest. After his death however persecution was again in 
evidence although Colbert did his best to prevent its revival. 

Louis XIV., at the commencement of his reign, formally 
thanked the Protestants for the consistent manner in 
which they had withstood the invitations of powerful 
chiefs to resist the royal authority, and confirmed them 
in the enjoyment of their religious freedom. They also 
found, until his death, which took place in 1683, as stated 
above a protector in Colbert, the powerful and liberal 
minister of Louis XIV. 

During these years all historians, even their enemies, French 
agree in describing the French Protestants as the best Protest- 
agriculturists, and the provinces chiefly inhabited by ants and 
them as the best cultivated and most productive in Trade 
the land; the Protestants of the towns were equally Expan- 
industrious and enterprising. At Tours and Lyons they sion. 
practised silk manufacture with great success. They 
made taffetas, velvets, brocades, ribbons, and cloth of 
gold and silver, of finer qualities than were produced in 
any other European country. They also carried on the 



French weaving of fine cloth in various parts of France, and 

Protest- exported their production in large quantities to Germany, 

ants and Spain and England. They established linen manu- 

Trade factories at Vire, Falaix, and Argentine in Normandy ; 

Expan- manufactures of bleached cloth at Morlaix, Landerman, 

sion. and Brest, and of sailcloth at Rennes, Nantes, and Vitte, 

in Brittany the greater part of these latter productions 

being exported to Holland and England. Baville, one 

of the Huguenots' bitterest enemies and persecutors, 

wrote of them : "If the Nismes merchants are bad 

Catholics, they at any rate have not ceased to be good 

traders," and to be as " honest as a Huguenot " passed 

into a proverb.* 

The enlightened minister, Colbert, died in 1683, and 

Louis fell more and more under the influence of his 

numerous courtesans and the ingratiating Jesuit fathers 

who surrounded him and flattered and threatened him 

by turns. By their advice, constantly given, the 

Revoca- forcible conversion of the Protestants to the King's religion 

tion of was resolved, and the Edict of Nantes was finally 

Edict of revoked. This took place in 1685, and the most stringent 

Nantes. period of persecution followed immediately. At this time 

notwithstanding the severity of enactments against it, 

the most extensive emigration took place. Multitudes 

escaped, and the fugitives found their way to Switzerland, 

England, Holland and even to America. 

This persecution in France of the most skilful and 
industrious element of her population continued with 
more or less severity until 1775, when the last two victims 
of religious bigotry were released from the galleys owing 
to the influence of Voltaire. There is good authority 
for stating that during that time more than a million 
persons either left the kingdom, or were killed, imprisoned 
or sent to the galleys for life, whilst incalculable numbers 
suffered the indignity of forcible conversion. The brutal 
Dragoons of Louis were the missionaries who effected 
these conversions. They suspended their victims with 
ropes, blowing tobacco smoke into their eyes and nostrils, 
and practised upon them a variety of nameless tor- 

* Smiles. 


tures until the sufferers promised everything required Revoca- 
in order to rid themselves of their persecutors. Louvois, tion of 
the commandant, in September, 1685, reported to head- Edict of 
quarters that " sixty thousand such conversions had Nantes, 
been made in the district of Bordeaux alone." 

A pleasanter phase of the subject is the reception 
accorded to the homeless refugees who sought asylum on 
British ground. The first incursion of the French 
immigrants to Great Britain took place a year after the 
arrival of the Flemings at Sandwich. One day the inhabi- 
tants of the little seaport of Rye, on the Sussex coast, 
were thrown into a state of commotion by the sudden 
arrival of a large number of destitute French people from 
the opposite shore of the Channel. Some of them came 
in open boats, others in sailing vessels. They were of 
all classes and conditions, and amongst them were many 
women and children. They had fled from their country 
in great haste, and were nearly all destitute. They were 
followed daily by others, who, braving the winter storms, 
crossed the Channel, and when they reached the English 
shores would often fall upon their knees and thank God for 
their deliverance.* 

In May, 1562, the Mayor of Rye wrote to Sir William French 
Cecil, Queen Elizabeth's chief secretary : " May it please immigra- 
your honour, there is daily great resort of Frenchmen tion to 
here, insomuch as already there is esteemed to be 500 England, 
persons ; and we be in great want of corn for their and 
our sustentation by reason of the country adjoining is 
barren ..... Also may it please your honour, after 
night and this day is come two shippes of Dieppe into 
this haven full of many people, "f 

During the following summer and for many years there 
were successive landings of immigrants at Rye. In 1572, 
between the 27th of August and the 9th of November, 
the Mayor wrote to Lord Burleigh informing him that 
" 641 Frenchmen had landed." The town records of 
the period are full of references to the landing of the 
more or less destitute refugees, and the charitable arrange- 

* The Huguenots ; Smiles. 

f Domestic State Papers, Elizabeth, 1562, No. 35. 


First ments made for their sustenance and comfort. Not only 

French at Rye, but at Sandwich, where their co-religionists, 

immigra- the Flemings, were already flourishing ; at Winchelsea, 

tion to at Dover, and all the southern seaports, the French 

England, immigrants from time to time landed in large or small 

parties, until the Edict of Nantes gave the Protestants 

a breathing space for a time. 

Most of the immigrants settled down at once to the 
practice of their several avocations, and soon became 
self-supporting, useful citizens of their adopted country. 
Very few seem to have returned to France, especially of 
those belonging to the industrial classes, although for 
half a century after the Edict of Nantes there was nothing 
to prevent them doing so. 

These pioneer immigrations fall into insignificance, how- 
ever, when compared with that which immediately followed 
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. In spite 
of the severe measures which were taken to prevent the 
escape of fugitive Protestants from France, immediately 
after the renewed persecutions began, vast numbers 
succeeded in getting away. Within the next two years 
more than a hundred thousand immigrants of all classes 
Cordial found refuge in England alone. They were welcomed 
Welcome with extraordinary cordiality, although in many cases 
in they arrived quite destitute of money or goods. Being 

England, for the most part industrious and skilful artisans, well 
practised in the manufacture of goods for which there 
was a great demand in Britain, these immigrants soon 
became self-supporting, and, greatly prospering, assisted 
materially in founding or developing the various industries 
which eventually placed Great Britain in the supreme 
position in manufacture and commerce which she attained 
in the nineteenth century. 

It is gratifying to record that the immigrants on their 
arrival were treated most generously.* Sums of money 
were voted by Parliament for their assistance, and private 
subscriptions amounting to over 200,000 were made and 
administered for their benefit. Within a year, as shown 
by the accounts of the funds, fifteen thousand persons had 

* See Appendix, Assistance to Destitute Huguenots. 


been helped to settle in London, and a proportional 
number in other parts of the country. The help given 
to the refugees was only required at the outset, owing to 
the vigorous efforts they made to help themselves and 
each other. They sought about in all directions for 
employment ; and, being ingenious, intelligent and 
industrious, generally obtained it very readily. Those 
who had been able to escape with money or goods, started 
large or small manufactories or workshops, and employed 
as many workpeople as they could. Several districts of 
London became, and remained for many years, more 
French than English. French was spoken in the work- 
shops, in the schools, churches and streets. 

This was particularly the case in Spitalfields, where Settle- 
many houses were specially built for the accommodation of ments in 
the silk weavers. Other districts in which the immigrants London, 
settled were Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, Thames 
Street, Broad Street, Long Acre, Seven Dials, and the 
network of streets about Soho. Some opened retail shops, 
such as Le Mann, the famous biscuit baker of CornMll. 
There were also immigrants in the Strand, near Temple 
Bar, who made and sold mathematical and surgical instru- 
ments, as well as Bothers who sold clocks, watches, and 
jewellery, made by their compatriots in Clerkenwell. 

At the time of the immigration, France had long been 
the leader of fashion, and all the world bought dress, and 
articles of virtu in Paris. It was a saying of Colbert's 
that " the Fashions were worth more to France than 
the gold mines of Peru to Spain." The English customs 
reports of the time show that two and a half millions 
sterling worth of goods of this description were annually 
imported from France, and that owing to the immigration 
of the Huguenots, the greater part of this business was 
henceforth retained in London. 

The principal articles imported from France before Import- 
the revocation were velvets and satins from Lyons ; ance of 
silks and taffetas from Tours ; silk ribbons, galloons, French 
laces, gloves, and buttons from Paris and Rouen ; serges Imports, 
from Chalons, Rheims, Amiens and various towns in 
Picardy ; beaver and felt hats from Paris, Rouen, and 


Import- Lyons ; paper of all sorts from Auvergne, Poitou. 

ance of Limosin, Champagne, Normandy ; linen cloth from 

French Brittany ; and feathers, fans, girdles, pins, needles, combs 

Imports, and many other household requisites from other places. 

As soon as the French craftsmen were settled in London, 

they began, therefore, to make and introduce all the 

manufactures connected with the fashions, so that English 

customers became supplied with French-made goods 

without having to send abroad for them. A writer of the 

time observed that " the English have now so great an 

esteem for the workmanship of the French refugees that 

hardly anything now vends without a Gallic name."* 

The French beaver hats, which had before been 
imported from Caudebec, were now made in the borough 
of Southwark, and at Wandsworth several hatmakers 
commenced operations on a large scale, and obtained 
almost a monopoly of a trade which for forty years 
remained dormant in France. So much was this the 
case that all persons making pretensions to dress, even 
to the French nobility, and the Roman Cardinals, obtained 
their hats from the celebrated factory at Wandsworth. 
Manufactories for making silk and metal buttons, the 
printing of calicoes, the weaving of tapestry and many 
other articles for dress and furniture were started by 
the immigrants, but the most important of all branches 
of manufacture to which they devoted themselves, and 
in which they achieved both fame and wealth, was the 
working and weaving of silk in all its branches. 
Begin- The English Government had long envied France her 

nings of possession of the silk manufacture, which gave employ- 
English ment to large numbers of people, and was a source of 
Silk much wealth to the country. Many attempts had been 

Manu- made, especially during the reign of Elizabeth and 
facture. James I., to establish it on a large scale in England, but 
it was not until the fugitive Protestant silk weavers of 
Tours and Lyons brought with them the skill in the arts 
which had raised the textile manufacture in France to 
such a height of prosperity that silk weaving in England 
became a great industry. They erected their looms in 

* History of Trade in England ; London, 1702. 


Spitalfields, and introduced their superior methods of Begin- 
weaving. They turned out large quantities of lustrings, nings of 
velvets, brocades, damasks, and delicately woven stuffs English 
of finest silk in infinite variety and of such excellence Silk 
as to insure them a ready sale everywhere. From this Manu- 
time forward Spitalfields enjoyed a very large share of facture. 
the trade which Lyons and Tours had hitherto almost 


tions laid 
in China. 







Before quitting the subject of Alien Immigration, and 
its effect on the British silk manufacture, it will be 
interesting, and is indeed necessary, to take a general 
survey of the arts connected with silk, and briefly to 
describe their ancient origin as well as their introduction 
to, and development in the countries whose emigrants 
brought the several branches of the trade, at various 
times, to England. 

In the first place, there can be no doubt that the original 
discovery of the utility of silk and the practice of silk 
manufacture took place in the ancient Empire of China. 
From China it was communicated to Persia, India, Japan, 
and to the East generally. In the sixth century seri- 
culture and silk weaving were practised in the Byzantine 
Empire ; and in the ninth century the Moors, when they 
conquered Spain, carried with them, together with many 
other ingenious Arabian arts, a knowledge of sericulture 
and silk weaving. In the twelfth century Oriental silk 
weavers and silk farmers settled in Italy, and that country 
became the chief source of supply of silken thread and 
wrought silk of all kinds for the rest of Europe for three 
centuries. Afterwards, as occasion served, returning 
soldiers, travellers, and wandering merchants, brought 
silk, both wrought and raw, from the East direct to other 
countries of Europe, especially to England and Flanders. 

Probably a knowledge of the processes of throwing, 
doubling and twisting silk into thread, and silk weaving 
both broad and narrow, only came, in early times, by 
way of Italy ; but the importation of raw silk and manu- 
factured silken goods direct from the East certainly 
took place in England and Flanders, with increasing 
frequency, from the thirteenth century onwards. The 



ancient form in which raw silk was universally sold by Founda- 
the producers was that of skeins reeled from the cocoon tions laid 
as soon as the silk worm had finished spinning, and before in China, 
the emergence of the moth from the chrysalis. It is 
customary now, in countries where sericulture is practised 
commercially to fumigate the cocoons in such a manner 
as to kill the moth, before it is ready to emerge, and 
then to sell the cocoons in bulk to dealers, who convey 
them to factories where they can be reeled, with great 
exactitude, under strict supervision. This insures more 
evenness and uniformity in the size of the thread than 
it is possible to guarantee by domestic reeling. A great 
deal of Chinese silk is still reeled by the silk farmer from 
live cocoons ; it is said to be on this account that China 
silk is generally more brilliant in lustre than European 
silk, which is reeled from dead cocoons. 

The Moors, when they established sericulture in Spain, 
used the simple methods of throwing and weaving thread 
which they had derived from Arabia. They seem to 
have communicated little, if any, knowledge of the art 
or results of their labour to the rest of Europe. Specimens 
of their weaving may have been occasionally carried to 
other countries, but there is no record of this being the 
case. It is, therefore, certain that Spain had little, if 
any, direct influence on the development of silk weaving 
in Great Britain. The later Spanish and Portuguese 
manufacture probably owes as much to Italy, as do 
other European countries, for improvements in the pre- 
paration of silken thread and the mechanism of the loom 
for weaving it, notwithstanding the fact that certain 
characteristics of Spanish design are traceable to early 
Moorish traditions. 

In Italy, on the contrary, soon after its introduction Italy and 
from the East, silk weaving became quite assimilated, the Art 
Oriental and Mediaeval ideas of design were fused of 
into a characteristic original style, and the technique Sericul- 
of silk manufacture rapidly advanced as various inventions ture. 
and improvements were made in the loom and in the 
appliances for weaving. The Italians proved to be 
particularly successful in the culture of mulberry trees, 



[taly and 
bhe Art 



the leaves of which were required as food for the silk- 
worms, as well as in the rearing of the worms themselves, 
and the manipulation of the fine lustrous thread which 
they produce. They devised new methods of reeling 
silk from the cocoons, and invented complicated machinery 
for throwing silk of any desired size and twist. By 
these means they advanced the arts of sericulture and 
silk weaving far beyond the primitive stage to which 
they had been previously carried. In short, Italy attained 
during the twelfth century, and retained for about three 
hundred years, supremacy in the art of silk manufacture, 
and most jealously guarded the secrets of its technique. 

It was not until the eighteenth century was well advanced 
that the scientific methods of throwing silk, invented 
by the Italians, became known out of Italy,* and similar 
machinery for the purpose was successfully erected in 
England.f Previously, all organzineSiS the fine, hard, 
twisted silk used for warp is called had to be imported 
from Italy. 

The throwing of the looser kinds of silk, suitable for 
twisting into embroidery thread and for wefting silk 
mixed goods, had been practised in England in quite 
early times. The first silken thread used in English 
embroidery came from Italy ; also the raw silk and the 
knowledge of the methods of twisting and doubling it, 
which make it into practical thread. It appears certain 
that some persons connected with the monasteries, which 
the Italian missionaries founded, first brought the raw 
material and communicated the methods of preparing 
it to their British pupils. At a later period, however, 
the knowledge of Eastern methods, and even Eastern 
practitioners themselves, may have been brought into 
England by returning travellers or merchants from the 
Orient. More and more frequently, no doubt, small 
quantities of both raw and wrought silk, the latter of 
brilliant Eastern dye, would be in the same manner 
imported and eagerly purchased by the members of the 
" Mystery of Silk Women," so frequently mentioned 
by the old chroniclers. 

* Even the French, who became the most advanced practitioners in the art in the l?th 
century, obtained their best organzine silk from Italy. 

f The story of its discovery, by John Lombe, is told in the chapter on Derby. 


Until near the end of the sixteenth century it is certain English 
however that by far the greater part of the raw silk, and reliance 
what thrown silk, of the finer sorts, was required, came on 
into England from or by way of Italy.* It is clear, Italian 
then, that to occasional immigrants and merchant Supplies, 
strangers from Italy, Great Britain was, for the most 
part, indebted for the knowledge of the art of silk throwing, 
and the interesting and extensive manufacture of silk 
into, twists for embroidery, cords for girdles, braids for 
trimming, and small silk goods of all kinds, which 
employed no inconsiderable number of persons from the 
time of the Norman Conquest onwards.f 

The extensive manufacture of silken webs, both plain 
and ornamental, which must have been carried on in 
the Netherlands during the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries, has been overlooked by historians of the textile 
industries. The splendour and interest of the world- 
famous Flemish tapestries of that period have perhaps 
prevented a due amount of attention being given to the 
less striking, but equally excellent, productions of the 
more mechanical art of the hand-loom weaver. The vast 
extent also of the woollen cloth manufacture, to which 
reference has already been made, is probably, in a measure 
a cause of this oversight with regard to silk weaving. 
The great similarity of the details of Flemish, Italian, 
and Spanish design at that time may also be a contributing 
cause of this oversight. Although, however, there is not 
much direct reference to silk weaving in the records of 
Flanders, there is sufficient to show that it was a very 
important branch of manufacture and that it gave 
employment to a great number of people. There are Nether- 
numerous references to silk manufacturers, who raised lands 
from their own workpeople companies of volunteers for Industry, 
military service at the time of the revolt. The ordinary 

* In the seventeenth century, the trade in silk from China and India gradually increased 
in importance and became very considerable. As the demand increased, the " Book of 
Rates" shows, that, not only from Italy and the East was raw and wrought silk imported, 
but from Granada, Spain, Bruges, France, and Poland. It also states that English thrown 
silk of a coarse kind was exported. 

t By 1661, the trade of silk throwing had so greatly increased in England that according 
to the preamble of an Act of Parliament, no less than " 40,000 men, women and children 
were employed in the work." This is probably an exaggeration, but it shows that a very large 
number of persons found employment. 



dress of the prosperous burghers of the cities of the 
Netherlands is said to have been of silk and velvet, and 
it seems probable that the output of the silk manufactories 
was disposed of mostly for local use. Works of tapestry 
were however in great demand for exportation to the 
Royal Courts of all the countries of Europe, and, con- 
sequently, won greater notoriety. 

Commerce The magnificence of the Free Cities of the Netherlands 
in the in the fifteenth century has already been the subject of 
Nether- comment. All historians agree in according to Antwerp 
lands. the first place, commercially, amongst the cities of Europe, 
and there is ample evidence that its public and private 
buildings, as well as their decorations and furnishings, 
were unsurpassed by any of the world-renowned cities of 
Italy, where art had flourished when almost the whole 
of Europe was steeped in comparative barbarism. Nor 
were Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Ypres, Louvain, Mechlin 
and other cities far behind Antwerp as centres of art and 
commerce. The chronicles of the Netherlands teem with 
descriptions of the beauty and wealth of the cities, the 
pomp of their civic and religious pageants and functions, 
as well as with details of the extravagant richness of the 
costumes and domestic arrangements of the wealthy 
Flemish burghers. The same chronicles are, however, 
singularly reticent regarding the arts and crafts which 
were carried on in their midst. It is only incidentally, 
therefore, that certain cities, such as Brussels, Mechlin, 
Bruges, Valenciennes, and particularly Mons, the beautiful 
capital of Hainault, are referred to as notable local centres 
of silk manufacture in the sixteenth century. 

Silk With regard to the various kinds of silk manufactures 

Manufac- practised in the Netherlands, at the time the Confederated 

ture in Provinces were at the height of their prosperity, it is 

Con- impossible to write with certainty; but there are certain 

federated probabilities which may be pointed out and which further 

Provinces, research may confirm or refute, as the case may be. No 

doubt the greatest number of persons were employed 

in the throwing and doubling of silk by hand, as in 

England, and in the plaiting and weaving of " small 

wares," as the ribbons, braids and cords, so much in use, 


were named. The special spinning and dyeing of waste Silk 
silk for the use of the weavers of the Arras tapestries, Manufac- 
in which it was mixed with wool in order to add brilliance ture in 
to the colouring, must have employed a considerable Con- 
number of people. It was probably however in the weaving federated 
of plain and ornamental fabrics, for their own domestic Provinces 
and ceremonial use, that the most prosperous handicrafts- 
men, who wrought in silk, were occupied. An examina- 
tion of the pictures and figure-subject tapestries of the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries will show that a certain 
class of fabrics, woven of silk, mixed with other thread, 
was commonly worn. Such stuffs as these pictorial designs 
represent are commonly supposed to have been supplied 
from Italy ; but as the materials indicated are such as 
are usually woven of mixed thread, and, moreover, as the 
silk in them need not be of the finest thrown quality, 
it seems likely that they were of home production. The 
designs of these fabrics were, for the most part, inspired 
by those of Italy and Spain, as was, indeed, most of the 
Flemish art work of the period. 

Velvets, with cut or uncut pile, both plain and figured, 
are often represented in the pictorial designs referred 
to, as are also brocades of silk and linen, or wool, or metal 
covered thread. Heavy stuffs of plain weaving, falling 
in stiff folds, and having a sheen of silk interwoven in 
their woollen texture, are also shown. Many other 
varieties of fabric are depicted in use, but seldom, if ever, 
are such stuffs indicated although pure silks were then 
being woven in France. It seems probable that many 
of the specimens of Renaissance weaving, which in the Flemish 
National and other collections of textiles are attributed Velvets 
to Italy and Spain, are of Flemish workmanship. This and 
probability is strengthened by the fact that many of the Mixed 
ornamental fabrics, especially of a large class of tissue Goods, 
woven stuffs, made of linen and red and gold silk, which 
are usually labelled Spanish, have, worked in their designs, 
features and emblems peculiar to Flanders and Germany. 

This evidence, together with the records of the kinds 
of textile fabrics introduced into England by refugees 
from the Netherlands, seems to prove that it was to the 



and Silk 



manufacture of silk mixed goods that the Flemish weavers 
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries chiefly devoted 
their skill and energy, and that it was to their initiative 
that the cities of the East coast of England, at the head 
of which stood Norwich, owed the success in the silk- 
mixed branches of the textile trades for which they became 
famous in the eighteenth century. 

With regard to the characteristics of the silk manu- 
factures of France, there can be no uncertainty. After 
the firm establishment of sericulture and silk weaving at 
Lyons and other cities in the Southern provinces, refine- 
ment of design, improvements in weaving technique, and 
in the preparation and dyeing of the thread, gradually 
took place. This progress was largely due to the fostering 
care and patronage given to the industry by the Govern- 
ment, as well as to the natural aptitude which the French 
operatives seem to have had for this delicate work in all 
its branches. 

Nearly a century elapsed before the French so far 
developed the art of silk weaving as to give evidence in 
the character of their work, of an advance in the methods 
of technique, improvements in weaving appliances, and 
freedom of design, on those derived, in the first instance, 
from Italy. At the end of the sixteenth century, how- 
ever, such evidence is given by the many specimens of 
French silk textiles which have been preserved and may 
be studied in the National Collection at the Victoria 
and Albert Museum, where the superb and unequalled work 
of the French silk weavers, both of the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, is particularly well represented. 

These examples of pure silk weaving, with the descrip- 
tions and beautiful illustrations of weaving appliances 
contained in the elaborate technical books, so many of 
which were published in France when the craft was in 
its prime, bear out the assertion already made, that the 
art of pure silk weaving in France at that time reached 
the highest pitch of perfection it has attained at any 
previous or subsequent period. It was when the art was 
thus in its prime that the great exodus from France of her 
most skilful artisans which has been described, took place. 


It was this which, extended and firmly established the 
silk manufacturing industry of Great Britain, and which 
gave such an impetus to the advance of all branches of 
textile and kindred manufactures. 

Thus, entirely as the result of Alien immigration, by English 
the beginning of the eighteenth century the Silk Industry Debt to 
became one of Great Britain's most flourishing trades. Alien 
Sandwich, as well as Canterbury, had become the home Immi- 
of many weavers, but as numbers increased they gathered grants, 
more and more to the great centre of commerce, the City 
of London. The suburban district of Spitalfields was made 
prosperous and cheerful by the great and thriving settle- 
ment of the enterprising and ingenious French Protestants 
and the professors of the different branches of handicraft 
which assisted in and depended for their occupation on the 
silk weaving industry. It was at Spitalfields that the pure 
silken fabrics, then so much in fashionable demand, were 
woven and all authorities agree in commending the 
excellent character of the operatives themselves, their 
refined tastes and thriftiness, the beauty and purity 
of the fabrics produced by them, and the great advantage 
and profit their settlement had proved to the city of their 
adoption. Contemporary estimates of the number of 
silk looms in Spitalfields at this time vary from fifteen 
to eighteen thousand.* In a petition presented to 
Parliament by the Weavers' Company in 1713, the silk 
trade of London was affirmed to be twenty times greater 
than it was before 1664, and it was also stated that 
in the black silk branch alone three hundred thousand 
pounds' worth of goods were made at home which had 
hitherto been imported from France. Amongst the 
pure silk goods then made in Spitalfields mention is 
made of satins, alamodes, lustrings, black and coloured 
mantuas, black and coloured paduasoys, ducapes, 
watered tabbies, plain and figured velvets, satin damasks 
and brocades, and cloth of gold and silver plate. 

Outside Spitalfields the largest settlement of silk Canter- 
weavers from France had taken place at Canterbury, where bury 
practically the same classes of silk textiles were produced. Weavers, 

* Each loom giving employment to three or four persons. 




The number of looms in that town increased at 
one time to about a thousand, but as the demand for 
weavers in London became urgent, the settlement of 
silk weavers in Canterbury dwindled and finally became 

Houses in Spital Square, 

Plate VII. 

Church Passage, Spital Square. 



The Story of Spitalfields. 

There is no more interesting chapter in the history In the 
of the silk trade than that which tells the story of Spital- Eliza- 
fields and its long association with the industry, a con- bethan 
nection which has been maintained in unbroken sequence Age. 
down to the present day. The writer will at the outset 
endeavour to draw a pen picture of Spitalfields as it 
appeared in that stirring period of our island history 
the Elizabethan Age. In subsequent chapters the history 
of this famous silk manufacturing district will be carried 
down to the present time. 

It is clear from descriptions and plans of London in 
the time of Queen Elizabeth that, on stepping out of the 
east gate of the City, called Bishopsgate, the traveller 
found himself at once in pleasant fields, with trees and 
hedgerows, where the city lads and lasses went a-Maying 
in the springtime, and where sportsmen amused them- 
selves with fowling in the autumn. This was Spitalfields. 
The actual boundaries of the old parish are not easy to 
determine. It is known to have formed part of Stepney 
a district which was linked to both town and country, and 
which was likened by Stow to " a province rather than a 
parish." Bethnal Green and Mile End, the former once 
a part of the great forest of Epping, may also be included 
in the district of Spitalfields. It was at once city and 
country. Near the city gate, both outside and within, 
were large and imposing houses, built and inhabited by 
nobles and gentry, or, as Stow calls them, " worshipful 
and honourable men." These included Lord Bolingbroke 
(who had a residence in Spital Square itself), Lord Morley, 
Lord Powis, the Countess of Dudley, and Sir Thomas 




Gresham at Bethnal Green, where the Bishop of London 
also had a rural seat. To these may be added the name 
of Sir Walter Raleigh, who lived at Mile End, and that 
of the Marquis of Worcester, who had a house in Stepney. 
Ancient Stow, in his Survey, mentions an ancient Priory and 
Priory Hospital dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which stood near 
and to the City gate of the district. It was founded in the 

Hospital, year 1197 by Walter Brune, citizen of London, and his 
wife Rosia, and this foundation was afterwards called 
St. Mary Spittle. Various references in early chronicles 
show that the hospital was also for the purpose of 
sheltering poor travellers and other persons in sickness 
and distress. In the year 1534 the hospital was dis- 
solved by Henry VIII, and it is recorded that besides 
ornaments for the church, and other goods, there were 
found standing one hundred and eighty beds, well- 
furnished, for the use of the poor in charity, " for," says 
the chronicler, " it was a hospital of great relief." 
The Spitalfields area was a fashionable suburb, and it 
may be recalled in this connection that Devonshire Square, 
Bishopsgate, acquired its name from the town house of 
that distinguished family. It was in the Spitalfields 
district, at a later period, that David Garrick, himself of 
Huguenot descent, achieved his early success. Queen 
Elizabeth was also acquainted with Spitalfields, it being 
recorded that she went to visit the Spanish ambassador on 
April 5, 1559, he being at that time lodged in one of 
the mansions of the district. She was accompanied, 
says the old record, by a large train of " gentry, masquers, 
morris dancers, and two bears in a cart." There, too, 
the Lord Mayors and City Fathers, with many noble 
guests, proceeded in great pomp and ceremony at Easter 
Memories to listen to the Spital sermon. This sermon, which was 
of preached from an open air pulpit standing in the space 

Queen now occupied by Spital Square, is now preached every year 
Elizabeth, in Christ Church, Newgate Street, and is still attended in 
state by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen. 

Queen Elizabeth preserved the amenities of the district, 
and it was not until 1660 that an Act of Parliament was 
obtained at the instance of Sir William Wheeler, granting 


permission for him to build on the east of Spital Square, 
an enactment which probably marks the beginnings of 
the quarter which formed the settlement in later years 
of the French silk weavers. At various times during the 
17th and 18th centuries, while excavations were being made 
for the houses, some of which still remain in and about 
Spital Square, portions of the priory ruins were dis- 
covered, as well as Roman and other remains. 

The street now called Middlesex Street, formerly 
Petticoat Lane, leading from Spitalfields to Whitechapel, 
was originally known as Hog Lane ; and Maitland, writing 
in 1755, says of it : " In ancient times this lane was 
bordered on both sides by hedgerows and elm trees, with 
pleasant fields to walk in, insomuch that gentlemen used 
to have their houses there for the air." He also says 
that " Many French Protestants fled their country for 
their religion and planted themselves here, living in the 
part of the lane near Spitalfields, to follow their trade 
being generally broad weavers of silk." He also speaks 
of " Wide, or Whitegate, Street as being inhabited by 
substantial tradesmen and dealers, chiefly in the silk 

Apart from the fact that there was a large weaving A 
colony in the neighbourhood, there are other good reasons Colony 
for the settlement here of the refugees. It was a Non- of 
conformist quarter, and it was not unnatural that these Noncon- 
Dissenters, who in spite of the sympathy of local formists. 
constables, wardens, and beadles, had been fined for the 
practise of their religious belief, should give a welcome 
to refugees who were also victims of religious persecution. 
Further than this, Frenchmen had already settled in the 
locality, and it is believed that one of the several places 
in London including a Westminster area called " Petty 
Fraunce " for this reason, was on the site of the modern 
New Broad Street. The Hall of the Weavers' Company 
was situated in Basinghall Street, and the district to 
Bishopsgate and beyond was mostly occupied by weavers 
and other tradesmen, whose work depended on them, such 
as dyers, thread-makers, throwsters, and dealers in weavers' 
materials of finished woven goods, who were at that time 



A called mercers. It was natural, therefore, that when 

Colony the Huguenot silk weavers arrived in London they should 
of be attracted to the weavers' quarters and settle there. 

Noncon- The demand for house accommodation in this district, 
formists. at the end of the 17th century, became so urgent that 
all the open ground near Bishopsgate and beyond became 
covered with a network of streets, courts, and alleys, 
specially built to suit the requirements of the industrious 
immigrant weavers, embroiderers, and craftsmen of kindred 
trades. The more or less complete maps of the period show 
this development distinctly. The names of many streets 
suggest the nationality and, it may be added, the refined 
tastes of the first occupants. Fleur de Lys Street, French 
Court, White Rose Court, Greenwood Alley, Swallow 
Alley, Fashion Street, Sweet Apple Court, Blossom Street, 
Flower and Dean Street, Rose Alley, Mermaid Alley and 
Pearl Street are a few of the names which occur to the 
writer. There is also evidence that this silk weavers' 
quarter was then a pleasant place in which to live, and 
carry on the exquisite handicraft with w r hich its denizens 
had enriched the country of their adoption. 

The kind of houses of which the first streets in Spital- 

fields were composed, and in which the weavers dwelt, 

may be seen in the two illustrations taken from Knight's 

History of London (1842). A few indeed of such houses 

still stand but not very many remain unaltered. A portion 

of one of these may be seen in Pelham Street, and a 

fine specimen is to be seen inMape Street, Bethnal Green. 

Weavers In this case the characteristic upper floors have been 

Quarters weather-boarded, whilst the more ordinary lower floors 

in remain the same. All these houses necessarily had their 

London, workshops at the top, and these had double floors to keep 

the noise of the work from reaching the domestic rooms 

below. Pleasant gardens were attached to these houses 

in which mulberry and other fruit trees grew, and flowers 

and vegetables were cultivated by the cheerful inhabitants. 

This garden suburb was close to the open fields of Bethnal 

Green, Hackney and Old Ford, and was freshened by 

the cool breezes from the meandering River Lea, the Essex 

Marshes, and the reaches of the Thames beyond. The 

Plate IX 

Indenture of Apprenticeship, dated August 7799 
zn f/ie possession of the Author. 


conditions under which the original Spitalfields' weavers 
pursued their handicraft were as idyllic as their domestic 
surroundings. The householders were for the most part 
small master weavers. They sold the productions of their 
looms to the mercer or draper, who in his turn retailed 
them to his private customers in his City shop. 

Each master weaver, who had served the legal seven 
years' apprenticeship, was entitled to keep two or three 
journeymen weavers, engaged by the year, who seldom 
left his workshop for another unless it were to set up in 
business for themselves. In cases of dispute the rates of 
wages would be fixed by the Justice of the Peace, and 
were supposed to be regulated from time to time according 
to the cost of living. When unmarried the journeyman 
usually formed part of the master's household together 
with the proportional number of apprentices which the 
master was legally allowed to keep. The quality of the 
webs produced was examined into and guaranteed either 
by the officer of the Livery Company of the craft or by 
officers appointed by the Government. 

Each master weaver had his own traditional designs, 
and his goods would naturally display special personal 
qualities. The elaborate brocades, damasks, velvets and 
other rich fabrics produced in Spitalfields were in great 
demand for furniture and costume. The mercers who 
sold these goods were in direct touch with the weavers 
themselves and could order at first-hand exactly what 
was required. At this time there was little competition 
with France, but, if at any time it was anticipated, 
temporary Acts of Parliament were passed to prohibit the 
introduction of foreign goods into Spitalfields, Canterbury 
or elsewhere. 

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the operative 
weavers in the East of London had largely increased in 
number. Various estimates are given by old writers 
of this increase, but it may be safely assumed that there 
were not less than thirty thousand persons engaged in 
the work.* 

* The population of London in 1801 was 958,863, Census of Great Britain, Population 
Table, 1851. " The advance of some 200,000 beyond the estimated population of 1699 
which the Census of 1801 showed had probably been made in great part after 1790 when 
the health of the Capital began to improve and the births again to exceed the deaths." 
C. Creighton, London Pamphlets, 1890. 


of the 


of Opera- 



sion into 






In order to provide house accommodation for this 
increased number of inhabitants, the weavers' quarter 
had been gradually extended outward from Spitalfields 
into Bethnal Green, a hamlet of the large, thinly- 
populated parish of Stepney. The houses provided for the 
weavers in this quarter although built on French lines were 
of a much meaner description than those of Spitalfields, 
and matched the less prosperous condition to which the 
majority of the silk weaving operatives had undoubtedly 
fallen at the time of their building. This lamentable 
decline in the status of the operative weaver at the end 
of the eighteenth century was owing to two causes :- 

(1) The increase in the number of workers was out of 
proportion to the demand for silk fabrics and although 
silk weaving continued to be one of the best paid 
branches of industry, the workers could not obtain full 
employment. This naturally gave rise to competition 
amongst the weavers themselves for what work there was, 
and the result of this was a gradual lowering of the price 
of labour, especially in the simpler branches of the craft.* 

(2) The inevitable tendency then, as now, in all branches 
of industry for mastership and capital to be acquired and 
monopolised by the few most capable persons in the trade. 
Both these causes of depression were in active operation 
in the silk trade during the second half of the eighteenth 
century, and at the beginning of the nineteenth they were 
augmented by two others ; the competition of the cheaper 
labour of Macclesfield and other provincial towns, and the 
utilisation of steam power in the lower branches of silk 

Maps, drawn at the beginning of the nineteenth century, 
show the Bethnal Green Road closely built as far as the 
Green, where the Church of St. John was afterwards 
erected. It was connected with the parish of Spitalfields 
on the one side, and Shoreditch on the other. 

The Act of Parliament for constituting the hamlet of 
Bethnal Green a separate parish and building the parish 
church of St. Matthew supplies a reliable estimate of 

* Some believe that it was the Spitalfields Act of 1773, repealed in 1824, which drove the 
skilled artizan to where there was no limit to wages. 


the population and throws some light on its character.* 
The number of houses is estimated at 1,800, and the 
population at fifteen thousand. The most thickly popu- 
lated portion of the district is spoken of as " immoral and 
dissolute, especially as regards the younger and poorer 
sort ; insomuch that many of the better sort of people 
have removed from their habitations in the said hamlet 
to the great impoverishment thereof."! 

During the early part of the nineteenth century almost Weavers' 
all contemporary references to Spitalfields and Bethnal descent 
Green are of a pitying or derogatory character, and into 
represent the operative weaver as poverty-stricken, im- poverty, 
provident and riotous, and the district in which he lived 
and worked as squalid, over-crowded and unsanitary. 
The plight of the operative weavers became gradually more 
distressing, and at the same time their numbers continued 
to increase. " All witnesses concurred," as a Parlia- 
mentary report states, " in representing the houses and 
streets occupied by the East London weavers as of the 
poorest and most unwholesome description. The small 
houses are generally of two storeys, built of brick, and 
have damp foundations. The streets are mere unpave.d 
roadways, composed of earthy and soft rubbish, and 
destitute of common sewers or drains." The report goes 
on to say that, " living in such places and insufficiently 
fed, the weavers of Spitalfields exhibit a physical condition 
marked by general feebleness and liability to disease." 

An early Victorian writer,! describing his walk through 
the weavers' district, says : "On passing through most 
of the streets a visitor from other parts of the town is 
conscious of noiselessness, a dearth of bustle and activity. 
The clack of the looms is heard here and there, but not 
to a noisy degree. It is evident at a glance that in many An 
of the streets all the houses were built expressly for Early 
weavers ; and in walking through them we noticed the Victorian 
short stature and not very healthy appearance of the record, 
inhabitants. It was rather painful to remark the large 
number of ' Benefit Societies,' ' Burial Societies,' ' Loan 

* 13th year George II. (1740). 

t Maitland's London, page 1275. 

j Knight's London, 1842. Chap, xlix. Spitalfields. 


An Societies/ etc., whose announcements are posted down 

Early the streets ; for it is well-known to those who have studied 
Victorian these subjects that the poor generally pay ruinous interest 
Record. for any aid which, as generally managed, they receive 
from societies of this kind. Here and there we met with 
bills announcing that coals were to be had at twelve pence 
per cwt. at a certain place during the cold weather ; and 
at some of the bakers' shops were announcements that 
'weavers' 3 tickets were taken in exchange for bread" 
(an allusion to tickets given out by a benevolent institution). 
" In one street we saw a barber's shop, at which, in addition 
to the operations usually conducted in such places, persons 
could have ' a good wash ' for a farthing. In another 
street a flaming placard announced that at a certain 
public-house the advertiser would attend every evening 
to match his bird against any linnet or goldfinch in the 
world for a ' thousand guineas. 7 Here we espied a school 
at which children were taught to ' read and work at 
two pence a week ' ; there a chandler's shop, in which 
shuttles, reeds, quills and other smaller parts of weaving 
apparatus were exposed for sale in a window, together 
with split pease, bundles of wood and red herrings. At 
another place was a bill announcing that the inhabitants 
were liable to a penalty if they kept their houses dirty 
and unwholesome. In one little shop patch work was 
sold by the pound ; and in another astrological predictions, 
interpretations of dreams and nativities were to be pur- 
chased ' from threepence upwards,' as also extracts from 
' Moore's Almanack ' for the last seventy years. In very 
many houses the windows exhibited more sheets of paper 
than panes of glass, and no inconsiderable number of 
houses were shut altogether." 

The same author gives the following sketch of the 
average home and general circumstances of the operative 
silk- weaver of his time : 

" In my visits to the districts inhabited by the weavers 
with an endeavour to view the processes of the manu- 
facture, our enquiries were too often met by the sad reply 
' I have no work at present,' but at one house we mounted 
a dark staircase to the upper floor occupied by an elderly 

Plate X. 

Weavers' Houses in Menotti Street, Bethnal Green. 


weaver and his wife. The room formed the entire upper 
storey and was approached, not by a door, but by a trap 
in the floor, opening a communication with the stairs 
beneath. At each end of the room, front and back, were 
windows of that peculiar form so characteristic of the 
district, and which are made very wide in order to admit 
light to all parts of the loom adjacent to them. At each A 
window was a loom, the husband being at work at one, Weaver's 
and the wife at the other. Near the looms were two quill Home, 
wheels used for winding the weft or shoot on to the quills 
for filling the shuttles. In the middle of the room was 
a stump bedstead, covered with its patchwork quilt, 
and near it some on the floor, some on shelves and some 
hanging on to the walls of the room were various mis- 
cellaneous articles of domestic furniture, for the room 
served as parlour, kitchen, bedroom, workshop and all. 
A few pictures, a few plants and two or three singing birds, 
formed the poetical furniture of the room. The man 
was weaving a piece of black satin, and the woman a 
piece of blue. In reply to enquiries on the subject, we 
learned that they were to be paid for their labour at the 
rate of sixpence and fourpence halfpenny per yard 
respectively. This at close work would yield about seven 
or eight shillings per week each. The man was short in 
stature, as most Spitalfields weavers are, grey-haired, 
depressed in spirits, but intelligent and communicative. 
When, after descending from the room, we looked around 
at the mass of weavers' houses in the vicinity, we could 
not but feel that most of them bore a saddening similarity 
to that which we had entered." 

During the first quarter of the nineteenth century Spital- 
the plight of the Spitalfields silk- weaver seems to have fields a 
been at its worst, and the degradation of the district at Century 
its lowest point. The average weekly earnings of a weaver, ago. 
according to evidence contained in Parliamentary reports, 
did not exceed five shillings, if periods of waiting were 
taken into account. At the same time, the number of 
persons employed in the handicraft was at its highest 
between 1820 and 1830. In the evidence taken before 
a Committee of the House of Commons on the silk trade 



Spital- in 1831-2, it was stated that " the population of the 
fields a districts in which the Spitalfields weavers resided, corn- 
Century prising Spitalfields, Mile End New Town, and Bethnal 
ago. Green, could not be less, at that time, than one hundred 

thousand, of whom fifty thousand were entirely dependent 
on the silk manufacture, and the remaining moiety more 
or less dependent indirectly." Mr. Porter,* writing on 
the subject, estimated that there were 17,000 looms at 
work in the East of London. The same authority, speaking 
from the point of view of the manufacturer, claims that the 
silk trade in England was then in a more flourishing 
condition than it had ever been before. He supported 
this claim by giving statistics of the importation of raw 
and thrown silk from the year 1819 to 1828, during which 
period the figures rose from 1,782,578Z&$. weight per annum, 
to 4,547,812Zfe. 

A survey taken in 1830-40 would have shown not only 
Spitalfields and Bethnal Green, but the whole district 
between Shoreditch, Hackney Road, to the point where 
it is intersected by the Regent's Canal, the course of the 
canal itself as far as the Mile End Road, Whitechapel Road, 
Aldgate, Houndsditch, Bishopsgate Street Without and 
Norton Folgate, chiefly occupied by operative weavers, 
a large percentage of whom were in abject poverty, 
and were herded together in the meanest of habitations. 
In striking contrast to these were the houses of the weavers' 
employers, the manufacturers, who, not only had their 
offices, but lived in good style, like most city merchants of 
the time, in and about Spital Square, Devonshire Square, 
Great St. Helen's, White Lion Street, Norton Folgate 
and the main road of Bethnal Green or in the more 
suburban neighbourhoods of Bishop Bonner's Fields or 
Old Ford. 

Occupying a position between the wealthy manufacturer 
and the indigent operative weaver, there- was a numerous 
class of persons who maintained a prosperous position 
as long as the district continued to be the headquarters 
of the silk trade. These were the makers of the different 
parts of the weaving apparatus such as loom mountings, 

* " Silk Manufacture in England," Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts, 1831. 

Plate XL Wm. Anthony, 50 years night-watchman in the 
Neighbourhood of Spital Square, Norton Folgate, 
' The Last of the Charlies." 


Jacquard machinists, designers, draughtsmen, Jacquard A well- 
card cutters, as well as warpers, turners on, winders, pre- to-do 
parers of yarn, dyers and others. There was also a small Middle 
number of operative weavers who were able to maintain Class, 
the traditional position of the original craftsmen, owing 
to their ability to manage the Jacquard machine and to 
weave on handlooms, by its means, high-class furniture 
silks, which have always continued to be in more or less 
demand, and which, even to the present time, have not 
been successfully woven by power. The foremen, clerks 
and other permanent employees of the manufacturers, 
who of course lived in the neighbourhood, also added to 
this well-to-do middle-class, whose livelihood depended 
on the silk industry. During the first half of the 
nineteenth century, this middle-class maintained their 
position in spite of the prevailing distress of the ordinary 
weaver. It was amongst this class that many of the 
pleasant traditional manners and customs of the Huguenot 
silk-weavers still lingered. It was also amongst this 
aristocracy of the district that so many families bearing 
distinguished French surnames were to be found. 

Still another class of persons who, in circumstances, 
were above the level of the operative weaver, and whose 
livelihood was earned in the neighbourhood, consisted 
of the retail dealers in provisions, clothing and other 
domestic necessaries, whose shops were located in the 
main streets. These tradesmen supplied the well-to-do 
inhabitants, while the mass of the people bought their 
provisions in minute quantities of the itinerant dealers 
who hawked their wares from door to door or at the tiny 
general shops, one or two of which were to be found in 
almost every lane or alley. 

The retail dealers purchased their goods wholesale Shops 
from the three local markets, one of which was situate and 
at Mile End, one at Spitalfields, and one which was said Markets, 
to be the most important market in London, in Leadenhall 
Street. These markets were of very ancient foundation, 
and are known to have existed in pre-mediaeval times. 
Leadenhall Market was the oldest, and was originally 
founded for the sale of canvas and sailcloth and woollen 



goods of various kinds. It was afterwards enlarged and 
utilized for the sale of all kinds of provisions and household 

Some Of public buildings, with the exception of those for 

Archi- religious worship, the district was singularly devoid. Two 

tectural hospitals, one French and one English, two endowed 

Features, schools, six Church of England schools, two French and 

two Dissenting charity schools, and twenty groups of 

almshouses, mostly very small, seem to comprise the 


Three large and two small buildings, of which the 
newly erected Christ Church, Spitalfields, was the largest 
and finest, represented the Church of England. Nine 
meeting-houses had been erected by the French refugees, 
and were still in use. One of these is said to have been 
capable of seating 1,500 worshippers. But with the 
lapse of years the congregations had become, for the most 
part, very meagre, although it was the custom for many 
of the well-to-do inhabitants to attend one service in the 
French meeting-house and one in the parish church 
regularly every Sunday. 

With the exception of the churches and chapels, the 

only meeting places of the inhabitants for public or social 

purposes were the taverns or public-houses, as they were 

beginning to be called. There were a great number of 

these in the Spitalfields district, and they were largely used 

by the weaving fraternity for the various trade societies, 

benefit clubs* and clubs for social amusement, which were 

constantly being formed and dissolved amongst them. 

The more thrifty of the operatives formed Box Clubs; 

of these, Maitland gives an interesting description. 

Weavers' " These clubs," he says, " erected by mutual consent, 

Benefit are supported by an amicable contribution of two, or 

Clubs. three, or more pence per week, by each member, who 

weekly or monthly meet at a certain ale-house, when 

they spend twopence or threepence each ; and, wherein 

* England has just cause to be grateful for the many things introduced by the Huguenots, 
and particularly the introduction of the present Benefit Society. Its formation among the 
refugees was due to its members being of foreign birth, and thus having no claim to pensions 
from the poor rates, thereby giving rise to the foundation between themselves of societies 
for their mutual relief in sickness and old age. Memories of Spitalfields, by W. H. 
Manch6e, published in the Huguenot Society's Proceedings. Vol. x, No. 2, p. 333. 

Plate XII. 

Christ Church, Spitalfields . 

From Photographs in the possession of the Rector, Rev. C. H. Chard. 

Plate XIII. Interior of Christ Church, Spitalfields. 

From Photographs in the possession oj the Rector, Rev. C. H. Chard. 


they have Rules for their better regulation, and a strong 
Box or Chest, with divers locks, for the conservation of 
their books, cash, etc." 

The mass of operative weavers were, however, too poor Recrea- 
to be able to combine for purposes of thrift, but a far tions 
larger number belonged, more or less intermittently, and 
to the trade societies formed on much the same plan, Amuse- 
and meeting in the same places as the Box Clubs, for the ments. 
regulation of prices and the betterment of their position. 
The working and effect of these societies will be discussed 
in a succeeding chapter, but it may be noticed here that 
they were, for the most part, very short-lived, and probably 
the persons who benefited mostly from both clubs and 
trade societies were the tavern-keepers in whose houses 
they were held.* 

In their amusements and recreations the original French 
settlers left an indelible impression on the neighbour- 
hood. Floriculture and gardening, the breeding and 
training of singing birds, natural history and the more 
or less abstruse sciences have always characterised the 
Spitalfields weaving population, and even to-day traces 
of these refining recreations are to be found in the district. 
The " bloody sports " of pugilism, cudgelling, bull-baiting, 
bear-baiting and cock-fighting, throwing at cocks and 
duck-hunting, were according to Maitland, although his 
testimony is not unimpeached, almost unknown in the 
East, but were popular in West and South London. 

The chronic distress of the weaving population provided 
an unlimited field for the exercise of charity. We 
accordingly find that in no part of London, in the early 
part of the nineteenth century, were there so many Charity 
benevolent doles and charity societies as in Spitalfields Organisa- 
and its district. These charity distributions, although to a tions. 
small extent alleviating the distress of the weavers, for 
whom they were intended, had the effect, according to 
a Parliamentary report, of " attracting to the neigh- 
bourhood a large number of casual dock labourers and 
vagrants of no occupation, who added to the mass 

* The taverns and alehouses at this time were very numerous and badly managed. It 
was not until 1752 that an Act of Parliament was passed for limiting their number and to a 
certain extent controlling them. 



of poverty and in a measure defeated the work of the 
charitably disposed." 

In Porter's book on silk, already referred to, the writer 
describes the interior of a small house and its busy 
occupants, who were all engaged in the silk manufacture. 
A family The picture is in singular contrast to most of the gloomy 
of Silk " ones of the time, and, although evidently true to life, was 
Weavers, such as could have but rarely been found at the time he 
wrote. He says : " It once occurred to the author of 
this treatise, in the course of his visits among the operative 
weavers of Spitalfields, to visit a family consisting of a 
man, his wife, and ten children, all of whom, with the 
exception of the two youngest girls, were engaged in 
useful employments connected with the silk manufacture. 
The father, assisted by one of his sons, was occupied 
with a machine punching card slips (certain pieces of 
apparatus in Jacquard weaving) from figures which another 
son, a fine intelligent lad, was ' reading on/ Two other 
lads, somewhat older, were in another department, casting, 
drawing, punching, and attaching to cords the leaden 
plummets or ' lingoes ' which form part of the harness 
for a Jacquard loom. The mother was engaged in warping 
silk. One of the daughters was similarly employed at 
another machine, and three other girls were at three 
separate looms, weaving figured silks. An air of order 
and cheerfulness prevailed throughout this busy establish- 
ment that was truly gratifying ; and, with the exception 
of the plummet drawers, all were clean and neatly clad. 
The particular occupation wherein each was engaged 
was explained most readily, and with a degree of genuine 
politeness which proved that amid the harassing cares 
attendant on daily toils of no ordinary degree, these 
parents had not been unmindful of their duty as regarded 
the cultivation of their children's minds and hearts." 



Before describing the changes which took place in the 
neighbourhood of Spitalfields during the second half of 
the nineteenth century, which proved to be such an event- 
ful period in British silk manufacture, it will be interesting 
to give a detailed sketch of a typical master silk- weaver 
of the old school in his daily life and surroundings. Very 
few examples of this class of manufacturer survived the 
first half of the century, but the one here described is 
representative of these substantial English tradesmen. 
He had been apprenticed, worked as journeyman, became 
foreman, and finally succeeded his master in a silk- weaving 
business. This business he carried on during the first half 
of the nineteenth century, and, without change of method, 
well into the second half. There was much to admire 
in this truly dignified but unaffected master-weaver, who 
had the portly personality and manners of a dean, or an 
archdeacon at the least. 

The dress in which he was generally seen was an ample 
suit of black. The swallowtail coat and trousers were 
of the best broad-cloth, and the vest of the richest satin. 
Around his neck, in place of the stiffened silk stock of 
his younger days, which had been discarded with his 
bottle-green coat and brass buttons, several yards of the 
finest cambric, spotlessly white, were wound, and his 
gold watch, carried in his trousers fob, had attached to 
it a bundle of seals. He had one son and seven daughters, 
all of whom were brought up to some branch of the silk 
business, which they industriously practised till they 
were married and left their father's home for their own. 


A Manu- 
of the 


crat of 



A Manu- 
of the 

A Spital- 

At the time in question between the years 1860 and 70 
the household consisted of the son, who, like his father, 
was a widower, his two children, and the eldest daughter, 
who remained unmarried. She had been a skilful velvet 
weaver, but now superintended and assisted the labours 
of an Irish maidservant, who had grown middle-aged 
in her first and only situation, and who always spoke 
with deepest reverence of " the master." The son managed 
the routine warehouse work, weighed and gave out raw 
silk to the dyer, dyed silk to the winders and warpers, 
and warps and wefts to the weavers, received them back 
again when woven, kept the books, served customers, 
and attended to all matters connected with the ware- 
house, seldom leaving it during business hours. The old 
gentleman attended the silk market and silk sales, and 
made purchases of raw silk, selected designs and gave 
instructions to the draughtsmen for carrying them out, 
called on furnishers and mercers, who were his friends and 
customers, saw important visitors at home in his private 
office, fixed prices, settled all disputes and generally directed 
the business, every detail of which was familiar to him. 

The firm had always been noted for doing the best and 
richest work, and had made a speciality of damasks and 
brocades for church furnishing. Some of these fabrics 
of special design were in constant demand. One small 
design, known as " The Bird," kept two weavers always 
at work weaving it, and when at last they were too old 
to continue their occupation, they had saved enough 
money to purchase four houses near the new Victoria Park, 
so that, living together in one house, they had the rent 
of the three others to maintain them. 

It is pleasant to recall the well-ordered appearance of 
the old house in White Lion Street, Spitalfields, in which 
this solid, steady business was developed and carried on. 
The exterior of the house is shown in the photograph 
reproduced, and it was easy, on visiting it recently, for 
the memory to recall in each separate room vivid pictures 
of the past. The house, like those of Spital Square, 
which are of a rather earlier date, was panelled throughout, 
the woodwork being painted white. The ground floor 


and basement were used exclusively for the business. A Spital- 
The basement, which in earlier times had been the fields 
kitchen, was utilised for the storage of machinery and business 
cumbrous appliances not actually needed on the moment, house. 

The ground-floor rooms were fitted up as a warehouse 
the walls being lined with shelves and bunkers. The 
former were filled with rolls of various kinds of woven 
silks, and the latter with raw material, designs, drafts 
and 'other things required in the different departments 
of the work. There w r as a mahogany counter, a desk, a 
safe for the account books, and a large pair of scales of 
the kind used for accurately weighing silk in its various 
forms. Over the carved " Adam " mantelpiece hung a 
piece of brocaded silk, framed and glazed. It was a 
carefully-preserved relic of the material from which the 
Coronation robe of Queen Victoria had been made, and 
had been woven by the firm for a West-End house.* 
The Spitalfields firm also supplied the draperies for 
Westminster Abbey on the occasion of Queen Victoria's 

There were usually standing about a few baskets con- 
taining bobbins of shining silk, and on the counter two 
or three hand sticks, with their coils of brilliantly-coloured 
or jetty black warps waiting for the warper or weaver to 
call for and carry off to his domestic workshop. There 
were also rolls or neat bundles of finished webs ready to 
be examined and booked to the credit of the weavers. 
All was order, and an almost sacred quiet generally 
pervaded the warehouse. Business was transacted there Methods 
in a leisurely manner, almost as a religious function, of 
and the demeanour of even the ancient porter, who had Trading, 
been a soldier in his youth, was as imposing and self- 
important as that of a verger at St. Paul's. 
^ In the hall, or passage, which was of less ample dimen- 
sions than those of similar houses in Spital Square, there 
were usually seated, on a movable form, two or three 
weavers, or members of weavers' families, waiting their 
turn to receive or deliver work. On Saturdays a constant 

* The Coronation Robes of Queen Victoria were to be seen at the London Museum, and 
were there inspected by the writer. This was before the Museum was removed from 
Kensington Palace. The Coronation Silk was made by Messrs. Stillwell & Sons, of White 
Lion Street. 


Old stream of weavers passed in and out of the warehouse, 

Business carrying little memorandum books and prepared to give 
Customs the best account they could of the progress of their work, 
described, and take their weekly draw of wages, or it might be 
occasionally a balance due to them on finishing a job. 
These humble visitors were strictly marshalled and 
admitted in due order by the stately porter. A door at 
the end of the passage admitted the visitor into a rather 
wider hall where there were three other doors and a wide- 
balustered staircase, which led to the upper floors of the 
house. One door opened into the inner sanctum of the 
warehouse, another to the basement stairs, and a third gave 
access to a freestone-paved yard, having on one side a 
broad border of earth, in which lilac trees grew and 
flowered in the spring-time, and where such hardy plants 
as will live between close, high walls were, with more 
or less success, coaxed to grow and blossom. 

At the end of this yard, facing the house and connected 
with its first floor rooms by a covered gallery supported 
on posts, there was a building of two floors, which in 
earlier days of the business had been a domestic weaving 
house. The lower floor of this out-building was now a 
store place for rough lumber, and the upper floor, which 
had previously been filled with looms, was now the kitchen 
of the house, where Biddy, the Irish maidservant, reigned 

A The furniture of the chief room of the private part 

Victorian of the house, which it will be sufficient to describe, was 
interior of the kind usual in the early Victorian period. It con- 
in Spital- sisted of a heavy mahogany sideboard and table, 
fields. mahogany-framed sofas and chairs, of ample dimensions 
but clumsy design, upholstered in slippery black horse- 
hair, stools and small occasional chairs, covered with 
cross-stitch needlework, a card-table, a what-not with 
many shelves, and a lady's work-table. The windows 
had deep window-seats and were curtained with hangings 
of green silk and wool repp, while the floors were covered 
with Brussels carpets of a large floral design of many 
colours. Between the three windows, in the front room, 
were two tall pier glasses surmounted by carved eagles, 


and over the mantelpiece there was a heavy Empire A 
gilt frame of three compartments, which were filled with Victor- 
looking-glass. In the summer-time, white netted curtains ian 
replaced the winter use of green repp, and white " anti- interior 
macassars " of crochet- work adorned the backs of the in Spital- 
sofas and chairs. fields. 

On the walls were hung characteristic pictures. The 
chief amongst these were portraits in oil of the master 
and his wife, painted when they were middle-aged, and 
a large wool-work picture of " Rebecca at the Well," 
framed in rosewood. The portraits were in highly 
ornamental gilt frames and hung above two cupboards, 
one on either side of the fireplace, on which were baskets 
of wax fruit and flowers under glass shades, together with 
Chelsea china figures of Britannia, Falstaff and sundry 
shepherdesses. There were several old copper-plate 
engravings in black frames, the subjects being Italian 
classical landscapes, with ruins. There was also a framed 
photographic transparency on glass of the master's seven 
daughters standing in a row, taken in the crinoline and 
side-spring boot period, and another of the son holding 
a violin, on which instrument he was an expert performer. 
The " what-not " with many shelves was ornamented 
on the top by a china figure of General Abercrombie, 
surrounded with various emblems and small allegorical 
figures, whilst on the lower shelves, as well as on the large 
centre table, were elegantly bound Books of Beauty, Ladies' 
Annuals, and the Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue of the 
International Exhibition of 1851. 

The latest addition to this characteristic bourgeoise Typical 
ensemble was a tall, upright piano with a highly ornamental " Gen- 
front of fretwork and green silk, the latter arranged in tility." 
pleats, which radiated from a centre rosette. On this 
instrument the granddaughter of the master accompanied 
her father when he played the violin, she being the first 
of the family to take lessons in piano-playing, and also the 
first from whose education some one branch of the silk- 
weaving business had been omitted. 

Outside his business, which absorbed the largest portion 
of his time and attention, the master's interest did not 



of the 



widely extend. He was churchwarden and guardian of 
the poor in his district, and discharged his duties in these 
offices with great seriousness. He was also on the com- 
mittees of many of the various benevolent societies with 
which the district abounded, nor were his sympathies in 
this direction at all narrow or bigoted, for one of his chief 
favourites, amongst the charitable institutions to which 
he belonged, was one for the assistance of the poor Jews, 
who were then becoming very numerous in the parish. 
He imbibed his politics from his weekly Tory newspaper, 
and the Times, a copy of which he and other tradesmen 
subscribed for. The former he read on Sundays, and 
the Times, wiiich came to him in the evening, divided 
his attention with the management of a long church- 
warden clay pipe for an hour or two by his fireside after 
the labours of the day. His interest in politics was, how- 
ever, but slight in comparison with that which he took 
in his business and local affairs. 

His recreations were bi-weekly attendances at the 
Tradesmen's Social Club and a summer holiday. The 
club was held at a well known tavern, situated at 
the corner of Fleur de Lys Street. Of this club, he was, 
by virtue of his great dignity, perpetual chairman. 
Punctually at each meeting, after a sitting of two hours, 
the club broke up as the watchman proclaimed the hour 
of ten.* In the summer-time the master took his family 
to Margate for a fortnight. For many years they 
invariably stayed in the same lodging-house, kept by the 
same landlady, on the sea front. He enjoyed his holiday 
in the same serene manner as that in which he discharged 
the business and parochial duties to which he returned with 
renewed vigour on the appointed day. 

Dignified, leisurely, solid and respectable, he was a 
survival from an earlier time, and the last representative 
of a class of master silk-weavers, which, at his death in 
the year 1871, became extinct. The business of this 
firm being, as has already been stated, of a specially high 
class, only the best silk goods being dealt with, it will 

* Norton Folgate liberty retained the services of a night watchman, by private subscrip- 
tion, to proclaim the time and the state of the weather long after other districts had abolished 
the office. 



readily be understood that it was not a large one. Probably Two 
not more than fifty or sixty weavers were " on the books/' Classes 
but these were all kept in regular employment and were of 
of a superior class to those of the manufacturers who Opera- 
were concerned with the lower branches of the handicraft, tives. 
The contrast between these two classes of operatives 
was most observable when on Saturdays, the general 
pay-day, they were to be seen waiting about the doors 
of the various manufacturers' offices to receive their 
weekly " draw " of wages. 

There were in London, until the middle of the nineteenth 
century, a very large number of silk manufacturing firms 
who had offices in Spitalfields, and each employed several 
hundred families of operative weavers. The weavers 
worked under the system described in a subsequent 
chapter. Some of these manufacturers had also branch 
establishments in Essex, Suffolk and other places, and 
many acquired large fortunes during the early half of 
the century, the majority being in the height of their 
prosperity in 1850-60.* 

* It is common in stories and plays of the Georgian and Early Victorian periods, both 
in England and France, to find the expression, " His, or her, father had made a fortune in 
the silk trade." It may also be added that the same system of manufacture was in operation 
in France as in England at that time. 


The During the first half of the nineteenth century the 

growth population of London is said to have doubled itself. The 
of maps of 1850-60 show the various main roads, closely 

London, built, stretching out into the country like the tentacles 
of an octopus, and the spaces between them being 
gradually filled in with smaller streets and lanes. Many 
of the suburban villages had now become indistinguishable 
from the town itself. In the East of London this was 
particularly the case. Between the parishes of Spital- 
fields, Bethnal Green, Hackney, Whitechapel, Globe Town 
and Mile End New Town very few open spaces were left, 
and those which did remain were given over to neglect and 
abomination. There are persons living who remember 
the dreadful plight of the poor in these new "jerry-built " 
streets and lanes. One witness, George Doree, a weaver, 
still living, who was born in the year 1845, in a street near 
the Globe Road, distinctly remembers his birthplace and 
its miserable surroundings. His father was a weaver of 
Huguenot descent, as his name testifies, who moved, with 
his numerous family, out from Spitalfields to a new cottage, 
one of a row specially built for weavers, in Globe Town. 
At the time they moved the neighbourhood was pleasantly 
rural. The cottages stood in an open space divided up 
into small gardens, which were, for the most part, hired 
by Spitalfields weavers who lived and worked in the close 
streets of the town, but spent their leisure time, of which 
they had too much, in gardening and other rural pursuits. 
Many of them had built quaint summer-houses in their 
gardens, in which they always spent the week-ends when 


Plate XIV. 

A Typical Spitalfields Silk Weaver, 
George Doree, at work- 


the weather was favourable. As new cottages encroached The 
more and more on the open space, the gardens were given growth 
up and became mere rubbish heaps ; the few tenants of 
that were left took to the breeding and rearing of fowls London, 
and pigs in place of vegetables, flowers and canaries. 
The unpaved streets, in the winter, became sloughs of 
foul mud, for there was no drainage, and all house refuse 
was thrown into the road to rot. 

Although the district was in this manner being built 
over and becoming more and more thickly populated, 
it must not be supposed that it was now (1850) exclusively 
inhabited by weavers. On the contrary, by that time the 
number of operative weavers employed in the East of 
London had, from various causes, begun to decrease. 
Foreign Jews were gradually ousting the weavers from 
Spitalfields, and various manufactories were being built 
hard by in which hundreds or thousands of workpeople 
were employed on regular, but poorly remunerated work, 
as well as large works where unskilled labour was in 
demand more or less intermittently. The number of 
operative weavers in the district at this time is variously 
estimated at from fifteen to twenty thousand. Another 
cause for the decline in number of the silk- weaving popula- 
tion of London, was the development of the railway 
system, which enabled weavers who had no work or 
were dissatisfied with London trade methods and 
restrictions, to remove at little cost to one or other of the 
provincial districts, which had become great centres of 
silk manufacture, where work was reported to be plentiful, 
where there were fewer trade restrictions, and also where, 
in many cases, the factory system was in full operation, 
in which, though at low wages, regular employment was 
offered, especially to children and young people. 

In the meantime the factory system, which had, in Intro- 
the provinces, gradually superseded that of the domestic duction 
workshop in the cotton and woollen industries, and, to a of 
certain extent, in the silk industry, had been introduced Factory 
into East London. System. 

Between 1820 and 1830, two firms had established 
factories in London for weaving the lower grades of silk 



Intro- dress goods, and by the year 1850 there were seven 

duction factories of a similar kind in operation, as well as two 

of or three for making narrow braids etc. But these were, 

Factory for the most part, only subordinate establishments to 

System, others which the same firms had already in operation at 

Sudbury, Kettering and other provincial towns and 

country districts. The factory system for silk-weavers 

does not seem to have taken root very kindly in the East 

of London, except in one case, later in the century, 

when, owing to the pluck and energy of one master weaver 

a factory for the weaving of the very highest class of 

furniture silks was started, and carried on in such a manner 

that, in spite of the rapid decline of the handicraft which 

was taking place in the district at the time of its founding, 

it became the foremost firm, in its particular class of 


A description of Spitalfields in the mid-Victorian period 
would be incomplete without mention of the Government 
School of Design which had been started in Crispin Street, 
and was afterwards moved into White Lion Street, Spital 
Square. It lingered there, but cannot be said to have 
flourished, for some twenty or thirty years. It is natural 
to suppose that the object of establishing a School of 
Design in the silk-weaving district was to train students 
to produce suitable designs for the local handicraft, so 
that it should be no longer necessary for manufacturers to 
depend so entirely on foreign artists for the supply of such 
designs as they required, and for which they had to pay 
Govern- exorbitant prices. This, however, if such was the original in- 
ment tention of the promoters of this school, was, in this particular 
School of case, forgotten, for witnesses before a Parliamentary 
Design. Committee of Enquiry, made in 1849, alleged that (1) 
" The headmaster of the Spitalfields School of Art is 
not at all conversant with the silk processes. (2) The 
school has made very little progress in the art of designing 
for silks. (3) The instruction has not had sufficient 
relation to the requirements of the silk manufacture. 
(4) The designs made are not capable of being executed. 7 ' 
It requires little imagination, in view of such evidence, 
to credit the statements of persons who remember the 


school and its management that " it had very little, if Govern- 
any, effect for good or ill on the manufacture of silk in ment 
Spitalfields." School of 

The year 1851 was rendered memorable by the opening Design, 
of the first great International Exhibition of Art and 
Industry. It was promoted by the Society of Arts, of 
which Society H.R.H. the Prince Consort was the 
President, and in which he took the greatest interest. 
The - silk manufacturers of Spitalfields held aloof from 
the Exhibition until considerable pressure had been brought 
to bear upon them not only by the Society of Arts, but 
by some of their best customers amongst the mercers 
and upholsterers of the City and West End of London. 
They seem to have had the idea that the exhibition of 
their best efforts in design and manufacture would, 
instead of benefiting themselves, assist their rivals at 
home and abroad in competing with them. The difficulty 
was, however, overcome, and allowing themselves to be 
persuaded to exhibit, a collection of Spitalfields silks was 
made which, though small, in comparison with the import- 
ance of the industry, was creditable and representative, 
if we may rely on the evidence of the Press reports of the 

The catalogue of the Exhibition shows a good list of 
leading Spitalfields firms who sent specimens of their 
silk- weaving. It confirms the statement already made 
that most of the silk manufacturers had their warehouses 
or offices in or near Spital Square.* It is interesting also 
to note that it contains the names of many firms who The 
have since established and carried on large businesses Exhibi- 
in other parts of the country. They left Spitalfields at tion of 
the time of the great downfall of the local industry, 1851. 
which took place during the next decade, the story of 
which now claims attention. 

* For list of exhibiting firms, see Appendix. 


Death- The Royal Speech at the opening of Parliament on 

blow to January 25th, 1860, contained a paragraph announcing 

Spital- the conclusion of a commercial treaty with France, 

fields which, after being debated and confirmed during the 

industry, course of the Session,* practically struck the death-blow 

to the local industry which had been carried on in the 

district of Spitalfields for nearly two centuries, and had 

given employment of a more or less remunerative kind 

to hundreds of thousands of operative silk weavers during 

that period. 

This fateful paragraph was as follows : 

" I am in communication with the Emperor of the 
French with a view to extend the commercial 
intercourse between the two countries, and thus 
to draw still closer the bonds of friendly alliance 
between them." 

A perusal of the rather inconsequent and uninteresting 
debate which followed the announcement of the treaty 
shows that there was very little opposition in Parliament 
to its terms on commercial grounds. The leaders of the 
political party then in opposition complained of the 
preliminary methods used in preparing the new arrange- 
ment, as well as of the innovation of making use of a 
treaty for a purely commercial agreement. The pro- 
visions and details of the treaty itself were very little 
discussed. There can be no doubt that the prevailing 
opinion in Parliament and in the country, at the time, 

* Lord Palmerston, the Frime Minister, announced on January 28th that the Frenoh 
Treaty had been signed, and only required the confirmation of Parliament. 



was strongly in favour of Free Trade, and consequently Death- 
in harmony with the terms of the proposed treaty. blow to 

The Times, in leading articles on the subject of the Spital- 
treaty, as explained by Mr. Gladstone in his Budget fields 
speech, had the two following sentences which are industry, 
significant of the trend of public opinion at the time. 
" Protection, expelled from palaces, has been lurking in 
comfortable corners, among people who are ' Free Traders 
with -exception,' standing out each for his own little craft. 
A crowd of small manufactures and petty produce, from 
silk to eggs, are to be admitted duty free, and henceforth 
we must equal our neighbours if we would shut them out." * 

Again, commenting on Mr. Gladstone's explanations : 
" It was a long argument against the doctrine of pro- 
hibition, which we may pass over, since, to English readers, 
it is like reasoning against witchcraft, or the Ptolemaic 

The text of the treaty was published in full in the 
Times in the same issue in which Mr. Gladstone's intro- 
ductory speech was reported and commented on 
February llth, 1860. 

There seems to have been no opposition to the treaty 
from any of the great industries, except that of the 
brewers, who objected to the reduced duty on French 
wines ; but there were several deputations and petitions 
to Parliament against it from smaller and struggling 
trades, especially from the silk industry, and particularly 
from Spitalfields and Coventry. The terms of the treaty, 
as regards the textile trades, with which only we are 
concerned, were as follows : cotton, woollen and silk 
goods manufactured in France, were to be admitted Treaty 
into this country free of duty, whilst English goods of with 
the same nature were to be subject in France to a duty France, 
not exceeding 30 %, ad valorem. Hitherto English textiles 
had been strictly prohibited in France. The Free Traders 
argued that this was a great concession on the part of the 
French, which would be of much advantage to the British 
manufacturers. { 

* Times, February llth, 1860. 
t Times, February 12th, 1860. 

J There was a great deal of opposition to the Treaty in France, where it was generally 
considered that too much concession was made to England. 



Effects Early in the debate, Mr. Bright, who had presented 

of the a petition from the silk manufacturers of Manchester in 

French favour of the treaty, said that " Communications were 

Treaty. made by some of the leading commercial men of France 

to Mr. Cobden and himself in reference to his proposition, 

made in a speech the year before ; the result of which 

was this commercial treaty, which he considered was 

one of the best measures which had ever been effected 

for the benefit of both countries." 

It will have been noticed that in the above quotations 
from the Times, silk is classed with the " small manu- 
factures." That it was small, in comparison with the 
thriving cotton and woollen industries, which had 
developed so enormously in the North of England, cannot 
be denied, and it must also be remembered that not only 
was it a comparatively small industry, but a sadly 
demoralised one. Then, again, it was thought by many 
manufacturers that the power loom could never be adapted 
successfully to the weaving of silk, and for this reason 
the silk industry was not worth consideration. English 
policy at that time tended to substitute handicraft by 
machine work wherever it was possible. It was to 
be expected, therefore, that, outside the silk trade itself, 
very little consideration would be given to its welfare in 
comparison to that claimed by the more important and 
prosperous industries in which most of the leading states- 
men of the time were interested. 

Mr. Cobden's scornful reply to an advocate for the 
exemption of silk goods from the treaty list : " Let the 
silk trade perish and go to the countries to which it properly 
belonged," was quite in accordance with the general 
feeling in regard to it. 

Attitude Such references as the following are frequent in books 

of and newspapers of the time : " The fourteen thousand 

Free hand-loom silk-weavers of Spitalfields still struggle on, 

Traders, and in much suffering and privation maintain a feeble 

competition with the power-looms of the North. This 

belongs rather to handicraft branch of trade than to 


* A Survey of London's Trade and Manufacture, 1863, published by John Weale. 


During the course of the debate, the probable effect Unavail- 
of the treaty on the silk trade was barely mentioned, ingpro- 
but on March 2nd the clause relating to it came up for test 
approval in Committee. In accordance with a notice by the 
he had previously given, Sir J. Paxton, member for Industry 
Coventry, proposed as an amendment, " that the present 
duty on imported silk manufactures should be retained." 
Mr. Ayrton, member for the Tower Hamlets, supported 
the amendment in an interesting and pathetic speech. 
Mr. Bright and Mr. Gladstone followed with popular 
Free Trade arguments, and further discussion was vetoed 
by 223 against 28. The amendment was then put, and 
lost. The majority against it being 122. 

The next day a motion was submitted that the duty 
be retained till October 1st, 1861, but, after a short dis- 
cussion, this also was negatived by a majority of 128. 

The clause of the treaty relating to silk was then allowed 
to stand. In a few days the debates were concluded, 
and the French Treaty, without alteration, was approved 
by Parliament and came into operation at once. 

Before attempting to describe the effect of this measure 
on the district of Spitalfields, it is necessary to realise 
clearly the actual state of the silk-weaving industry at 
the time the treaty came into force. 

As the enthusiasm for Free Trade has, of late, to some Effect 
extent diminished, and the event in question has become of 
one of ancient history, it has been assumed by the occa- Treaty 
sional writers and speakers who have dealt with, and on 
been interested in, the more recent revival and new Spital- 
developments of the silk industry in Great Britain, that fields, 
the East London silk-weaving trade was in a flourishing 
condition in 1860, and that it was suddenly ruined by 
the operation of the Free Trade Treaty. The number of 
silk- weaving operatives employed in London at that time 
has however been much exaggerated. Thirty thousand, 
fifty thousand, or even a hundred thousand weavers are 
often spoken of as having been " busily and happily 
employed in this delightful handicraft at the time the 
disastrous treaty with France was concluded, which at 
once left them without occupation." That neither of 



these assumptions is correct, but that they are gathered 
from the biassed impressions and reports of both manu- 
facturers and weavers, many of whom suffered bitter 
hardships at the time of the collapse which immediately 
took place when the treaty came into operation, a care- 
ful study of the available records of the time clearly 

In the first place, as to the trade itself, it has already 

been shown that it had for many years been in a declining 

condition, and all contemporary accounts agree in 

Public representing the distress of the operative silk weavers 

Ignor- as chronic, and as having become acute in 1860. At the 

ance of time the treaty was being discussed in Parliament, the 

Silk Rector of St. Matthew's, Bethnal Green, wrote a piteous 

Trade letter to the Times about his difficulties in dealing with 

Condi- the desperate poverty of his parish,* which was chiefly 

tions. occupied by poor silk weavers. 

Briefly summarised, the case may be stated thus. 
The operative weavers were, with few exceptions, 
desperately poor and only employed intermittently. A 
large proportion of the London Silk Manufacturers, 
whose names appeared in the Directory as such, had no 
interest in or knowledge of the technics, aesthetics or 
economics of the silk trade. They relegated all the details 
of production to managers and foremen, who frequently 
farmed out the work' which was mostly of a low grade to 
petty master-weavers. These made their own terms with 
the hands they employed in their crowded cottage work- 
shops.f Many, therefore, who posed as manufacturers 
were merely warehousemen, exploiting the sweated labour 
of helpless, impoverished weavers, and in many cases 
growing wealthy on the profits. To such " manu- 
facturers " the proposed change would really prove an 
advantage, for they would be able to fill their warehouses 
with low-priced goods from France, at even less cost, 
trouble and risk to themselves than they had hitherto had. 

* Times, 17th February, 1860. 

t It cannot be denied that there was an immense amount of sweated labour in the silk 
trade in its lower branches. It was a common practice to give out work to petty masters, 
who employed several women and young people, and sometimes even men so scarce was 
work at half or even one-third the agreed rate of wages. Children were also often taken 
off the parish, for a consideration, and set to work in these sweaters' dens. It is well known 
that many of these petty masters saved money and became independent in this manner, 


The minority, the genuine manufacturers of Spital- Public 
fields,* had been struggling against adverse circumstances Ignor- 
and competition between each other for many years, and, ance of 
like the weavers, had become demoralised and dispirited. Silk 
It was by this class that what opposition there was to Trade 
the Treaty was made. A few large firms, who had adopted Condi- 
the factory system, and some few small firms who did tions. 
very special and high-class work, and were not so likely 
to be -affected, were, for the most part, neutral in attitude, 
although some, especially in the Midlands and North of 
England, were believers in Free Trade for themselves 
as well as for others. 

Then, again, it is very difficult to estimate correctly 
the number of Spitalfields weavers working at the trade 
in 1860, but it is certain there were not so many as is 
usually supposed. In 1838 the distress in Spitalfields 
amongst the weavers had been very great, and a 
Dr. Mitchell was deputed to investigate and report to 
Parliament on the matter. His report was most carefully 
prepared, and was very thorough in detail. The number 
of families employed, according to Dr. Mitchell, was just 
under five thousand, and the number of looms at work 
ten thousand five hundred. If all the persons employed 
in the business, as w^ell as the weavers, are included, 
it would be quite reasonable to estimate that each loom 
gives employment to two persons, and this would make 
a total of twenty thousand operatives, all told.f In Census of 
the year 1853, the writer of the Survey of London's Employ- 
Trade gives fourteen thousand as the number of hand- ment. 
loom weavers in London, and the census of 1851 shows 
that 130,723 persons, 53,936 of whom were males and 
76,787 females, reported that they were engaged in the 
silk trade of the United Kingdom. 

Both Mr. Cobden and Mr. Gladstone have been credited 
with the heartless-sounding phrase already quoted, "Let 
the silk trade in England perish, etc." Yet when speaking 
thus they only voiced the almost universal opinion held 

* Spitalfields being under consideration in this section, the local industry only is referred 
to, but similar economic conditions prevailed in the provincial centres of the trade. 

t Dr. Mitchell estimates the number of weavers employed to be the same as the number 
of looms. It is probable that the total number of operatives dependent on the trade was 
about midway between 10,000 and 20,000, as the business was in a depressed condition. 



Prohi- by the public of their time. Long years of prohibition or 
bition protection had not only fostered a belief in the public 
and mind that French silk goods must in the nature of things 

Pro- be superior to those of English manufacture, but, by 

tection. preventing healthy rivalry and comparison by the manu- 
facturers and weavers, had gradually rendered the English 
weavers inferior to the French in artistic expression. 
There were, no doubt, other causes contributing to this 
result, but, whatever these may have been, a comparison 
of the pattern books of French and English silk textiles 
of the mid-Victorian period, demonstrates the decided 
superiority of the French goods in design and colouring, 
though not in perfection of weaving or purity of silk; 
for even at that time the French had become past masters 
in the art of adulterating and degrading silk in the process 
of dyeing. 

The immediate result in the East of London of the 
completion of the Treaty and its approval by Parliament 
was helpless despair and a deeper depth of distress than 
had even formerly prevailed. Business in the silk trade 
was at a standstill. Many firms, some of whom had 
hundreds of weavers on their books, had given notice 
to their employees that, if the Treaty became law, they 
would cease to give out work, as they would be able to 
purchase foreign silks at a cheaper rate than they could 
manufacture them. The retail dealers bought up entire 
stocks, which had been accumulated by French manu- 
facturers and warehousemen, as well as those of many 
Spitalfields firms who felt it impossible to go on manu- 
facturing under the new conditions, and advertised them 
for sale at half their reputed value.* New, attractive, 
Despair low-grade silk goods, made in haste for the purpose, poured 
in into the English market, with the result that the local 

Spital- manufacture of the lighter and cheaper kinds of silk webs, 
fields. which had for many years occupied the vast majority of 
Spitalfields silk weavers, was entirely wiped out. 

Two brief stories,f one of an exceptionally thrifty family, 

* The advertising columns of the newspapers of the time are filled with such notices as 
those given in Appendix, Note 2. 

t These stories are not given in the actual words of the weavers themselves, but are sum- 
maries of conversations in which the facts set down were, more or less, clearly related to the 


and the other of a family of a more average kind, as told Despair 
by survivors, are typical of hundreds of weaving families in 
who were at their wits' end in that time of upheaval. Spital- 
It has already been shown that, owing to the fact that fields, 
children and very young persons could do a great deal 
of the work of the loom, families especially where there 
were several children could, by their combined efforts, 
earn sufficient for a moderate subsistence, notwithstanding 
the low average of individual earnings. It was to such 
families that the narrators of these stories belonged. The 
narrator of the first story was still working at his trade in 
Bethnal Green, and was eighteen years of age in 1860. 
The second account is by a clever, shrewd, aged weaveress, 
who was a young woman at the time in question.* 

The first story was prefaced by the remark, " You 
don't see such velvets now as we used to weave when I 
was young." The family described were engaged in 
velvet weaving. 

" The richest and closest black, cut pile silk velvet 
was used for gentlemen's coat collars, and my father was 
one of the very few weavers who could make it. It was 
very hard work, but by working long hours, if the silk 
was good, he could make five yards a week. The price 
paid for weaving and finishing this kind of velvet was 
5s. 9d. a yard. The city firm for which he worked 
usually kept two looms going for weaving this velvet all 
the winter and spring, but there was a good deal of waiting 
in the summer, so that to fill up his time my father took 
work of a lower class from another firm, and this my 
mother and aunt kept going on, under his superintendence, 
when he was busy. There were several looms in our 
workshop, and we children I was the eldest of five 
all learnt to weave when we were quite young. We all Stories 
went to school till we were eleven years old, and then of the 
left in order to help in the workshop. My father had past, 
taught me to make velvet, and on my eleventh birthday 
I finished my first yard, of which I was very proud, and 
so was he. By the time I was sixteen I was able to take 
on the same kind of work as my father. When I was 

* The notes for this story were taken in 1895. 



Stories eighteen we had five looms going at home pretty regularly, 

of the and the family earnings amounted to from two pounds to 

past. two pounds ten shillings a week, if we had not much 

waiting. But it was hard work, and when we were busy 

enough to earn so much money we had no playtime. 

My father never stopped on week-days when he had 

work, except to eat and sleep. On Sunday we all went 

to Church, for my father and mother were very religious 

and particular. 

" All our relations were weavers and belonged to an 
old weaving family. Our name shows that we were 
connected with the French Protestant weavers who came 
over in 1685 and settled in Spitalfields. 

" As long as I can remember, my father had made the 
best velvet for the firm that regularly employed him. 
My weaving, too, soon became good enough for them 
to employ me also ; I have worked for them ever since, 
as they are one of the firms which have continued to give 
out work in the East of London, and still have a good 
deal of silk woven in England at their suburban and 
provincial factories, although of course since 1860 they 
have bought from abroad a good deal of what they sell, 
especially of the cheap kind. At the time the French 
Treaty was first talked about, we were working for a 
Spitalfields firm, who gave out lower class velvets, as 
well as for the firm who kept my father's loom and mine 
nearly always going. Of course it soon became generally 
known that a calamity was threatened, and all was excite- 
ment amongst the weavers. The Spitalfields firm sent 
us notice that if the Treaty was passed by Parliament 
they would give out no more work in London. This 
was because they would be able to buy the kind of velvets, 
and other cheap goods they sold, at less cost and trouble 
than they could get them made for in England. It did 
not make much difference to the better classes of work, 
Politics so my father and I felt pretty sure that the city firm 
and would keep us on. But my father at once set about 

Trade. getting something else for my brothers and sisters to do. 
The Telegraph Company were advertising at the time 
for messenger boys : two of my brothers applied and 


got taken on there. Another got into the Post Office. 
The girls found other sorts of work to do, and so we 
managed pretty well. In fact, for my brothers, the turning 
out was certainly for the best, as they are all in far better 
positions than would have been possible if they had kept 
on with the weaving. I am sorry to say there were very 
few families came out of the trouble as well as we did." 

The second narrative, that of a woman weaver, is not 
such a cheerful one, and is no doubt typical of a much 
larger number of families than the first. 

"I was about sixteen, I think," the narrator, like 
so many illiterate persons, did not know her own age 
" when the duty was taken off French silk. I well remem- 
ber the time of excitement, and how frightened everybody 
was that we should all be thrown out of work. 

' ( I never went to school, and cannot remember beginning How the 
to wind and weave. I always had to work and sleep poor 
among the looms in my father's workshop. There were lived, 
six of us children, and we were all taught to wind quills 
for the shuttles as soon as we could talk, and to weave 
as soon as we could sit in the loom. My mother used 
to weave as well, and only left off to bring up our food 
to us, so that we should not lose more time than could 
be helped in eating. We always had a holiday on Sundays, 
and mother used to clean up the house while we played 
about outside. On Sundays, too, we had a cooked dinner, 
but on other days we had only bread and perhaps a red 
herring or a piece of cheese. 

' My father hardly ever did any work himself after 
he had taught me to weave fancy silks with a Jacquard 
machine. When I was, I think, about twelve, I could 
do the work as well as he could. He used to come in and 
put the machine right when a needle got bent or anything 
else went wrong, but mostly he was out talking with 
other men. He used to pick and look over all our work 
when it was finished, and take it to the warehouse. 

' My mother used to make plain satins, and the younger 
children used to weave low quality plain silks. 

" Sometimes I used to get fidgety and want to get up 
and move about. To prevent this, father used to tie 
me to the loom in the morning, before he went out, and 


How the dare me to leave it till he came back. I have often been 

poor tied in the loom all day and eaten my meals as I sat there. 

lived. When I was so tied, mother had to pick the porry and 

move the rods if father did not happen to be about. When 

I was not tired I used to be fond of weaving and proud 

of my work, which was generally of pretty colours, and 

every one used to say I was clever at it. 

" When the duty was taken off silk, my father had 
notice that no work would be given out for a long 
time, if at all. As he was already in debt on the books 
of his master, he could not, of course, draw any more 
money so we were in great distress. My brother and 
I, who were the best weavers of the family, except 
father, got the offer of work at a factory which had 
not long been started. My aunt, my mother's sister, 
was forewoman of the winders there, and recommended 
us. She also said we could go and live with her. In 
the factory we had regular wages, which made us feel 
very proud. 

" My father had heard of some work at a place near 
Sudbury, and some kind person gave him money to go 
there and take my mother and the younger children. 
He worked there at his trade for a little while, then my 
mother and two of the children were taken ill and died 
quite suddenly. After mother's death, father, who had 
often said he would like to go to Australia, joined a party 
of emigrants, which the Government were sending out, 
and took the two remaining children with him. They 
did not start from London, so of course we could not 
afford to go and see them off. We just heard that they 
got to Australia safely, but that was all. I have never 
heard from father or my sisters since. 

Dispersal " My brother got to be very clever at weaving, and 
of Spital- could always get work. But he soon got tired of London, 
fields and went to the North, where he thought he could get on 
workers, better. There he caught cold, and, as his chest had 
always been delicate, it turned to consumption, and he 
never got well again, though he was able to work for some 
months in his new place. He died in 1870. 

Soon after my brother died, the factory in which I 



was moved into the country. Several of the weavers Dispersal 
and winders went too, so as to keep with the firm, who of Spital- 
treated them well. Just at that time I was offered some fields 
good work on a Jacquard loom standing in a friend's workers, 
house. So, although my aunt was leaving London with 
the other winders, I accepted the offer and have been 
working for the same firm in White Lion Street ever since, 
weaving some of the best figured silks for church work. 
The firm say they will soon have to give up, for the trade 
is getting worse. But we must hope for the best."* 

The cases in which the sudden stoppage of silk weaving 
in Spitalfields proved most pitiable were such as that of 
the elderly weaver and his wife. Such poor people as 
these, friendless and alone as they were, could have no 
chance of taking up a new occupation, when the one they 
had been bred to, poor as it was, failed utterly. They 
were without help in the present, and could have no hope 
for the future. Many industrious aged operatives must 
have suffered in silence and perished in the general 
wreck, for they were just such as private benevolence 
and official charity were certain to overlook. 

One result of the commercial treaty which cannot be 
regretted was, that many, if not quite all, of the petty 
masters who employed sweated labour could get no 
more silk given out from the manufacturers for their 
victims to weave. They accordingly quickly gave up 
the business and sought profit in other directions. The 
older people, who had worked for these sweaters unhappily 
shared the dismal fate of the other hapless weavers 
who could not take up other occupations, whilst the 
younger people and children, many of whom had been 
apprenticed by the parish, were set free, and in time 
found occupation in the various factories and workshops The 
of new trades which had been started in the locality, and blow to 
brought new activity and life into what had hitherto Sweated 
been the silk weavers' special district. Labour. 

Some extra attention was given during 1860-61 to 
the emigration scheme, promoted by the Government 
and various private benevolent societies, which had been 

* This was told in 1895. The narrator only lived for a few months, and died in the London 
Hospital. The firm did not give up before she was taken ill, although it did soon after. 



Emigra- in operation intermittently for several years. The weavers, 
tion however, who were distinguished by neatness and dexterity 

Societies of hand and love of home, rather than muscular strength 
a failure, and adventurous character, were not as a rule either 
willing or hopeful emigrants. 

After the downfall, the aspect of Spitalfields and 
Bethnal Green, but especially the former, began imme- 
diately to change for the worse. This was particularly 
noticeable in the region of Spital Square and Devonshire 
Square, where the manufacturers had their offices, and 
in many cases their residences. The offices and ware- 
houses were given up. Many of the manufacturers 
could not meet their liabilities, and were ruined ; some, 
who had succeeded in surviving the debacle, took 
warehouses and showrooms in the city, to deal in goods 
made in the provinces or abroad, and removed their 
private residences to the suburbs or the West End ; 
some retired from the business altogether with more or 
less handsome fortunes ; a few, more enterprising, built 
factories in the provinces and transplanted to them the 
most skilful of the hand-loom silk weavers who still 
remained, and whose work was yet worthy of the best 
traditions of old Spitalfields. There had always been 
a nucleus of such weavers, the aristocracy of the handi- 
craft, for whose work there continued to be a certain 
demand. * It was from this class, as they became gathered 
Aristoc- into factories, either in London or, as was more generally 
racy of the case, in the provinces that the British silk-weaving 
Handi- trade in its higher branches was to experience its 
craft renaissance, and to rise, like a Phoenix, from the ashes 

saved. of the decayed system of domestic manufacture which 
had long outlived its time of prosperity. 

* These were mostly weavers of rich furniture and dress silks. Such works then continued, 
and still do so, to be made on Jacquard mounted hand-looms. Power-loom weaving of this 
kind, even if successful, is more expensive than that of the hand-loom. 



A survey of London taken during the decade of 1880 Legisla- 
1890 would show the satisfactory effects of much of the tion 
social legislation which had been forced on the considera- and the 
tion of Parliament by partially educated public opinion. East End, 
The problems to be faced resulted chiefly from the unpre- 
cedented increase of the population, new ideas of social 
responsibility, and the practical application of much 
scientific discovery and many mechanical inventions. 
Between the years 1848 and 1890 Parliament had dealt 
in a more or less satisfactory manner with sanitation and 
public health, the regulation of the factory system, the 
definite legal standing of trade unions and other industrial 
combinations, the civil and municipal government of 
Greater London, the lighting, paving and keeping clean 
of the vastly increased urban area, and the education 
of children. 

In concluding this description of the weavers' quarters 
of the past, it is necessary to note briefly the effect this 
legislation had on the densely populated district of London 
east of the City. 

The late Sir Walter Besant, who probably knew this Besant's 
district better and has more graphically described it descrip- 
than any of his contemporaries, speaks of it in 1880 as tions of 
" a town of two million inhabitants, separated by speech, East 
manners and interests, and almost unknown to the rest London, 
of London."* The broad highways and main streets 
in which the best houses of the district were situated, 

* All Sorts and Conditions of Men, Besant and Rice, 1882. 



Besant's had become lined with shops that had, for the most part, 
descrip- been built on the long front gardens which had originally 
tions of intervened between the roadway and the houses them- 
East selves. The smaller streets consisted of narrow avenues 

London, of mean dwellings all of one pattern, unlovely and 
monotonous. Churches, chapels, gin palaces and humble 
taverns, with here and there a large factory or a small 
workshop, a large brand-new board school, or a barrack- 
like block of workmen's dwellings, varied the monotony 
of the dismal streets. If, however, we may believe Besant's 
assertion, there were no places of amusement or recreation, 
except a theatre and a music-hall in the Whitechapel Road, 
in the whole district.* 

Although thus cheerless and dull, the district had, in 
many respects, very much improved from the condition 
in which it was steeped in the early part of the 19th 
century. In the first place the population, taken as a 
whole r was comparatively well-to-do. Instead of all, or 
nearly all, being engaged in one occupation, silk weaving, 
of which there was enough to give constant employment 
to only one-third of the large number of operatives wanting 
work, there were now a great variety of industries, alto- 
gether new to the district, in which workers could engage. 
There were half a dozen breweries, several large chemical 
works, sugar refineries, tobacco factories, clothing 
factories and the vastly extended docks. There were 
also rope makers, sail makers, jute weavers and mat 
makers ; there were cork cutters and firework makers, 
sealing-wax makers, workers in shellac, workers in zinc, 
sign painters, heraldic painters, makers of iron hoops, 
combs and sunblinds, pewterers, turners, feather dressers, 
ship modellers and many others. Numbers of petty 
trades, at which whole families could work, had come into 
Influence existence, such, for instance, as cardboard-box making 
of for wholesale houses, pill boxes for chemists, ornamented 

industrial boxes of all kinds for confectioners, druggists, drapers 
diversity and stationers. It is true that many of these occupations 
factor. were but poorly remunerated, but generally there was 

* There were, at this time, two theatres in Shoreditch and one in Hoxton. These, although 
on the border, were not actually in the district. 


no lack of work, and on Sundays and other holidays the Influence 
crowds of people thronging the new Victoria Park and of 
the principal thoroughfares were by no means ill-dressed industrial 
or unhealthy in appearance. diversity 

At this time 1880-90 the number of operatives still factor, 
following the occupation of silk weaving in the East of 
London is shown by Charles Booth* to have fallen to 
little more than two thousand. These were employed 
by about sixteen firms who had succeeded in surviving 
from the upheaval of 1861, and were able to adapt their 
products and their methods of manufacture and com- 
merce to more or less modern conditions. The names of 
these firms appear in the London Directory for 1890, f 
under the heading of " Silk Manufacturers." The whole 
long list of names there given, however, may be misleading, 
for many of the firms mentioned were merely those of foreign 
agents, provincial silk manufacturers with showrooms 
in the City of London, or warehousemen dealing in silken 
goods but having no work carried on in East End factories 
or domestic workshops. 

In common with the rest of London, this extensive 
district had greatly benefited by the sanitary arrangements 
which had resulted from the Sewerage Commission of 
1848. The main roads and most of the smaller streets, 
courts and alleys, had been, or were being, connected 
with the main drainage system, also the collection of 
house refuse and periodical street scavengering were in 
process of being systematised. All the roadways had been 
either paved with pebbles or granite blocks, or had been 
macadamised, and the footways paved with flat slabs of 

There was also a general system of street lighting by 
gas, and experiments were being made in the main 
thoroughfares in electric lighting. In 1870 the first Sanita- 
elections for the London School Boards were held. The tion and 
Boards and their various committees soon got to work. Educa- 
Large picturesque school buildings were erected in every tion. 
district, and teaching staffs were organised, so that by 

* Life and Labour of the People of London, Charles Booth. London, 1891. 2nd Edition. 
f Post Office Directory, London, 1890. 



Sanita- 1880 many Board Schools were in full operation. Previous 

tion and to the School Board Act, in Bethnal Green alone, ten 

Educa- thousand children of school age were totally without 

tion. provision for education of even the most elementary kind. 

Although East London as a whole is thus seen to have 

been at this period more prosperous than it was in the 

beginning of the last century, the section of the silk- weaving 

industry left after the downfall of 1860 has steadily 

declined in importance until only a very small remnant 

remains. However hopeful, therefore, the prospects of 

silk manufacture may be in other British centres, it cannot 

be expected that in the Spitalfields district any real revival 

of silk weaving can ever take place. 



In spite of all the chances and changes of commercial The 
fortune, the name of Spitalfields still stands for the purest home 
and most skilful productions of the silk-weaver's art. of good 
At the present day, however, the parish of Christ Church, work. 
Spitalfields, is connected but slightly with the silk manu- 
facturing industry. There have been but few changes 
in the parish itself. It retains, for the most part, 
the general plan and topography shown in the maps 
of Strype's Editions of Stow's Survey, and Maitland's 
Description of London. These books were published in 
the early part of the 18th century. Spital Square, which 
was known as Spital Yard until the year 1722, was the 
centre of the district, and that fact is evident to-day, 
the Square being remarkable in the metropolis owing to 
the existence of posts at either end to keep out the wheeled 
traffic. These will, however, disappear in the Spitalfields 
improvement. As late as the year 1700 the Square con- 
tained the house of Lord Bolingbroke, and there are still 
to be seen many beautiful old Georgian houses, which 
were built by the master weavers, and in one of which 
George IV is known to have dined. At the backs of 
some of the houses even to-day there are good gardens with 
mulberry trees. Christ Church itself is one of the most 
prominent features of the district, its spire dominating Memo- 
the neighbourhood. It was designed by one of Wren's rials of 
pupils, and one of the first additions to it after building Christ 
was a big tenor bell, which in accordance with a custom, Church 
not confined to Spitalfields, was rung from a quarter to Parish. 




Memo- six until six o'clock in the morning for the purpose of 
rials of calling the weavers to work. It was also used as a curfew 
Christ beU. 

Church The interior of the church contains tablets to the 

Parish. memory of several Huguenot families. It was in this church 
that the Limborough lectures were delivered in place 
of evening service, and it is believed that the house of 
the founder, Mr. James Limborough, was afterwards 
used as the head-quarters of the Spitalfields School of 
Design. Included in the district over which Christ Church 
held sway was the Church of La Patente, which is now 
employed as a Church Room, arid the visitor will find 
the old building practically unaltered except as regards 
the front. The Royal Arms, which were put up in the 
church in the reign of James II as a sign of the authority 
under which it was built, still remains, and a portrait of 
Charles Dickens has been placed in the church by the 
Kyrle Society. 

The existing association of the parish with the silk 
industry are (1) its name, (2) the Silk Conditioning* Office 
of the Port of London Authority is still located there, (3) a 
few small tradesmen called job dealers, who retail trim- 
mings for tailors and other oddments of silk goods, still 
linger there, (4) the magnificent parish church, built in 
1715, and its churchyard which contains several monu- 
ments bearing inscriptions. These tell of the virtue and 
respectability of former parishioners, many of whom 
were, in one way or another, connected with the fascina- 
ting handicraft for which the artificers of Spitalfields 
were pre-eminent in the 18th century. (5) Amongst 
the distinguishing signs of the numerous public-houses 
in the parish may be found the " Crown and Shuttle," the 
' Weavers' Arms," and others which indicate the occupa- 
tion of most of their former patrons. 

The population of the district of Spitalfields has shown 
no falling-off in point of numbers, but, on the contrary, has 
greatly increased. It is also still mainly of alien origin. 
In place, however, of the French Protestant refugees, 
who formerly settled there and almost exclusively formed 

* Silk conditioning is described on page 441. 


its population, there are now Jews of various nationalities. Charac- 
There they, with their swarms of children, practise their teristics 
religion, and seem very much at home. They are of 
busy, happy, and astonishingly healthy, notwithstanding Present 
the unsavoury and over-crowded state of the tenements Popula- 
in which they live. The peculiarly constructed weavers' tion. 
houses, each with a well-lighted family workshop on its 
upper floor, which used to form a distinctive architectural 
feature of the Spitalfields streets, have almost entirely 
given place to blocks of dreary, meanly-built, industrial 
dwellings, which exhibit all the squalor, but none of the 
picturesqueness, of the ancient houses. A few of the 
substantial dwellings of the master-weavers and manu- 
facturers, with their imposing doorways, ample stair- 
cases, panelled rooms, and fine carving, still remind the 
visitor of the prosperity of the past. But these are now 
most generally let out in several apartments. Frequently 
a whole family and sometimes two families are crowded 
into a single room. 

Instead of the skilful weaving of precious silken fabrics, 
these later denizens of Spitalfields deal in made-up Second- 
textiles at second-hand, or are employed in making hand 
garments of shoddy* material for the cheap ready-made Clothing 
clothing shops. To Spitalfields most of the " old clo' ' Trade, 
which are collected from all parts of London are brought, 
and sold again for renovating, or translating, as it is called. 
After this process they enter upon a new course of service 
in a humbler sphere than that for which they were 
originally made. There is in Petticoat Lane, or Middlesex 
Street, as it is now called, a regular exchange having 
subscribing members, f where this eager and absorbing 
traffic is carried on with as much fervour and excitement 
as may be witnessed on the London Stock Exchange, the 
Paris Bourse, or in Wall Street, at times of crisis or panic. 

Notwithstanding, however, the fact that in the actual 
parish of Christ Church no silk-weavers are left, the 
Spitalfields weaving industry is not quite extinct.} In 

" Shoddy yarn is made from worn-out materials torn to shreds and re-spun. 
t The subscription is d. per day. 

J Since this chapter was written Messrs. B. Cohen and Sons have started a factory in 
Fashion Street, Spitalfields, for the manufacture of furniture silks. 




Hem- their most prosperous days the silk-weaving fraternity 

nants of overflowed into the parishes of Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, 

Silk- Whitechapel and Mile End New Town. But at the same 

weaving time they were universally known as the Spitalfields 

industry. Weavers, and the entire district inhabited by them was 

popularly known as Spitalfields. It is accordingly in 

certain parts of this extended district that the few 

remaining Spitalfields silk-weavers are to be found. 

A very great number, probably the greater number, 
of the houses in this extensive district show by their large 
upper rooms with long workshop windows that they 
were specially built for weavers, who always had their 
looms in the upper storeys of their houses. Often when 
these long windows are not to be seen in front they will 
be found at the back of the dwellings. Very few of these 
domestic workshops are now furnished with looms or other 
weaving appliances, and the merry clatter of the weaver's 
shuttle is seldom to be heard by the wayfarer in the busy 
street. There is, however, one little group of such houses 
which still serves its original purpose, and here every 
upper floor is a silk-weaver's workshop. This little weaving 
colony occupies the greater part of Alma Road and 
Cranbrook Street, Bethnal Green. There is no thorough- 
fare through these streets, as their ends are blocked by 
the Regent's Canal, and from their workshop windows 
the weavers can see, and eagerly point out to the visitor, 
the perspective of the Canal and the nearest green country 
beyond it. They can also sometimes, especially in the 
springtime, inhale the freshness of that East End Paradise, 
Victoria Park, which is close at hand. 

As it is only too probable that in a few years, at most, 

the silk-weaving industry in London will become extinct 

for lack of weavers, and as nothing quite like the methods 

and traditional arrangements of Spitalfields are to be 

found elsewhere, it will be useful to give a somewhat 

detailed description of a typical weaver's dwelling and 

workshop, and also to explain the methods of carrying 

Links on the work. These have remained the same for a century 

with the and a half in this interesting part of London. 

past. There are forty-six workshops in this neighbourhood 


still occupied by weavers, thirty-eight being in the group Links 
just referred to. At No. 42, Alma Road, a strange- with the 
looking object is hung out as a sign. It is what is called past. 
by weavers a Hand Stick. This implement is used for 
winding the coil of warp upon, when it is ready to be 
transferred from the Warping Mill to the Turning-on, 
or warp-spreading machine.* This sign therefore 
indicates that warp-spreading is done here. To this 
house the weavers bring their prepared warps, in order 
to have them evenly spread out on the back rollers 
belonging to their looms. Fifty years ago more than 
60 of these signs might be seen in the neighbouring streets, 
but this is now the only one remaining. 

The warp-spreaderj* in Alma Road, a descendant of 
an original Huguenot craftsman, is cheerful, alert and 
courteous. He is looked upon as the representative and 
champion of the remnant of the Spitalfields silk-weavers. Modern 
Before the Union of London Operative Silk Weavers was Weaver's 
finally given up, for lack of subscribing members, he was dwelling 
its secretary. Moreover, when in 1900 the little colony and 
was threatened with destruction in order to make way for work- 
an Electric Power Station, he it was who represented the shop, 
case, for himself and his neighbours, to a Committee of 
the London County Council, and succeeded by his 
representation in averting the impending calamity. This 
successful championship was gratefully acknowledged by 
the colonists, as is recorded in an illuminated address 
which may be seen in the little parlour of this typical 
weaver's dwelling. 

The house contains four rooms on the ground floor, and 
a passage from front to back divides it in the centre. 
As one enters this passage, there can be seen through the 
open door at the opposite end of it, a small back-yard, gay 
with flowers in bloom and furnished with a large, neat 
aviary, in which a few specimens of a delicate prize breed 
of pigeons coo and strut in the summer sunshine in all 
the pride of their pencilled iridescent plumage. 

* For a description of the process of warping and beaming or warp -spreading, see 
Handloom Weaving, by Luther Hooper. 

t Mr. George Doree velvet weaver and warp-spreader. This description was written in 
1914. Mr. Doree died in 1916. 



Modern Besides the illuminated address, already referred to, 

Weaver's the weaver's little parlour contains many objects of 

dwelling interest. There is, for instance, a small case in which 

and are preserved three samples of rich velvet made by the 

work- warp-spreader himself, who was originally a velvet weaver. 

shop. Two of these samples are cuttings from the velvet made, 

in this very room, for the Coronation robes of King 

Edward VII. The third cutting is from a piece of crimson 

velvet made for His Highness the Rajah of Jhalawar, 

who, one day descended on the weaver, accompanied by 

his gorgeous suite, and seeing the Coronation velvet, 

desired a length exactly like it for his own use. After 

some negotiations with the weaver's employers, a City 

firm, His Highness was able to have the velvet made 

and sent to him, greatly to his satisfaction. 

Referring to these pieces of velvet, Messrs. Bailey, Fox 
and Company, than whom there could be no better judges, 
A Master certified in a letter to the weaver that in their opinion 
of his these webs were the richest and most perfect specimens 
Craft. of the art of velvet weaving that had ever been made. 
It is remarkable that the latest productions of the velvet 
weaver's craft in London should thus be adjudged the 
best ever woven, and that such is the case goes to prove 
that though the London silk industry is, to a certain 
extent, a decayed business, the English weaver's art is 
not by any means a decadent one. Examples in other 
branches of silk weaving might be also instanced to prove 
the same fact, and it may be affirmed that, whatever 
may have contributed to the piteous plight, first of the 
operative weavers in the earlier portion of the 19th century, 
and of the manufacturers afterwards, want of mechanical 
skill in the handicraft was not the cause. 

On the walls of the parlour in Alma Road is also dis- 
played a framed certificate on which the Coat of Arms 
of the Weavers' Livery Company of London is emblazoned. 
This, dated 1893, certifies that Mr. George Doree was 
awarded a medal in a weaving competition promoted by 
the Company, and that he was made a Freeman of the 
Weavers' Company at the same time. This achievement 
also constituted him a Freeman of the City of London. 


On leaving the parlour, by ascending a short but steep A Master 
flight of stairs, the visitor emerges, through a trap door, of his 
on to the upper floor, and finds himself in a large work- Craft, 
shop, flooded with light. This light is admitted through 
a casement window which extends across the whole width of 
the room at the back, and from three ordinary windows 
at the front. In most of the similar workshops of Bethnal 
Green and the district, the whole available space is filled 
with looms fitted up for various kinds of work, and often, 
when the weaver's family is large, a bed or two may 
even be seen squeezed into a corner. In the present 
instance, however, the front half of the shop, near the 
three windows, is fitted up with the warp-spreading 

As the warp-spreading machine occupies so much space 
in this particular workshop, there is only room for two 
looms to be kept in working order. At one, Mrs. Doree, 
whom a newspaper interviewer once likened to a Dresden 
china figure, may generally be found weaving a rich, 
black silk of an extraordinary solid texture. The tops 
of the looms are lumbered, in true weaver's fashion, 
with parts of various machines and mountings for 
different classes of work, which may be required at any 
time to take the place of those in the loom frames. 
The looms and machines for this class of work in all 
its branches remain practically the same as have been 
in use in Spitalfields for a hundred years or more. 

A brief reference must be here made to the method of Domestic 
carrying on the business of silk weaving which has been System 
in vogue in London for more than a century. It has been of 
already mentioned but may now be discussed so that it Manu- 
may be compared with the system which it followed, as facture. 
well as that by which it has been superseded in the silk 
trade generally. 

The manufacturer, as he was by courtesy called, had 
an office and a warehouse, but no factory. He had a 
certain number of weavers on his books, that is weavers who 
worked exclusively for him. Each of these weavers, or 
family of weavers, had a domestic workshop as already 
described. Any expensive fittings or mountings for the 


The loom were supplied by the manufacturer who usually 

Domestic charged the weaver for the hire of them when in use. 

system When a certain length of silk had to be made, the manu- 

explained. facturer calculated the quantity of silken thread of two 

sorts, organzine and tram,* required for the warp and 

weft respectively. He then weighed and gave them out 

to the dyer and, subsequently, to the winder ; the former 

to dye them while in skein form, and the latter to wind 

them on to reels of convenient shapes for the warper's 

and weaver's use. 

The dyed organzine, after being wound, was sent to 
the warper, who had to lay the threads, of the exact length 
required for the piece of silk to be woven, in regular order, 
and, by a clever device, which is a prehistoric invention, 
so arranged them that they could not easily get entangled 
no matter of how many threads of finest silk they con- 
sisted. This length of threads was called a warp, and was 
next wound off the warping mill on to a hand stick already 
referred to on page 99. 

In this state, on the hand stick, it was given out to 
the weaver after being carefully weighed, with the 
instructions necessary for making the kind of web required. 
The weft, wound on bobbins, was also weighed out to 
him at the same time. The weaver next took the warp 
on the hand stick, carefully protected by a large blue 
handkerchief, and a roller, from the back of his own loom, 
to the warp-spreader, who returned it to him smoothly 
spread out and tightly wound on to the roller. The warp 
was now ready to be placed in the loom and joined, thread 
by thread, to the ends of silk left for the purpose from the 
last piece woven. 

The The cost of warp-spreading, the joining the threads of 

Domestic the new warp and winding the quills or spools for the 
system shuttles, are some of the little expenses which the 
explained, weaver had himself to pay out of the arranged per piece 
price he was to receive for the completed work. 

When woven, the weaver took the length of material 
to the warehouse of his master, who measured and 

* Organzine and tram. Organzine is hard, twisted silk, and is used for making the longi- 
tudinal threads of a web called warp. Tram is the same silk fibre more loosely twisted, and 
is for the weft or lateral intersecting thread. See Silk, by L. Hooper, Pitman, London. 



examined the work, weighed it, together with the surplus 
weft which the weaver returned at the same time, and 
settled the amount of wages due to the workman. 

Under this system, as the weaver only worked for one 
master, the latter, in order to retain his full complement 
of weavers, allowed each man to draw a small amount of 
wages weekly, although, too often, he had no work. This 
weekly draw was debited to the weaver's account, and 
he had subsequently to work it out and make his book 
balance. The invariable effect of this arrangement was 
that each manufacturer had on his books a great many 
more hands than the number for which he could find 
employment, and the majority of operatives only had 
sufficient work to occupy a portion of their time. 

During the latter half of the eighteenth century and 
the first part of the nineteenth, this system was in full 
operation, and there can be little doubt that it was one 
of the causes of the extremely low average of the Spitalfields 
weaver's earnings during that period. Authorities differ 
as to the average, some placing it as low as 4s. per week, 
and none higher than 8s., even when the upholstering and 
other elaborate branches of the figure-weaving trade, for 
which very high wages were paid, were included.* 

It is not easy to obtain exact statistics of the number 
of weavers and other operatives employed at the present 
time in the silk industry of East London ; but a careful 
enquiry has resulted in the following figures : There are 
now engaged in weaving silk on hand-looms 76 males and 
54 females, in all 130. Of these, 16 work in factories, 
under factory conditions. Two factories employ six and 
two 2 hand-loom weavers. One hundred and fourteen 
silk weavers still continue to work, more or less, under 
the system already described as prevailing in Spitalfields 
for over a century and practically at the same rate of 
wages.f This would, of course, be impossible, were it 
not for the fact that, silk weaving being a home industry, 
at which both men and women can work and in which 
children can largely assist, the combined earnings of a 
family may average from 20s. to 25s. per week. This 

* See Note 1, in Appendix. 

| See list of prices issued in 1821. 






ing in 

however depends on the class of work and if done for a 
manufacturer or a middleman. 

A large proportion of the East London hand-loom 
weavers are elderly and old people, and, as there are 
practically no learners, when they die off, or become 
incapacitated for work, there will be none to take their 
places. The word " dispirited " used by Matthew Arnold 
in his Sonnet on East London, written in the mid-nineteenth 
century, is quite as applicable to the Spitalfields weaver 
to-day as it was then. 

" 'Twas August and the fierce sun overhead 

Smote on the squalid streets of Bethnal Green, 
And the pale weaver, through his windows seen 
In Spitalfields, looked thrice dispirited." 

The 114 silk weavers, who work in their own homes, 
are employed by six City firms, who, for the most part, 
only manufacture a proportion of the goods in which 
they deal. Some have power looms in factories, one 
in Bethnal Green, and others more or less distant from 
London, but most of them buy, in the general market, 
finished goods either of British or foreign weaving, and 
merely take a profit for handling them in their course 
from the manufacturer to the consumer. 

The following table shows the number of operatives 
employed in the different branches of silk weaving in 
East London : 


















Of the 112 weavers employed, as shown above, in figure 
weaving, very few now make furniture silks, which is the 
best paid branch of the trade. A good furniture silk- 
weaver, employed in regular work in a well-organised 
factory, can earn as much as the best paid skilled 



mechanics in other trades. Most of the East London Silk 
figure weavers, however, now weave handkerchiefs, tie Weaving 
silks, scarves and wraps of rich quality which sell for in 
a high price when retailed as Spitalfields silk, but their London, 
earnings are small owing to the frequent delays between 
orders which are common to this class of trade. 

Of the various trades depending on silk weaving, which 
used to be carried on and give occupation to great numbers 
of the inhabitants of the East of London, but very few 
are left. Their present number is shown by Table 2 : 






PS in Factorie 














ss makers an 

,ure Builders. 

Cutters and 

g Machine an 
btle Makers. 











1 s 














So far consideration has only been given to the weaving The 
of broad silk, as it is called, in order to distinguish it from Narrow 
the narrow webs used for dress and upholstery trimmings, Branch 
etc., to which the French gave the general name of of Silk 
passementerie. In this narrow weaving, owing to the Weaving, 
fact that a very large proportion of the trimmings made, 
especially in the upholstery branch of the trade, are for 
special purposes, and are usually ordered in short lengths, 
the hand-loom and the hand- winding wheels and appliances 
still hold their own against power-driven machinery. 
The making of laces, galloons, gimps, fringes, braids, etc., 
is, however, no longer a home industry, but is carried 
on in factories under ordinary factory conditions, not- 
withstanding that many of the looms in use are of exactly 
the same construction, and the weaving is identical with the 
looms and methods of the passementerie weavers of the 
eighteenth century. In some cases, indeed, the actual 
looms in use at that time are still at work. On these 



Narrow ingenious structures of string and wood, the weaver 
Silk himself ties up the design and weaves it without the use 

Weaving of the Jacquard or any other machine, 
in There is a characteristic difference, however, between 

London, the eighteenth century narrow weaving and that of the 

E resent time. This consists in the kind of materials used, 
n this respect, modern work compares unfavourably 
with that of former years ; weavers now use all kinds of 
threads, cotton, jute, imitation silk and other materials, 
some of which by various processes, whilst new, appear 
even brighter and more attractive than genuine silk. 
Real silk, although still used for the best work, only 
forms a very small proportion of the material employed 
in the weaving of modern passementerie. 

The narrow weaving industry, in its best branches, 
is almost peculiar to London. This is owing to the fact 
that the work is of a special character, so that the weaver 
needs to be in touch with the upholsterer who requires the 
product of his skill. It is true that there are factories 
in other parts of the country, for making narrow braids, 
cords, etc., but these seldom have occasion to use much 
silk. They only produce narrow webs by the mile, or 
hundreds of miles, and weave less expensive threads 
than silk for common coach and dress trimmings, lamp 
wicks, etc. 

The factories for weaving both broad and narrow silk 

by power in other places will be described in their due 

order, but at present we are only dealing with London. 

Here there are four large, and a few small, factories 

where more or less silk is used, and where several 

hundreds of hands mostly young girls are employed 

in the work. The conditions of labour in these factories, 

which are, of course, under Government inspection, are 

Number about on a level with those of other trades where young 

of people are employed, and where a certain amount of 

Factories, manual dexterity is required. 



Coventry industry has up to the present date undergone 
so many metamorphoses that it may be rather expected 
to undergo others. Of its relations with watches, bicycles, 
motor-cars and aeroplanes, the writer is not now concerned, 
but the frequent references to Coventry and its ribbons 
in literature gives assurance that the association of the 
city with ribbon weaving will not readily be overlooked, 
be the further changes in the industrial progress of Coventry 
what they may. 

While it is for ribbons that the Coventry trade was Broad 
famous, it should be mentioned that before its manu- Silk 
facture of narrow goods the manufacturers of the city Manu- 
had won a reputation for the production of broad silks, facture 
These varieties were being manufactured in the year 1627, in 
and upon a scale which warranted the Manorial Court Coventry 
by an Act of Leet to order the formation of the silk- weavers 
into a distinct company. The trade survived in this 
distinct form certainly until 1672, when an order was 
issued which may be read to denote some shortage of 
employment. The order forbade any silk-weaver, unless 
he had been a freeman of the Company for two years at 
least, to take a second apprentice until the first apprentice 
had served seven years. At a subsequent date, which 
cannot be fixed with accuracy, the silk- weavers appear 
to have united themselves to an older body, the worsted 
weavers. This association continued for a number of 
years, but in 1703 it was agreed that the silk workers 
should again form a distinct Company. 



In 1680, according to Alderman Hewitt, who was Mayor 
of the city in 1755, cloth was the principal production of 
Coventry. The cloth in question was, at all events, some- 
thing other than silk, but was not necessarily made wholly 
of wool. The manufacture of mixed wool and cotton 
stuffs is an old one, and the local tammies (linings for 
women's dresses) were doubtless of this composition. 
In the Coronation procession of George III., the tammy- 
weavers took precedence even of the silk-weavers, an 
incident which suggests the relative importance of their 
trade at that date 1761. 

Effect The ribbon, or as it used to be called the riband, 

of trade of Coventry did not emerge until after the revocation 

French of the Edict of Nantes. French influences are to be traced 

Immigra- in several directions, including the lineaments of the 

tion. people. In bygone days a strong facial resemblance could 

be found in many silk-weaving families to the people of 

south-eastern France. The family names of the district 

are reminiscent of France ; " Beaufoy," or " Beaufoi," 

for example, is common, and still commoner are 

Anglicised forms of French names. " Burgess," "Weir," 

" Cockerell," " Higgins," quoted by Smiles as instances 

of French family names in an English form are all found in 

Coventry. The immigrants in some cases boldly translated 

their names into the English equivalents : " L'Oiseau " 

becoming " Bird " ; " le Jeune," " Young " ; " Leblanc," 

" White " ; " Lacroix," " Cross " ; " Leroy," "King," 

and so forth, and all these are familiar local names to this 

day. Going back to the early days of the French immi- 

French gration, records show that sixteen years after the date 

descen- of the Revocation occurs the name of the Mr. Bird, who 

dants in manufactured ribbons in Coventry in 1701. In 1705 he 

Coventry, finds his place among the list of Mayors, and 

The Coventry Mercury, of January 13th, 1756, stated :- 

''' On Monday last died at his house in this city, Thomas 

Bird, Esquire, one of the most eminent silk manufacturers 

in England, in which branch of business he daily employed 

over two thousand workpeople." It is safe to assume 

that this was the son of the Mayor ; and probably the 

pioneer of the industry. Whether the first Mr. Bird was 


a M. L'Oiseau, who had translated his name, it is Hand 
impossible to decide, nor is it possible to tell the history loom 
of the trade through the eighteenth century with any work 
high degree of accuracy. For seventy years after the in 
introduction of the industry all ribbons were made, as modern 
many wider goods are woven to-day, in looms that only era. 
weave one breadth at a time. Here is the explanation 
of the statement that Mr. Bird employed 2,000 hands. 
These old looms still exist in considerable numbers, and 
although they become fewer year by year, there are still 
several hundreds in the villages to the north and north-east 
of this city. In 1861, when the census was taken, there 
were 2,469. As late as 1886 one Coventry firm employed 
between four and five hundred of these so-called " single- 
hand looms," though " single-space looms " would be a 
more exact description. Rudimentary in form and con- 
struction, they have considerable utility, as the weaver's 
whole attention is given to the manufacture of one 
article, and the weft can be manipulated with the 
fingers to any extent. In these looms bead work was 
largely made, as also were chenille fringes, both 
impracticable in the ordinary power-looms, or even in 
a hand-loom of more than one space, for the weft or shute 
requires placing or adjusting with the fingers every time 
the shuttle crosses. Forty years ago the whole of the 
so-called Petersham belt ribbons were made in these 
looms. The goods being woven with eight, ten or twelve 
ends of cotton, the shuttle in the large looms could not 
contain sufficient quantity of weft, and neither were the 
shuttle springs strong enough to pull it up into its place 
and make a good edge. These two difficulties have 
been overcome by looms specially constructed, but, although 
perfect goods are now made by power, they cannot 
surpass the article woven in a single hand-loom by a 
skilled hand. This branch of the business has always 
been managed through the instrumentality of the under- 
takers. The " undertaker " comes to the warehouse, 
receives instructions from the manufacturer, takes away 
the materials, agrees as to price then winds, warps, 
prepares the loom, sees the pattern properly started, 



Hand collects the work, brings it in and draws the wages, 
loom His remuneration used always to be one-third of the 

work price paid at the warehouse, and in view of the nature 
in of his services being properly taken into account, the 

modern division was fair. As of late years much has been written 
era. in the Press respecting cottage industries, it may not be out 

of place to call attention to the value of the single hand- 
loom for employment of this character. The loom itself 
occupies but a very small space, scores of women can spare 
from two to four hours per day from their domestic work, 
and the employment can be discontinued or resumed 
without any detriment to the article produced. The work 
is cleanly and almost noiseless, it entails no physical 
stress upon the weaver, and a very sensible addition can 
be made to the weekly earnings of a cottage household 
by adopting this form of employment. 

The hand-looms making more than one breadth were 
introduced about 1770, and were first called " Dutch 
Looms," but whether they came from Holland there 
is no evidence to show. 

" Dutch engine loom " is the name given to them by 
Porter, who further describes them as " worked by the 
hands and with treadles for the feet, in the same way as 
a common loom ; each warp occupies a separate shuttle, 
which, unless the weaver were furnished with as many 
arms as Briareus, cannot, it is evident, be passed from hand 
to hand. The apparatus for impelling the shuttle to 
and fro is, owing to a resemblance in its form to the 
implement, called a ladder. This ladder slides horizontally 
in a groove made in the batten ; and the whole being put 
in motion by the reciprocating action of a handle situated 
near the middle of the lay-cap, each cross-bar of the ladder 
is made to strike in the manner of a driver alternately 
right and left, upon one of the two shuttles between which 
it is placed . . . With one of these looms a diligent work- 
man may weave one yard in an hour of as many narrow 
ribands as the loom is qualified to produce at the same 

Hewitt has a few more lines in his journal concerning 
the trade. Following some interesting particulars 

Plate XV. 

Hand Loom in Workshop at Foleshill, Coventry. 


relating to his first period of office as Mayor, he says : 
" At this time I gave out some ribbons to be made, and I 
also sent materials to undertakers, both in Congleton 
and Leek, to be made up into ribbons." This would be 
in about 1760, or perhaps a little earlier. Enquiries made 
in Staffordshire have failed to elicit any information as 
to former industrial relations between Coventry and the 
towns named. 

Before commencing the story of the development of Fashion 
the trade in the nineteenth century, a few general and the 
observations may be made. Firstly, the manufacture of Ribbon 
ribbons has perhaps been more influenced by fashion than Trade, 
any other great industry. This arises as a natural con- 
sequence from the fact that the article is almost exclusively 
employed in articles of millinery, which are subject 
to greater variations in shape, material and ornament 
than any other portion of feminine attire. Fluctuations 
in demand were accordingly both frequent and consider- 
able. When fashion was in its favour, consumption 
became very large, prices rose quickly, and money could 
be made easily. The converse of this was also true. No 
effort on the part of the manufacturer to produce cheaper 
goods, no skill in designing or colouring, could assist the 
sale of the article if the fiat of the fashionable world had 
gone forth that ribbons were not to be worn. 

It was in its very essence a "switchback" trade a 
ribbon could never be a necessity. In course of time, 
various substitutes have appeared competing for public 
favour, and as a consequence, the periods of alternate 
inflation and depression have become more and more 
pronounced. The question of tariffs has also largely 
influenced the industry. From 1765 to 1826 the importa- 
tion of silk goods woven abroad was prohibited. In the 
history of the Birmingham hardware district, edited by 
Samuel Timmins, 1866, the writer says that " So long 
as French ribbons were admitted into this country, the Foreign 
Coventry manufacturers maintained a very high degree Competi- 
of excellence. From 1765, when the importation of tion and 
French ribbons and silk fabrics was again prohibited, Home 
a marked decadence is perceptible, both in quality and Industry 


Foreign taste ; and it was not till 1826, after which year foreign 
Competi- competition was again partially permitted, that the 
tion and Coventry fabrics regained their former standard." 
Home Little importance can, we think, be attached to this 

Industry, statement, and the writer gives no clue to his authority. 
" One of the most eminent manufacturers of that city ' 
is said, however, by Porter, to " have declared that he 
should, at this day, blush for the work that even his best 
hands used to furnish " in the times before the legalised 
importation of foreign manufactured silks. It is quite 
probable that the technical excellence improved under 
the spur of emulation and competition, and this manu- 
facturer was satisfied that by 1831 or earlier Coventry 
patterns and productions were fully equal to those of the 
foreign rivals, and " qualified to come in successful com- 
petition with the most beautiful ribands wrought by the 
Lyonnaise weavers." 

Before the introduction of the Jacquard machine the 
limitations were so great that no great skill in designing 
could be shown, and patterns produced in Coventry 
thirty years before the withdrawal of prohibition, and 
still extant, exhibit very considerable ingenuity on the 
part of the weaver. 

Popula- In 1801 the population of Coventry numbered 16,049 

tion inhabitants, residing in 2,930 houses. In the next decade 

in the increase was barely 1,200, a slow growth not indicating 

1801. prosperous commercial conditions. All the goods were 

still produced by hand-looms, which were also plain looms, 

in which any pattern, however simple, was made by an 

arrangement of the shafts and leases, which was 

technically called " tieing down." The alteration of a 

loom took from four to six weeks, and in consequence 

the power of variation was confined within very narrow 


In 1801 Jacquard completed his great invention ; but 
Sir Thomas Wardle states that even in 1823 there were 
only five of these machines in Coventry. The number 
had increased to six hundred in 1832. By this beautiful 
machine every lease was lifted independently ; the 
question whether it should be raised or not was decided 


by a perforated card upon a four-sided wooden cylinder, Jac- 
and the whole of the preparatory process was under- quard's 
taken by a draughtsman and his ally the card-stamper. Inven- 

A bouquet of flowers could now be woven with far less tion. 
expenditure of time than a simple geometrical figure 
could be " tied down " in the plain loom. Mr. Timmins' 
remarks, quoted above, as to the influence of the tariff, 
may explain in part the apathy of the manufacturers in 
availing themselves of the invention, but it is only fair 
to add that the machine was useless until a foreign 
draughtsman could be obtained, or a native instructed in 
this preliminary art. During the years 1813 to 1815, 
the ^frade experienced one of those fortunate periods which 
recu'red from time to time. It was known as "the big 
purl Yime," and was still often referred to in the boyhood 
of t*Ee writer. A purl is simply a loop formed on the 
edge of the ribbon by the weft passing round horse-hairs 
or cottons outside or beyond the natural edge. The 
Coventry Mercury says that the fashion lasted from 
February, 1813, to the autumn of 1815. Manufacturers 
could, during this period, obtain almost any price that 
they chose to ask for their goods, and, as they competed 
against each other for the available labour, wages rose 
to an extraordinary level. The prosperity of the silk- 
weavers was great and, according to a story current half 
a century ago, the weavers advertised for fifty poor watch- 
makers to come and shell peas for them on Saturday 

The story of the trade in the ensuing thirty years makes 
a somewhat melancholy history. It was a time of strikes 
and troubles, of attempts to introduce uniform lists of 
weaving prices, and of efforts to repair the dissatisfaction 
that these measures caused. One list, the first of its kind, 
was made in February, 1813, and it was succeeded by 
various amended lists, the last one to be published being 
that of 1859, carrying 82 signatures. The lists, it is clear, 
served no useful purpose. The simple fact is, that the 
variations in the article are so numerous and diverse that a 
list is of no value. The quality of the silk employed may 
increase or diminish a weaver's power of production from 



and pro- 

33 to 50 per cent. Every price should have been settled 
by discussion between manufacturer and weaver, and 
this was the arrangement eventually adopted. Following 
infractions of lists or disputes about wages, there were 
strikes in 1822, 1831, 1834 and 1835. The first strike 
recorded was in 1819, and was occasioned by the employ- 
ment of a woman upon a hand-loom, it having been the 
trade custom for women to work only upon " single " 

It is pertinent to point out that the industrial miseries 
of this period were by no means confined to Coventry 
or to the trade in silk. The reversion from a long war 
to a state of peace and the badness of harvests conspired 
to aggravate the lot of working people in all parts of the 
country. The contemporary investigations by Parliament 
show that the expansions of trade did not provide for all 
who needed work during the seasons in which consumption 
of silk was increasing. When full of work the weavers 
were embarrassed by want of money, and under the necessity 
of working exorbitantly long hours in order to keep body 
and soul together. This condition, general throughout 
the country, was accentuated in the silk ribbon trade by 
the adversities peculiar to itself. Coventry trade was 
dependent upon the home market, and followed its ups 
and downs, lacking alternative branches of trade to which 
to turn in periods of short demand. 

In the years intervening between 1823 and 1827, the 
industry went through a troublous period, in many ways 
analogous to that experienced in later times. In 1824 
it became known in the City that Government intended 
to remove the prohibition excluding foreign silk goods of 
all kinds from the English market. During this and 
the following year there was a constant succession of 
appeals, memorials and petitions addressed to the House 
of Commons or to Government Departments. Mr. Ellice, 
and later Mr. Fyler, the Members for the City, came before 
the House on several occasions to advocate the claims of 
their constituents for consideration. A public meeting 
of the manufacturers drew up a memorial to the Board of 
Trade, asking that entire prohibition should be continued. 



The memorial stated that there were 9,700 looms Coventry 
employed in Coventry, of which 7,500 were the property and pro- 
of the weavers. The prayer of the memorialists was hibition 
refused. policy. 

In 1826 the distress appears to have become so severe 
that in May the Mayor convened a meeting to consider 
means of relief. At this meeting Alderman Whitwell 
stated that " the scenes of distress which he had witnessed 
were really appalling and almost beyond conception." 
The result of the meeting was the opening of a subscription, 
the Corporation heading the list with fifty guineas, while 
Mr. Ellice, the Member, subscribed one hundred guineas. 
In 1828 a petition carrying five thousand signatures was 
presented to the House of Commons, asking the House 
for the repeal of the Act passed in the last Session of 
Parliament, forbidding candidates to give ribbons to 
their friends at elections. Mr. Fyler, who presented it, 
only had the support of nine members in a House of a 
hundred. In 1828, one of the petitions to the House 
assumed a singular form. The weavers at a large meeting 
unanimously agreed to ask the House of Commons to pass 
what they called a " Wages Protection Bill." This 
measure was to make a scale of prices agreed upon b 
weavers and manufacturers legally binding upon 
employers. The constant stream of appeals and petitions 
seem to have reached a climax in 1829, when a deputation 
which waited upon the Board of Trade was plainly told 
that it was not the intention of the Government to receive 
any more communications on the subject of the silk trade. 

It may be interesting here to quote from some of these Statistics 
petitions a few particulars as to the number of persons of 
employed in the industry. For instance, in 1826, the Employ- 
number of manufacturers in the City is given as 120, ment. 
finding employment for 20,000 people, and this figure 
is to a certain extent confirmed by a directory for 1822, 
in the possession of Mr. Andrews, which gives the number 
of manufacturers as 95. 

Assuming these statements to be correct, it is manifest 
that men with a comparatively small number of looms 
supplied goods directly to the trade. And that this was 




Statistics the case is known from records of manufacturers who were 
of living in the middle of the last century. The writer 

Employ- was personally acquainted with a manufacturer of this 
ment. type who, having two large shops containing some ten or 
twelve looms, employed no assistants in the warehouse 
except his own family, and saved eventually a very con- 
siderable fortune. It is worthy of remark in connection 
with these statements that the trade was carried on 
principally with shops, the exclusively wholesale houses 
not then having been established. 

From the outcry that the proposal of the Government 
had raised, it might be assumed that they were going to 
ante-date the removal of Protection altogether. Such, 
however, was far from being the case, as a very con- 
siderable duty was still levied on all silk goods made 
abroad. It is almost impossible to state with accuracy 
what the percentage of the duties levied on the value 
of the goods amounted to, as the import duty was charged 
on the weight. After the admission of the goods in 1826 
figured satin ribbons were rated at eighteen shillings 
per pound, and four years later this was reduced to fifteen 
shillings. This would seem to be a very adequate pro- 
tection, because, assuming the weight of a piece of 
ribbon three inches wide at about eight ounces, even 
reckoned on the lower scale, this would yield a tax of 7s. 6d. 
per piece of 36 yards, or 2 Jd. per yard in addition to freight. 
The actual amount of the duty abolished in 1860 remains 
nebulous for the same reasons. Mr. Alderman Andrews, 
a good authority, says that it was believed at the time 
to have amounted to 15 per cent, but it will be evident 
from the method of collection that an absolutely precise 
estimate is impossible. 

Discon- During the whole of the period briefly reviewed, there 
tent was continued uneasiness and discontent among weavers, 

among This led several times to outbreaks very nearly 
the approaching riot, but the magistrates of the day behaved 

Weavers, with commendable tact and vigour, and no great harm 

The year 1831 marked the first appearance of steam power 
in the trade, and its introduction was attended by circum- 



stances which had, for some concerned, consequences almost 
tragic. Mr. Josiah Beck was a competent manufacturer, Advent 
and the inventor of what was known as the " peg batten," of power 
a method of driving the shuttles by upright iron pegs, looms, 
which was in almost universal use until it was superseded 
by the rack and pinion brought from the Continent. 

Mr. Beck erected a factory in New Buildings, filled it 
with looms, and put down an engine to drive them. On 
November 7th, after an earlier meeting in the morning, 
the weavers, at about' three o'clock in the afternoon, 
rushed down to the new factory, forced their way in, 
brutally treated Beck, cut out the warps, threw the silk 
into the river, commenced at once to demolish the 
machinery, and ended by setting fire to the building. 
In those days, in an emergency like this, the authorities 
were rather helpless ; there was no police force and 
no effective means of extinguishing fire. St. Michael's 
parish had an old hand-engine, which was sent, but though 
it arrived in the afternoon, the report states that it was 
not put to work till about eight o'clock, after the roof had 
fallen in : it seems to have been used principally to cool 
the embers. Luckily there were detachments of two 
light cavalry regiments in the city, and they quickly made 
their appearance and cowed the rioters. 

A guard was mounted at the Gas Works, and the streets Hostile 
patrolled most of the night. The mob appears to have attitude 
met with no sympathy from the citizens generally, as of 
we are told that when a detachment of the cavalry Workers, 
appeared to protect the premises of another manufacturer, 
believed to be obnoxious, they were loudly cheered. The 
crier was sent out asking citizens to present themselves 
to be sworn as special constables, and the magistrates 
were busy till eleven o'clock at night administering the 
oath to the stream of volunteers. No one appears to have 
been arrested on that day, but eventually some five or 
six ringleaders were tried, three of whom w^ere convicted 
and sentenced to death, a sentence commuted at the 
solicitation of Mr. Ellice, the Member, to transportation 
for life. The destruction of Beck's factory had serious 
consequences for the trade. Mr. Timmins says that it 



Hostile put back the employment of power in Coventry for five 

attitude years. In 1832, and again in 1838, it was confidently 

of asserted that steam power could never be economically 

workers, applied to the manufacture of good ribbons, and it was 

not until Coventry felt the competition of Congleton, 

Leek and Derby, where steam power had been employed, 

that the manufacturers began to use it generally. 

Commencing from the date 1838, Coventry may be said 
to have followed a normal course for the next twenty 
years, and the city was well established as the " Ribbon 
Market " of England. The towns to the north-east, 
already mentioned, could never claim such a position. 
Many minor improvements in looms were introduced, 
and not only were factories built and equipped, but the 
looms were continually being increased in size, so that 
sixteen, eighteen and even twenty ribbons of the width 
known as " 24 dy " (about 2J inches) were made at once. 
In private houses, where the machinery generally belonged 
to the weavers, steam was applied by placing an engine 
in the rear of houses built in rows or blocks. The charge 
for power was collected weekly with the rent ; at one 
time the rate was as low as two and sixpence per loom 
per week, but after considerable advances in the price 
of fuel this was increased to three and sixpence and some- 
times four shillings per week. 

It is difficult to ascertain the actual return in the most 
prosperous years of the industry ; it certainly exceeded 
one million, and probably reached nearly two million 
pounds. It is known that in one year a single manu- 
facturer delivered to a London wholesale house a hundred 
thousand pounds' worth of plain ribbons, and there were 
High at least five or six other firms whose productions would 
water reach similar figures. The years of the Russian War 
mark of (1854 1856) were times of prosperity. A check was 
pros- experienced in the Autumn of 1857 due to a financial panic 

perity. following grave American losses, but this passed away 
in the following Spring, and up to the close of 1859 no 
commercial cloud darkened the prospects of the trade. 
This year may be regarded as the culminating point in 
the industry, and the population of the city, which 


numbered 47,000 in 1851, must have risen to at least High 
50,000 in 1859. water 

The news that a commercial treaty with France was mark of 
in course of preparation broke somewhat abruptly on pros- 
the world early in 1860. When its provisions became perity. 
fully known, the announcement that all manufactured 
silk goods were to come into England duty free created 
something like a panic in this neighbourhood. Appeals 
for reconsideration, and for delay, were of no avail, and 
in the course of a few months the Treaty was signed. 

Taking a calm retrospect of the measure, and its various 
consequences, it may be urged with justice that Coventry 
was treated with a lack of consideration which was most 
unstatesmanlike. This statement is based on a know- 
ledge of the system on which the trade was worked, and 
of the losses which the sudden announcement of the free 
entry of foreign goods caused the manufacturers. Before 
the passing of the Treaty, the trade was to a great extent 
speculative. Goods were very largely prepared in 
anticipation of customers' wants, and a rough census taken 
at the time showed that something like 1,000,000 worth 
of ribbons was ready for the Spring trade. With the 
prospect of foreign ribbons entering untaxed, no buyer Effects 
would operate freely, small purchases only were made of the 
to cover immediate needs, and a few weeks' delay in French 
selling articles for fashionable wear may mean goods Treaty, 
reduced to half their price. If the wider interests of the 
nation demanded that the silk trade should be sacrificed, 
common justice should have delayed the free entry until 
the commencement of the Autumn season, say October 
the 1st. A motion to this effect was made by one of the 
Members for the county in the House of Commons, but 
was defeated. Only the houses with considerable capital 
could stand the losses that ensued. Stock after stock 
was tendered, failure after failure announced, until thirty 
to forty firms had succumbed in the terrible depression 
that followed. There is no evidence that the French 
statesmen would have made the immediate admission of 
their goods a sine qua non, and failing that condition, the 
course taken by the Government appears indefensible. 


Coventry manufacturers, by subscribing to a Paris firm, 
obtained packets of French patterns several times yearly. 
The cuttings showed evidences of design, colouring and 
production beyond the power of the Coventry manufacturer 
to achieve, and the fear was that the goods finding their 
way to the market at a reduction of 15 per cent must monopo- 
lise the trade. This was an erroneous inference resulting 
from a too limited view of the circumstances, and showed 
that the home manufacturers had not yet realised the real 
source of their coming danger. It must be considered 
unfortunate that their inability to compete with their 
foreign rivals was so loudly proclaimed. The Silk Manu- 
facturers' Association held frequent meetings in the Spring 
of 1860, and it was eventually decided to send a deputation 
to the Continent to visit the leading centres of the silk 
manufacture and to report upon machinery and methods. 
Superi- Members of this deputation were furnished with intro- 
ority of ductions, both official and personal, and from their own 
Conti- account their reception everywhere was cordial in the 
nental extreme. Journeying first to Paris, they had an inter- 
Industry, view with Mr. Cobden, the leading negotiator of the 
Treaty. Reading the report after the lapse of half a 
century, one cannot fail to be struck with their account 
of what took place. Not a word appears respecting the 
continuance of any duty on French silks exported to 
England, but there was insistence on the injustice of the 
imposition of any tax on their own goods sent to France. 
Mr. Cobden is reported to have said that " He quite fell 
in with our views and thought the visit a wise and proper 
one, as it would enable us to speak from facts and 
observation, and when the settlement of the silk duties 
came before the French Government, we should be able 
to show the many advantages which France possesses, 
and the impolicy of retaining any portion of the duty 
unless they are prepared to declare themselves to the 
world as being worse manufacturers than we are, to the 
extent of the duty they are determined to impose." 
French manufacturers might well have permitted the duty 
to lapse, but they could not be led to agree to this. 
Considered in conjunction with the English fear of foreign 


competition at home, the urgent demand of the deputation Superi- 
for remission is so incongruous that it is not devoid of ority of 
humour. Conti- 

St. Etienne, St. diamond, Lyons, Zurich, Basel were nental 
visited in turn, and methods, machinery, wages, hours Industry, 
of labour carefully noted and described. 

The summary of the report shows that in system, 
machinery, trained labour, the Continental industry was 
far in advance of anything existing in England, and the 
competition which had to be faced on equal terms was 
really formidable. 

Soon after the passing of the Treaty, or even before 
it was an accomplished fact, disputes between the manu- 
facturers and their workmen commenced. There were 
constant complaints of infractions of the list. As early 
as March, 1860, meetings were held to discuss these 
complaints, and after several abortive attempts to effect 
a settlement, the masters threw down the gauntlet by 
issuing an address signed by forty-four firms, of which 
the following is an extract : " In consequence of the 
recent remission of the duties on foreign ribbons, and 
the altered position of the trade from this and other 
causes, we find it is no longer possible to maintain the 
lists of prices to which our names are attached, and we 
hereby withdraw our names from those lists." On the 
following Monday morning, July 9th, I860, a large body 
of weavers met on Greyfriars Green and passed a 
resolution requesting the manufacturers to consider a 
revision of the list ; in case of refusal the meeting pledged 
itself to strike. 

The masters refused to consider the question of revision, 
and on Tuesday, July 17th, the strike commenced. It 
was to continue until the masters should sign a uniform 
list for both the factory and out-door trade, but from 
the first the men were beaten. The time was most 
inopportune, and a large number of the manufacturers 
were determined to be relieved altogether of the incubus Trade 
of a list. As already pointed out, the articles woven had disputes 
so many and such minute variations that uniformity in and a 
the price for weaving was well-nigh impossible. The strike. 



most serious consequence that ensued from the strike 
was not felt till some years had passed. 

It has been pointed out that Coventry in 1860 did not 
recognise where her real danger lay. Those leading the 
industry failed to show that it was the plain ribbon that 
must always be the backbone of the trade. It is true 
that St. Etienne was at the forefront of the figured and 
fancy department (though to-day Basel is sharply dis- 
puting this), but the fancy trade is casual and ephemeral ; 
a good demand for one year and stagnation for three 
describes the situation in a single phrase, while, if 
ribbons are fashionable, plain satins or taffetas or gros- 
grains often sell well for five or six seasons in succession. 
In the plain article the competition with St. Etienne 
has never been acute, as the French goods are mostly of 
the better class, and below a certain price Paris provides 
herself from Basel. Before the year of the strike the 
Swiss ribbons were for the most part light, flimsy, gauze 
textures, that had a place in the market but did not 
seriously compete for the great middle-class English trade. 
During the delay caused by the strike, cuttings of Coventry 
productions were sent to Basel for quotation ; sample 
orders were placed, and a start made in a competition 
that destroyed the trade in England. The strike lasted 
until the end of August and during the time it continued 
3,460 was withdrawn from Savings' banks. It was 
settled by a resolution appointing a committee of arbitra- 
tion composed of employers and weavers, to whom any 
offer of employment was to be submitted and without 
whose approval the work was not to be accepted. Not 
only was the so-called settlement clumsy and unworkable, 
but there is no evidence that the manufacturers ever 
consented to take a share in the decisions. It may truly 
be described as still-born. 

For the next three troublous years a few lines must 
suffice. They were periods of sadness, depression and 
gloom, attended by the ruin of manufacturers, the breaking 
up of homes, the expatriation of workmen, and the sale of 
thousands of looms for less than the cost of the wood 
and iron used in their construction. 


The population, which was 47,000 in 1851, would at A futile 
the normal rate of increase have reached 52,000 in 1861 ; settle- 
it had decreased to 41,638. The depression was greatly ment. 
increased by the trouble in America, which first 
diminished the power of the United States as a large 
purchaser, and then caused her to raise her duties on 
imports to the point of prohibition. This again injured 
the English trade indirectly, throwing upon this market 
a heavier weight of Continental competition from manu- 
facturers deprived of American export trade. As early as 
April, 1861, relief committees were formed, and in the 
autumn a national subscription was opened ; people were 
assisted both to emigrate and immigrate ; and the 
sufferings of destitution relieved as far as possible. 

Enterprise in the shape of new industries was also 
abundantly shown. The weaving of elastic webbing, the 
manufacture of woollen materials, the building of a mill 
for spinning and weaving cotton, the manufacture of 
cotton frillings, the weaving of ornamental book-markers, 
portraits, etc., all took their rise at this time, and last 
and greatest, a small factory was started to construct Estab- 
sewing machines, which proved the commencement of lishment 
the very considerable cycle and motor-car industry of of New 
to-day. Indus- 

The older trade was, however, by no means yet dead, tries. 
Towards 1863 Coventry settled down to the new condi- 
tions, and from that time forward the business again 

One important determination was rigidly adhered to 
by all manufacturers, and that was that no coloured 
goods should be made without a definite order and 
sufficient time for delivery. 

Coventry had still circumstances in its favour that 
secured the old industry for a time from a complete 
collapse. Perhaps the most important was that five 
leading wholesale houses still maintained a " Coventry 
Ribbon Department/' with a buyer and a complete staff, 
and these departments had to justify their existence 
solely by the sale of Coventry goods, as side by side with 
them was a foreign ribbon buyer, prepared to contest 



Estab- their right to purchase anything abroad. This assured 

lishment to the city five large and regular customers. 

of New Again, the city had a great advantage in her power 

Indus- of quicker delivery. This arose partly from the system. 

tries. The Swiss method of thoroughly cleansing the silk, tying 

out all defective threads, getting rid of knots, etc., takes 

some days longer than the old Coventry plan. This fact, 

added to a shorter time required for transit, and the 

power to send small quantities urgently wanted, every 

few days, was, in the case of a fashionable article, a very 

great help to business. Every season, the purchasers 

from abroad (allusion is made to the houses with single 

departments) found themselves short of some colour, and 

very frequently of some particular design, and they 

hastened to avail themselves of the home production to 

supply immediate needs. 

One old Coventry plain ribbon had a long life, and for 
some reason was never seriously interfered with abroad. 
This was the " Coventry Souple Oriental." For years 
every house made a staple of this, and a large and regular 
trade was carried on. It gave way at last, and was super- 
seded by a brighter article, and although never attaining 
to its old dimensions, the business again flourished, and 
gradually increased, until, from 1865 to 1874, a very 
considerable turnover was effected, a good deal of money 
saved, and several large fortunes made. 

The This period includes that of the Franco-German War, 

hold on and Coventry shared to the full the general prosperity of 
home the country. 

trade. In 1872 1875 watered goods were in demand, and 

this proved a very useful freak of fashion, clearing out 
a large quantity of stock in the hands of the dealers, and 
making room for newer goods. 

The year 1876 provided an opportunity of earning a 
little money in fancy ribbons. For some years after 
there was no special demand to chronicle ; manufacturers 
probably held their own, but fashion provided no chances 
of increased trade. In 1884 a Technical School was 
started with a well equipped textile department, which is 
still providing instruction for those desirous of competent 

Plate XVI. 

Weaving Room at the Coventry Technical School. 


training in the industry. The last really good spell of Wane 
business was from 1886 to the autumn of 1889, the latter of the 
being a specially good and profitable season. Meantime, in Industry, 
the period from 1880 to 1890 the Coventry Ribbon Depart- 
ments had one by one been given up, the last, that of the 
Fore Street Company, disappearing in 1890. From 1890 
onwards the trade every year showed signs of decay ; 
there were a few months of good business in 1892 and 
1895, 'and a short demand for fancy ribbons in 1896. The 
hopes held out of business in the Jubilee year of 1897 
proved a delusion, and by 1903 every manufacturer remain- 
ing had sought some other means of employment for 
his capital and his industry : the ribbon trade was 

It might lead to erroneous impressions if this record Survival 
failed to add that the Coventry textile trade generally of certain 
must not be confounded with the special branch for branches, 
ribbons. The former is still a considerable industry, 
looms can be counted by hundreds, and many woven 
articles of utility are produced in Coventry. Coventry 
frillings, Navy hat ribbons, Masonic ribbons, woven labels 
of many kinds, elastic webs, and brace webs are still made, 
and there is no probability of any decrease in the demand 
for these articles. 

Coventry does not however now make millinery ribbons 
properly so-called, and it is the production of these goods 
that has always been understood as a " ribbon trade." 
Competition was intensified by the successful introduction 
of weighting coloured silk. This process, discovered some 
ten or fifteen years ago, has been exclusively used abroad, 
and now the prices at which ribbons are sold reveal the 
presence of a considerable quantity of material other 
than silk. The ribbon loses nothing in lustre, and 
durability is not demanded. 

In concluding this chapter, the writer would like to 
record his opinion of the Coventry weavers as he knew them 
personally for many years. Alderman John Gulson truly 
said : c The old Coventry weaver was a gentleman," 
and there was no exaggeration in the statement. Not 
one of these men would come to the warehouse without 


Refining having first washed, shaved and donned his black Sunday 
influence coat. Nearly all wore the tall silk hat, often somewhat 
of threadbare, but always neatly brushed. They were all 

artistic small capitalists ; two or three large power-looms well 
employ- mounted (often four or five) were to be found in their 
ment. shops, representing an average value of eighty pounds 
each. Steam power having in many cases been with- 
drawn as unremunerative, some of them towards the close 
of the century possessed their own gas engines. When 
properly treated, they were courteous and respectful, 
civil and obliging ; in short, excellent types of the class 
of workman that a thriving silk industry tends to draw 
towards itself. 

Plate XVII. 

A View of Macclesfield. 



Macclesfield, the town that has the best claim to be Capital of 
regarded as the present headquarters of the British silk British 
industry, was called by a topographer of the mid-sixteenth Silk 
century " one of the fairest towns in Cheshire " and its Trade, 
surroundings are still beautiful. In his Vale Royall of 
England the Herald, William Smith, said : :{ It standeth 
upon the edge of Macclesfield forest, upon a high bank, 
at the foot whereof runneth a small river, named Bollin." 
Its associations with the manufacturing industry date from 
1756, the year in which its first silk-throwing mill was 
started, but before that date the town had an intimate 
connection with silk. The epitaph upon the founder 
of the first mill sets forth that he had previously carried 
on the button* and twist manufacture in the town, and 
accounts agree that the making of fancy buttons was the 
staple occupation of the inhabitants in times earlier than The old 
the mid-eighteenth century. Button 

Dr. Aikin, in A Description of the Country from Thirty Trade. 

* A will dated 1573, in which the testator leaves " unto Strowde my frize jerkin 
ith silke buttons," and unto Symonde Bisshoppe, tl 
one buttons," is cited by Beck in The Draper's Di 
inventory of equal period in which there are detailed : 

with silke buttons," and unto Symonde Bisshoppe, the smyth, my other frize jerkin with 
stone buttons," is cited by Beck in The Draper's Dictionary. The same work quotes an 

s. d. 
V grosse of sylke buttons ... ... ... ... ... ... 8 3 

iiij sylke buttons ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 20 

iiij grose of sylke buttons ... ... ... ... ... ... 5 8 

Quick sylver and brase buttons ... ... ... ... ... 6 

iij grose of sylke buttons ... ... ... ... ... ... 4 6 

half grose of glasse buttons ... ... ... ... ... ' 

Silk buttons, it will seem, were not expensive articles. Some light may be thrown upon 
the nature of the " stone " or " glass " buttons by a quotation from Ephraim Chamber's 
Cyclopaedia. It is there said that the name Button -stone was given " to a peculiar species of 
slate found in the marquisate of Bareith in a mountain called Fichtelberg ; which is extremely 
different from the common sorts of slate, in that it runs with great ease into glass or other 
foreign substance, to promote its vitrification as other stones require .... The Swedes 

and Germans make buttons of the glass produced from it, which is very black and shining." 



The old to Forty Miles around Manchester, published in 1795, gave 
Button clear evidence upon the point, writing : 
Trade. " With respect to the trade of Macclesfield, that of 

wrought buttons in silk, mohair and twist is 
properly its staple. The history of this button 
trade affords some curious particulars. The use 
of them may be traced 150 years backwards ; 
and they were once curiously wrought with the 
needle, making a great figure in full-trimmed 
suits. Macclesfield was always considered as the 
centre of this trade, and mills were erected long 
ago both there and at Stockport for winding silk, 
and making twist for buttons and trimming suitable 
to them." 

Silk buttons were said still to be a considerable article 
of trade in 1795 and they had been in use for at least 
two centuries. 

Their importation had been prohibited in 1662, under 
Charles II, in an Act that aimed also at " Forreigne 
Bonelace, Bandstrings, Needle-worke, Cut-worke, Fringe 
Silke and Imbroidery." The effect was apparently to 
stimulate trade in buttons covered with hair, for the 
preamble of an Act of 1692 said that since (1662) " Hair 
Buttons are chiefly used and worn." As the " Button 
Makers of England do make better Haire Buttons then any 

are imported and are able to supply greater 

quantities of them then they can make use," it was 
enacted that hair buttons should be placed under the 
same ban as those trimmed with silk. Further details 
as -to the nature of these articles and the origin of the 
materials used in manufacturing them are contained in an 
Act of 1709 : 

The An Act for employing the Manufacturers by 

Act of encouraging the Consumption of Raw Silk and 

1709. Mohair Yarn. 

Whereas the Maintenance and Subsistence of many 
Thousands of Men, Women and Children within 
this Kingdom depends upon the making of Silk 
Mohair Gimp and Thread Buttons and Button- 
holes with the Needle and great Numbers of 


Throwsters, Twisters, Spinners, Winders, Dyers The 
and others are employed in preparing the Act of 

Materials 1709. 

And whereas the Silk and Mohair .... is purchased 
in Turkey and other Foreign Parts in Exchange 
for the Woollen Manufacture of Great Britain 
, ... an Act was made in the Tenth Year of the 
Reign of His late Majesty King William the Third 
'(of glorious Memory), intitled an Act to making or 
selling Buttons made of Cloth Serge Drugget or 
other Stuffs . . . but that the intended encourage- 
ment by the said Act has in a great measure been 
rendred ineffectual by a late and unforeseen 
Practice of making and binding of Button-holes 
with Cloth Serge Drugget or other Stuffs .... 
to the great Discouragement of and Abatement 
in the consumption of Raw Silk and Mohair Yarn 
and the utter ruin of numerous Families. Be it 
enacted .... that no Taylor and other Person 
whatsoever . . . shall make, sell, set on use or 
bind ... on any Clothes or Wearing Garment, 
any Button or Button-holes made of or used or 
bound with Serge Drugget, Frize Camblet or any 
other Stuff of which clothes are usually made upon 
Forfeiture of the Sum of Five Pounds for every 
Dozen of such Buttons and Button-holes. 
Aikin refers with some indignation to attempts made 
as late as 1779 to apply the restriction upon buttons with 
rigour. He says : " Hired informers were engaged in 
London and the country an odious and very uncom- 
mercial mode of enforcing a manufacture ! The result 
of which was rather to promote the use of metal and horn 

The buttons made in Macclesfield and district were Pedlar 
distributed to the public by pedlars, who have always Button 
found small articles of decoration and utility convenient Sellers, 
objects for their purposes. One band of these pedlars, 
known far and wide as " The Flashmen," may be supposed 
at least to have contributed towards the significance that 
the slang word " flash " has acquired. According to Aikin : 


Pedlar " In the wild country between Buxton, Leek and 

Button Macclesfield, called the Flash, from a chapel of 

Sellers. that name, lived a set of pedestrian chapmen, who 

hawked about these buttons, together with ribands 
and ferreting made at Leek, and handkerchiefs with 
small wares from Manchester. These pedlars were 
known on the roads which they travelled by the 
appellation of Flashmen, and frequented farm- 
houses and fairs, using a sort of slang or canting 

The gang " paid ready money for their goods, till they 
acquired credit, which they were sure to extend until 
no more was to be had ; when they dropped their con- 
nections without paying, and formed new ones." 

The same kind of thing is recorded of the pedlar 
gangs inhabiting the wilder parts of West Yorkshire. 
The strength of the law asserted itself over them at last, 
although : 

" They long went on thus, enclosing the common 
where they dwelt for a trifling payment, and 
building cottages, till they began to have farms, 
which they improved from the gains of their credit, 
without troubling themselves about payment, 
since no bailiff for a long time attempted to serve 
a writ there. At length, a resolute officer, a native 
of the district, ventured to arrest several of them ; 
whence their credit being blown up, they changed 
the wandering life of pedlars for the settled care 
of their farms. But as these were held -by no 
leases, they were left at the mercy of the lords 
of the soil, the Harpen family, who made them 
pay for their impositions on others." 
There was still another group with a significant name, 
of whom Aikin writes : 

Famous " Another set of pedestrians from the country, whose 

Gangs. buttons were formerly made, was called the 

Broken-cross Gang, from a place of that name 
between Macclesfield and Congleton. These 
associated with the Flashmen at fairs, playing 
with thimbles and buttons, like jugglers with cups 

Plate XVIII. Memorial to Charles Roe in Christ Church, 



and balls, and enticing people to lose their money Famous 
by gambling. They at length took to the kindred Gangs, 
trades of robbing and picking pockets, till at length 
the gang was broken up by the hands of Justice." 
Charles Roe, the founder of the silk-throwing industry 
in Macclesfield, is said to have been a native of Derby, 
and as he was born in 1717, the example of the famous 
Lombe must have been prominently before his eyes. 
It is to be judged from the inscription to his memory 
in Christ Church, Macclesfield, that his button-making 
business (said to have been started in 1740) prospered, 
for Roe was Mayor of the town in 1747-8. The throwing- 
mill erected on Park Green achieved sufficient success 
to prompt competitors to follow Roe's example, and in 
a short while the town had a dozen such mills. The cir- 
cumstances all mark out Roe as a man of exceptional 
energy and ambition. The opening of the mill could have 
been no inconsiderable venture, but two years after its 
opening the founder embarked upon a further enterprise. 
He had partners in the silk business, and traded as Roe, 
Robinson and Stafford, and in 1758 he induced partners 
to join him in exploiting an Anglesey copper mine. 

The machinery at Park Green was copied from that of 
Lombe at Derby, like the machines in other mills erected 
after the expiry of Lombe's patent in 1732. The copying 
was a somewhat simple task because it had been made 
a condition of the Parliamentary grant to Sir Thomas 
Lombe that he should place a model of his machine upon 
public exhibition. 

Roe was 67 at the time of his death in 1784, and his 
survivors erected in the church that he had founded a 
bust over the altar and an inscription, headed by a figure 
of Genius, holding in one hand a cog-wheel. Of this 
inscription a copy follows : 

" Whoever thou art, The 

whom a curiosity to search into the monuments of the dead, Founda- 
or an ambition to emulate their living virtues, tion of 

has brought hither, the Silk- 

receive the gratification of either object, in the example of throwing 
Charles Roe, Esq. Industry. 



The " A gentleman who, with a slender portion on his 

work of entrance into business, carried on the button and twist 
Charles manufacture in this town with the most active industry, 
Roe. ingenuity and integrity ; and by an happy versatility 

of genius, at different periods of his life, first established 
here, and made instrumental to the acquisition of an 
ample fortune, the silk and copper manufactories, by 
which many thousands of families have been since sup- 
ported. The obstacles which envy and malevolence threw 
in his way retarded not his progress ; enterprizing, 
emulous and indefatigable, difficulties to others were 
incitements to action in him. His mind was vast and 
comprehensive, formed for great undertakings, and equal 
to their accomplishment. By an intuitive kind of know- 
ledge, he acquired an intimate acquaintance with the 
mineral strata of the earth ; and was esteemed by com- 
petent judges greatly to excel in the art of mining. In 
that line his concerns were extensive ; and the land- 
owners, as well as proprietors of the valuable mine in 
the Isle of Anglesea, are indebted to him for the discovery. 
" It pleased the Almighty to bless his various labours 
and benevolent designs. His grateful heart delighted to 
acknowledge the mercies he received. God was in all 
his thoughts. And actuated by the purest sentiments of 
genuine devotion, which burnt steadily through his life, 
and the brighter as he approached the Fountain of Light, 
he dedicated to the service of his Maker a part of that 
increase His bounty had bestowed, erecting and endowing, 
at his sole expence, the elegant structure which incloses 
this monument ; and which, it is remarkable, was built 
from the surface of the ground, and completely finished, 
both inside and out, in so short a space of time as seven 

" Reader, when thou hast performed the duties which 
brought thee hither, think on the founder of this beautiful 
edifice, and aspire after the virtues which enabled him 
A to raise it. 

remark- " He died on May 3rd, 1784, aged 67 years, leaving a 
able widow and ten children (who have erected this monument 

Epitaph, as a tribute to conjugal and filial affection) poignantly to 




lament a most indulgent husband and tender father and 
a general loss." 

The Macclesfield weaving trade is dated by Mr. Helsby, The Silk- 
in a footnote to Ormerod's History of Cheshire, from about 
1790, so that for more than thirty years Macclesfield 
throwsters were preparing yarn for outside consumption. 
Their main outlet is said to have been the London market, 
where their silk was bought for the supply of Spitalfields. 
Their 'twists and sewing silks were sold to mercers and 
woollen drapers ; Manchester became an important market 
for weaving yarns later, and in 1834-35 (vide Manchester, 
p. 158) Manchester looms consumed some 8,0001bs. a 
week of Macclesfield thrown silk. 

In 1785 a cotton-spinning mill was opened on Water 
Green, and derived its power from the Bollin, but cotton 
proved less attractive locally than silk. There are cotton 
mills at points outside the town, but there remains only 
one within Macclesfield to-day. The instance is perhaps 
the single one in this country in which silk has not 
fared the worse in a contest with cotton. Silk-weaving 
prospered until the external competition of the distressed 
hand-loom weavers of Lancashire became pressing, and 
in 1815 the relatively highly-paid Macclesfield weavers 
had to submit to a reduction in wages of 25 per cent. 
A further sign of uneasiness in trade conditions exhibited 
itself in the riots of discontented workpeople in 1824, 
which were serious enough to require the presence of 
troops from Manchester and Stockport. 

This was the year of a reduction of duties upon raw 
and waste silks, and the prospects of obtaining raw material 
more cheaply doubtless influenced the insertion in the 
Macclesfield Press of a couple of advertisements, which 
were quoted with some effect in debate in the House of 
Commons, as indications of the profits then to be made 
in the trade. 

1825. Advertisement at Macclesfield, 19 February. 
( To overseers, guardians of the poor and families 

desirous of settling in Macclesfield. 
Wanted immediately from 4 5,000 persons from 
seven to twenty years of age to be employed in 




High the throwing and manufacture of silk. The great 

Wages increase of the trade having caused a great scarcity 

and loss of workmen, it is suggested that this is a most 

of trade. favourable opportunity for persons with large 

families and overseers, who wish to put out 


Applications to be made, if by letter post-paid, to 

the printer of this paper." 
1825. Advertisement at Macclesfield. 
" Wanted to be built immediately one thousand 


The change in duties necessitated an inquiry into the 
quantity of silk on hand, and the relative position of 
Macclesfield in 1824 is seen to have been a commanding 
one. There was warehoused at Macclesfield 53,000 worth 
of silk, as against the 19,000 of Coventry, and 7,000 of 

Further riots broke out in 1826, and in 1829 a prolonged 
strike of weavers involved such distress that a grant of 
1,000 for the relief of Macclesfield operatives was made 
by the King. The tenacity with which Macclesfield 
workers held to the principles of trade unionism has 
since been demonstrated, and the relatively high rates 
of wages have not been maintained without a surrender of 
weaving and dyeing business to the competing home and 
foreign centres of these trades. 

The export business in bandanna handkerchiefs, of 

which accounts are given in the chapters on " The 

Smuggling Trade " and " Waste silk," brought work to 

Macclesfield, and by the middle of the 19th century 

there were tabulated in the local Directory the following 

merchants and manufacturers : silk brokers, 9 ; dyers, 

18 ; manufacturers, 86 ; silk-men, 30 ; silk merchants, 

Effect 3 ; printers, 2 ; trimming manufacturers, 1 ; makers of 

on gimps, fringes, etc., 17; silk throwsters, 56; twisters, 3; 

Export waste dealers, 4; and silk- weavers with looms in their 

Business, own houses, 540. 

The population of the town has remained stationary 
over several later decades, but meantime the conditions 
and prosperity of the workers have improved equally with 

Plate XIX. 

Weaving by Power in Macclesfield. 


those in the neighbouring town of Leek, where a some- Trade 
what different class of trade is carried on. The French with 
Treaty, by opening the door to the influx of foreign goods, Japan, 
proved a great blow to the manufacture of the broad 
silks, which occupied a large number of Macclesfield 
looms previous to that date, and subsequent changes of 
fashion have adversely affected the business in silk scarves 
and handkerchiefs upon which Macclesfield additionally 
relied. A demand has sprung up in recent years for 
confections for ladies' wear made up from Japanese silks 
and fabrics of Continental origin, and Macclesfield men 
have addressed themselves to this new line of business. 
As one consequence, women's labour is in great demand, 
and good wages are paid for skilled workers. 

A good sign of the vitality remaining in the manufactur- 
ing trade of Macclesfield is the increase of power-loom 
weaving. Several firms have built new sheds and equipped 
them with the most modern machinery, and hand-loom 
weaving is year by year being discontinued. The town 
has always paid special and devoted attention to art 
and technical training, and designers and managers 
trained there have found excellent openings in other 
towns where mixed silk and other goods are manufactured. 
Their competence at this work is beyond question. 

Many of the firms in existence 50 years ago have ceased 
to exist, the members having retired with the gains of 
previous years, but some few new and enterprising 
manufacturers and makers-up have succeeded in establishing 
a fairly flourishing trade under modern conditions. 

Among firms in existence half a century ago and still 
pursuing a vigorous attempt to keep up the prestige 
of the manufacturing interests of Macclesfield, we may 
name a few and describe the nature of their operations. 

The firm of J. and T. Brocklehurst and Sons was founded Notable 
in 1745 by John Brocklehurst, the father of the John Maccles- 
and Thomas Brocklehurst whose names the firm at field 
present bears. Members of the same family continued Manu- 
the business up to the year 1911, when it was transferred facturers. 
to a limited liability company, under new management 
and directorship. Up to the period of the French Treaty 



Messrs. Brocklehursts' manufactures embraced every 
class of broad fabric then known for dress and other 
purposes. The changed conditions inspired the pro- 
prietors to make new developments, especially in spinning 
silk waste, although a department for this work had been 
begun long before. During the prosperous years of the 
lace trade in the early '70's, their yarns attained a fame 
second to none, and proved profitable almost beyond 
expectation. The firm employs at the present time about 
1,300 workpeople engaged in silk- throwing, silk waste 
spinning, and in manufacturing goods of various kinds. 
In all-silk goods they have a reputation for foulards, 
satins, dress goods, mufflers, fancies, crepes, linings and 
waterproofings ; and in mixed goods for moirettes, unions, 
silk and wool cloths, silk and cotton cloths and fabrics of 
artificial silk. The firm of Brocklehurst first obtained the 
Government order for handkerchiefs for the Navy in 
Notable 1883, at which period the goods were woven in hand- 
Maccles- looms. With the perfection of the power-loom, they 
field have succeeded in retaining the whole or part of these 

Manu- orders, almost without intermission, from year to year 
facturers. up to the present time. 

Messrs. Frost occupy the oldest mill in Macclesfield, 
and except for certain enlargements and internal improve- 
ments the structure remains as it was in 1785. Their 
Park Green Mills were built in that year, and were driven 
by water power until 1811, when the contemporary owners, 
Daintry and Ryle, installed a steam engine. The pro- 
prietors were bankers and manufacturers, and Mr. Ryle 
had one grandson who became Bishop of Liverpool, and 
a great-grandson who is Dr. J. G. Ryle, the present Dean 
of Westminster. The property passed later into the 
ownership of Mr. H. W. Eaton, who afterwards became 
Lord Cheylesmore, who sold it to the firm of William 
Frost and Sons, Ltd., in 1881. This firm was founded 
in 1858, and has since continuously carried on silk 
throwing, so that in point of years it ranks next in its 
own line to that of the Brocklehursts. Their mill is one of the 
extremely few that have survived the change from water to 
steam as a propulsive power and from steam to electricity. 

Plate XX. 

Park, Green Mills, Macclesfield. 


Mr. John Birchenough founded a silk-throwing and Notable 
manufacturing business in 1848, and in company with his Maccles- 
sons* carried on the business until the year 1905 when field 
this also became a limited company, and in 1912 it came Manu- 
under the direction of the late Mr. Bradley Smale. The facturers. 
Company has been successful at various periods in securing 
a share of the Navy contracts, in addition to its ordinary 
trade in rich silk cut-ups for gentlemen's wear, mufflers, 
scarves, vestings, dress cloth and knitted neckwear. 

The founder of the firm of Josiah Smale and Sons, which 
came into existence between the years 1830 and 1840, 
was Josiah Smale. It was carried on successfully by his 
sons as Josiah Smale and Sons up to a recent period, and 
is now conducted by grandsons of the original founder 
in two separate businesses under the titles of Josiah Smale 
and Sons and Jonathan Smale and Bros. The firm of 
Josiah Smale and Sons came under the sole direction of 
Mr. Bradley Smale, a most enterprising man, who intro- 
duced successfully a large business in knitted neckwear 

Mr. Smale, who died at the close of the year 1913, was 
founder and first President of the Macclesfield Silk Trade 
Employers' Association, formed in 1909, to negotiate 
labour difficulties with the trade unions, and had thus 
a large share in formulating the price list for power- 
loom weaving which came into force in 1912. 

The firm of J. F. Jackson is probably as old as either 
of the two before mentioned, and its present proprietor 
is Mr. William Jackson, son of one of the founders. 

All the firms that were contemporary with the founder 
of the Brocklehurst concern have ceased to exist, but 
several new concerns have commenced business during the 
last 30 years, and are doing a good trade in competition New 
with the older ones, much to the advantage and well-being Firms, 
of the working population. 

* One of the sons, Mr. Henry Birchenough, is now Sir Henry Birchenough, K.C.M.G. 



Huguenot Leek is picturesquely situated almost on the borders 
Rela- of Cheshire and Derbyshire and close to the foot of the 
tions. end of the Pennine range. It has been designated " The 
Metropolis of the Moorlands/' and its high altitude and 
bracing climate have no doubt in some measure been 
responsible for the energy and business enterprise shewn 
by its inhabitants. It possesses a fine church of ancient 
Gothic design, and under the shadow of its tower there 
is to be found a small district commonly known as 
" Petite France/' the former abode of the French settlers. 
It was doubtless owing to their early training in branches 
of the silk industry that Leek ever became a silk centre 
of any note. 

It is difficult to indicate the exact dates when the 
manufacture of silk in any form was originated in 
particular towns and districts and to identify the small 
beginnings from which the industry in the various centres 
took a greater importance. However from a History of Leek 
(Staffordshire), written by a Mr. Jno. Sleigh, Barrister, of 
that town, and published in 1883, we learn that sympathy 
was shewn to a number of French refugees who settled 
there about the year 1685, when a collection made in 
the Parish Church on their behalf realised the sum of 
6 5s. Od. These workmen breaking away from the town 
of Coventry, introduced ribbon and ferret weaving (narrow 
bindings) both in Leek and Derby. Another branch of 
industry which was introduced about the same period 
was the manufacture of silk, mohair, and twist buttons 


Plate XXI. 

St. Edward's Church, Leek., 
dating back to the year 1400. 

LEEK. 139 

worked with the needle, in a variety of patterns, and The 
used in the decoration of full-trimmed suits. It was one Button 
of the chances of Trade that the horn and gilt buttons of Trade. 
Sheffield and Birmingham made a greater appeal to the 
popular taste, and superseded the productions of Leek 
and Macclesfield. The foundation, however, had been 
laid for the manufacture of other fabrics and an old 
Staffordshire ballad, which asks 

* " For silken fabrics rich and rare, 

What citie can with Leek compare?" 
serves to show how Leek goods were regarded. 

James Horton, a Coventry man, introduced the making 

of figured ribbons in 1800, and about the same period 

an old man named Ball commenced operations in the 

twisting of sewings by hand in a shed or shade in a field 

now known as Ball's field, and so laid the foundation of 

a trade in silk sewings and twist, which has made Leek 

a prosperous town, and won for it a world-wide renown 

for these and other threads. The weaving of silk goods 

for the first half of the 19th century was a progressive 

branch of trade, and proved remunerative both to employer 

and employed. From Samuel Bamford's Life of a Radical, 

an impression of Leek as seen in 1842 may be quoted : 

" In passing through the streets of Leek, we noticed 

a number of weavers at their looms, and obtained 

permission to go into their weaving places. The 

rooms where they worked were on the upper 

floors of the houses ; they were in general very 

clean ; the work was all in the silk small- ware 

line. Many of the weavers were young girls, 

some of them good-looking, some neatly attired 

and many with costly combs, ear-rings and 

ornaments of value, showing that they earned 

sufficiency of wages and had imbibed a taste 

for the refinements of Society. The sight of these 

females sitting at their elegant employment, 

approached by stairs with carpets and oil-cloth 

upon them, the girls all being dressed in a style 

which 200 years before would have been rich for Pioneer 

a squire's daughter, was to me very gratifying." Weavers, 


Progress The account seems to show that conditions in Leek 

of the at this stage of the development of its industry were 

Town. not unfavourable to the workers in the trade. Their 

condition in the past is, however, surpassed by that 

which prevails at the present day. 

Of recent years the old Leek industry has suffered 
to a certain extent through the inroads made into it by 
spun silk and mercerised cotton, and had it not been for 
the introduction and clever application of the wood and 
cotton pulp fibre (technically known as artificial silk), 
from which artistically knitted articles of apparel are 
made, Leek would not have been in so prosperous a 
condition at the present time. 

It is interesting to note the difference between past 
and present as traced recently by a member of one 
of the largest and oldest silk firms in the town. " The 
old silk industry of the town was mostly carried out in 
garrets by men, who worked for the silk manufacturers, 
and these employed their wives and families and a few 
others. This system was radically bad and has ceased 
to exist. Fifty years ago bowed legs and knock knees were 
very numerous amongst the silk workers, but the health 
and physique of the population are now, owing to better 
conditions of work, and housing accommodation much 
improved. Most of the old slums having disappeared, the 
death-rate has been lowered from 29 per thousand to 18, 
while the expectation of life has increased from 24 to 38 
years. The population of Leek has almost doubled during 
the last 50 years, and the rateable value has more than 
doubled.* Wages in the silk trade have risen 30%, 
hours are of course shorter, and the people generally are 
Popula- far more prosperous. The class of raw silk used has 
tion and improved, and the machinery is altogether of a superior 
Wages. character. The hand twister is gradually disappearing, f 

* Pitt's topographical History of Staffordshire says "Leek in 1817 has been indebted for 
much of its present prosperity to silk manufacture which has been successfully carried on in 
this town for at least half a century." The total inhabitants are 4,413 and about two thirds 
of them are employed in the various branches of silk manufacture which consists principally 
of shawls, handkerchiefs, ribbons, ferrets, twist and sewing silks. Now the population is 
17,000 a century after. 

f Expression is given to an individual and informed opinion, but the fact of the disappear- 
ance of the hand twister is in some dispute. Machine twisting extends continually, but as 
hand work remains superior the manual twister maintains his place in the economy of the 
Leek trade. 

LEEK. 141 

his place being taken by machines of various sorts, Progress 

although there are very many more men and boys, as of the 

well as women, employed in the various branches of Town. 

the Leek trade than in the days before the advent of 

machinery. During the half century which has elapsed, 

a number of old names have disappeared from the list 

of silk manufacturers in Leek : Alsop, Carr, Gaunt, Ellis, 

Russel and Clowes, etc. ; yet many representatives of 

the older houses remain, viz. : Brough, Nicholson and 

Hall, Ltd., Hugh Sleigh and Co., A. Ward and Co., Ltd., 

A. J. Worthington and Co., Ltd., and Whittles Ltd. 

Then a number of new and important firms have 

come into existence, notably Wardle and Davenport 

Ltd., Myatts, Slannards, W. Watson and Co., W. Broster 

and Co., and many others." 

As typifying the spirit of enterprise actuating the 
manufacturing interest of the present period, it may not 
be out of place to give a short resume of the history and 
operations of a few of the leading firms. 

Brough, Nicholson and Hall, Ltd., commenced in the 
year 1815, and their business was converted into a private 
limited company in 1907. The number of people 
employed by them is slightly over 2,000. Their pro- 
ductions are varied, and include sewing silks, embroidery 
silks, tailors' twist, and twist for sewing machines, together 
with such manufactured articles as braids, cords, bindings, 
webs, trimmings, woven named labels, bootlaces, silk and 
artificial silk ties, scarves, motor scarves and ladies' coats. 
They have a spun silk spinning mill, and two dye houses, 
in which they dye their various goods. 

Anthon}^ Ward and Co., Ltd., was founded in the year 
1819 by the late Anthony Ward who was succeeded in 
1840 by his son, John Ward, J.P., Staffordshire, who, 
retiring in 1876, was followed by his son, Anthony Ward, 
also a J.P. for the county. The concern was transformed 
into a Limited Company in 1905, the first directors being 
John and B. T. Ward, the two sons of the late proprietor. Some 
The firm manufacture all descriptions of sewing silks, early 
braids of silk, artificial silk and mohair bindings, but the Silk 
original trade was the manufacture of silk serges, hand- Firms. 



Some kerchiefs, velvets and ribbons ; a business that was 
early destroyed by the Commercial Treaty with France in 
Silk 1856. 

Firms. The firm of A. J. Worthington and Co., Ltd., dates back 

to a very early period of the last century, and has been 
in the successive ownership of members of the family of 
that name. They employ about 400 people, and are 
reputed to be the first who put sewing silks on reels of 
wood. They were very early makers of silk buttons, and 
button cloths, beside military braids and binding of all 
kinds. At the present day they have a reputation as 
makers of silk fishing lines, together with the ordinary 
classes of sewing silks that are a speciality of the Leek 
trade, and are the patentees of a process for obtaining 
Moire effects on knitted fabrics. During the last ten years 
they have enlarged their business by the addition of new 

Amongst a number of the firms established at a later 
date is that of Wardle and Davenport Ltd., which after 
being carried on for some years as a private manufacturing 
firm, was incorporated as a public company on October 30th, 
1899. For many years this firm had the highest reputation 
for the manufacture of mercerised cotton embroidery 
sewings, sold under the trade name of Peri-lusta. About 
1,800 people are employed in their principal manufactures 
of sewing and embroidery threads, costume braids, and 
knitted neckwear. 

The spinning of waste silk into sewings and embroideries 
was established some 34 years ago by the firm of Watson 
and Co., Ltd., and this branch has since been worked under 
a limited company which has built an up-to-date mill to 
carry on the industry. 

Sir The connection of Leek with the dyeing industry has 

Thomas been made historic by the enterprise and genius of the 

Wardle. late Sir Thomas Wardle, and Leek lost one of the 

greatest of its citizens when, full of years and honours, 

he died in 1909. He had been all his life connected with 

the local silk industry, although, as is well known, his 

activities ranged over a much wider field. He was the 

eldest son of Mr. Joshua Wardle, of Cheddleton Heath, 

Plate XXII. 

Sir Thomas War die. 



near Leek, the founder of the silk dye works at Leek Sir 
Brook in 1831, in which year Thomas Wardle was born. Thomas 
The boy, who afterwards became so well known, received Wardle. 
his early education at Macclesfield and Leek, and entering 
his father's business while still quite young, soon made his 
influence felt. At all stages of his useful career Thomas 
Wardle evinced a desire to carry his activities into a wider 
sphere, an inclination which led to his establishment of a 
silk and cotton printing business near Leek, where beautiful 
block printing work was carried out. An interesting 
feature in connection with this printing business was 
the association with it, to the great benefit of the artistic 
side, of William Morris, who, on one of his visits to 
Leek, worked out designs with his own hands, in order 
to obtain the necessary colour effects. The marriage 
of Mr. Thomas Wardle, as he then was, with the daughter 
of Hugh Wardle, of Leek, in the year 1857, provided 
him with a wife who not only possessed the artistic 
temperament in a high degree, but had a gift for organisa- 
tion which is not often met with in women. It was due to 
her efforts that the Leek School of Embroidery was founded, 
and many are familiar with the excellent work from 
the standpoints of both colour and design which emanated 
from that school, and from those associated with it. 
A fine copy of the celebrated Bayeux tapestry, worked 
under Lady Wardle's supervision by 30 ladies of Leek, 
may be inspected in the Art Gallery at Reading. 

Sir Thomas Wardle will long be remembered for His 
the work he did in India. His early efforts in connection work in 
with the Dependency had for their object the utilization India, 
of Tussur silk, the wild silk of India, which he succeeded 
in so bleaching and dyeing as to make it a marketable 
fabric. The result of his work was illustrated in the 
British Section of the Paris Exhibition of 1878. Seven 
years later, at the request of the Government, Sir Thomas 
paid a visit to India, partly to make a report on seri- 
culture, and partly to make a collection of silk fabrics 
and native embroideries for the Silk Culture Court of the 
Colonial and Indian Exhibition. At this period Bengal 
silks had fallen into low repute, and one result of the 



His visit was to demonstrate that the decline in the reputa- 

work in tion of Bengal silk was largely due to preventable causes, 
India. and steps were taken on his initiative to remedy this con- 
dition of affairs. In 1887, when the Manchester Jubilee 
Exhibition was held, Sir Thomas, chairman of the 
Silk Section, arranged for a comprehensive display 
of silk manufacturing processes. It was in connection 
with this Exhibition that the Silk Association of Great 
Britain and Ireland, which is the subject of a separate 
chapter, was formed, and until the year of his death 
Sir Thomas Wardle occupied the position of President. 
In 1896, in connection with attempts to place the 
Kashmir silk industry on a sound basis, Sir Thomas 
resumed his active association with the silk industry of 
India. At the request of the India Office, he visited 
France and Italy to select the species of silk worm 
eggs which would best suit conditions in Kashmir. He 
next made arrangements for the best reeling machinery 
to be sent to India, and recommended a practical expert 
to plan and superintend operations. For this useful work, 
and for other labours in connection with the silk 
industry, he received in 1897 the honour of Knight- 
hood. His work on behalf of Kashmir was soon reflected 
in the increased output of raw silk from this territory, 
and in the year 1903 he again visited India to give advice 
as to the best methods of placing these raw silks on the 
European market. Sir Thomas did more than this ; 
he not only advocated that an attempt should be made 
to establish silk weaving in the State, but arranged for 
the plant to be sent out from England, and for the skilled 
supervision by English weavers, which was essential to the 
success attending this venture. 

Among the other honours which fell to Sir Thomas 

Wardle may be mentioned the honorary freedom of the 

Weavers' Company which enabled him to acquire the 

freedom of the City of London. He was a prolific writer 

His con- on various phases of the industry for which he did so 

tribution much. His publications include such subjects as, Silk 

to litera- Power-Loom Weaving in France, The English Silk Industry, 

ture. Tasar Silk, The Wild Silks of India, Dyes and Tans 

LEEK. 145 

of India, Adulteration of Silk, and The Silk Industry of The 
Kashmir. In the year before his death he published a Dyeing 
monograph on the Divisibility of Silk Fibre ; writing at In- 
other times upon geological questions with the authority dustry. 
which came of real knowledge of his subject. 

The firms with which he was so long connected have 
made strides in the local branch of dyeing, and have held 
their own in competition with Continental opponents in 
dyeing heavy-weighted colours and blacks in organzine 
and tram silks, and in dyeing and finishing silk piece 
goods. The reputation of the beautiful aesthetic vegetable 
dyes, as also of the Leek Haven black dyes has been well 
sustained by Messrs. Wardle, who at present employ 
over 300 hands in constant work. 



Gloves In the course of its long history, Congleton has had 

and other light employments than those connected with silk. 

Buttons. It was at one time " noted for the making of tagged 

leather laces, called Congleton points," an industry which 

had apparently passed away before Dr. Aikin wrote of 

it in his Country round Manchester (1795). At that date 

it had a " manufactory of gloves," and at an earlier time 

had associations with button-making. The first of the 

Cheshire county historians, William Smith, Rouge Dragon 

Poursuivant, referred to it only as a market town : 

" Congleton, a fair market town, standeth upon the 
river of Dane, six miles south-west from Maccles- 
field, within two miles from Staffordshire, and in 
Astbury parish ; which methinketh is a diffused 
thing, that most of the market-towns of the 
country, although they have fair churches of them- 
selves, yet they are accounted but Chapels. . . . 
It hath a market every Saturday and yearly two 

A market charter was granted to Congleton by Edward I, 
and its fairs, which were being held thrice a year by 1819 
(Ormerod's History of Cheshire), were " chiefly for the 
sale of woollen cloth, horses and cattle." Some of the 
woollens were doubtless of district production, for Aikin 
says of the neighbouring town of Sandbach : " formerly 
worsted yarn and some stuffs for country wear were made 
here, but its trade has much declined." 

Ormerod calls the manufacture of wrought buttons 
made with silk and mohair the original trade of the town, 



and says it remained the staple trade until about 1730. 
Congleton is in this respect to be grouped with Macclesfield 
and Leek. 

Mr. John Clayton, of Stockport, established the first First 
silk-throwing mill in the town in 1752, in emulation of Silk- 
the successful mill at Derby, and a grant from the throwing 
Corporation gave Clayton rent free for 300 years as much Mill, 
water as would pass through a ten-inch culvert from 
the Corn-mill Pool. With the consent of the Corporation, 
Mr. Nathaniel Maxey Pattison, of London, who had 
obtained his experience under Mr. Richard Wilson, 
proprietor of the Derby silk mill, was taken into partner- 
ship. A brother of Mr. Pattison' s was also brought upon 
the scene, and an inscription upon a marble tablet in the 
Chapel of Congleton records his virtues and incidentally 
the date at which the work, begun in 1752, was brought 
to a satisfactory completion. The inscription is as follows : 

" Here lyeth interr'd 

the body of Samuel Pattison, late of London, merchant, 

a person of unspotted integrity, of exemplary virtue, 

and endowed with every amiable quality that can adorn 

human nature, 

therefore universally regretted by his family and friends. 

He resided during a year before his death in this town 

as Director of the Silk Mills, 

when by his great abilitys 

and unwearied application, 

he rendered the most important services ; 

and enjoyed the satisfaction of living to see 

all the works compleated and the manufacture 

brought to perfection. 
Obiit. 27 May, 1756. Aet. 30." 

The mill in question still exists, and is used by a manu- Decline 
facturer of hosiery. Even measured by modern standards of Silk- 
this mill, with its 240 feet of length, 80 feet of breadth, weaving, 
and 390 windows, is a large one, and in earlier times it was 
capable of turning out 15 to 20 bales weekly of China silk 
in organzine and tram. Aikin called it " a very capital 
silk mill," and said that from this source and from " the 
manufactory of silk ribands on account of the Coventry 



Decline merchants," the Congleton poor derived their chief liveli- 
of Silk- hood. Aikin's reference to the making of " some 
weaving, ferreting," suggests that this article was of subsidiary 
importance in his day. Ormerod is the authority for 
saying there were 28 ribbon-weaving factories in 1819, 
in addition to " numerous silk and cotton mills." Silk- 
throwing and weaving were carried on in conjunction by 
certain firms, and for a time both industries prospered. 
In 1846 the throwing mills numbered 27, employed 3,072 
hands, and produced about 9,3001bs. of silk weekly. 
By 1886, under the gradual change of circumstances that 
had affected the whole British silk industry, the number 
of throwing mills had been reduced to 12, and by 1905 
to two. Of the silk-weaving trade, nothing now remains 
but a small manufacture of silk and cotton bindings. 

One department only of the local silk industry has 
survived the stress successfully, and this is the business 
of waste silk-spinning. This trade was introduced about 
1829, when the firm then styled George Reade and Sons 
who had been throwsters and weavers since 1784, began 
to spin silk in the same manner as cotton. In 1834 they 
erected a large building for this work only, and this, 
together with older premises, is still used for silk-spinning 
by the descendants of the founder. After the death 
of Mr. George Reade, Mr. John Fielder Reade carried on 
the business until 1842. Mr. Arthur Solly, son-in-law 
of Mr. J. F. Reade, was a partner from 1851 to 1890, 
and since then the direction has rested with Mr. Arthur 
John Solly, great-grandson of the founder. The name 
of the firm was changed in 1850 to Reade and Co., and 
in 1907 the present limited company was registered. 
Survival Another old-established mill the Forge Mills carried 
of Silk- on by Messrs. Peter Wild and Co., Ltd., was in the occu- 
spinning. pation formerly of Mr. James Holdf orth, junior, of Leeds, son 
of the James Holdf orth, who established a large silk mill in 
that city, and whose career is traced in the chapter upon Leeds. 
Elsewhere in Cheshire the silk industry flourished at 
detached points. There was a crape mill at Mobberley ; 
a mill was founded also about 1761 at Havannah, and 
the name Silk Mill Street points to the existence at one 
time of a mill in Knutsford. 



The varying fortunes of silk in Manchester may be Early 
illustrated by reference to other changes in the com- Textile 
mercial life of the city. Silk is not the only textile industry Indus- 
which has suffered decay ; as late as 1788 the Manchester tries. 
Mercury could write of the woollen trade as the chief 
industry of Lancashire. Independently, as well as in 
conjunction with wool, and with cotton, linen was once 
an important manufacture, and until 1773 Lancashire 
cottons were always woven with a linen warp. At least 
eleven Manchester and Salford testators between 1648 
and 1791 were described as silk-weavers, but their names, 
Lilly, Bayley, Edgeley, Smith, Thorpe, Goring, Budworth 
and Hill convey no marked evidence of foreign origin, 
such as characterises those of many London silkmen of 
the same period. Silk was certainly woven in Manchester 
at the time of Defoe's visit, although no mention is made 
of it by that extraordinarily observant writer. 

Cotton may actually be junior to silk in Manchester in 
point of years, as it manifestly is in England generally, 
and this now dominant industry was of small importance 
in the 18th century. Cotton was not spun by 
machinery until a later date than silk was so spun. 
Lombe brought his throwing machine to practical 
success in 1718, but it was not until 1767 that the 
jenny was invented by Hargreaves, and 1785 before 
Arkwright patented the mule. Not until 1781 was 
the first cotton mill erected in Manchester. Industries 
which grow up side by side exert an influence over each 
other even in the absence of such links of similarity as 
exist between industries of the same group. The influence 




of cotton upon silk was considerable, even if exact means 
of measuring it are lacking. Cotton, the cheaper article, 
no doubt diverted attention, which might in other circum- 
stances have been bestowed on silk, and have made 
Manchester a formidable rival to Lyons. More than one 
Manchester firm, beginning mainly or wholly in the silk 
trade, has evolved into a cotton manufacturing concern 
following apparently the line of least resistance. Silk 
business has gone to those quarters, British and foreign, 
in which silk manufacture has been specialised. Silk- 
throwing, spinning, and weaving, after flourishing apace, 
have almost disappeared from Manchester industry. The 
silk-weaving of the 17th century, of which little is known 
beyond the names of certain weavers, sank below the 
trade horizon, and probably the looms were applied to the 
fustians, vermillions and dimities of which Roberts and 
Defoe have written. The trade re-appeared at Middleton, 
on the outskirts of the present city, where it was re- 
vived, according to Mr. Knoop's finding, by a family 
named Fallows in 1778. Once again silk fared ill in its 
conflict with the developing trade in cotton, and in 
1795 Aikin wrote of " silk-weaving giving way to the more 
profitable branches of muslin and nankeen." The business 
reared its head again in 1816, when Messrs. Tootal began 
business in weaving handkerchiefs and mixed silks. Thus 
at this date cotton was being impressed into the service 
of silk. The import duties were re-arranged in 1824, 
and William Harter began business as a manufacturer in 
1825. It was in 1822, according to Wheeler's History of 
Manchester, that the weaving of Gros de Naples (i.e. repps) 
and figured sarsnets was introduced into the town. 

A momentous change then in progress facilitated the 
introduction of silk-weaving. Cottons were being produced 
by power-looms in place of hand-looms, and as a result a 
great number of trained weavers found their labour 
superfluous. In Wheeler's words : 

" Silk-weaving . . . came providentially to break the 
fall of the hand-loom weavers. The starving 
producers of cotton goods abandoned that 
impoverished and glutted market for Labour and 


had recourse to silk-weaving, which varies chiefly Cotton 
in requiring greater skill and care." and 

Some of the dispossessed cotton-weavers turned their Silk, 
hands to a " reed of coarse silk shot with worsted " ; a 
description not incompatible with an assumption that 
spun waste silk was used in Manchester for warps, as 
later it was in Bradford. 

The hand-loom weavers inhabited a number of out 
districts, of which some were wide of Manchester : 
Gorton, Newton Heath, Harpurhey, Middleton, Stand, 
Radcliffe, Pendlebury, Worsley, Eccles and West Leigh. 
Wheeler wrote that at Moston and Middleton the cloth 
was mainly silk, and at Newton, Failsworth, Hollinswood, 
Alkrington and Tonge was silk with a few cottons. Cope, 
a weaver who gave evidence in Parliament in 1832, 
returned this account of his research into the extent of 
the hand- weaving industry : 


Manchester (including Salford and Har- 
purhey) . . . . . . . . . . 950 

Middleton (including Boardman-Lane, 
Jumbo-Tongue, Chadderton, Whitgate, 

and Moston) 2,721 

Failsworth (including Hollinwood, Taunton, 
Droylsden, Woodhouses, Newton, Gorton 

Swinton and Eccles) 2,623 

West Leigh (including Leigh, Pennington, 

Beaford, Atherton, Tildsley and Astley) 3,000 
making about 8,700, of which not quite 6,000 were 
employed in the " neat silk trade." 

It is a present custom of the trade to distinguish spun Some 
from thrown yarn by calling the latter net or neat silk, Trade 
but Cope's reference doubtless implies fabrics unmixed Statistics, 
with cotton or worsted. The number of looms both on 
mixed and pure silks increased between 1819-1823,* 

* Figures quoted from Doxat by \Vheeler point to a relative growth larger in the silk than 
the cotton industry at this period. The comparative method of statement is open to 
objection, but the averages ascertained are given for what they are worth. Taking the 
average of three years 1815-17 as a base it appears that in 

1818-20 the increase in the cotton trade was 22% and in silk 31% 
in 1821-23 48% 70% 

and in 1824-25 83% 156% 

over the average 1815-17. 




which is the period preceding Huskisson's reform of 
the tariff, and increased still more largely thereafter. 
The table given in evidence before the Committee of 
1832 shows that after 1824 the silk- weaving trade became 
a flourishing one, at least in statistical appearances, as 
may be seen from the appended statement :- 
1819 1,000 looms mixed silk and cotton 

50 pure silk. 
1823 3,000 looms mixed silk and cotton 

2,500 looms on silk. 
1828 4,000 looms mixed silk and cotton 

8,000 looms on silk. 

183212-14,000 looms, 12" throwing mills 
(10 in operation). 

The increase in the number of looms was the index 
of the relative strength of the two branches. 

" I can buy as good Gros de Naples in Manchester as 
in Lyons at the same price," Mr. R. Baggally declared 
in 1832, adding that the price was " for the great bulk 
of the consumption, from 2s. to 3s. 8d. per yard." 

By that time the power-loom had been brought into 
service by weavers of plain silk, and its advent is accurately 
timed by a statement made by Mr. Charles Grant in the 
House of Commons, February 24th, 1826. 

" According to a letter received only yesterday from 
Manchester an attempt to weave by steam had been 
made and had succeeded. Two pairs of Gros de Naples 
looms, weaving each 108 yards of silk a week, was attended 
by a woman at 14s. a week ; this was about 3d. a yard 
for the weaver's wages, and the cost of the house rent 
with the interest of the value of the loom might be taken 
at a farthing more ; thus the price at which it could 
be done was 3Jd., which could not be done in France 
under 7d." 

The power-loom was longer in coming into use in 
making fancy cloths. In his Philosophy (1835), 
Dr. Ure said : 

" It is probable that Mr. Louis Schwabe and other 
enterprising silk manufacturers of Manchester will ere 
long apply the power-loom to the weaving of fancy as well 



as plain goods ; whereby they will give a great impulsion The 
to the silk trade of England." Coming 

The hand-loom persisted in use over forty years after of the 
Ure's vaticination. Thirty years later in the Story of the Power- 
Cotton Famine (published 1866), John Watts likened loom. 
Middleton and Failsworth to Spitalfields, saying : 

:< Kay's contrivance (the fly shuttle) was soon followed 
by the invention of the drop-box, which enabled the 
same contrivance to be applied to checks by the use 
of two or three shuttles, each of which was supplied with 
a different coloured weft, as may be seen to this day 
amongst the hand-loom silk-weavers of Spitalfields ; or 
amongst the same class at Middleton or Failsworth in 

Wheeler spoke of the Jacquard as in general use both 
on pure and mixed goods in 1835. Jacquards were on 
sale in the town certainly in 1827, when Akroyd of Halifax 
obtained some of the machines from a French agent in 
Manchester. Using the fly-shuttle, drop-box and Jacquard, 
the hand-loom weavers kept the power-loom at bay, 
and the Parliamentary Return of 1835 showed fewer than 
400 silk power-looms at work in Manchester and Salford. 


Royle and Crompton . . 40 

Wm. Harter 184 

Smith and Thorp . . . . 60 

B. Williams and Co. 22 

J. and J. Clegg (Eccles) . 



At this date there were 1,716 silk power-looms in the Wages 
kingdom, and in Manchester weavers using them made of the 
: ' the exceedingly good wages of 21s. to 23s. weekly." Weavers. 
Final supersession of hand by power-looms was marked 
by no outstanding event. It can, however, be said that 
in the sole remaining broad silk mill in Manchester the 
owners dispensed with hand-weaving in 1878. 



The Silk and cotton were closely intertwined ; so closely 

Nine- as to baffle the discrimination of the officers who attached 

teenth this note to the Population Returns for 1831 : 

Century " The manufactures of Lancashire produce such a variety 

Renais- of articles as cannot be described or even distinctly 

sance. enumerated ; the predominating manufacture is that of 

cotton, producing cotton cloth, muslin, calico, cambric, 

ginghams, fustians, swansdowns, fancy quiltings and other 

fancy work and small wares. These are produced by 

manufacturers exhibiting a division of labour not easily 

defined ; carders of the raw materials, cotton yarn spinners 

by machine, bleachers, warpers, cutters and drawers, 

rovers, power-loom and hand-weavers, dressers, dyers, 

designers and drawers of patterns, engravers, block-cutters, 

block-printers, crofters, finishers, sizers. Many of these 

operations are in common with the silk manufacture which 

has been largely introduced into Lancashire, and is too 

much mingled with the cotton manufacture to be here 


It has been shown that silk-weaving owed its 19th 
century renaissance in Manchester in part to the straits 
of the hand-loom weavers. The work could be and was 
done cheaply by them, and there were no successful com- 
binations of weavers to keep up prices. Mr. Peter Malkin, 
weaver, of Macclesfield, told the Royal Commission on 
Trade Depression (1886), that " all transactions with regard 
to the price paid for labour (in Manchester) were conducted 
on pure free-trade principles," which was scarcely the 
case in Macclesfield. Dr. Ure (1835) traced some emigra- 
tion of weaving business from Macclesfield to Manchester, 
" in consequence of the restrictions placed on labour by 
the unions." Many thousands found employment in 
Manchester although it would seem that far too many 
hand-workers found little else. Weaving prices fell, and 
Revival with them fell actual earnings. The price for weaving 
of Hand- plain twenty-hundred three-single Gros de Naples, which 
loom was 9d. in 1823, was 6d. in 1828, and by 1832 had fallen 

Weaving, to 4Jd. An active workman in 12 or 14 hours' labour 
could weave six or seven yards and thus earn in 1832 a 
gross 12s. to 14s. a week, from which there was a deduction 


of Is. 6d. for winding. Further, the weaver lost about Cheap- 
half a day's time in fetching and returning the work from ness of 
and to the warehouse. Jacquard weavers were not better hand- 
off, for Wheeler stated their earnings in the best summer loom 
seasons to be 14s. to 15s. a week. In winter, owing to the labour, 
shorter days and the impracticability of working by 
candle light, earnings were correspondingly lower. The 
condition of the workman was grim and desperate in 1835, 
when 'the lot of the hand-loom workers was inquired into 
by a Select Committee. How desperate may be read 
from a minute of the evidence of a weaver of good 
repute : 

" John Scott, a practical weaver, selected by a meeting 
of the weavers of Manchester and Salford on account of 
his known industry, frugality, probity and knowledge, 
.... stated he was one of the best paid class of silk 
weavers ; that he had several looms at work ; that his 
wife earned 4s. a week by winding at the looms ; and that 
the joint earnings of himself and wife amounted to 8s. a 
week, clear of deductions ; that to do this it required that 
the witness should work from 15 to 17 hours per day ; 
that he frequently worked from six in the morning till 
11 at night, allowing himself no more than one hour in 
the day for meals ; that, notwithstanding this incessant 
labour, the witness was not in a state to provide for his 

Times had been better, and in one part of his testimony 
Scott contrasted the days when " bread was at 2Jd. a 
pound arid wages 20s./' with the " now that bread is 
IJd. and wages at 7s. to 8s." 

Another weaver, John Kelly, of Manchester, gave 
evidence in 1832 that 

" In 1819 the state of the broad silk-weavers gradually 
increased until 1825 ; in those years the weavers were Evidence 
generally employed, and the prices for weaving afforded before 
a comfortable subsistence." Select 

The fall in earnings was accompanied by a fall also in Corn- 
public respect : mittee. 

" Permit me here to make a remark," interpolated the 
witness Kelly. " At the present time a silk-weaver is 



Evidence looked on with contempt It is not because they 

before are dishonest generally, but because he has no money 

Select This was not the case before the measures of 

Com- 1826 came into operation." 

mittee. Bad as affairs are seen to have been in 1835, they were 

destined to be made worse by the American financial panic 
of 1837, a year bad for the cotton and worsted, as well 
as for the silk trade. The following extract from the 
Manchester Times, of April 29th, refers to further reduc- 
tions in the low prices paid for weaving : 

" The silk trade was scarcely ever known to be so slack 
at this season of the year as it is at present. Weavers 
eight miles round Manchester are in a miserable condition, 
some not having more than half employment whilst many 
others are entirely without. Silk weavers, when fully 
employed, cannot on an average earn more than from 8s. 
to 10s. each per week. On Saturday and Monday week 
the plain sarsnet weavers were obliged to take out work 
at a reduction in wages of from 10 to 12 per cent. A 
great number of families are starving for want of food. 
A few fancy weavers are doing pretty well ; the cotton 
hand-loom weavers are as badly off, if not worse than 
the silk-weavers, and there is no prospect of any amend- 

Signs of improvement were manifest in June, and a 
more reassuring notice appeared in the newspapers : 

" A trifling improvement is perceivable in the 
Lancashire manufacture of silk. . . . Jacquard work seems 
to take the lead, and the weavers of such descriptions 
are, considering all things, as fully employed as could 
be expected. 

" Plain goods, especially the lower sorts, are less 
required (the latter are chiefly woven at Leigh), and in 
that branch there is much waiting for work." 

Wages Wages in the silk branch were deplorably inadequate 

and at this period, but so were those in the cotton trade, and 

Employ- from the nature of the case no great disparity could exist 
ment. between them. From an official Return of Wages, pub- 
lished 1885, it appears that Manchester hand-loom weavers 
making nankeens received 16s. 3d. in 1810, and 9s. 6d. 



in 1817-19, and 6s. 6d. in 1823-25. Mr. G. H. Wood, The 
in his History of Wages in the Cotton Trade, gives approxi- Rise in 
mate averages for the power-loom cotton-weavers of Wages. 
Lancashire and Cheshire, suggesting that between 1826- 
1853 there was no improvement upon 10s. 6d.-lls. 6d. 
a week. For a period of fifty years, Lancashire wages 
went down, and for another half century increased, this 
rise in wages being due to the growing productivity of 
machines, which associated high wages with low costs. 
With 1859 began the movement which in four main jumps 
carried the average to the 20s. 6d. of 1906. Between 
1850-1883, wages in one Lancashire cotton-weaving 
mill increased 67J per cent, and in another 83J per cent, 
as shown in the Royal Commission's Report on Trade 
Depression. Silk and cotton manufacturers had to draw 
their weavers from the same mass, and it is not without 
significance that as wages advanced silk-weaving and 
throwing in Manchester declined. It chances that the 
rise in wages roughly coincides in its inception with the 
abolition of the duties on foreign manufactured silk in 
1860. Hand-weaving persisted in Manchester after that 
change, but it never to use the words of a manufacturer 
who substituted steam for manual exertions offered the 
workman more than a miserable subsistence. 

There is more than statistical coincidence to go upon 
in ascribing importance to the increased cost of labour. 
Mr. John Newton, silk dyer, in evidence before the Royal 
Commission of 1886, pointed out that of the 30,000 silk- 
weavers of 1860 not more than one-fifth, and "perhaps 
not more than 3,000 " remained. His testimony was 
emphatic : '' It is the cost of labour that has entirely 
killed the Manchester trade, that is the dress silk trade." 
The cotton industry of the time was busy enough to 
attract to itself weavers from other silk-mills than those 
of Manchester, and Mr. Malkin recalled an exodus in 
1860 of a great number of Coventry weavers to Bolton, Influence 
and of a number also to Colne. upon 

At first, silk-weaving in Manchester was conducted by Trade, 
the use of yarn obtained from external sources, but the 
manufacturers of the early 19th century had not long 



in Man- 


to wait for a local supply of thrown silk. In 1819 
a change of tariff doubled the import duty on silk in 
the thrown state, and provided a margin between the 
rates of raw and thrown silk of 9s. 2d. per Ib. It is reason- 
able to connect this fact with the erection in 1819-20 of 
the first Manchester throwing-mill, built by Mr. Vernon 
Royle, and affording employment for 4,000 to 5,000 persons. 
The start having been made, other mills were built, 
and the five mills reported in 1820 became sixteen by 
1832 ; Wheeler refers specifically to twelve, of which ten 
were working in 1834-35. At that time Manchester 
looms were consuming some 23,OOOZfo. weekly of English 
thrown silk, and obtaining it from the following sources : 
Manchester-thrown . . . . 8,000 Ibs. 

Macclesfield 8,000 

Congleton (under) . . . . 4,000 ,, 
Sandbach 3,000 

(Wheeler's estimate) . . 23,000 

The charge for throwing varied from Is. 6d. to 4s. a Z&., 
and the ten working mills in Manchester were stated to 
be capable of turning out 350,000/fo. per annum. They 
employed altogether about 4,000 persons, and consumed 
7,000 to 8,OOOZfo. of raw silk weekly, equivalent to one-fifth of 
the national consumption. The wages paid, according to 
the statement by a manufacturer, given in Wheeler's History, 
averaged 4s. 9d. per week, or less than in a cotton-mill. 

Manchester, Salford, Broughton, Newton, Harpurhey, 
Heaton Norris and Eccles were the places in which 
throwing was done, and in 1836 the number of employees 
was said to have been materially augmented and to have 
become not less than 4,700. 

The throwing-mills were large, and Dr. Ure, who wrote 
with knowledge, compared the French filatures to the 
Manchester mills to the disparagement of the former : 

" In the silk districts of France the throwing-mills 
are very small. The machinery is certainly very rude, 
compared to what may be seen in our modern Manchester 
and Derby mills." 



In the opinion of the same careful and observant writer, Mill 
Manchester machinery was also "very superior" to Italian. Statistics. 
According to evidence given before the Parliamentary 
Committee (1832), the difference was so great that in 
1830 a visitor from Lombardy came to Manchester to 
study and buy similar machines and take them abroad, 
despite the embargo on the export of textile machinery. 
The superior mechanism and the protective duty of 
2s. lOd. net (allowing for debenture) were held by Ure 
fully to offset the Italian advantage of cheap labour. 
He calculated the horse-power required in working them 
at 342, and the capital cost at 200,000. Wheeler gave 
the number of silk-throwing mills in the county in 1836 
as 22, and obtained from the factory inspectors the 
following summary of silk-mills : 


Power : 
Steam. Water. 

No. of 

Persons employed : 
Male. Female. 

























Eccles Parish 






Lancaster Parish 


10 14 




Cockerham Parish 


20 16 




Melling Parish 






Ashton under Lyne 


Ashton ... 



Leigh Parish 





The list includes at least one mill Ellel in Cockerham 
Parish which was not a throwing-, but a spinning-mill, 
and which survives under the name of the Galgate Silk 
Mill (vide Lancaster, p. 170). 

The throwing-mills passed away one by one, and the Decay 
last to survive in the city was that of John Morley in of Silk 
Bridgwater Street. At one time the large local con- Throw- 
sumption of silk stimulated Manchester to aspire to become ing 
the chief public market for raw silk, and auction sales were Trade. 



for Raw 

and the 

initiated in the circumstances detailed in the following 
newspaper report of 15th April, 1837 : 

" The wishes of the silk dealers and manufacturers in 
this town and neighbourhood have been for some time 
expressed that the importation of raw silks would establish 
a market in this town, inasmuch as the greater part of 
the silk imported in England is thrown and manufactured 
in the district. In compliance with their wish, Messrs. 
Bindloss and Preston, silk brokers, have prevailed upon 
the importers of recent arrivals of silk from Bengal and 
China to offer upwards of 600 bales for unreserved public 
sale. This sale took place on Tuesday in the theatre of the 
Mechanics' Institution, Mr. Preston officiating as 
auctioneer. The attendance of dealers, throwsters and 
manufacturers was very large ; and notwithstanding the 
depressed state of trade, nearly the whole of the silks 
offered were sold. Though the prices were very low, 
they were generally about five per cent higher than 
those previously realised by private sale. 

" The following were the silks offered : 8 bales of Persian 
raw silk ; 205 bales of Bengal ; 364 bales of China Tsatlee ; 
85 bales of China Taysaam ; 3 cases of Sincapore raw 
silk and 3 bales of Brutia." 

In 1850 the silk manufacturers of Manchester took 
a step, which in view of their convictions and political 
principles came as no surprise, but one which distin- 
guished them sharply from all other silk manufacturers 
of the day. Sir J. Paxton, Member for Coventry, in 
referring to the step ten years later, pointed out that 
thirty towns and villages in the kingdom were concerned 
in silk manufacture, and that from all but one of these 
places petitions were received begging Parliament not 
to remit the silk duties upon silk goods. Manchester 
made the exception, and from thence a memorial was 
received asking, upon somewhat unusual grounds, that 
the duties might be abolished. As the text shows the 
grounds for the petition were twofold (a) that the industry 
was stagnating ; (b) that the retention of the duties 
created prejudicial impressions in the minds of customers 
abroad. The document may be thought remarkable alike 


for what it did, and did not say, and for the large amount 
of support it commanded :* 

A Memorial from the Silk-manufacturers of Man- A 

Chester to the Right Honourable Benjamin Disraeli, Memorial 
M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer, &c. in favour 

This memorial sheweth that your memorialists are of repeal, 
manufacturers of broad -silks in Manchester ; that 
the trade they are engaged in is in a depressed 
' state ; that their workpeople are not fully 
employed ; and that this branch of manufacture 
has been almost stationary in extent for a period 
of ten years at least, whilst every other branch of 
textile manufacture has largely increased ; that 
they consider the depression and non-extension 
of their trade to be owing chiefly to the limited 
nature of the foreign demand for their goods, 
and your memorialists are of opinion that this 
is attributable to the protective duty imposed on 
foreign goods imported into this country, the effect 
of such protective duty being to create an 
impression in the markets of the world that England 
is unable to compete with the Continental Manu- 
facturers in the production of silk goods, and thus 
to throw the export trade almost entirely into the 
hands of their Swiss and French competitors ; that 
in the opinion of your memorialists, however neces- 
sary Protection may have been at a former period, 
it is now positively injurious to them, and they 
feel that it cannot under any Government or under 
any circumstances long be maintained. 

Your memorialists therefore pray that you will be 
pleased to relieve them by repealing the duty on 
foreign silk goods, not partially and gradually, Policy 
but totally and immediately, and thus proclaim to the of Pro- 
world that the Manufacturer denounces the so-called tection 
Protection and every aid a Government can give ; de- 
that he is prepared to depend solely on his own merit nounced. 
and that he avows himself capable of taking a 

* The memorial and the list of names have been transcribed from a copy in the possession 
of Messrs. H. T. Gaddum and Co., of Manchester, whose courtesy in the matter is 





in favour 
of repeal. 

higher position in the race of competition unfettered 
by Protection, than he has hitherto obtained under 

of John 

its fostering care. 
Manchester, 10th November, 

Signed by 

Harrop, Taylor and Pearson. 
Hilton and Castree. 
Makin and Walker. 
E. R. Le Mare. 
Booth Leigh and Co. 
Chas. Hilton. 

Thomas Molineaux and Co. 
T. and E. D. Toas. 
Milsome and Clark. 
Thomas Lomas. 
Brotherton and Dobson. 
Winkworth and Procters. 
Luke Smith. 
George Smith and Sons. 
Norbury and Bindloss. 


Thos. Brown and Son. 
James Bently. 
Wm. Summerskill. 
Thos. Ainsworth. 
James Garner. 
Peter Joynson. 
John Chadwick. 
Benjamin Syddall. 
John Ashworth. 
Clough and Meadows. 
Hobday and Swanick. 
Henry Coop and Sons. 

did not sign. 

John Morley 

Bickham and Pownall 

George and James Smith 

W. T. and James Walker 
The petition gives a list of the whole of the silk manu- 
facturers of Manchester in 1852, and it is significant 
that of the signatories not one now remains in business. 
In refusing to add his name, Mr. John Morley explained 
that he declined to sign his own death warrant. Mr. John 
Morley' s business, alone out of the 31, survives, and is 
carried on at Patricroft by Messrs. Robinson and 

In 1860 one of the most forcible of the signatories was 
impressing on Mr. Gladstone, in moving terms the 
imperative desirability of a complete removal of the 
duties. The arguments are to be found in Mr. John 
Chadwick's letter of 12th January, 1850, to the statesman : 
" I have endeavoured," he wrote, " to show you that 
the silk manufacture does not owe its origin or its success 


in any degree in this country to Protection, but, on the Appeal 
contrary, that Government restrictions have been the to Mr. 
chief cause, if not the only cause, of its unsatisfactory Glad- 
state. These restrictions have diverted the trade from stone, 
this country, kept down the rate of profit, diminished 
the wages of labour and served no interest whatever. 

" It is in your hands to remove this relic of the erroneous 
legislation of a bygone age ; don't allow the silk trade 
to continue a iparked exception to the general policy of 
this country. 

" The silk manufacture is at the moment a signal excep- 
tion to the general prosperity." 

The interposition of the Manchester manufacturers has 
been deplored for a variety of reasons. The main reason 
has been the utter frustration of the high hopes of benefits 
to ensue from the abolition of the 15 per cent duty. 
A subsidiary reason was the conviction that this gratuitous 
assistance helped the French Government to negotiate 
an unnecessarily unfavourable set of terms and to obtain 
from England the entire abolition of the silk duty while 
themselves retaining a high duty on silk. 

The tariff legislation of other countries conspired with 
other causes to destroy the former silk trade in Manchester, 
and some direct evidence of its effects has been given 
by manufacturers. Particulars are available of the 
transactions in 1855 of the extinct firm of B. Syddall 
and Sons, with which Mr. G. Millington, who appeared 
before Mr. Chamberlain's Tariff Commission (1905), was 

Messrs. Syddall had a turnover of 30,000 to 40,000 a 
year, mainly in mixed silks, and found most of their custom 
abroad. They traded with Germany, Italy, Poland, 
Russia, Holland, and the United States, and " as these 
countries one after another levied duties, one market after Alleged 
another was lost, and the firm relinquished business, Effects 
having lost a large part of its capital." Mr. S. Hinrichsen, of 
a Manchester shipping merchant, told the Royal Com- Foreign 
mission of 1886, that high duties had killed his trade Tariffs, 
in velvets with Germany. It is difficult to detach and 
examine separately each cause of decay, and it may be that 


Alleged foreign tariffs were not the single source of the misfortunes 
Effects of another specimen firm taken, but not named, by 
of Mr. John Newton. The details disclose the rapidity with 

Foreign which decay proceeded : 

Tariffs. " One of those manufacturers (i.e. one of 40 in business in 

1859) employed 1,400 weavers, and altogether 2, 000 to 3,000, 
in manufacturing and throwing. Their turnover in 1859 

was at the rate of 250,000 a year In 1863 it was 

66,000, and they never got it any higher than 92,000, 
and that was in 1872." 

When all extraneous causes for the decline of the 
Manchester silk industry have been noticed, there remains 
the question whether the manufacturers affected did all 
they might to avert the fate which overtook them. 
There have been admissions of shortcomings on the part 
of employers, and hints of imperfect skill on the part of 
workpeople. Messrs. Houldsworth at one time engaged 
a score of German weavers, presumably to discover whether 
they possessed superior skill. Mr. Malkin, who worked be- 
side them, avowed himself " able to hold his own even better 
than they." A modern manufacturer taxed on the score 
of comparative efficiency at the loom, " supposed Lyons 
weavers must be better than ours," without presenting 
conclusive evidence on the point. Sir Joseph C. Lee,* 
of Manchester, used plain words in his evidence before 
Parliament, saying : 

" We are not so skilful in the modes of treating silk as 
the French and Germans are. We are much in want of 
textile museums. We are very deficient as a nation in 
our silk industry. We simply do not produce the goods 
that the French do, and we do not attempt it." 

Sir Joseph Lee's criticisms apply as much to the arts 
Other of finishing as to those of weaving, and may be read in 
Causes conjunction with Mr. Malkin's comments on the dis- 
of appearance of the industry : 

Decay. " Their (i.e. Manchester's) principal manufacture was 

plain or tabby cloth and striped, so that apart from the 
dyeing they could not be charged very well with a deficiency 

* Royal Commission on Trade Depression, 1886. 


of technical knowledge in the manufacture of that class of Other 
article." Causes 

If the joint comments seem to expose Manchester manu- of 
facturers to a charge of remissness in failing to explore Decay, 
the higher developments of their art, the environment 
has to be reckoned with. Manchester has not the pure 
air and sunny skies which assist in the development of 
colour and the maintenance of the cleanliness of goods. 

It is the fate of a great deal of good advice to come 
too late to be of use, and manufacturers are confronted 
with situations which are always changing. Even within 
the last few years there has been a revolution in the 
character of demand for Manchester silk fabrics. Heavy 
black silks are only made marketable at rare intervals 
by some untoward event like a Royal funeral. The yarn- 
dyed silks which were so long in vogue have passed out of 
fashion entirely. Many goods, considered expensive by 
the buyers of to-day, would have been reckoned cheap a 
few years ago, and the taffeta trade for linings, on which 
reliance used to be put as on a staff, has been extinguished. 
The trade has not gone elsewhere ; it has simply ceased to 
exist, and cheaper and less satisfactory goods are called 
for instead. 

As the gross effect of a century of work, the separate 
silk industry has been almost extinguished and the cotton 
industry enormously promoted. Manchester warehouse- 
men are still however among the considerable customers of 
British and Continental silk manufacturers, and their 
transactions in silk goods are apparently as large or larger 
than ever, although the character of their stocks has 
changed in consonance with the tastes of the time. 

A somewhat rare publication, Hosking's Guide to Man- 
chester Trade, gives an epitome of the classes of silks bought 
and sold in the Manchester Market in 1877, and includes 
foreign with British goods. These include Silk-Glaces, Still 
Gros Grains, Cachemires, Moires, Antiques, Satins, an im- 
Turquoises, Lustrines, Florentines, Chinas, Spun Silks, portant 
Gros de Naples, Failles, Marcellines, Persians, Sarsnetts, Silk 
Silk Velvets, Crapes, and Umbrella Silks. Among mixed Market. 
and fancy goods were Poplins, Japanese, Mikados, Grena- 
dines, Lenos, Tasso Cloth, Tabinet, Costumes. 



Still The trade also included ties, cravats, neckerchiefs, 

an im- shawls, sashes, Indian Corahs, foulards, bandannas, tussors 
portant and pongees. 

Silk The Guide was a carefully compiled one, intended for 

Market, the private perusal of buyers, and it attests the existence 
in the Manchester trade of five throwsters, four printers of 
Indian corahs and bandannas, and 21 importers, brokers 
and agents of raw, thrown, spun, schappe and noil silks. 
There were besides some 70 names of silk manufacturing 
firms represented in the market. 

While it lasted, the silk-weaving industry gave employ- 
ment in auxiliary trades. Silk printing was predominantly 
a Manchester business, and the facilities for printing are 
very much larger than ever, although the place of printed 
silks has been usurped by highly improved forms of cotton, 
treated by the mercerising and schreinerising processes. 
Silk dyeing afforded employment in the 'thirties of the 
last century for some 400 to 500 men, and for many more 
than that number in the 'fifties. Manchester silks are 
dyed at present in Macclesfield, Leek and Lyons among 
other places. 

The consumption of silk in Manchester remains larger 
than might be judged from the known fate of the old, 
separate silk trade. Silk is used in mixture with cotton 
by manufacturers of fancy cotton cloths, and in the small- 
ware trade, although chemical or artificial silk has replaced 
the natural fibre to a serious extent. Wheeler traced 
the beginnings of the Manchester business in small-wares to 
an origin in Macclesfield, and commented on the curious 
fact that Macclesfield firms should be supplying Manchester 
looms with work. A thousand Manchester looms were 
employed in small-wares before 1840. 

There is preserved in the Manchester Reference Library 

an instructive relic of the corporate life of Manchester 

Trade silk manufacturers in the mid-nineteenth century. They 

Protec- formed a Protective Society in 1852, of which the oper- 

tive ations and objects may be judged from the Library's copy 

Society, of the book of rules. The rules number fifteen, and most 

of them are formal. The first rule is indicative of the 

kind of losses common to all textile manufacturers in the 


days when material was lent out for manufacture by Trade 
home workers, and for the prevention of which several Protec- 
statutes were passed. The last rule providing for the tive 
disciplining of traders adjudged guilty of misconduct gives Society, 
the Protective Society some of the colour of the mediaeval 



August, 1852. 


This Society shall be called " The Silk Trade Protective 
Society," and its objects shall be : 

To promote and encourage honesty and fair dealing 
amongst all persons engaged or interested in the Silk 
Trade ; and to detect and punish all who are guilty of 
purloining, withholding, taking, stealing or receiving Silk 
in any unlawful manner. 


Any person or firm engaged in the Silk Trade and 
interested in the objects of the Society, may become a 
member or members thereof on payment of an annual 
subscription, which will be expected to be proportionate 
to the extent of the business done by such person or firm, 
the subscription being in no case less than two guineas. 


Every member of the Society shall report to the Sub- 
Committee or Secretary all cases which may come to 
his knowledge of suspicion or of fraudulent conduct 
affecting the Silk Trade. 


If any prosecution, action or suit at law shall be com- 
menced against any member of this Society, or its 
Secretary, for anything done by the former with the An 
approbation of the Committee .... such member shall echo of 
be defended in and indemnified from all the expenses Mediae- 
attending such prosecution .... out of the funds of valism. 
the Society ; and if the said funds should at any time 
prove insufficient, the deficiency shall be made good at 


Pains the joint and proportionate charge of each member .... 
and and any member refusing to pay his just share .... shall 

Penalties, be excluded from the Society and be thereafter ineligible 
for re-election. 


If any member shall, in writing, subscribed with his 
name, make a complaint to the Committee against any 
other member and specify the cause of his complaint, 
and if the Committee shall think the same a prima facie 
ground for the expulsion of such member the Secretary 
shall give notice thereof to the member .... and a 
copy of the complaint shall be sent to him, and a time 
appointed for a hearing .... at the conclusion of which, 
if two-thirds of the Committee present shall be of opinion 
that the complaint is established, the Chairman shall 
declare .... that he will at the next general meeting 
state the case for the decision of such meeting, which 
decision shall be determined by a majority of votes, by 
ballot member .... he shall never after be re-elected. 
Thomas Crompton, President. 
Richardson and Whitworth, Secretaries. 
Offices 13, Corporation Street, Manchester. 
An organisation which serves silk-spinners and mer- 
chants as a Club, an Exchange, and a vehicle for the 
occasional expression of a corporate opinion upon matters 
of current moment, is the Silk Club, of which the head- 
quarters are the Albion Hotel, Manchester. Spinners 
frequent Manchester upon Tuesday of each week, and 
Bradford upon Thursday, and by means of the Club 
accommodation in both cities, are enabled to transact 
much of their business at ease. The original minute books 
have been lost, but the foundation appears to date from 
1883. Mr. G. B. Hadwen, of Triangle, was the first 
president, and his portrait in oils hangs in the club-room. 
Mr. Alfred Stott, of Brighouse, was the first chairman, 
The and Mr. James Robinson, of Halifax, the first treasurer, 

Silk while Mr. Joseph Boden was the Club's first secretary. 

Club. The Club is affiliated to the Silk Association of 
Great Britain and Ireland, and the annual and semi- 
annual meetings of the two bodies are of importance in 


the life of the Club and in the interests of a full intercourse The 
between all sections of the silk trade. The advantages Silk 
of the Club are attested both by the character of its Club, 
list of members and by its survival for a period of 
thirty years. Death has removed the whole of the original 
officers, and the various offices are at present filled by 
Mr. A. John SoUy, J.P. (president), Mr. T. Fletcher 
Robinson (chairman), Mr. Wm. Wadsworth (vice-chair- 
man)/ Mr. H. Buzzoni (treasurer), and Mr. C. J. Bower, 
21, Cannon Street, Manchester, as secretary. 

An institution which did useful service in its own day 
and disappeared amid the gradual decay of the local silk 
industry was the Manchester Wool and Silk Conditioning 
Company. An article in The Chemist of 1857-58, 
announced that an establishment for conditioning silk 
had been opened by Dr. F. Grace Calvert, " under the 
approval of 23 firms engaged in the trade." Dr. Grace 
Calvert, who was at the time the leading chemist in North- 
Western England and a high authority upon poisons, 
carried on the work of boiling off and weighing samples 
of silk in his laboratory in the Royal Institution, Man- 
chester. The undertaking was to some extent a co- 
operative one, and accounts were published and bonuses 
declared. A yearly profit of 400, rising to 600, was 
made at first, after which it declined until the takings in 
fees were too insignificant for division. The work was 
then carried on as part of the private practice of the 
chemist, and the apparatus used passed to his partner and 
successor, Mr. W. Thomson, of Crace Calvert and Thomson, 
by whom it was eventually broken up. Records in the 
possession of Mr. Thomson show a considerable number 
of testings in 1880, but there was a steady decrease year 
by year afterwards. The last made in the Institution 
was apparently on 17th July, 1902, for the benefit of 
Messrs. Kidd, Boden and Co. 

Silk is received occasionally for conditioning tests at Condi- 
the Manchester Chamber of Commerce Testing House tioning 
but in no considerable quantity. This Testing House was Corn- 
opened under Mr. J. H. Lester's management in 1895. pany. 
He resigned in 1911, when Mr. F. W. Barwick was 
appointed to the position. 



The county town belongs rather to rural than industrial 
Lancashire, and its chief manufactures to-day are linoleum 
and floorcloth. Lancaster's local records contain nothing 
definite of early associations with silk, and the precise 
causes leading to the establishment in 1792 of a 
silk-spinning mill cannot now be divined with any 
accuracy. The mill exists still and prospers, and has the 
distinction of being the oldest of its kind in the country. 
William Thompson and Co., Ltd., own the Galgate Silk 
Mill, which was turned to its present purpose when John 
Armstrong, James Noble and William Thompson, all of 
Lancaster, bought the Ellel water corn-mill from William 
Bell, miller. The crest of the Armstrongs an arm holding 
a javelin and the motto Semper Paratus remains the 
trademark of the firm. In 1807 Mr. Noble sold his share 
to Mr. Armstrong, whose son acquired the whole property, 
and directed affairs until 1857. In 1857, his successor, 
Mr. Richard Armstrong, died, and after being carried on 
by his executors, the mill was acquired by the Company, 
Wm. Thompson and Co., Limited, formed in 1869. 

The Galgate Mill is the only silk-mill in the neighbour- 
hood, but for a time it had a competitor in Hinde and Co., 
of Ridge Lane Silk Mills. Messrs. Gregson and Mason, 
a firm of solicitors in Lancaster, incited by information 
received as to the profitable nature of Messrs. Thompson's 
operations, built this competing mill in 1837. Mr. Walter 
Hinde, of the firm Hinde and Derham, of the neighbouring 
village of Dolphinholme, was taken into the partnership, 
and use was made of his name. Failure ultimately over- 
took the newcomers, who had no successors in Lancaster. 



A reputation for trading enterprise won in earlier years The 
obtained a double confirmation in the later years of the First 
18th century. The establishment of the mill to spin silk Worsted 
in 1792 has been noted, and it is fitting to mention an Spinning 
associated venture of 1784. In that year Edmondson, Mill. 
Addison and Satterthwaite, of Lancaster, built at Dolphin- 
holme a mill that is supposed to have been the first to 
turn out worsted yarn by machinery in England. This is 
the mill which passed later to the Hindes', whose con- 
nection with silk in Lancaster has already been named. 
When in the possession of Hindes and Patchett in 1807, 
the partnership effects were valued at 22,691 (p. 365, 
James' History of the Worsted Manufacture). The firm 
spun yarns ranging from 16's to 33's, had agents in 
Bradford and Halifax, and did business with small-ware 
manufacturers in Manchester, but found its principal 
customers among the serge makers of Exeter. It may 
seem odd that the place so closely identified with the 
beginnings of the factory production, both of worsted 
and of spun silk yarn should not have benefited more 
largely from the subsequent development of these trades. 

Messrs. Thompson find customers further afield, notably 
in India and Singapore, Calais and America, as well as 
in Bradford and the hosiery centres. Their mills are the 
more interesting to visit, because there remains there 
an important department devoted to the old process of 
short-spinning with which the business began. The 
improved long-spinning system was introduced about 
1864, when the present managing director, Mr. George 
Satterthwaite, first entered the business. Short-spinning 
or in other words the application of cotton spinning 
methods to waste silk has its uses for a limited range of 
purposes, and is practised in two other English mills. 
At Galgate the visitor may see waste eligible for treat- 
ment by the long-spun, or worsted process, dressed in the 
gum and chopped into short lengths by a modified chaff- The 
cutting machine. The chopped waste is boiled in little Short- 
bags, to discharge the gum, dried, scutched, blown, spinning 
carded, and finally spun either with or without an admix- Process, 
ture of silk fibre removed by combs from long noils, the 
by-product of the long-spinning process. 


Notable The Patent Office records show that in 1841 one 
Galgate Archibald Templeton, of Lancaster, devised a means of 
men. separating, dividing and laying parallel silk fibres pre- 

paratory to spinning, including a means of cutting silk 
waste by rotating knives. Nothing is known of Templeton 
at Galgate, and it is to be inferred that he was at Hinde 
and Company's mill, which had been opened three or 
four years before this date. In partnership with a brother, 
Templeton was for a few years a silk spinner in Congleton. 
Mr. Thomas Watson, who built up a large spinning and 
plush-weaving business in Rochdale, and Mr. James 
Robinson, who occupied a spinning-mill in Halifax, are 
two of a number of men, prominent within the industry, 
who learned their business at Galgate. 


Kendal, known throughout centuries for its woollen 
cloths, and described by Defoe as a noted town for tan- 
neries, has certain remote associations with silk and was 
the seat of the first silk-spun yarn mill of which any record 
has been traced. The tanneries have grown into boot 
factories of renown, and carpet and horse-cloth manu- 
facturing have prospered. Silk, despite the encouraging 
report upon its progress made by Arthur Young in his 
Northern Tour (1769), has disappeared from the list of 
active employments. Young's description is given with 
his famous particularity, and is here reproduced : 
An early " They have likewise a small manufactory of cards for 
Spinning carding cloth. Another also of silk : They receive the 
Factory, waste silk from London, boil it in soap, which they call 
scowering, then it is combed by women (there are about 
30 or 40 of them) and spun, which article employs 
about 100 hands ; after this it is doubled and dressed 
and sent back again to London. This branch is upon 
the increase." 

Although there is evidence of the earlier use of waste 
silk in this country, particular accounts of its treatment 
are scarce. The statement that the silk was combed does 
not finally exclude the possibility that Young failed to 
distinguish perfectly between combing and carding. 



Assuming however that the word is to be taken literally a 
passage from Mr. Hollins Rayner's Silk Throwing and 
Waste Silk Spinning may describe the Kendal method : 

" The old-time system of dressing was of course a The 
hand process. Each worker had heckles or combs supplied Hand- 
to him, through the teeth of which a portion of silk was combing 
drawn. The short silk and noils and nibs adhered to of waste 
the teeth until by continued repetition the silk held by Silk, 
the worker was straight and the fibre parallel and free 
from short silk and nibs. Then the portion dressed was 
held by the workman and the portion previously held 
in his hand put through the combing process. When 
both ends were properly combed, that portion of silk 
was placed on one side for spinning, and the short fibre 
and noils were considered waste. The reversing of ends 
tested the skill of the operator as the teeth of the comb 
had to strike the silk at a point to ensure the middle of 
the silk properly being combed out ; otherwise the centre 
of the lengths would be rough and woolly and have a 
large amount of short fibre left, making it impossible 
to have a level yarn." 


The Nottingham resembles other textile centres of this 

Resort country in having earlier associations with native than 
of In- with any of the exotic fibres. Apparently the first manu- 
ventors. facture of the town was woollen cloth, of the dyeing of 
which the burgesses were given a district monopoly in 
1155. Fairs held at Lenton as early as 1300 were marts 
for the sale of these cloths, and Deering's History (1751) 
would seem to show that some of the goods were sent 
to the Merchants of the Staple at Calais. Deering says 
the trade flourished until the loss of Calais, when it 
" gradually went off, till at last it entirely left the Place." 
The dimensions attained by the business are unknown, 
and it is perhaps significant that in the numerous statutes 
made for the regulation of woollen manufacturing during 
the 16th and 17th centuries no mention of Nottingham 
cloths has been found. 

The other native material, flax, was being woven 
certainly in 1476, and also in 1675, by which time silk had 
obtained a footing. Deering's table of the trades and 
employment exercised in 1641, shows at that date two 
master silk-weavers in Nottingham and two framework- 
knitters. In 1739 there were no silk-weavers, the frame- 
work-knitters had increased to fifty, and there were three 
master woolcombers. 

Hargreaves, the inventor of the spinning jenny, found 
a patron in Thomas James, of Nottingham, and a machine 
to spin 84 threads of cotton simultaneously was erected 
in Mill Street in 1769. Arkwright came to Nottingham 
with his invention two years later, and, with the help of 


Plate XXIII. William Lee, thinking out his problem of a Knitting 



Mr. Need, brought his frame to the point at which it The 
would produce smooth yarn. Cotton yarn imported from Resort 
East India had been used earlier in the local knitting of In- 
trade, but silk it will be shown was employed before ventors. 

The association of Nottingham with the forefathers 
of the cotton-spinning industry has been more widely 
recognised than its connection with the early history 
of wodlcombing and worsted-spinning. Blackner's history 
of the town (1815) records that a worsted-mill was built 
by Robert Davison and John Hawksley upon the north 
bank of the Leen in 1788 ; the building, being burnt 
down in 1791, was replaced by another in which the 
machinery was driven by a 60 h.p. engine. An acrimonious 
correspondence carried on by Robert Davison, worsted- 
spinner, Arnold, with Alexander Foxcroft, an attorney, 
is preserved in pamphlet form under the date 1803 in the 
Nottingham Public Library. When Davison died, losses 
were encountered, the mill was sold, and Hawksley, his 
partner, put up a worsted-mill in Butcher's-close, and 
failed in 1815. There is an interest in the facts apart 
from the failure of either cotton-spinning or worsted- 
spinning to take permanent root in Nottingham, for 
Hawksley was the inventor of a woolcomb. His patent 
was taken out in 1793, or three years later than 
Cartwright's first invention. Hawksley's idea was seen 
to be valuable by the Rev. Edmund Cartwright, who 
entered into agreement with him whereby Hawksley 
assigned his rights to Cartwright in return for one-fourth 
share of the profits of the whole invention ; and a special 
Act was obtained for the consolidating the two patents 
for a term of 14 years. 

It is not easy to detach fact from fiction in the several Lee 
conflicting accounts about Lee, the Nottinghamshire and the 
clergyman, who invented the stocking-frame, or about Stocking 
the circumstances of its invention, and even the facts as Frame, 
to the introduction of hand-knitting are obscure. Knitted 
woollen caps were referred to expressly in a statute of 
1488, a mention altogether inconsistent with the state- 
ment made in Ephraim Chambers' Encyclopaedia, to the 



Lee effect that Lee's invention was made " about twenty- 

and the eight years after we had first learned from Spain the 

Stocking method of knitting by needles." William Lee invented 

Frame. his first frame in 1589, an event commemorated by an 

inscription upon the portrait formerly hung in the 

Stocking Weavers' Hall, Red Cross Street, London : 

" In the year 1589 the ingenious William Lee, A.M., 
of St. John's College, Cambridge, devised the 
profitable art for stockings (but being despised, 
went to France), yet of iron to himself, but to us 
and to others of gold ; in memory of whom this 
is here painted." 

" Knyt hose, knyt petycotes, knyt gloves and knyt- 
sleves," were named in an Act of 1552, but there is Howell's 
evidence, contained in his History of the World, that at 
least silk stockings were imported from Spain in the time 
of Henry VIII. It must be regarded as certain that 
hand-knitting was a much older employment than 
Chambers supposed. 

Hand-knitting gave Lee the clergyman his cue, and, 
according to one of the more matter-of-fact accounts 
that have been handed down, the sight of a lady knitting 
the heel of a stocking by the use of only two needles fired 
him with an inspiration as to how mechanical knitting 
might be done. This version is not intrinsically less 
probable than those which ascribe the inventions to 
motives of pique. Deering's version of the traditional 
romance is that Lee : 

" was deeply in love with a young townswoman of 

his, whom he courted for a wife ; but whenever 

he went to visit her, she always seemed more 

mindful of her knitting than of the addresses of 

her admirer. This slight created such aversion 

The in Mr. Lee against knitting by hand, that he 

stimulus determined to contrive a machine that should 

to turn out work enough to render the common 

inven- knitting a gainless employment. Accordingly he 

tion. set about it, and having an excellent mechanical 

head, he brought his design to bear in the year 



A variant, published by T. Baldwin of Hinckley, in 
1776, says that Lee in wooing a lady of great beauty and 
fortune : 

" surprised her in a grove, knitting a fine silk stocking. The 
It was in this grove that the young lady gave incentive 
Mr. Lee an absolute refusal of her hand ; which to 
so affected Mr. Lee that he declared he would invention 
invent a machine that should be a means of 
spoiling the knitting trade." 

The material point is that Lee, a native probably of the 
parish of Calverton, nine miles distant from the town, 
or as has also been said of the parish of Woodborough, 
invented and perfected his frame and taught others to 
work it. He carried the machine from Calverton to 
Bunhill Fields, and sought the patronage of Elizabeth 
through the agency of Lord Hunsdon. His petition for 
a monopoly was refused, and the somewhat curious terms 
of the royal refusal are given with a wealth of detail 
in Gravenor Henson's History of the Framework Knitters 
(1831). Henson writes that the refusal is said to have 
been made in terms having the purport of the following : 
" My Lord, I have too much love for my poor people, 
who obtain their bread by the employment of 
knitting, to give my money to forward an inven- 
tion, that will tend to their ruin by depriving 
them of employment, and thus making them 
beggars. Had Mr. Lee made a machine that 
would have made silk stockings, I should have 
been somewhat justified in granting him a 
monopoly, which would have affected only a 
small number of my subjects ; but to enjoy the 
exclusive privilege of making stockings for the 
whole of my subjects is too important to be 
granted to any individual." 

A paper printed in explanation of Elmore's painting, The 
the " Origin of the Stocking Loom " (1847), makes a Stocking 
jump at the conclusion that Elizabeth's " masculine Loom, 
mind doubtless regarded the invention of stocking weaving 
by a man with contempt." Masculinity it might be 
urged is not the dominant characteristic of the speech 



The recorded by Henson. It is, at all events, the case that 

patronage Lee perfected in 1598 a frame capable of knitting silk 

of stockings, of which a pair are said to have been presented 

France. by him to the Queen. Neither Elizabeth nor James I 

being willing to grant a patent, and his friend Lord Hunsdon 

being dead, Lee accepted the offer made by Sully, the 

French Ambassador. Deering's version is that, being 


" With promises of reward, privileges and honours, 
by Henry IV, he embraced the seeming fair 
opportunity, and went himself, taking his brother 
and nine workmen, and as many frames, to Roan 
(Rouen), in Normandy, where he wrought with 
great applause." 

The account given in the " Origin of the Stocking 
Loom " is that Lee's prospects became clouded upon 
the death of the French King, and that after sharing in 
the persecution which befell the French Protestants, he 
died of grief and despair in Paris. Lee's death in Paris 
in or soon after 1610, has been accepted as proved by 
the Dictionary of National Biography, but there is another 
version of his end, more in keeping with the spirit of 
romance. Baldwin says : 

" Some years after, Mr. Lee received an invitation 

to return to his native country, which he accepted ; 

and soon after the art of Framework-Knitting 

became famous in England ; and Charles I, with 

a great many of his nobles, learnt it. And it is 

said, that as Mr. Lee had gained so much honour 

at home and abroad by this invention, his former 

lover nobly gave him her hand, and crowned his 

wishes and ingenuity with her person." 

This conventional ending to the romance is unsupported 

by other testimony. Another story is that Lee's invention 

was, not long after his death, brought back to his native 

Lee's land by seven of his workmen, who joined Aston, an 

death in ex-apprentice of Lee's, at Calverton, in working their 

Exile. frames in this country. 

It was certainly in Nottingham that the industry 
began, and the processes by which it extended to London 



can at least be imagined. The capital must have been Frame- 
the chief mart for the goods produced. Silk was brought work 
thither directly from abroad, and hand-knitting was an Knitting 
established occupation. By 1695, Henson says there were in Lon- 
more than 1,500 stocking frames in the alleys, courts and don and 
back-places of the metropolis, and chiefly in the parishes in Not- 
of St. Luke and Spitalfields. Some fifty years after the tingham. 
presumed death of Lee, the Framework Knitters' Company, 
then grown to be a considerable corporation, was given 
a charter by Charles II, with jurisdiction over the trade 
within a ten-mile radius of London. The grant and the 
exercise of these powers became later a matter of impor- 
tance to Nottingham. The London knitters assumed 
authority over the business throughout this country, and 
also exerted themselves to prevent the transference of the 
machinery abroad. At their instance Richard Cromwell, 
in 1659, confiscated forty stocking frames which were 
about to be exported, and their petition of 1656 supplies 
valuable particulars as to their position and that of the 
industry at large. The Knitters sought from the 
Protector : 

" The coercive power of your Highness to restrain 
their ill willers from unravelling the entrails of 
the Commonwealth, and giving or yielding oppor- 
tunity unto strangers to gather them up, and 
make that common to all the world which is 
naturally particular in sole propriety to this 

They described some attempts that had previously been 
made to introduce Lee's machines upon foreign soil, 
including that of the Venetian Ambassador, who gave 
500 to one Henry Mead, an apprentice, who took his 
frame to Venice and worked upon it there. Mead was, 
however, incompetent to repair his frame when it fell 
out of order, and the Venetians : Failure 

" Disheartened and impatient of making vain trials, of 
sent his disordered frame and some of their own Process 
imitation to be sold in London at a very low Abroad, 
The Knitters recounted how one Abraham Jones had : 



Failure " By underhand courses and insinuations (and not 

of by servitude as an apprentice) gotten both the 

Process mystery and skilful practice .... did pass him- 

Abroad, self with some more into Amsterdam 

erected frames and wrought for the space of two 
or three years until the infection of the plague 
seized him and his whole family, and carried 
them all to the grave. . . . His frames were sent 
to London for sale at slight rates." 
The finger of Providence was seen in these happenings, 
and the Commonwealth was said to be : 

" Able abundantly to serve itself and ultra with 
all commodities of knit work, as stockings, cal- 
ceoons,* waistcoats and many other things." 
The Knitters insisted on the advantage of their craft 
to the 

" merchants, owners of ships, hosiers, dyers, winders, 
throwsters, sizers, seamers, trimmers, wire drawers, 
needlemakers, smiths, joyners, turners, with many 
other assistants." 

They made apparent also the intimate connection of 
their trade with silk, saying : 

" That altho' this manufacture may be wrought in any 
other materials that are usually made up. . . . Yet has it 
chosen to be practised in Silk, the best and richest of all 
others in use and wearing, and most crediting the artisans 
and of greatest advantage unto his State and Common- 
wealth, yielding several payments to the use of the State 
before it passes out of the hands of the traders therein, 
and increasing merchandise by both the ways of importa- 
tion and exportation of the self-same material, imported 
raw at cheap rates, exported ready wrought at the utmost 
extent of value ; so that the distance of these valuations 
is totally clear gain to the Commonwealth, and esteemed 
Attitude upwards of six parts in seven of the whole quantity of 
of Home this material in the highest value thereof wrought up by 
Industry, this manufacture ; which has vindicated that old 
proverbial aspersion : 

" The stranger buys of the Englishman the case of 

* Calceooris canons, drawers. 



the Fox for a groat and sells him the tail again 

for a shilling. And may now invert and retort 

upon them. 
" The Englishman buys silk of the stranger for twenty 

marks and sells him the same again for one hundred 


The knitting business extended in districts outside A 
London, and was taken up in Kent and Surrey by master Company 
woolc6mbers when the Southern trade in worsted cloth estab- 
began to decline. These beginners, like the employers lished. 
in Nottingham and Leicester, employed cheaper labour 
than that of Spitalfields. The Framework Knitters Com- 
pany took toll of their provincial competitors, although 
in law their charter extended only for ten miles around 
London. Their Commissions made periodical visits into 
the country, and in Nottingham sat at the Feathers Tavern 
to admit apprentices, levy fines and confer freedoms. 
Certain of the Nottingham manufacturers began to employ 
parish apprentices, obtained from the workhouses, and 
Cartwright, Fellows and the two Coxes are particularly 
named by Henson as doing so. Payment of a fine of 
400, which was put upon Fellows, and one of 150 upon 
Cartwright, for their contumacy was resisted, whereupon 
the beadles of the Company seized and sold goods and 
frames in satisfaction of the claims. An action for trespass 
brought in 1728 by Cartwright established the fact that 
the Company was without due authority, and in 1730 
the Company abandoned making goods as a Stock Com- 
pany, for it was being hopelessly undersold by its inde- 
pendent rivals. 

New by-laws were sought and obtained, and it was 
against these that a Nottingham petition to Parliament 
protested, declaring them " against all reason and contrary 
to the general liberty of the subject, by the company 
levying taxes to assist them in their jurisdiction all over Petition 
the Kingdom, with power to search premises ; monopo- to 
lizing the lending of frames for hire ; and thus prejudicially Parlia- 
affecting and oppressing the trade." ment. 

The Select Committee of the House of Commons reported 
in 1753 : 


Report " The several persons employed in framework- 

of Select knitting in the town of Nottingham have fully 

Com- proved the allegations of their petition." 

mittee. In the end the Company was deprived of privileges that 
had not been wholly to the advantage of its own 

Contemporary evidence quoted by Deering is particularly 
to the point in respect of the moral influence of the 
privileges : 

" Nor did these large sums do the Company any 
Service as a Body, for as they got the Money 
illegally, so they spent it as lavishly, and instead 
of growing rich, the Company became very poor ; 
and many of their Heads having got a Taste of 
high Living and neglecting their Business, also 
dwindled to nothing. To which add, that within 
these thirty years last past, the Merchants and 
Hosiers in London, finding they could be fitted 
from the Country with as good Work at a cheaper 
Rate than the London Framework-Knitters could 
afford ; the Bulk of that Trade has since shifted 
from thence, and the chief Dependence they 
had left, was upon what is called Fashion- Work, 
it being for many years the Mode to wear 
Stockings of the same Colour of the Cloaths, and 
this also, being by Degrees left off, what remains 
now in London does hardly deserve the Name of 

Illicit Illicit practices assisted London to make effective corn- 

Weight- petition with Nottingham in the silk stocking trade, despite 
ing. the disparity in the cost of labour. Stockings were made 

heavy in the early 18th century, and Henson says that 
few weighed less than four ounces a pair. In other words 
the cost of material comprised a large proportion of the 
total cost. Besides being the primary silk market of the 
country and the place where most silk was dyed, London 
was also the mart for embezzled silk, abstracted in course 
of dyeing and obtainable covertly at less than market 
rates. By artificially increasing the weight of the silk 
entrusted to them by others, the dyers were able to 


cover the deficiency and to offer silk for sale at prices Illicit 
which counteracted the higher scale of wages paid in Weight- 
London. The Capital failed however to retain the trade, ing. 

First, the trade in worsted stockings was lost to London, 
and gradually the business in silk stockings. Between 
1732 and 1750 about 800 frames were sent from London 
to Nottingham to be bought at half their cost or less, 
and a similar number were sent to Leicester. To defeat 
London malpractices, Nottingham hosiers had begun to 
make stockings lighter in weight, so that the component 
raw material formed a smaller element in the total cost, 
and lighter frames began to be built for the purpose. 
Whether or not this was the first occasion on which an 
insidious competition has effected a revolution in public 
demand, it was assuredly not the last. The case is stated 
upon the authority of Henson, but seeing that the 
French were at this time making fine stockings of light 
weight and supplying them to the English market, it 
may be suspected that fashion and example had also an 
influence in assisting the change. 

When Joseph Stocks, a Nottingham workman, succeeded 
in making stockings not weighing over If 02. a pair upon 
a 28-gauge frame, he was acclaimed the best workman in 
the trade. A challenge was issued to the Lyons knitters, 
and for a wager Stocks was set to produce a pair of 
stockings finer than the French. A 38-gauge frame was 
used for the occasion, the machine was ordered to 
undergo a " thorough recruit," the best organzine was 
procured specially from Italy, and an expert silk sizer 
was obtained from London to ensure the best possible 
result, but the award of the assessors went against Stocks, 
and in favour of the French. The attempt showed at Decay 
least the intention to excel, and the result gave some of 
justification for a preference for French hose that became London 
more marked later. Industry, 

The decay of the London industry proved of benefit 
to ten provincial towns, named by Deering in the following 
order : 






Mount Sorrell. 
Hinckley, &c. 

Northamptonshire . 

Deering's book is dated 1751, and his reference to 
Nottingham's great rival in the hosiery trade attests a 
state of local feeling which is not without existence at 
the present day: 

" Of all these none comes in Competition with Leicester 
for Quantity of Goods, but even this very Town, though it 
may boast of its large Concerns, yet must confess that 
its best Goods are made at Nottingham, where by far 
the greatest part richest and most valuable commodity, 
whether of Silk, Cotton, Thread and Worsted is wrought, 
and it seems this so profitable Employment, as it were 
by a magnetical Force, is in the Height of its improved 
State, drawn towards the Place of its Birth, in order to 
make ample Amends for deserting it in its Infancy. . . ." 

Henson gives 1730 as the date of the completion of the 
first pair of cotton stockings made in England, and names 
the workman Draper, of Bellar Gate, Nottingham, as 
their maker. The material was East Indian hand spun 
yarn, and it is added that a 20-gauge silk frame was used 
to knit them. Four threads were doubled to make the 
leg, and five for the heel and the finished article, on account 
of its whiteness after bleaching, was more valuable than 
silk in the eyes of the time. Cotton came gradually into 
use in Nottingham, ousting silk in large measure, and 
serving to extend the range of local manufactures. 
Deering has left an account of the extent of the industry 
at a date when the local trade consisted of little more than 
Netting- stocking-making : 

ham ( There are, as per list, fifty Manufacturers, Employers 

Pioneers, of Frames, or as they are commonly called Putters-out, 

who all Trade directly to London, besides those who only 

deal with Leicester. Both together occupy above 3,000 

Plate XXIV. A Modern Knitting Frame (Cotton's System). 


frames, of which upwards of 1,200 are employ'd in Not- 
tingham, and the rest in the villages about, who buy their 
Provisions and other Necessaries in this Town." 

The larger development of the lace trade came later, Begin- 
but that the making of bonelace preceded the stocking- ning of 
frame is shown by Deering's explicit statement on the Bone 
subject : Lace 

" The Bone-Lace Trade, by which great Numbers of Trade. 
Females were constantly employ'd till within these 35 years 
when all these Hands were more advantageously taken up 
by a fresh Manufacture, which has ever since comfortably 
maintained, besides these Females, above thrice their 
Number of Men ; I mean the Manufacture of Frame- 
worked Stockings." 

The machine lace trade sprang out of the framework- 
knitting trade, and the invention of the tuck-presser, 
the first appliance permitting the execution of fancy 
patterns upon Lee's knitting frame, marks one step in the 
evolution. This invention for allowing two or three loops 
to be made upon one needle, was invented elsewhere, 
and is said by Felkin to have been introduced into 
Nottingham by an Irishman between 1740-56. Ribs, 
zigzags, and lozenge patterns in different colours could 
be formed by its aid, and the improvement known as the 
Derby rib, patented by Jedediah Strutt in 1758-59, 
which lent a new elasticity to hose, directly and indirectly 
promoted the use of cotton ; but there were numerous 
efforts then being made for the utilisation of silk. 
Enterprise was in evidence at the period, and Blackner 
records an unsuccessful attempt to produce velvet on 
the stocking-frame. In 1767 Ross and Darrella, who 
worked in Nottingham, as well as in Edmonton and 
London, produced silk velvet by this means, but the 
enterprise failed because the pile of the fabric was Efforts 
loose. Mr. Godfrey's Notes on the Parish Register of to 
St. Mary's, Nottingham, show that in 1765 " scarves of extend 
the finest China silk, a new material, made in the stocking use of 
frame, were given in place of the usual scarves to the Silk, 
pall-bearers at the funeral of Alderman Samuel Fellows," 
who with his father had carried on silk manufacture for 


Silk upwards of seventy years. In the election of 1778, when 

Glove Mr. Abel Smith was returned without opposition, Felkin 

Trade. says that members of the Stocking-makers Association 

for Mutual Protection marched in procession before his 

chair, which had been " gaily ornamented with the newly 

invented silk lace." 

Spanish silk gloves, made at Cordova, began to be 
imitated in England about the middle of the 18th century, 
principally in Nottingham, and Henson tells of the 
manufacture of silk mitts figured with roses, leaves and 
branches wrought in eyelet-holes by hand. The work 
seems to have been a lucrative occupation. Workers 
could make more than two pairs a day, and were 
paid frequently 5s. a pair, or as much as 6s. for black mitts. 
These payments for fancy work stand in contrast with 
those that made " poor as a stockinger " a synonym 
for extreme poverty. 

The efforts of the last half of the century were, perhaps, 
spurred by the preference for foreign goods, a preference 
marked enough to prompt the passing of an Act under 
George III to protect the home manufacture by a pro- 
hibition upon imports : 

" Any person importing foreign silk stockings, mitts, 
or gloves after the 1st of June, 1765, into any part 
of the British dominion, to forfeit such goods. 
Any person importing, aiding and abetting, or 
any retailer who shall sell or expose for sale, 
shall over and above the forfeiture of such goods 
pay 200 and costs of suit." 

A reflection upon the efficacy of the prohibition may 
be read into Henson's statement that " For more than 
twenty years after the passing of the Act, the workmen 
were instructed to work in eyelet-holes in the mitts of the 
stockings the word Paris." 

Stress of Discontent with the rewards of the industry at this 

Competi- period is shown in an enactment of 1765-66, and known 

tion. as the Tewkesbury Act. Nottinghamshire is one of the 

counties producing long-woolled sheep, and the domestic 

spinsters being accustomed only to spin very long wool 

were unable to accommodate themselves to so short a 


fibre as cotton. Tewkesbury spinsters, accustomed to Pro- 
spin the short Spanish merino wools used in the West of tection 
England woollen trade, could spin cotton, and by knitting for 
two-fold homespun cotton yarn, where Nottingham had Notting- 
to buy Indian yarn and fold it three, four, or five times, ham 
the Tewkesbury knitters made an economy of 25 per cent. Trade. 
Accordingly, this Act for the protection of Nottingham 
trade prescribed that : 

<0 Framework-knitted pieces, or stockings made of 
thread, cotton, worsted, or yarn, or any mixture 
of the said materials, except made of silk only, 
which shall contain Three or more Threads, shall 
be marked with the same number of eyelet-holes 
in one direct line, in the same course, so as they 
shall not exceed three inches from the extreme 
eyelet-holes and shall not be placed within four 
inches of any title figure, mesh or device, and 
shall be within four inches of the top or end of 
every such piece or pair of such goods. No eyelet- 
hole, or imitation thereof, shall be made except 
as aforesaid. 

" The Act not to prevent manufacturers using rem- 
nants in welts and tops of stockings, only not to 
exceed three inches, although such remnants should 
not contain three or more threads." 
The enactment was made of small practical account 
by the innovation of factory-spun cotton yarn within 
a few years of its passage, and a weakness in it which 
moved Henson to scorn, is only of philosophical interest. 
It would appear that, while punishing those who 
marked stockings falsely when the goods were knitted 
with three-fold threads, it was inoperative against those 
who might have misdescribed goods made only with 
two-fold yarn. The lameness of the result was doubtless 
the effect of Gloucestershire opposition to this particular 

It has been seen that bonelace, made by hand upon The 
a lacemaker's pillow with the aid of bone bobbins to Manufac- 
carry the thread, was made in Nottingham before the ture of 
introduction of framework-knitting ; and that successive Machine 




The steps towards the production of lace-like fabrics had been 

Manufac- taken. According to Henson, whose authority was some- 
ture of what disputed by the later writer Felkin, it was in 1769, 
Machine that the first machine lace was made in the town, and 
Lace. this valuable departure was due to one of the less estimable 
of townsmen. Hammond, " a person of drunken habits," 
matched with an intemperate wife, was without money 
in a public-house in the New Buildings. His eye fell 
upon the cap worn by his wife, which had a " broad lace 
border 'and a caul of the same fabric." He was seized 
with the idea that he could make cauls or nets of the same 
sort upon the machine at his home in the Rookery. 
Borrowing a small quantity of silk, he went to work at 
once, produced three caps before night, and hawked them 
in the public-houses. The net was made on the so-called 
tickler machine in a cross stitch formed by removing the 
thread from one needle to the second next needle, so that 
in one course the shift was towards the right hand, and in 
the next course towards the left. This plain, " wire 
ground lace " was followed with a double cross stitch 
called pretentiously by Hammond " Valenciennes." Making 
caps by day and selling them and drinking by night, the 
original lace manufacturer is said to have passed several 
years of his life. Henson adds that of the more ornamental 
caps sold upon these hawking expeditions some were 
hand-made, and in those parts where ornament was to be 
used the fabric was made in the same stitch as plain 

A Period The " pin machine," invented by Else and Harvey of 
of Inven- London, for making point net, was introduced into Not- 
tion. tingham soon afterwards, and the transference of one 

of these machines to France in 1785-6, where the design 
was improved, gave the French their predominance 
in the manufacture of tulle. A Mr. Ingham is named 
by Blackner as the first to introduce warp lace machinery 
into Nottingham, but his venture only lasted three years. 
William Dawson, a needlemaker, who set up a factory 
to make similar lace in Turncalf Alley, removed his 
machinery to Islington in 1800, and his Nottingham 
premises were converted into a silk-mill. It was by the 

Plate XXV. Leaver's Lace Machine, making lace 260 inches wide. 


use of two sets of threads warp, or beam, and weft, or A Period 
bobbin that John Heathcoat eventually re-solved the of Inven- 
problem of making hexagonal net by machine. Although tion. 
Heathcoat was a Leicestershire man, and the course of 
events drove him to Devonshire to carry on his work, there 
is a sense in which his was a Nottingham invention. 
After learning his trade under William Shepherd, a maker 
of frames and Derby rib stockings at Long Whatton, 
Heathcoat came to Nottingham to work under Leonard 
Elliott, whose business of a frame smith he purchased. 
After carrying on the business for a while in Nottingham, 
he removed it to Hathern, in Leicestershire, and subse- 
quently to Loughborough. In the latter place he was 
joined in partnership in 1809 by Charles Lacy, a point 
net manufacturer from Nottingham, and in this year 
the machine, which by common admission was the most 
complex as yet made, was patented. Nottingham was 
Heathcoat's market place for the goods first made in 
Loughborough and later in Tiverton, and the town is 
still the seat of the warehouse of his firm. Again, Not- 
tingham was the town in which Heathcoat's invention 
had most effect upon others in stimulating the improve- 
ment of lace machines. It is related in McCulloch's 
Dictionary that upon the lapse of Heathcoat's patent in 
1822-23, "Clergymen, lawyers, doctors and others readily 
embarked capital upon so tempting a speculation." 

When Dr. Ure published his Dictionary of the Arts and 
Manufacture in 1839, there were six types of lace machines 
in use in Nottingham : 

(1) Heathcoat's patent. 

(2) Brown's traverse warp. 

(3) Morley's straight bolt, invented in 1811 by a 

Derby man who came to Nottingham to exploit 
his invention. 

(4) Clark's pusher principle, invented in 1811 by 

Samuel Mart and James Clark, of Nottingham. Types 

(5) Leaver's machine. of Lace 

(6) Morley's circular bolt, invented in 1812. Machines 
The Leaver's machine (now variously spelt Lever's and 

Leiver's) is said by some to have been invented almost con- 


Types temporaneously with Morley's circular machine (1812), and 
of Lace to have been made conjointly by John Leavers and one 
Machines. Turton, both of New Radford, Nottingham. Doubt is 
thrown by Felkin upon the share of Turton in the inven- 
tion, and Levers is described as a frame smith originally 
of Sutton-in-Ashfield, and later of Nottingham. Felkin 
was at pains to show that Levers was improvident and 
had the convivial inclinations of genius, but the fact that 
the typical Nottingham lace machine is called Levers 
to this day may be accepted as sufficient proof of his 
originality and ability. 

These years are important as the initial period during 
which the Nottingham lace machine was evolved. This 
started the industry of the town upon a new course, much 
to the local advantage, but in a direction leading rather 
to the consumption of silk than of cotton. 

A considerable consumption of silk is recorded in 
the early years of the last century, and of its sources 
Blackner (writing in 1812) says : 

" The silk of which Nottingham lace is made is 

brought in an organzined state from Italy ; while 

that of which stockings are made is brought 

principally from China and the East Indies ; the 

latter from its size and softness, being the best 

calculated for stockings, while, for the same 

properties it is not calculated for lace. 

" The silk of which black stockings are generally 

made is known amongst the workmen by the 

name of Novi ; hence many of them conclude it 

to be Italian silk the mistake arises from its 

being reeled after the Novi manner." 

Great attention to the statistics of production was 

paid by Felkin, the historian of the hosiery industry, 

who in evidence before the Select Committee on Machinery 

Silk in in 1841, specified " stockings and netted articles of cotton 

the early and silk " as the principal manufactures of the town. 

19th In 1843 he estimated the number of bobbin-net machines 

Century, in England at 3,200, of which 2,600 (1,400 power and 

1,200 hand) were calculated to be in work. About 2,000 

of the machines were assigned to Nottingham and the 


neighbourhood, and the rest to Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Statistics 
and the West of England and the Isle of Wight. The of Pro- 
machines were supposed in 1842 to use 125,000$s. of raw duction. 
silk (equalling 100,OOOZfe. prepared) and l,400,OOOZfe. of 
spun Sea Island cotton. The value of silk net produced 
was placed at 200,000, being twice the value of the 
prepared silk entering into it. The separate warp lace 
trade with 800 machines was calculated to consume 
30,OOOZfe. of prepared silk and 450,OOOZfo. of spun cotton. 
The produce of this smaller branch, being some 150,000 
in silk lace and 200,000 in cotton lace, was said to be 
entirely disposed of through about 15 Nottingham business 

In 1850 two manufacturers of hosiery were singled out 
in Slater's Directory as specifically concerned* with silk, 
John Henson, of Hyson Green, and H. Ray and Co. The 
name of William Clarke, New Radford, was given as that 
of a manufacturer of silk fringe, gimp and braid, which 
articles belong rather to Derby industry. Four silk 
throwsters names were given, namely : 

G. Allcock, Upper Parliament Street. 

Bean and Johnson, Clinton Street. 

Francis B. Gill and Co., Houndsgate. 

Walsh and Windley, Currant Street. 
These were followed by the names of five silk merchants : 

William Baker, 6, King's Place. 

Bean and Johnson, Clinton Street. 

F. B. Gill and Co., Houndsgate. 
Alfred Hoyles, Castle Gate. 

G. N. Walsh, 23, Smith Parade. 

While the trade in lace was developing, that in silk Changed 
hose was suffering from the change in habits of dress. Habits of 
The case was stated concisely by a member of the firm Dress, 
of I. and R. Morley before the Factory Committee of 

rc In men's dress the advent of trousers and boots, 
especially of a kind of boot sold with stockings sewn in ; 
and in ladies' dress the boot and the vogue of the trained 
dress " were said to have militated against the trade in 
silk stockings. No reversion to knee-breeches and silk 


Changed stockings for men has occurred since that time, and for 

Habits of both sexes these articles have been relegated chiefly to 

Dress. evening wear. The opportunities for their sale have 

been vitally affected by the liberal developments in cotton 

spinning and finishing, by the introduction of immense 

quantities of Australian wool suited for making the finest 

cashmere hose, and by the progress made in converting 

this wool into yarns of flawless regularity." 

In 1860, when a memorandum was drawn up by the 
Nottingham Chamber of Commerce in view of the proposed 
commercial treaty with France, the delegates enumerated 
cotton, silk, spun silk and merino as the four materials 
chiefly used in the Midlands hosiery industry. The 
machines employed were of four types hand, rotary, 
circular and warp, and about 5,000 kinds of articles were 
made upon them. It was stated that there had been 
about 7,000 silk frames in the trade when waistcoats, small 
clothes, gloves and stockings made of silk hosiery were 
worn. In 1812 there were computed to be 2,156 silk 
frames and in 1833, 3,000. 
In 1844 there were 

856 hose and 698 glove frames working silk in Derby- 

687 hose and 1,407 glove frames working silk in 

With 223 frames elsewhere, 
making a total of 3,773. 

The Memorandum added that the number of silk frames 
in Nottinghamshire had been rapidly declining during the 
decade 18501860. 

Lace in A Report upon the Exhibition of 1862 by Mr. Richard 
the Birkin supplies information upon the developments in 

'Fifties. lace-making during the middle of the last century. The 
Report points out that in 1851 the Jacquard had only 
been partially applied to the fancy lace machine, but had 
since been wholly applied to it. Most marked advance 
since 1851 was reported in making window curtains, bed- 
covers and antimacassars. Of 3,552 lace machines of all 
types stated to be working in England in 1862 the value 
was 400 800 each, and the distribution was: 


2,448 Nottingham and vicinity, Lace in 

505 Derby and County, the 

599 Tiverton and other West of England towns. 'Fifties. 
The gradual decline of plain silk nets and quillings during 
the ten years was commented upon, together with the 
slow but sure advance of silk Cambrais, Brussels and 
Mechlin nets and " Queen's " quillings. " A great variety 
of a very light description of silk fancy nets of a useful 
and elegant character " made their appearance during 
this period. 

The more recent change in habits of dress whereby 
knitted underwear has supplanted flannel has affected 
wool more than silk, and in Nottingham at the present 
day the manufacture of knitted silk articles is mainly 
in the hands of two firms. The demands upon them 
are rather increasing than diminishing, but considerations 
of comparative cost limit the dimensions of the trade. 
Black silk socks are made for evening wear for men and 
coloured stockings for the evening dress of women. The 
"Mode to wear Stockings of the same Colour of the Cloaths" 
to repeat Deering's quaint words exhibits itself still, 
and one of the principal Nottingham firms finds its regular 
assortment of 70 shades of coloured silk insufficient to 
satisfy all the demands made upon it by fastidious ladies. 
Organzine silk, thrown in England, is employed for these 
stockings. For underwear, use is made of English spun 
silk for the better qualities and Continental schappe silk 
for the cheaper sorts. Makers of the higher classes of wool 
underwear manufacture garments in which fine wool is 
mixed with silk ; a thread of single spun silk and one 
of botany wool being doubled together to form the yarn, 
and this incidental consumption is to be added to the rest. 
Silk articles are knitted chiefly in factories outside 
the town, and are returned to the Nottingham warehouse 
to be finished by a simple process of damping, ironing and 
drying in ovens before being parcelled. " Chevening," Modern 
or the hand-sewing of clocks and ornamentation upon Influ- 
stockings is done in the warehouses instead of by out- ences. 
workers, as formerly, and so is the hand-painting of 
coloured stockings for evening dress. 



Modern The manufacture of miscellaneous articles from coloured 
Influ- silk varies with the demands of fashion. Neckties for 
ences. men are made more in Macclesfield than Nottingham, but 
heavy spun silk boleros are turned out from Nottingham 
factories. Silk is used regularly by knitting manu- 
facturers at Belper, Mansfield and Cromford, and by 
makers of scarves and of Milanese for gloves at Ilkeston 
and Melbourne, all of which places belong by affiliation 
to Nottingham trade. 

For half a century Mansfield, near Nottingham, was 
one of the seats of the waste silk spinning trade. The 
firm of William Hollins and Co., Ltd., spinners of merino, 
cashmere and cotton yarns and manufacturers of Viyella 
fabrics, began silk spinning in 1852, and continued the 
department until 1900, when this branch of the business 
was sold to the Bent Ley Silk Mills Co., Ltd., of Meltham, 

Artificial silk is used in increasing quantity for veilings, 
and although it has been introduced into hosiery upon a 
background of cotton or wool, the results have hardly 
justified its employment in articles intended to withstand 
washing. Silk plain nets made mainly in Tiverton, 
Barnstaple, Chard and the West of England form a con- 
stant, although not a large part of Nottingham trade, 
and are sent to Long Eaton and Stapleford to be finished. 
Silk fancy laces, which are a staple of Calais trade, are a 
subsidiary branch of Nottingham industry, but have not 
been made in any quantities since the decay of the demand 
for Chantilly black lace. The fancy lace trade is peculiarly 
exposed to the caprice of fashion, and Nottingham manu- 
facturers in general are not anxious that business in 
silk lace should be revived. The loss in producing designs 
which fail to win acceptance is considerable when the 
lost material is only cotton and is proportionately greater 
in the case of silk. Again, the trouble of dealing in two 
Silk materials, as against that of handling one, causes silk 

Lace to be eyed with disfavour by manufacturers, whose chief 

Trade. concern is with cotton. On the other hand, it is reported 
that large profits have been made out of silk lace-making 
during its brief appearances in public favour. 



Wright's Nottingham Directory for 1913 gives the Recent 
names of 237 firms of lace manufacturers and 105 firms Trade 
of holders of lace machines. The machines are erected tenden- 
in large factories containing numbers of tenants, and in cies. 
the main the names of holders are duplicated in the longer 
list. The manufacturers who are not machine owners 
buy lace and curtains " in the brown," or unbleached 
condition, and sell the article in the finished state. There 
are 63 frames of hosiery manufacturers and nine of surgical 
hosiers, whose business, involving the consumpton of fine 
organzine silk, is a particular Nottingham speciality. 
Seven firms are named as cotton and silk doublers, ten as 
silk agents and merchants, and two as silk throwsters 
and winders. Silk throwing is largely given to commission 
throwsters in Macclesfield, and is no longer a distinctive 
local employment, although there are throwing machines 
at work. 

The development of the industry in the outer districts, 
as shewn in local directories, is displayed in the following 
list : 

Beeston Lace Manufacturers and Machine 

Holders 24 

Hosiery Manufacturer . . . . 1 

Burton Joyce Bag Hosiers* . . . . 4 

Carlton Hosiers . . . . . . . . 2 

Arnold Hosiers . . . . . . . , 5 

Bag Hosiers . . . . . . 8 

Ilkeston Silk Manufacturers . . . . 2 

Hosiery Manufacturers . . . . 6 

Melbourne Silk Manufacturers . . . . 2 

Belper Hosiery Manufacturers . . . . 4 

Matlock Hosiery . . . . . . . . 4 Industry 

The machine-made lace trade is so essentially a Nottingham in the 
business that the general figures ascertained for England Outer 
and Wales under the Census of Production, 1907, acquire Districts. 

* Bag Hosier hosier getting his work done upon commission. An embittered reference 
to these traders in the Stocking Makers' Monitor, 15 November, 1817, reads : "A Bag, or 
rather shall I say, a Rag hosier to furnish them with cut-ups and square heels and a long 
train of trade-destroying rubbish at a price lower than the lowest." The same journal, in 
another place, coupled " mercenary cheap dealers and Bag Hosiers." The antagonism 
is presumably to be explained by the conflict of interest between an employer wanting his 
work done cheaply and operatives urgent for a higher scale of payment. 


The a strong local significance. These figures shew a pro- 

Present duction of " Silk Net and Lace and Articles thereof," 
Extent valued 442,000, out of a total 4,886,000, for lace goods 
of the of all kinds. The costs for finishing and of commission 
Notting- being added, the gross output from lace factories 
ham and warehouses becomes 8,955,000, and of this it will be 

Industry, seen that silk lace accounts for less than five per cent. 

For similar reasons the general import and export trade 
returns apply with strong force to Nottingham, and 
these reveal silk in a much lower place of importance 
than cotton. Thus the imports of silk lace and articles 
thereof (except embroidery) were : 

1910. 1911. 1912. 

112,000 146,000 103,000 

against the following in the case of cotton : 

1910. 1911. 1912. 

2,542,000 2,539,500 2,454,000 
The exports of British-made silk lace were : 

1910. 1911. 1912. 

15,000 11,500 9,000 

and of re-exported foreign-made silk lace : 

1910. 1911. 1912. 

178,000 157,500 138,500 

Against the following in cotton : 

1910. 1911. 1912. 

Exports . . 4,244,000 3,936,000 4,095,000 
Re-exports . .1,353,000 1,196,000 1,192,000 

The sources of the foreign laces chiefly dealt in were 
given by a Nottingham witness to Mr. Chamberlain's 
Tariff Commission as : 

Calais. St. Gall. Vienna. Lyons. 

Caudry. Barmen. Turin. Dresden. 

Plauen. Leipzig. 

Mention was made in particular of Lever's laces made 

Sources in France, Schiffli embroidery from Plauen and hand 

of embroidery from St. Gall. On the other hand, it has to 

Foreign be noted that the cotton net upon which Plauen lace is 

Laces. stitched is manufactured in and exported from Nottingham. 

The general manufactures of the Nottingham lace factories 

may be summarily stated as : 


Curtains. Plain Nets. Fancy Laces. Notting- 

Spotted Nets. Fine. Common. Heavy, ham 

The lower rates of wages paid upon the Continent Industry 
preclude Nottingham firms from employing machinery To-day, 
of the Continental type more largely, but there are at 
work a considerable number of Swiss embroidery machines 
in addition to the curtain, Levers and plain net machines 
native to the district. 

The town has large supplies of female workers, 
familiarised from their early years with factory organisation 
and the execution of light tasks requiring concentration 
of mind and deftness of hand. It is accordingly a favour- 
able place for the development of industries employing 
the sewing-machine and the making-up of woven garments, 
and under-garments has become an important branch of 
the local business. As in Macclesfield and Coventry, 
the silks used in Nottingham clothing factories are chiefly 
of Japanese and Continental make. 


First Negative evidence favours the idea that the stocking 

con- trade gave Derby its first association with silk, for no 

nection direct mention of silk manufacture can be discovered 
with before the date of Lee's invention of the stocking-frame. 

Silk. There are ancient connections with the growing, stapling, 

and manufacturing of wool, and in 1204 the inhabitants 
of Derby received from King John a monopoly of the 
cloth-dyeing trade within a certain radius of the town. 
Glover's History and Gazetteer, published in 1831, makes 
record of the fact that silk became the principal textile 
material in local use soon after the invention of the frame, 
and the date may be suggested by a reminder that it was 
in 1589 that Lee completed his first stocking-frame in the 
adjoining county of Nottingham, and 1598 before he 
perfected a machine to knit silk. " In process of time 
the machine found its way into Derby," writes Button, 
without committing himself to a definite date. Felkin, 
the historian of the hosiery trade, records the existence 
of two master hosiers in Nottinghamshire in 1641, and 
hosiers were perhaps not much more numerous in Derby- 
shire at that time, although in 1720 there were about 
150 frames in Derby. The information is an inference 
drawn from Hutton's statement, published in his History 
(1791), that there had been no increase in number during 
the previous seventy years. 

The Derby stocking trade might have grown greater 
in the early 18th century had not a development occurred 
which was prophesied to make " the Hosiery stagnate." 
Hutton adds that the event verified the prediction, and 


Plate XXVI. Lombe's Mill, Derby. The first Silk Mill erected 

in England, 1717. 



allows that " perhaps the loss was of no consequence, Market 
for the journeyman rather starves than lives." The for Silk 
event was the establishment of the silk-throwing factory Thread, 
that has indissolubly linked Derby with the history of 
silk in England. Derby was a market for silk thread 
used in making silk stockings, and it may be that this 
local consumption of silk, principally Italian in its origin, 
imbued Crotchet with his notion that there was " a fine 
opening to raise a fortune " by throwing raw silk by 
machinery at home. Crotchet accordingly erected in 1702 
a small silk-mill, which later acquired the name of the 
" Old Shop/' and was used for throwing shoot during 
part of the time that its great successor was employed 
in making organzine. Hutton says " every prospect of 
the future undertaking was favourable till the scheme 
was put in practice, when the bright ideas died away. 
Three engines were found necessary for the whole process ; 
he had but one. An untoward trade is a dreadful sink 
for money ; and an imprudent tradesman is one more 
dreadful. . . . Crotchet soon became insolvent." 

It was Crotchet who introduced John Lombe to Derby. 
John Lombe, whom Hutton calls " a man of spirit, a 
good draughtsman and an excellent mechanic," and who 
was described in a House of Commons speech as one 
" whose head is extremely well turned for the mechanics," 
was born in Norwich, where his father was a worsted 
weaver. He came, at what must have been a tender age, 
as apprentice to Crotchet, to whose care he was confided 
by his father's executors. As John Lombe died in 1722, 
at an age reported to be 29, he would be nine years old 
when Crotchet began business. The venture being short- 
lived, Lombe could not have been far advanced in years 
when Crotchet's failure deprived him of a situation. 
With money advanced by his half-brother Thomas, then 
a rising mercer in London, John made his way to Piedmont, 
to profit by observation of those particulars in which 
Crotchet's practice had been found lacking. 

In 1716 John was back in London with all the informa- Lombe's 
tion he desired and a couple of Italian workmen to help Venture, 
him in the execution of his scheme. Report has made 



Lombe's free with the means taken by the younger Lombe to 
Venture, attain his ends. " He adopted the usual mode," according 
to Hutton in corrupting the servants of his Italian 
employer to give private access to the machine, details 
of which he meant to possess himself of. " Whatever part 
he became master of, he committed to paper before he 
slept," says the chronicler, who as a boy worked in the 
Derby mill. " By perseverance and bribery, he acquired 
the whole, when the plot was discovered, and he fled," 
and found sanctuary on an English ship. The story goes 
that the King of Sardinia was so incensed at the incident 
that he made it death for any man to discover the invention 
or attempt to carry it out of the dominion. There are 
other accounts in which the youthful Lombe is credited 
with more cunning and duplicity, and in which he is made 
to attain his ends by collusion with the Italian priesthood. 
If the stratagems were actually taken they were super- 
fluous in view of the fact that a complete description of 
the Italian method of silk-throwing, accompanied by 
drawings, had been given by V. Zonca in his Novo Teatro 
di Machine, published in Padua in 1607, and issued in 
further editions in 1620 and 1686. There might be a 
natural desire to supplement the printed information by 
close inspection of the machine at work ; and especially 
to bring away workmen accustomed to the process. The 
necessity of measuring and noting details must, however, 
have been reduced, and as Lombe is reported to have 
stayed several years in Italy, it would be a poor com- 
pliment to suppose him unacquainted with a manifestly 
valued and somewhat widely circulated book bearing so 
closely upon his main object in life. 

Thomas Lombe, the capitalist of the venture, and owner 

of the patent, had his mercery business in London, where 

Reason there was then in operation an established frame-knitting 

for trade consuming silk, as well as the older weaving trade. 

starting If the idea of starting their machine in London in opposi- 

at tion to the established hand-throwsters occurred to the 

Derby. Lombes, it was dismissed. Hutton says they " fixed upon 

Derby as a proper place .... because the town was 

likely to supply a sufficient number of hands and the able 



stream with a constant supply of water." Mr. Davison, Reason 

in his Rise and Progress of Derby (1906), says Lombe for 

" preferred swift Derwent to sluggish Trent for water starting 

power." Nottingham mills at a much later period had at 

to be driven by horse power, and over half a century later Derby. 

Arkwright removed to Derbyshire to avail himself of the 

river. It is at least probable that the Lombes, as well 

as Crotchet, had their eyes on the stocking market and 

on the transference, then in progress, of the hosiery 

industry from London to the Midlands. The local weaving 

trade had not begun, and the consumption of silk in such 

businesses as the button-working trade carried on around 

Macclesfield could not constitute more than a minor 

attraction. Lombe agreed with the Corporation of Derby 

for the lease of an island swamp in the river, paying 8 

a year ground rent for a strip 500 feet by 52 feet, and 

built upon it the mill that was the wonder of its age and 

the first forerunner of the modern factory system. " The 

first English factory in the modern sense," is the 

description given to it by Mr. Taylor, late Inspector 

of Factories, in his standard work, The Modern Factory 


The mill had eight rooms and 468 windows. Its 
foundations were composed of sixteen or twenty-foot 
piles, with stone above them, and its cost is stated as 
30,000. Three or four years were occupied in its con- 
struction, and during that time John Lombe was carrying 
on his new business in rooms in different parts of the 
town, and largely in the Town Hall. Sir Thomas Lombe, 
to give him the title that was the reward of his enterprise 
and public services, left 120,000 at his death, and is said 
to have made 80,000 during the currency of the patent 
granted for fourteen years in 1718. Hutton would make 
the first years proportionately even more profitable than 
the later ones. After reducing the prices to a level at Profits 
which the Italians could not compete, " the over-flowings of the 
of profit were so very considerable as to enable him to enter- 
pay for the grand machine as the work went on." The prise, 
machinery was under John Lombe's eye during con- 
struction. The equally important matter of the supply 


The of power had the engineering supervision of Soracole, of 

impres- whom Defoe, in the Northern Tour, tells a diverting tale, 
sions of The mill was still new at the time of the great man's visit, 
Defoe. of which there follows his account : 

" Here is a Curiosity in Trade worth observing as 
being the only one of its kind in England, namely 
a Throwster's Mill worked by a Wheel turned by 
Water, and though it cannot perform the Doubling 
Part of a Throwster's Work, which can only be 
done by a Hand- wheel ; yet it turns the other 
Work and is equal to the Labour of many hands. 
Whether it answers the Expence or not, is not my 
Business to enquire. 

" This work, afterwards much improved by Sir Thomas 
Loam, was first erected by one Soracole, a Man 
expert in making Mill work, especially for raising 
Water to supply Towns for Family Use. But it 
had been like to have been fatal to him ; for going 
to show some Gentlemen the Curiosity, as he called 
it, of his Mill, as he crossed the Planks which lay 
just above the Millwheel, being too eager in his 
Description and keeping his Eye rather upon what 
he pointed at with his Finger than where he 
placed his Feet, he mist his Step and slipt into 
the River. He was so very close to the Sluice 
which let the Water out upon the Wheel, and 
which was then pulled up, that though Help was 
just at hand, there was no taking hold of him 
till by the Force of the Water he was carried 
through, pushed just under the large Wheel, 
which was then going round at a great Rate. 
The Body being thus forced in between two of 
the plashers of the Wheel, stopt the Motion of it 
for a little while, till the Water pushing hard to 
force its Way, the Plasher beyond him gave way 
The and broke ; upon which the Wheel went again, 

Mill and like Jonah's Whale spewed him out, not upon 

described. dry Land, but upon that Part they call the Apron, 

and so to the Mill-tail, where he was taken up and 
received no Hurt at all." 



Not all contemporary accounts of the equipment of An 
the mill can be accepted without question, and one which imagina- 
stirred Hutton's contemptuous contradiction has been tive 
quoted somewhat widely without qualification : writer. 

" One hand will twist as much Silk as before could 
be done by 50, and that in a truer and better 
Manner : this Engine contains 26,586 wheels and 
97,746 Movements, which work 73,726 Yards of 
Silk Thread every time the Water Wheel goes 
round, which is three Times in one Minute, and 
318,504,960 yards in one Day and Night. One 
Water Wheel gives motion to all the rest of the 
Wheels and Movements, of which any one may be 
stopped separately. One Fire-engine likewise con- 
veys warm air to every individual part of the 
Machine, and the whole Work is governed by one 
Regulator. The House which contains this engine 
is of a vast bulk of five or six Stories high." 
" Had the Author made the number of his wheels 
10,000 less he would have been nearer the mark," writes 
Hutton- adding in bitter remembrance of his own servi- 
tude " or if he had paid an unremitting attendance for 
seven years, he might have found their number 13,384." 
The spirit of exaggeration is corrected further by an 
assurance that the wheel revolved not thrice, but " about 
twice " in a minute ; and that the " superb fire-engine " 
was in actuality " a common stove, which warmed one 
corner of the large building and left the others to starve." 
To Hutton the mill was " a curious but wretched place," 
in which he spent the most unhappy part of his life. 
Temperamentally he may have been less fitted to endure 
than some of his fellows, but the arrangements for his 
performance of duty and the correction of his mistakes 
cannot now be defended. He says : 

" Low as the engines were, I was too short to reach The 
them. To remedy this defect a pair of high Account 
pattens were fabricated and lashed to my feet, by 
which I dragged after me till time lengthened my Hutton. 
stature. The confinement and the labour were 
no burden, but the severity was intolerable." 



Death Children who did wrong were hoisted for corporal 

of punishment upon the back of Bryan Barker, a giant 

John " approaching seven feet/' They were punished for 

Lombe. making much waste, a thing that from " the fineness 

of the materials, the ravelled state of the slips and the 

bobbins " and childish imprudences was difficult to 

avoid. The raw silk was from Persia, Canton and 

Piedmont, and included perfectly white China sorts, and 

it passed from one machine to another, first to be wound, 

next to be twisted and then to be doubled. 

John Lombe did not live to enjoy long the prosperity 
his efforts had produced, and his death is attributed 
traditionally to the craft and vengeance of the Southerners, 
whom he had despoiled of their market. Button's version 
of the illness and death has not commanded unquestioning 
belief, and, like the story of the young man's Italian 
adventure, that of his illness is not very different from 
the one that neighbours with a taste for romance might 
have fabricated for themselves. " An artful woman came 
over in the character of a friend associated with the parties 
and assisted in the business. She attempted to gain 
both the Italians, and succeeded with one. By these 
two, slow poison was supposed, and perhaps justly, to be 
administered to John Lombe, who lingered two or three 
years in agonies and departed." The colour of justifica- 
tion apparent in the recital is that " the Italian ran away 
to his own country, and Madam was interrogated, but 
nothing transpired except what strengthened suspicion." 
By whom Madam was interrogated is not, however, stated. 
John Lombe had become a man of mark, and was accorded 
the " most superb funeral ever known in Derby." John 
was succeded by William Lombe, a brother, of a melancholy 
cast of mind, who took his own life, and in 1736 Thomas 
Applica- Lombe assumed full control. The business gradually 
tion for became more successful, and it continued to employ 
Exten- 300 hands until the expiry of the patent in 1732. 
sion of In applying for his patent in 1718, Thomas Lombe 

^^ "^ 

Patent. pleaded that he had continued earnest application and 
endeavours for several years, employed a great many agents 
here and in foreign parts, and by dint of great expense 



and hazard had accomplished that which had never before Applica- 
been done in the realm. In applying for an extension tion for 
of the patent on the ground that a great part of the gains Exten- 
had been consumed in teaching workpeople the use of sion of 
his invention, Lombe encountered formidable opposition. Patent. 
In spite of the fact that monopolies had been limited 
to a term of fourteen years under James I, Parliament 
did not show itself reluctant to grant an extension. A 
House' of Commons Committee of 55 members, to which 
were added the four members for the county of Derby, 
and the whole commercial element of the House, considered 
the petition, and in fourteen days reported by ordering 
Alderman Percy and six members to bring in a Bill for the 
extension of the patent. 

An account of the proceedings is given by Gravenor 
Henson in his unfinished History of the Framework 
Knitters (1831). Witnesses were called in the person of 
two master silk-weavers and two silk merchants. Daniel 
Booth deposed that since the establishment of the Derby 
engines silk which had formerly cost 25s. a pound, could 
be bought for 20s., and that the silk manufacture had 
much increased. Booth produced samples of silks repre- 
senting that of the English hand-throwsters, Italian 
organzine and Lombe's English organzine. Specimens 
were also shown in the unwrought condition, and also 
" woven into silk fabrics of velvet and mantua (i.e. dress) 

Captain Peter Lekeux, a master- weaver, testified to 
similar effect, adding that until a year or two ago Lombe 
had been unable to throw good silk, but that now his yarn 
was as good as the Italian. 

One Selwin, a silk merchant, agreed that several mills 
had been set up for silk-throwing, but none, except 
Lombe's, could produce thrown silk equal to Italian 
organzine. Another merchant, Drake, who had seen 
Lombe's engine, declared that he had not seen its equal Evidence 
even in Italy. Petitions were presented from Manchester, for and 
Macclesfield, Leek and Stockport praying that counsel might against, 
be heard in opposition to the Bill. Another was forwarded 
by the Master, Wardens and Assistants of the Company 



Evidence of Silk-throwsters, London, urging that by Act of Charles I 
for and no person had the right to exercise their trade without 
against, having served apprenticeship to it, and pointing out that 
an extension would be ruinous to them. This petition from 
London was supported by one from Blackburn in 
Lancashire. All these were reinforced by a singular 
petition by the Mayor, Aldermen, Brethren and Capital 
Burgesses of Derby, assembled in Common Council, on 
26 February, 1731-32. Their plea asserted that Lombe's 
invention was not only detrimental to the woollen manu- 
facture, but also to the borough in general. The gravamen 
of a complaint which looks astonishing to modern eyes 
was that by keeping the poor at home, Lombe was 
increasing their number. The local petition said that 
" although the said engine employed a great number of 
hands, the erection had materially increased the poor 
rates," and that the enlarging of the term of the patent 
would only be a continuation of the grievance. In view 
of this extraordinary representation, it seems fair to recall 
Defoe's description of the Derby of 1720 as " a town of 
gentry rather than trade." The borough would seem 
to have been accustomed to export the poverty-stricken. 
The presentation of several petitions against the Bill 
and the absence of any addresses in its favour put a new 
complexion upon the case, and the application for a renewed 
monopoly was refused. The refusal was softened by a 
grant of 14,000 made conditionally upon the exhibition 
in the Tower of London of an exact model of the mechanism 
and the award of this solatium led to great rejoicing at 
the mill. In the phraseology of the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer : 

" His Majesty having been informed of the case of 

Sir Thomas Lombe with respect to his engine for 

making organzine silk, had commanded him to 

Exten- acquaint to the House that his Maj esty recommended 

sion of to their consideration the making such provisions 

term .... as they shall think proper." 

refused. The sum was voted to Sir Thomas Lombe " as a reward for 

his eminent services done to the nation, in discovering 

with the greatest hazard and difficulty the capital Italian 

DERBY. 207 

engines, and introducing and bringing the same to full Lombe's 
perfection in this Kingdom at his own great expense." Reward. 
The knighthood and the shrievalty of London and Middlesex 
came to him in 1727, his 42nd year, and Lombe lived 
until 1739. 

The expiry of the patent and the full disclosure of the 
structure of the machines led immediately to the establish- 
ment of competitive mills, and one of Lombe's Italians, 
Nathaniel Gartrevalli, transferred his services to the 
opposition mill at Stockport. Eleven additional throwing- 
mills were built at Derby before 1791, when silk had 
become the staple manufacture of the town and gave 
employment to more than a thousand persons. Mention 
is made of these twelve mills in Macpherson's Annals of 
Commerce (1805), in which it is written they " were in a 
great measure employed in twisting Bengal silk for the 
East India Company." Glover tells of five or six other 
mills existing in the remainder of the county in 1831, 
and estimates the number of operatives at two or three 

A quotation from the Derby Reporter in Mr. Davison's 
Rise and Progress, shows that in 1833 trade unionism 
began to attract Derby workmen, of whom 800 are said 
to have joined a secret society. A manufacturer, Frost, 
having discharged one man who refused to be fined for 
bad work, his fellows left in a body in the month of 
November. Workers in other mills joined the strikers, 
and when the employers retaliated by discharging all 
unionists, some 1,300 persons, including throwsters, small- 
ware weavers, broad silk weavers, twisters, and members 
of other trades were idle. Strangers were imported, and 
some mills were put into partial work. Dragoons were 
brought into the town, and special constables were sworn 
in. The strike outlasted the winter, and kept 2,400 men, 
women and boys idle until mid-April. Develop- 

The name of Frost appears in the firm of Frost and ments, 
Stevenson in Pigot's Directory for 1835 as one of ten 1800 
silk manufacturing firms existent at that date. The 1850. 
compiler gave the articles produced in Derby from silk as 
" various, embracing hose, handkerchiefs, shawls, ferrets, 


Develop- laces and sewing silk," and his list of names included 
ments, those of ten throwsters. 

1800 Causes not connected with the local supply of material 

1850. affected the stocking-making business. The workman- 
ship was inferior, French-made stockings were preferred, 
and Midland-made silk stockings were sold under the 
false name " Paris." An impetus was lent by the 
improvements made by Roper, of Locko, in 1750, and 
Jedediah Strutt in 1758-59, resulting in the production of 
Derby-rib, or elastic, stockings. The improvement was 
common to hosiery at large, and assisted indifferently 
silk and cotton at a moment when the machine spinning 
of cotton yarn was beginning. The market that had 
attracted Crotchet and Lombe drew Arkwright from 
Lancashire, first to Nottingham and next to Derby in 
search of means to develop his water-frame for spinning 
cotton by the use of rollers. It was at Belper on the 
River Derwent that Strutt and Arkwright, who entered 
into partnership in 1775, built the first of their four cotton- 

The cotton knitting industry developed rapidly, and 
in 1831 found employment for 6,500 persons, as against 
850 engaged in knitting silk. The authority for these 
particulars is Glover, who adds that Ward, Brettle and 
Ward, of Belper, then considered to be the largest makers 
of hosiery goods in the world, had 400 silk knitting frames, 
producing 300 dozens of hose a week, and 2,500 frames for 
cotton, turning out some 1,900 dozens a week. One 
Crane, in 1766, had made a frame for manufacturing rich 
brocade for waistcoats, weaving being introduced much 

William Taylor, occupier of Lombe's old mill, began 

the weaving of silk goods in premises in Bag-lane apparently 

about 1822. Bridgett and Son and Ambrose Moore and 

Co. followed his example, and enabled Glover to declare 

Changes that sarcenets, gros de Naples and other rich silks " in 

in local style equal to those made by the weavers of Spitalfield," 

industry, were being woven on 220 looms and engaging about 300 

persons. Velvets and plain and figured satins are 

enumerated in Bagshaw's Derbyshire Gazetteer (1846), 



amongst the other broad silks made in Derby and its Changes 
dependencies, and the number of looms is stated at 344, in local 
and the trade is said to have been extending. industry, 

Narrow weaving was introduced almost simultaneously 
with broad by the firm of Jas. and S. C. Peet in 1823, who, 
in a factory built by Isaac Peet, applied steam power to 
the weaving of galloons. Glover adds that the Peets were 
makers of considerable quantities of silk hose and of 
ribbons, and that other early manufacturers of narrow 
goods were Smith, Bosley and Smith, of Glossop, and 
Ralph Frost, of Derby. 

Bagshaw wrote in 1846 : " Derby is entering into 
formidable rivalry with that great monopolizer of the 
ribbon manufacture, Coventry," and amplified the remark 
by the statement that the 233 steam ribbon-looms at 
work in 1833 had since greatly increased in number. It is 
learned from Beckman's History of Inventions, published 
in the same year, that the ribbons were plain and chiefly 
black sarcenet; and that there were 233 power ribbon- 
looms in Derby, 254 in Congleton, and 100 in Leek. Con- 
temporary writers are in agreement as to the healthy 
condition of the industry up to this period, and Dodd, 
in British Manufactures (1844), wrote : " By degrees 
improvements have reached every department, so that 
at the present day some of the silk mills present fine 
examples of factory arrangement/' 

An operation closely allied to the wire-wrapping done 
now in Derby received less favourable mention from 

" Rage for cheapness in the present day had led to a 
curious excess of ingenuity ... by the invention of a 
process termed 'plating/ which bears the same relation 
to the real silk manufacture as metal plating does to the 
manufacture of silver. It consists in putting a coating 
of silk upon a foundation of cotton, by which the more 
costly material is only used in those parts which meet The 
the eye." The passage ends with the assurance that Plating 
" the history of our textile manufactures within the last Process, 
dozen years is full of examples of this kind." 

The manufacturers named in Bagshaw's Directory of 



List of 1846 number 22, whose names, addresses and businesses 
Firms. are given as follows : 

t Adams, Thomas, Cavendish Street. 
f 2 3 Allen, Joseph, Chester Road. 
f Brammall, Holmes, City Road. 
3 Bridgett, Thomas & Co., Bridge Street. 
f 6 Crooks, Thomas, Siddals Lane. 

* Davenport, Ebenezer, Osmaston Street. 

* Davenport, Joseph, Morledge Mills. 

f Gilbert, James (silk and cotton purses), Traffic 

t Hunt, George, City Road. 

* Johnson, John, Albion Street. 

Johnson and Walton (and cords), Jury Street. 
3 Madeley, Thomas & Co., Cavendish Street. 
3 Peet, J., and C.S., Nuns Street. 
1 Robinson, John and Thomas, & Co., Sacheverel 


3 4 Simpson and Turner, Canal Street. 
3 6 Taylor, Wm., sen., Silk Mill Lane. 

Taylor, Wm. Henry, and George, Full Street. 
t 3 Taylor, Wm., Short Street. 
234 Topham and Fawcett, Wardwick Mill. 
2345 Unsworth and Williamson, Depot Mills, Siddals Lane. 
f Wright, Samuel Job, Agard Street. 

* Wright, Thomas John, Agard Street. 

The lease of the Old Silk Mill passed in 1739 from 

Lady Lombe to Richard Wilson who, it is stated by 

Glover, obtained the whole works for the sum of 4,000 ; 

an amount quite disproportionate to the reported cost 

of the building. Until 1803 the premises were occupied 

The by a Mr. Swift, who improved the machinery, and at the 

fate of time of the fire in 1826, when the machines had to be 

Lombe's entirely renewed, the mill was in the occupation of the 

Mill. Mr. Taylor who founded the Derby silk-weaving trade. 

The mill had ceased to be used for the manufacture of 

silk, and was in the possession of a firm of manufacturing 

* Throwsters only. 

1 Manufacturers of broad silk. 

3 Ribbons. 

5 Twist. 

t Manufacturers only. 

2 Manufacturers of doubles, galloons, and smallwares. 

4 Trimmings. 

6 Velvet. 

DERBY. 211 

chemists at the date when it was burnt to the ground in Relics 
December, 1910. A new building of three storeys in of 
place of five has replaced it upon the same site, and the Original 
tower with which it is also graced is reminiscent of Building. 
Lombe's. A relic of the original structure remains in a 
fine pair of wrought-iron gates surmounted by Lombe's 
monogram, which have been re-erected by the Corporation 
of Derby in situ in Silk-mill Lane. 

The silk industry has not only dwindled in Derby, 
but has radically changed in character. Silk-weaving, 
except of narrow gimps, has disappeared. No silk hose 
are knitted in the town, although factories affiliated 
rather to Nottingham than to Derby work up silk on 
the knitting-frame at Belper, Matlock, Ilkeston and 
Melbourne. Silk-throwing is done extensively by only 
one firm, that of T. Mitchell, and upon a smaller scale 
for self consumption by one or two other manufacturers. 
Seven firms use silk for manufacturing purposes, 
principally in wrapping electrical and millinery wire, 
making dress and millinery trimmings, surgical bandages, 
cords and coach lace. A recapitulation of the classes of 
goods made by one Derby firm includes chenilles, tassels, 
gimps, fringes, laces, buttons, scrolls, tinsels and fancy 
goods. It is probably a correct estimate that the number 
of persons employed in throwing and winding silk in Derby 
is four hundred. The number engaged in manufacturing 
silk cannot be so accurately gauged, but by the best trade 
authorities the number is estimated at one thousand. 

The throwing-mill owned and carried on by Mr. Albert 
J. Eggleston, in the name of his predecessor, Mr. T. Mitchell, 
is in succession to the old firm of Davenport, founded 
in the first half of the last century. Mr. Charles Dould, 
Abbey Street Mills, and Messrs. Stokes and Hudson have 
a large manufacturing business. Messrs. Richards' mill 
is now a branch of a Manchester Company. Messrs. 
Thomas Smith and Sons, Ltd., Abbey Street, manu- The 
facture some silk lace, and Messrs. G. B. Unsworth and Present 
Son, Ltd., are wire coverers and makers of dress trim- Day. 
mings, as are Messrs. Green, of Normanton, upon the 
outskirts of the town. 


The The close community of interest between Nottingham 

Begin- and Leicester makes it difficult to trace the development 
ning of the knitting industry in the one without constant 

of the reference to progress in the other. In the larger sense 
Stocking the Midland hosiery trade is all one. It has arisen from 
Trade. a common source, and that portion which belongs to 
Leicester has been concerned more with wool than sUk. 

Little more than 30 miles separates Leicester from 
Calverton, the birthplace of Lee's invention, but it was 
not in the county-town, but in Hinckley, that the first 
use of the knitting-frame in Leicestershire was made. 
Ephraim Chambers, in his Cyclopedia (1783), says a frame 
was brought into Hinckley before the year 1640 by one 
William Iliffe ; in other words within fifty years of the 
date of Lee's invention, or within thirty years of its re- 
introduction to England. The site was found congenial, 
and Chambers wrote : 

"Now the manufacture of the town is so extensive 
that a larger quantity of hose, of a low price, in cotton, 
thread and worsted, is supposed to be made here than in 
any town in England. The manufacture now employs 
about 2,585 working people." 

The connection of Hinckley with the cheaper sorts of 
hosiery has been continued to the present. It is not 
said whether the first stocking-maker to begin business 
in Leicester came from that direction or from the north- 
ward. In Glimpses of Ancient Leicester (1891), Mr. T. F. 
Johnson attributes the introduction of the first stocking- 
frame to one Nicholas Allsopp, who worked in a cellar 
in Northgate Street. The statement agrees with that 
made by Gardiner, upon the authority of his uncle 
Coltman, who was engaged in the trade in 1769. In his 
book, Music and Friends, Gardiner, who gives a sufficiently 



circumstantial account, names 1670 as the date of The 
Allsopp's beginning, and mentions that the pioneer had Begin- 
difficulty in vending his own work. Allsopp took J. Parker, ning 
of Leicester, as apprentice, and in due time Parker took of the 
as his own apprentice a Quaker called Samuel Wright, and Stocking 
for some years Wright was the only stockinger in the town. Trade. 

Gardiner's statement that it was in about 1700 that 
the making of worsted hose first became a trade, suggests 
the inference that the first stockings were made of silk. 
Gravenor Henson's assertion (1831) that the first pair of 
cotton stockings were made in this country in 1730, 
favours this construction, without putting out of court 
the alternative meaning that numbers of newcomers 
entered the business. Mr. Johnson says there were from 
500 to 600 framework-knitters in Leicester in 1727, and 
Gardiner refers to the existence of 1,000 frames in the 
town in 1750. It is evident that the development was 
an important one, and if Henson's authority can be 
accepted, the change to cotton was quickly made. 
Gardiner says the frames in 1750 were making white thread 
hose from imported Silesian yarn, and brown thread 
hose from Scotch yarn, and were also turning out 1,000 
dozens of worsted hose per week. The dyeing and trim- 
ming of the goods was carried out in Nottingham, where 
Elliotts' charge for black dyeing was 3s. 6d. a dozen. 
Gardiner's account includes the names of the principal 
manufacturers of that day : 

Mr. Lewin. 

Barns, Chamberlain and Burgess. Output 

Cradock and Burney. in 

Thos. Pougher. 1750. 

Richard Garle. 

Sir Arthur Hazlerig. 

Joseph Cradock. 

Jno. Williams. 

Wm. Miles. 

Thomas Gardiner, who lived 94 years, and died in 
1837, left behind him an account of the social condition 
of the framework-knitters, showing that their plight 
was not the uniformly desperate one that has been some- 



The times supposed. The narrator, who used to distribute 

Condition his goods all over England by packhorse, was reported 

of the to be speaking of " his earlier years," and possibly of the 

Stock- time anterior to the machine-breaking riots of 1773. 

inger. At least, the account is something to set against the 

stories of destitution which occur too frequently in the 

history of the industry. He wrote: 

" The lower orders lived in comparative ease and plenty, 
having right of common for pig and poultry and some- 
times for a cow. The stocking-makers each had a garden, 
a barrel of home-brewed ale, and work-day suit of clothes, 
and one for Sundays, and plenty of leisure, seldom work- 
ing more than three days a week. Moreover, music was 
cultivated by some of them. Even so late as 1800 
the larger part of all the frames in Leicestershire were the 
property of the master framework-knitters, not of the 

Work in cotton and wool was not better paid than 
the work in silk in Nottinghamshire. Felkin gives the 
rates of payment about 1779 as 10s. to 12s., as against 
10s. to 14s. on silk. A higher standard of condition would 
be explicable could it be supposed that fancy knitting 
was done by the fortunate villagers, for upon this work 
18s. to 30s. was paid in Nottinghamshire. Mrs. Johnson, 
however, states explicitly that the making of fancy hosiery 
was not begun in Leicestershire until the opening of the 
19th century. 

Gardiner was the son of the Leicester bleacher who 

is said to have been the first to whiten worsted hose by 

stoving them in the fumes of sulphur, an adaptation to 

hosiery of a process long used upon woollen cloth. 

Leicester Leicester has been connected with some notable advances 

Inven- in the manufacture of textiles, in particular with the 

tors. devising of machinery to spin long wool. A man named 

Brookhouse, employed in 1788 by the firm of Coltman 

and Gardiner, woolcombers, Leicester, adapted the 

principle embodied in Arkwright's cotton spinning-frame, 

and two of the largest makers of worsted yarn, Coltman 

and Whetstone, employed these machines. In an angry 

riot the machines were destroyed, as well as the dwellings 


of the spinners who had been courageous enough to use Leicester 
them. Brookhouse set up machines in Warwick, and Inven- 
there made a fortune from them. The process was adopted tors, 
in Worcestershire, Yorkshire and Aberdeen, and eventu- 
ally in Leicester. Again, through Donisthorpe, Leicester 
was identified closely with the improvement of the wool 
comb. The invention of machinery for spinning long 
fibres has its importance in relation to waste silk, and 
Leicester is connected intimately with at least one other 
invention of great moment to the silk trade. John 
Heathcoat, born 1783 at Long Whatton, was a Leicester- 
shire man who returned from Nottingham to Hathern, 
and from thence to Loughborough, to work his patent 
machine for the manufacture of silk net. The fate 
that overtook Brookhouse overcame Heathcoat, whose 
Loughborough factory, with its 55 frames and its valuable 
stock of material, was wrecked by the Luddites on 
26th June, 1816. An award of 10,000 compensation, 
which was made conditionally upon a promise to expend 
the money in the district, was rejected by Heathcoat, 
who left his partners, Lacy and Boden, and set up his 
machinery in Devonshire, at Tiverton, a decayed centre 
of the woollen trade. 

Felkin, writing (1864) with his good knowledge of the 
trade, stated that from 1782 onwards Leicester became 
identified with woollen, Derby with silk, and Nottingham 
with cotton hosiery. He gave 1834 as the year in which 
the hard-twisted cotton, known as Lisle thread, came 
first into use in Leicester trade. 

The fancy hosiery branch was referred to as still new 
in 1828 by Sir Richard Phillips, whose Personal Tour 
supplies many particulars of this stage of the development 
of the Leicester business. 

His book enumerates cotton and worsted net braces, Fancy 
worsted cravats, underwaistcoats, children's shoes, stay Hosiery 
laces and tippets as among the principal productions, Manu- 
and gives the names of three producers : Robert Harris facture. 
and Co., W. and S. Kelly and Marston and Co. The 
output of braces was estimated at 3,000 dozens a week, 
and this trade in knitted braces may be accepted as the 



Elastic forerunner of that in elastic webs, for which Leicester 
Web has a unique reputation. Felkin asserts that the idea 

Trade. of inlaying india-rubber thread in hosiery originated with 
Stubbins, a Nottingham man, in 1842. There is the 
authority of the Leicester Commercial Year Book, issued 
by the Chamber of Commerce, for a statement that 
Mr. Caleb Bedells, with Mr. Archibald Turner, introduced 
the elastic web to Leicester in 1843 as a material for boot 
gussets. The elastic web and braid trade of Leicester 
is said to find employment at this day for 3,000 looms 
and 10,000 to 15,000 persons. 

Phillips found existent at the time of his visit the 
business in sewing thread and knitting cottons that is 
still a department of Leicester industry, and he reported 
a production of about 20,000/fo. a week. Cotton yarn at 
the time was being obtained from Cromford and Hudders- 
field, and was bleached, dyed and wound in Leicester. 
" Much lace " also was being made at Leicester, both 
by hand and by steam. Some 500 to 600 persons were 
employed, and Seddons, Wheatley, Rawson, Haines and 
Langhorne were named as the principal manufacturers. 
Worsted, which for some generations had been made 
upon the handwheel, was being spun by steam-power, 
and also in " numerous small factories in which the 
spinning is performed by hand with spinning jennies." 
Trade was bad at the time, and the " profits even by 
steam so low as 2J or 3 per cent," while the small spinners 
got still less. A depreciation of values was in process, 
and the fall of prices had lately ruined " all the worsted 
mills except those which combine long and short wool 
by peculiar machinery " ; a reference probably to carding 
machines and mule-spinning. 

Phillips found that men making hose were paid 8s. to 
12^. a week for fourteen or fifteen hours daily work. Men 
Sewing employed on fancy knitting and lace received 15s. to 
and 20^., women about 7s., and children 2s. 6d. to 5s. The 

Knitting contraction of values seriously affected manufacturers 
Cottons, of hosiery and moved the author to exclaim : 

" The ruinous depreciation of the money value of 
Leicester manufactures is frightful. One article, for which 



85. used to be paid for making is now sold for Is! The 
2,000 dozen of hose made per week are sold at a third of 
what they would have yielded twenty years ago ; and 
at a profit of 2J per cent after the working hands are 
reduced to the lowest.? 

In 1828 the following were named as the principal 
proprietors of stocking frames : 


E. and H. Rawson, 




Mitchel and Stokes, 
' Rawson and Sons, 



Hill and Davenport, 


About the middle of the century the manufacture of 
heavy " Scotch " underwear, at first upon hand-frames, 
was introduced, and Mr. Theodore Walker, in his evidence 
before the Tariff Commission of 1905, added that the 
branch was begun by his father. It was at the same 
period that the rotary knitting-frame was introduced 
by Moses Mellor, of Nottingham. It is stated by 
Mr. Tertius Rowlett, in the Leicester Commercial Year Book, 
that a Loughborough man, Paget, for some years worked 
secretly on frames by which a seamless stocking could 
be made, and eventually the Mellor machine was adapted 
to make tubular lace hose of narrow width. The intro- 
duction of Cotton's machine about forty years ago gave 
a new impetus upon the plain hose trade by enabling 
one girl to supervise machinery capable of an output 
of 70 dozens a week, and the cost of knitting was reduced 
from about 29 pence a dozen to fourpence. Machines 
permitting wider varieties of changes have been brought 
out by Leicester machinists, enabling more elaborate 
patterns to be produced, and there are in addition several 
types of Continental frames in use in the town. 

Silk has never been a main material of local industry, 
and its chief employment is probably in combination 
with wool in under-clothing. The increasing number of 
fancy-dyed and comparatively expensive articles now 
being turned out seems however to offer wider opportu- 
nities for the local employment of silk in future years. 



for Silk 


Mixed It is a long-established truism that more silk is manu- 

Silk factured in this country outside the somewhat narrow 

Goods. confines of the silk industry proper than within them. 
Probably for more than a century Bradford has made 
mixed goods containing silk, and for seventy years has 
been one of the most important centres of consumption. 
Despite all that has happened to displace natural silk, 
the quantity employed by manufacturers of dress goods 
in and around Bradford remains large, and in the Man- 
ningham Mills the city owns the largest individual silk 
mill in the kingdom. Perhaps in no town in England 
has so much been done on the one hand to help, and on 
the other to hamper, the development of the silk industry. 
Comparison is difficult, because it is impossible to estimate 
the effects of the competition of fibres not directly 
competitive with silk. There is always a doubt, too, 
as to how far a direct substitute actually displaces an 
older commodity. What is certain is that Bradford 
developments have worked in both directions. Regard 
may be had first to three matters of Bradford trade history 
which have incidentally had potent influences on the 
fortunes of silk. 

Com- There is no gainsaying the importance to silk of the 

petitive introduction into Bradford industry of the hair of the 

Materials. Peruvian llama alpaca. The material was first used for 

the manufacture of light, lustrous stuffs in the late 'thirties 

of the last century, and mohair was applied to similar 

purposes in the later 'forties. Stuffs showing a modicum 

of lustre had been made before that time, but the brightest 



of them was dull by comparison either with silk or the Corn- 
new goat hair fabrics. Besides being dull to the eye, petitive 
the older stuffs were harsh to the touch and coarse by Materials, 
comparison with the worsted dress goods of to-day. So 
long as choice was practically restricted to coarse stuffs 
on the one hand, and silks on the other, it is manifest 
that the incentive to wear silk must have been greater 
than after the introduction of other materials. Alpaca 
and m'ohair provided alternatives combining some of the 
virtues of wool with some of the features of silk. The 
goods made from them were far from being perfect sub- 
stitutes for the old satins and gros grains, but they cost 
much less, and they gratified at least in part the sense 
of finery which exerts so large an influence in the demand 
for silk. Very soon alpaca and mohair were to become 
allies of silk but of a junior branch of the silk industry. 
The spun or waste silk trade was to benefit exceedingly 
from the demand for material to make these new fabrics 
more supple and attractive, but to the senior silk trade 
these cheap alternatives remained unfriendly. 

The demands of the Bradford market may be said to Bradford 
have set the waste silk industry of this country upon its and the 
feet, and to have done more than any other to keep that Waste 
industry alive. In Bradford, also, the junior branch has Silk 
received some of its severest buffets. It is true that Trade, 
mercerised cotton was not invented there, but in Bradford 
it found extensive adoption partly in replacement of 
spun silk. Mercerised cotton bears the name of John 
Mercer, of Great Harwood, Lancashire, who patented 
in 1850 his means of making vegetable fibres stronger 
by treating them with caustic alkali. The notion of 
making cotton yarn more lustrous by methods of 
mercerisation had a much later origin. It was in 1896 
that Kerr and Hoegger, of Manchester, began to give 
cotton yarn a lustre approximating to that of spun silk, 
and soon Isaac Robson and Sons, of Huddersfield, and 
numbers of yarn dyers in Bradford, were putting forth 
quantities of this improved form of cotton. 

Bradford responded also to the introduction of a 
chemical silk, strong enough to withstand the rather 



Earlier rigorous processes of finishing and wearing stuff goods. 
Artificial The earlier artificial silks, made from hardened gelatine 
Silks. and from dissolved cotton, proved too frail for the work 
and it was with the introduction of Coventry viscose silk 
in the year 1907 that the employment of this new agent for 
enlivening duller textiles seriously began. The interference 
with natural silk is rather indirect than otherwise. The 
assortment of very bright and cheap fabrics suitable 
especially for indoor wear has been largely extended 
by the addition of this material. It cannot be affirmed 
that all the goods now made in Bradford with artificial 
silk would otherwise have been made with the natural 
article in one or other form. The new material has brought 
new fabrics into life. The direct and indirect interfer- 
ences with the prospects of silk have not all been presented 
only in the form of yarn for weaving. In Bradford 
various arts of giving to cotton piece goods some of the 
sheen, and even of the touch, of silk, have assumed their 
highest development. The highly finished cotton lining 
cloths of the present day probably do not prevent the 
employment of silk nearly so much as they affect employ- 
ment of alpaca, mohair and English lustre wool, but in 
these goods superficial effects are achieved which at one 
time could not have been matched without the use of the 
most expensive and beautiful of all fibres. 

The It has been said that alpaca appeared first in the form 

Story of of lustrous fabrics in the later 'thirties. It was manu- 
Alpaca. factured before that time, although not in a manner to 
display its characteristic brilliancy. Benjamin Outram, 
of Greetland, Halifax, made alpaca into shawls and 
cloakings. Wood and Walker, of Bradford, according 
to James's History of the Worsted Manufacture, spun 
alpaca to No. 48's worsted counts about the same time, 
and sold the yarn to Norwich manufacturers of camlets. 
In 1832 heavy camlets made with alpaca were woven by 
Horsfall's, of Bradford, and shown to Leeds merchants, 
whose approval they did not win. Hegan, Hall and Co., 
Liverpool, in the same year imported large quantities of 
alpaca from Peru, and figured cloths with a warp of 
worsted and an alpaca weft were made with these imports 


and obtained a limited vogue. Mr. Robert Milligan, The 
then a stuff manufacturer in Bingley, supplied James Story of 
with a circumstantial story of the origin of the alpaca Alpaca, 
lustre stuffs with which the name of Titus Salt is identified. 
The facts have a double reflex upon the development of 
the silk industry, and are therefore set forth : 

' ( It was in the spring of 1839 that Mr. Titus Salt, with 
whom we had sometimes done business, introduced to 
our no'tice alpaca. Several attempts had been made .... 
but the manufacture did not prove successful until the 
production of what we termed alpaca Orleans, formed of 
cotton warp and alpaca. The first entry of these goods 
in our books is an invoice to Mr. Salt in June, 1839, of 
two pieces of alpacas at 765. per piece. The first con- 
siderable order we undertook was 19th June, 1839, for 
560 pieces 27 ins. wide at 425. Then became established 
the alpaca trade, which has since risen to so much im- 
portance. At this time, Mr. Salt was the only spinner 
of alpaca weft in Bradford. The great mercantile house 
of A. and S. Henry took very large quantities of alpaca 
which began to be used in an endless variety for male 
and female wear, including scarfs, handkerchiefs and 
cravats, plain and figured goods with silk-cotton warps 
for ladies dresses, dyed alpaca checks of beautiful texture 
and grograms, codringtons, silk-striped, checked and 
figured alpacas and linings." 

The statement gives clear evidence of the uses to which 
alpaca was immediately put, and proves that alpaca 
did, after its employment by Mr. Titus Salt, interfere in 
the sphere of silk. The statement shows that Milligan and 
Jowett obtained the yarn from Salt, and sold their woven 
goods back to him. Whether Salt or some other was 
responsible for the actual conjunction of a weft of alpaca 
with a cotton warp is less clear than might be desired, but 
it may be inferred that Salt's authority for this use of 
the material was obtained. The achievement won Salt The 
a great name in addition to a great fortune, and the Story of 
rivalry already existent between Titus Salt and Samuel Alpaca. 
Cunliffe Lister was assuredly not diminished by the fame 
attained by the founder of Saltaire. Charles Dickens 



The took note of the development of the alpaca industry, 

Story of and in Household Words published a lavishly improved 

Alpaca. version of Sir Titus Salt's first encounter with alpaca. 

As his imaginative effort, with its heightened effects and 

comic embellishments, was the forerunner of a legend 

concerning Mr. S. C. Lister and waste silk, it is quoted 

to assist in the separation of fact from fiction : 

" A huge pile of dirty looking sacks filled with some 
fibrous material which bore a strong resemblance to super- 
annuated horsehair or frowsy, elongated wool, or anything 
unpleasant or unattractive, was landed in Liverpool. 
When these queer-looking bales had first arrived, or by 
what vessel brought, or for what purpose intended, the 
very oldest warehousemen in Liverpool docks couldn't 
say. There had once been a rumour a mere warehouse- 
man's rumour that the bales had been shipped from 
South America on spec, and consigned to the agency of 
C. W. and F. Foozle and Co. But even this seems to have 
been forgotten, and it was agreed upon all hands that the 
three hundred and odd sacks of nondescript hair wool 
were a perfect nuisance. The rats appeared to be the only 

parties who approved at all of the importation 

" One day a plain, business-looking young man with 
an intelligent face ap.d quiet, reserved manner was walking 
alone through these same warehouses in Liverpool, when 
his eye fell upon some of the superannuated horsehair 

projecting from one of the ugly, dirty bales Our 

First friend took it up, looked at it, felt it, rubbed it, pulled 

deal of it about ; in fact he did all but taste it, and he would 
Titus have done that if it had suited his purpose for he was 

Salt. ' Yorkshire.' The sequel was that the same 

quiet, business-looking young man was seen to enter the 
office of C. W. and F. Foozle and Co. and ask for the head 
of the firm. When he asked that portion of the house 

if he would accept eightpence per Ib the 

authority interrogated felt so confounded that he could 
not have told if he were the head or the tail of the firm. 
At first he fancied our friend had come for the express pur- 
pose of quizzing him, and then that he was an escaped 
lunatic, and thought seriously of calling for the police ; 


but eventually it ended in his making it over in con- First 
sideration of the price offered. It was quite an event in deal of 

the little dark office All the establishment stole Titus 

a peep at the buyer of the ' South American stuff.' The Salt, 
chief clerk had the curiosity to speak to him. The cashier 
touched his coat tails. The book-keeper examined his hat 
and gloves. The porter openly grinned at him. When 
the quiet purchaser had departed, C. W. and F. Foozle 
and Co. shut themselves up and gave all their clerks a 

From the fact that there was in 1761 a silk merchant, 
Joseph Stell, at Walk Mill, Keighley, it is apparent that 
consumption of silk was not unknown in the Bradford 
manufacturing area before the rise of the lustre stuff trade. 
The fact is attested by John Hodgson in his Textile Manu- 
facture in Keighley (1879), he having seen a deed showing 
Stell's name as new owner of a piece of land. Pennant, 
who visited Keighley in 1775, found there " a considerable 
manufacture of figured everlastings in imitation of French 
silks," and in default of evidence to the contrary it may 
be assumed that the silk was thrown silk and used for the 
purpose of weaving figures on the hand-looms of the period. 
The old worsted industry employed silk in the form of 
organzine to make silk twists in company with worsted 
thread for use in such goods as waistcoatings. James 
quotes in his History the estimates of the cost of certain 
fabrics, which a committee of worsted spinners and long- 
wool manufacturers presented in 1824. In one of these The 
the separate costs of one yard of worsted stuff mixed with Intro- 
cotton and silk said by James to be probably vesting duction 
are thus allocated : of Silk. 

s. d. 

3! oz. Worsted 10 

J oz. Silk 09 

If oz. Cotton 08 

Weaving and finishing . . . . ..110 

4 3 

The statement would cause it to appear that at this date 



The worsted yarn was costing 4s. 7d., cotton yarn 6s. Id., and 

Intro- silk 48s. per Ib. 

duction Mr. Henry Forbes, in a paper to the Society of Arts (1852), 
of Silk. named 1834 as the year of the introduction of cotton 
warps into the Bradford dress goods trade, and said that 
silk warps in combination with worsted weft followed 
shortly after. In his words, this combination " enabled 
Yorkshire manufacturers to exhibit fabrics in which 
delicacy, softness and elasticity were united." His partner 
in the firm of Milligan, Forbes and Co. Mr. Robert Milligan 
informed James in 1857 that in 1840 the fancy trade 
in Bradford was still little cultivated. His price lists of 
1842 contained entries of 

Silk warp Alpacas, 38s. to 75s. per piece. 
Alpaca and silk handkerchiefs, 285. per dozen. 
In 1843-5 a steady demand was experienced for plain 
silk warp and fancy alpacas, and in 1848 there arose 
a great demand for silk striped goods. The year was a good 
one also in Paisley, and the joint demands from the two 
weaving centres are still remembered by a veteran silk- 
spinner, Mr. Thomas Butterworth, of Brighouse. These 
silk striped goods were manufactured largely by 
Mr. Milligan at Bingley, and by many others, and were 
principally Orleans and Cobourg cloths, which were dyed 
after weaving. Mr. Milligan singled out for mention a 
" grogram woven with black worsted, having a thick 
Demand cotton warp around which was twisted a fine thread of 
for Silk white, yellow or gold silk, producing a sparkling, speckled 
Striped effect." One of his most striking novelties was made 
Goods. with " silk sprigs thrown upon an alpaca mixture ground," 
the silk showing only in small flowers upon the face. 
Mr. Forbes, speaking of the position of alpaca in 1852, 
said that in combination with cotton and silk warps it 
formed " an amazing variety of articles of great richness, 
softness and beauty," and remarked on the extent to which 
the newer raw materials cotton, silk, alpaca and mohair- 
had increased the number and variety of Bradford 

Mr. Forbes essayed an estimate of the contemporary 
state of the worsted division of the wool- working industries 



in which the separate identity of silk is merged in that Interest- 
of cotton and dye- wares. The remarkably small place ing 
taken by imported wool and the large place assigned to Statistics 
the West Riding are noteworthy features. 

60 million Ibs. English sorted wool, 

ls.2d. 3,500,000 

15 million Ibs. Colonial foreign wool, 

ls.9d. 1,312,500 

Other raw materials : Cotton, Silk, 

Dye-wares 1,500,000 

Direct wages .. 3,000,000 

Indirect wages, rent, wear and tear, 

coal, soap, oil, interest- .. .. 3,187,500 


West Riding goods and yarn . . . . 8,000,000 
Lancashire delaines and light fabrics . . 1,500,000 
Leicester worsted hosiery . . . . 1,200,000 
Norwich and Irish stuffs, Devon long- 
ells .. 

Scotland worsted stuffs (not including 




The Bradford Directory of 1851 shows the names of six 
dealers in silk warps. The list of exhibitors at the great 
Exhibition of the same year shows the names of- 

J. G. Horsfall & Co., Bradford Whose Henrietta cloths 
were " from spun silk warp and weft of the 
finest Saxony wool." 

Thos. Jowett & Co., Bingley Who exhibited a great 
variety of articles with alpaca weft and silk 
and cotton warps as well as " a new fabric 
of silk warp and linen weft," said to be 
" very neat " and to afford encouragement 
for increased attempts in the same direction. 
Walter Milligan & Sons, Bingley A series of silk 
embroidered alpaca goods. 

tors at 



Bradford John Rand & Sons, Bradford Whose cloths made 

Exhibi- from worsted weft and silk warp were called 

tors at " remarkably soft, fine and even." 

1851 Schwann, Kell & Co., Bradford A merchant house, 

Exhibi- shewed articles called " Shanghae " dresses, 

tion. plain and watered, made from silk and China 


A. Tremel & Co Bradford | Goodg ^ cotton 
Jas. Dalby, Bradford I , .,, 

Jas. Drummond, Bradford ( and Sllk war P 8 ' 
T. Gregory & Bros., Shelf Who had made for the 
Prince Consort cashmere brocade fabrics with 
silk warp and weft from the Cashmere goats 
in Windsor Park. 

In 1857 the value of worsted productions, computed 
at 12J millions in 1852, was reckoned by James at 
18 millions. In 1864 Mr. (afterwards Sir) Jacob Behrens 
calculated the home and export trade in worsted goods at 
a value of 33,600,000. 

In these years of rapid commercial expansion the elder 
silk trade reached its zenith and began to fall into its 
decline. The Bradford demand for spun silk yarn in the 
'sixties was considerable enough to mainly sustain a 
number of new firms in the spinning business. In the 
'seventies the Franco-Prussian War almost doubled 
Bradford's business, and the great rise in prices at this 
period set some of the newcomers firmly upon their feet. 
The demand was strong, both for yarn and for silk sliver 
to mix and spin with mohair in one thread. Spinners 
still alive recall how manufacturers drove from Bradford 
to the Brighouse silk mills to beg for silk and content to 
be allowed to take back with them one or two canfulls 
of the precious sliver or a few small warps. Thirty shillings 
a pound was paid for yarn that in some years since has 
Zenith been slow of sale at one-fifth of the price. Twenty-five to 
of the thirty shillings a pound was obtained for the best silk 
Silk sliver and fifteen shillings for a commoner sort. 

Trade. Lord Masham, with a sense of amusement, wrote : 
" From '64 to '74, about nine years, the silk comb made 
sufficient money to rebuild and furnish the present concern 

Plate XXVII. 

Lord Masham. 


and also to pay some 20,000 towards the expenses of the 
velvet loom." 

It is time to turn from Bradford achievements in the Silk at 
mixed silk-weaving trade to the foundation of its chief Manning- 
silk-mill. Lord Masham's own account of the venture ham. 
which transformed him from wool-comber to silk-spinner 
and manufacturer is quoted from his autobiography : 

" It was in the year 1855 that a Mr. Spensly, a London 
waste silk broker, who had heard of my great success in 
woolcombing, sent me a small sample of what he called 
' native Indian Chassum,' being the waste produced by 
natives in reeling their cocoons. At that time I had never 
seen any silk waste and knew nothing about it. The first 
look of it was not very inviting, nor very encouraging, 
as it looked to me to be nothing but rubbish. In fact it- 
was nothing else, as no silk-spinner had made or could 
make anything of it. He said that there were five or six 
hundred bales in the London Docks, and that no one 
would buy it, and in order to get quit they had tried to 
use it as manure, but found it would not rot, and so what 
to do with it they did not know. It was not inviting, as it 
was heavily composed of dead silkworms, and the smell 
and the odour of them was anything but pleasant. Leaves 
and straw and all kinds of extraneous matter were mixed 
and bound together by a certain amount of dirty-looking 

" The only inducement was the price, as it was offered 
me at practically nothing at \d. per Ib. I bought a few 
sample bales at that price. The first thing was by boiling 
it in soap and water to cleanse it to some extent from 
gum and dirt. This at once disclosed that there was a 

certain amount of beautiful fibre but 

so matted and mixed with rubbish that it looked 
impossible to make anything of. 

" A practical silk-spinner would at once have Begin- 

said ' There is plenty of good waste ; why bother with nings 
this rubbish ? It will never pay if you have it for nothing P of the 
And he would have been quite right, for there was no Business, 
machinery upon which it could be worked to pay. But 
not being a practical silk-spinner, and knowing little or 


Need nothing about silk or silk waste, I thought that I would 

of new try and see what could be done with it. 

machin- "..... It was worked upon such machinery as I 

ery. had. It was first put through some drums covered with 

teeth which had been used for preparing China grass. 

This was done several times, which opened it and 

straightened the fibres and cleared it a good deal from 

extraneous matter. Then it was gilled to prepare it for 

combing. So far it looked very well and promising, but 

when it came to be combed (and I had all kinds of combs) 

it was a regular fiasco, a complete and hopeless failure 

with such machinery as I then had." 

The story is continued to tell how in 1857 the silk comb, 

jointly invented by Mr. Lister and his partner Mr. James 

Warburton, was made to work. A statement of the 

profit earned by these operations in silk has been cited, 

and as Manningham Mills covering eleven acres of ground 

space are reputed to have cost about half a million 

sterling, its historical importance will be fully understood. 

Operations between 1857 and 1864 were the reverse of 

satisfactory. Mr. Lister however declared to a Bradford 

Invention meeting that he was 360,000 out of pocket before the 

of the machine made him a shilling, and that a quarter of a 

Silk million was written off as entirely lost before making up 

Comb. his books of account. 

Mr. Lister's own version of his introduction to waste 
silk varies in some salient respects from the legend in 
Cudworth's Worstedopolis ; according to which : 

" It was an accident almost as singular as that which 
led to the introduction of alpaca that induced Mr. Lister 
to turn his attention to silk. One day, while strolling 
round a warehouse in London, he came upon a heap of 
rubbishy-looking stuff not unlike the sweepings of a 
warehouse floor. It was an odd collection consisting of 
bits of stick, dead leaves, ends of twine, dirty flocks, 
crushed worms and silk fibre, all stuck together by gummy 
matter, altogether looking as unlike the material from 
which silk goods could be made as could w r ell be. 

" He had never seen such material before, but detecting 
in it a fair proportion of silky-looking fibre, he became 


interested, and inquired what use was made of it. ' Oh, we Lister's 
sell it as rubbish/ was the reply. He also learned that own 
it had been tried as a manure, but had proved a failure story, 
owing to the fibre not rotting easily. 

" The vendor was glad to part with it for \A. per Ib. 
It is this identical material, supplemented by raw silk 
produced from cocoons grown upon the Lister estates in 
India, which forms the basis of the stupendous manu- 
facture carried on at Manningham Mills." 

The similarities between the two fanciful versions 
would challenge attention even had Mr. Cudworth for- 
borne to mention the introduction of alpaca. The 
" superannuated horsehair " of the one narrative has its 
counterpart in the " dirty flocks " and " crushed worms " 
of the other. Both give the discovery an air of chance 
by laying the scene in port warehouses, but Lord Masham's 
own pen at least avoids the indefensible suggestion that 
silk waste had not been utilised before his time. 

If silk-spinning laid the foundation of the last of the The 
great fortunes to be made by Lord Masham, velvet-weaving Velvet 
unmistakably supplied the coping stone. The business Loom, 
he sold to a public company for 1,950,000 in 1889 had 
been making profits not of 50,000, but of 200,000 a 
year. These subsided immediately upon the imposition 
of the McKinley Tariff in America and the falling off of 
the demand in other markets for imitation sealskin cloths 
made of tussah silk. 

Velvets were made first, and thereafter, apparently in 
about 1881, Manningham looms were diverted from velvets 
to plushes. Velvets had been hand woven, and Manningham 
Mills had supplied the yarn for weaving, but as the result of 
the pioneer experimental work done there, weaving by 
the use of power was made practicable. The manager 
of the mills, Mr. B. Nussey, during a visit to Spain in 
search of orders for velvet yarns, was shown a loom invented 
by Mr. Reixach and patented by him some ten years before. 
Mr. Lister's attention was attracted, the patent was 
bought for about 2,000, and the inventor and his son 
brought the loom to Bradford. About 29,000 was spent 
and lost between 1867-1878 in perfecting the mechanism, 



The and although 39,000 was made in the next two and a half 

Velvet years, " that was as nothing to what it made when ' King 
Loom. Plush ' in his royal robes made its appearance," said the 
head of the firm in the published story of his career. 

Lord Masham's industrial achievement is written 
endurably in stone in the immense edifice at Manningham, 
where seven or eight thousand persons are employed. 
It is difficult to determine whether the substantial character 
and beauty of that building, capped by one of the sightliest 
mill chimneys in the country, owes anything to a desire 
to outdo Sir Titus Salt. The rivalry of Salt and Lister 
was an old one, dating from times before Lister's entry 
into the silk trade, when his volcanic energies were directed 
to the perfecting of the wool comb, and when Salt and 
Akroyd, of Halifax, had a joint encounter with Lister over 
the rights in Heilmann's patent wool comb. In a limited 
measure, Salt and Lister were rivals in the silk trade, 
for the great concern Sir Titus Salt, Bart., Sons & Co., Ltd., 
with its model mills and village at Saltaire, has an exten- 
Samuel sive department for spinning silk. It was, however, not 
Cunliffe until 1880 that in order to meet the demand for spun 
Lister. tussah yarn this department reached a position of import- 
ance. Lister's rivalry with Holden over certain claims 
to be considered as the real inventor of a principle of 
wool-combing is written in many acrimonious passages-at- 
arms. His pugnacity is to be read alike in the letters 
on old controversies and in the records of numerous actions 
at law. His daring is shown in the list of patents, 107 
in number, standing in his name ; and his resourcefulness in 
the manner in which he repeatedly redeemed himself from 
imminent disaster. " Mr. Lister was always ready to buy 
machinery, in the days when he used to come here," a 
machine maker has observed to the writer, "but never 
seemed quite to know when he would be able to pay for 
it." In courage he was not behind any industrial captain 
of his day, and none was a greater fighter for his real or 
imagined rights. Of petty detractors of his reputation, 
there have been more than a few, and his stubbornness 
in the strike of 1891 added nothing to his miscellaneous 
popularity. The foibles of his character lie open for all 


to read and to weigh against its sterling merits. Unlike Samuel 
most of his contemporaries, Lister did not start life as Cunliffe 
a workman. He was the youngest son of a landed family, Lister, 
and brother to the member for Bradford, and before 
embarking in business had been occupied with affairs of a 
different order in America. His attitude towards social 
inferiors has been shown pleasantly in an octogenarian's 
reminiscence. " I have talked to him and shaken hands 
with him, and found him a most pleasant gentleman," 
is the report of one who had business differences with 
Lister at different times. 

Mr. Lister's grey suit and dilapidated straw hat were 
familiar enough on the Bradford Exchange, where they are 
not yet forgotten, and these characteristic habiliments are 
mentioned in an interview with the " Bradford Silk King " 
in the Pall Mall Gazette, March, 1887. The interviewer 
found Mr. Lister " a stoutly-built, middle-sized man, 
ruddy-faced and white whiskered, with the brisk, decided 
manner generally seen in successful business men. His 
bright, piercing gaze and robust air gave no indication 
of the seventy odd years which have passed over his head." 
Mr. Lister had just spent 800,000 in four years in buying 
land, and a considerable part of his talk with the inter- 
viewer was of the Fair Trade movement, which he said 
he had first begun six years before. Mr. Lister would not 
agree that his own great fortune vindicated the fiscal 
policy of the country. " As I say," he said, " a man with 
brains may make money at any time." The Johnsonian 
flavour is not less marked in his assurance that " I have 
never gone in for anything less than 50,000 a year. I have 
never applied myself to any invention which, before taking 
up, I did not see was worth 50,000 a year, and I have 
had four." 

The great self-contained mills at Manningham neces- Changes 
sarily occupy a large place in any account of the progress in the 
of the silk industry in Bradford. It is necessary, however, Stuff 
to turn to the large number of smaller manufacturers to Trade, 
whom silk is one material of a greater or less importance 
out of the several materials used. The Bradford Directory 
of the present day describes one hundred firms as stuff 



Changes manufacturers, and these constitute the body of users of 
in the silk and its substitutes in the production of mixed goods. 
Stuff Their need of silk varies with the taste of the times, 

Trade. and recent changes of fashion have tended to make silk 
of less account in their productions. The trade in worsted 
dress stuffs has been undergoing changes fairly comparable 
with those occurring in the pure silk trade, and manu- 
facturers have been driven by stress of circumstances 
into a not unremunerative business in plainer and heavier 
worsted cloths requiring no silk ; or into the manufacture 
of goods which are substantially cottons ornamented with a 
few threads of artificial silk. The causation of these 
changes is to be sought far afield. The closing of foreign 
markets by tariff laws, the vagaries of fashion, the develop- 
ment of the factory garment-making industry, the relative 
scarcity or abundance of raw materials these are a few 
of the chief influences. 

The effect of foreign tariffs on the trade in Bradford 
goods has not been wholly an extinguishing one. They 
have created conditions in which the sale of certain classes 
is more practicable than the sale of some others. Brightly 
coloured and patterned dress goods are in more continuous 
demand in the sunny southern countries than in the more 
northerly climates, and a large part of the mixed silk goods 
manufactured in Bradford has been sold for export. 
Cheap light fabrics, with a cotton warp and worsted weft 
interspersed with a few threads of spun silk to make 
stripes or checks, constituted for a long time an important 
Tariff section of the export business. Mercerised cotton yarn 
Influ- provided a means of making bright effects at slightly lower 
ences. cost, but the natural disparity of cost has been artificially 
accentuated by a species of selective unfairness very 
common in silk trade experience. Silk, being regarded 
officially as a luxury, is subject to adversely high rates 
of freight by the English railway companies. It has 
been considered in the same light by foreign tariff framers, 
with the consequence that goods containing more than 
an insignificant proportion of silk are subject to very 
much higher rates of duty than goods of closely similar 
appearance in which silk is replaced by some substitute. 



Duties are in many countries levied on a basis of weight, Tariff 
and, in order to do business at all, lightness of weight Influ- 
must be combined with brightness of appearance, and ences. 
this consideration tells in favour of artificial silks. Some 
tendency to make artificial silk liable to the same duties 
as the natural article has been observed lately, but this 
does not wholly remove the handicap. Where ornamental 
considerations out-balance questions of durability, 
artificial silk retains the advantage. Applied in the form 
of very slackly twisted yarn, the chemical silks exhibit a 
lustre more metallic but as brilliant as that of spun silk. 
A very little of them used on the surface of fabrics com- 
posed otherwise of cotton supplies the requisite degree 
of brilliance. The consequence is seen in the devotion 
of some thousands of looms entirely to the production of 
fabrics which suit the tariffs, the tastes and the purses of 
some southern countries better than they can conceivably 
fulfil any anticipations of solid wear or comfort. Goods 
not radically different have been made in Bradford for 
indoor wear in this country. Silk is replaced and worsted 
is replaced, but not by finally efficient substitutes, and 
the fact implies of course that silk still possesses a field 
of its own, from which no substitutes as yet discovered 
can oust it. 

Diversification of demand, although destructive of old Pros- 
openings, is productive also of new ones, and in that fact pects 
lies the hope of the future. Silk has not been used in and 
Bradford dress-goods solely for its lustre. In the black Possibil- 
stuffs known as Henriettas a silk warp is used in such ities. 
manner that its lustre is disguised, although its lissomness 
remains. In goods that have been, and may again become, 
popular, the desideratum is a bright thread which will 
wash, or will not take up a stain from surrounding loose 
dye-stuff. Experience is the proof that demand for silk 
may persist in the absence of a marked demand for silk 
fabrics. There have been requirements in past times 
for silk dressed and put into sliver for admixture with 
worsted. A trade, small but regular, is done by 
spinners who twist a worsted with a silk single thread for 
hosiery purposes. These possibilities remain, outside and 


beyond the somewhat unlikely possibility that silk pile 
fabrics may belie their past and remain steadily, instead 
of fitfully, in public favour. Changes of habit and in 
the distribution of wealth, are potent enough to negative 
the idea that silk will fall out of the selection of fibres 
used in Bradford trade. Its chances of retention would 
not be reduced by a material cheapening of the price of 
waste silk. 

Statistics. The consumption of silk is too general and occasional 
to make any statistics of persons employed in the silk 
manufacture truly accurately reflect the importance of 
the silk branch at any given time. It may, however, be 
said the Census of 1901 gives 815 males and 2,782 females 
as the total of persons engaged in silk manufacture in the 
city. The figures may be taken with those for Yorkshire 
in the same Census, shewing 2,859 males and 4,991 females 
in the silk industry of the whole county. The city of 
Bradford and the Bradford factory inspection area are 
not conterminous, and thus in the Factory Returns for 
1907 the total of Bradford silk workers appears as 5,757 ; 
in the same tables the total for Yorkshire is 8,786, as 
against the 7,848 of the Census of a few years earlier. 


The earlier textile associations of Halifax are not with Early 
silk but with wool, to which silk is in one aspect a local Condi- 
auxiliary. Silk was engrafted on the parent stock of tions and 
Halifax industry after the coming of the factory system, Progress, 
but for something like five centuries wool had been manu- 
factured by hand processes in farm-like dwellings. 
Defoe's Tour (begun in 1722) contains a passage which 
describes the conditions of work in the pre-factory period. 
Approaching from the West : 

" In the course of our Road among the Houses we 
found at every one of them a little Rill or Gutter of running 
Water : if the House was above the Road it came from 
it and crossed the Way to run to another ; if the House 
was below us, it crossed us from some other distant House 
above it ; at every considerable House was a Manufactory, 
which not being able to be carried on without Water, these 
little Streams were so parted and guided by Gutters and 
Pipes that not one of the Houses wanted its necessary 
appendage of a Rivulet. 

" Again, as the Dying-houses, scouring-shops and Places 
where they use the Water emit it ting'd with the Drugs 
of the Dying Fat and with the Oil, the Soap, the Tallow 
and other ingredients used by the Clothiers in Dressing 
and Scouring, &c., the Lands through which it passes are 
not only universally watered, which otherwise would be The 
exceedingly barren, but are enriched by it to a Degree evidence 
beyond Imagination. of 

" Then as every Clothier must necessarily keep one Defoe. 
Horse, at least, to fetch home his W 7 ooll and his Provisions 
from the Market, to carry his Yarn to the Spinners, his 




The Manufacture to the Fulling, every one generally keeps a 

evidence Cow or two for his family. By this means the small Pieces 

of of enclosed Land about each House are occupied ; and by 

Defoe. being thus fed are still further improved from the Dung 

of the Cattle. As for Corn, they scarce sow enough to 

feed their Cocks and Hens. 

" Though we met few People without Doors, yet within 
we saw the House full of lusty Fellows, some at the Dye- 
fat, some at the Loom, others dressing the Cloth ; the 
Women and Children carding or spinning ; all employed 
from the youngest to the oldest, scarce anything above 
four Years old but its Hands were sufficient for its own 
Support. Not a Beggar to be seen, not an idle Person, 
except here and there in an Almshouse, built for those 
that are ancient and past working." 

Such was the soil and such the people that were to 
provide the later extensions. Defoe noted that there 
had lately been begun a new manufacture of shalloons in 
addition to the older business in kersey cloths used largely 
for the Army of the period. James Akroyd to whose 
successors would seem to belong the distinction of intro- 
ducing the weaving of silk into the town sprang from 
the race of yeomen manufacturers, and in company with 
his brother was manufacturing 18 inch lastings, calimancoes 
and low wildbores, called " Little Joans/' very similar 
to modern buntings, in the last quarter of the 18th 
century. The goods were of plain design, but the brothers 
were manufacturers also of " Amens" (Of. Amiens, France), 
which were figured cloths woven, like Paisley shawls or 
Chinese figured silks, by the aid of a draw-boy, whose 
function was to pull the proper cords at the right 
time to make the pattern. In 1827 Akroyd's son intro- 
duced Jacquards at his new mill in Old Lane, having 
obtained them from Lyons by the agency of a Manchester 

From This brief sketch of the progress of manufacture carries 

Norwich the story to the period at which activities in Halifax began 
to to be a serious embarrassment to the silk and worsted 

Halifax, industry of East Anglia. Norwich, over-ridden by the 
artificial restrictions characteristic of guild activity, had 


a speciality in the manufacture of worsted moreens. From 
James Akroyd & Sons copied the article, and it was Norwich 
first used for curtains in 1811. Other manufacturers to 
followed, so that the cloth became a common one in Halifax. 
Yorkshire trade. Norwich had a reputation also for 
crapes and bombazines, made by crossing a silk warp 
with a worsted weft. Imitation on power-looms without 
a knowledge of how they were woven on hand-looms in 
East Anglia was difficult, and Michael Greenwood, a 
skilled weaver and clever inventor, was sent to spy out 
the Norwich method. His observations led to the 
production in Halifax of these two cloths in 1819 ; and 
those of a colleague, made later in Norwich, introduced 
camlet weaving to the power-looms of Halifax in 1830. 
To Michael Greenwood, of Shibdendale, belongs the credit 
for some less questionable transactions. He with David 
Tidswell, of Queensbury, adapted to the loom the principle 
of the barrel of the box organ by means of which bird's-eye 
patterns were woven in 1818. Greenwood is said also to 
have invented the wire reed for use in weaving mill-spun 
worsted yarn, and, after turning manufacturer upon his 
own account, he introduced the " French figures " of 1834, 
which he began to make on a large scale. 

The facts as to the part played by the Akroyds are 
set forth with candour in a little History of the Firm (1874), 
and they may seem to expose those of olden days to cen- 
sure. It has to be acknowledged, however, that the effort 
to make goods similar to those produced by others is not 
in itself either an unworthy or an illegitimate object. To 
apply new means to an old end or plant a new industry 
in an old soil is to perform a service that must be weighed 
against the loss of those unfortunate enough to suffer 
from the effects of this enterprise. With or without 
undesirable elements, this competition forms part of the 
everyday processes of trade. Considerations of local 
prejudice enter into the transference of an industry from Work 
one part of the country to another, but the conviction of the 
need not be disguised that the transfer could not ultimately Akroyds. 
have been prevented, although it might have been delayed. 
Espionage merely hastened a change that was in any case 



Work impending. Worsted yarn could be spun much more 
of the cheaply in Yorkshire factories than in Norfolk cottages, 
Akroyds. and the hand-loom could not keep pace with the power- 
loom in the production of cheap goods. Yorkshire had 
the coal and the factories, the capital, the experience and 
the facilities for transport and sale, which sooner or later 
must have acted destructively on the hide-bound industry 
of East Anglia. 

It was in 1819 that silk began to be used in Halifax 
for warps, and in 1827 Jonathan Akroyd began the manu- 
facture of a silk damask in which silk was used as weft. 
The bombazines had their career cut short by the 
paramatta, made with a two-fold cotton warp, and this 
in turn was replaced about 1836 by the cobourg, made 
with a warp of single cotton yarn. Silk survived chiefly 
in upholstery fabrics, and in them, despite the inroads of 
artificial silk, it is used still, mainly in the form of tussah 
tram. The manufacture of tapestry, as opposed to 
damask, in power-looms, is attributed to the late Henry 
Charles McCrea, a Dublin gentleman, who became a partner 
in 1834 with John Holdsworth as a damask manu- 
facturer. The mill records of H. C. McCrea & Co., Ltd., 
suggest 1850-52 as the date of the production of the first 
piece of silk and wool tapestry from the power-loom, 
and similar goods are still woven, although the number 
Silk- ^ of manufacturers does not increase. The list of exhibitors 
weaving at the Great International Exhibition of 1851 contains the 
Develop- names of these Halifax firms in the damask or tapestry 
ments. trades : 

James Akroyd & Son. J. W. Ward. 

W. Brown. * Hoadley & Pridie. 

John Holdsworth & Co. Shepard and Perfect. 
^ H. C. McCrea & Co. J. Taylor & Sons. 

The weaving branch constitutes one-half the claim 
of Halifax to attention as a silk town. Precisely when 
the spinning of yarn from waste silk began has not been 
made clear. Crabtree's history of the town (1836) says : 
' The silk trade, although of recent introduction, gives 
every promise of its being a very flourishing branch of 
manufacture in this parish," and quotes Mr. Robert 


Baker, Superintendent of Factories, Leeds, to the effect A Silk- 
that " it is remarkable that Halifax from its local situation spinning 
is peculiarly adapted for the preservation of the colour " Town, 
of silk. Unless there is some reference here to the virtue 
of the local water in facilitating a thorough discharge of 
the natural gum in silk waste the meaning is obscure. 
Crabtree, dealing with the Census of 1831, states that 
19 out of 24 townships in the Halifax Parish may be said 
to be manufacturing, and adds that 18,377 out of a total of 
101,491 persons enumerated were engaged in the different 
branches of cotton, worsted, woollen and silk. The parish 
then contained : 

57 Cotton mills using . . 716 h.p. 

35 Woollen .. 662 

45 Worsted .. 855 
4 Silk . . 86 

12 Unoccupied or incom- 
plete Mills 

153 Mills. 2,319 Horse-power. 

The reference to the date of the introduction of silk Some 
must not be taken literally. George Binns, Gibbet Street, early 
Halifax, is described as a silk spinner in Baines's Directory Spinners, 
of 1822. Binns and Wrigley, Boothtown and Wheatley, 
was a partnership in 1830. George Binns, 25 Gibbet 
Street, and Norland and Henry Wrigley, King Cross and 
Stansfield, traded separately in 1837, and in 1842 G. Binns 
was described as also of Hebden Bridge, while Henry 
Wrigley was described additionally as cotton warp dealer. 
There is the oral evidence of a contemporary that 
Binns later developed a large business as a short-spinner 
at Hebden Bridge, and documentary evidence proves the 
existence of Binns Bros, in that town in 1865. The 
bankruptcy records tell of the failure of Henry Wrigley, 
Silk Waste Spinner, Dealer and Chapman, in 1837. The 
newspaper files of the year show that he was not the only 
unfortunate to go down in the American financial crisis, 
nor the only Wrigley in the business at this date. The 
separate firm of Wrigley and Son, Holmfield Mills, were 
constrained to offer their : 


Some "Valuable establishment, consisting of mill and premises 

early and machinery with steam engine of 15 h.p. at the Leys 

Spinners, in Hightown, near Leeds, to be disposed of by private 

contract. The premises are under lease for 14 years. 

The machinery comprises three sides of carding and 

preparation, spinning and doubling, calculated to turn 

off 6 to 700/6^. weight of single and double twist per 


The advertisement conveys the significant intimation 
that " the Machinery is quite new and has been working 
only two or three months," and that the " Neighbourhood 
is well stocked with hands." The circumstances suggest 
financial stress, and within a short time the firm Wrigley 
and Son, constituted of Watts Wrigley and Thomas 
Wrigley were in bankruptcy also. The official notices 
show that Wrigley and Son combined silk w r aste spinning 
with worsted spinning, and their association with long- 
fibred wool, suggests that they were the Wrigleys, who, 
together with Holdforth, of Leeds, and a Lancashire 
firm, participated in a monopoly of the new process of 
long-spinning. The fact that the three firms did hold 
a monopoly is vouched for by the personal recollections 
of Mr. Thomas Butterworth, of Brighouse. 

Trade Another bankrupt of 1836 was described officially as 

Failures. Silk-spinner, Dealer and Chapman. The bankrupt was 
George Perkins, the contents of whose mill at Boothtown, 
Halifax, were offered at auction. An auctioneer's note 
says that the bulk of the valuable machinery was made 
in 1834 and 1835 by approved makers, whose names are 
in some cases given. The equipment included : 

1 Cutting engine. 4 Carding engines (36 ins.). 

1 Scutcher. 3 Drawing frames. 

1 Willow. 2 Slubbing frames (14 spin- 

3 Filling engines. dies). 

21 Dressing machines. 1 Slubbing frame (16 spin- 

8 Carding engines (42 ins.). dies), &c. 

Alice Burrows was the maker of the cutting engine, and 
most of the dressing, carding and spinning machinery. 
Mason's, of Rochdale, made one of the cards, Jenkinson 
and Barr the stretching frames and Cocker and Higgins, 


Manchester, the slubbing frames. The yarn was spun on Trade 
a jenny of 150 spindles. Failures. 

The identification of Messrs. Wrigley and Son with the 
introduction of long-spinning is mentioned again in the 
light of Perkins' failure. Perkins had his mill in Boothtown, 
and it is a fair inference that the mill is the one which 
the Wrigleys are known to have afterwards occupied with 
their long-spinning machines. On the testimony of a 
spinner, who has known the Yorkshire branch of the 
business intimately since 1852, it was in a mill in Boothtown 
that the Wrigleys continued their operations. The mill is 
still in work, although its connection with the silk trade has 

The Henry Wrigley made bankrupt in 1837 occupied A Spin- 
a mill at King Cross, driven as the auctioneer's adver- ning 
tisement shows by " One High-pressure Steam En- Plant, 
gine of 10 Horses' Power and one Ditto of 14 Horses' 

The effects included : 

One Boiling-off Copper Pan. 

Wire Drying Flakes. 

Very superior Cutting Machine. 

Two Single Blowing Machines (30 ins.). 

Six Breaking Carding Engines (48 ins.). 

Six Finishing Carding Engines (48 ins.), by Hibbert 
and Platt. 

Four Breaking Carding Engines (42 ins.). 

Four Finishing Carding Engines (42 ins.). 

Five Drawing Frames (6 single heads each). 

Four Slubbing Frames (12 spindles each), by Cocker 
and Higgins. 

Five Stretching Frames (144 spindles each). 

Two pairs of Mules (348 spindles each), all with 15 in. 

One pair of Mules (372 spindles each), 14-| in. spindle 
by Jenkinson and Bow (or Barr). 

Seven pairs of Mules (408 spindles each). 

Two pairs of Mules (480 spindles each). 

Eleven Doubling and Twisting Jennies (180 spindles 





Nine Doubling and Twisting Jennies (204 spindles 

each), &c. 

Other reasons exist for regarding 1837 as a better 
year for auctioneers than for silk-spinners. On the 27th, 
28th and 29th days of September, Mr. Thomas Davis 
put up for sale the valuable silk and cotton machinery 
at Greaves Mill, Stainland, near Halifax, occupied by 
Mr. John Denton. The details may be spared, although 
it is notable that where Wrigley used a copper, Denton 
used an iron boiling pan. At the foot of the list of effects 
there are enumerated : 

" A quantity of finished and dressed silk ; 44 bags 
of boiled silk ; 15 bags of home waste ; 47 bags of 
silk noils ; a number of wire silk scrays ; silk 
shoddy webs." 

Wrigley's auctioneer expressly directed attention to 
the fact that the machines were framed in iron, and in 
this notice may be read a reminder that the earliest 
dressing machines in the memory of living man were 
framed not in iron, but in wood. 

Culminating proof of trade depression in the year of Queen 
Victoria's accession is found in the advertisement in the 
Halifax Guardian of 19th September of another sale of 
valuable machinery, situate at Hare Park Mills, Hightown, 
Liversedge, in the parish of Birstal, in the county of York. 
Details of the American panic apparently responsible for 
the havoc in the trade are lacking. There were failures 
of London houses engaged in the American trade, and 
silk-spinners were not alone in these embarrassments. 
Trade was generally bad, and the worsted industry suffered 
sorely. If the details may be filled in at a venture it 
doubtless occurred that the London houses owed the 
spinners money directly or indirectly, and that silk prices 
so susceptible to violent fluctuation dropped heavily. 
According to the Banker's Circular, a sudden rise took 
place in the value of money in 1836. Bagehot denies that 
there was a real money market panic between 1825 and 
1847, but agrees that the crises of 1837 and 1839 were 
severe, and would have produced panics had the Bank not 
arrested the alarm before it reached a state of intensity. 


Fire, which has ravaged the silk-spinning industry Mr. S. C. 
with a surely disproportionate severity, closed the con- Lister in 
nection with Halifax of one who was to build in another Halifax, 
town a silk factory reputed for a while the largest in the 
world. Lord Masham's career is linked with Manningham 
distinctively, for at Manningham he began business in 
1838, with an elder brother, as J. and S. C. Lister, worsted 
spinners and manufacturers. There, after the retirement 
of his brother, Samuel Cunliffe Lister founded the wool- 
combing business which was to bring him fame and wealth, 
and the degree of self-confidence that led to experiments 
in silk waste and the invention of his silk-comb. The 
S. C. Lister and Co., of Wellington Mills, Halifax, was 
only an auxiliary to the main undertaking of this forceful 
and courageous man, but in these mills from a date subse- 
quent to 1857, and until December 2nd, 1874, Lister 
combed and spun silk. On this date fire broke out in 
course of some operation to a gas main ; five work-girls 
lost their lives, and the business was transferred to Man- 
ningham. A sum of 27,500 was later recovered by way 
of damages from the Corporation of Halifax. 

The year 1857 was one of financial panic, and Lister, A 
returning from a stay in the Highlands, on which he looked Financial 
back as the pleasantest three months he had ever spent, Crisis, 
found himself in trouble. Its nature and bearings are 
best left to his own description, contained in Lord Masham's 
Inventions, the autobiography published before his 

" I was informed that the Halifax concern was in 
difficulties and wanted help. Then I found that Mr. Brown, 
the managing partner, had accepted bills to a large amount 
that had nothing to do with the business, but as they 
were accepted in the name of the firm, I was responsible 
for them, and had them to pay. This I could not do at 
the moment, so the concern had temporarily to suspend 
payment to give me time to find the money. . . . 

" But all this might have been avoided had I been 
wise and not foolishly proud, for the Governor of the 
Bank of England most thoughtfully and considerately 
sent for me. ... In a large, gas-lighted, underground 


A room (it appeared to me), I was introduced to the Governor 

Financial and three or four Bank directors. He sat with a big book 
Crisis. before him, and received me very pleasantly, but soon 
showed that he meant business, and asked me some very 
searching questions, every answer being carefully entered 
in the big book. At last he asked me the very plain 
question, Did I think I could pay my way ? He said 
that he was aware that I had a number of concerns doing 
a large business, and if they should stop payment it might 
and would greatly increase the panic that was then 
prevailing. This at once raised my pride, that I should 
be asked such a question, for I had hitherto considered 
myself one of the richest and most prosperous men in 
the country. In a rash moment, I remember so well, 
I coloured up and said I thought I could. 

" The big book was immediately closed. He rose from 
his seat, and, with a bland smile, said : ' We are delighted 
to hear it. Good morning, Mr. Lister.' And so I was 
bowed out of the bank. When in the street, too late, I 
saw my folly." 

" The Halifax concern remained under the supervision 
of the creditors for some time, aiid made about ten 
thousand pounds, which, to my great indignation, the 
Income Tax people assessed. ... So ended the year 
1857. . . . My loss, direct cash loss, besides what I sup- 
posed from having to sell stocks and other things at 
ruinous prices, was a hundred and fifty thousand pounds. 
This, together with my serious loss on silk-combing, so 
crippled me that for years I was more or less always in 
pecuniary difficulties." 

Later At the time of the stoppage in 1857, Wellington Mills 

Develop- was a worsted concern, and in the statement of affairs 

ments. then issued, the liabilities were given as 253,190, and 

the assets 210,889. Mr. Lister's private resources were 

said to exceed a quarter of a million, and Mr. Brown's 

to be nil. The creditors were paid by instalments extended 

over two years. At the time of the fire, the premises 

housed 230 silk-looms, and a number of silk-spinning 

frames, and between five and six hundred persons were 



The rebuilding of the premises made way for a young Later 
firm of spinners, which had been established in Brighouse. Develop- 
Three brothers Marsden, with a brother-in-law, Mr. ments. 
Cockroft, manager for John Fisher and Co., Longroyd 
Bridge, Huddersfield, founded the firm. As Marsden 
Brothers and Holden, they were in litigation with 
Mr. S. C. Lister in 1874. The firm became Clayton, 
Marsdens and Co., after it had been joined by Mr. Lemuel 
Clayton, hitherto traveller for H. C. McCrea and Co., and 
became later Clayton, Murgatroyd and Co., Ltd. The 
concern remains one of the largest and most prosperous 
in the trade, and retains an extensive business in sewing 
and embroidery silks. About 1900 Clayton, Murgatroyd 
and Co. took over and closed a small neighbouring mill, 
which had been occupied latterly by James Robinson and 
Co., and formerly by the Cockrofts. The Mytholm Mill, 
at Hipperholme, which early in the 19th century was 
used in the wire trade, was let to W. Spencer and 
J. Cockroft for silk purposes somewhat before 1855. 
After possession by Andrew Cockroft, the mill passed 
to Clayton, Marsdens and Co., and was eventually put to 
other trades. 

The name of Hadwen, within the silk-spinning industry, The 
ranks in historical quality with that of Brocklehurst, Hadwens 
Thompson and Fielden. These are the oldest names of 
in the memories of those who have been in the trade Triangle, 
longest, and are those of the parent concerns. The 
founder of the Hadwen firm, so long carried on at Triangle, 
near Halifax, came from Kendal. He began business at 
Triangle in 1800, as a cotton spinner, and in 1826 
began to spin silk upon his cotton machinery. This 
method was followed until 1858, when machinery for 
dealing with long fibre was installed. A proportion of 
the older type of machines was retained, and warp yarn 
for Henrietta cloths and for the Bombay market continued 
in use until the end of the century. The mill at Kebroyd 
was the scene of some interesting experiments to produce 
schappe yarn of the kind made upon the Continent. 
Machines for stamping cocoons and a modern apparatus 
for de-gumming were installed, but lacking the supplies of 


The glacier water that are possessed by the European mills, 

Hadwens the result was not successful enough to warrant the 
of retention of the plant. The firm had a particularly high 

Triangle, reputation in the lace trade, and during the '70' s did a 
large business in the Nottingham market. 

Mr. John Hadwen, the founder, was succeeded by his 
son, Mr. G. B. Hadwen, and by his grandsons, of whom 
Mr. F. W. Hadwen remains. In 1892 Mr. Alfred Ingham 
was admitted as a partner, and about 1900 the mill was 
taken over by a limited company, in which many of 
Messrs. Hadwen's 500 workpeople took up shares, and the 
undertaking passed out of the family control. 



Brighouse, a thriving industrial borough, with some Home 
21,000 inhabitants, has in the course of the past 70 years of 
been made the chief centre of the English silk-spinning several 
industry. Mid-way between Bradford arid Huddersfield, Indus- 
with Halifax upon its west and the prosperous Spen Valley tries, 
upon its east, the town is placed in the heart of the textile 
area of the West Riding. It is upon the main line of a 
coast-to-coast railway, and is accessible from Liverpool 
and the Humber by canal. The town is on the fringe of 
the Yorkshire coalfield, it has beds of excellent stone and 
an abundance of water, from the higher lands adjoining, 
finds its way down to the River Calder, upon which 
Brighouse stands. Being favourably placed for the pur- 
poses of miscellaneous industry, the town has become 
the home of several different trades. Cotton-doubling is 
carried on by a score of firms, whose single-yarn is mainly 
obtained from Lancashire, although in part from local 
spindles. Woollens are made upon the Huddersfield side 
of the borough, as are the especially renowned Clay 
worsteds. Upon the Bradford boundary, the Firths have 
their great carpet mills. There are large dye-works for 
the slubbing-dyeing of wool and the dyeing and finishing 
of piece goods. Beyond these industries there are con- 
siderable ones in ironfounding, wire-drawing, flour-milling 
and quarrying. 

Two accounts connect the name of Newton with the The 
introduction of the silk trade into the town. Mr. Horsfall Early 
Turner, in his History of Brighouse (1903), refers casually Days of 
to the " several (who) tried to establish the silk business Silk. 
. since Mr. Robert Newton." In another connection 



The the book refers to a meeting held 22nd September, 1846, 

Early in the warehouse of Mr. Robert Newton's Victoria Mills. 
Days of Miss Sellers in the Victoria County History, Yorkshire, 
Silk. vol. 2, says : " The industry was introduced by 

Messrs. Robert Newton and James Barrow, who came to 
Brighouse from Lancaster in 1843, and started business 
at Little John Mill." The name of Barrow is a palpable 
mis-spelling of Burrow, and if the business was indeed 
started in the exiguously small quarters named, the fact 
is outside the knowledge of the owners of the building. 
The land in the township of Clifton, upon which Little John 
Mill was built, was leased in 1786 to John Clegg for 85 years 
for the erection of a carding mill, and there is the authority 
of the Kirklees Estate Office for the statement that if the 
mill was used for silk the business must have been carried 
on by sub-tenants of the lessees. 

There is no doubt in the minds of Brighouse spinners that 
Newton was one of the earliest of their number, and he 
may have been the first. The firm Burrow and Monk, 
constituted of the James Burrow, stated to have been 
in partnership with Newton, and a Mr. Monk, from Maccles- 
field, is more generally regarded as the original firm. 
They were in partnership together when Mr. Thomas 
Butterworth, the late Mr. John Cheetham, and others, 
came to Brighouse in 1852, after the closing of Fielden 
Brothers' silk mill at Todmorden. Burrow and Monk 
then occupied a converted farm building, which still forms 
a part of the Thornhill Briggs Mills of Wood Brothers and 
Sons, Ltd. The short or cotton system of spinning had 
been carried on there originally, but with the help of 
workmen from the Holdforth's Mill in Leeds, the improved 
long-spun method was substituted, and was being 
practised in 1852. Deeds in the possession of the present 
owners of the mill suggest that Burrow and Monk would 
be tenants of the Dr. Joseph Cartledge, who had bought 
that portion of the Newstead's estate. The documents 
show further that the property had been transferred 
in 1747, subject to a peppercorn rent " the yielding 
Memories and paying of one red rose in the time of roses." 
of Lister. To this mill Mr. Samuel Lister, the late Lord Masham, 


was in the habit of paying frequent visits at the time The 
that he was beginning the manufacture of silk waste at Early 
Manningham. The occupants ultimately failed, and, upon Days of 
the evidence of one of the silk-dressers who was employed Silk, 
there at the time, Mr. Monk left Brighouse for Hudders- 
field. Mr. Burrow remained behind, and he is said to 
have sunk in the social scale and to have eventually 
turned to poaching. The name of one Alice Burrows 
appears in auction catalogues as the maker of cutting, 
dressing, carding and spinning machinery in use in the 
Halifax district in the middle '30's, and the surnames 
are sufficiently alike to suggest the possibility of a relation- 

The names of Benjamin and of Joseph Noble are remem- 
bered in the trade as those of two of the earlier Brighouse 
spinners, and Mr. Turner's History mentions that the 
second-named died in 1876 at the age of 66. Mr. Butter- 
worth, the oldest living silk-spinner, whose father and 
grandfather both worked in the spun silk trade, founded 
in partnership Barkers and Butterworth, Belle Vue Mills, 
and on his retirement sold the business to John Cheetham 
and Sons, Ltd. At Calder Bank Mills, Brighouse, Albert 
Mills, Rastrick, and Belle Vue Mills, Messrs. Cheetham 
carry on a trade with which their family has been identified 
for some generations. The Cheethams in the early days 
of their business dressed silk upon commission for 
Mr. Lister, of Manningham Mills, and the Mr. Nussey, 
who later became manager at Manningham, was stationed 
at their mills to supervise the weighing of the material. 
Upon leaving Todmorden, Mr. John Cheetham worked at Subse- 
the silk trade in Halifax, and, coming to Brighouse, entered quent 
later into partnership with Mr. Richard Kershaw in 1863. Develop- 
The partnership was dissolved in 1871, and became ments. 
Ormerod Brothers and Cheetham, and by dissolution in 
1881 became John Cheetham and Sons. 

Mr. Kershaw, whose pursuits had formerly been agricul- 
tural, opened business as R. Kershaw and Co., and in 
1880 completed the building of the fine Woodvale Mills, 
which were sold about 20 years later to the Messrs. Ormerod 
on Mr. Kershaw' s retirement from the trade. 


Subse- The Ormerods, who had been previously in the cotton 

quent trade, built the large Alexandra and Prince of Wales 

Develop- Mills, the first of which was burnt down in 1903, when 

ments. 40,000 damage was done. After being carried on by 

members of the Ormerod family until 1913, a change of 

proprietorship was made, and Mr. A. Mellor was brought 

from Macclesfield to undertake the management of the 

concern still called Ormerod Bros., Ltd., the largest in 

the town. 

The firm of Wood Brothers and Sons, Ltd., was founded 
in 1881 by members of a family connected since the 17th 
century with the local wire-drawing industry. Mr. Michael 
Hill, later of the Ford Silk Spinning Co., Horbury, and 
of John Hadwen and Sons, Ltd., was the first partner 
of the Woods, and in charge of the technical work. Under 
the later charge of Mr. Thomas Herbert Wood, a second 
large mill has been built in which advantage has been 
taken of every modern improvement. 

At Wilkin Royd Mill, a successful business has been 
built up by Wood, Robinson and Co., in the last quarter 
of a century. John Baldwin and Sons, Ltd., Ganny Mill, 
Mr. Thomas Binns, Clifton Bridge Mills, and A. Rawlinson 
and Son, Brookmouth Mill, have all carried on their 
businesses for years, and make standard Brighouse yarns. 
In the course of development there have been retire- 
ments from the trade for one reason and another. The 
Messrs. Stott, Kershaw, Ormerod, and Butterworth are 
no longer actively associated with the trade, and the firm 
of Wilkinson and Airey and perhaps one or two others 
are extinct. 

Lively competition exists between the several spinners 

all of whom are making yarns required for similar purposes, 

varying somewhat in nature according to the particular 

class of material used and the incidental differences due 

Com- to variations of practice. The spinning of 60' s white silk 

petition chiefly for the dress goods market, which for long has 

between ranked as the principal branch of the trade, has to some 

Spinners, extent given way to the spinning of tussah silk in the counts 

required by plush manufacturers. Yarns are spun for 

the lace and hosiery trade, and for sewing and embroidery 


purposes, in quantities which fluctuate with the somewhat Export 
uncertain demands. A large part of the production is Trade, 
for export, and the typical strong, bright, clean Brighouse 
yarn is favourably known in afl considerable centres of 
silk manufacture. 

At Greetland near Halifax and Brighouse, silk-spinning 
is carried on in addition to woollen manufacture at Wood 
Field Mills by Benjamin Fielding and Son. 



The part From the earliest up to the present times the staple 
played of Huddersfield industry has been wool, and in the manu- 
by Silk, facture of the finest worsted cloth the town has achieved 
a position of pre-eminence. In bringing about this 
development a considerable and often disregarded part was 
played by silk. There was an intermediate stage in 
Huddersfield' s successful career in which goods made of 
wool and silk had a greater relative importance than they 
have had for some years past. The history of the Hudders- 
field industry may be traced from the 16th century, when 
white and coloured " Penestons " (coarse wool cloths) 
were being made in the hinterland of the town, and when 
a fulling-mill for the finishing of these cloths woven on 
" the broad lombes " was in operation at Thurstonland. 
Reference to the cloths is found in the statutes of 1580 
and to the fulling-mill in H. J. Morehouse's Parish of 
Kirkburton (1861). The same work is the authority for 
the statement that until the latter half of the 18th century 
the coarse cloths woven in certain of the upland villages 
upon the outskirts of Huddersfield went by the name of 
" Leeds Reds." They were woollens, scribbled and carded 
by a single pair of cards, spun into single thread and 
woven by hand shuttling. Their name of Leeds was 
derived, by a not unfamiliar process, from the fact of 
their sale to the Leeds merchants. 

Morehouse records that as late as 1780 the villagers of 
Shepley, one of the outlying townships of the Hudders- 
field area, used to assemble in the early morning at the 
blast of a horn to convey their homespun warp yarn by 



packhorses to the Dewsbury market. Huddersfield had The part 
also an ancient market of its own, and the market cross played 
still stands in the main street. Here local cloths were by Silk, 
sold before the opening of the Cloth Hall in 1760 ; an 
institution of which it was said half a century later that 
it had been of the utmost benefit to producers in keeping 
prices at a remunerative level even in depressed markets. 
Huddersfield blue serges were being sold in fairs in other 
parts of the country and a document in the possession 
of B. Vickerman and Sons, Ltd., shows the founder of 
the business to have disposed of 1,400 worth at the 
Prescott, Chester and Wrexham fairs of 1792, and to 
have been trading also with Massachusetts. 

In 1776 the first spinning machine, a jenny of 18 spindles, 
was erected in Holmfirth, a few miles to the southward 
of the town. The first mill to be erected in the Colne 
Valley, now the scene of busy activities in the cheap 
fancy woollen trade, is said by Mr. D. F. E. Sykes in 
Huddersfield and its Vicinity (1898), to have been driven 
first by gin horse and later by water-wheel. The year is 
unspecified, but the date is apparently one anterior to 
the invention of the steam engine. 

Huddersfield stands at the confluence of the Colne and The 
Holme valleys and in the last named according to Silk 
Morehouse only plain goods were made until about 1830. Vestings 
Business in plain cloths declined, and a demand arose Trade, 
for fancy vestings in which silk formed a distinctive 
feature. The manufacture of these tided the local 
industry over the thirty or more years that passed before 
the opening of its later phase. Morehouse refers explicitly 
to Kirkburton, Shelley and Shepley as places owing much 
to the development of the new trade, and indeed business 
in fancy vestings is still carried on successfully in these 
districts of Greater Huddersfield. The goods, however, 
became staple wares of the period, and were manufactured 
in Dalton, Rastrick and other townships to the north 
of the town. 

A list which appeared in West Riding Directories shows 
that there were at least two silk-spinners in Huddersfield 
in 1830 : William Hird and Son, silk cotton and worsted 








spinners, Cross Church Street, and the longer-lived firm 
of Fisher. The name is given as John Fisher and Co., 
silk-throwsters and spinners, Longroyd Bridge, in 1830 ; 
a name changed to Edward Fisher and Co., by 1842, and 
which had become Edward Fisher and Sons before the last 
proprietor, one Mr. Sharp, of Holmfirth, closed the business 
in 1895. The Fishers were engaged originally in the 
short-spinning process, and the improved system of long- 
spinning was introduced at their mill by the Mr. Cockroft, 
who with his brothers-in-law, the Marsdens, founded the 
mill now carried on at Halifax by Clayton, Murgatroyd 
and Co., Ltd. 

Factory inspection returns record in 1839 these two 
silk factories in Huddersfield and two in Almondbury, 
employing in all 326 persons. In 1842 the name of Joseph 
Mills, King Street, appears along with that of William 
and Samuel Dowse, Mold Green, throwsters and spinners, 
and of two dealers in silk yarn. The business of William 
White and Sons, now of Mulberry Mills, Huddersfield, 
bears one of the traditional names of the industry. Of 
Huguenot extraction, the Whites first in London, next in 
Macclesfield, and, since 1843, in Huddersfield, have carried 
on the ancestral trade for many generations. The late 
Mr. William White, a familiar figure for half a century 
at the London silk sales, rode out upon horseback in his 
early days to sell his silk twists to the manufacturers of 
vestings, and the old ledgers of the firm give an insight 
into the conditions under which trading was then done. 
Amounts were settled normally by bills, occasionally 
partly by bills and partly by hams, which were re-consigned 
to the White family in London and Macclesfield. More 
rarely they were settled partly in bills and the balance 
in milk ; an evidence of the * survival until a compara- 
tively late date of the close local connection between 
farming and textile manufacturing. Soon after 1849, 
Mr. White produced the gold coloured twists needed 
to make the California vestings, which became seasonable 
articles at the time of the gold discovery in that State. 
Mr. William White, who lived to a great age, had at one 
time a silk dyehouse at Linthwaite, and for a short while 


shared in a tentative experiment in silk-spinning. The 
business carried on by his descendants is still that of 
preparing twists for the uses of the vesting and worsted 

Work of the same kind is carried on by the Bent Ley Waste 
Silk Mills Ltd., of Meltham, in addition to the dressing Silk 
and spinning upon a considerable scale of waste silk. Trade. 
The mill was built about 1840 by Charles Brook and 
Sons, members of a family which subsequently built up 
a great business in sewing cotton. The mill passed from 
the Brooks to William Bamford and Sons, who continued 
the silk business for a few years, and eventually sold it 
in 1890 to the present limited company, of which the 
managing director is Mr. A. W. Manks. The original 
business was somewhat enlarged about the beginning of 
the century by the purchase from W. Hollins and Co., 
Ltd., of the silk department conducted in their large mills 
at Mansfield. Silk-spinning was carried on in 1851 at 
Dalton by John Salkeld and Co., presumably in the 
Greenside Mills, which about 30 years ago were worked 
by a Mr. George Wilson. It is known that Wilson acquired 
part of the machinery sold at the break-up of Burrow and 
Monk, the pioneer spinning firm in the adjacent town 
of Brighouse, and one of Mr. Wilson's employes, the late 
Mr. J. W. Armitage, subsequently began spinning upon 
his own account in that town. 

The Census of 1871 showed that in the census area of 
Huddersfield 108 males and 148 females were employed 
in the manufacture of silk. Silk and satin manufacturing 
employed 74 males over 20 years of age ; seven adult males 
were returned as silk dyers, and two as silk merchants. 
The particulars would seem not to cover the whole 
industrial district ; they exclude those whose business 
lay mainly with mixed goods, and they were taken before 
the rise of the silk plush industry, which for a time largely 
increased the number of silk workers in and about the 

Silk yarn dyeing has been carried on for many years, Silk 
and upon a large scale at Mr. G. W. Oldham's Moll Spring Yarn 
Dyeworks and Lord's Mill, Netherton. During the Dyeing. 



Silk currency of the trade in silk sealskins in the '80's and 

Yarn '90's, large quantities of these plushes were manufactured, 

Dyeing, notably by the extinct firms Henry Lister and Co., Joseph 

Walker and Sons, Lindley, Norton Brothers and Co., 

Nortonthorpe, and by Field and Bottrill, of Skelmanthorpe. 

The production of pile goods like astrakhans and mohair 

plushes remains one of the specialities of the district. 

To pick up the broken thread of the story of the develop- 
ment of the Huddersfield fine worsted trade, reference 
must be made to a letter published in the Huddersfield 
newspaper, 1881-1883, by Mr. J. S. and Mr. J. T. Clay, 
of Rastrick. It is there recorded that about 1853 one 
John Beaumont, of Dalton, brought out a new vesting 
made with four-fold woollen yarn twisted with a thick 
thread of silk and woven 16 threads to the inch in each 
direction. A London woollen merchant, Charles Kennerley, 
of Savile Row, London, invited Mr. Clay to make the 
cloth in cashmere or worsted, instead of woollen yarn. 
A supply of Berlin wool yarn made for the uses of the 
Leicester trade was procured from a Mr. Charles Walker, 
of Bradford, and a new business in so-called Berlin vestings 
was begun. From one piece dyed black and made without 
silk the famous tailor Poole cut one chequer-board square, 
and in 1857 or 1858 ordered a piece to be woven throughout 
in the plain twill of this pattern. A coat of this material 
worn by the Prince of Wales, brought fine worsted into 
prominence, and its increasing growth in public favour 
ousted the shiny woollen broadcloths that had formerly 
been the recognised wear for formal occasions. Broad- 
cloths had been the particular speciality of the West of 
England, and their supersession by a fabric which was an 
offshoot from the trade in wool and silk waistcoatings 
became a matter of the utmost moment. The manu- 
facture of fine cloths for wear by men was transferred 
Manu- to the West Riding, most of the woollen mills of the West 
facture of England dropped gradually out of work, and the success 
of Fine that has been gained subsequently in Gloucestershire and 
Cloths. elsewhere in the West has been chiefly by the adoption 
of the methods pursued in Huddersfield. 



Towns in which employment for men is plentiful, and 
particularly those situated on the Northern coal-field, are 
commonly favourable to the development of textile 
industry. The case has not proved thus with Sheffield, 
where a silk throwing mill was erected near the Don 
River in 1758. The mill was inspected by Arthur Young, 
and a faithful account of its transactions is given in his 
Northern Tour (1769) : 

" Sheffield contains about 30,000 inhabitants, the 
chief of which are employed in the manufacture 
of hardware. The great branches are the plating 
work, the cutlery, the lead works and the silk 
The silk-mill was : 

" A copy from the famous one at Derby which employs A 

152 hands, chiefly women and children ; the Throw- 
women earn 5s. or 6s. a week by the pound ; girls at ing Mill, 
first are paid but Is. or Is. 2d. a week, but rise 
gradually higher, till they arrive at the same wage 
as the women. It would be preposterous to 
attempt a description of the immense mechanism ; 
but it is highly worthy of observation that all 
the motions of this complicated system are set 
at work by one water-wheel, which communicates 
motion to others, and they to many different ones, 
until many thousand wheels and powers are set 
at work from the original simple one. They use 
Bengal, China, Turkey, Piedmont and American 




raw silks ; the Italian costs them 35s. a lb., but 
the American only 205. ; it is a good silk, though 
not equal to Piedmont. This mill works up 
150 Ibs. of raw silk a week all the year round, or 
7,8001bs. per annum. The erection of the whole 
building, with all the mechanism it contains, 
cost about 7,000." 

Other The enterprise succeeded ill and according to both 

Textile Hunter's Hattamshire (1819) and Baines's History, 
Enter- Directory and Gazetteer (1822), the premises were soon 
prises. applied to the spinning of cotton. Baines added that 
" neither the silk nor the cotton trade has made any 
progress in Sheffield, though the latter has been per- 
severingly prosecuted upon the site of the original silk 
mill, after two successive conflagrations." It is not only 
to silk and cotton that Sheffield conditions have proved 
hostile. There was in 1822 a considerable carpet manu- 
facture, and near a hundred looms employed in weaving 
hair-seating. " There is also," reported Baines, in an 
ominous tone, " a small quantity of woollen cloth manu- 
factured here, but it seems an exotic, and, like cotton and 
silk, not a native of the soil." Steel has banished silk, 
cotton, wool and horse-hair alike, and modern Sheffield 
makes no experiments in the textile industries which 
prosper in the hands of its neighbouring towns and cities. 
A directory of 1821 records the existence of two silk- dyers 
in Sheffield, but it is possible they were dyers of garments 
rather than of yarns and piece goods. 


Silk and Leeds has the advantage of a singularly diverse range 

Flax- of industries, but has for several years lost a connection 

spinning, with silk, dating from a hundred years ago. Leeds, it 

must be recalled, was formerly the chief centre of the 

English flax industry, and the fibre is still spun in the city. 

There are stout historical links between the spinning of 

flax and the silk-spinning process now in general use in 

this country, and these may be sought in the chapter 

dealing with Waste Silk (p. 390). Flax and waste silk 

involve the use of similar types of machinery, and the 


machine makers, to whom the silk-spinners of to-day are Silk and 

perhaps more indebted than to any other, carry on business Flax- 

in Leeds. Greenwood and Batley Ltd., the chief makers spinning. 

of waste silk drawing machinery, themselves derive from 

an older flax machine firm. The founders left Fairbairn 

and Lawson to begin business for themselves in 1856. 

Mr. Samuel Lawson, of this firm, was the patentee, jointly 

with the inventor, William King Westly, of Leeds, of 

the \\rorm gear for driving the " fallers," or heckle bars of 

the machines used in preparing long fibres for spinning. 

This invention of Westly's lies at the root of the silk, 

flax and worsted spinning practice of to-day, and Westly 

has had less than his meed of honour and perhaps of 


Westly's specification (6464 of 1833) shows that pre- 
viously to his time the toothed bars which parallelise the 
fibres had been driven by chains and spur wheels on 
which his " perpetual screws or worm shafts " were so 
great an improvement that they have never been super- 
seded. An entry in the London Gazette of 15th July, 
1837, conveys notice that W. K. Westly, Salford, flax- 
spinner, was certified bankrupt on that day. Nor does 
a printed card* preserved among old documents by 
Messrs. Greenwood and Batley suggest great good fortune, The 
eloquent as it is of the joy of achievement and the work of 
indomitable spirit of the man. Westly. 

* The following lines, composed by the late WILLIAM KING WESTLY of LEEDS (Inventor 
of the SCREW GILL, &c.), were seen written in red chalk on the whitewashed wall of his own 
room, by his nephew, with whose kind permission they are here printed : 
" Speed man ! Speed ! Old Time is running, 

Stretch and strain thy strength and cunning ; 

Every sinew bravely brace, 

To the wrestle and the race, 

'Tis the doing not what's done, 

'Tis the winning not what's won, 

'Tis the struggle and the strife 

Gives the real zest to life. 

Labour is no slavish burden, 

But its own sufficient guerdon, 

Giving doubly all it takes, 

In the manly pride it wakes, 

In the sound and happy sleep, 

In the pulse's joyous leap, 

In the limbs with vigor lithe, 

In the temper ever blithe, 

In the sweetness of the bread 

Won by skill of hand or head, 

Forward, then ! and forward still ! 

Triumph waits on strength of Will." 






The Factory Inspection records state that one of the 
225 steam engines at work in Leeds in 1836 was for silk 
and cotton-spinning, and that this engine was of 36 horse 
power. If the capacity of the prime mover looks trivial 
in a modern light, it can at least be argued that the engine 
was of twice the average power of those in Leeds manu- 
facturing establishments at the period. Then, and for 
long after, it was customary to move spinning-mules by 
hand. The question of the ownership of the engine may 
be set at rest by reference to Baines 9 Directory of 1822, 
showing the name James Holdforth, Mill Street, Bank, 
Leeds, under the heading silk and cotton-spinner. In 1830 
the address was Low MUl, and in 1842 was 38, Mill Street, 
and at Horsforth and Cookridge. In 1847 the firm was 
James Holdforth and Son, Silk Street, Leeds. Probably 
the mill was in existence before this time, for it was in 
1812 that the founder married, and his daughter-in-law 
understands that he had the silk-mills at that time. An 
entry in Leeds' Worthies (1865) gives an epitome of 
Mr. James Holdforth's life, showing him to have been 
born in 1778, and to have died at the age of 83. He was 
one of 22 placed on the first Commission of the Peace 
under the Act of 1836, and had the distinction of being 
the first Roman Catholic mayor elected in England since 
the Reformation. He was the friend and correspondent 
of Daniel O'Connell, Sheil O'Gorman Mahon, and other 
Catholics of renown, and " greatly beloved by his work- 
people, large numbers of whom he employed in his extensive 
silk factory." Mr. Holdforth' s name is mentioned in the 
evidence taken by the Committee on the Factory Bill, 
1832, from which source it appears that the mill had a 
night as well as a day staff. A girl witness deposed that 
he " liked children all to be very clean." 

Mr. Joseph Holdforth was head of the firm in 1864, 
when he died. Mr. James Holdforth, junior, who had 
carried on business as a spinner of silk by the short-spun 
process in Congleton, sold his Cheshire mill a few years 
later, and carried on the Leeds concern until in the '70' s 
difficulties overcame him, and the three or four hundred 
operatives were thrown out of work. The machinery 


was sold by auction, and some of it was removed to the Hold- 
Brighouse district. Exceptional interest attaches to the forths' 
affairs of the Holdforths, as it was from their mill that of 
workers were drawn to operate the first long-spinning Leeds, 
machinery introduced into Brighouse, the town that is 
now the chief centre of the long-spinning trade. Again, 
the Holdforths were one of three firms that in the beginning 
asserted a monopoly in the rights of the process of spinning 
waste silk without first reducing its fibre to very short 

White's West Riding Directory of 1837 gives the name 
Wilkinson and Son, Harcourt Mills, Leeds, as silk and 
cotton-spinners, but the contemporary evidence disfavours 
a supposition that they were silk-spinners for long. 
Mr. Walter Hinde, later connected with the Lancaster 
silk-spinning concern Hinde and Co., through his partner- 
ship in the flax and worsted spinning firm of Hinde and 
Derham, had a connection with Leeds. At Horsforth, on 
the outskirts of Leeds, mentioned as a place of business 
of the Holdforth's in 1842, the Charnley's for a while 
carried on silk-spinning. From 1870 to 1877, Mr. T. B. P. 
Ford, in partnership with Mr. Harvey, had a silk-spinning 
business in Leeds, which was removed to Low Bentham, 
near Lancaster. 


Flax and tow-spinning was carried on early in the last Off- 
century in Low Bentham, a village geographically in shoots 
Yorkshire, but with Lancaster as its nearest town. A of 
mill devoted formerly to hemp-spinning was bought in Leeds 
1877 by Mr. T. B. P. Ford, who with a Mr. Harvey had Industry, 
been a silk-spinner since 1870 in Leeds. Two or three 
years later Mr. Ayrton joined him, and in company they 
gradually enlarged the mills and built up the satisfactory 
business now owned by Ford, Ayrton and Co., Ltd. 
Mr. Ford, in his youth, had the advantage of a training 
in mechanical engineering in the works of Greenwood 
and Batley, Leeds. 




The As the two more accessible towns west and east of 

Trade about twenty miles of sterile and mountainous country, 
in Rochdale and Halifax, divided between them for a couple 

Flannels, of centuries the market in the coarse woollens produced 
by the yeoman-manufacturers of the region. Rochdale 
still manufactures " Yorkshire " flannels in token of its 
old association with domestic weavers across the county 
border, as well as Lancashire flannels, pseudo- Welsh and 
Shetland flannels, and a variety of modern shirtings. 
Flannels became so much the speciality of Rochdale 
that in 1824 the town was computed to produce more 
than all the rest of the world. " Some good flannels 
are manufactured in Wales," admitted the Edinburgh 
Philosophical Journal of the year named, " a few good 
ones at Keswick and some other towns and villages. 
A few are manufactured on the Continent, and works 
for that purpose are now erected in America ; but the 
whole of the flannels manufactured on the globe, beside 
those manufactured in Rochdale and its immediate vicinity 
are not equal in quantity to those made here." 

The flannels that have long engaged the local attention 
have suffered in sale from the extensive changes in habits 
of dress, and the cotton trade absorbs more and more of 
Rochdale energies. As an outpost of Manchester, the 
town has in its time had some relations with silk, chiefly 
through two firms now non-existent. 

The firms of Henry Tucker and Co., described in 1877 
as manufacturers, spinners and printers, making poplins, 



Japanese cloths, scarves and ties, handkerchiefs, foulards, An 
piece goods, Indian corahs and bandannas, had Rochdale Extinct 
as one of its three addresses. According to the available Spinning 
oral evidence, silk was spun upon the long-spun process at Industry, 
their Castleton Silk Mills, Rochdale ; by the short-spun 
system at Pendleton Silk Mills, Manchester, and silk- 
throwing was done at their Pickford Street Mills, 
Macclesfield. The name is one of the oldest known to 
present members of the silk-spinning trade, and it subse- 
quently became Tucker, Meade and Co., by inclusion of 
relations of the Tucker family. The silk business seems 
to have fallen away, and attempts were made at Castleton 
to produce ramie yarns upon a commercial scale. A 
Company called the Lancashire Silk and Rhea Mills Ltd. 
was formed to acquire the concern, and this Company 
passed into liquidation about the beginning of this century. 
Thomas Watson and Sons, Ltd., Horse Carrs Silk Mill, 
Rochdale, was the later title of the firm that in the '70's 
was known as Thomas Watson and Co., and that had 
been founded by Mr. Thomas Watson, earlier of Galgate, 
Lancaster. Silk was spun and woven into velvets and 
plushes, and the Messrs. Watson made large quantities 
of sealskin plushes during the continuance of the demand 
for these goods. Silk plushes were also woven by the 
great firm of John Bright and Brothers Ltd., Fieldhouse 
Mills, as one out of many different classes of goods receiving 
their attention. 


Waste silk dressing and spinning have been carried Waste 
on for a number of years at Heywood, about three miles Silk 
from Rochdale, by the firm of Brearley Brothers. Dressing. 


The family of Fielden, proprietors of three large cotton 
mills at Todmorden, and distinguished by many public- 
spirited acts, operated one mill in silk-spinning until 
1852. Upon the evidence of one who worked in 
this mill in his youth, silk was spun there in the 
same manner as cotton. Upon the occurrence of a 


Fielden death in the family, the properties were divided, with 
and the result that the silk-mill was closed, and the papers 

Brockle- relating to its affairs have been destroyed. The con- 
hurst sequent disemployment of the body of workpeople led 
Interests, to some dispersal of the trade and was a factor of 
importance in the development of the silk-spinning 
industry in Brighouse. The inter-marriage of two members 
of the Fielden family with two of the Brocklehurst family 
of Macclesfield, is a link further connecting Todmorden 
with silk, and probably explains the entry of Fielden 
Pros, into the silk-spinning business. 


An isolated silk-spinning business is carried on suc- 
cessfully in the picturesque surroundings at Ripley, near 
Harrogate. The original owners seem to have been 
Briggs and Co., whose manager was a Mr. Threlfall, of 
Brighouse, and the business is conducted by his sons, 
under the name of Threlfall Brothers. 


^ At Bell Busk, seven miles north-west from Skipton, 
silk-spinning, largely for the sewing trade, was carried 
on for many years by Mr. C. A. Rickards. The miU and 
the trade marks were acquired by the English Sewing 
Cotton Co., Ltd., of Manchester, and after a fire, which 
destroyed the premises, the goodwill of the business was 
sold to Lister and Co., Ltd., of Manningham. Messrs. Lister 
have at Addingham, six miles south-east from Skipton, 
Low and High Mills and Burnside Mills, which are used 
for the manufacture of velvets. 

Plate XXIX. Silk Shawl in the Museum, Norwich. 


The early history of the textile trade in England is Origin 
the history of the manufactures of Norfolk and Norwich, of the 
In the earliest periods this industry was doubtless almost, name 
if not entirely, confined to wool, the very name of the yarn " Wor 
and material known as worsted having been derived many sted." 
centuries ago from Worstead, a small town or village some 
few miles distant from Norwich. 

A curious reference to the industry is made in con- 
nection with a catastrophe which befell Norwich in 1174. 
In that year Hugh Bigot, who had taken the part of the 
elder son of Henry II against his father, attacked the 
place with a band of Flemings. Little defence was made, 
and Matthew Paris records that a vast amount of booty 
and many captives were taken away. The French 
chronicler Jordan Fantosme explains the easy capture 
of the town by the statement that the Norwich citizens 
" for the most part were weavers, they knew not to bear 
arms in knightly guise." 

From Danish times onwards Norfolk and Norwich Influ- 
have had a large share of British trade, in the earlier ence oi 
periods exporting wool, and later exporting cloth. It Immi- 
would, however, appear certain the textile industry was gratioE 
not of indigenous growth, but that it was first introduced 
and its continuance ensured through many centuries by 
distinct and successive waves of immigrants, principally 
from the Low Countries. The first foreign settlement 
of which definite record can be found took place in the 
12th century. Blomefield, a well-known local historian, 
has expressed the opinion that Flemings were settled here 



Influ- and in Haverfordwest at the same time and there is 
ence of evidence of their presence in the township of Worstead 
Immi- about 1134. 

gration. The second great wave dates from the 14th century. 
This it is declared was due to the initiative of Philippa, 
Queen of Edward III, who induced her Flamands " goode 
and trew weevers " to come over in crowds. Norfolk 
and Norwich prospered exceedingly. Norwich became 
the second city of the realm, and within her walls could 
be found nearly sixty parish churches and seven conventual 
churches, besides several religious houses. In the year 
1368, William de Swyneflete, Archdeacon of Norwich, 
caused to be made a certain vellum book, in which was 
forthwith entered inventories of the ornaments of all the 
churches in his archdeaconry. The volume, therefore, 
gives a most valuable insight into the goods and ornaments 
of the Norfolk and Norwich churches in the 14th century, 
and shows the great wealth of silk vestments and high 
altar palls possessed by those 46 Norwich churches, of 
which inventories are given. 

The silken goods and the treasures in the city churches 
had wonderfully increased between the date of this 
inventory and the Reformation. The return of the Com- 
missions, 6th Edward VI, relating to St. Peter de 
Parmentergate, shows the extraordinary accumulation of 
valuable silken vestments &c., in one of the less important 
Norwich churches at the Reformation. These facts are 
Silk indirect, if perhaps hardly conclusive, evidence that from 

in the the 14th century onwards and therefore far anterior to 
14th its introduction in any other part of England the silk 

Century, industry was practised in Norwich. 

Of this industry, there are, however, no detailed records 
until the " Great Wave " of the 16th century. The brief 
reign of the last male Tudor saw evil days for Norfolk. 
Pestilence, fire, and the rebellion of Tanner Kett had 
ravaged Norwich. Besant, in an eloquent passage, 
depicts the ruin and desolation in London for long after 
the Dissolution ; and so with Norwich. The stately 
religious houses, and their more stately fanes had been 
either absolutely destroyed or ruinated. Barely a remnant 


of the staple trade survived. The old city had yet good 
friends however, notably Parker, the celebrated Archbishop, 
himself a Norwich man ; and in 1565 the Duke of 
Norfolk, with the view to restore the fortunes " of the Letters 
goode cittie," obtained from Elizabeth letters patent Patent 
which granted power to the Mayor and Corporation from 
of Norwich to receive " Therty Douchemen of the lowe Queen 
countrys of Flaunders alyens borne being alle housholders Eliza- 
or maister workmen," with their several households and beth. 
servants not exceeding ten to each family as inhabitants 
of the city to exercise "the faculties of makeing bays, 
arras, sayes, tapstrey, mockadoes, staments, carsay and 
such outlandish commodities as hath not bene used to 
be mayde within our Realme of England." 

The letters patent were delivered to the Mayor, Thomas 
Sotherton (whose mansion now called the Strangers' Hall, 
has been preserved to the city by the prescient public 
spirit of Mr. Leonard G. Bolingbroke, hon. treasurer of the 
Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society), but there 
was some ill-feeling in the Common Council about the 
admission of the " Strangers " and the members refused 
to admit them under their common seal, so " the sayd 
Maior and his bretherene agreed that the seale of the 
offyce of Mairaltie shulde be sette to the writinge " 
(signature) " of everie of the thurty maisters that he 
lyscensed accordinge to the letters pattents, wiche was 
then done in manner hereafter ensewenge." (Strangers 7 
Book, folio 16, in Norwich Archives, Castle Museum.) 
The letters patent described these good people with easy 
comprehensiveness as being all " Douchemen," yet the 
list of the masters and their detailed description prove 
there were also " Wallounes " (Walloons) in important 
proportion these latter a French-speaking, sturdy race, 
whose homes reached so far inland as Metz. Thus the 
Strangers, although of the same religion, were from the 
first, distinct communities each with its distinctive Natioi 
language and code of laws religious and domestic and ality 
its churches. In 1585 there were three ministers for the of 
Dutch Colony in Norwich Theophilus Tyekwaert, Immi- 
Ysbrandus Balkins and Antonius Algotius its separate grants 



council of elders or " politic men." To each community 
were granted places of worship, " cloth halls " and " sealing 
halls." Even the branches of textile fabrics were carefully 
divided between the two communities ; thus the Dutch 
were only allowed to make "wet greasy goods," the 
Walloons '" dry woven goods." 

The later Tudor age was an age of method. Letters 
patent were required in 1565 before the Strangers were 
allowed to settle in Norwich, and sundry masters or 
head men were appointed. This was not considered 
enough, and in 1571 an elaborate code of rules, called 
" the Booke of orders for the Strangers of the Cittie of 
Norwiche," was issued by the Privy Council. This book 
has no less than 24 articles, these being for the greater 
part regulations affecting the staple trade of the Strangers 
(textile fabric manufacture). In addition " Sealing Halls " 
were established, and " Sealers " or " Searchers " were 
appointed. The " Sealers " were duly sworn experts, and 
each piece of fabric under pain of divers penalties to the 
makers had to be submitted to and examined by them 
as a guarantee of " trewe makyne " and " trewe 
cowlleringe," and each piece was marked or " sealed " 
with a separate seal in accordance with its merit. About 
the same time the " Books or orders for the Draperye " 
was issued by the united councils of the elders or " hommes 
politiques." The original book (there appears to have 
been only one copy) is beautifully written in Dutch, and 
consists of minute regulations respecting the making of 
" bayes, says," and numerous other fabrics of wool, wool 
and silk, and all silk. It is instructive to note that the 
earnest endeavour of these wise men was evidently to 
ensure honest, and so far as it was possible, perfect work. 
Excellence of fabric was evidently their aim not cheapness 
at the expense of quality and to this far-seeing policy 
can be fairly ascribed the renown of Norwich-made goods 
for many years. If the sealers found a piece of fabric 
to be imperfect, they decided who was the cause of the 
imperfection the manufacturer, the dyer, or the weaver 
and in democratic fashion, the guilty party was mulct of 
a fine, and if the fabric was considered a disgrace to the 


Strangers and to the city, it was incontinently " torn in Fabrics 
twain " and handed back ! In 1616 the city authorities marked 
purchased the right to seal with the Crown Seal granted by 
to the Duke of Lennox. With this was marked all fabrics Crown 
sealed or searched (i.e. examined by sworn experts) in the Seal, 
various sealing halls. 

To show the classification of varying degrees of quality or 
manufacture determined by the sealers and to prove 
their place of origin, there were other marks, as 
follows : Goods considered as being up to a certain 
standard of excellence were stamped by the searchers 
with the city arms (the lion and castle) if manufactured 
by Norwich citizens ; with the lion without the castle 
if by Norfolk weavers ; with a ship if by the Strangers. 
On the other hand, goods considered inferior from any 
cause were stamped " Norwich" within a ring if manu- 
factured by Norwich citizens ; if by the Strangers 
"Aleyne" within a ring; if by Norfolk weavers "Norfolk" 
within a ring. 

These regulations obtained until 1705, when during a 
riot the sealing halls were sacked and the various seals, 
or brands, destroyed. The cause of the tumult is unknown. 
According to Blomefield (vol. iii, p. 284)" To all which 
ordinances they willingly obeyed, behaved themselves 
orderly, became a civil people, and were of great service 
to the city." 

Nevertheless they had many enemies. In 1567, Thomas 
Whalle, the Mayor, tried to expel them from Norwich, 
but the Town Council would not agree. Several vexatious Har- 
regulations were, however, passed, and it was reported assing 
to the Privy Council that the Strangers numbered 1,132 Eegula- 
persons, far above the allowed number. Again, in 1570, tions. 
certain gentlemen and others of Norwich unsuccessfully 
attempted against the Strangers a sort of Sicilian 
Vespers. As counterblasts " agaynst them that take the 
benefyte of the statutes ageynst the pore straungers 
without cause," the Strangers found it expedient to 
obtain from time to time from the Mayor certificates 
of the advantages to Norwich resulting from their resi- 
dence there. 



cate of 
tage of 
to the 


For instance, in vol. 20, State Papers Elizabeth, circa 
1575, appears the following : 

" The Benefite Receyved by the Straungers in Norwiche 
for the space of tenne years. 

" In Primis. They brought a grete commodite thether, 
viz. : the makinge of bayes, moccadoes, grograynes, all 
sortes of tuftes &c., which were not mayde there before, 
whereby they do not only set on worke there owne people, 
but do also set on worke our owne people within the cittie, 
as also a grete number of people nere xx myles about the 

"Item. By their meanes our cittie is well inhabited 
and decayed housen reedified. 

"Item. The Marchaunts by their commodities have grate 
trade as well within the realme as withoute the realme, 
beinge in good estimacion in all places. 

' ' Item. They be contributors to all paiements or subcedies, 
taskes, watches, contribusions, mynisters, wagis, etc. 

" They live holy of themselves without charge, and do 
begge of no man and do sustain all their owne pore people. 

" And to conclude they for the most parts feare God 
and do diligently and labourously attends upon their 
several occupacions. They obbey all Magistrates and all 
goode lawes and ordinances, they live peecablie amonge 
themselves and towardes alle men, and we thinke our 
cittie happie to enjoye them." 

This is endorsed " The benefittes receaved in Norwiche 
by havinge the Strauners ther." 

Many other " briefs " (as they were called) of like tenour 
and of various dates were, until recently, in the possession 
of Messrs. Stevens, Miller and Jones, Norwich, solicitors 
to the French congregation. 

It can be easily understood that with men who had 
abandoned their all " for conscience sake," the exercise 
of their religion " with decency and in order " was con- 
sidered of primary importance. In the archives of Ypres 
is a collection of intercepted letters from the Norwich 
" Strangers " to those remaining in their native land, 
and it is pathetic to note the general thankfulness that 
in their new home they can worship in peace. Clement 


Baet writes (September 5th, 1567) to his wife, and ends Reli- 
an affectionate letter : " May God give you the same loving gious 
peace and riches we have at Norwich. It is very dear to Tolera- 
hear the word of God peacefully." tion. 

The first care of these men both Dutch and Walloons 
was to appoint pastors and a Board of Elders. The 
Livre de la Disipline de VEglise Walonne de Norwiche du 
Ve Avril, 1589, is in the British Museum. It gives minute 
particulars of their religious doctrines, and the duties of 
the " four Orders " appointed " Les Pasteurs, Les Docteurs, 
Les Diacres, Les Anciens." The book commences : 
" Pour bien gouverner 1'Eglise de Dieu il n'est pas seule- 
ment besoin que la 'parolle et sacremens soient purement 
adminis, mais aussi qu'il y ait quelque police ou dis- 
cipline tant entre ceux qu'en ont la conduite que les 
particuliers a fin de conserver la doctrine en sa purete 
garder en bon ordre ses assemblees eclesiastiques contenir 
un chacun a son devoir, et que tous recoivent advertisse- 
ment reprehension consolation et subvention en leur 
necessite selon qu'il en sera besoin." 

Thus these pastors and elders were strict rulers, not 
only of the religious, but also of the domestic lives of their 

The French-speaking congregations were first granted 
the Bishop's Chapel in the Bishop's Palace grounds, and 
afterwards St. Mary's the Little, still called the French 
Church, and where are preserved monuments to the 
Martineaus and other refugee families. The Dutch- 
speaking congregation worshipped in Blackfriars Hall 
(the choir of the Blackfriars Monastery Church), where 
still is preached each year a sermon in Dutch. They were 
turned out for a time, and were permitted to use St. Peter, Foreign 
Hungate. Blomefield also names St. Michael at Plea the Colony 
French Church, and in 1620 St. Gregory's was called the of 
Dutch Church. It must be remembered that the foreign 5,000. 
colony then numbered in Norwich nearly 5,000 souls. 
The Dutch alone had three ministers, and presumably 
with such pious people each had a large congregation. 

These Dutch and Walloons were industrious, God- 
fearing people, but in spite of the complimentary 





of dis- 

appreciations expressed in the certificate of 1575, entitled 
" The Benefite Receyved by the Strangers in Norwiche " 
(already quoted), it must be admitted the records tend 
to prove they were also stubborn and turbulent. There 
were endless squabbles between Dutch and Walloons 
about their shares of the textile trade. If one community 
invented a new fabric, and prayed " Mr. Maior " that 
its production might* be " sealed " or reserved to them, 
the other side immediately brought forward a claim 
to make this same fabric. The Court Books are full 
of such cases. In 1571 there was a great squabble amongst 
the elders or the " politic men " as to the newly elected 
members of their body, and " Mr. Maior " summoned all 
persons concerned to appear before him to stop " all this 
unnaturell and barbarous dissenting, and to rote oute 
all contencious hedes and high stomackes lurking in the 
congregations." His Worship appears to have brought 
all to unity with the exception of Antonius Paschesson, 
Antonius Paulus, Jacob de Vos and John Gerarde, who 
resisted the pleadings of their own fellows and of " Maister 
Maior." Gerard and Paulus (as the old Governors) had 
possession of the " Booke of orders (or manufacturing 
regulations) for the Draperie." This book they, backed 
by other malcontents of the community, refused either 
to give up or allow to be used. The whole manufacturing 
industry of the Strangers was in consequence brought to 
a standstill. The Mayor sternly demanded the book; 
they refused, although " they were sayde elles goe to 
prisson." Yet were they stiff-necked, " Maister Maior" was 
the same, and on the 4th November, " clapt them intoe 
prisson." Prison fare evidently worked wonders with 
their " high stomacks," for on the 21st November, they 
made their submission and gave up the book. To prevent 
such a deadlock in future, " Maister Maior " ordered 
that a " trewe coppie " should be made in English. Both 
this and the original in Dutch are in the city archives. 
The following quaint account relating the sudden end 
on the 27th August, 1572, in the Guild Hall Council 
Chamber of John Rede, Alderman, will perhaps help in a 
measure to understand what manner of men were 


those who had a part in the " gouvernaunce " of the 
" Strangers ": 

" About nine of the clocke in the forenone, a goode, A 
godely and a virtuous brother of this house, viz. : John Contem- 
Rede Alderman, a bigg man and hot with travell after porary 
reverens done to Maister Maior and other bretheren and Record, 
his place taken in the Council Chamber, being troubled 
wythe a rume which fell from his hede, did coffe three 
times, wherwith he was stoppyd and his wynde fayled, 
and so in a sudden sized doune and never spake any 
worde, and so there presentlie departed this transytory 
life untoe a more joyfulle place of reste." 

In spite of squabbles and jealousies, the Strangers 
throve and increased for many years. In 1611 their 
manufacture covered " bays, fustians, parchmentiers, 
camientries, tufted mockadoes, currellss, tooys, bussins, 
mockadoes, valures, all of linen, cruell, carletts, damaske, 
says of dry cruel (after the fashion of Lille, of Amiens, and 
of Meaux), dry grograynes, double mockadoes, ollyet bum- 
basines of taffety, all silk, striped sayes, broad lyles, Spanish 
sattins, cross billets of silk, serge de boyce, silk saye, 
striped tobines figuartoes, bratos, purled and other out- 
landish inventions." Norwich became again a busy manu- 
facturing centre. The production of textile fabrics must 
have been extremely important, as a large trade was 
not only transacted with the countries of Northern Europe, 
but also with the Levant. As time passed, the Dutch 
and Walloons took full part in civic responsibilities, honors 
and duties. When Queen Elizabeth visited Norwich in 1578 Pros- 
the pageant of the " Strangers " was the most imposing perity 
of all. Not only did one of the Dutch pastors inflict a of Immi- 
long oration (still preserved) upon her Majesty, but the grants. 
Strangers gave her a cup valued at 50, " very curiously 
and artificially wrought." 

In the city archives are the roll calls of the 
" Dutch and of the Wallowne " Companies of the 
City Trained Bands. The first on the 22nd May, 1621, 
numbered five officers and 90 rank and file. The 
" Wallownes " numbered five officers and 74 rank and 



Effect of By the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Louis XIV 
Revoca- expatriated upwards of 500,000 merchants, artificers and 
tion of manufacturers. About 50,000 of the refugees landed upon 
Edict of the shores of England. Many of them a large proportion 
Nantes, families of culture and capital the Martineaus, the 
Columbines, the de Hagues, the Decarles, the Lefevres, 
the Decaux, the Tillettes found their way to Norwich, 
forming a valuable reinforcement to the Dutch and 
Walloon colonies. Silk fabrics, lutestrings, brocades, satins, 
Padua toys, watered tabinets, decapes, black and colored 
velvets were made in great perfection by these newcomers 
to Norwich, amongst whose inhabitants some of their names 
may still be found, and indeed some have long achieved a 
wider fame. It is interesting to note the influence of 
those later refugees upon the two ancient congregations. 
It was so great that the Dutch learned to speak French 
in addition to the language of their forefathers. 

Gradually the congregations became decayed. Their 
descendants were still known and honored, but they 
were no longer " Strangers " in the land. They gradually 
merged into and strengthened the native population. 

It is true that as late as 1725 the Norwich Dutch, 
French and Walloons are specially mentioned in an Act of 
Parliament as being exempt from a murage tax on the 
grounds " they support their own poor and their own 
ministers." Yet although for many years later they clung 
to their traditions, their creeds, their language (a citizen 
still living declares his father when a boy was always flogged 
if he dared to speak any other language than Dutch in 
the home circle), they had by intermarriage and long 
residence practically merged into and strengthened, by 
their inherited good taste, industry and skill, the ranks 
of those Norwich citizens who for long years to come 
were thus enabled to retain pre-eminence as weavers and 
dyers of silk and wool. 

To quote from the luminous pages of Macaulay. 
Next to " Norwich was the capital of a large and fruitful 
London province. It was the chief seat of the chief manufacture 
in popu- of the realm, and no place in the kingdom except the 
lation. capital and the Universities had more attractions for the 


curious. For population it was second to London Next to 
alone." London 

The prosperity of Norwich depended upon the textile in popu- 
industry, in which probably every citizen directly or lation. 
indirectly was interested. The only advertisement page 
of the Norwich Postman, the first Norwich newspaper 
(1708), is full of references to the staple trade. 

Of the history of the 18th century, fairly reliable and 
detailed statistics of the Norfolk and Norwich textile 
industries remain, and of these the first and the most 
interesting are found in Defoe's Tour through Great Britain 
(about 1723). He writes : 

" When we come to Norfolk we see a face of diligence 
spread over the whole country ; the vast manufactures 
carried on chiefly by the Norwich weavers employ all 
the country round in spinning yarn for them. . . . " This 
side " (the South) " is very populous and thronged with 
great and spacious market towns, more and larger than 
any other part of England . . . but that which is most 
remarkable is that the whole country round is inter- 
spersed with villages and these villages are so large and 
so full of people that they are equal to market towns in 
other counties and render this eastern part of Norfolk 
exceeding full of inhabitants." 

" An eminent weaver of Norwich gave me a scheme of 120,000 
their trade, by which, calculating from the number of Textile 
their looms at that time employed in the city of Norwich workers, 
alone he made it appear very plain that there were 120,000 
people employed in the woollen and silk and woollen 
manufactures of that city only. Not that the people 
all live in the city, though Norwich is very large and 
populous, but they were employed for spinning the yarn 
used for such goods as were all made in that city. 

' This shows the wonderful extent of Norwich manu- 
factures ... by which so many thousands of families 
are maintained. . . . Norwich is the capital of all the 
county, and the centre of all the textile trades and manu- 
factures, and is as I have already mentioned, an ancient, 
large and populous city. If a stranger was only to ride 
through or view the city of Norwich on a common day he 



would be induced to think it was a town without inhabi- 
tants, but, on the contrary, if he was to view the city on 
the Sabbath Day, or on any public occasion, he would 
wonder where all the people could dwell, the multitude is 
The so great. But the case is this : the inhabitants being 

Evidence all busy with their manufactures dwell in their garrets 
of at their homes . . . and other work houses, all the works 

Defoe. they are employed at being done indoors." 

" Greatness is comparative," and it is well to bear in 
mind that the Norwich described by Defoe as being " a 
large and populous city ?: had not probably materially 
increased in size and inhabitants since 1693, when by 
actual census it was found to contain about 29,000 people. 
Norwich, however, was at that epoch, and for many years 
after, the very foremost of the towns of England. At the 
commencement of the 18th century not one of the pro- 
vincial towns contained quite 30,000 inhabitants, and 
only four numbered about 10,000. Bristol reckoned about 
29,000 ; York and Exeter, the next in size to Norwich 
and Birmingham, not more than 10,000. Manchester had 
about 6,000 inhabitants, and Leeds still fewer. 

Norwich at that time stood in every respect a leading city, 
not only as " the chief seat of the chief manufacture of 
the realm," by reason of the grandeur of its buildings ; 
but it was also distinguished for the opulence of its leading 
citizens, and the tone of refinement they had reached 
when compared with the conditions of Society in other 
provincial centres. Between the years 1743 and 1763, 
the city attained the highest state of its greatness. 
Master In 1741, Blomefield the historian of Norfolk, dedicated 

Weavers his volumes on Norwich to the Mayor, Sheriffs and 22 
the leading citizens ; of these, the Mayor, one Sheriff and ten 

leading of the 22 principal citizens were master weavers. The 
Citizens, famous John Crome was the son of a weaver. His first 
patron and instructor was " Mr. Harvey of Catton," 
master weaver, an amateur artist of refinement and repute, 
who possessed a fine collection of paintings by British 
and Dutch artists (he married the daughter of a Dutch 
merchant), in which the finest examples of Gainsborough 
and Hobbema found place. Hobbema's methods were 


the inspiration of Crome's genius, and his name was the Master 
last to be uttered by his fleeting breath. Weavers 

In a curious old treatise of that era is the following the 
picture of the Norwich master weavers : leading 

" Being opulent men and generally surrounded by their Citizens, 
dependents, they have something of a lordly bearing . . . 
but they are on the whole an honourable race and exercise 
much kindness towards those beneath them." 

Throughout the history of Norwich, the turbulence 
of the weavers and the frequent riots appear to have 
caused the worthy citizens constant anxiety and grievous 
loss. In the local records are found numerous references 
to these disturbances. In 1720, on the 20th September, 
"a grete riot" happened under pretence of destroying 
callicoes, " as pernicious to the trade of Norwich stuffs ; 
the rabble cutting several gowns in pieces on women's 
backs, entering shops to seize all callicoes found there &c., 
beating the constables that endeavoured to apprehend 
them, and opposing the Sheriff's power to such a degree 
that the Artillery Company was forced to be raised, upon 
the approach of which they instantly dispersed." 

In April and May, 1757, it is recorded that the mob broke 
into workshops and brutally beat the weavers, cutting 
the stuffs from the looms, which they afterwards " brake 
up and burn'd." 

The events of August 13th, 1752, furnish an example of 
sympathetic strike and peaceful picketing : " About 400 Riots 
wool combers left their employ and encamped at Rack- and 
heath (about three miles from the city), and because the labour 
masters were determined to employ a man of the name of troubles. 
Fry, who the journeymen said had not a regular apprentice- 
ship to the combing business ; journeymen were sent for 
out of Suffolk, which the Norwich combers met on the road 
and stopped them. A posse was sent, who took several 
into custody." 

In 1752, Stannard, a prominent Norwich manufacturer, 
writing to a customer, states : " We are all in grete feer 
because of that three thousands weevers be on the 
rode from Wyndam (Wymondham) to make a riot in 



Riots On June 12th, 1827, a serious riot occurred in the city, 

and A party of Wymondham weavers, who had damaged 

labour looms and destroyed silk to the value of 1,000 at Ashwell- 
troubles. thorpe (a village near), had been conveyed to Norwich 
Castle for examination. The witnesses were brought to 
the city in hackney coaches, escorted by a detachment 
of 12th Lancers. The Norwich weavers barricaded the 
Golden Ball Lane entrance to Castle Meadow with a 
waggon, and placed a similar obstruction near the Castle 
Bridge, and received the military with a volley of stones &c. 
The witnesses were then conveyed by way of Timberhill 
to Orford Hill, and while a large body of special constables 
displaced the waggon at the Bridge, a second detachment of 
the Lancers came from the Barracks, charged the mob at full 
gallop and dispersed them in all directions. The history 
of the time gives lurid glimpses of the punishments inflicted. 
During the 18th century men and women were constantly 
publicly whipped in the market place, or dragged through 
the streets at the tail of a cart, for having either sold yarn 
" false told " or for having stolen it. 

" On the day before Christmas Day, 1761 (stated the 
Norwich Gazette), John Minns, of St. Margaret's, and the 
wife of Robert Fox, of St. Peter per Moutergate, were 
whipped in Norwich Market Place for buying and 
receiving embezzled yarn." 

As this example indicates, the punishment for buying and 
receiving embezzled yarn was severe. The leakage with 
respect to yarn stolen and sold by the weavers was con- 
siderable and it was difficult to check this pilfering, 
because the fabrics were nearly all woven in the houses 
of the weavers, who in many cases lived considerable 
distances from Norwich. The following advertisement 
in the Norwich Mercury of February 22nd, 1772, gives 
a somewhat interesting picture of losses caused by 
fraudulent workpeople : 

Dis- ' Whereas on the 18th June last a middle-aged man, 

honest by the name of John Rose, of St. Faith's " (about five 
Work- miles from Norwich), " came to the house of Messrs. Crowe 
people. and Taylor, and took from thence " (i.e. was given material 
to work up) " one two-piece thrumb of 26 score crape 


with a Havel and Slay, and 12J dozen for himself to weave. Dis- 
Also one two-piece thrumb of 22 score crape with a Havel honest 
and Slay for his boy to weave, and as the said John Rose Work- 
has not been heard of, although various messengers have people, 
been sent after him, this is therefore to give notice that 
any person shall be handsomely rewarded who will give 
information of the man or the work." 

The efforts during the reign of George I. to encourage 
the . silk industry by special allowances on silk goods 
exported, appear to have led to abuse on the part of 
Norwich manufacturers of the fabrics " called sattins 
and damasks," which (ordinarily made from worsted yarn) 
had specially added to them a small quantity of silk to 
secure the allowance made on " all silk " fabrics. In the 
Norwich Mercury of October 28th, 1728, appears the 
following notice : 

" This is to give Publick Notice to all the Merchant 
Traders, Weavers and other exporters of woolen manu- 
facturers ... to parts beyond the Seas. That by order 
of the Honorable Commissioners of His Majesty's Customs 
the allowances that used to be made for exporting the 
Manufactured Goods called Sattins and Damasks (in which 
there is a small admixture of silk) is stopt as being contrary 
to the Intention of the Act of the 8th and 9th of his late 
Majesty for granting those allowances on silk and worstead 
Goods Exported ; and that stopage will be made of 
such Goods if offer'd to be Exported as goods which are 
intituled to the allowances that are granted by the aforesaid 

At two general meetings of the manufacturers held at Prices 
the Guildhall on December 14th, and December 21st, 1790, paid 
the prices for weaving were fixed and printed in a list for 
comprising serges, prunelles, satins, satinettes, camlets, Weaving, 
camletines, florentines, brilliantines, grenadines, blondines, 
tabourtines, callandies &c. At a general meeting of the 
manufacturers, held June 13th, 1793, it was resolved 
unanimously that they would supply the journeyman 
weavers they employed with havels and slaies free of charge 
and without deduction from the prices established in the 
table of rates fixed in the year 1790. The list, with minor 


Prices revisions, continued in force until 1824, when the list 
paid hereunder was agreed upon to be followed in somewhat 

for quick succession by that of 1846. We give these two lists 

Weaving, in full detail in the Appendix, because they seem valuable 
records of prices for work obtaining at their several dates. 

Arthur Young visited Norwich in 1771, and in his Tour 
in Eastern England gives the following comprehensive 
account of the city and its manufacture : 

" The city of Norwich is the most considerable after 
London ... by an accurate account taken a few years 
ago the number of inhabitants reckoned by houses 
amounted to 40,000 . . . 38,000 may be taken as the 
probable number. The staple manufactures are crapes 
and camblets ; besides which they make in great abundance 
damasks, sattins, alopeens, &c., &c. The earnings of 
the manufacturers (i.e. weavers) are various, but in general 
high. Men on an average do not exceed 5s. a week, 
but then many women earn as much, and boys of 15 or 
16 likewise the same. ' Draw ' boys from 10 to 13 half-a- 
crown a week. Pipe boys and girls (winders of the yarn 
or silk on weaving tubes or perns) from five to nine years' 
old, 9d. Dyers 15s., hot pressers 15s., women for doubling 
25., ditto for doubling silk 8,9. . . . With respect to the 
present state of the manufacture, it is neither brisk nor 
very dull. Some among them complain because they 
have not so great a trade as during the war, for then they 
could not answer the demand (from 1743 to 1763 was their 
Colonies famous era) . The unfortunate difference subsisting between 
and the Great Britain and her colonies is a great injury to them, 
trade. They now do not send anything to North America, but 
much to the West Indies. Their foreign export is to 

Rotterdam. All Flanders. Naples. Lisbon. 

Ostend. Leghorn. Genoa. Barcelona. 

Middleburgh. Trieste. Cadiz. Hamburgh. 

All the Baltic except Sweden, where they are prohibited. 

" For 70 years past the manufacture is increased as 
from four to twelve. During the last war Norwich sup- 
plied the Army and Navy with 4,000 recruits, but her 
manufacture did not suffer in the least, for they carried 
on more trade than ever. The truly industrious do not 



enlist, and as to the idlers the greatest favor that can be 
done to any place is to sweep them all away. 

" The general amount of the Norwich Manufacture Employ- 
may be calculated thus :- ment 

" A regular export to Rotterdam by shipping each Statistics, 
six weeks of goods to the amount of per annum to 
480,000, 26 tons of goods sent by broad- wheeled 
. " Weekly to London at 500 a ton, average 13,000 tons 

per annum, value 676,000. 

"By occasional ships and waggons to various places, 
calculated at 200,000. 

Total, 1,356,000. 

" The material point ... is ... how many people 
are employed, and for this calculation I have one datum, 
and this to the purpose. They generally imagine in 
Norwich that each loom employs six persons as a whole." 
(Young presumably includes combers, spinners, doublers, 
hot pressers, dyers, warpers &c., with the weavers.) " And 
the number (i.e. of looms in Norwich and the district) 
is 12,000. There are, consequently, 72,000 people 
employed by this manufacture. 3 ' 

The following tabulated return of exports of Ives, 
Basely and Robberds, one of the leading Norwich firms 
throughout the 18th century is valuable as showing the Charac- 
kind and volume of the trade done in the year 1791, when ter of 
Norwich trade had considerably declined : Trade. 



Spain & 





































Sundry figured stuffs . 


























of Export 

It is remarkable to note that more goods were exported 
to Russia by this firm than to any other country. At least 
thirty other important firms were competitors in the 
same fabrics. At this period the total exports of the 
manufactures of England were 14,000,000, of which 
Norwich textile fabrics furnished over 1,000,000. 

Buyers from all parts of Europe regularly visited 
Norwich. In the diary of Philip Stannard, manufacturer, 
is given the names of visitors from " Cadiz, Venice, 
Leipzig, Copenhague, Lubeck, Amsterdam, Zuric, Franck- 
fort, Cologne, Stockholm, Weimar, Bremen, Christiana, 
foreigners, who have been in my house in 1751." 

William Taylor, the celebrated German scholar, himself 
the son of a Norwich manufacturer, and educated for one, 
wrote in 1798 : 

" The trade of Norwich did not so formerly depend 
upon the foreign demand as it does at this time. From 
the beginning of the century till within these 40 years 
this kingdom alone took off a very considerable quantity 
of stuffs. At various times the crapes of Norwich were 
in very common use, and during the administration of 
Sir Robert Walpole and so long as the city had powerful 
friends at Court, the public mournings were always 
ordered to be in Norwich crapes. . . . The correspondence 
they '' (i.e., the Norwich manufacturers) " had begun " 
(abroad), " they . . . extended to every point of the 
compass. By sending their sons to be educated in 
Germany, Spain and Italy, they qualified them for the 
execution of their plans, and at the same time cultivated 
a more familiar connection with those countries. Their 
travellers penetrated through Europe, and their pattern 
cards were exhibited in every principal town from the 
frozen plains of Moscow to the milder climes of Lisbon, 
Seville and Naples. The Russ peasant decorated himself 
with his sash of gaudy callimanco, and the Spanish Hidalgo 
was sheltered under his light coat of Norwich camblet. 
. . . The tastes of foreign nations were consulted. The 
loom was taught to imitate the handiworks of Flora, and 
the most garish assemblage of colours of every hue satisfied 
the vanity of the Swabian and Bohemian female. The 


great fairs of Franckfort, Leipsic and Salerno were thronged Details 
with the purchasers of these commodities, which were of Export 
unsuccessfully imitated by the manufacturers of Saxony. Trade. 
Norwich was now crowded with looms. Every winter's 
evening exhibited to the traveller entering its walls the 
appearance of a general illumination. From . . . miles 
around the village weavers resorted to it with the produce 
of their looms." 

The Norwich master weavers of the 18th century were 
verily ''' the Nobility of Commerce/' and from about 
1720 to 1770 they were the most powerful, the most 
wealthy, the most cultured industrial class in the 

The 18th century saw the rise of many families whose 
founders were Norwich master weavers, and whose 
descendants are to-day locally important " county 
magnates." These include the Harveys, the Ives, the 
Columbines, the Custances, and the Martineaus, whose 
name is known to the literary world. The early 18th 
century also saw the rise of a remarkable Quaker family, 
whose financial prescience and assistance have had a 
profound influence on Norfolk and Norwich, extending 
to the present day. John Gurney, the founder of his 
line, was a humble wool merchant, who, with fourteen 
other Quakers, was in 1683 committed to the Norwich 
gaol for refusing to take the oath of allegiance. This man 
of conscientious scruples was the ancestor of Mrs. Fry 
and her brother, Joseph John Gurney. Their labours on Norwich 
behalf of prison reform are world renowned. One of the Master 
14 Norwich Quakers " haled " to prison in 1683 with Weavers. 
John Gurney was Thomas Lombe, ancestor of the 
Sir Thomas Lombe, who was created a knight by 
King George, and who secured a handsome sum from 
Government for having introduced into England the 
art of working organzine silk. 

In 1575 the Dutch elders presented in Court in Norwich 

a new fabric of which the name has been variously spelt 

' bombexine," " bombasin," " bombazine " all evidently 

derived from " bombyx." This fabric was made with 

silk for warp, worsted for weft, woven with a twill and 



Origin the worsted upon the face or right side of the piece. The 

of narrow bombazines were 18 inches wide. The broad 

Norwich made for Spain, Portugal &c., 40 to 50 inches wide. Both 

Crape. broad and narrow pieces were about 60 yards long. This 

fabric continued one of the most important manufactures 

of Norwich down to the commencement of the 19th century, 

and when dyed black was really the old " Norwich crape " 

of the 18th century. 

Many quaint advertisements in the local press throughout 
the 18th century refer to bombazine :- 

" This is to inform the public that Mr. James Scottowe, 
in St. George's Tombland, near the Redwell, in Norwich, 
makes bombazines for deep mourning, which he will sell 
by wholesale or retale to shopkeepers or others who may 
want a single suit, at a very reasonable price ; he has 
also neat woven whims flowered in the loom with silk 
up or worstead on a white prunel at reasonable rates, and 
likewise all sorts of raw silks as B and C Bengals, fine 
burgams, orsoyes, legees &c., suitable for any stuffs that 
are now made and in fashion, which he will sell as cheap 
as can be bought in Norwich." (H. Cross-Grove's Norwich 
Gazette, July, 1727.) 

" Just come to Town a Parcel of Fine Bombazines dy'd 
and drest by the Best Hands, also Bengal Silks and slack 
thrown Legees, Ossoyes, and Fine Double Silk, which 
runs above Sixty dozen boiled off fit for mourning Crapes. 
All persons shall be welcome to view the goods. Buy 
or not Buy, and shopkeepers shall have the Bombazines 
Three Pence a yard cheaper than they can buy in 
London. Mr. John Scottow, near the Griffin in Norwich, 
who designs to leave off business." (Norwich Mercury, 

Some As it would appear from a notice of the same date in this 

curious newspaper that " The London Waggon now goes out 

Adver- every Thursday night from the Angel in the Market Place 

tisements. in Norwich, and gets to the Blossom Inn in Lawrence 

Lane, Cheapside, London, the Tuesday morning following," 

it is not very probable Norwich " Shopkeepers " made 

frequent visits to the Metropolis to test the truth of 


statements like these of "Mr. John Scottowe," respecting 
the current market price of bombazines ! 

About the year 1819 a new silk and worsted article was New 
introduced by a Mr. Francis, and named by him " Norwich Silk and 
Crape." It was different to a bombazine, although formed Worsted 
of silk and worsted. It was what is technically called fabrics. 
" tamet " or " tammet " woven (i.e. with no wale and 
both sides alike). The fabric was so generally adopted as 
a standard article of female dress as to almost completely 
supersede the coloured bombazines and other silk and 
worsted allied fabrics (i.e. prunelles, satins, satinettes, 
harbines, silk camblets, cambletines, florentines &c.). 

Stannard, a leading Norwich manufacturer, wrote to 
a customer, January, 1752 : " You call em Sattins, 
but they are Damasks. They are principally made by 
weavers yt live in ye Country about 8 or 10 miles from 
Norwich" (.Wymondham or Aylsham). "Silk camblets 
really fine harbines are made by William and Sam Wiggett 
for Italy, Spain and Lisbon." 

The new " crepe " was woven in the grey, and after- 
wards dyed an endless variety of colours, and so finished 
that the best sorts would vie with the finest satin. 
Norwich crape was followed by various silk and worsted 
articles of very light texture, well adapted for women's 
dresses, such as crepe de Lyon, poplin Francais, silk 
and worsted brilliants, Irish poplin, &c. Then came the 
Challis, described by the celebrated local dyer, Michael 
Stark, as certainly the neatest and most elegant silk and 
worsted article ever manufactured. It was made on a 
similar principle to the Norwich crape, only thinner, 
softer and composed of much finer materials. Instead 
of a glossy surface being produced, as was required in the 
Norwich crape, the object was to finish it without gloss 
and very pliable. The best quality of Challis, when 
finished with designs and figures (either produced in the 
loom or printed), was quite a unique article. 

The well-known " Norwich crape " of to-day is a plain, Modern 
thin silk gauze, stiffened with shellac and embossed with Norwich 
various patterns by being passed over a heated revolving Crape, 
copper cylinder on the surface of which the desired design, 





tion of 

technically termed " figure " has been laboriously 
engraved. This peculiar fabric was the invention of 
Joseph Grout, originally a saddle and harness maker at 
Bocking, who with his brother George commenced business 
the early part of the 19th century in Patteson's Yard, 
Magdalen Street, Norwich. They soon became very 
prosperous, and about 1814 they started a mill at Great 
Yarmouth, and about the same time, or perhaps earlier, 
they erected very large mills in Lower Westwick Street, 
Norwich. Later still another weaving mill was built 
near Bungay, in Suffolk, and another for finishing the 
crape at Ponder's End. The first patent for the embossed 
crape was taken out by the firm in 1822. 

Joseph Grout gave evidence before a Select Committee 
on the Silk Trade at the House of Commons, 4th July, 
1832. His original notes are still preserved by the firm. 
From them it would appear Joseph Grout described him- 
self as residing at Stamford Hill, Middlesex, and that 
he had been engaged in textile manufacture about 26 
years. That his firm made 39 different widths and 
qualities of Italian crape, 30 different kinds of China 
crape, 51 different kinds of French crape. 

He stated they had establishments in the following 
places within the preceding ten years : One at Norwich, 
one at North Walsham, one at Great Yarmouth, one at 
Bungay, one at Mildenhall, one at Saffron Walden, one 
at Bocking, one at Sible Hedingham, one at Glasgow and 
Paisley, and one at Ponder's End. Also a selling ware- 
house in London. They had also within that period a 
filature or reeling establishment established by them 
during 1819-1820 at Bhartiparra on the Bunell River, 
about 140 miles up country from Calcutta. Up to 1826 all 
their looms and spindles were working day and night with 
a double set of hands. They worked 462 power-looms 
and about 1,000 hand-looms. He complained of severe 
competition on the part of a firm " four leagues from 
Lyons, who worked 300 power-looms with power derived 
from a water-fall." He states in the year 1822 they 
paid their weavers 12s. for weaving a piece of crape 
weighing 20 ounces, whereas owing to competition they 


could then pay only 7s. for a piece of the same length and The 
breadth, weighing 24 ozs. Competi- 

He stated his firm has 7,222 dozens of spindles at work tion of 
in their various establishments, whilst there were only Lyons. 
7,000 dozen employed altogether in Manchester, where, 
he stated, he did not think there was then a single crape- 
loom going. (It would appear from the evidence that 
firms in Manchester had started making silk crape in rather 
a large way.) The Grouts made large fortunes, and 
retired from business before 1840. George Grout died 
at his house in Magdalen Street in 1860. His daughter 
married the son of Mr. T. 0. Springfield, a local raw silk 
broker, and it is said that Grout gave 50,000 to his 
daughter, and Springfield 50,000 to his son upon their 

In April, 1838, the mills of the firm were inspected 
by James Mitchell, LL.D., one of H.M. Commissioners, 
who reported as follows : 

" The great firm of Grout, Ringer, Martin and Co. have The 
an establishment at Norwich in which at the time of my Grout 
visit there were 970 hands employed. In the establish- Factories, 
ment belonging to this firm in Great Yarmouth, 1,100 
hands were employed, and 560 at their mills near Bungay. 
In September of the same year this number was much 
increased. The establishment at Norwich is the centre 
and headquarters of the three. The firm purchase the 
raw silk, throw it, dye it, and perform every other 
necessary operation. In the weaving department at 
Norwich there were 24 men and 386 women employed, of 
the latter 65 attended and worked in a shop in the factory, 
and the rest in their own habitations. The average wage 
of the men was 14s. lOd. per week, and of the women 
working at home 4s. a week. At the factory looms 5s. 6d., 
finding their own lights " (candles?). " The lower average 
of the women working at home is attributable in a con- 
siderable degree to the circumstance that many of them 
are married women and their time is partly occupied with 
their domestic duties. Six of them had earned in 1837 
as much as 7s., others 3s. 4d. a week, another six averaged 
only Is. 9d. a week each. The women weaving in the 


factory come at 6 a.m. They have from 8.30 a.m. to 
9 a.m. for breakfast ; 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. for dinner, and 
20 minutes for tea." 

Praise The Norwich factory is thus described by the Inspector : 

for " The neatness, indeed elegance, cleanliness, comfort, 

Norwich of every part were highly gratifying to see. It was a 

Artisans. Monday morning, and the women and young girls were 

all in clean attire ; they seemed healthy and cheerful, 

and what was unexpected there was no talking. In the 

weaving room one man presided over 65 women ; they 

used the fly shuttle." 

The worthy Inspector further delivers himself of the 
following eulogium r 1 

" The men and women of Norfolk are an exceedingly 
fine race, probably not surpassed by any in the world. 
Norwich is most favourably situate for health, there is 
much elevated ground sloping down to the river, which flows 
through the city. The buildings are spread over a large 
space, the ground is a deep bed of gravel over a substratum 
of chalk. Nothing can be better. The city is in a plentiful 
and well cultivated country, producing an abundance of 
provisions of the best quality. There is a fresh and 
healthy appearance in the complexion of the working 
people ; in all these advantages the weavers participate." 

On May 27th, 1832, a heavy loss befell the firm, for a 
local paper of the period records that one of the large 
buildings comprised in Grout, Baylis and Co., " factory 
in Barrack Yard, Yarmouth, was destroyed by fire. The 
building was 5 stories high, 105 feet long, and its erection 
in 1818 cost about 7,000. Between 400 and 500 girls 
employed by the firm are thrown out of work, and the loss 
to the firm is estimated at 12,000 to 15,000." 

Upon the retirement of the Grouts, the business was 

continued by Mr. Martin, a near relative of George Grout. 

After Martin's death, the firm comprised Messrs. Browne, 

Robison, and Hall. Mr. William Hall (the elder son of 

the latter) is now managing director of the firm. 

Effects of For many years the career of Grout and Co. was one of 

Fashion great prosperity. Gradually, however, the fashion for 

on Trade, mourning crape declined. Competition grew keen, and 


in 1890 a crisis arrived, and it was announced in the local Effects of 
press that on August 23rd, " Grout and Co., of Norwich, gave Fashion 
notice to several hundreds of their work-people that their on Trade, 
engagement with the firm would terminate on the 30th." 

" It was added that the factory, a modern building, 
is fitted with machinery of the most improved construction, 
and contains every appliance for carrying on the manu- 
facture of fabrics, which have gained for Norwich world- 
wide reputation. The firm has a branch at Yarmouth, 
where about 1,000 persons are engaged, and other establish- 
ments at Ditchingham and Ponder's End." 

These " other establishments ' like that at Norwich 
were also sold, and Grout and Co. concentrated at 
Yarmouth. With great business acumen and enterprise, 
the Directors of the firm, whilst still continuing their 
standard and historic production of mourning crape (now 
made almost entirely for exportation to Latin countries), 
launched out into other branches of textile fabrics of silk 
and mixture of silk and wool, silk and cotton. At the 
present time they have more than recovered their former 
position, importance and prosperity. 

The career of the firm of Grout and Co. has been some- 
what fully entered into, not only because it is the oldest 
existing and the most important firm in the history of 
Norfolk Silk Industry, but also because the brothers 
Grout were the inventors and the largest makers of a fabric 
which for many years was manufactured solely in England, 
where it continues to be produced to greater perfection 
and in larger quantities than elsewhere. From the 
parent firm have sprung several other English manu- 
facturers of crimped crape, amongst whom there still 
remain in Norwich, Francis Hinde and Sons, who continue 
the business of Messrs. French and Co., established 1838, 
and the Norwich Crape Co., established by a Mr. Sultzer 
in 1856. Outside Norfolk is the firm Samuel Courtauld 
and Co., of Bocking, claiming to have made crimped 
crape at Bocking between 1820 and 1822. It is a tradition Cour- 
of this firm that Samuel Courtauld, the founder of the tauld's 
business, paid Grouts a sum of money in consideration and 
of his being allowed to go into his crimping room to learn Grout's. 



Alien all he could of the process. Another firm is that of 
origin Thompson and Legros, of Frome. It is somewhat curious 
of the that the names of the founders of all the silk crape firms 
Crape denote alien origin : " Grout (Groot), Sultzer, French, 
Trade. Courtauld, Le Gros." 

Toward the close of the 18th century, the " high water 
mark " of the Norfolk and Norwich textile industry had 
passed and the towns of the West Riding of Yorkshire 
became successful rivals. The increase of cotton and 
its general wear left Norfolk and Norwich to a great 
extent dependent on the foreign trade, which was partly 
ruined by the American War, and almost entirely so by 
the first French Revolution. To meet the times, con- 
cessions had to be made by masters and men. It has been 
stated that at two general meetings of the manufacturers 
held at the Guildhall on December 14th and 21st, 1790, 
the prices for weaving were fixed and printed in a list 
comprising serges, prunelles, satins, satinettes, camlets, 
camletines, florentines, brilliantines, grenadines, blondines, 
tabourtines, callandres &c. At a general meeting of the 
manufacturers held on June 13th, 1793, at the Guildhall, 
it was resolved unanimously that they would supply 
the journeymen weavers they employed with havels and 
slaies free of charge, and without deduction from the 
prices established in the table of rates fixed in 1790. 

There was, however, now to appear a new fabric in the 
gamut of Norwich " outlandish inventions," which for 
many years gave remarkable vitality to the industry. 

In Norfolk Annals, Vol. 1, Part 1, is the following obituary 
notice : 

The " 13 July, 1813. Died in his 70th year Mr. Edward 

Norwich Barrow, of St. Saviour, Norwich, a native of Manchester, 

Shawl. and a yarn factor. Mr. Barrow was the first person who 

undertook the manufacture of cotton in this city, but 

what in a peculiar manner consecrates his memory is the 

merit of his having also been the first manufacturer of 

the Shawl in this city, or perhaps in the kingdom. This 

brought a new history in the era of the loom." 

The shawl invented and first manufactured by 
Mr. Barrow in about 1780 was of a very common kind 


(examples still exist), made of cotton embroidered with The 
worsted of various colours along the edges and the corners Norwich 
for export to America. Shawl. 

In 1782 or 1783 Mr. John Harvey and Mr. Knights 
commenced making shawls of silk and worsted, the latter 
spun from Norfolk lamb's wool. These were either plain or 
printed in water colours by a block giving the outline, the 
flower being finished with the needle either in worsted or 
silk. In 1791 a Mr. White produced an article striped with 
coloured silk, silver and gold, but this was not a commercial 
success. Then followed a light kind of shawl having a silk 
warp and cotton weft printed on a white ground, and this 
proved very successful for home and foreign trade. 

About 1802 John Harvey* commenced making shawls 
of spun silk, some having a fine silk warp, and spun silk 
for weft. The latter were mostly printed of various 
colours and patterns, and secured a large export and 
home trade. Soon after this the famous " Norwich 
Fillover Shawl " was introduced. The manufacture of 
this celebrated fabric was only rendered possible by the 
invention of improved weaving methods. 

In the records of the Patent Office are the following 
particulars : 

"Whereas Joseph Mason, of ye cittie of Norwich, 
hath invented an engine by the help of wich a 
weever may performe the whole work of weaving 
such stuffes as the gretest trade of Norwich nowe 
doth depend on without ye help of a draught boy. 
His Maty, is therefore pleased to grant unto ye 
said Joseph Mason his exors. and assigns the 
sole use and exercise of his new invention for 
the terme of 14 yeares, according to ye statute in 
that case made and provided. T.R. apud Westm., 
die Octobre 3, Jacobii 2d." 

Like many another genius, Joseph Mason was a man The 
before his time, and it is certain that the looms universally Fill-over 
used in the silk trade down to the introduction of the Loom. 

* The weavers of Norwich, 2,361 in number, subscribed for and presented on 
September 27, 1822, a massive piece of plate to John Harvey as a testimony of the 
high esteem in which they held him as a great promoter of the manufactures of the city 
and a friend of the operatives. This piece of plate is in the possession of his lineal 
descendant, Colonel Harvey, D.S.O., Thorpe, Norwich. 


The " fillover loom " differed in no material way to the simple 

Fill-over kind used by the " Ahens " of the 16th century, dating 
Loom. from far earlier times. The flowers or designs which 
in these simply constructed looms were woven in the 
fabric were produced by passing the shuttle by hand 
through the warp. Necessarily, much time and much 
skill were required. In elaborately "brocaded" patterns, 
as they were called, the most industrious weaver could 
not produce more than one inch a day. By means of 
the "Fillover loom," nearly an inch an hour could be 
woven. The invention was undoubtedly the precursor 
of the more perfect and better known Jacquard action. 
The "Fillover" was so called because in weaving, the face 
of the fabric was downwards and all the work composing 
the pattern was "filled" over it. Each weaver had 
to employ a girl or boy to wind his " quills," or weaving 
tubes, with the yarns or silk. He had also a " tire " boy 
(from the French " tirer," to draw), whose duty it was 
to pull certain bunches of cords which raised certain 
threads of the warp after every throw of the shuttle in 
order to compose the pattern or figure. The weaver called 
to his boy the colour he proposed to use. 

An ancient and well-known Norwich citizen, named 
Loose, now deceased some few years, used to be very fond 
of relating his early experiences as a " tire " boy. His 
master would, it seems, keep a missile handy to " hull " 
(throw) at him should the wrong bunch of cords be pulled. 
The shuttles used in the earlier fill-over looms were very 
small, and they were "thrown" or passed through the warp 
threads by a jerk of the hand ; there was no " box." 

The results following the pulling of the bunches of 

cords by the "tire" boy were controlled by an elaborate 

arrangement called " the tow," or " towe,"> the equivalent 

to the stamped cards of a Jacquard loom. Much time 

and money were required to prepare a fill-over loom for a 

new pattern, and Mr. William R. Simpson, manufacturer, 

Precursor of Golden Dog Lane, who recently died in his 91st year, 

of the told the writer that the preparation cost his old firm 

Jac- (Towler and Allen) over 100 for any very special pattern 

quard. before a shuttle was thrown. 


The designs were most elaborate in colour schemes, Some 
necessitating many shuttles and great skill on the part famous 
of the weavers, who, when these shawls were first made Shawls, 
in Norwich, earned for that period very high wages. It 
is recorded that a weaver and his wife employed by a 
Mr. Francis (sometime Sheriff of Norwich), together earned 
15 per week. Another employed by a Mr. Paul regularly 
earned 11 guineas per week, and many earned from seven 
to .eight guineas. The shawls were generally sold retail 
from 12 to 20 guineas each. Specially choice specimens 
were considered cheap at 50 guineas. Two very fine 
examples of these shawls are in the Norwich Castle Museum. 
A remarkable specimen of fill-over weaving was the shawl 
woven in Colonel Harvey's looms and made up as a 
counterpane for presentation to Queen Charlotte. The 
design consisted of the Royal Arms in the centre in 
the corners, the shields of England, Scotland and Ireland, 
France. The border was composed of the rose, thistle, 
shamrock and lily. The competition of the Scotch manu- 
facturers who copied the Norwich designs on a lower 
plane, seriously injured the trade of the city, and on 1st 
September, 1838, " The Norwich Fillover weavers passed a 
resolution that the system of copying patterns from 
Norwich manufactured fillover shawls is the principal cause 
of the depression of our branch of the manufacture, and 
loudly appeals to the Legislature for their interference." 

With a view to improve local trade conditions, a Company Trade 
was formed in 1833, and 40,000 capital was raised, troubles 
Ultimately, two factories were built, one for spinning and 
yarns in St. Edmund's, the other for weaving goods in disputes. 
St. James'. In the last-named two coupled engines of 
100 horse power (large for those days) were set up. The 
manufacturers hired the factory and the power, and put 
in the machinery for the production of fabrics, and for a 
time about 1,000 hands were at work there. In 1838 
trade was in a very declining state, and some differences 
arose between masters and men in consequence of a pro- 
posed reduction in the rate of payment. 

According to a Government report in 1839, there were 
at that time in the city and its vicinity 5,075 looms, of 


Trade which 1,021 were unemployed, and of the 4,054 looms 

troubles then at work, there were 3,398 in the houses of the weavers 

and and 650 in shops and factories. Indeed by far the greater 

disputes, part of the looms belonged to families having only one or 

two. The operatives of these looms comprised 2,211 men, 

1,648 women and 195 children. In that year two silk 

mills employed 731 hands. 

An abstract of a census of the Norwich weavers furnished 
by a report of the Commissioners on hand-loom weavers, 
published in 1840, will best show the nature and the 
relative amount of the fabrics then made by hand. Bom- 
bazines employed 1,205 workers, of whom 803 were men. 
Challis, fringes, &c., 1,247, of whom 510 were men, gauzes 
500, chiefly women, princettes 242, nearly all men, silk 
shawls 166, bandanas 158, of whom 86 were men, silk 38, 
including 16 men, Jacquard looms 30, camletees 20. 

The total of hand-loom weavers was 4,054, including 
2,211 men, 1,648 women, 108 boys, 77 girls, 10 apprentices 
(sex not stated). Their gross wages when fully employed 
ranged from 8s. to 25s. weekly. About the year 1828 
power-looms and Jacquard looms were, by the enterprise of 
Mr. Henry Willett (senior of Messrs. H. and E. Willett), 
introduced. The bigoted hand-loom weavers used great 
efforts to obstruct the use of these innovations, and 
Mr. Henry Willett became so unpopular that at his funeral 
the mob tried to stop the funeral cortege. 

At the end of the 18th century a list of the principal 

manufacturers of Norwich contains the names of 34 firms. 

The signatures to the scale of prices agreed to by the 

leading manufacturers on the 5th July, 1822, relate only 

to 26 firms. Gradually the number became still more 

reduced ; firm after firm closed their doors, and few took 

Decline their place. In 1851 the most important were Clabburn 

of the Sons and Crisp, " who made shawls in every variety, and 

Industry, also paramattas, bareges, tamataves, balzarines, poplins, 

fancy robes, grenadines, &c. The fill-over long shawls 

produced by this firm, on a Jacquard loom, gained the 

gold medal at the first Paris Exhibition, and also at the 

London Exhibition in 1862. No description could convey 

an adequate idea of these splendid fill-over shawls, which 


are made by a patented process so as to display a self 
color and a perfect design on each side/' 

Somewhat later the firm Willett, Nephew and Co., Pattern 
established 1767, are described as being manufacturers Books 
on a large scale. " The factory itself is not extensive, sold to 
for most of the weavers work for the firm at their own American 
houses, and there in humble dwellings produce the Firm, 
beautiful fancy fabrics which are destined to adorn the 
daintiest ladies in the land. They were the first to intro- 
duce the manufacture of paramattas, which superseded 
the bombazines. They produced superior poplins, bareges, 
balzarines, tamatives, coburgs, camlets, challis, crepe de 
Lyon, grenadines, shawls, &c." 

Under the able management of the late Mr. Louis E. 
Willett, a man of brilliant business talent, of sterling 
worth and honesty, this firm continued in existence until 
1904, when the writer, to his deep regret, witnessed the 
sale to Mr. Galey (a Norwich man's son) of the Aberfoyle 
Mills, Chester, Phila., U.S.A., of Messrs. Willett's unique 
collection of pattern books in complete sequence from the 
establishment of the firm in 1767 a " fabric " history 
of nearly 150 years of the Norwich trade ! 

Such a local treasure should have never left Norwich, 
but should have found a sure haven within the walls 
of the Castle Museum. 

Bolingbroke, Jones, and Clabburn Sons and Crisp, 
established 1821, Towler, Rowling and Allen, George Allen, 
Middleton, Ainsworth and Co., were all in a large way 
of business until about 20 years ago. They have all 
disappeared. At the present time in Norfolk and Norwich 
there are but three important silk manufacturers 
remaining Grout and Co., of Yarmouth, established in 
Norwich about 1804, the Norwich Crape Co., established 
in 1856, and F. Hinde and Sons, of Norwich, established 
in 1810. In addition there is the old established and 
progressive firm of R. S. Simpson, Golden Ball Lane, 

Of these firms, Messrs. Fras. Hinde and Sons descend Some 
in unbroken family sequence from father to son from famous 
the founder, Ephrahim Hinde (the youngest of 22 children), Firms. 


Some Camlet Manufacturer, of St. Augustines, in the church- 
famous yard of which parish he rests. 

Firms. To-day this fine old firm consists of the brothers 

Frank P. Hinde and C. Fountain Hinde, and Frank 
C. Hinde, son of Frank P. Hinde and great-grandson of 
Ephrahim Hinde. On the distaff side the Hindes are 
descended from an illustrious French Huguenot family, 
one of many who found refuge in Norwich during the 
17th Century. The firm has had a long and honour- 
able career, and ranks among the important manufacturers 
of silk " Norwich Crape." They are also large producers 
of high-class fabrics in silk and silk-wool mixtures. 

Envoie. It is true that since the close of the 18th century 
the good city of Norwich has gradually lost its proud pre- 
eminence as " the chief seat of the chief manufacture 
of the realm," but Norfolk and Norwich manufacturers 
yet remain a power in textile industry. Their unique 
experience as dyers and designers has enabled them to 
create new fabrics, and although they have fallen from 
their ancient high estate, they continue remarkable for 
their ability, their enterprise, and their insistent mer- 
cantile vitality. Of them no one can justly exclaim : 
" Their wine of life is drawn, 
" And the mere lees is left in the vault to brag of." 



The story of the association of Essex with the silk trade, One 
which has been maintained in unbroken sequence for of the 
two centuries down to the present day when it is, in oldest 
some respects, the most important centre of production Silk 
furnishes a most interesting chapter in the history of the Centres. 
British industry. The Essex branch of the trade claims 
distinction as being one of the oldest in Great Britain. 
At first it appears to have existed only in that portion of 
the county adjacent to London, but afterwards extended 
to many places between Spitalfields and the northern 
boundary of the county. There was a considerable 
expansion of the trade in Essex following the introduction 
of throwing machinery in the early years of the 18th 
century, and the industry underwent a process of gradual 
expansion until the critical year when the duty was 

The earliest reference to the Essex silk trade carries 
the story back to the year 1645, when there was in business 
at Plaistow one Paul Fox, a silk weaver, referred to in a 
narrative of the time,* as a "man of honest life and 
conversation, who had dwelt there many years," and 
he appears to have been assisted in " weaving of fine lace 
and ribbaning " by a son and two servants. During the 
18th century at least three throwing mills were in operation 
at Little Hallingbury, adjacent to Bishops Stortford just 
over the Hertford border of the County. There was 
another mill at Sewardstone, Waltham Abbey, but the 

* Strange and Fearful News from Plaistow. Lond., 1645. 




One place is not marked on modern maps. Of the mill at 

of the Little Hallingbury, Holman, writing about 1720,* says: 

oldest " In this parish on the stream that runs from Stortford 

Silk is erected a mill for throwing and twisting of silk. The 

Centres, inventor was one Mr. William Aldersay, apprentist to 

a silk throwster in London. This engine is employed in 

winding of silk for the Company of Dealers in silk that 

got a patent first. He has the model of the famous 

engine at Derby." Another writer, Salmon, referring 

to this mill, stated it " has been for many years 

employed in twisting and winding silk for which the 

proprietors have a patent. The work employs a great 

many women and girls of the neighbourhood." The 

location of the mill is shown on Chapman and Andre's 

map of 1777. It is now a corn mill. 

The mill at Sewardstone, Waltham Abbey, was probably 
established before 1720. It is also marked on Chapman 
and Andre's map. Ogborne, writing a century later, 
referred to it as a " small silk mill in the occupation of 
Messrs. Carr and Dobson, Foster Lane, Cheapside." It 
changed hands several times, belonging in 1826 to John 
Carr, in 1832 to John Buttress, and in 1840 to J. J. Buttress 
and Son, throwsters. It probably ceased working soon 
after that date . . . but was subsequently used for 
dyeing and scouring till about 1885, when it was dis- 
mantled. Another mill was at work in 1814, when 
Mr. Ogborne described it as " a small manufactory for 
the throwing of silk, which employs about 30 girls. In 
1826 it belonged to John Woolrich. At this time, too, 
there was at Waltham Abbey a third firm of throwsters, 
Messrs. Forsyth and Lincoln. All these mills appear 
to have been closed soon after the middle of the century. 
Some The mill at Pebmarsh, now pulled down the old house 

early still is occupied is interesting as having been started 

Mills. in 1798 by George Courtauld, one of the family which 
is still engaged in the silk crape and other branches of the 
trade. George Courtauld, who lived until 1823, was a 
man of considerable business enterprise. He crossed to 
America, embarked in business there, and married a woman 

* MSS. at Colchester Castle. 

Plate XXX 

Braintree Market in the Olden days from an old print. 

ESSEX. 299 

of Irish birth. Returning in 1794, with two children, he Some 
engaged in silk-throwing with a person named Noailles, at early 
Sevenoaks, and " in conjunction with a Mr. Mills, he under- Mills, 
took to establish and conduct a silk business at Pebmarsh, 
near Halstead, . . . building factory, dwelling houses 
and cottages for workpeople. ..." Until these works were 
completed, he lived at Sudbury in Suffolk.* He appears 
to have remained in Pebmarsh till the year 1809, when he 
removed to Braintree. 

To George Courtauld is probably to be given the credit of 
establishing the silk industry at Braintree, he having 
erected a mill there in 1810, but it was his son Samuel 
who commenced the manufacture of crape in about the 
year 1825. This Samuel Courtauld (1793-1881),| rather 
than his father, was the real founder of the large business 
which now exists. In the crape trade, however, he seems 
to have been anticipated by the firm of Grout, Baylis 
and Co., who in addition to establishments at Norwich 
and London, started at Bocking in the year 1819, having 
already erected a branch factory at Saffron Walden. At 
Saffron Walden silk crape was being manufactured in 1819, 
and provided employment for a large number of hands. 
This enterprise came to an end in 1834. Lord Braybrooke, 
writing of it, made the comment : " Some years ago a 
manufactory for Norwich crape was introduced into the 
parish, which employed many hands, principally young 
females, but the high wages obtained led to idle and 
extravagant habits, so that the discontinuance of the work 
cannot be a matter of regret." The Samuel Courtauld 
referred to above was a man of very strong will and untiring 
energy. For nearly 50 years his was the hand guiding The 
and controlling all that his firm undertook. At first he Crape 
appears to have been, like his father, a silk-throwster only, Trade at 
but he afterwards took into partnership his brothers George Braintree 
and John Minton, and his brother-in-law, Peter Alfred 
Taylor (thus establishing the firm of Courtauld, Taylor 
and Courtauld), and commenced the manufacture of crape, 
for which the firm is famous down to the present day. 

* P. A. Taylor, Taylor Family. 

t See The CourtauM Family and their Industrial Enterprise, by Miss C. Fell Smith. 


By 1826 the firm had acquired, in addition to the Braintree 
Mill, a mill at Halstead, and by 1832 a mill at Booking, 
as well as a warehouse in Gutter Lane, London. It is of 
A memor- interest to recall the fact that in June, 1846, the members 
able of the firm were entertained at a dinner given by 1,600 of 

Dinner, their workpeople in a huge tent erected in a field opposite 
Samuel Courtauld's residence at High Garrett, between 
Bocking and Halstead. It was estimated that between 
five and six thousand people were present, all business 
in Braintree, Bocking and Halstead being suspended for 
the day. A silver medal was struck to commemorate the 
event, and the speeches made on the occasion bear witness 
to the friendly feeling existing between the firm and its 
workpeople.* About 1854, the style of the firm was 
altered to Samuel Courtauld and Co. In 1861, between 
two and three thousand workpeople were employed in its 

The weaving, as well as the throwing of silk was carried 

on also in Essex to a small extent during the 18th century, 

especially in the villages nearest the east end of London. 

. . . Towards the end of the century it spread to other 

districts, for in 1793 James Rogers, of Epping, and 

Michael Boyle, of Colchester, were described as " silk 

weavers." It was during the first quarter of last century 

that the Essex industry reached its greatest development. 

Migra- That was the period when those engaged in the industry 

tionfrom in Spitalfields and elsewhere began to establish factories 

Spital- and set up looms in many towns in Essex, Waltham 

fields. Abbey, Harlow, Saffron Walden, Halstead, Coggeshall, 

Bocking, Braintree, Colchester, Maiden, Billericay, Chelms- 

ford, East Ham, Stratford, and others. Some of these 

were throwing mills, but in others silken fabrics of various 

kinds were woven. The literature of the time refers to 

the weaving of " Norwich Crape " at Saffron Walden in 

about 1815 ; of " crape," " broad silk," and " ribbon " at 

Halstead in 1832, and of broad silk and bombazines at 

Colchester about the same time. Proprietors, when not 

* For an account of this " spontaneous display of the goodwill and respect of the 
employed towards their employers " see the Chelmsford Chronicle, July 3, 1846. The dinner 
was intended no doubt to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the firm. One 
workman, Pharez Potter, who was present at the dinner still (1906) works for the firm. 

ESSEX. 301 

" throwsters " were classified under the general terms Migra- 
of "silk manufacturers." Particulars are available of tionfrom 
certain of these businesses. For example, John Davies, Spital- 
in 1823, had a business in High Street, Halstead, and a fields, 
firm with the style of Jones and Foyster, were in occupation 
of premises in Parson's Lane. The crape mills of Samuel 
Courtauld were, of course, in existence, as they are to-day. 
At one period in the year 1831 there were some 59 silk 
machine makers here, but the silk business at Halstead is 
dead except the crape section of the trade. Coggeshall, 
where the silk trade was introduced in the early years of 
the 19th century, maintained a pre-eminence in the industry 
for a long period. 

In 1823, Pigot wrote : " Of late years several silk 
manufactories have added much to the trade of the town." 
He mentions, as silk throwsters, Sawyer and Hall (also of 
Coventry and London) and Richard Smith ; and as a silk 
manufacturer Joseph Lawrence. By 1832, Lawrence had 
disappeared ; William Beckwith had replaced Richard 
Hall, both being described as silk manufacturers and 
throwsters. To these, in 1840, a new firm had been 
added that of Westmacott, Goodson and Co. Later, 
yet other firms appeared ; but, about this time a temporary 
decline of the industry set in at Coggeshall. In 1848 it 
was said to be in a depressed state, and during the fifties 
several firms disappeared. There remained, however, 
among others that of John Hall, silk throwster. In 1855 
the firm was John Hall and Sons. They had a branch 
establishment at Maldon. Very soon after the firm 
opened another branch at Tiptree and a factory at Chelms- 
ford. In 1863, 700 hands were employed in the firm's 
principal mill at Coggeshall alone ; but about 1870, 
owing to the removal of the duty, this mill had to be closed. 
A large part of the population migrated to Halstead, 
Braintree and Bocking, in search of work. Other branches 
of the silk industry were, however, also carried on at 

The firm of B. Goodson, of Little Coggeshall, whose Silk 
business was the weaving of silk plush for hats, had a mill Plush 
in operation in the year 1859, and there is the authority for Hats. 


Velvet of White for the statement that a large mill for the pro- 
Weaving, duction of this plush was built at Coggeshall about 1838, 
and was distinguished as being the only mill of the kind 
then in existence in England. The manufacture of plush 
became so important a local industry that in 1855 a 
Company was formed to carry on the business, but the 
industry declined within a few years of this date. Another 
branch of manufacture formerly carried on at Coggeshall 
was the weaving of silk velvet. It is known that in 1848 
one Thomas Westmacott, who was in business at Cogges- 
hall, was described as a velvet weaver, and there were 
in the town three other silk manufacturers who also made 
velvet. In 1862 and for some years thereafter one Thomas 
Brooks (also of Russia Row, London), was described as a 
velvet weaver. Dale records that at this period, the 
early '60's, many persons were still occupied in velvet 
weaving at Coggeshall, but this and the other branches 
of the silk trade were then on the verge of collapse. For 
a time the weavers who were left made a living by working 
for Messrs. J. and W. Robinson, of Milk Street, London. 
Later, when the firm gave up manufacturing, the few 
who remained were taken over by Messrs. Bailey, Fox 
and Co., of Spitalfields, but they were chiefly very old men, 
and all except two have now either died or become too 
infirm to weave.* 

Braintree It is at the twin towns of Braintree and Bocking, where 
and the silk trade also originated early last century, that 

Bocking. it has triumphed over the difficulties which have caused 
its extinction in other old Essex centres of the industry. 
Mrs. Ogborne, writing of Braintree in 1814, states that 
a silk manufactory had then been established there, the 
allusion being to the silk throwing mill, built in 1810, by 
George Courtauld. Miss Sophia Courtauld has left it on 
record that after leaving Pebmarsh in 1809, her father 
engaged in partnership with Mr. Joseph Wilson, of High- 
bury, London, and established a silk business on a much 
larger scale than heretofore at Braintree, erecting dwelling 
houses and extensive factory buildings. After some years 
of partnership, litigation of an extraordinary and 

* Inf. supplied by Messrs. Bailey, Fox and Co. 

ESSEX. 303 

protracted character arose between the partners, but in Braintree 

the end George Courtauld was awarded 5,000 damages, and 

The lawsuit, which created much interest in the neigh- Bocking. 

bourhood, was concluded about 1817, when the partnership 

was dissolved. George Courtauld went again to America, 

where he died in 1823 but his eldest son, Samuel, remained 

at Braintree, where, though only 27 years of age, he 

either established a new business on his own account 

or tqok over the remains of that which his father had 


Messrs. Grout, Baylis and Co., who were crape manu- 
facturers of London and Norwich, had an establishment 
at Bocking before 1819. By the year 1826, three other 
silk firms had established works in the two towns, 
Beuzeville and Co., of High Street, Braintree, Joseph 
Wilson and Co. (both probably throwsters), and Daniel 
Walters, the latter a weaver of furniture silks and 
velvets, and founder of a firm which long existed. It is 
probably the case that at this period the silk industry 
afforded the chief occupation in the town. The Beuzeville 
business was short-lived, but the others remained in 
active operation for a long time, and all except Wilson 
and Co. had establishments in London as well as at 
Braintree. Before the second half of the century the 
firm of Daniel Walters and Son was well-known at 
Braintree. Its works were at Pound End, where the 
resident partner or agent was Mr. Thomas Cheeseman, 
and information is available to the effect that in 1861 
it employed " 150 Jacquard machines and nearly 300 
hands, and is one of the foremost in the kingdom for 
superiority of design and beauty of workmanship in the 
manufacture of furniture silks of every description. The Manu- 
house has a good foreign trade, and the very richest facture of 
brocatelles, damasks, tissued satins, etc., which adorn Furniture 
the palaces of our Queen are produced in its works at Silks. 
Braintree."* At a later date, the year given is 1861, the 
firm built and occupied the factories known as " New Mills." 
It was registered under the title of Daniel Walters and 
Sons, Ltd., in 1875, and the factories were carried on in 

* Coller. People's Hist. Essex. 



Maim- that name for nineteen years, when the Company went 

facture of into liquidation, its subsequent history being bound up 

Furniture with that of Messrs. Warner and Sons, who purchased 

Silks. the goodwill, factory plant and designs, and whose 

association with the Essex trade is referred to in what 

follows. Other firms established at Braintree at a period 

shortly after the middle of last century were Messrs. 

J. Henderson and Co., W. Sanderson and John Vanner 

and Sons, the last-named now of London and Sudbury. 

Yet another firm, Martin and Thomas, was established in 

Braintree in 1876, and later still came Duthoit and 

England, whose successors have only just given up the 

business. Now all are gone except Messrs. Courtauld 

and Messrs. Warner and Sons. 

The history of some other centres may be dealt with 
briefly, but could not be omitted in any record of the 
Essex silk industry. 

Broad At Colchester, early in the 19th century, about 1828, 

Silk according to White, there were " about 160 looms/ 9 but 

trade at the trade gradually declined. He probably means that 
Col- these looms were in the homes of those who worked them, 

Chester, and that this method of working was gradually replaced 
by the factory system. In 1832 the Colchester silk-makers 
included William Comber, a maker of broad silk, and 
William Willimint, a manufacturer of " bombasin." As 
neither are mentioned in 1840 records, it may be concluded 
that both had ceased to do business. Pigot, in 1826, writes 
" a very extensive building has just been erected for the 
purpose of silk mills, which, . . . promise to be of great 
benefit to the working classes." These mills belonged to 
Stephen Brown and Co. In 1832 there was another 
silk-throwing mill belonging to John Moy. Later the 
two concerns seem to have been amalgamated, for in 1840 
the firm was Brown and Moy, silk manufacturers and 
throwsters. In 1848, White wrote of two silk mills 
in the town, one in a factory near the Castle ; the other 
in a large building, which was formerly the barrack tavern. 
Apparently these factories belonged to the two businesses 
named. Both seem to have been used for throwing and 
to have belonged later to Campbell, Harrison and Lloyd 



(afterwards Harrison and Lloyd) and Stephen Brown Maldon 
respectively, Moy having apparently retired. The former and 
firm disappeared about 1868, but the latter continued Chelms- 
till about 1880, when the silk industry finally died out in ford. 

At Maldon one John Luard was in business as a silk 
manufacturer as early as 1823. In 1855, however, J. Hall 
and Son, of Coggeshall, had a silk-throwing mill in the 
town. At Billericay, in 1832, John Henry Machin traded 
as a "silk manufacturer and throwster." No mention 
of him can be found earlier or later. 

At Chelmsford, Messrs. J. Hall and Son, of Coggeshall, 
erected a silk mill in 1859. From about 1868-1893, this 
mill was occupied by Messrs. Courtauld. This is the only 
record that the industry was ever carried on at Chelmsford ; 
but in 1826, at Hatfield Peverel, a village lying five miles 
N.E., lived one Morse South, a silk manufacturer. 

In the immediate vicinity of London, too, the silk trade 
flourished to a certain extent and still lingers. Thus, in 
1826, Thomas Huitson, a silk-weaver, lived at Wall End, 
East Ham, and William Thompson, a throwster, at 
Stratford, while in 1831, Wright wrote that "some silk 
manufactures of different kinds are carried on in several 
(Essex) towns towards the Metropolis." In 1841 the silk 
industry in all its branches gave employment in Essex 
to 1,582 persons (642 males and 940 females), 586 of the 
total being under 20 years of age, while 206 persons (131 
males and 75 females) were returned as " weavers," most Survival 
of them being probably silk weavers.* During the in 
succeeding decade, either the industry prospered greatly London 
or what is more probably, the returns of vocation were Suburbs, 
becoming more accurate ; for in 1851 no fewer than 1,746 
persons over twenty years of age (namely, 608 males and 
1,138 females) were engaged in the industry, besides many 
others under twenty years old. It is worth noting that 
they all lived in five registration districts. In 1861, 
when the silk industry was at its highest, the number of 
persons over twenty years, mainly women, was over 3,000, 
and in 1871, just under that total. In 1881, the "silk 

* Census reports. 



goods manufacture" included 2,131 persons (306 males 
and 1,825 females). 


Velvets It has been stated that the Essex silk industry prospered 
and until the year I860, when the duty on the material was 

other removed. Then the trade gradually waned. The first 
Fabrics, branches to go were those concerned with the throwing 
and twisting of silk and the weaving of the plainer and 
simpler kinds of silken fabrics. Within two years the 
number of firms engaged in the industry in Essex had 
shrunk to small proportions. To-day the general trade, 
which was formerly large and valuable, is lost, and only 
special branches are maintained. The weaving of velvets 
and similar silken fabrics is still conducted by two firms- 
Messrs. Warner and Sons and Messrs. Bailey, Fox and Co. 
The crape trade (the crimped black silk gauze) is still 
carried on by Messrs. Courtauld' s Ltd. Thus there are 
now in the county only three firms as compared with over 
a dozen in 1860, when the duty on silk was abolished. 
Two of these firms have their works at Braintree. The 
character of the crape manufactured by Messrs. Courtauld 
has been considerably modified with the passing years. 
It was Mr. Julien Courtauld who, in 1870, introduced the 
characteristic " spot " into what is known as the " figure " 
of the material. Since that time technical modifications 
have been made in the manufacture of black crape, which 
is now always proof against rain and of a more lustrous 
appearance than formerly. The old water wheels and 
turbines have been superseded almost entirely by steam- 
power and gas-power. The increase in the demand for 
crape led in 1882 to the establishment of a factory at 
Earl's Colne, and to a large extension of the Halstead Mil] 
The in 1895. Fashion has also altered the character of the 

effect of trade. From about 1889-1896 the demand for black 
Fashion, mourning crape, until then the firm's staple product, 
showed a serious shrinkage, but with the introduction 
of new processes and the expansion of the business in the 
direction of crepe de chine, and other fabrics for ladies 
dresses and other purposes, the business again assumed 

ESSEX. 307 

very large proportions. The output of these new coloured The 
fabrics ie now much larger than that of the older black effect of 
mourning crape. Fashion. 

In 1900 a new department was created by the establish- 
ment of a very considerable weaving mill, known as Brook 
Mill, at Leigh in Lancashire ; and in 1904 the firm acquired 
another extensive factory at Coventry for the manufacture 
of " artificial silk." In 1904 a new and larger Company, 
with a nominal share capital of 500,000, was registered 
(400,000 paid up). 

The headquarters of Messrs. Courtauld's business in 
Essex is the Booking factory. Here are received all raw 
material, chiefly from China, Italy and elsewhere. Here 
too come all the goods from other mills to be dyed and 
finished. An immense quantity of liquid effluent from 
the dye- vats has to be treated daily by a purifying process 
before being allowed to escape into the river Blackwater. 
Extensive new buildings have been recently added for 
finishing processes. Ultimately the finished products 
are despatched to the London warehouse, and thence to all 
parts of the world. The Braintree mills are occupied with 
winding, spinning and other preparatory processes. The 
Halstead factory is devoted almost entirely to weaving, 
and that at Earl's Colne is subsidiary to it. It is remark- 
able that the energy and enterprise of this historic firm 
the only one of our old Essex silk firms which has survived 
has caused crape-making to remain for three-quarters 
of a century one of the most widely known and valuable 
industries carried on in Essex. Still more remarkable Foreign 
is the fact that in spite of the decline of the English silk Trade 
trade generally, crape " crepe Anglais " as it is called in 
abroad maintains its position among English exports, Crape, 
and is sent to every part of the civilised world. 

The history of Messrs. Warner and Sons is shorter, 
so far as Essex is concerned, but not less creditable. 
Founded in the year 1870 by the late Mr. Benjamin Warner, 
it was carried on until 1892 under the title of Warner and 
Ramm. In that year Mr. Ramm retired. Mr. Warner's 
sons, Alfred and Frank, who had received their art and 
technical education in Lyons, were taken into partnership, 



and the firm became Warner and Sons, by which title it is 
still known. 

Hand- The firm's work of hand-loom silk-weaving began in 

loom small workshops in Old Ford, with its warehouse in 

Velvet Aldersgate Street ; extensive factories were afterwards 
Weaving, built in Hollybush Gardens, Bethnal Green, which were 
occupied until 1895, when the manufacture was transferred 
to still larger factories at Braintree, Essex. Meanwhile, 
the warehouse was removed to Newgate Street, where it- 
still remains. In 1901 the cottage loom weaving of hand- 
loom velvets was commenced at Sudbury, and is still 
carried on there, but by degrees this branch of work is 
being concentrated at Braintree. 

The work of the firm was attended with success from 
the outset. This may be fairly attributed to the attention 
given to both design and colour, a more careful selection of 
suitable counts and yarns, and an earnest endeavour to put 
English productions on a level with the best that Lyons 
could show. A special feature of the work at Braintree has 
been the revival of the manufacture of the figured velvets 
for which Genoa was once so famous. Many of the fabrics 
are reproductions of the best specimens of 16th and 17th 
century work, but some of the designs are quite original, 
and a recent innovation is a velvet having three heights 
of pile. It is a fabric which there is good reason to believe 
has not been produced until now. 

The firm has had the honour of weaving many fabrics 
of historical interest. These include brocade for the 
Duchess of York's (now Queen Mary) wedding dress, the 
cloth of gold for King Edward VII's Coronation pallium, 
the velvet and cloth of gold for King George V, and 
Queen Mary's Coronation robes, and the brocades for the 
latter's Coronation dresses. 

Fabrics The Warner furnishing fabrics have been extensively 

of his- supplied to Buckingham Palace, St. James' Palace, Marl- 

toric borough House, Windsor Castle, Holyrood, etc., to the 

interest. Royal yachts, to British Embassies all over the world, 

and noted town and country houses, the palaces of 

Indian princes, and to customers in North and South 


Plate XXXL 

Weaving the Cloth of Gold for the 
Coronation Robes of King George V . 



In the year 1887, the firm exhibited at the Jubilee Success 
Exhibitions at the People's Palace, London, and also at at Inter- 
Manchester, and they also participated in several of the national 
exhibitions held at Earl's Court, such as the Women's Exhibi- 
Exhibition, the Healtheries, etc. The firm's first serious tions. 
participation in International Exhibitions was at Paris 
in 1900, when a gold medal was awarded. In 1908 a very 
extensive demonstration of the firm's wide range of work 
was made at the Franco-British Exhibition. On that 
occasion four large show cases, one for furnishing fabrics 
in the decorative arts section, and the others in the textile 
section, containing church silks, dress brocades, and plain 
silks, were installed and attracted much attention. The 
principal public exhibit of the firm was that at the 
Brussels Exhibition of 1910, when six show cases were 
filled with a great variety of the firm's productions, but 
the whole of this collection was destroyed in the calamitous 
fire in August of that year. The firm participated in the 
British section which was reconstituted after the fire, 
and although the exhibit was on a smaller scale, it sufficed 
to demonstrate the advance made in the production of the 
highest class furnishing fabrics. At Brussels the firm 
was awarded the Grand Prix, and at Turin in 1911, 
where the firm exhibited silks, tapestries, and printed 
textiles, four Grand Prix. As the exhibits of decorative 
silks at Brussels and Turin were largely the productions of 
Braintree, the following paragraph from the report of his 
Majesty's Commissioners for those two International 
Exhibitions may perhaps be quoted. 

" A remarkable feature of the British Decorative 
Textile Section, both at Brussels and Turin was 
the magnificent display of decorative and furniture Decora- 
silks, which was distinguished by receiving amidst tive and 
universal praise the warmest expression of admira- Furni- 
tion from foreign experts and manufacturers, who ture 
are the keenest appreciators of skilled artistic Silks, 

It is strange that two special branches of the silk industry 
each unrivalled in its way should have contrived to 
exist in a small town like Braintree, situate in a purely 



Success agricultural district, in spite of the almost utter ruin of 
at Inter- all other branches of this once flourishing industry every- 
national where else in Essex. 

Exhibi- There are one or two other firms to which reference 
tions. may be made. 

In 1882 the firm of John Slater, Son and Slater (after- 
wards Slater, Bros, and Co.), of Wood Street, Cheapside, 
had a silk-weaving factory which they had built in 
Plaistow, but in 1887 it was taken over by Bailey, Fox 
and Co. In 1900 this firm enlarged the factory hoping 
by means of increased production to be able to compete 
with foreign competition. The firm also employs hand- 
loom weavers at Coggeshall, at Sudbury, and at Spitalfields, 
all making velvet for coat collars or court suits, fancy silks 
for mufflers and neckties, black satins, robe silk for 
barristers' gowns, tailors' linings and the like. 

Employ- The number of persons employed in the Essex silk 
ment industry was and still is considerable. Its great growth 
Statistics, about 1825 is shown by the fact that at the census of 1831, 
an increase of 401 persons at Braintree, of 342 at Bocking, 
of 779 at Halstead, and of 192 at Colchester, was attributed 
mainly to the growth of the silk and crape manufacture, 
which then employed in Essex " about 500 males, twenty 
years of age (as well as many under twenty years of age, 
and a much larger number of females), chiefly at Braintree, 
Great and Little Coggeshall, and Bocking ; a few at 
Chelmsford, Colchester, Haverhill and other places. 

In 1891, 2,147 persons (226 males and 1,921 females) 
were engaged "in the silk manufacture (satin, velvet 
and ribbon)," and 955 (84 males and 871 females) in the 
crape manufacture. 

At the census of 1901, the silk industry in Essex gave 
employment in all its branches to 1,850 persons : 

Females Females 

Males. Unmarried. Married. 

Spinning processes 
Weaving ,, 





Plate XXXII. Figured Velvet Looms at New Mills, Braintree. 

ESSEX. 311 

That the number of persons employed did not fall off Employ- 
more largely between 1861 and 1891, in spite of the dis- ment 
appearance during that period of most of the older branches Statistics, 
of our silk trade, is explained in part by improved industrial 
classification in the returns and in part by the growth 
of one branch, crape-making. 



Although there are now no remains of the silk industry 
in Kent except the printing branches of the trade at 
Dartford and Crayford, important sections of the industry 
formerly existed at Sandwich, Canterbury, Winchelsea, 
and elsewhere. 

The old town of Sandwich was indeed in process of 
industrial decay when the immigration from the Continent 
of workers in the paper, silk, woollen, and other manu- 
facturers gave it a new lease of life. It was the workers 
in sayes, baize, and flannel, who established themselves 
at Sandwich, this location at the mouth of a haven giving 
easy communication with the metropolis and other parts 
of the United Kingdom, as well as facilities for export 
trade with the Continent. It appears from Hasted's 
History of the county that very few of the silk workers 
settled in Sandwich, the majority of them making their 
homes at Canterbury, while the workers in thread settled 
themselves upon the river Medway at Maidstone. Other 
bodies of the immigrants came to the old town of 
Winchelsea, but of their work very few records have been 
preserved. It is known that they established a manu- 
factory of cambrics, and that this business was carried 
on at Winchelsea, sometimes on a considerable scale, 
until the middle of the eighteenth century. This venture 
appears to have ended in financial failure, and the houses 
and workshops in which it was carried on were taken over 
by Messrs. Kirkman, Nouaille and Clay, who established 
on that site a crape factory, which after a successful career 
in Winchelsea was transferred to Norwich in the year 
1810. The buildings in which the crape business was 




carried on were afterwards converted into barracks, and Velvet 
some of them exist down to the present day. Factory 

In about the year 1860 an attempt was made by Messrs, at 
J. R. Lemaire and Sons, of Spital Square, London, to Dover, 
start a factory at Dover for the manufacture of velvets 
by hand, but it was found that a military town was un- 
suited to this purpose. 


There are few more interesting links with the early days 
of the silk industry than that furnished by the establish- 
ment of the modern Canterbury weavers in the picturesque 
old house on the banks of the Stour. This house contains 
the very rooms where the Elizabethan weavers once 
worked, and is built on a spot where John Callaway had 
himself set up his looms. A fresh link with Callaway 
was forged in the discovery by the modern workers of the 
process by which the original Canterbury muslin was 
woven. A fragment of an old piece of this muslin, believed 
to be the only specimen extant, was by permission of 
the owner, Mrs. Sebastian Evans, carefully dissected and 
made to yield up its secret. The result was that the 
clock was put back, and Canterbury weavers have produced 
within quite recent years the Callaway muslin by the 
Callaway process. It was a notable achievement. 

Callaway, the inventor of the process, was Master of 
the Silk Weavers towards the end of the 18th century. 
It will be interesting, however, to briefly trace the develop- 
ment of silk manufacture in this district. The beginning 
of the industry in Canterbury, as indicated above, goes 
back to Elizabethan times, and owes its establishment 
in Kent, like certain other branches of textile industry, 
to religious persecution on the Continent. The story of Early 
the invasion of England by the skilled handicraftsmen Walloon 
who, with other French Walloons, fled to this country Settlers. 
to escape the rigorous rule of Charles V, is told elsewhere. 
It is enough to point out here that it resulted in the 
settlement in Canterbury of many skilled weavers, who 
had previously practised their craft in Lille, Turcoing, 
Nurelle, and elsewhere. They were made welcome in 



the Cathedral City, and Queen Elizabeth, in her role as the 
champion of the Protestant faith, threw the mantle of her 
protection over them. The quarter of the City now 
known as St. Peter's was set aside for the use of the 
weavers by Elizabeth, and at a later period Charles II. 
granted the silk-weavers a Charter of Incorporation, which 
brought into existence the Company of Silk Weavers in 
the City of Canterbury. The names of the first master, 
John Six, and his wardens and assistants bear testimony 
to the nationality of those forming the governing body. 
The advance guard of the industrial invaders was com- 
posed of weavers of " baizes " and " sayes," serges, 
taffetas, bombazines, ribbons, laces, and fringe. The bulk 
of them were not, as might be inferred from the records 
of the County historians, silk-weavers, but it is of interest 
to note that the earliest mention of silk ware in the 
Burghmote Records occurs in the year 1592-3.* The full 
story of the Canterbury refugees and their crafts was 
told by the late Mr. F. C. Cross, and to his researches 
and those of Mr. S. W. Kershaw, much of the knowledge 
now possessed of the early days of the craft is due. Yet 
while these refugees found a haven in England, which 
must have seemed peaceful after many unhappy days 
in their own country, and were generally made welcome 
in Kent, they had to face the opposition of the home 
weaving trade. The London weavers strenuously objected 
to the Walloons being allowed to practise their trade in 
competition with the home industry. The end of the dispute 
was a compromise, the new comers having to submit to an 
edict that they were not " to make cloths not such as the 
English make for the present." This restriction had the 
effect of directing the energies of the foreigners into some- 
what new channels, and giving an individuality to their 
productions which they might not otherwise have possessed. 
Apart from the opposition of the English weaver, to whom 
the Walloon was generally superior as a craftsman, the 
new-comers had little or no cause for complaint. 

* Receyved of mr maio r wh he had receyved of the Strangers and w ch they levyed 
amonge theire companye for defaultes made in makynge their rasshes and other wares to 
shorte and contrary to their orders. 

Burghmote Records. Chamberlain's Accounts, 1592-3. History of the Walloon and 
Huguenot Church at Canterbury, Francis W. Cross, chap, xvii., pp. 184, 185. 

Plate XXXIII. 

The Old Weavers' House, Canterbury. 

KENT. 315 

In addition to holding a license from Queen Elizabeth, Opposi- 
they enjoyed other privileges, and the Burgmote Records tion of 
show that in the year 1577 an allowance was granted to Home 
the foreign weavers towards the maintenance of their Trade, 
halls. The crypt of the Cathedral was granted to them 
for their own use, and some authorities are of opinion 
that looms were actually set up there,* but this is 
extremely doubtful, as there was no light ; it is, however, 
probable that they stored their looms there for a time 
when they first arrived in this country. At that period 
they were working under articles of agreement which 
had been made by the Mayor and magistrates of 

These articles granted to the immigrants permission 
to make boys' garments and cloth after the Flanders' 
fashion, and a hall was provided in which the garments 
could be viewed, overlooked, and sealed. This hall, 
situated in the Friars, is now used as the Unitarian Chapel. 
The new-comers were also allowed to dye their goods, 
and means were provided in the shape of a " foot poste, 
whether with horse or with waggon, for to bear away 
and carry their affaires to London and elsewhere, to sell 
or cause them to be sold without any hindrance," save 
it may be assumed the ordinary hazards and perils of the 
road, which at that period were real enough in the carriage 
of silk goods. In exchange for such privileges, the new 
industry in Canterbury had to submit to the burden of 
taxation. The sealing of the goods appears to have been 
the first impost, and to this was added a loom tax from the 
records of which it would appear that in about 1582 
the number of looms set up in Canterbury was 390. Their A 
number steadily increased, and the industry for a period Thou- 
at least attained extraordinary dimensions. It is stated sand 
that in the early part of the 17th century there were over Looms. 
1,000 looms at work. The number of the Walloon popula- 
tion of the city may be estimated with some degree of 
accuracy from the number of looms at work, and it is 
recorded that at about the time when the Company of 

* The statement is utterly improbable, and there is not a scrap of evidence to support it in 
the contemporary records of their own Church, of the Cathedral, or of the City. History of 
the Walloon and Huguenot Church at Canterbury, Francis W. Cross, p. 45. 


Number Silk Weavers was formed this Company was incorporated 

of in the year 1676 it was 2,500. The trade at that time 

Foreign consisted chiefly of the manufacture of all kinds of rich 

Weavers, striped silk, silks wrought with gold and silver, and fabrics 

of wool mixed with silk. Some of these fabrics commanded 

a price of from ten to twenty shillings the yard. The 

raw material came from Italy and Turkey, and the 

Canterbury looms not only executed orders for the Court, 

but met the demands of a large general trade. 

The Canterbury silk trade reached its high-water mark 
towards the end of the 17th century, but subsequently 
had to face the competition of cheaper imported silks 
from Persia and India. The aid of Parliament was sought 
in an attempt to protect the Canterbury, and of course 
other branches of the home trade, but the expedient of 
repressive legislation proved a futile remedy. The silk 
trade of the Cathedral City was doomed ; some of the 
weavers removed to Spitalfields, a few to other centres 
of the silk trade ; it is known that in the year 1886 the 
number of looms in Canterbury had dwindled to 200. 
Even the invention of John Callaway in the closing years 
of the 18th century only temporarily stemmed, and could 
not permanently stay the victory of imported textile 
goods. The secret of the Callaway muslin was believed, 
until the modern revival, to have died with the inventor. 
The modern chapter is one of great interest. 

Modern It was a century after the death of Callaway, in the year 

Canter- 1896, that two Canterbury ladies, Miss C. F. C. Phillpotts 

bury and Miss K. Holmes, determined, if it were possible, to 

Industry, revive the silk-weaving in Canterbury. In the city itself, 

the old industry was only a tradition ; there were no 

living links with those who had been engaged in it. The 

houses in which the looms had been set up remained, 

and some of the products of these looms were in the 

possession of local families. The pioneers of the modern 

branch of the industry were however both enthusiastic 

and painstaking ; they took lessons at a weaving school in 

London, and after a course of instruction at the Bradford 

Technical College, they made a modest start with three 

hand-looms, which were set up in a room in High Street. 

Plate XXXIV. The Canterbury Weavers' Pattern Book, dated 1685. 



Other workers were obtained and taught, and gradually Hand- 

the modern " Canterbury Weavers " came into existence, woven 

and won a certain reputation for hand-woven materials, Fabrics. 

which had some pretentions at least to artistic design 

as well as technical accuracy. Naturally, such products 

could only appeal to a small field. Notwithstanding these 

disadvantages, progress was made and the reopening in the 

year 1899 of the workrooms in the house on the banks of 

the Stour, where Callaway himself had set up his looms a 

century before, marked the real beginning of the modern 

silk trade in Canterbury.* Up to that time the output 

of the looms had been mainly woollen and dress materials. 

Attention was now directed to the employment of silk 

for inlaid patterns, and some notable banner work, one of 

which depicting the arms of Canterbury, now hangs in 

the Guildhall, was carried out by the Weavers. This 

banner was presented to the City by Mr. Francis Bennett 

Goldney, then Mayor and later Member for Canterbury, 

whose artistic knowledge and ever ready help contributed 

in no small measure to the success of the industry. The 

local authorities, the Corporation and the Parliamentary 

representatives of the city, took the greatest interest in 

the work, and the City Charity Trustees contributed 

apprentices. The productions of the Canterbury Weavers 

won awards at several exhibitions for work in silk 

as well as other textile materials, and a dress was woven 

for the Duchess of Argyle. Her Majesty Queen Mary, 

then Princess of Wales, graciously accepted the first Exhibi- 

piece of brocade turned out from the looms at the time tion 

of the Coronation of King Edward the Seventh, and wore Awards. 

it at one of the Coronation functions. It was, however, 

found impossible for the industry to establish itself on 

a basis which would fit in with modern conditions, and the 

effort to revive the silk trade in Canterbury finally failed. 

* Fragments of the old looms and quills of silk were found under the floors in the attics of 
the old house. A curious fresco depicting the migration of the weavers from Flanders was 
also discovered on the walls of one of the old rooms. 



In addition to the principal centres of the industry, 
the history and present position of which are dealt with 
in previous chapters, there are many other towns and 
districts where branches of the silk industry were formerly 
in existence, and in some of which indeed these still persist. 
A brief account of these various centres will be of interest. 


Silk As in the adjoining county of Essex, so in Suffolk, the 

Trade early silk industry was due to the initiative of master 
follows weavers in Spitalfields. W 7 hen the introduction of power- 
the Wool, looms into Yorkshire threatened the hand weavers of 
wool in Suffolk with the extinction of their trade, the 
Spitalfields' weavers took advantage of the labour thus 
rendered available to establish branches of the silk trade. 
The cost of living in London had increased, and an advance 
in wages had been secured by the Spitalfields Act of 1774. 
It became important, therefore, to take advantage 
of a situation such as that offered in Suffolk through the 
decay of the woollen industry, and it was found that 
it was possible to offer the Suffolk weaver a much higher 
wage than he had ever secured in the wool trade, and 
r et to pay only two-thirds of the piece-work rate fixed 
>y the London justices. 

The towns which profited most by this migration of the 
silk industry were Sudbury, Haverhill, and Glemsford, 
and in spite of the fluctuations which have taken place, 
the industry has persisted down to the modern era. At 
Mildenhall there was a flourishing industry in the early 
years of the 19th century. The branch established there 


Plate XXXV. 

Cottage Velvet Weaving, Sudbury, Suffolk- 


was an off-shoot of a Norwich business, and it lasted for Silk 
twenty or thirty years, but the exact date when the silk Trade 
industry died out at Mildenhall is uncertain ; it was follows 
probably extinct by the year 1855. About the year the Wool. 
1840 the main centres of the industry were certainly at 
Sudbury and Haverhill. The number of looms set up at 
Sudbury was about 600, and these found employment 
for about 500 hands, of which nearly 300 were men and 
80 boys. The work was mainly the production of plain 
mantels, lutes, and gros de Naples, the net earnings for 
which averaged about 7s. a week. There were about 
10 Jacquard looms for the weaving of figured goods, at 
which the workers made about 10s. a week, and about 
half-a-dozen velvet and satin looms on which the weavers 
engaged made 12s. a week. There were no power-looms ; 
the system was to set up a number of the hand-looms in 
a factory under the eye of the employer, who considered 
that this plan not only prevented pilfering, but was a 
better training for the workers. The trade was subject 
to great fluctuations, and made the wages actually 
received less than the amounts above quoted, which 
could only be earned in a full week, and the weavers 
regarded the agricultural labourer as being much better 
off than themselves. 

At Haverhill there were about 70 looms engaged in 
weaving umbrella and parasol silks for Mr. Walters, in 
London. The work here was more regular than at 
Sudbury. A weaver could make 16 yards in a week, 
and the average wage for a full week when expenses had 
been deducted was about 8s. The highest numbers 
employed in the silk manufacture in Suffolk were reached 
in the middle of the 19th century, when the throwsters 
and weavers together numbered about 2,000. 

Following the removal of the duty on raw silk, throwing Early 
mills were put at work in several Suffolk weaving centres. Factory 
It is known that in the year 1840 there were three mills, system, 
one steam-mill and two worked by water-power in opera- 
tion at Hadleigh, Glemsford and Hayland. The total 
power represented by these mills was quite small about 
9 h.p., and only young persons were employed ; of 



465 hands, 217 were under thirteen years of age, and the 
remainder were under nineteen. A few it is reported 
Migra- remained in the factory after the latter age, but as their 
tion of usefulness did not increase, their wages remained at the 
Opera- rate formerly paid. The result was that the population 
tives to was withdrawn from the silk trade at a comparatively 
Lan- early age, and those who failed to find other employment 

cashire. migrated to the Lancashire towns. 

At a later date, a new centre of the industry was 
established at Ipswich, and 200 female silk winders 
are shown by the records to have been working there 
in 1855. In 1892 the town became associated with the 
hand-loom weaving of furniture silks by a firm styled 
the English Silk Weaving Company, Limited, but although 
some beautiful goods were produced, the venture came 
to an end ten years later. 

The silk-throwing mills which had been in operation 

at Hadleigh and Hayland seem to have ceased working 

towards the end of the ? 60's, a trying time for the silk 

industry, which had some difficulty in adapting itself 

to the new commercial conditions introduced by the 

adoption of free trade. The mill at Glemsford, which 

was established in 1824, found occupation in 1874 for 

Power- over 200 hands. Power-loom silk weaving had been 

loom largely introduced, but there were then altogether about 

Silk 1,800 hand-loom weavers in Suffolk, half of whom were 

Weaving, men engaged in making mats and matting, and the other 

half, mainly women, in weaving horsehair and silk. That 

these representatives of the old Suffolk textile industry 

(wool and hemp) should have been so numerous at that 

period is a striking proof of the tenacity of an industrial 



Glemsford was known to be working in 1901, but the 
modern industry in Suffolk centres at Sudbury, with off- 
shoots at Haverhill. Messrs. Stephen Walters and Sons, 
which is believed to be the oldest firm manufacturing 
silk in Great Britain, have possessed works in Sudbury 
and Haverhill for at least three generations, and were 


engaged in the business of making umbrella silks from a 
very early period. At the present time, the works at 
Haverhill are entirely confined to hand-loom manufacture, 
the character and conduct of this branch of the business 
having been unchanged for many years. The main works 
of this firm are, however, at Sudbury, where the mills 
which provide employment for several hundreds of work- 
people have been enlarged three times during the past 
fifteen years, and now form a large block of buildings. 

The production of umbrella silks is still the main feature of Umbrella 
the trade, but in addition the works produce crepe de chine, Silk 
spun silk fabrics, silk for the University gown trade, Trade, 
and for regimentals and coat linings. An off-shoot of 
this business is the manufacture by a special process of a 
shirting, to which the name of " Spunella " has been given, 
and which is now carried on as a separate undertaking. 
The Walters interests formerly carried on a business at 
Taunton in Somerset, in the manufacture of silk for surgical 
bandages, but this business is now transferred to 
Sudbury. On several occasions, the works have been 
honoured by Royal visits. While the business of Messrs. 
Stephen Walters and Sons is the largest of the existing 
Suffolk silk firms, other firms have established works in 
the Sudbury district, and whatever may be the case in 
other parts of Suffolk, the industry here is an expanding one. 
The other firms include Messrs. Vanners and Fennell 
Bros., Ltd., Messrs. Bailey, Fox and Co., the Gainsborough 
Silk Weaving Co., Messrs. Jones and Co., Messrs. Brown 
and Garrard, and Messrs. Thos. Kemp and Sons. 
Messrs. Warner and Sons, whose main factory is at 
Braintree, have for many years employed cottage weavers 
at Sudbury in the manufacture of plain silk velvets. 


It was in the early part of the 19th century, probably Silk- 
about the year 1824, that a silk-mill was established at throwing 
Tring by a Mr. William Kay. It remained in existence at Tring. 
as a throwing-mill at all events there is no record of 
its being closed down until the working was discon- 
tinued at the end of 1887, at which time it was in the hands 


Silk- of Messrs. David Evans and Sons, who had other interests 

throwing in the silk trade. The mill was afterwards carried on 
at Tring. by Lord Rothschild to provide employment for the people 
in the district, and continued working under his control, 
for a period of about 10 years. An interesting fact in 
connection with the early history of the mill is the fact 
that the manager, one Robert Nixon, set up looms at 
Aylesbury, and by an arrangement with the Workhouse 
overseers, agreed, owing to the increase in the numbers 
of paupers, that if permission were given to set up a mill 
on the Workhouse premises, he would employ only paupers 
chargeable on Aylesbury parish. The original mill at 
Tring was worked in connection with the Aylesbury 
mill. At the latter centre 40 looms were in operation 
in the year 1830, and provided work for many of the 
women lace-hands who were then out of employment. 
The Aylesbury as well as the Tring mill ultimately came 
into the possession of Messrs. Evans, who introduced 
steam-power. It is known that in the year 1865 there 
were 70 steam-looms in operation at the Aylesbury mill. 
Hand-looms were also set up by the same firm at a building 
in Akeman Street, Tring, and also at Waddesdon, but 
the business at the last-named place was sold to 
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the early 70's. In 
the decade 1860-1870 the hand-looms at Tring were 
employed on handkerchiefs, and the power-looms on 
the production of China cords in the gum. There was 
also a small mill at Whitchurch. 

An old For over a century the silk industry has been established 

Industry at St. Alban's, where Messrs. J. May grove & Co., Ltd., 

at St. who recently absorbed the silk-throwing business of 

Albans. Messrs. Chas. Woollam and Co., still carry on a thriving 

business. The silk mills, which employ two or three 

hundred workers, stand upon a portion of the old 

monastery grounds, and are situated between the present 

Abbey and the ancient town of Verulanium. These 

mills are indeed on the site of the old monastic flour mills 

which was the subject of dispute between the monks and 

the townspeople for many years. Although the mills 

have been established for over a hundred years, a date 





on one of the buildings giving the year 1810, they have An old 
been modernised and form the seat of an expanding Industry 
industry, the output being China, Italian and Japan at St. 
organzines and trams for weaving, also flosses, hosiery Albans. 
silks, two and three cord sewings, machine sewings and 
twists, and artificial silks in various sizes for weaving, 
knitting and embroidery. 

Beginning in a small way at Haslemere, Surrey, in 
1901, Mr. Edmund Hunter has established at Letchworth 
weaving works of much interest. At first his energies 
were successfully directed to the production of brocades 
for altar frontals, and furniture stuffs, but his later work 
has been remarkable for the unique beauty of the dress 
fabrics, particularly those created for theatrical purposes, 
some of which were worn in Sir Herbert Tree's most 
important plays. An interesting feature of Mr. Hunter's 
work is the using of hand- and power-loom methods in 
the same place, the former for the more elaborate 
decorative brocades, and the latter for plain and figured 
dress goods. 


Wokingham, in Berkshire, was probably one of the 
earliest homes of the silk trade in England, a branch of 
the industry having been established there towards the 
end of the sixteenth century. The manufacture of silk 
stockings appears to have been the chief branch of the 
trade practised at Wokingham, and an interesting side- 
light is thrown on the conditions of the trade by some 
bye-laws of the borough which were put in force in the 
year 1625. One of these laws instituted penalties against Silk 
poor people refusing to work at silk stocking making, Stocking 
and none were allowed to set up the trade of silk knitting Trade, 
unless having served seven years' apprenticeship to it 
under a penalty of 20s. a month. 

Large numbers of mulberry trees were planted in and 
near the town at different periods, and some of these still 
remain as a link with the old industry. The system 
of working was the domestic method, women and children 
doing the knitting at their own homes. It is known 


Old that at the beginning of the last century three silk 

Trade manufacturers carried on business in the town, both in 

condi- spinning and weaving. The spinning and twisting mill 

tions. was worked by horse-power, and the records indicate that 

there were 432 spindles in operation; in the weaving 

mills the output appears to have been chiefly hat bands, 

ribbons, watch strings, shoe strings, sarsnets and figured 

gauzes. The few men who were employed earned about 

30s. a week, but the operatives were chiefly women and 

children, the women earning from 8s. to 10s. a week, and 

the children 5s. The looms were in existence up to about 

the year 1850, and it was possible not many years ago to 

find among the old residents some who could remember 

a colony of silk handkerchief weavers in Rose Street, 


Reading At Reading, silk-weaving was practised as early as 1640, 
and and up to the early part of the last century the industry 

adjoining was still flourishing, and indeed a London manufacturer 
Towns. established a branch business in the town. This caused 
trouble with the journeymen silk-weavers of Spitalfields, 
who were successful in an action they brought against 
the London manufacturer. A few years later, however, 
several London firms appeared to have established works 
at Reading. One of these firms was that of Williams and 
Simpson, who commenced the manufacture of ribbons in 
the Oracle, and Thomas Simmons, who had an establish- 
ment in St. Paul's Churchyard, also owned a mill in 
Minster Street, Reading. At this period figured silk 
dress materials were being manufactured in the Oracle ; 
shag or rough silk in East Street by Matthew Green, and 
works were also in existence in the Abbey buildings, 
these being in the ownership of Messrs. Reynolds and 

At Twyford, near Reading, the Billings, of Macclesfield, 
carried on silk-throwing. George Billing, who died in 
1885, appears to have been the last of the silk manufacturers 
here. At Newbury and Thatcham small silk works were 
once in operation, and silk-throwing was carried on by one 
Charles Lewes and by Thomas Hibell at Greenham, a 
suburb of Newbury. 


Until a few years ago there were still to be found living Reading 
at Kirkbury persons who had worked in the small silk and 
factory which was established by Jonathan Tanner, and adjoining 
which continued in operation until the 1840's. The Towns, 
recollections of these old employees were not altogether 
pleasant. They appeared to have worked about 13 hours 
a day for six days a week, and to have received Is. in 
money and frequent thrashings with a leather strap from 
the overseer. 


The silk industry at Oxford is first mentioned by 
Dr. Plot in 1677, when he records that silk stockings were 
woven at Oxford. The industry was also carried on at 
Henley-on-Thames. In 1823 two silk factors owned works 
in this town : Messrs. Barbel and Benzeoitte in Friday 
Street, and Mr. G. Skelton in Mann Lane. As late as 
1856 Henley transacted a certain amount of business in 
silk. For several years previous to this date a silk wind- 
ing mill had stood in Phyllis Court Lane. The silk was 
sent from London, and wound by women and girls, but the 
factory could only have been on a very small scale, as 
the total weekly wages amounted to no more than between 
30 and 40. 

The modern industry is represented by the old- Plush 
established firm of Messrs. W. Wrench and Co., whose manu- 
plush mills at Shutford, near Banbury, are also used facture at 
for the manufacture of mohair and other velvets. Banbury. 


It seems probable that silk-weaving was in progress 
in Northampton even in the 18th century. In the year 
1783 there is known to have been a weaver named Trokman. 
It is also certain that 20 years before that time there 
was a considerable silk manufacture at Towcester. About 
the year 1820 silk-weaving was introduced from Coventry 
to Desborough. At first the workmen walked from 
Coventry to Desborough and back again to Coventry, 



Silk the but small manufactories were soon started, and afterwards 

staple larger ones were built at Kettering, Rothwell and 

trade of Desborough, most of which are now used as shoe factories. 

three The weaving was done on the old hand-loom, and despite 

Towns. the erection of the factories, many of the workmen kept 

looms in their own houses, using the Jacquard loom for 

ornamented silks and velvets. The various kinds of 

articles woven in silk were coloured silk plushes, black 

plushes for silk hats, plain and coloured silks, black and 

coloured velvets, figured velvets, plain and figured satins. 

This industry found employment for a large number of 

hands in the three towns mentioned, forming their staple 

trade ; but owing to the keen competition of the French, 

silk-weaving gradually declined until it ceased about the 

year 1868. 


Gloucestershire, owing to the large water power avail- 
able, possesses natural advantages which made it an 
early seat of the textile industries. It is clear that silk 
must have been used at a very early period in the local 
textile industry for embroidery, but weaving probably 
dates from the arrival of French refugees. It is known 
that the weaving of silk was being practised at Gloucester 
in the year 1637, and two silk-throwing mills were in 
Famous operation at Chipping Campden and Blockley at the 
for Silk beginning of the 18th century. This district was long 
Stockings, famous for silk stockings. Silk-throwing was also practised 
at Frokesbury up to about 1870, in which year the last 
remaining firm, Iliffe's, removed their business to 

The most important centre of the Gloucestershire silk 
industry was, however, in the Stroud Valley, where at 
one period nearly 1,000 persons were employed in about 
a dozen mills. At Tewkesbury, where the stocking trade 
flourished for a long period, there were at one time 800 
frames in operation, and the industry gave employment 
to about 1,500 persons. The last link with the old silk 
industry in this county is the Langford mill at Kingswood, 


where some 200 persons are employed in throwing silk 
for braid and fishing lines. 


The industry was established in Worcestershire at a An old 
very early date, and indeed there are traces of silk manu- Seat 
facture in the county even before the revocation of the of the 
Edict of Nantes. Local records show that in the year Industry. 
1692 Edward Beardmore, a silk weaver of Worcester, 
was in arms for Charles I. It is stated of the same person 
that owing to the depression in the silk trade caused by 
the war, he applied for a beadsman's place in Worcester 

After the influx of foreign refugees, both Blockley and 
Kidderminster were centres of a considerable manufacture 
of silken fabrics. At the former place, following the 
opening of mills in the early years of the eighteenth century, 
some hundreds of workers were engaged in the industry. 
The builder of the first mill appears to have been one 
Henry Whatcot, who died in the year 1718. The situation 
of the town was favourable for the establishment of the 
industry owing to the excellent water-power available 
and as early as 1825 eight mills were in operation. The 
modern industry thus established was employed in silk- 
throwing for the Coventry ribbon industry, and indeed 
depended to a considerable extent on the state of 
Coventry trade. The French Republic, following the Con- 
war with Germany, abandoned the reciprocity treaty, nection 
and both Coventry and Blockley lost trade. The with 
industry at Blockley is now extinct. Coventry 

At Kidderminster, with the decline of the clothing trade, Ribbon 
long established at that centre, the manufacture of mixed Industry, 
stuffs of worsted and silk under the name of Spanish 
poplins as well as Irish poplins and crape was introduced. 
In the year 1755 the manufacture of figured and flowered 
silks was in progress, and it is recorded that in the year 
1772 no fewer than 1,700 silk and worsted looms were at 
work, but the trade gradually declined, one reason being 
that silk, as well as bombazines, which were originally 
sent to Norwich to be finished, were subsequently 



Ribbons manufactured in the Norfolk centre, with the result that in 

and course of time the whole of the business was transferred 

Buttons, to Norwich. There were small silk industries established 

in other parts of the county, including a ribbon factory 

at Evesham, and recently a factory was working at 

Bromsgrove in connection with the manufacture of silk 

florentine buttons. 


It would not appear that silk-weaving ever obtained 
any great or continued hold in Surrey, comparable to the 
development which took place in other home counties. 
The earliest records relate to that section of Surrey nearest 
to London. It is known that at the end of the 16th 
century there was a small colony of aliens in Southwark 
and the adjoining district engaged in silk-weaving, and 
references may be found in some local records to 
the occupations then being carried on by silk winders, 
throwsters, twisters, and dyers. The Lord Mayor's returns 
of foreigners residing in the City Wards, made both in 
May and November, 1571, show the existence of several 
silk weavers in various Southwark parishes. They were 
principally settled in St. Olave's parish, where, in May, 
there appeared to have been 13 Dutchmen, one Burgundian, 
and one Frenchman, all silk weavers, besides a Dutch silk 
thrower. In the same parish in November there would 
appear to have been 11 Dutch silk weavers and one French, 
in addition to a silk thrower and a silk winder, both Dutch. 
In other parishes the number of aliens engaged in silk 
manufacture was smaller. In St. Saviour's there was 
one in each return, in St. Thomas' three in May and five 
in November ; in St. George's in November there were 
six returned, three Dutch and three French. 

Alien So far as the two lists of 1582 and 1583 show, there 

Colony was a considerable decrease in the number of foreign silk 

in South- weavers in Southwark. Only eleven aliens appear in the 

wark. former for the whole ward of Bridge Without, while in 

1583 there were returned seven silk weavers, one Dutch 

and six French in St. Thomas', and two Dutch weavers 

in St. George's. There is also in the list a French silk 


twister in St. Thomas'. No alien is given as connected Alien 
with any of the various silk industries in either the parish Colony 
of St. Olave or that of St. Saviour, but it should be noted in South- 
that to a considerable number of the aliens appearing in wark. 
these lists no trade has been assigned, and from another 
source it would seem that there were 13 persons practising 
the trade of silk-weaving in St. Olave's in 1571, as well 
as five in St. Thomas's. 

The interesting lists of 1618, however, show a large 
increase in these numbers in that year. Only two silk 
weavers are given as living in St. Saviour's parish and 
three only in St. George's, but in St. Thomas's there are 
thirteen, and in St. Olave's no less than nineteen, and 
four others are described as silk winders. In Bermondsey 
also seven silk weavers are returned. These seem to have 
been principally of Dutch or Flemish nationality, but a 
few were French or Germans, and two weavers and one 
winder were Spaniards. In addition to these there were 
in Southwark a considerable number of ^aliens of various 
nationalities engaged in the weaving of the special kinds 
of silken fabrics known as taffetas or tuft-taffeties. Of 
these there were four in St. Thomas's parish, twelve in 
St. Olave's, and one dwelling within the liberty of the 
Clink. Throughout the period under consideration the 
foreign silk industry in and about London seems to 
have been chiefly established within the Ward of 

The modem silk industry of Surrey, although small in Associa- 
extent, is important from the fact that William Morris tion 
established at Merton Abbey in the year 1881 the weaving with 
of plain and figured silks, for which, amongst other artistic William 
handicrafts, he is so justly famous. His work and also Morris, 
the industry at Haslemere are fully dealt with in the 
chapter on " Arts and Crafts." 


The evidence for the existence of silk-weaving as an 
organised industry in Winchester in the Middle Ages 
is slight. The " Cericatires " of the 15th century Corpus 



Christ! procession may, however, have been silk workers. 
In the year 1671 there is a definite record of a lad being 
apprenticed to John Wally, silk weaver. The first silk 
factory on a large scale would seem to have been that of 
a Mr. Skenton's, who was in business in 1792. At his 
original works the drums were turned by men, but at a 
new factory erected near the Abbey Mill water-power was 
Light utilised. In 1813 the old cloth manufacture of Winchester 
Silk was completely gone, and the manufacture of light silk 

fabrics fabrics and velvets was then and had been for some years 
and the chief industry of the town. The raw silk was imported 

Velvets, from Bengal and Italy in thread, and in the early years 
of the 19th century one house alone in the city 
employed 300 hands in preparing and winding the silk, 
child labour being largely used. The scarcity and dear- 
ness of the raw material were, however, already affecting 
the trade, and by 1840 silk-spinning was extinct in the 

At Southampton the trade had long been established, 
but had much declined by the 18th century, though a 
slight amount of silk-weaving was carried on by French 
refugees. In Whitchurch, in the middle of the last century, 
the chief industry was silk-weaving, and in recent years 
Mr. James Hide carried on here the trade of which he 
was the only representative in the county. There was 
also a mill at Overton in the early years of the 19th century. 
In 1840 it still furnished employment in silk-throwing 
to most of the women of the town. To-day the industry 
would appear to be extinct. 

Trade There were other centres of the Hampshire silk trade, 

with In the beginning of the 19th century, bombazines made 

America, at Alton and in the surrounding districts were sent to 
London to be dyed and dressed. Tabyrean, a fabric 
of silk and worsted especially adapted for the American 
market, was manufactured in considerable quantities here 
at one time, and generally sent to Philadelphia. Gradually 
the American trade of Alton failed, the manufacture of 
bombazines was discontinued, and the textile trade of the 
town was then mainly confined to the making of hop- 


Old Silk Mill Malmesbury. 



The textile industry of Wiltshire, although now non- Silk 
existent, at least as far as the silk branch is concerned, Mills at 
except at Malmesbury, was established in various centres in Malmes- 
the county at a very early date. At Malmesbury weaving bury, 
appears to have been introduced by a Mr. Stumpe in the 
reign of Henry VIII, and the factory in which the business 
was carried on is believed to have been on or near the site 
where the modern silk mills have for some years past 
found employment for a large number of women and girls. 

Leland appears to have been the earliest author who 
made any record with regard to the textile industry of the 
town. He states that when he visited Malmesbury 
towards the middle of the 16th century, every corner 
of the vast houses of office which had belonged to the 
Abbey were full of looms to weave cloth in, and also that 
it was intended to make special streets for clothiers in 
the vacant grounds of the Abbey. The magnitude of 
the industry may be gathered from the statement quoted 
in Moffats' and Birds' Histories of Malmesbury, that 
about 3,000 cloths were made annually. The historian 
Camden also refers to the good repute in which Malmesbury 
stood on account of the clothing trade in the reign of 
Queen Elizabeth. Further evidence of the connection 
of Malmesbury with this trade is given by a deed bearing 
the date 1664, executed by a Mr. Grayle, who is described 
as a clothier, making a donation to the poor of Malmesbury. 
In the King William Charter, reference is made to the 
fact that the borough was then inhabited by burgesses 
largely carrying on the clothing trade. It seems quite 
probable that the manufacture of silk as well as of other 
textile goods was carried on in the 17th century, as in the 
Parish Register is found the following entry : 

" February 26th, 1687. Robert James, of Malmes- The 
burie, silk weaver, was then declared in the Abbey Clothing 
Church, to be the parish clerk of Malmesburie, Trade, 
upon the death of Nathaniel Speak, broad cloth 
weaver, and late parish clerk." 

The trade, however, declined and was almost extinct 
when in the closing years of the 18th century Mr. Hill, 






at Salis- 

a Bradford manufacturer, made what appears to have 
been a successful attempt to revive the cloth trade. The 
two large mills which he built and which he and his 
successor, Mr. Salter, of Chippenham, carried on for a time 
with great success, were afterwards purchased by a Mr. 
Lewis, a silk manufacturer of Derby, who employed the 
mills for purposes of silk-throwing and ribbon-weaving. 
He appears to have remained in business at Malmesbury 
until the year 1869, when he disposed of the mills to 
another Derby firm of silk manufacturers, Messrs. Daven- 
port and Son, who installed modern machinery and carried 
on a silk ribbon trade, which provided employment for 
about 400 hands. Some twenty years later the mills 
passed into the possession of a Mr. Jupe, who was engaged 
in silk-spinning and throwing, and who for some years 
carried out a contract for the Admiralty for the black 
silk squares for the Navy. The mills were subsequently 
closed for about fifteen years, until they were purchased 
by Messrs. Shuttleworth Ltd., who installed modern 
machinery for the production of ladies' dress materials. 
To Messrs. Shuttleworth succeeded the Avon Silk Mills 
Company, who are now keeping the mills in operation, 
and giving employment to a considerable number of hands. 
They have improved the machinery equipment, and are 
weaving a variety of silk goods mostly for dress 

Another branch of the silk industry was established 
at Salisbury, and was engaged in the manufacture of 
silk velvet. The name of the firm which carried on this 
business was Senechal's, and the mill is stated to have 
closed down for want of workmen in about the year 1825, 
the site now being covered by what is known as 51 Castle 
Street and Brown's Almshouses. It is interesting to 
record that when the mill was closed, Mr. Senechal divided 
a roll of crimson velvet among his workwomen. The writer 
of the Festival Book of Salisbury, Mr. Frank Stevens, 
records the fact that an almswoman, who received her 
share when a girl in this distribution, gave him some 
velvet rosettes which in later years she made for her 
children's hats from what must have been one of the 


last pieces of velvet made in Salisbury. It seems probable Velvet 
that at various times workers had been brought to Weaving 
Salisbury from Coventry, for when Senechal's mill was at Salis- 
demolished, several Coventry trade tokens were found, bury. 
Previously to this branch of the silk trade, a very important 
woollen industry was carried on in Salisbury, and it is 
easy to understand how wool took a premier place among 
the industries of the city, situated as it is in the midst 
of the Wiltshire plain and down lands, which provide 
pasturage for the sheep. 

Other centres in Wiltshire where the silk trade was 
formerly carried on were Chippenham, from which town 
Mr. Salter migrated to Malmesbury and Warminster, Devizes, 
and probably Newbury, and these industries were existing 
in the first half of the 19th century. 


The silk industry of Dorset in the past was mainly Long 
concerned with the throwing of silk rather than with reign of 
manufacturing processes, and was carried on at Sherborne Will- 
for a long period. The historian Hutchins records the mott's. 
establishment of the throwing industry in the year 1740, 
but it would seem that at an even earlier period than 
this band strings, that is, laces or ribbons which were 
used for fastening bands worn round the neck, were manu- 
factured at Blandford. Cranborne had also an association 
with the weaving industry, but by the year 1833 all 
sections of the textile trades except silk had 

Silk-throwing at Sherborne* appears to have been 
commenced in 1740 by one Thomas Sharrer at East Mill 
(now pulled down), but the mill was soon afterwards 
transferred to the ownership of William Willmott, who 
quickly built up a very good business. The trade increased 
indeed to an extent which called for the erection of two 
other mills in Sherborne. In the year 1780 the number 
of hands employed had increased to 800, but this total 
included winders who were out-workers scattered in the 

* Information on trade of Sherborne furnished by Mr. E. Arnold Wright. 



Long surrounding villages, each village having its Silk House, 
reign of from which the silk was handed out to and received back 
Will- from the winders. Although it is out of chronological 
mott's. order, it may here be pointed out that the number of 
workers had declined to 600 in 1826, and to 150 in 1831, 
by which year the number of spindles in operation had 
decreased from 8,000 to 3,000. It should also be men- 
tioned that the cottage branch of the industry was carried 
on in many instances in conjunction with agricultural 
pursuits. In the year 1770 William Willmott appears 
to have been totally engaged in throwing silk on com- 
mission for two London firms, the classes of silk being 
China, Italian, Persian, Antioch, Murcia, Brutia, and 
Calabria, and Willmott had a standard price of 3s. for 
every pound of silk he worked. The silk was all carried 
down from London by wagon first in bales, but later 
in baskets, this having been found the more satisfactory 
method. The average wage of the workers appears to 
have been about 4s. 6d. per week. 

Fluctua- The mills were all driven by water-wheels, but Willmott 
tions in had great trouble owing to scarcity of water. In the 
Sher- year 1781 there was no rain for four months, which caused 
borne the river to dry up completely, and in order to carry on 
Trade. his operations Willmott tried to persuade Lord Digby 
to allow him to take water out of the lake in front of 
Sherborne Castle, this lake being the source of the river. 
Lord Digby, however, refused to grant this request, but 
Willmott, rather than let his hands remain idle, bribed 
the sluice keeper, who allowed a big head of water to run 
down into the river. This, however, only afforded tem- 
porary relief, and in the end Willmott had four horse 
engines installed, the remains of which can be seen to this 
day. In some of the years between 1770 and 1780 trade 
was depressed, and it is on record that in the year 1773 
Willmott 'wrote to his patrons asking for silk, as his 
employees were starving, and he was distributing loaves 
of barley bread to keep them alive. In asking for silk, 
he offered to work up " Any silks, long or short reeled, 
for singles, tram or Balladina for sizes, but declined to 
accept Bengal, as being too troublesome." His charge 


for throwing China two or three thread tram and knittings Fluctua- 
was 3s. 6d. per Ib. He lost a lot of his workpeople during tions in 
this period, but towards the end of 1773 his mills were Sher- 
active again, with silk for the sewing trade. In the borne 
following year he bought the whole of the machinery Trade, 
belonging to Mr. George Ward, of Stalbridge, and also 
rented the Silk House at that place from him. In Novem- 
ber, 1774, Willmott also bought the whole of the plant of 
Messrs. Fooks and Webb, probably of Carne, for the 
sum of 135, and his ambition at this time was to raise 
his output to 500 Ibs. of silk per week. 

Evidence is furnished by a letter written by Willmott 
to Messrs. Phillips and Co., on July 15th, 1776, that there 
was at that time a Company of Silk Throwsters in existence. 
The letter reads as follows : " I have been in long 
expectation in hopes of hearing something relating to 
the Company of Silk Throwers ; whether they have 
any intention of putting in force the Act of Parliament 
to those who have not served regular apprenticeship to 
the trade, and I hope you will not think it impertinent 
in me being desirous to know, as I would wish to take up 
my freedom if the Company would permit me." 

In this year Willmott experienced a set-back, owing 
to the presence of an opposition mill in Sherborne, which 
was started by a Mr. Cruttwell and a Mr. Hickling. 
Cruttwell had had to give up mills at Oakingham owing 
to trouble with the workpeople over the employment 
of workhouse labour. The rival firm took a great many Work- 
of Willmott's hands away from him, and as a remedy house 
Willmott raised his scale of wages, and also bid a high Child 
price for the local workhouse child labour. These steps Labour, 
did not apparently prove successful, for at the beginning 
of 1777 Willmott had all his three mills standing idle. 
In March of this year, however, the partnership of 
Cruttwell and Hickling was dissolved, but Cruttwell 
continued the business, the Oakingham mills being sold 
to a Mr. Winstanley, of London. A few months later 
Willmott's workpeople wished to return to him, owing to 
dissatisfaction with their new masters, and in October, 
1778, Cruttwell failed in business during a period of 


depressed trade, but his factory was let to a Mr. and 
Mrs. Smout, who had been managers for him. 

In the year 1779 Thomas Willmott was born, and he 
in later years succeeded to his father's business. His 
father, however, carried on the business until his death 
in 1787, and his wife continued it until Thomas Willmott 
was old enough to take charge. It is interesting to note 
that some years before his death, in the year 1781, William 
Willmott was throwing and winding mohair for a button 
Modern maker at Sherborne. It is recorded that in the year 
Weaving 1800 lamps were first used instead of candles for lighting 
Industry, the Sherborne mills. In 1836 new mills were started by 
J. P. Willmott, who did a big trade, and made the business 
a very sound concern, and in 1845 another new factory 
was erected and steam used for power purposes. At a 
still later date weaving was established at Sherborne. 
The Willmott business has been continued down to the 
present day, first by the sons of J. P. Willmott, and then 
by J. and R. Willmott Limited, who were silk weavers, 
the goods made being principally plain dress taffetas, 
checks and stripes. It was in the year 1907 that 
Messrs. A. R. Wright and Co., of Bingley, purchased the 
factory at West Mills, and installed new engines and 
machinery, and made it a branch weaving mill of their 
Bingley headquarters. They now employ at Sherborne 
about 100 hands, who are engaged in winding, warping, 
and weaving plain and fancy silks and satins, etc. 

The silk industry was carried on at other places than 

Sherborne. One of these places was Gillingham,* and 

Thomas Sharrer, the eldest son of Thomas Sharrer who 

established the Sherborne mills in 1740, endeavoured 

to buy the Gillingham mills in the year 1777. The mill 

at GiUingham was established in 1766 by a Mr. Stephens, 

Silk whose great grandson is now living at Gillingham, and the 

Throwing industry remained in existence at Gillingham until about 

at 1890. Mr. Stephens and his forefathers were silk 

Gilling- throwsters, and at one time employed about 160 persons, 

ham. as well as cottage workers in the neighbouring villages. 

At first Italian silk was manipulated, but in later years 

* Facts on the Gillingham industry supplied by Canon C. H. Mayo. 


China silk took its place. The mill at Gillingham is now 
a grist mill. There was another mill at Gillingham, which 
belonged to Messrs. Charles Jupe and Sons, who also 
owned mills at Mere, Wiltshire, at Crockerton, and at 
Warminster, but these were closed down sooner than the 
mill at Gillingham. There were also silk mills at 
Charminster and at Carne in the later years of the 18th 

A good deal of information with regard to the silk The 
industry in this area may be gathered from the evidence Glove 
given before a Select Committee in the year 1831. It is Trade, 
stated that at that time the glove trade, which had 
formerly been of some importance, only existed at Sher- 
borne in the form of a home industry, gloves being sent 
over from Yeovil and Milborne Port, and sewn by the 
Sherborne women in their cottages. The glove trade also 
formed part of the local industry of Beauminster, Bere 
Regis, and Cerne Abbas. At the last-named place, and 
at Stalbridge, where the spinning of silk was carried on 
at the end of the 18th century, the work chiefly consisted 
of twisting and making up the raw silk into skeins. 


The settlement of Flemish weavers at Glastonbury Flemish 
in 1551 has been dealt with by Mr. Emanuel Green in the Weavers 
Somerset Archaeological Proceedings, vol. xxvi. The result at 
of his research shews that the Duke of Somerset (The Glaston- 
Protector), on receiving a grant of Glastonbury Abbey bury, 
from Edward VI, founded there a colony of Flemish 
weavers, advancing them a loan of 484 14s. Od., and 
promising to provide houses and ground and other relief 
towards their living. The fulfilment of his plan was 
prevented by the Duke's attainder, and the colony appears 
to have suffered acutely from poverty, accentuated by 
the opposition of their English neighbours. A petition 
to the King for relief led to an enquiry being made, and 
from this it appears there were 44 families and six widows, 
for whose accommodation, as a whole, there were only 
six houses in repair, and 22 without roofs, doors, or 



Flemish windows. The Commissioners found the Strangers very 

Weavers godly, honest, poor folk, of quiet and sober conversation, 

at and showing themselves ever willing and ready to instruct 

Glaston- and teach young children and others their craft and 

bury. occupation, and they judged the settlement as likely 

to bring " great commodity to the common weal " of those 

parts. Mr. Green traces the history of this settlement 

through its early difficulties until the Flemings obtained 

the necessary authority and incorporated by Royal 

Patent, became an English guild, enjoying the same 

privileges and liberties as other clothiers and dyers of the 

realm, paying no more taxes than English-born, and last 

but not least being granted the use of their own liturgy 

for worship. 

On the death of Edward VI, the Strangers lost their 
protector, and, on the accession of Queen Mary, they left 
this country for Frankfort. Curiously enough the colony 
left little or no local mark behind them, the one relic of 
their settlement being an alms dish of laten or rolled 
brass bearing a Flemish legend with St. George and the 
dragon repousse, a gift to St. John's Church, where it 
still remains. The settlement is interesting as being the 
first use to which the old Abbey was put after its 

The sayes manufactured by these Flemish weavers, 
red, blue, and black, are often mentioned in Church 
goods of pre-Reformation days. Similar articles are 
sometimes of velvet and sometimes of saye. There were 
palls of red saye, vestments of saye and hearse cloths of 
saye. Assuming the saye (soie) made at Glaston was 
in any part of silk, in accordance with the general meaning 
of the word, it is possible that this little settlement can 
take rank as one of the earliest colonies of silk weavers 
in England. 

Claim A comparatively recent work says : " It is stated on 

made of good authority that Taunton shares with Derby the 

Pioneer honour of being the first place at which the making of 

work. ' thrown ' silks out of fine raw silks was carried on in 

England after its introduction from the Continent." 

There is, however, some reason to doubt the absolute 


accuracy of this statement when we reflect that Sir Thomas Claim 
Lombe built his silk mill at Derby in 1719, whereas the made of 
earliest reference to the silk industry in the annals of Pioneer 
Taunton is in 1781, when Messrs. Vansomer and Paul, silk work, 
mercers, of Pall Mall, London, purchased a large brew- 
house in Upper High Street, together with certain water 
rights. To quote from an old history, and one to which 
the great Macaulay had recourse when writing his famous 
work x " These purchases, by erecting a large building and 
suitable wheels they converted into a machine for making 
thrown silk out of fine raw silk, on the model of that at 
Derby." In 1790 this factory employed about 100 hands. 

About the same time another concern was established 
in Cannon Street, where throwing was done on a small 
scale, " the machinery being set in motion by a woman 
treading the large wheel," and where also 32 looms were 
installed for weaving Barcelona handkerchiefs, Canterbury 
muslins, Florentines and ladies' shawls. The weaving of 
crape was apparently introduced in 1806, and was carried 
on spasmodically in cottages in the town and vicinity 
until comparatively recent years. 

In 1822 there appear to have been three throwing Story of 
mills in Taunton, Mr. Norman's in Upper High Street, Taunton 
one in South Street belonging to Messrs. Balance and Co., Trade, 
and one in Tancred Street, owned by Mr. George Rawlinson. 
The last-named is the only one to have stood the test of 
time, and it is to-day exclusively engaged in the processes 
of silk-throwing. Some years later Mr. Wm. Rawlinson, 
son of the gentleman referred to above, commenced 
operations in a mill in East Street, which he subsequently 
considerably enlarged, and for a great number of years 
Mr. Rawlinson personally owned and controlled the East 
Street and Tancred Street mills. In 1881 the business 
changed hands, Messrs. Stanway and Summerfield becoming 
the proprietors. In the meantime the other silk-throwing 
mills had been converted to other purposes. Messrs. 
Stanway and Summerfield were succeeded in 1903 by 
Messrs. Calway and Drillien, and the steady expansion 
of their particular business has been such as to necessitate 
material additions and improvements to buildings and 


Story of machinery during recent years. Nearly 500 people are 
Taunton employed by this firm. 

Trade. The business of Messrs. Pearsall and Green was founded 

at the end of the 18th century, and consisted of both 
wholesale and retail branches. The special productions 
were silks for the Nottingham and West of England lace 
industries, which were then large and flourishing trades, 
and the shop in Cheapside was also a famous resort for 
great ladies for buying the silks for the knitted and netted 
purses then fashionable. 

When both these industries died down the business 
was bought by the late Mr. W. Rawlinson, of Taunton, 
who ran it in connection with his mills in Taunton. During 
the early and middle part of the 19th century, the staple 
trade then consisted of the import of Berlin wools, needle- 
work and embroidery silks from Germany, together with 
a considerable trade in silks for fringes, scarves, and use 
in machines. With the aid of discoveries of the late 
Sir Thomas Wardle from 1870 to 1880, the trade was 
gradually withdrawn from the hands of the Germans and 
converted into a British industry, which it now remains. 

The crape manufacture, which commenced at Taunton 

in about 1775, afterwards spread to Shepton Mallett, 

Croscombe, and Dulverton. In the year 1830 it is on 

record that Messrs. Smith and Co. had a mill worked 

by the Barle stream at Dulverton. Silk-throwing was 

also in progress at Ilminster, at Over Stowey, Milverton, 

and elsewhere. Some details of the silk industry at 

Milverton are contained in the reports of the Parliamentary 

Commission on the silk trade in 1831. The evidence of 

The Mr. Lamech Smith, who had been established for some 

Industry years there as a silk throwster, gave many interesting 

at details. He states that he used chiefly Italian raw silk, 

Milver- and that he employed almost exclusively woman and 

ton. child labour. At one period this manufacturer had 15,000 

spindles in operation. He attributed the decline in trade 

to the low prices caused by the reduction of the duty on 

foreign thrown organzine. There seems to have been 

manufactured about this period, 1826, a variety of silk 

known as " marabout," which required a special process 

Plate XXXV III. 

John Heathcoat. 



of throwing. Marabout, which, according to the Victorian Marabout 
County History, was mainly used for gauze and gauze rib- Silk, 
bons, was a variety of hard thrown tram. It was thrown 
in three threads and sent to London to be dyed, after- 
wards coming back to Somerset to undergo the remainder 
of the throwing process and to be finished. The silk 
employed was the best white Norvi, and the throwing 
of 1 Ib. of marabout was equal to about 2 Ibs. of organzine. 
In the year 1859 there was a small silk-throwing industry 
at Wincanton. 

Other important centres of the old trade were Bruton 
and Wells, and at the former place in the year 1823, or 
thereabouts, there are stated to have been 15,700 spindles 
at work, a number which had declined in 1831 to 7,000. 
There was also a small industry at Kilmersdon at the 
beginning of the 19th century. Other branches of the 
modern industry in addition to that referred to above are 
the establishments of Messrs. James Kemp and Sons, of 
Shepton Mallett, where tailors' material is manufactured, 
and Messrs. Thompson and Le Gros, at Merchants Barton, 


For over a century the Heathcoat family have been 
engaged in the textile industry, including the silk trade at 
Tiverton, where the factories now cover an area of over 
10 acres, and give employment to a large number of 
workpeople. John Heathcoat, the founder of the business, 
commenced his business career at Loughborough, where 
he set up a machine capable of producing exact imitations 
of real pillow lace. Another of his inventions was an 
improved method of winding raw silk from cocoons, and 
filatures for this purpose were set up in Italy and Sicily, 
where the work is still continued. To-day the works are 
among the most important producers of plain silk lace net, 
and the construction of the machines and the making, 
mending, dyeing and finishing of the nets are all carried Tiverton 
out at the Tiverton factories. As long since as the year Fac- 
1833 Mr. Heathcoat received an offer of 10,000 for the tories. 
secret of his method of dressing and finishing the silk nets ; 


the offer was refused, and partly owing to the fact that 
the business has always been owned and managed by 
members of the same family since its inception, the 
processes remain secrets down to the present day. The 
silk dress nets, silk toscas, go to all markets in the world, 
and furnish a conspicuous example of a branch of the 
British silk trade which has held and increased its hold 
through all the chances and changes of outrageous fortune. 
A good deal of the tulle used in making the robes and gowns 
worn at the Coronation of King George emanated from 
the Tiverton factories, which also supply France, Belgium 
and Germany with large quantities of tulle in black and 
all the fashionable shades. 



Silk has had its place in the Scottish wardrobe certainly 
for more than 400 years, for an Act of the Scottish 
Parliament of 1503, " Anent the fredomez and privilegis of 
merchandis and burrowis," specified silk, together with 
wine, wax, spicery and staple goods as one of the com- 
modities only to be traded in by merchants within the 
royal burghs. There is no warrant for regarding such 
silk transactions as large, although it is to be inferred 
that the business had begun to interest a number of traders. 
Silks, wines, cloths and miscellaneous cargo, including 
even salt, were imported through Leith from the Low 
Countries, France and Spain, in return for the exported 
wool, skins and salmon. The transactions were managed 
in part by Scotsmen resident abroad like Andrew 
Halyburton, commission merchant of Middelburg, whose 
ledgers -(1493 1505), stored in the General Register House, 
Edinburgh, are described in Robert Chambers's Edinburgh 
Merchants and Merchandise (1859). 

The inference that by the beginning of the 16th century Silk 
trade in silk had become diffused is supported by a in the 
reference to the sumptuary legislation of the period. National 
Edward III, of England, had passed a law in 1337 Dress, 
restricting the use of silk to the Royal family and to the 
propertied class, and some measure of the comparative 
advancement of the two countries is to be obtained by 
noting the date of the passing of a similar measure for 

In the poorer and more frugal country a law forbidding 
the use of silk by others than knights, minstrels, heralds 
and landowners of 100 rental was enacted by James III 



Silk in 1471, out of consideration of the great poverty of the 

in the realm. A transcript follows of the significant passages of 
National this Act, modernised only as regards the contractions used 
Dress. by the scrivener : 

" Item it is statut and ordanit in this present 
parlyament that consid'ing the gret pow'te of 
the Realme the gret expens and cost mad upon 
the brynging of silks in the Realme that therefor 
na man sal weir silks in tyme cumyng in gown 
doublate or cloks except knychts mestrallis and 
herralds without that the werar of the samy 
may spend a hwndretht punds wortht of lands 
rent under the payn of amerciament to the king 
of X lib als of as thai ar fundyn and escheten of 
the samyn to be given to the herralds or men- 
strallis .... 

" And at menis wiffs within a hwndreth pounds 
wer na silks in lynyng but alanly in colar and 
slevis. ..." 

Some reason to doubt the efficacy of this piece of 
legislation is provided by the books of the Universall 
Kirk of Scotland. The General Assembly in August, 
1575, had to take serious cognisance of the dress of the 
clergy and their wives, of whom it may be supposed not 
all enjoyed the qualification of one hundred per annum 
of land's rent. The Assembly recorded the following 
opinion of the contemporary fashions in a preamble : 

' We think all kinds of broidering unseemly ; all 
begares* of velvet, in gown, hose, or coat, and all 
superfluous and vain cutting out, steekingt with 
silks, all kinds of costly sewing on passmentsf ; 
... all kind of gowning, cutting doubletting or 
breeks of velvet, satin, taffeta, or such like, all 
The silk hat and hats of divers and light colours." 

Clergy Reverend judgment was crystallised into a recom- 

and mendation that : 

Silk "Their whole habit be of grave colour as black, 

Garments. russett, sad gray or sad brown ; or serges, worset, 

* Sewn-on ornaments ; bows. 

t Anglice, closing. 

% passementeries, trimmings. 


chainlet, grogram lytes, worset or such like . . . The 
and their wives to be subject to the same order." Attitude 
The motives actuating the presentation to Parliament of the 
in 1696 of a draft " for ane constant fashion of clothes for Church, 
men . . . and ane constant fashion of clothes for women " 
are not now open to scrutiny. The proposals would 
seem however to owe more to certain conceptions of 
seemliness and economy than to any design to promote 
manufacturing industry. Possibly, because of this 
absence of a substantial motive, the House ordered the 
paper to lie upon the table. Probably there is no more 
than an empty coincidence in the correspondence of dates 
between the presentation of the draft and the publication 
by a Fife laird of lines displaying some regret over con- 
temporary fashions. The verses are quoted from 
Chambers's Domestic Annals of Scotland, for the sake 
of their light upon the sorts of fabrics worn at the time. 
" We had no garments in our land 

But what were spun by th ? goodwife's hand ; 

No drap-de-berry, cloths of seal, 

No stuffs ingrained in cochineal ; 

No plush, no tissue, cramosie, 

No China, Turkey, taffety ; 

No proud Pyropus, paragon, 

Or Chackarally there was none ; 

No figurata, water chamlet, 

No Bishop sattin, or silk camblet ; 

No cloth of gold or beaver hats." 

The subject of Scottish clothing in the succeeding Silk 
century has been treated at length in Mr. H. G. Graham's Plaid 
illuminating book, The Social Life of Scotland in the 18th part of 
Century. Men of the gentle classes, although they might National 
go in shabby clothes in the morning, " in public appeared Costume, 
in their coat and waistcoat trimmed with silver or gold, 
their silk stockings and jackboots." Ladies of fashion 
in the time of Queen Anne wore their hoops " four or 
five yards in circumference, covered with a dress of silk 
or petticoat of velvet or silk bound with gold or silver 
lace. . . . But, however desirous to be in the fashion, 



Silk every Scots lady had that essential part of national costume, 

Plaid the plaid, wrapped loosely about 'the head and body, 

part of made either of silk or of wool with a silken lining of bright 

National green or scarlet ; while the common people wore their 

Costume, gaudy coloured plaid of coarse worsted. The plaids 

were the ordinary costume of the ladies, as characteristic 

and national as the mantillas of Spain up to the middle 

of the century, when at last they gave way to silk and 

velvet cloaks." 

The ladies, of course, spun, and Mr. Graham describes 
how in the early 18th century, when woollen stuffs were 
the chief produce, " rich and poor, in bedroom and kitchen 
of the mansion, as well as the hovel of the peasant followed 
this domestic craft." At the same time the professional 
weavers of Glasgow plaidings, Aberdeen fingrams, Kilmar- 
nock and Musselburgh stuffs, and Edinburgh shalloons, 
were making a reputation for these fabrics. 

The place of silk in relation to the national dress has 
its natural bearing upon the beginnings of the silk manu- 
facture in Scotland, as to which event some mis-statements 
have found their way into print. In particular the state- 
ment in Brown's History of Paisley that the silk manu- 
facture began in Scotland about 1760 has been copied 
by other writers. It may be agreed that in or about 
that year silk began to be used in place of linen in Paisley 
to make the gauzes that are still a distinctive minor product 
of the West of Scotland. There had, however, been 
earlier attempts, of which one, due to Robert Dickson of 
Perth, was made nearly 200 years before the more 
effective beginning made in Paisley by Humphrey Fulton. 
The attempt seems to have escaped the notice of the 
Pioneer Perth- historians, although the document granting a 
Work monopoly in 1581 to Dickson is contained in the national 
at archives. A copy is appended of the 

Perth. " Ratification of the preuelege of silk making to 

Robert diksone. 

" Oure souerane Lord with auise of his thrie estaitis 
. . . confermis the prevelege and libertie grantet 
be his hienes to his louite Robert diksoun vpoun 
his offer. 


" To bring in and to learne within this realme the Indus- 
airte of the making and working of silkis. To be trial 
als gude and sufficient as the samin is maid within Begin- 
the countreis of f ranee or flanderis. And to be nings in 
sauld within this realme better chaip not the lyk Scot- 
siliis ar [sauld within this realme brocht heir or land, 
out of vther countreis quhairvpoun the said 
robert mon bestow grite sowmes of money quhilk 
salbe the occasioun that ane grite nowmer of 
young and pure pepill salbe virteouslie and 
honestly sustenit on that occupation. And thairf oir 
gevand and grantand to the said robert power, 
prevelege and libertie to use and exerce the said 
airt be him selff and his servandes and vtheris in 
Name be the space of threttie yeiris nixttocum 
discharging all vtheris during the said space to 
use or exerce the said airte without his leiff and 
guidwill first had and obtenit thairto. And that 
the raw and unwrocht silkis to be brocht hame 
be him salbe custome frie with the dreggis for 
litting* thos him selff to be maid frie burges and 
gild in perth or sic vther places quhair he sail 
pleis to plaint without payment of sowmes of 
money thairfoir. And he and his servandis to be 
frie of warding taxationis impositionis. And to 
transport the silkis wrocht be him customs frie 
as in his said prevelege at mair lenth salbe contenit. 
Providing that he enter to his work within yeir and 
day eftir the dait heiroff with one hundreth 
servandis and continew in the said work thairefter. 
Certefeing him and he do in the contrair he fall 
tyne his prevelege." 
The terms of the grant leave no doubt of the nature of Granting 

Dickson's proposals, and it is stated in the History of the of Privi- 

Scottish People by T. Thomson that Dickson commenced leges. 

with a certain date and with 100 workmen continued to 

prosecute the trade. 

The encouragement of the textile industry was much 

in the minds of the authorities of the period and in 1587 

* Litting = dyeing. 



Privi- the better known Act was passed "in favour of the 

leges craftismen flemynges." The terms of the grant to John. 

of the Banko at all events contemplated such use of silk as is 

Flemings, implied in the inclusion of bombazines among the list of 

articles to be manufactured in Edinburgh. The text 

empowered "Johne gardin philp fermant and Johne 

banko flemyngis, strangearis and workmen ... to 

exercise thair craft ... in making of searges growgrams, 

fusteanis, bombesies, stemmingis beyis, covertors of 

beddis and vtheris appertening to the said craft and for 

instructioun of the said liegis in the exercise of the making 

of the warkis . . . the experience and suir knawlege of 

thair laubors quhilk will tend to ane perpetuall floresching 

of the said craft within this realme. 

" Our souerane lord . . . hes tho't ressounable and 
expedient and for the common weill . . . hes aggreit 
. . . vpoun the particular heids and articles following. 

" That is to say the said craftesmen sail remane within 
this realme for the space of fyve yeiris at the leist . . . 
and sal bring within this realme the nowmer of xxx 
personis of wabsteris*, walkarisf and sic vtheris as may 
wirk and performe the said wark as alsua ane litstair,J 
or ma for litting and perfitting of thair said warkis and. 
. . . Sail make and perfite the steikis and peeces of warkis 
according as the samin ar or hes bene maid in flanderis, 
holland or Ingland, kepand lenth breid and synes con- 
forme to the rule and stile of the buik of the craft." 
Employ- The prudent care for the quality of the goods to be 
ment of manufactured was matched by the provision ensuring the 
Native employment of native apprentices. The Flemings were 
Appren- " To tak na prenteisses bot Scottis boyis and madinnis 

tices. and before anie vtheris the burges bairnis of 

Edinburgh to be preferrit and acceptit." 
They were 

" . . . not to suffer ony personis of thair awin 
natioun and vocatioun to beg or trouble this 
cuntrie for povertie." 

* Weavers. 

f Cloth finishers. 

J Dyer. 


One Nicolas Edward, who became later Provost of the Employ- 
city, was set over the strangers as supervisor : ment of 
"... his Ma tie . . . . hes appointit one honest and Native 
discreit man, Nicholas vduart, burges of Edin- Appren- 
burgh, to be visitor and over sear of the said tices. 
craftismen haill workis . . . and to try the 
sufficiencie thereof and to keip his hienes seill 
stamp and Irne for marking." 

A market stand was allotted to the incomers, and the 
sum of one thousand merks : 

" His Ma tie . grantis . . . ane patent place . . . 
quhair thay sail remane vpoun the ordinar mercat 
dayes ... to sell thair maid steikis* and peces 
of stuff. . . . Providing that thay sail sell na 
wool nor worsett befoir the same be put in wark. 
" . . . assignis to the saidis thre strangers and thair 
cumpanye. The sowme of ane thowsand merkis 
money of this realme."f 

The three Flemings 'of 1587 were followed by seven 
more, who were engaged in June, 1601, to settle in the 
country ; six of them to practise the making of says or 
worsted serges, one to teach the manufacture of broad- 
cloth. Their appearance followed upon an Act of 1597, 
in which the general character of English cloth was 

" the same having only for the maist part an outward 

show, wanting that substance and strength whilk The 
oft-times it appears to have." debt to 

The workmen had to complain to the Privy Council Foreign 
upon their arrival that they were neither entertained Weavers, 
nor set to work, and that it was proposed to separate 
them, " which wald be a grit hinder to the perfection 
of the wark." 

The Council decreed that : 

c The haill strangers brought hame for the errand 
sail be holden together within the burgh of 

Pressure was being exerted at the time upon the Royal 
burghs to cause them to promote cloth manufacture, and 

* Cf. German Stuck = a piece. 
t Some fifty guineas. 



The a minute of the Council, dated September, 1601, menaced 

debt to the towns with the loss of their Royal privileges if nothing 
Foreign were done to " effectuat the claith working" by Michael- 
Weavers, mas. In 1609 the Edinburgh weavers had to complain of 
molestation by the magistrates of the Canongate, who 
wished to force them to become burgesses and freemen, 
and a deputation headed by John Sutherland and Joan 
Van Headen stated that they were 

" daily exercised in their art of making, dressing 

and litting of stuffis, and gives great licht and 

knowledge of their calling to the country people." 

The particulars relate rather to the indebtedness to 

alien teaching than to the direct development of the 

Scottish silk industry, and it appears that Flemish skill 

founded at least three factories Bonnington, Newmills 

and Ayr. That English as well as Dutch help was enlisted 

is shown by an entry of 1665 referring to persons in 

quarantine : 

" Richard Hereis and Samuell Odell . . . came from 
London to Nottingham . . . where hyred 9 
servants for silk weaving, coming to Newcastle 
stayed several days." 

" (Converse at freedom.)" 

The No information is forthcoming as to the issue of the 

Prohibi- effort by Herries and Odell, and it is reported in Chambers' s 
tion Annals that the George Sanders who obtained a patent 

upon for 17 years in 1681, "for a work for the twisting and 
Imports, throwing all sorts of raw silk," did not proceed with his 
undertaking. Attempts to force the pace of manu- 
facturing development were being made concurrently, 
and in 1682 an Act was passed " discharging the wearing 
of silver lace and silk stuffs, upon design to encourage the 
making of fine stuffs within the Kingdom and to repress 
the excessive use of these commodities." The explanation 
is quoted from Mackenzie's Memoirs, as is the following 
account of the practical difficulties encountered in carrying 
out the law : 

" That which was complain' d of was, that the goods 
already brought in were not allow' d to be worn ; 
which was refus'd lest, under the pretext of these, 



others might be brought in ; and yet nine months The 
were allow' d them for venting and wearing of Prohibi- 
them ; and it was urg'd that if longer time were tion 
granted, the Act would be forgot, before it could upon 
be put in execution, as it was in King James's Imports, 
reign, for this same cause." 

The Act was not in point of fact forgotten, for Chambers 
records that upon the information of Alexander Milne, 
collector of Customs in Edinburgh, Sir John Colquhoun, 
of Luss, was haled before the Privy Council in the suc- 
ceeding year. In disregard of the law forbidding clothes 
ornamented with " silk-lace, gimp-lace or any other lace 
or embroidering or silk," he had appeared " wearing a 
black justicat, whereupon there was black silk or gimp 
lace." Sir John was condemned to a fine of 500 merks 
(29 stg.), payable half to his Majesty's private use and 
half to the informer. 

Scotland was suffering from acute depletion of currency, 
and the purchase of English-made cloths was conceived 
to make matters worse, " English money was not to be 
had under 6 or 7 per cent " in 1681, and hardly at any 
rate. Exchange had risen as high as 12 or* 15 per cent 
against Edinburgh in the London market, and these con- 
siderations explain the preamble of the Act of 1691 for 
encouraging trade and manufactures. 

" Considering that the importation of forreign Com- Currency 
modities (which are superfluous or may be made problems, 
within the Kingdom . . .), has exceedingly 
exhausted the money . . . and hightened the 

Accordingly, his Majesty strictly prohibited " all 
Merchants to import any Gold or silver thread . . . lace, 
ffringes or Traceings. All Buttons of Gold or silver threed 
&c. All flour'd, strip'd, figur'd, chequer'd, painted, or 
printed silk stuff or Ribbands (noways comprehending 
changing colloured or wattered Stuffs or Ribbands) ; all 
Embroideries of Silk upon Wearing Cloaths." 

* Professor Scott's introduction to the New Mills Cloth Manufactory shows that exchange 
on London was at a discount of 12 J per cent in 1701. 



Burning It was provided additionally that : 
of Im- " All such goods imported hereunto . . . shall be 

ported burnt and destroyed, and the importers or Resetters 

Goods. fined in the value thereof." 

Even if something may be claimed from the public 
and practical point of view for removing the onus from 
the wearer of clothes, and placing it upon the importer 
and dealer, the heroic measure of burning existing supplies 
cannot easily be defended. Other goods than silks were 
implicated in the prohibition which applied to gloves, 
boots and other articles, as well as to 

" Any forraigne Holland, Linnen, Cambrick, Lawn, 

Dornick, damesk, tyking, bousten or Damety, 

tufted or stripped holland Calligo, Selesia or East 

India Linnen. And all other forraign Cloaths 

and stuffs made of Linnen or Cottoun wool or lint 

(noways comprehending fflannen, Arras hangings, 

forreigne Carpets and made beds of Silk Damest- 

hangings, Chairs and stools conform thereto). 

All forreign silk or Woolen stockings. All forraign 

laces made of Silk, Gimp or thread." 

Disabling as the measure was to the importation of 

finished goods, it was a beneficial Act in respect of the 

import of articles for use in manufacture : 

" All Oyl, dying Stuff, forraign wooll, lint and flax, 
pot-ashes or any other Materialls whatsoever use- 
full for Manufactures . . . are hereby declared 
to be free of Customs and Excise." 

The Act laid down the dimensions to which " linen, 
woolen, drogats and serges " were to be manufactured, but 
prescribed none for silk ; an omission which may show 
that no silks were being manufactured or that no 
customary dimensions had been evolved. 

A Doubtless the application, already referred to, of George 

Pro- Sanders, in the year 1681, is related to the prospects 

tective afforded by the exclusion of competition. The same 

Measure, consideration must have been in the minds of Joseph 

Ormiestoun and William Elliott, whose petition for a 

concession to manufacture silk was received favourably 

by the Privy Council in 1698. The petition is recorded 


in the Acts of the Scottish Parliament as one for the Mono- 
" winding, throwing, twisting, and dyeing of raw silk." poly 
As further described by Robert Chambers, it was Secured, 
incidentally to open a profitable trade between Scotland 
and Turkey, and for " advancing the manufacture of 
buttons, galloons, silk stockings and the like." 

The petitioners proposed to " bring down several 
families who make broad silks, gold and silver thread 
&c.,".and had no doubt "many of the Norwich weavers 
may be encouraged to come and establish in this country, 
where they may live and work at easy rates." The 
petitioners were granted privileges, but not a monopoly, 
and although few particulars concerning the enterprise 
are available there is information enough at hand to 
identify this undertaking with the Silk Manufacture, 
which was attacked in 1702 by the Cloth Companies for 
diminishing the demand for their products. Professor 
Scott writes that at the end of four years its profits 
excited envy, and that although it had not a formal 
monopoly it had in fact no competitor. 

About another undertaking, formed under the patronage The New 
of the Duke of York to exploit the manufacture of woollen Mills 
cloth, many more particulars are available. This is the Silk 
New Mills Cloth Manufactory, founded in 1681, of which Stocking 
the minute books have been preserved and reprinted by Factory, 
the Scottish History Society. The place, New Mills, known 
now by the name of Amisfield, is in Haddingtonshire. 
A group of Edinburgh merchants, or shopkeepers, formed 
the Company with an Englishman, Sir James Stanfield, 
at their head. Workmen were brought from Yorkshire 
and the West of England to carry on processes with which 
the Scots were unfamiliar. Beginning with the coarsest 
cloths, finer qualities were gradually attempted until 
at length the manufacture of superfine woollens was 
reached. The Company received Government contracts, 
its initial capital of 5,000 was raised to twice the sum 
and although in 1713 its effects were dispersed, the venture 
cannot be regarded as less successful than the majority 
of industrial concerns. The venture was in some aspect 
a co-operative undertaking, bound to sell its goods only 


The New to shareholders and to members of the Merchant Company. 
Mills It had the advantage of a field clear of foreign corn- 
Silk petition, and more than once it set the law in motion 
Stocking against those who disregarded the Act of 1681. A Robert 
Factory. Cunningham, convicted of selling " prohibite cloth, stuffs 
and serges," was heavily fined. A Councillor, Robert 
Baillie, a member of the Company, who was found to 
have imported English cloth, valued 400 sterling, had 
his shares forfeited and his illicit goods were burned by 
the common hangman. 

What invests the New Mills Company with a peculiar 
interest is that it carried on a department for the manu- 
facture of silk stockings, and that the progress of its 
affairs in this department is revealed in the Book for the 
Managers of the Manufactures Weekly Sederunts. The 
" managers " were the equivalent of the modern company 
directors, and their weekly " sederunts " of the modern 
Board meeting. 

The transactions in respect of silk stockings began 
May 24th, 1682, when [158] " The Managers made due 
aggreement with Sir James Stanfield for foure silk stocken 
frames for quhich they are to pay him two thousand 

A week later Hugh Blair was bidden to write a letter 
of thanks to one James Donaldson for his kindness in the 
matter of certain " silk stocken frames." On June 9th, 
Trade in John Home was ordered to " send down the two silk stocken 
Silken frames by hand." On June 12th the managers [176] 
Hose. :< approve of the contracts made by Hugh Blaire with 
Francis Perry, Edward Pike and John Godson, frame 
work knitters . . . and appoints George Hume and 
James Row to goe out to New Millns and renew the con- 
tracts with the frame work knitters, makeing mention 
of the weight of the pair of hose. . . ." 

On June 14th, [179] " James Row and George Home, 
haveing been att New Millns, reports after much paines 
taken with Mr. Burton to settle with him, prevaild 
with him to take his consideration whether he would 
accept of 5s. sterling per week to mentaine the 7 frames 
compleat for work or take 15s. sterling per week, and be 


oblidged to make 5 pair silk stockens per week, he and Trade in 
his apprentizes, and mentaine the frames, of quhich he is Silken 
to give us his answer shortly and for renewing the con- Hose, 
tracts with the rest of the silk stocken weavers, thought 
noe wages fitt to move in itt till first Mr. Burton was 
indented with." 

It is to be observed that the names of the framework- 
knitters are not distinctively Scots names, and a minute 
of 6th September shows Pike to have been brought from 
London : 

[208] " Ordered that Mr. Pike receive 15s. sterling 
upon ane account of the extraordinary expences of his 
transportation from London to New Millns, and that 
George Home [give] itt him and 131b. 4s. Scotts more 
to be given him in performance of a condition made 
betwixt Mr. Blair and him att London upon the arrivall 
of his frames att New Millns, and the like same he is 
[to] receive upon the arrivall of the other frame." 

On 13 September, Burton, who had already been 
mentioned in connection with repair work, was set a 
further task : 

[212] " To cause Burton sett up pikes 2 frames and to 
inspect whatever else is necessary to be done about the 
manufactory." . . . 

A few weeks later a proposal to put Pike in charge 
of the other knitters produced immediate effects. A 
minute of 27th October : 

[235] " Reports theire discourseing Pike upon putting 
him in the oversight of the silk stockens quho seem to 
decline itt and therefore thought itt fitt to delay itt till Employ- 
the manager was spoke in itt and the rest of the stocken ment of 
weavers have all gott knowledge of itt are soe concerned English 
att itt thatt they have all promised to make good and Weavers, 
sufficient worke." 

An instruction of April, 1683, to Mr. Spurway and 
Mr. Marr, who had charge of the work at New Mills, 
gives the rate of payment, and shows Mr. Pike to have 
been paid on a higher scale than the rest. 

[313] " You are to pay for every pair of hose 2s. 6d. 
per pair, and to Mr. Pike 2s. lOd. per pair, and if any 


stockens be desyred whose weight shall come to foure or 
more ounces, the stocken weaver is to have ten pence per 
ounce for every ounce above three besyde his ordinary 

An In 1685 Mr. Burton came into prominence as the central 

Industrial figure in an industrial scandal, and the minute [669] : 
Scandal. " Orders James Bowden goe out to Newmilns and deall 
with Mr. Burtone for getting againe the silk and stockens 
and other goods imbussled by hime, and to take the 
mesters assistance, and if he cannot be prevailled with 
to cause bring him into the toune." 

The further development of the affair is shewn in the 
decision taken at the next day's sitting : 

[670] " Haveing considered Burtone, the stocken weaver 
affair aproves of George Home goeing for him and con- 
sidering the said Burton's professed repentance, and that 
he promissed to restore all the goods that he imbassled, 
they apoynt hime to goe back to his work with 
Mr. Spurroway till Monday or Tuesday till he performe 
quhat he promissed and till we consider furder one it." 

There were other difficulties from which the managers 
had to extricate their stocking makers. In 1685 two 
of them were in debt, and presumably in prison, for they 
were " diverted from employment." The minute [682] 
" Orders Mr. Marr to take up ane true inventer of ther 
debts and to ingadge in name of the company to pay 
them in one, two, three or four moneth time as he can 
agree and take discharges from them to the said stocken 
weaver, and to give them his ticket payable accord- 

Financial John Godson, one of the stocking makers engaged in 

Troubles 1682, had fallen by 30th March, 1687, into the difficulty 

of Work- indicated by the remedial measure. "John Godsone to 

people. have the loan of four pounds sterling for suplieing his 

present straits, to be repayed five shillings weeklie and 

take ane obligation from him therefor." 

These matters of personal concern, while not the least 
interesting of the transactions of the Company, are less 
directly informative than some of the orders concerning 
prices and goods under date 27th October, 1682 : 


[236] " Its ordered that the next division of silk stockens Financial 
thatt shall be made they shall be given to the concerned Troubles 
and sold att the rate of 3s. sterling per oz. black and of Work- 
mixt overhead, and this to be the rule for all time comeing people, 
and George Home is ordered to write out to the stocken 
weavers thatt they make the silk stockens weight 2 oz. 
12 or within 3oz." 

On February 13th, 1683, the managers would appear 
to have been launching an experiment to test the 
market with a sample of brightly coloured hose. 

[284] " Ordered to give out 61b. weight of silk for a true 
native grass green to be made in women's hose with first 
silk dyed and 31bs. pale buff colour." 

[285] " Ordered to make a dozen pair womens silk 
stockens of the first remnants of slips to be dyed 

A month later, 4,000 needles for the silk frames were 
ordered from London, and in April, in a tone which sug- 
gests some suspicion of the honesty of their knitters, 
the managers bade Mr. Spurway and Mr. Marr : 

[312] " When you receive silk you to give of all silk 
of a collour if it be 3 or 4, 5, 6 Ibs. to one man and weight 
it out to him, and when the stockens of that silk comes 
back you are to weightt it back and know if you receive 
back the silk allowing the waste which you are likewise 
to keep by you till you discharge yourselfe thereby." 

Some hint of labour troubles is to be found in the order 
of 26th August, 1683, appointing delegates, and giving 
them specified power to bargain : 

[361] " Orders George Home and James Boudin to Labour 
goe out to Newmillnes and make ane settlement with the Disputes 
stoking wevers for working the pair of the new fashoned in 17th 
stript hoes, and that they doe not exceed fyve shillings Century. 
a pair." 

Three days later, the mission having been executed 
on terms within the maximum, minute [365], " Aproves 
of the report mad by James Boudin and George Home 
of what they did ther in settling with stoking weivers 
at four shilling sevein penc a pair for working the strip 
stokins. ." 



On 13th May, 1684, instructions were given to Godson 
and Burton " to call to James Marr and take soe much of 
each of the light colours of silk as be three or four pairs 
of woman's stocking, and of such collers as are very 
currant and good as grein, masarein blew hair collour 
and chirie collour ane dozen of each sort." 

Details A further instruction of the same date deals with other 

of Manu- technical matters and [466] " Orders lykways the silk 

facture. stocken stiruped in the head be maid wydder in the topps 

and the common and ordinary weight not to exceid three 

and ane half unces, but some may be four unces, and to 

make the leggs larger." 

The stocking business was not carried on upon a large 
scale, and purchases of silk were not of any great quantity. 
One instruction gave orders " goe to George Sandrie and 
buy tenne or twelve pun of dayed silk as schap as can be." 

Eventually the manufacture of worsted stockings was 
begun but not with entirely satisfactory results. As an 
advertising measure in 1684, it was : 

[440] " Ordered to give ane pair or worsted stockins 
with each half peece of cloath, and this to be the rule for 
takeing out of worsted stockins till they come in more 

A year later orders were issued that " noe more silk 
or worset stockens be made with stirups, but that they 
may be made long and well marreilled and full in the 
top as if had stiruped head." 

Finally, in June, 1685, it was decided " that no more 

worsted stockens be made unless fyne worset can be had 

but that they work upon silk gloves and plain marbled 

silk stockens long unstriped and women silk stockens." 

A In September of the year orders were given to work 

Trade three of the frames constantly upon gloves and the others 

in upon stockings. The changes connote some flickering of 

Gloves. demand, and in view of the decision taken in July, 1688, 

it is apparent that the knitting business was not 

improving : 

[1172] " Orders that the silk frames be rouped* con- 
forme to a former order against Fryday, the 27th of July, 

* rouped sold at auction. 


instant, unless a letter arrive with hopes to dispose of 
them to London." 

It appears that the Company had still only its original 
seven frames and seven years of wear had doubtless made 
them no more desirable in the eyes of purchasers. The 
last heard of them is in a minute of October, 1688, noting 
an agreement made with a frame smith to repair the 
" wholl seven fraimis and make them compleat for sixtie 
pund sterling." 

One other incident in relation to the stringent Act of The 
1681 deserving of notice is the ratification made in favour Glasgow 
of the Incorporation of Weavers in Glasgow. " The Incor- 
Deacon, Masters and remanent Brethren " of that poration 
venerable body were confirmed in the privileges of the of 
grant originally made to them 4th June, 1528. Whereas Weavers 
" of old . . . incomers weavers taking the stuff out of 
the town or otherwayes encroaching" had been " fyned 
in ane pund of walx and a dinner to the Masters of the 
Craft," they were henceforth to be fined " twentie pound 
Scots for the poor of the trade." The wax, it maybe 
added, was for the altar of their Saint, and the sum was, 
in sterling, 33s. 4d." 

Twenty years later the Act of 1681 was modified by 
the inclusion of cottons and the exemption of plainblack 
silks and certain velvets, goods imported by the Scottish 
Chartered Company trading to the East, and certain 
articles required for official use. In its significant portions 
the Act of 1701 : 

" Doeth strictly Prohibite and Forbid the Importation 
of all stuffs of any kind made of silk or hair and the 
Importation of Calligoes or other Stuffs or any kind made 
of cottoun or whereis ther is any cottoun, hair or silk ; 
as also of capes, stockings, gloves, buttons of all sort . . . 
excepting musline and all plainblack silk stuffs and velvets 
for women's hoods and skarfs only ; as also velvets and The 
other silk stuffs for states and chairs of state as likeways Act of 
for pales mort cloaths, foot mantles and the robes of 1701. 
such publict officers who are in use to wear velvets ; 
excepting likewayes ... all such Indian and Persian 
goods as shall be loaded in Persia and the Indies, and 



thence imported by the Company of Scotland tradeing 
to Africa and the Indies. . . ." 

Paisley The regulation and development of the indigenous 

Gauze. linen industry was the next matter to receive official 
attention, and out of the improved linen manufacture 
grew the Scottish silk industry, of which certain remains 
are existent. The Humphrey Fulton who founded the 
silk trade of Paisley was born, according to Paterson's 
History of Ayr, at Midtown of Threapwood, Beith, 
17th April, 1713, and he died in 1779. After experience 
as a packman in Scotland and England, he began to 
manufacture linens and lawns at Beith, removing in 1749 
to Paisley, where about 1760 he introduced the making 
of silk gauze in competition with the looms of Spitalfields. 
The experiment was presumably aided by the lower cost 
of labour in Scotland than in London, and it succeeded so 
rapidly, according to particulars quoted in Brown's History 
of Paisley, that Fulton often employed 400-600 looms in 
the Paisley district. Attracted by his success, London 
firms opened establishments in the town and the local 
goods were so moderate in price and superior in 
quality that the manufacturers opened warehouses for the 
sale of the gauzes in London, Dublin, and other inland 
towns and even shops in Paris. 

Humphrey Fulton left two sons, and the business sur- 
vived his death for many years. One of the employees of 
the firm in about 1815 was a Fulton of a different family, 
which is identified now with the large and famous dyeing 
firm of Fulton, Sons and Co., Ltd., Paisley. To Mr. Joseph 
Fulton, son of the last named, the writer is indebted 
for some particulars linking the Paisley silk industry 
with that in other parts of the country. Mr. Joseph 
Fulton writes : 

Links " One of the fellow-workers of my late father, named 

with Douglas, migrated with all his family, about 1815, 

other to Yarmouth and Norwich, where for many years 

Centres. they were employed by Messrs. Grout and Co., 

silk crape manufacturers. On retiring, they 
returned to this part of the country, and in con- 
junction with Mr. George Douglas (long manager 


at Grout and Co.) we started making silk crape Links 
here, but found the trade rather foreign to our with 
district. Our idea was that girls employed in other 
the Paisley thread mills might be able to mani- Centres, 
pulate silk, but in this we were disappointed. 
Our whole plant was sold to a firm in Lyons, 
where we have been led to understand it proved 
very successful." 

Semple's History of Paisley shows that in 1780, when 
the silk gauze trade was at or near its zenith, there were 18 
manufacturing firms in the town, of whom six belonged 
to London, while eight out of the remaining 12 had 
London warehouses. Brown's statement of the looms 
in the Paisley district illustrates the remarkable growth 
of the trade. 

1776. 1781. 

Silk Looms . . 2,500 4,800 

Linen or Lawn. 1,500 2,000 

4,000 6,800 

In 1784 the value of Paisley manufactures, computed 
by W. Carlile in the Scots Magazine (July, 1787), was over 
579,000, of which 350,000 was attributed to silk gauze. 
On the same estimate there were 5,000 silk weavers and 
an equal number of winders, warpers, clippers, draw- 
boys and others, and the 10,000 workers were assumed 
to receive an average wage of 5s. per week. The thread 
manufacture, then in its infancy, was held accountable 
for an output valued 64,800, and lawns and thread 
gauzes for 164,000. 

The further development of the trade in light silk goods The 
was checked by the growing production of machine-spun Competi- 
cotton yarn, with which material cheaper muslins could tion of 
be made than with silk. The cheapness had another Cotton, 
reaction. In the words of Mr. Gavin (Posthumous 
Works) : 

[In 1789.] " The silk manufacture was engrossed by 
a few great capitalists who would set at defiance all rivalry 
by poorer men. They were not under the necessity of 


The competing with one another to force the sale of goods 

Competi- by underselling and running the prices down to the lowest 

tion of rate. The raw material of the silk weaving was brought 

Cotton, from foreign parts, and sold for cash at the India House ; 

but cotton yarn was spun at home in immense quantities, 

and could be had in sufficient abundance by any man 

who could command five pounds of money, or had credit 

to that amount. Thus hundreds became manufacturers 

of muslin who could never have produced a web of silk. 

The market became overstocked with goods. Those who 

had got their yarn on credit were obliged to sell at an 

undervalue, or at whatever they got, in order to pay 

their bills." 

The cheaper material was thus ultra-cheapened in its 
finished form. The trade was demoralised, with ill effects 
upon the wages of workpeople. Working upon silk : " The 
weavers' hours of labour were moderate, yet they were 
so well paid that they could dress like gentlemen, and 
many of them bought houses with their savings/' 
Working upon cotton, in the market conditions that have 
been described : " The prices of weaving were reduced 
to the lowest possible rate. Men were required to work 
longer hours to make a living, which increased the evil 
by bringing forward an extra quantity of goods." 

The silk gauze trade, which survives in an attenuated 
form in Glasgow, but has long been extinct in Paisley, 
ushered in the most prosperous period that the weaving 
business of the town has ever known. 

By the help of a reprint of John Tait's Glasgow Directory, 
1783, filed in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, it is possible 
to give a list of the names of the Paisley silk firms, taken 
in the heyday of the trade : 

Some old Bennet & Co., silk manufacturers, Silk Street, 
Paisley Newtown. 

Silk Ellis Snedon. 

Firms. Elliott & Dibbs Woodside. 

Ferrier Pollock & Co. ,, Cross. 

Messrs. Fulton ,, Maxweltown. 

James Gibb Bridge Street. 

Hendry & Robertson Newtown. 



Joseph Holmes & Co., silk manu- 
facturers, Townhead. 
James Lowndes & Co. 
John Love ,, 

James Love 

New Street. 
Abbey Bridge 

Some old 

High Street. 
Gordon's Lane. 

New Street. 

John McLellan, silk lish maker, 

Niven Stevenson & Pagan, silk 

- manufacturers, 

William Sempill, gauze dresser, 

William Stevenson, silk manu- 

William Twige, silk manufacturer, Bridgend. 

William & John Wallace, silk 

manufacturers, Snedon. 

James Monteith, of Glasgow, is credited with being the 
first to warp a muslin web, employing Indian yarn, and 
muslins quickly became the staple production of the 
West of Scotland. Defoe, upon his visit to the district, 
wrote : " Here is a manufacture of Muslin which they 
make so good and fine that great quantities of them are 
sent into England and to the British plantations, where 
they sell at a good price. They are generally striped, and 
are very much used by the ladies, and sometimes in 
head-cloths by the meaner sort of English women." 

The unremunerative character of muslin weaving drove 
Paisley weavers to give attention to the shawls in intricate 
and beautiful Oriental designs, for which the town won 
a second fame. In his monograph upon the subject of 
the Paisley Shawl, the late Mr. Matthew Blair quotes 
a Mr. Cross to the effect that the introduction of the shawl 
manufacture is to be ascribed to the French Expedition 
to Egypt, whence the original models are supposed to have 
been sent to Europe as presents. In this connection it 
seems worth while to cite the categorical statements of 
Challaverel in the History of Fashion in France (Trans. 1882, 
Hoey and Lillie). Upon this authority, the first Indian 
shawl or " cachemire," seen in France was imported 
towards the end of the reign of Louis XV. (1715-1774). 
The example is said to have excited much attention, 



Paisley without at first prompting attempts to imitate the article. 
Shawls. Guillaume Louis Ternaux is named as the first to think 
of manufacturing such shawls, and he conceived the idea 
of acclimatising the Tibetan goat to his own country, in 
order to have supplies of suitable raw material at hand. 
M. Joubert, of the National Library, was despatched to 
Tibet, and returned to France with 256 goats, the remnant 
of the herd of 1,500 with which he began the journey. 
These goats were distributed over the southern provinces, 
but the experiment was a practical failure. The shawls 
were reproduced later in cotton, wool and silk, and also in 
hair from Kirghiz goats from Russia. 

Paisley took its cue from France, and according to 
Mr. R. Macintyre's Notes on Textiles in the Handbook 
upon Industries, prepared for the British Association 
(1901), it was under French supervision in 1824-7 that 
the first cashmere shawls were made. A Frenchman is 
said also to have shown how to introduce double grounds 
to the improvement of the beauty of the goods, accom- 
panied by a reduction of their cost. The shawl trade, 
which involved an appreciable consumption of thrown 
and of spun silk suffered fluctuations, and was called 
"bad" in 1831 (Macintyre). In 1834 the value of the 
production was said (Blair) to be worth 1,000,000. 
Fixing Number 4 of the Weavers' Journal, 1836, said : " Our 
Mini- shawl trade is uncommonly brisk at present," and on 
mum 2nd February, 1836, a minimum table of prices for shawls 
Sale in 1,400 reed was signed upon the part of the employers 
Prices. by the following firms : 

Robert Knox. Stewart and Jamieson. 

William Houston. Thomas Bain. 
P. Allan & Co. Wilson and Dow. 

Alex. Fyfe & Co. James Black for J. B. Fyfe. 
Walter Lees. 

Weaving was still a large industry in the West of 
Scotland, and the Weavers' Journal (1835) gave the mem- 
bership of the Union as 10,000, half resident in Paisley and 
half in 24 villages in Renfrewshire and Ayrshire. In the 
first issue of their Journal the weavers regretted that 
the " reduction of duty on French silks had operated 


injuriously to the English silk weaver." Presumably, Fixing 
in emulation of Spitalfields, they were anxious to obtain Mini- 
power to regulate wages. They seem to have been not mum 
unsuccessful in their efforts at direct action, for in April, Sale 
1836, they obtained also a minimum price list from the Prices. 
Glasgow and Paisley manufacturers of Turkey gauzes, 
a list of whose signatures is appended: 

Ovington and Warwick. 

David Gowdie & Co. 

Archd. Brown & Co. 

James Whyte, Junr. 

W. Carlisle & Co. 

Per Wm. Fulton & Sons, James Fulton. 

Coats, Grieve & Co. 

Alexander Keith. 

Andrew Whyte & Co. 

The rates of wages earned by hand-loom weavers 
during the terrible years of the transition to the power-loom 
left every reason for complaint. A Parliamentary Inquiry 
of 1838, under the Commissionership of J. S. Symons, 
elicited the following particulars as to the fall in wages 
between 1806 and 1830. The figures refer only to "a 
certain quality of pullicate" (a cotton fabric), but it 
is impossible that such a movement should not have 
its bearings upon weaving at large : 

1806. 15d. per ell 32s. 6d. per week. 

1810. 12Jd. 26s. 9d. 

1815. 12d. 25s. 9d. 

1820. 5d. 10s. I 

1830. 3d. 5s. 6d. 

1838. 3|d. 6s. 7d. 

"A Weaver's Saturday" inscribed to the Commissioner The 
Symons, and written by " One of the Witnesses," describes Fall in 
the miseries of a cruel time with a skill and power Wages, 
creditable to a race and to a trade famous for extra- 
ordinary gifts of versification. "A farthing on the ell 
can make the weaver smile " runs one line in allusion to 
a voluntary increase in weaving prices conceded by the 
manufacturers. The author's fellows are apostrophised 
at length in a manner sufficiently shown by these excerpts : 



Account " Hard is your fortune, nurslings of the loom, 

by an Cradled in sorrow, reared in joyless toil ; 

Eye- Stumbling and lost in dull commercial gloom, 

witness. Uncheered by hope, your anguish to beguile 

* * * 

. . . Among poor weavers, grumbling at their ills ; 

Some curse taxation, some their rotten yarn, 
And some condemn steam-looms and cotton mills." 

There is a brighter side to the past, and those who 
remember the silk hand-loom weavers of the ? 60's and 
'70's in Glasgow recall that they were always a merry and 
care-free class, constantly singing at their work. If their 
wages were not high their wants were frequently not many, 
and the national porridge formed the staple of their food. 
Hand-loom weaving is still carried on in outlying places, 
notably at Larkhall, Strathaven, Stonehouse and Hamilton 
to supply certain Glasgow manufacturers and a few 
Macclesfield firms who have weaving-agents in these 
places. The occupation does not attract the rising 
generation, which passes into the coal, stone and iron 
industries to undertake coarser and less healthful employ- 
ments in return for higher pay. The future is with the 
power-loom, and the leading Glasgow silk manufacturers 
have equipped themselves with the best Continental 
models in looms and with electrical motors to drive 

The Mr. Morris Pollock, of Long Govan, has the credit of 

first introducing the first power-looms into the silk industry 

Power of Scotland in or about 1870. Mr. Pollock had been a 

Looms. manufacturer of other textiles in Glasgow before buying 

the estate of 10 acres at Govan, which now forms part 

of the site occupied by the Fairfield Shipbuilding Company. 

There a large silk factory was erected, and was worked 

by Messrs. Anderson and Robertson, of Govan, after the 

failure of the original owner. A Mr. John Hyde, whose 

previous experience had lain in the weaving branch of 

the trade, was manager for Mr. Pollock, and made an 

unsuccessful attempt to introduce the spinning of waste 

silk. English workmen were brought to carry on the 


processes, but the yarn produced was difficult of sale, and Silk in 
apparently it was to consume this yarn that the power- Glasgow, 
looms were brought in. The cloths woven were shipped 
to India, but the trade was unremunerative. 

Some earlier attempts to carry on silk-spinning in 
Scotland are detailed elsewhere in this book (Chapter V, 
Waste Silk), and it suffices to mention the names of John 
G. Campbell, whose office in 1839 was at 119, Brunswick 
Street, Glasgow ; of M. W. Ivison, of Hales Street, 
Edinburgh, and Wm. Casey and Co., Castle Mills, 

The industry and courtesy of Mr. George Robertson, 
of Govan, have placed at disposal certain particulars 
regarding a Glasgow man, formerly a silk-spinner in 
England. While employed at Lancaster, one Archibald 
Templeton took out a patent for the treatment of waste 
silk preparatory to spinning, and the facts as to his con- 
nection with an eminent family of carpet manufacturers 
and a Prime Minister of England, may be set out in 
Mr. Robertson's words : 

" The Archibald Templeton who took out the patent 
was a Scot, and a friend of mine, Mr. Archibald Templeton, 
of Broomward Weaving Factory, Glasgow, is called after 
him, and is a nephew. From information received from 
this nephew and from a daughter of the patentee, I learn 
that Archibald and his elder brother Thomas started 
business on their own account as silk-spinners in Congleton 
but failed. After that Archibald went to London, taking 
employment as representative of Messrs. James Templeton 
and Co., carpet manufacturers, Glasgow. 

" Thomas Templeton took employment under a spinner A Link 
of the name of Lowndes in Congleton, and thereafter with 
follows a little bit of romance. Thomas fell in love with Politics, 
and married his employer's daughter. Lowndes had more 
than one daughter, it appears, for another suitor came 
along of the name of Bannerman and married a second 
Miss Lowndes, and it was from some relation of this 
Bannerman that Henry Campbell (afterwards Sir Henry 
Campbell Bannerman, who became Prime Minister) took 
his added name of Bannerman." 



West Two of the Glasgow silk manufacturing firms whose names 

of appeared in the Glasgow Directory for 1860 may be especially 

Scotland mentioned. James McAulay and Co., who in 1848 were 
Survivals, drugget manufacturers, and who started their silk trade in 
1850, were succeeded in business by Caldwell, Young and 
Co., who are at present the principal silk manufacturers 
in Scotland, and have their factory at Larkhall, Lanark- 
shire. The business of Alex. Henry and Co., makers of 
silk gossamers, survives, and is now carried on as a branch 
of Caldwell, Young and Company, Ltd., whose primary 
business is the manufacture of mufflers and handkerchiefs. 
Glasgow competes with Macclesfield in silk mufflers, 
printed and brocaded handkerchiefs, foulards, crepes, 
tie cloths and printed piece goods. John Frew and Sons, 
Ltd., Mr. John Galloway and Mr. W. Smith carry on a 
somewhat similar class of trade, and the four concerns 
constitute all that is left of the separate silk industry of 
the West of Scotland. 

The heaviest blow to the Scottish silk industry within 
recent years has been the loss of the Rangoon market, 
formerly the destination of large and regular quantities 
of printed silks. The loss is attributed to a combination 
of circumstances. On the one hand, the German dye- 
ware companies, in the endeavour to extend their trade, 
had sent out dyes in small packets for retail sale, accom- 
panied by instructions as to their use. On the other 
hand, the Japanese, in search of an outlet for their habutae, 
descended on Burma. The native was put in possession 
Loss at once of cheap colours for printing and cheap fabrics 

of the upon which to print, and it does not seem possible that 
Rangoon this market for tens of thousands of pieces of silk annually 
Market. can ever be recovered. 

Silk is used by Glasgow manufacturers of mixed goods 
in decreasing 'quantity. The spun silk formerly employed 
for making stripes has been replaced by mercerised cotton 
in most directions, and the trade in mixed goods has 
tended to leave Glasgow for Bradford, whither it has been 
followed by some Glasgow weaving firms. Glasgow was 
the place of origin of the first of the artificial silks, a 
gelatine product known as " Vanduara." The manufacture 


of this article does not seem ever to have attained Artificial 
considerable dimensions, and the local consumption of the Silks, 
improved artificial silks is apparently not large. One 
firm of silk throwsters remains Anderson and Robertson, 
Ltd., of Go van, who work three factories, of which one is 
at Glemsford, Suffolk. In replacement of the vanished 
demand for silk for weaving Rangoon cloths, 
Messrs. Anderson and Robertson have established a 
business in high-class coloured silks for knitting and 

Edinburgh, the scene of various early efforts in silk 
manufacture, has now neither spindles nor looms. It 
has been shown that Wm. Casey and Co. carried on silk 
manufacture there in the '40's, and the Glasgow Diredwy, 
1835-36, describes William Casey as agent incidentally 
in that city for White and Batt, silk merchants, London. 
Arnot's History of Edinburgh (edn. 1816) states that in 
1779, in the capital, there were : 

" In the weaving business about 90 looms . . . employed 
in making silk gauzes, flowered and plain ; and cotton 
and linen stuffs are printed to a small extent." In 1792, 
according to the letters of Creech, quoted in Anderson's 
History of Edinburgh (1856), there was an established 
manufacture of shawls and casimirs. 

A note upon Paisley shawls in McCulloch's British 
Empire, 1837, remarked " the trade is principally estab- 
lished at Paisley, but it is also pursued at Edinburgh (in 
higher qualities) and at Norwich to some extent." 

A more material point shown by Arnot's recapitulation 
of the exports of Leith in 1778 is that Scottish silk stuffs 
were then being exported to Sweden, Russia, Poland and 
Holland ; silk gauzes to Spain, and lawns and gauzes to 
North America. 

Dunfermline, famous now and of old for its fine damask Edin- 
linens, in which the highest quality of material and the burgh 
greatest skill in weaving are necessarily employed, is and 
accountable at least for a tour de force in silk manufacture. Dun- 
The particulars are taken from Mr. Bremner's Industries of fermline. 
Scotland, a handbook prepared for the British Association, 
and are given in his own words. It should be understood 




Edin- that the weaver in point was improving upon the 

burgh performance of a forerunner in 1702, who wove a seamless 

and shirt in his loom and forwarded it to the Bang. 

Dun- " David Anderson, weaver of Dunfermline, wove a 

fermline. chemise for H.M. Queen Victoria. It was composed of 

Chinese tram silk and net warp yarn, and had no seams. 

The breast bore a portrait of her Majesty, with the dates 

of her birth, ascension and coronation, underneath which 

were the British arms and a garland of national flowers." 

The flag of the Dunfermline Weavers' Incorporation, 

a treasured local possession, is woven of a solid body of 

silk damasks bearing different designs upon each side, 

although the fabrics are interwoven. 

The South of Scotland, the stronghold of the woollen 
industry, manufactures primarily tweeds and hosiery, 
in which silk is an occasional and incidental component 
rather than a prime material. Upon the evidence of 
the Wool Tear Book (1913), the Scottish tweed mills have 
300 sets of cards, 230,000 mule spindles and 3,000 power- 
looms. They employ 11,300 people, and pay about 
60,000 in wages. They consume 30 million Ib. of raw 
wool, and make about 18 million yards of cloth, valued 
at 3,000,000 or over, per annum. Silk enters into these 
fine tweeds and worsteds chiefly in the form of twist effect 

The Hawick, the centre of the Scottish hosiery industry, 

South is to be likened to Leicester in the variety of its knitted 

of productions. A few articles are knitted from pure silk, 

Scotland, and the market is of increasing interest to waste silk 

spinners. Probably a larger value is represented by 

manufacture of silk and wool, resembling those made by 

a few firms of manufacturing hosiers in Nottingham. 


Whatever the success of the native silk workers in Dublin 
England before the great immigration from France and the Head- 
the Low Countries, there can be no doubt that the Huguenot quarters 
invasion marked the beginning of the Irish Silk Industry, of the 

Before the actual Revocation of the Edict of Nantes Industry, 
in 1685, there seems to have been a movement of the 
persecuted foreign Protestants through the United King- 
dom ; in 1682 several of them were admitted to the 
franchise of Dublin, amongst the names being that of 
Abraham Tripier, " silk weaver." Efforts were made by 
the Huguenots in different parts of Ireland to found a 
silk industry, Lisnagarvey (Lisburn) being the first place 
tried, but while the North was destined to be the home 
of a much larger enterprise the linen industry the silk 
trade of Ireland has alway been centred in Dublin. 

Great exertions were made to encourage the settlement 
of silk weavers there ; the French Protestants were 
admitted free of the city guilds without payment of a 
fine, collections made to succour the distressed immigrants, 
and the Irish Parliament, which had been zealously striving 
to build up textile industries through Ireland, was amply 
rewarded for its hospitality to the foreigners. 

It was in about 1693 that the Huguenot silk workers 
may be said to have set up their looms in Dublin. Their 
industrial spirit and high character have left a mark on 
the city in various ways ; and many of them rose to high 
eminence in its commercial life. 

Weaving was at that time, and for long afterwards, 
carried on in the homes of the workers, and a part of the 
city known as the Earl of Meath's Liberties, became 



Dublin identified with the silk and woollen trades. The Irish 

the Head- Parliamentary records give much valuable information 

quarters as to the progress of the craft. In 1707 a petition was 

of the presented to the House of Commons by Dublin " manu- 

Industry. facturers of silk and mohair/' complaining that their 

" manufacture of silk and mohair and horsehair buttons 

had been injured by means and practice of those who of 

late make horn, cloth and wood buttons, and requesting 

that these rival manufactures be suppressed." 

In an Essay upon the Trade of Ireland, published by 
Arthur Dobbs, about 1729, it is recorded that an average 
of 38,697 worth of silk was worked up yearly in Dublin. 
About 1730 there were 800 looms making garment silks, 
with an incidental employment of three times as many 
people. There is no doubt that Irish Poplin, or " Tabinet," 
as it was first called, was then being manufactured, for a 
petition addressed to the House of Commons against 
the smuggling of East India manufactures into Ireland, 
is signed by " merchants, traders, and weavers dealing in 
silk, silk and thread, silk and cotton, silk and worsted, 
Pro- etc." Protective measures were constantly being called 
tective for, and duties were imposed on every foreign material 
Legisla- calculated to compete with the young Dublin industry, 
tion. Foreign silks had to pay one-third more duty than those 
imported from England or Wales, and even as early as 
1705 an additional duty of Is. 6d. per yard was imposed 
on Eastern silks and manufactured stuffs, rising in 1729 
to 2s. 6d. per pound weight, and in 1745 to 40s. per pound 
weight. The petition which secured this last privilege 
came from the Master, Wardens and Brethren of the 
Corporation of Weavers, a powerful body dating from 
1706, which had a representation of three members in 
the Common Council, and for whose meetings the Weavers' 
Hall, which is still in existence, was built. The imposition 
of heavy duties like these naturally encouraged smuggling, 
and importers of French and Italian silks had every 
inducement to take the risk of passing the goods through 
England, silks coming from which were admitted to 
Ireland at a lower duty than if the goods were declared 
of foreign origin. 

Plate XXXIX. The Huguenot House , Sweeney's Lane> Dublin, 


The extreme duty of 4 per Ib. was at last imposed on Pro- 
the foreign manufactures, but apparently without the tective 
desired result, for in 1763 the Corporation of Weavers Legisla- 
represented to Parliament that " whereas in 1730 Dublin tion. 
had 800 looms, there are now but 50 employed, and many 
families have been reduced to beggary." 

A sum of 8,000 was granted in 1763 by the Irish 
Parliament to the Dublin Society " for the encouragement 
of industries," the silk industry being placed first on 
the list. The plan adopted by the Dublin (afterwards 
Royal Dublin) Society was " protection " in its crudest 
form. A premium of 10 per cent, was granted to manu- 
factures on all Irish made silk sold in a public silk ware- 
house. This warehouse was superintended by twelve 
noblemen, and twelve others annually chosen by the 
Corporation of Weavers to examine the quality of the 
goods sent in for sale. Lady patronesses were selected, 
and they advised the manufacturers in accordance with 
the requirements of changing fashions. For a time, with Pros- 
the additional assistance of prizes and exhibitions, the perity of 
pampered manufacture prospered, and it is stated that in pam- 
good years, under the system, nearly 3,000 looms were pered 
employed. These figures are, however, rather uncertain, Industry, 
and are not in agreement with the Customs' accounts 
of raw and thrown silk imports. For instance, about 
144,000 Ibs. (in 1781) is the highest quantity tabulated 
for these imports of silk, and it is somewhat hard to con- 
ceive that good employment on silk goods could be given 
from this for 3,000 looms. 

What is much more striking, however, is the increase 
of imports in finished silk fabrics towards the close of this 
highly protected period, the value of these showing a 
rise from 64,000 in 1774 to 188,000 in 1783, and from 
the indication of a much smaller percentage in the increase 
of weight, it would seem as if the growth was in richer 
classes of silk, probably brocades. Throwsters must have 
had a fair trade in Dublin during this protected period, 
about half the imports of silk being in the raw state. 

In view of present day discussions, it is interesting 
to note the effect of the " Spitalfields " Act, as it was called, 



Failure on the Dublin silk trade. This Act of 1779-80 fixed, 

of under penalty, the silk weavers' wages, and gave the 

State- Dublin Society complete powers of superintendence over 

Aid the manufacture. But the policy of interference does 

System, not seem to have been a success. After 22 years of State 

encouragement, during which time 28,000 had been 

given in bounties and prizes, the silk warehouse was closed, 

as the plan " had not answered the ends of a general 

increase and extension of the manufacture." 

From the end of the 18th century onward, indeed, 
the history of the Dublin silk trade is rarely cheerful 
reading. A 10 per cent, protective tariff imposed at the 
Union in 1800 helped the industry to a certain extent, 
but at the close of the twenty years' term, for which this 
duty was imposed, Dublin weavers were face to face 
with grave trouble. 

The abolition of duties (for England also) in 1826 on 
foreign silks was a still more crushing blow. The 
importation of foreign manufactured silks had been, 
virtually, prohibited from 1765 until that date. From 
that time until 1870, when advantage was taken of the 
Franco-Prussian trouble to develop trade with America, 
there was a period of stagnation. There is no doubt that 
Dr. W. K. Sullivan, who was appointed to draw up the 
Report of the Executive Committee of the Cork Exhibition 
in 1883, summed up the case justly when he said : " The 
decay of the manufacture in Ireland, is, I believe, mainly 
Effect of due to the employers, who from want of foresight, 
Abolition indolence or carelessness, let their business get into a 
of Duties, crystallised state, which no change of fashion, no com- 
petition of new fabrics, no improvement in processes or 
machines, could influence." Since 1890 a better state of 
things has prevailed. Long before this, the whole-silk 
trade had gone, with velvets and ribbons, so that for all 
practical purposes the only branch of the silk trade had 
been, as it now is, the Irish poplin portion. 


The original Weavers' Corporation of Dublin com- 
prised silk, cotton, linen, woollen and velvet makers 

Plate XL. 

Hand-loom Poplin Weaver, who wrought for over 
60 years at the Craft, chiefly for Atkinson & Co., 
in whose service he died. 


the surviving part of this Union is called the " Dublin 
Silk Trade/' but scarcely any whole silk is woven : Irish 
poplin, silk warp and wool weft, being the only material 
manufactured. The hand-loom is still in vogue, with 
the most modern Jacquard machines, dobbies, etc., 

Experiments in power-looms with Irish poplin have Power- 
not proved successful, the rapid " laying " of the weft looms 
failing to give the true poplin " feel." This material, not a 
unlike ducape, and similar foreign imitations, requires success. 
an easy adjustment of weft, and in the richer makes high 
speed is impracticable. Piece work obtains in the industry 
generally, and the apprenticeship system, modified to 
suit modern conditions, is still in vogue. The more 
skilful men take apprentices as required, and teach them 
in the factories, dividing the earnings of the apprentices' 
looms on a fixed scale, and very much in the old Guild 
fashion " undertaking " the work from the employer. 
This gives the weaver-master an interest in training the 
boys, and works satisfactorily. 

The survival of French terms in the poplin trade, 
although probably not one of the weavers is of pure French 
extraction, shows the conservatism of the workers. 
Couplee, coteret, rochetee, portee, and many other 
Huguenot terms, are as freely used as 200 years ago. 

Realising that Parliamentary and Vice-regal patronage Develop- 
were alike unavailing, and finding that the taste for lighter ment 
dress fabrics had seriously affected the demand for gowns, of the 
the poplin manufacturers developed, with great and Tie 
growing success, the tie business, which now absorbs by Trade, 
far the largest proportion of their loom production. The 
number of looms working in 1913 was only 200, but the 
industry is in a healthy growing condition, and these 
figures are likely to be exceeded in the near future. 
Considerably more than half the looms are employed 
in one factory (Atkinson's) ; and there are at present 
altogether five manufacturers. The increase in the 
Colonial trade is a gratifying evidence of the awakened 
enterprise of the Irish poplin manufacturers. The 
colourings and patterns are now equal to the productions 


of any other seat of manufacture, and the constant 
succession of novelties in a material which used to be 
of a stereotyped character, gives assurance of further 
expansion of an interesting trade. 

Tapestry Portrait of George II. 

A John Vanbeaver, " ye famous tapistry weaver " (whose 

Weavers' large and valuable works, the " Siege of Derry ' and 

Hall " Battle of the Boyne," still adorn the House of Lords 

Tapestry, in College Green, Dublin), wrought this exquisite tapestry 

portrait of George II, who was a great patron of the 

industry, in 1738. The colouring is still wonderfully 

fresh, and the picture, which is set in an elaborately carved 

oak frame, relief work, is on the walls of Atkinson's Poplin 

Warehouse in College Green. 

The tapestry formerly hung over the fire-place in the 
Weavers' Hall, and was purchased from the Weavers' 
Corporation by Mr. Richard Atkinson, twice Lord Mayor 
of Dublin. 

It is believed to have been awarded a prize by the 
Royal Dublin Society, which took such a prominent 
part in the encouragement of silk weaving. 

The Huguenot House, Sweeney's Lane, Dublin. 

Of which an illustration appears elsewhere, is one of 

the finest specimens of the old Huguenot houses in Dublin. 

These houses were built in 1721 (as shewn on tablet on 

farthest house), and some of them are still in good condition 

Old and well tenanted. They stand close by the site of the 

Hugue- Earl of Meath's mansion, and are in the central part of 

not the " Liberties " of Dublin, facing the old " Brass Castle," 

House. where James II is said to have coined the last money 

bearing his image. In these houses, and all around, 

silk weaving was carried on up to a few years ago. 

Weavers' Hall, Coombe, Dublin. 

The Weavers' Hall, Coombe, Dublin, also illustrated, 
was built by the Corporation of Weavers in 1745, and 
is still in excellent preservation. 

Plate XL/. 

Tapestry Portrait of George II., 
by John Vanbeaver. 

Plate XL/7. 

Weavers' Hall, Coombe, Dublin. 


There is a leaden statue of George II in front, his Majesty 
attired in Court suit, with full-bottomed wig : shuttles and 
other weavers' implements are slung across his arm. 

The Hall interior is of handsome proportions, cornices 
and architraves being fine specimens of wood carving, 
and the mantelpieces magnificently wrought in Irish oak. 

The " Weavers' Corporation Chest " is still in the Weavers' 
Hall, and has the following inscription on lid : Corpora- 

" This is the Corporation of Weavers' Chest, tion 

Anno. 1706. Chest. 

Nathaniel James, Master. 
William Peirce, j Wardens 
Thomas How, ) 

On either side of the Hall were the Weavers' Almshouse, 
and their schoolhouse. These buildings had fallen into 
decay, but are now rebuilt in modern style, the top floor 
of each being used as weaving rooms for their out-door 
workers by Atkinson and Co. 



As a contributor to the European markets for raw 
silk, India has not taken the high place with which she 
is sometimes credited. India herself is a large consumer of 
silk alike in piece goods and raw silks, and while she 
exports a certain quantity of the latter annually, she 
imports considerably more than is produced. In survey- 
ing the position of the Dependency as a source of the 
raw material, it must however be remembered that it is 
The produced in two kinds, namely the domesticated type of 

Future mulberry-fed cocoon, and the wild or tussore variety, 
of Wild It is the former to which references are usually made in 
Silk. early trade reports, and in the references as to silk con- 

tained in the records of the East India Company, for 
although the uses of the tussore products have been known 
for centuries to the native weavers of India and China, it is 
only within very recent years that their market possibilities 
have been recognised in the silk factories of Europe. Now 
that these are being realised far greater attention is being 
paid to the wild silks, and there are economists who think 
that it will be better in the future to concentrate attention 
on the conditions favourable to their development rather 
than on the domestic type. 

Silk has, however, played no small part in the story of 
British relations with the Eastern Empire. Wonderful 
tales of the sumptuous fabrics of the marts of Persia 
and India had been brought home by the early travellers, 
and Ludovico di Varthema, who explored the Persian Gulf 
in 1505 to 1508, recorded that at Khorassan " there is 
a great plenty and abundance of stuffs and especially of 




silk so that in one day you can purchase here 3,000 to Travel- 
4,000 camels' loads of silk." Moreover, in 1592, some lers 5 
English privateers had made good prize of the Portuguese Tales, 
carrack, Madre de Dios, one of a little fleet of six vessels 
which sailed under command of Ferdinande de Mendoza 
from Lisbon for Goa, and brought her into Dartmouth, 
where they displayed not only her cargo of costly spices, 
but also " raw silk and silk stuffs and other piece goods, 
taffaties, sarcenets, cloth of gold, calicoes, lawns, quilts, 
carpets and other rich commodities." 

That was an exceedingly important capture, from 
another point of view, for, as Sir George Birdwood, in 
his researches into the early letters and other documents 
relating to the founding of the East India Company, has 
shown, she carried a copy of " The notable Register or 
Matiscola of the whole Government and Trade of the 
Portuguese in the East Indies." Some seven years later, 
when the Dutch traders raised the price of pepper, and 
the London grocers took alarm, it was upon the lines of 
this document that the petition went forward to 
Queen Elizabeth to grant a charter to " The Governor 
and Companie of Merchantes of London trading into 
the East Indies." Thus upon silk and pepper were laid The 
the foundations of the mighty volume of commerce between Founda- 
this country and the Asiatic Continent. Under the com- tions of 
mand of James Lancaster, that splendid adventurer whose Indian 
faith led Hudson to try to make the North- West Passage, Com- 
the first little fleet set forth, but Elizabeth was dead ere merce. 
they returned, and it was James I who approved the 
order sent to Plymouth that they should not break bulk 
till they anchored in the Thames. The ships had brought 
back altogether a million pounds of spices as cloves, 
cinnamon and spices, and perhaps even more than that 
in the reports that they would give as to the possibilities 
of trade with the Eastern peoples. 

If silk did not loom large in this first cargo, by the 
year 1609 the references to the "goode rawe silk" available 
are repeated in the early letters from those who went out 
on these voyages, and in 1614 it becomes the subject 
of surely one of the earliest efforts of reciprocal trading 



The as it is now understood. For Sir Thomas Roe was sent 

Founda- out by James I as Ambassador to the Court of the famous 
tions of Mogul Emperor, Jehanghis, at Agra, with directions to 
Indian ascertain what silk would be available. The Company 
Com- desired him to secure " that wee may have good assurance 
merce. that for their silk they will accept at the least the one- 
half of English commodities at reasonable rates, especially 
cloath." After defining what these rates should be, this 
exceedingly interesting letter goes on : " And the better 
to explain ourselves what we desire is that the price of 
silk may be contracted for with more certaintie and some 
good assurance given that it may be laden cleare of all 
charge abourd our ships at a Ryall and a half a pound of 
sixteen ounces, which is the greatest price that we can 
resolve to give ... at which price and good condicions 
as aforesaid we shall be able to take from the Persian 
yearlie 8,000 Bales of his silk of 1801bs. English each Bale 
or thereabout." 

Roe succeeded in placing the Company's trade on a 
better footing, and in 1617 three of its representatives- 
Connock, Tracy and Robbins dating their despatch 
" From the Persian Court and Army, 25 days' journey 
from Spahan," were able to report that through the good 
interventions of a friar they had secured the promise 
of from 1,000 to 3,000 bales of silk. As they had not 
the royals to pay for it in full, they seem to have made 
terms for part payment in kind, saying that " the King is 
content to take satisfaction in tin, cloth, sugar, spices 
and such like commodities." 

It is shown elsewhere that under James the silk industry 

in England had attained considerable proportions. 

Persian In 1621 Sir Thomas Mun, Deputy Governor of the 

Imports Company, drew up an interesting report in which he showed 

of Raw that England was then buying about 1,000,000 Ibs. weight 

Silk. of raw silk from Persia, which was being brought home 

at much less cost on the Company's ships than by the old 

overland route. In the earlier years of Charles I the 

trade was well maintained, though naturally during the 

Civil War and under Cromwell there was a falling off in this 

and the other more costly and beautiful imports. The 


letters about this period tell of much friction and fighting Dutch 
with the Dutch, who were keen trade competitors. But Corn- 
by 1670 the Company, impressed with the idea that it petition, 
would be profitable to foster the trade and to improve 
the quality of the silk they were receiving, sent to Madras 
four factors to use their own word for their superior 
assistants and seven writers among whom were men 
specially chosen for their knowledge of silk culture, to 
be stationed at the factory of Cassimbazar. Meantime 
too they had been urging upon the native landowners 
of Bengal the advisability of planting and cultivating 
the mulberry tree, and further were preparing to engage 
a number of Italians expert in the treatment of the filatures. 
The Cassimbazar experiment, however, was not very 
successful, and was dropped after about twenty years' 
trial. It was in 1770 that Mr. Wise and Mr. Robinson 
arrived in Bengal on behalf of the Company with " a staff 
of reelers and mechanics chosen from Italy and France 
with tools, implements and models " to begin their efforts. 
A year later, General Kyd, who is better remembered in 
these days for his bestowal upon Calcutta of its beautiful 
Botanical Gardens, and who was famous for his horticul- 
tural and scientific knowledge, endeavoured to supple- 
ment the efforts of the Bengal Government by bringing 
over a quantity of the eggs of the Chinese Bombyx mori, 
and to encourage a more rational system of silkworm 
culture. There was an hereditary silk worm rearing The bar 
caste the Pundas in the Malda and Murshidabad of Native 
districts, and these with true native characteristics resisted prejudice, 
any innovations upon their time-honoured customs. 
Moreover, it is an exceedingly superstitious caste, and 
even in these days believes in ghosts, takes precautions 
to prevent owls flying near the rearing houses, and thinks 
unless wrong information is given as to the progress of 
the cocoons the evil spirits will lay spells upon them. 
Still the industry made progress, and by 1704 the Company 
was in a position to announce that there was " To be seen 
at Leaden Hall : China raw silk, Bengal raw silk." This 
is interesting in view of the highly Protectionist Act of 
1700 forbidding the import of any manufactured silk 



from Persia, India or China to Great Britain, which had 
come into effect. It was the raw material that was wanted 
in Spitalfields for the brocades and taffaties that the 
beaux as well at the belles of Queen Anne's days were 

Effect of All through the eighteenth century, the Indian records 
French deal more with fighting than with commerce. There 
Revolu- was, notwithstanding, a steady importation of silk from 
tion. India, and by 1775 the adoption of better means of winding 

was bringing it into wider demand. The quantities rose 
steadily from 515,913 Ibs. in 1776 to 1,149,394 Ibs. in 
1784. Following this rapid increase a decline ensued. 
Commerce was adversely affected by the French Revolu- 
tion, and the Company, which had large accumulations 
in its store-houses, was compelled to sell at a considerable 
loss. The quality of the silk was, however, steadily 
improving, and in 1796 the Court of Directors received a 
particularly interesting memorial setting forth that : " We 
the undersigned manufacturers, understanding from the 
reports published by the East India Company that the 
Bengal Provinces are capable of furnishing a more abundant 
supply of raw silk than hitherto, are of opinion that if due 
attention is paid in the first instance to reel the same of 
proper sizes, that after making a due provision for singles, 
trams and sewing silks, the. surplus by being thrown into 
organzine in this country can be successfully brought into 
use in our respective manufactories to a very considerable 
extent in lieu of part of the thrown silk presently supplied 
by Italy. Considering, therefore, the measure now 
carrying on by the East India Company as highly laudable 
and meriting of every degree of support, we trust that 
they will persevere in the same with firmness, being well 
convinced that it cannot fail of proving highly beneficial 
to the national interests. First by giving a country 
To which makes part of the British Dominions the advantages 

replace desirable from the production of a commodity which 
Italian forms the basis of one of the most important of the national 
Silks. manufactures. Secondly, by creating employment at 
home for a numerous class of our poor, particularly women 
and children in the throwsting of it into organzine. Lastly, 


by affording a large and more certain supply to the To 
manufacturers in general, it may have a tendency to replace 
lower the price of the raw material, and in future to Italian 
shelter the silk market from the alarming fluctuations Silks, 
that have repeatedly taken place and probably in- 
crease greatly the general consumption of the silk manu- 

Thus was Imperial Preference foreshadowed in the 
18th . century, and certainly for about 10 years there 
was a considerable amount of Bengal silk thrown into 
organzine, and used in England in those fabrics known 
to our great grandmothers as sarcenents and florentines, 
as well as in velvet and ribbon. 

The 19th century dawned under the shadow of 
the Napoleonic conquests, but while trade in England was 
depressed until first Trafalgar and afterwards Waterloo 
steadied Europe, other fields of supply were being opened. 
Against these adverse conditions, the imports from Bengal 
continued large, although varying from year to year from 
the 162,747 Ibs. of 1810, to the figures of 1829, when high- 
water mark was reached in the big total of 1,387,750 Ibs. 
Meantime, Dr. Roxburgh, who had compiled the three 
sumptuous volumes of the Flora Indica, which constitute 
the first contribution to our knowledge of tropical botany, 
had endeavoured to institute better methods in both 
mulberry tree growing and the rearing of the worms, and 
official permission had been given to the then resident of 
Santipore to incur an outlay not exceeding Tfe.25,000 
on large nurseries of mulberries and rearing with hired 
labour. Again, no permanent success was achieved, and 
in the three years following 1834, the Government trans- Struggle 
ferred all its interests in silk to private enterprise. Very with 
little of lasting value had been achieved, and Geoghegan, Adverse 
the historian of silk in India, wrote : " The only direction Condi- 
in which any effective improvements had been introduced tions. 
was that of reeling and drying. The methods of cultivating 
the mulberry and the kinds cultivated were in 1835 just 
what they were a century before. Attempts had been 
made to introduce new stocks of worms, but the worms 
introduced from China had not thriven, and the attempts 



do not seem to have been made with energy enough to 
have warranted any measure of success." 

In Bombay, too, a small tentative effort was also made 
by Mr. Giberne who, in 1827, was Collector at Khandesh. 
He planted a small mulberry garden at Dhulia, and 
instructed a few natives who carried on the work so well 
that when an Italian expert visited the place ten years 
later he pronounced the silk to be worth fully thirteen 
Expert rupees a pound. Hoping to extend the effort, the Govern- 
Convict ment of Bombay indented upon Bengal for five convicts 
Labour, skilled in silk worm management, who were sent on a 
kind of ticket-of-leave with their families to develop it, 
but they did not come further than Poona, where it was 
thought there was a better chance of success. These 
gardens had been started by the Italian Signor Mutti 
who had reported so favourably on the Dhulia silk, and 
for several years he was able to place raw material on 
the London market which commanded 23s. to 29s. a Ib. 
Ill-health, however, overtook him in 1840, and in the 
absence of guiding heads, both these enterprises came to 
an end. Not infrequently does it happen that private 
effort succeeds where official undertakings have met with 
failure, and when the East India Company retired from 
the field, enthusiasts like Captain Hutton extended their 
researches far enough to include exceptional knowledge 
of silk culture even in Afghanistan. He, with Mr. Bashford, 
endeavoured to carry on the work. Later, the Agri- 
Horticultural Society of India lent what support it could 
to the movement. Best of all from the practical point 
of view large business firms began to put capital into the 
industry. Murshedabad, Rajshaki and Berhampore 
became important centres of silk spinning, and in the 
twenty years from 1836 to 1855 there was a general rise in 
the quantity of the exports to an average for the period 
of 1,435,225 pounds per annum. 

After The years 1858 and 1860 are crucial ones in the history 

the of silk in India. In the first of these the Mutiny had 

Mutiny, been finally suppressed, and the rule of the Honorable 

East India Company, so strangely and imperially successful 

in its unique harmonizing of administrative and commercial 



powers, had come to an end. It had already ceased 
to exercise any influence in regard to silk, but no one could 
foresee what might be the results of so sweeping a change, 
although it was clear that trade in all directions could not 
fail to be affected at least temporarily. The year 1860 
was also important in the annals of the industry in Great 
Britain ; it was then that the duties on foreign manu- 
factured silks were removed, and the products of the 
French and Italian looms poured in like a flood. The 
results of that policy as far as India is concerned were 
immediate and significant, as will be seen from the following 
table, which has been compiled by the courtesy of the 
Board of Trade. 








Imports of Raw Silk. 













The fluctuations are remarkable, and not altogether 
easy to explain, for silk was in considerable demand, while 
the crinoline, the wearing of which was associated with 
the employment of a large quantity of material in dresses had 
not disappeared. Probably, as a result of the abolition of 
duties on manufactured silk, the greater part of the Indian 
production was absorbed by France, and reached England 
in the form of dress fabrics and trimmings. In the next 
few years little happened that it is necessary to record, 


2 B 



Remark- but a new chapter was opening, whose close is not yet 
able written, and is likely to be of lasting effect in the corn- 

Trade mercial annals of our Eastern Empire, 
fluctua- The year 1878 saw the first practical step made towards 
tions. the utilisation of the wild or Tussore silks, which has 
since had an extraordinary influence on fashion and 
industry alike. The actual cost of winding and using these 
silks had been discussed in 1857 in Europe, and at first 
they were looked upon as mere curiosities. Mr. (afterwards 
Sir Thomas) Wardle had, however, conducted exhaustive 
experiments with them, and showed in the Paris Exhibition 
of 1878 hanks of bleached and dyed Tussores, and the 
first lengths of plush produced from them. Naturally 
the exhibit attracted great attention, and a gold medal 
for it was adjudged to Sir Thomas Wardle, which, however, 
he asked should go to the Secretary of State for India, 
on whose behalf the researches had been made. 
Messrs. Field and Bottrill, of Skelmanthorpe, near 
Huddersfield, took up the further development of Tussore, 
and brought out the seal plush, which enjoyed a great 
popularity for jackets and mantles. The effects of this 
discovery were immediate. For the mulberry-fed silk 
that had recovered its market position, there was a 
diminished demand, while for the wild Tussore the demand 
increased, and the returns of the Lyons Conditioning House 
began to show a steady expansion. 

That, however, is looking somewhat ahead, inasmuch 
as before the full advantage could be taken of the new 
discoveries, it was necessary to definitely determine the 
sources of supply. In 1880 Mr. Geoghegan, whose name 
has already been mentioned, undertook a thorough survey 
of the subject. In the Bhagulpur, Chota, Nagpur and 
Tussore Orissa districts of Bengal, and in several divisions of the 
Silks. Central Provinces, and the Santhal Parganas, it was found 
that the Tussore silk-worm was widely distributed. It has 
(for as many as 200 years) been employed for the weaving 
of the coarser silken fabrics of native wear. The problem 
which in these earlier days presented itself to the Indian 
Government was whether it would be profitable to 
collect these wild cocoons and reel them for European 


exportation. China could, of course, also send in practically 

any quantity, and the question was what would be the 

result of the competition ? It is not necessary to discuss Improved 

here the intricacies of the improved methods of reeling Methods 

upon French or Italian principles that were introduced of 

as this wild silk was introduced into European factories. Reeling. 

It is of more interest to record the fact that it 

proved adaptable to many uses, and no one devoted 

more careful experiment to it than Sir Thomas Wardle. 

French experts also took a keen interest in the product, 

believing that it was bound to exercise a considerable 

influence in fashionable fabrics. It had its technical 

drawbacks, and in these early stages was regarded as an 

inferior product. None the less, it lent itself to an ever 

widening range of uses, and when seal plush rather passed 

out of fashion, it was employed for braids, trimmings, 

fringes, chenille and elastic webbing. In the heavier 

makes of furniture, brocades and draperies, it could also 

be advantageously used, for, after long experiment, it was 

found practicable to bleach it sufficiently for it to take 

in dyeing the palest colours a difficulty that at first seemed 

likely to limit the uses of Tussore silks. 

By the year 1887 the exports from India of these wild 
silks had risen to 38,875 Ibs., worth 195,704, and in 
1890 they amounted to 91,124 Ibs., valued at 412,803. 
Since then, exports have been steadily progressive, but it is 
perhaps hardly necessary to set the figures out in detail. 
The following table compares the relative quantities of 
mulberry-fed and wild silks : 


Year. Raw Silk. Wild Silks. 

Ibs. Ibs. 

1906-7 .. .. 210,823 167,519 

1907-8 .. .. 189,483 139,659 

1909-10 .. .. 46,873 328,651 

These figures, it should be said, do not represent any- Large 
thing like India's annual silk crops, of either type, and of use 
both France is a much larger purchaser than Great Britain, of Wild 
Two further and later efforts to put silk cultivation on a Silks, 
sounder basis in India must be noted. The first of these 


The use was started under the auspices of Mr. Cunliffe Lister, 
of Wild afterwards Lord Masham, at Dehra Dun, where he spent 
Silks. something like 50,000 upon the experiment. His idea 
was to cultivate the silk-worm in rearing houses under 
skilled supervision, and it was with Bombyx mori the 
mulberry feeding variety that his chief endeavours were 
made. But the experiment could not be described as 
successful, and in 1892 it was finally given up. The second 
effort was an official one. The Government of Bengal in 
1890 was seriously impressed with the way in which disease 
was checking silk production. These epidemics in the silk- 
worms took various forms, but in all they had the effect of 
reducing the silk crop to a marked degree. Pasteur, years 
before, had given his attention to the subject as " pebrine " 
had wrought havoc with the worms in France and Italy, 
and in other silk raising countries. Accordingly, it was 
decided to send Mr. Nitya Mukerji, a native gentleman 
of high scientific attainments to study the question of 
recognising and dealing with these diseases in Pasteur's 
own and other laboratories. He has not only written 
a most exhaustive Handbook of Sericulture, which was 
published under Government order, but in connection 
with the Civil Engineering College at Sibpur he was able 
to obtain the starting of a sericultural school at Rampur 
Boalia to train cocoon rearers in the knowledge that would 
enable them to avoid these epidemics. The effort has been 
fully justified, in the sounder and healthier cocoons that 
have become available. 

Among the most important and interesting of recent 

efforts to extend silk culture has been that made in 

Kashmir, which may be held to be due to a suggestion 

from Mr. John Lockwood Kipling, the father of 

Mr. Rudyard Kipling. The former was for many years 

director of the Art School of Lahore, and after a visit to 

Srinagar in 1889 he laid his views before Sir Thomas 

Epi- Wardle, who in due course brought the idea to official 

demies notice. It so happened that Colonel Nisbet, the then 

check Resident in Kashmir, was much interested in sericulture, 

Develop- and had his own views as to the benefit that it might 

ment. be to the State, and as soon as he had entered into 



communication with Sir Thomas, he submitted samples of 
the natural raw silk for examination. During the early 
nineties, several pounds were sent to this country, and a 
length was woven for exhibition at the display held at 
Stafford House in 1894, but it was not until two years 
later that Sir Adelbert Talbot, who had succeeded Colonel 
Nisbet as Resident in Kashmir, called upon Sir Thomas 
to take any active steps in the matter. Private speculators 
had^heard of the possibilities of the silk, and were anxious 
to be first in the field regarding it, but both the Maharajah 
of Kashmir and the Durbar were anxious that it should 
be made a State industry, and in this ambition they had 
the full support of Lord Curzon. Sir Thomas Wardle 
was instructed by the India Office to visit Continental 
centres of silk rearing in 1897. He was accompanied by 
Captain Chenevix-Trench, the Assistant Resident in 
Kashmir, and bought cocoon reeling machinery and the 
best type of silk-worm eggs to the value of 600. The 
beginning of the effort was highly successful, and the 
next year eggs to the value of 1,500 were bought, and 
in 1899 more than twice this sum was spent in a similar 
way. Moreover, the Continental distributors of raw silk 
reported very favourably as to its merits for reeling and 
weaving, and it soon fetched prices only one to two shillings 
a pound below those paid for the very finest Italian silk. 
After three years' working in 1903, the balance-sheet of 
the undertaking showed a provisional profit of 40,000 
a result pronouced by all acquainted with the history of 
silk in India to be a wonderful return. This, however, was 
but the beginning of greater things, for the campaign 
has made rapid progress, as is indicated by the increased 
production of silk itself, and in the solid and improved 
prosperity of the people. Kashmir, therefore, has entered 
the arena as a producer of raw silk of real influence in 
the world's markets, and in this important service under- 
taken by Sir Thomas Wardle in the industry he knew so 
well, he would have wished no better memorial to 
himself and his labours than the establishment of a source 
of welfare to the country whose resources he thoroughly 
examined before he made the recommendations that 
have had such remarkable results. 


of Sir 



It was not until the factory era that waste silk became 

an article of prominent commercial importance in Great 

Britain, but there is evidence that it had a recognised 

Early value in relatively early times. At least, silk " nubbs " 

Imports were imported into England, and the King's Subsidy 

of Nubbs. was paid upon them, before the close of the 16th century. 

The Cecil Papers (Historical MSS. Commission IV, p. 574) 

contain an entry dated 1594, being : 

" A note of all sorts of silks brought into the port 
of London in one year from Michaelmas, 1592, 
to the same feast, 1593 : 

By The 

Englishmen. Subsidy. 

s. d. 
Spanish and other fine 

silk ll,4521bs. 572 12 

Bridges silk .. .. 1,664 62 8 

Floret silk . . . . 5,013 104 8 9 

Paris and Filozel silk . . 360 papers. 900 

Thrown and Organzin .. 12,379 Ibs. 412 12 8 

Long raw silk . . . . 1,202 40 1 4 

Silk nubbs . . . . 700 130 

1,202 5 9 



By Early 

Strangers. Imports 
s. d. of Nubbs 
Spanish and other fine 

silk 12,283 Ibs. 614 3 

Bridges silk . . . . 32 140 

Floret silk .. .-. 1,888 39 6 8 

Thrown and Organzin . . 3,252 108 8 

Long raw silk . . . . 2,129 70 19 4 

Short raw silk 403 509 

Subsidy .. 839 1 9 

Customs 209 15 5 

1,048 17 2 

The evidence does not show silk knubs to have had 
more than a trifling employment at this date, but it does 
suggest that Floret silk occupied something more than 
a nominal place. The name is not a household word and 
perhaps some explanation is necessary. Ephraim Chambers, 
in his monumental Cyclopaedia of the Arts and Sciences 
(1728), gave an outline of French and Piedmontese 
practice, which sets the meaning of the name beyond 
doubt : 

" All silks cannot be spun and reeled ; either because 
the balls have been perforated by the silkworms them- 
selves ; or because they are double or too weak to bear 
the water ; or because they are coarse &c. Of all this, The 
together they make a particular kind of silk called floretta ; use of 
which, by being carded, or even spun on the distaff or Floret 
the wheel, in the condition it comes from the ball makes Silk, 
a tolerable silk." 

" As to the balls, after opening them with scissors and 
taking out the insects (which are of some use for the 
feeding of poultry), they are steeped three or four days 
in troughs, the water whereof is changed every day to 
prevent their stinking. When they are well softened 
by this scouring and cleared of that gummy matter, the 
worms had lined the inside with, and which renders it 



The impenetrable to water, they boil them half an hour in a 

use of ley of ashes, very clear and well strained ; and after 

Floret washing them out in the river and drying them in the 

Silk. sun they card and spin them on the wheel &c., and thus 

make another kind of floretta, somewhat inferior to the 


Fleuret is the French form of the word floret, and 
Porter's Treatise of the Silk Manufacture (1830) describes 
the method of making fleurets from soufflons (i.e. very 
imperfect) and perforated cocoons as practised at this 
later date. After boiling, drying and beating, the cocoons 
were placed on a distaff and opened by drawing out fibre 
from each end at arm's length. The fleurets were carded 
sometimes after boiling and beating with the purpose 
of obtaining a brighter and more beautiful colour. The 
completion of one ounce of fleurets was considered a fair 
day's work for a good spinner. Porter, too, noted the 
production of an inferior fleuret yarn made by spinning 
coarse floss and the refuse from the reeling process. 
Fleurets de soie is still an intelligible term in France, 
although dechets de soie (literally waste of silk) has replaced 
it in the same way that " waste " has replaced " floss " 
in England. The word has been employed also in German, 
and Zeising, in a monograph Uber Schappe Spinnerei 
(Leipzig, 1911), uses " schappe " and "florette" as 
synonymous terms, f 

Some The word is akin to the English flower or flowret, and 

Alterna- it might be thought to be by distortion that Floret became 
tive Ferret in some documents of the 16th and 17th century. 

Names. The name occurs in the Book of Rates (1583), and " Ferret " 
silk from Flanders, 7,012 (Ibs.), figured in the imports of 
1668-69. Mr. Ernest Weekley, in his Romance of Words 
(1912), shows that Ferret or Feret is flowret in a semi- 
Italian form, corrupted from " floretto," a little flower. 
Ingoldsby, in the Housewarming, used the word as a 
name for tape : 

* Specimens of fabrics made from floretted silk in Italy in the mid-sixteenth century are 
extant, and one example in which a warp of fine spun was woven with a weft of coarse linen 
was exhibited at the Manchester Royal Jubilee Exhibition (1887). Vide History of Silk, 
Thomas Wardle, a pamphlet descriptive of the Manchester Exhibition. 

t " Diesen geeponnen seidengarne die in Handel den Namen Schappe oder Florette 




'Twas so fram'd and express'd no tribunal could Some 

shake it, Alterna- 

And firm as red wax and black ferret could make it." tive 
The word is well understood in this sense still in Leek, Names, 
where tape is woven. 

The Paris and Filoselle silk, of which 360 papers were 
entered at the port of London in 1592-3, was presumably 
silk ready for the use of embroiderers whose craft was 
then . a well-established one, and it is noteworthy that 
filoselle is still a trade name for a spun silk thread suitable 
for use with the needle and formed of very lightly united 
strands. The learned author of Textrinum Antiquorum 
(1843), who shows incidentally that silk waste was a 
recognised commodity in the Seville of the 6th century, 
derived the English " floss " and French " filoselle " from 
the Greek "plocium," described in A.D. 575 as "the tow 
or coarse part of silk." In this work, Mr. Yates wrote : 
" Floss is evidently an altered form of Plocium, and 
Floss silk is what the Greeks and Latins called 
by that name. It is the loose silk which sur- 
rounds the outside of the cocoons, together with 
the waste produced from imperfect cocoons. The 
French name for it is Piloselle, analogous to the 
Greek word, meaning ' a lock of hair.' : 
The New English Dictionary traces " floss " to the 
Italian " floscia," and French " floche," and suggests a 
relation to the Scandinavian word rendered in English 
" fleece " ; all or any of which may be related to the 
" plocium " of Yates and of Isidor of Seville. " Filosello, 
sleave and feret " silk are used as synonymous by Florio 
for the Italian " sciamito." 

A reference in the Annual Register (1759) to the " duties Puzzles 
now payable upon raw short silk, or capiton, and silk of 
nubs or husks of silk " raises one unfamiliar name for silk Nomen- 
material and strengthens a suspicion. In the imports clature. 
by Englishmen in the document of 1592-93, " Long raw 
silk " is followed by " Silk nubbs," and in the imports 
of Strangers is followed by " short raw silk." Capiton 
is an unrecognised term, but either " raw short " or 
" short raw '' silk is a description implying silk waste, 



Early the produce of reeling, rather more definitely than it 
uses of suggests anything else, and the 403 Ibs. of it may be 
Silk added with some confidence to the list of silk waste and 

Waste. its products imported in that year. 

Silk waste was obviously produced ages before it was 
imported into this country, for the material has an 
antiquity co-extensive with that of silk itself. A pro- 
portion of defective cocoons from which the fibre cannot 
be continuously wound is an inevitable incident of the 
act of rearing silk-worms. Of every cocoon formed by 
the worm some portions are unfit for reeling, and thus 
it can be said with literal truth that waste silk has been 
generated for as long as there have been worms to spin silk 
or persons to gather and reel cocoons. Waste is created 
still, both in reeling silk and in the later operation of 
throwing, in face of all that scientific observation and 
mechanical ingenuity have been able to effect toward the 
improvement of the culture and of the methods of reeling. 
The quantity of the by-product still exceeds that of the 
net produce, and in ancient times the waste must have 
been relatively greater. It is interesting to inquire, but 
difficult to ascertain, what became of the by-product 
in the far-off ages in China before silk in any form was sent 
into Europe. The substance is not readily destroyed ; 
it neither burns spontaneously nor decays easily, even 
in circumstances favourable to the decomposition of 
animal matter. It must have accumulated in appreciable 
quantity, and the very difficulty of voiding it as a nuisance 
would induce a people as thrifty and ingenious as the 
Chinese to make experiments to turn it to useful account. 
One of the most elementary purposes to which the waste 
might be put would be to use it for stuffing, and there is 
evidence that up to a fairly recent date the material was 
so employed. * Fifty years ago waste which had palpably 
Its served as stuffing was imported from China under the 

Employ- name of " Soldiers' beddings " into this country, and 
ment was converted in Yorkshire mills into spun silk, 
as The " unchanging East" is a proverbial term, and it is 

Stuffing, always a fair inference that practices found in vogue at 

* A sample of " waste silk of the cocoons of the mulberry-fed silkworms ; stuffing of the 
bed of the Queen of Burma ; brought from Mandalay," was exhibited in Manchester at the 
1887 Exhibition. 


one date in the past had an indefinitely long history Manu- 
behind them. To use waste silk as a padding for the facture 
wadded garments of the country, or to make mattresses, of 
might naturally be the first purposes to which it was Silk 
applied. Cord. 

The interesting question is whether the Chinese dis- 
covered for themselves any means of improving the 
material. It is certain that they made use of some process, 
although at what point of time cannot be stated. 
Travellers in China have not distinguished too carefully 
between the manufacture of waste silk and of net silk, 
but in China and the Chinese (1840), by H. C. Sirr, occurs 
a passage proving that imperfect cocoons were treated 
then for the production of twine : " Of the ashes (mulberry 
prunings), they make a lye into which they throw imper- 
fect cocoons and those which have been bored by the 
butterflies ; the lye causes these to swell, and they are 
then spun into a strong silk cord." 

This is neither the earliest nor the most advanced form 
of application of waste of which there is a record. It 
may be recalled that the Chinese practised and under- 
stood the manipulation of wool and cotton, so that it is 
improbable that with their skill they failed to put 
" floretted " silk to any purpose superior to the manu- 
facture of cord. Du Halde's History of China (1736) gives 
a proof that a couple of centuries ago the Chinese knew 
how to convert waste silk into comparatively fine yarn. 
" The Province of Chan-tong," said this author, " produces 
a particular sort of silk found in great quantities on the 
trees and in the fields. It is spun and made into a stuff 
called Kien-tcheou. This silk is made by little insects 
that are much like caterpillars. They do not spin an 
oval or round cod like the silkworms, but very long threads. 
The worms are wild, and eat mulberry and others 
indifferently." The goods woven from this silk are 
described as "like unbleached cloth, or coarse sort of Chinese 
drugget ; very much valued by Chinese, and sometimes Spun 
as dear as satin or the finest silks." Yarn. 

It is apparent that this fibre could not have lent itself 
conveniently to continuous reeling, but direct proof that 



Raw the Chinese had discovered the uses of waste silk as a 

Material raw material for weaving cloth is found in a further passage 
for Cloth from the same work : 

Weaving. " As the Chinese are very skilful at counterfeiting, 

they make a false sort of Kientcheou with the 
waste of the Tchi-Kiang silk, which without due 
inspection, might easily be taken for the right." 
Yet a further reference to the carding of silk in China 
is found in the Society of Arts Journal, 6 November, 1863, 
in course of a reference to the ailanthene (i.e. tussah) 
silk-worm : 

" In China . . . even the carded silk of this worm 
is abundantly used ... it forms the most durable 
dresses of the peasantry, dresses which are often 
handed down from father to son." 
The earliest of these references is modern in relation 
to the antiquity of silk manufacture in the East, but it 
is not to be supposed that the dates quoted assign 
the beginnings of the practices named, and at all events 
Du Halde's evidence is old enough to warrant the belief 
that the practice was native and not a Western graft. 
Nor is it not only in China that one may look for early 
instances of the manufacturing use of waste or unreelable 
silk. The Eri silk of India and Assam, famous for its 
long-wearing properties, has been utilised in India certainly 
for hundreds of years, and it can never have been manu- 
factured otherwise than by the waste silk process. 

An entry in the diary of one of the East India Company's 

Agents (quoted in The Silk Cloths of Assam, B. C. Allan, 

I.C.S., Shillong, 1899), refers specifically to Eri silk, the 

produce of worms living upon castor oil plants. The 

goods made from this thread went by the name of arundee, 

and 600 pieces of the cloth and four bales of the yarn 

were directed to be sent to England in 1679 by the Madras 

agent of the Company. The diary records that : 

Eri Silk " 'Twas called arundee, made neither with cotton 

of India. nor silk, but of a kind of herba, spun by a worm 

that feeds on the leaves of a stalk or tree called 

arundee, which bears a prickly berry, of which 

oyle is made. . . . 'Twill never come white, but 


will take any colour ; 'twill not rot or receive Eri Silk 
any damage by wet . . . and wears to admiration of India, 
in so much that, when the cloth is first made, 
'tis given up and down to poor people to wear 
and to lay in shops to be footed upon before it is 
fit to be sold." 
The mode of working Eri silk in vogue in recent years 

has been described with praiseworthy exactitude in his 

Monograph on Silk Fabrics by Mr. A. Yusuf Ah, I.C.S. 

(Allahabad, 1900), and the method is manifestly a 

traditional one : 

" Eri silk is not reeled but spun, and treated like 
cotton. The cocoons are first boiled for two 
hours in an alcoholic solution containing either 
sajji (native carbonate of soda) or ashes of plantain 
leaves or of indigo plants." 

" Eri silk is spun with the usual Indian spinning 
wheel. . . . The spinner takes a quantity of the 
silk fibre in her hand, deftly spins out of the mass 
a piece of thread between her fingers and attaches 
it to the spindle of the wheel. Resting the wheel 
against her toes she patiently sits for hours on 
the ground, moving the handle of the spinning 
wheel and thus giving a rapid motion to the 

" The yarn ... is coarse. It is twisted by .... Method 
a simple instrument called the taken or batni. of 
This consists of a big needle about the size of that Working, 
used for sewing leather, the lower end of which 
carries a wooden ball. . . . The needle with the 
ball is suspended from above, free in the air. 
The point of the needle is at its upper end and 
just below it is a small notch like that of the 
leather needle. The thread is attached at a point 
near the ball ; two or three turns are given round 
the needle, and then it is made fast in the notch. 
About three feet of thread is let out above the 
needle. The twister quickly rolls the needle 
between his fingers and his left thigh, which 
sets the ball rotating rapidly until the impulse 



Method is exhausted, when the process is repeated. After 

of two or three repetitions the yarn let out is found 

Working. to be sufficiently twisted. It is then wound 

round the needle and the end of the twisted 

portion is made fast again at the notch. More 

thread is now let out above, and this goes on 

until all the thread has been twisted." 

The use of a lye of ashes as a detergent is seen to have 

been common to India, China and Southern Europe, and it 

also appears from Mr. Yusuf Ali's work that the process 

applied to the Eri silk is similar to the method used by 

Indian craftsmen in dealing with the unreelable portion 

of the cocoons of other species. 

" In the case of the mulberry feeding silkworm, 
after the glossy portion has been reeled off there 
is a small quantity of fluffy fibre which cannot 
be reeled and is called waste silk or chashm. * This 
is mixed with some peaflour and boiled, thus 
dissolving any mucilaginous matter that there 
may be in it and rendering the substance soft 
and pliable. After being dried this chashm of 
bombycide silk is spun and twisted in the same 
manner as Eri silk." 

Again, in Watt's Dictionary of the Economic Products of 
India (1893) there occurs a specific reference to the native 
use of waste silk in Burma : 

" As much silk having been obtained from the 
cocoons as is possible by the crude methods used, 
the pods are taken out of the pot and, while still 
moist and warm, are stretched into a kind of 
coarse knubby thread, which finds a sale in the 
market for coarse uses." 

Practice Indeed the use of silk in its discontinuous form has 

in been recognised in communities more primitive than 

West those of the East. Mr. F. W. Barwick, who has made 

Africa. the subject of African or Anaphe silk his own, reports 

that in West Africa this brown tussah-like silk, pulled 

from the cocoon, is mixed by natives with an indigenous 

brown cotton and spun and woven by them into a 

* In commerce : Chassum. 


khaki-coloured cloth. The cocoons, which are formed Carded 

in nests in the forks, or along the boles, of trees, are Silk in 

practically unreelable, and are much more easily utilised if Africa, 


It has been seen that waste silk was used to make 
embroidery yarns in France in the 16th century, and 
there* are reasons for supposing that hand-spun waste 
silk had also been used in knitting. M. Bon, a Frenchman 
who invented at the beginning of the 18th century a 
means of dealing with spider silk, prepared it by carding 
and made stockings of it. The accounts of inventors 
are not invariably unprejudiced either in respect of the 
merits of new materials or the demerits of old ones, but 
from his statement that spider silk stockings weighed 
two ounces against the seven or eight ounces of stockings 
made with common silk, it can at least be deduced that 
coarse silk yarn was used sometimes for this purpose. 
The complaints of Katherine Eliott,* nurse to the 
Duke of York, in 1636 are a little vague as to whether 
spun yarn was employed in the silk stockings and waist- 
coats of the period. Her specific charge was against 
the passing-off of Spanish as Naples silk, and woven for 
knitted goods, but the probabilities do not preclude the 
use of "floret." The earliest explicit reference to the 
employment of silk waste to make cloth in this country 
is accompanied by assurance favouring the supposition 
that the invention was new. 

The Domestic State Papers for 1672 contain an entry Refer- 
bearing upon the purpose to which silk waste or a ences in 
particular kind of silk waste had been applied in this State 
country up to that time. It was a waste " never before Papers, 
known to be useful in this kingdom except for stuffing 
quilts, or sold into Holland or Germany at 8d. or 
lOd. per Ib." The information is to be found in the 
certificate of five mercers of the city of London, made in 
respect of an invention for which letters patent No. 165 

* See Appendix. 



Refer- were granted to Edmond Blood, " of our Citty of London, 
ences in Merchant," in 1671. The document differs from modern 
State grants in containing no drawings or detailed description. 
Papers. It opens with an abrupt form of the royal greeting : 

" CHARLES THE SECOND &c., to all to whome theise 

presents shall come, greeting. 
" WHEREAS by the humble peticon of Edmond 

Blood and alsoe by the certificat of 

divers of our loving subjects, cittizens, and trading 
mercers within our Citty of London, wee are given 
to understand that with considerable charge and 
paines hee, the said Edmond Blood, had found 
out ' A NEW manufacture, being a rich Silk Shagg 
comodious for Garments, made of a Silke Wast, 
hetherto of little or noe vse, and shagged by 
Tezell or Rowing Cards, like as English Bayes, 
Rowed Fustians or Dimatyes, a sort of Manu- 
facture never before knowne or made in this our 
Kingdome/ And whereas the said Edmond 
Blood hath humbly besought vs. to grant him our 
Letters Patents for the sole vse and such his 
Invencon for the tearme of fowerteen yeares, 
according to the statute in that case made and 

Early The nature of the silk waste in question is not precisely 

English described, and it is open to doubt whether it was the 
Methods direct produce of silk reeling or was the noil or by-product 
of of some established waste silk combing industry. How- 

using ever, the character 5>f the cloth can be determined by 
Waste. deduction. A shag is a cloth, commonly woollen, with a 
rough surface, and the document makes it plain that the 
silk shag was to be roughed (technically " raised ") by 
the use of teazles or of roving cards. In other words, the 
fabric was to be treated in a manner corresponding to the 
treatment of most blankets and all flannelettes, and to be 
made somewhat to resemble baize with a trailing pile of 
fibre upon its surface. The modern clothier might 
describe this as " blanket cloth," " fleece-faced," or " moss 
finished," according to the degree of the roughening or 
raising. It was apparently intended to make the shag 


alternatively of silk or silk and linen, for the certificate Shag 
of the mercers states that none of them had known or Over- 
heard of " any such manufactory in this kingdom or else- coatings, 
where as the making of a stuff fit for garments of silk, 
or silk and linen, shagged like English bays." It is note- 
worthy that Blood's idea has met with modern adapta- 
tions, and that there are periodical demands from the 
United States for silk waste in the form of noils to mix 
with .wool and form the fleecy face of " shag " over- 

The language of the patent has sonorous qualities of 
its own, and with the avoidance of repetitions and some 
circumlocution the document is further quoted : 

" KNOW Ye, that wee, haveing a more especiall and 
favourable regard to the Invencon aforesaid, and 
being willing to cherish and encoorage all laudable 
endeavours and designs of such our subjects as 
shall finde out vsefull and profitable arts, misteries 
and invencons by granting and appropriating 
vnto them for some tearme of yeares the fruite 
and benefitt of theire industry, whereby not onely 
a marke of our favour may bee sett vppon such 
theire ingenuity but alsoe theire labor and expences 
in the attainment thereof may in some measure 
be recompenced and rewarded vnto them, have 
given and granted .... and doe give and grant 
vnto the said Edmond Blood, his executors 
admstrators and assignes especiall licence, power, 
priviledge and authority that hee and they .... 
by him and themselves and their deputies, servants An early 
and workmen and such others onely as he shall Patent 

agree with and noe others shall and described. 

may vse, practice, exercize and enjoy the said 

Invencon " 

The fee exacted was modest, the grant being condi- 
tional simply on payment of " the yearely rent or sum 
of six shillings and eight pence of lawfull money of England 
att the twoe most vsuall feasts in the yeare, that is to 
say, att the Feast of the Anunciacon of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary and the Feast of Saint Michaell the Archangell, 



An early by even and equal porcons." The document extended 
Patent warnings to those who might infringe the patent, detailed 
described, the powers of search in cases of supposed infringement, 
and required " all and singular justices of peace, maiors, 
sheriffs, bayliffs, constables, headboroughs and all other 
officers and ministers " to be " favouring, helping, ayding 
and assisting vnto the said Edmond Blood." This paper, 
sealed with the private seal of the monarch, made the 
grant revocable in case " it shall bee made appeare vnto 
vs .... or any six or more of our privy councell that 
this our grant is contrary to law or prejudiciall or incon- 
venient or not of publique vse or benefitt or ... is not 
a new Invencon." 

Patents of more intrinsic importance also involving 
the treatment of waste silk have been taken out since 
Blood's, but in none of these is there an equal charm and 
quaintness of language, and the fact must condone a 
digression not absolutely necessary to the proof that 
waste silk has a long history. 

Inven- Various patentees of the 18th century enumerated 

tion in silk as one of the fibres capable of manufacture upon the 
18th machines of their invention. Dr. Cartwright did so in 

Century, respect of the machine-comb which he devised primarily 
for treating wool, but this and other references have to 
be dismissed as speculative and self-protective claims 
by patentees. The invention of Thomas Wood, manu- 
facturer of cotton, Holcombe, Bury, Lanes. (No. 1130 of 
1776), may be mentioned not specifically for its utility 
or importance for it does not appear that the machine 
described could have worked but as some evidence that 
waste silk was then occupying attention in Lancashire. 
Wood invented a " machine or instrument for carding and 
roving silk, cotton and sheep's wooll." Silk is placed 
first in the title, although the body of the document treats 
of " cotton, sheep's wool &c." in one instance, and solely 
of " the cotton " in another. A patent taken out by 
Sharp and Whittemore in 1799 for a machine to make 
cards for carding, cotton, wool and silk gives firm evidence 
that silk was then being carded, and the fact is well attested 
in other ways. 

Silk Spinning, Receiving and Opening Raw 

Material Silk Waste. 

Plate XL///. Silk Spinning, Boiling or De-gumming Silk Waste. 



The most momentous technical development within the Notable 
English spinning industry of the last hundred years is Tech- 
one that has been almost totally disregarded by the larger nical 
public. Attention has been drawn to new silk combs Develop- 
and to the utilisation of new-old forms of silk waste, ment. 
but these are not of supreme consequence. The great 
and the distinctive change was the supersession of the 
old method under which a fibre naturally long was cut 
deliberately into short lengths and prepared and spun 
in the manner proper to fibres naturally short ; in fact 
by means not very different from those used for cotton. 
Long fibres are more valuable textile materials than short 
ones, and to make long ones short is a step contrary to 
good management. The improvement which exceeds all 
others in importance was plainly that which abolished 
the old necessity for depreciating and disfiguring the raw 
material and allowed advantage to be taken of the inherent 
quality of good length. The change implied the pro- 
duction of a stronger and more lustrous, although not 
necessarily more even yarn. And to set at rest any 
doubt of the reality and magnitude of the improvement 
it suffices to point out that it has been adopted by every 
spinning firm in the English trade, and with not more 
than three exceptions is the only system in use in English 
mills now, or for many years past. 

In tracing the course of the change which led English Gibson 
silk spinners to abandon the example of cotton and to and 
make the methods pursued in spinning worsted or long Camp- 
flax as their model, it is necessary to refer at some length bell 
to the English patent 7228 of 1836. Under this, John Patent. 
Gibson, of the City of Glasgow, throwster, and John Gordon 
Campbell, of the same place, merchant, obtained pro- 
tection for a " new or improved process of manufacture 
of silk, and silk in combination with certain other fibrous 
substances." Eight claims were registered : 

(1) Discharging from silk waste when the same is 

in the state of the sliver or rove. 

(2) Dyeing silk waste in the sliver. 

(3) Spinning from dressed waste of long fibres, either 

in the gum or discharged. 



Spinning (4) Spinning silk waste of long fibres in combination 

of long with flax of a similar length, of fibre, 

fibre Silk (5) Spinning yarn from silk waste of long fibre in 

Waste. combination with wool. 

(6) The application of a new process to the throstle 

machine, on the principle of the long ratch, 
for the new and useful process of spinning 
silk waste. 

(7) Improvements in the throstle machine by which 

its utility in spinning silk waste is greatly 

(8) The application of water to silk waste with long 

fibres in the process of spinning with the long 


This patent is the earliest upon the British register 
relating to the spinning of silk waste of long fibre, and is 
the one responsible for the name "Patent Long Spun" 
that is sometimes still applied to English yarn. Long 
and costly litigation arose out of the grant of this patent, 
and the decisions therein dispose of the idea that this 
was the first successful attempt to avoid the reduction 
of the fibre. Indeed a distinction must be drawn between 
yarn technically entitled to the name "Patent Long 
Spun " and yarn produced on the throstle machine and 
upon the principle of the long ratch. 

The specification outlines the processes hitherto adopted 
for spinning yarn from silk waste : 

(a) Passing the waste through a breaker to clear 

out the more stubborn or knotty ravelings. 

(b) Passing the waste through dressing machines 
either in the gum or discharged state. 

(c) Cutting the dressed silk into lengths of two inches, 

more or less, in a cutting machine, and if need 
be discharging and drying. 

(d) Scutching the material before carding. 

Old (e) After carding, preparing the roving by a similar 

and engine to that used for cotton and spinning 

New on the mule jenny, on a similar principle to 

Methods. that of the cotton jenny. 



These processes correspond with those in use to-day 
in the few mills in which the short-spun method survives. 
There follows in the patent a description of " our novel 
process by which we produce our new or improved yarn 
or thread," a few lines of which are enough to proclaim the 
source from whence the patentees drew their inspiration : 
" The silk waste having been dressed in the usual 
way . . . either discharged or in the gum, we 
submit it to the drawing, roving and spinning 
machinery, thereby entirely obviating the sup- 
posed necessity of cutting or shortening the fila- 
ments of silk waste, a destructive process, which 
has heretofore been considered as an indispensable 
sacrifice. . . . 

" The kind of machinery we have found to answer 
best for the drawings and rovings of dressed, 
heckled or carded silk waste of long fibres is the 
same as that used by flax spinners, and we adopt 
the same methods as are practised by them with 
long or cut line flax." 

An action at law disposed of the validity of the salient 
claims in Gibson and Campbell's patent, and the printed 
specification issued by the Patent Office is followed by a 
disclaimer. The claims (6), (7) and (8) referring 
respectively to the use of the throstle machine, improve- 
ments in that machine and to the process of web spinning 
are formally abandoned. The action Gibson v. Brand, 
although an industrial cause celebre, would seem to be 
generally unknown to the present generation of silk 
spinners. The case is a leading one in the annals of 
English patent law, and the various legal points disposed 
of in the judgment give it an important place in hand- 
books of the law of patents. As many as a dozen references 
to Gibson v. Brand occur in one standard manual of 
British patent law, and the case is reported at length 
in Webster's Report, p. 627, Manning and Granger I, p. 79, 
Scott's New Report, p. 844, Law Journal Report, New Series, 
Common Pleas, p. 177. The case was heard in 1840, 
when plaint was made that the defendant had " directly 
and indirectly made, used and put in practice the said 

tion of 

in the 



Patentee invention, and counterfeited, imitated and resembled the 
in the same." The defendant pleaded that Gibson and Campbell 
Law were not the first inventors and that the invention was 

Courts. not new. It was proved that Brand had ordered silk 
waste to be spun by certain persons by a process similar 
to that described and had sold the silk so spun. It was 
held proved that the yarn produced by the plaintiff's 
process was very superior in value and beauty to that 
spun on cotton machinery. Evidence was given on the 
part of the defendant that long before the date of the 
patent, silk waste in the long uncut fibre had been spun 
by the common machinery for spinning flax, and had been 
sold in large quantities. Mr. Chief Justice Tindal, 
Mr. Justice Cresswell, Mr. Justice Coltman and Mr. Justice 
Erskine concurred in upholding the decision given in the 
Court of Common Pleas. The remarks of the last-named 
deal explicitly with the question of originality. He 
observed : 

" It appears that the process of spinning silk waste 

with an uncut fibre had been before practised. 
" It is said indeed that this was done in secret, and 
that it had not been made public, and undoubtedly 
if this fact were made out I should agree that this 
would be no objection to the patent. But I think 
there was abundant evidence to show that to 
some extent and indeed to a considerable extent 
the process had been publicly practised before 
the patent was taken out ; although it had not 
been carried to such a state of perfection as under 
the plaintiff's patent." 

An The judicial decisions give substantial assurance that 

Im- a process having the same main effect as that patented 

portant by Gibson and Campbell had been carried on before 1836, 
Judg- and after the formal disclaimers made by the patentees, 
ment. little of the original subject matter remained. The patent 
became one for 

(a) Discharging in the sliver or rove. 

(b) Dyeing in the sliver. 

(c) Spinning long fibres, either in the gum or dis- 
charged state. 



(d) Spinning silk in combination with. flax. An 

(e) Spinning silk in combination with wool. Im- 
The word " New "' was struck out from the title, and portant 

only " An Improved Process of Manufacture " remained. Judg- 
The information gleaned from Patent Office records ment. 
is supplemented by additional facts extracted with great 
care and patience by Messrs. J. and T. Brocklehurst and 
Sons, Limited, throwsters and spinners of Macclesfield, 
from the archives of their firm. From these it has been 
learned that the methods pursued by Gibson and Campbell 
proved very successful, and that yarn produced by them 
was used in many fabrics with good results. A number 
of manufacturers introduced similar methods without 
licence from the patentees, and the legal proceedings 
against these parties brought both Gibson and Campbell 
to insolvency in 1840. In this year Messrs. Brocklehurst, 
together with Mr. William Wanklyn, silk manufacturer, 
of Manchester, came to the aid of the patentees, raised 
money for their assistance, and pressed the proceedings 
to the conclusion that has already been detailed. In 
consideration of their help, Messrs. Brocklehurst and 
Wanklyn were given the right to use the process, free of 
further cost, and to participate in any extension or renewal 
of the amended patent rights. 

The patent rights were extended. The English and 
Irish rights expiring in 1850, and the Scottish rights 
expiring in 1851, were each extended for six years by the 
Privy Council, for the principal reason that the patentees 
had lost considerably upon their undertaking up to that 
time. Under the terms of the agreement made ten years 
before, Messrs. Brocklehurst were automatically to benefit Exten- 
from any extension without further expense. They came sion of 
again, however, to the assistance of the owners of the Life of 
patent in the expense of the renewal. Mr. Wanklyn, on Patent, 
this occasion, took no part in the matter, but James 
Holdforth and Son, of Leeds, joined in the costs of the 
appeal, and became entitled thereby to exercise the right 
of manufacture on the same terms as Messrs. Brocklehurst. 
John Gordon Campbell had meanwhile died, and his 
brother Charles Campbell stood as sole representative of 



Licenses the original holders of the patent. The right, therefore, 
to Manu- to discharge silk waste in the sliver, and to apply to yarn 
facturers. the name " Long Spun," and to stamp the yarn with 
the words " By Royal Letters Patent and Letters of the 
Licence," vested principally with the firms of Campbell 
of Glasgow, Brocklehurst of Macclesfield, and Holdforth 
of Leeds. Terms were made, however, with certain other 
spinners, and the following firms held licences until the 
expiry of the extended patents in 1856 and 1857 : 
Hind and Co., Lancaster. 
Briggs, Castleton Hill, Rochdale. 
Thomas Atkinson, Booth Town, Halifax. 
Muir and Co., Port Dundas, Glasgow. 
The ruling in Gibson and Brand proved that silk waste 
of long fibre had been spun independently of any patent 
before 1836, and there is contemporary testimony that 
long fibre, discharged not in the sliver but in the undressed 
state, was spun in Brighouse before 1852 ; in other words, 
before the expiration of the extension of the patent. 
Burrow and Monk, who were pioneers of the silk spinning 
trade in Brighouse, practised the short-spun method 
originally, but with the assistance of workmen obtained 
from Holdforths of Horsforth, Leeds, manufacturers began 
to use the long-spinning process in the manner in which 
it is still carried on in the town. On the other hand, 
certain old-established spinners waited until the expiration 
of the patent rights. At the short-spinning mill at Galgate 
the machinery for long-spinning was installed in 1863, 
and was set to work in 1864. At Triangle, near Halifax, 
Mr. Hadwen, who had begun as a cotton spinner in 1800, 
added short-spun silk to the list of his manufactures in 
the year 1826 and long-spun in 1858. At Congleton, 
A Messrs. Reade, who became short spinners in 1829, after 

Pioneer carrying on silk-throwing and weaving from 1784, began 
Firm. long-spinning in 1859, or later. The pleas before the 
Privy Council made on behalf of the Glasgow patentees, 
suggest that the improved system of working was not im- 
mediately lucrative, and it is a matter of tradition that some 
persons hastened to take up long-spinning before the method 
had been brought to a satisfactory degree of perfection. 

Silk Spinning, Dressed Silk Spreading Silk Waste. 

Plate XLIV. 

ilk Spinning, Combing Silk Waste. 


The defendant Brand in the momentous action was Scottish 
probably a neighbour of Gibson and Campbell. That Spinners, 
he was not a spinner of silk waste, but had spinning done 
for him by others appears from the evidence. Harvey, 
Brand and Co., and Robert Brand and Co., of 1, Ingram 
Street, Glasgow, were throwsters and silk gauze manu- 
facturers, and it is possible that the defendant belonged 
to one or other of these firms. The connection of the 
first-named firm with the silk industry is mentioned in 
an article in the 7th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica 
(1842), which expresses the writer's " grateful acknow- 
ledgments to Messrs. Harvey Brand and Co., of Glasgow, 
whose beautiful silk-throwing factory at Blackball, Paisley, 
was opened to him." 

The same article refers to silk-spinning in Edinburgh 
in terms which leave no doubt of their meaning : 

"Messrs. Wm. Casey and Co., of Castle Mills, Edin- 
burgh, have it in contemplation to introduce 
such alterations in the spinning of silk waste as 
will supersede the cutting, carding and scutching 
processes. This improvement they mean to effect 
by adopting the principles of flax-spinning, in place 
of treating the waste in the manner of cotton, 
the uncut filaments being drawn into a sliver 
by a modification of the flax gill." 
Messrs. Casey presumably had the result of the Gibson 
lawsuit in mind, and at all events made no secret of their 
intentions. Whether Michael Wheelwright Ivison, silk- 
spinner, residing in Hales Street, Edinburgh, was con- 
nected with their firm remains an open question. * What is Work 
known is that Ivison took out the English patent 7600 of of 
1838 for objects similar to those of Gibson and Campbell Edin- 
and of William Casey and Co. A single sentence suffices burgh 
to show that projects for long-spinning engaged attention Firms, 
in several Scottish quarters in the later 'thirties : 

" In carrying out my invention, silk waste is to be 
obtained in the condition it is delivered from the 
combing without having undergone the process 
of cutting and carding." 

* The name of M. W. Ivison appeared in the Glasgow Directory of 1835-36 under the head 
" Silk Spinner," but was absent from the edition of 1839-40. 



John Gibson, with Thomas Muir, described as silk 
manufacturers, Glasgow, took out in 1840 a further patent 
(No. 8641) to clean foul silk waste. The waste, converted 
into a sliver or rove and reeled into hank, was immersed 
in water until saturated, then wrung well at a wringing 
post and scutched. " We find," says the specification, 
"this saturation has the effect of making the fine fibres 
adhere to each other more closely, while the scutching, 
without disturbing the natural adhesiveness of the fine 
fibre, throws out or partly detaches the nibs and coarse 
or unequal filaments." It does not appear that any 
notable results followed. 

The spinning of waste silk has been shown to have a 
longer history than can be inferred from the date of the 
foundation of any existing spinning mills. It was, how- 
ever, to the age of existing mills that the Silk Club of 
Manchester referred in contesting Mr. Samuel Cunliffe 
Lister's right to be regarded either as the founder of the 
spinning branch of the trade or as the first to employ the 
waste silks of India. A letter from this Association of 
silk spinners appeared in the Bradford Observer, 24 March, 
1887, and this, with Mr. Lister's reply, effectually disposes 
of both points : 


With reference to the accounts which have appeared 
recently concerning Mr. S. Lister and his connection with the 
spun-silk industry, we venture to ask the following question : 

(1) Seeing that there are some firms (or their pre- 

decessors) which have been engaged in spinning 
waste silk for nearly 100 years, how is it that 
Mr. Lister can be said to be the introducer of 
this branch of the trade? 

(2) Inasmuch as some are now living who over 50 

years ago worked the waste silks of India, 
can it be explained how Mr. Lister was the 
first to introduce the use of this material ? 

(3) What is the quality of the waste silk that 

Mr. Lister purchased originally at Jd. per Ib. ? 
We ask these questions without the slightest desire 
to throw any doubt upon the services that Mr. Lister 


has conferred upon the branch of industry in which he 
is engaged, but we feel that it would be more satisfactory 
if some explanation of the above could be given. 

Victoria Hotel, 


March 22nd, 1887." 

To this letter Mr. Lister sent the following reply : 
" To the Editor of the Bradford Observer. 

Sir, Allow me to reply to the queries of my friends A Reply 
of the Silk Club, published in your issue of Thursday. to Criti- 

It would just be as true for someone to say that he cism. 
was the first to use pig iron as for me to say that I was 
the first to utilise silk waste. All silk-producing nations 
have from time immemorial used their waste silk of the 
better class with more or less skill, and do so now. It is 
nothing but our superior machinery and mode of treat- 
ment that enable us to pay a higher price than the native 
user, and that causes it to come to our markets. With 
regard to its use in England, I should imagine although 
I have no positive data that it would be about the time 
I was born, say some seventy or eighty years ago, when 
it was first spun by machinery in this country. I remember 
well the first time that I saw anything of the kind was 
at Messrs. Holdforths' mill at Leeds I think in 1846. 
Having at that time gained some notoriety in wool- 
combing, Mr. Holdforth asked me to come over and see 
his silk-dressing machine, and to improve it if I could. 
I thought then, and still think, that it was one of the 
rudest and crudest of machines, but, as I know to my 
cost, very bad to beat. I had no idea, when examining 
it carefully for the first time, of the long years of toil and 
trouble, and the ruinous sums it would cost me before 
I should be able to master it and I am not so sure that 
I have succeeded even now, after forty years (that is, 
for all sorts) but I can, at any rate, say that I have, First 
so far as I know, invented and patented the first self- Self- 
acting dressing machine, with plenty of room for improve- Acting 
ment for those who may come after me, as I consider Dressing 
my working days are now over. Machine. 



Then as to the waste silks of India, I believe that 
Messrs. Holdforth were using at the time I visited their 
works the J.R.W. chassum, known as European filature, 
and I have no doubt other people were also ; but the 
waste silk that cost me so much time, trouble, and expense 
to use profitably was the native filature chassum. The 
late Mr. Spensley, who, no doubt, will be remembered 
by many members of the Club as being one of the chief 
waste silk brokers, first called my attention to it that 
would be about 1857 and he said, laughing, that they 
had tried to use it as manure, but that it would not rot. 
At that time I had no knowledge of silk waste, and to my 
inexperienced eyes it looked more like oakum than any- 
thing else. However, after some experiments, I bought 
a few bales, say thirty or forty, at Jd. per pound, and 
afterwards cleared the lot at Id. to IJd. Years afterwards, 
when I had perfected my machinery at a vast cost, I had 
almost the entire trade in my hands, and imported regu- 
larly, year after year, several thousand bales in fact, 
at that time I scarcely used anything else and now I 
scarcely use a bale. It all goes abroad, where all our 
trade will eventually go. Long hours, cheap labour, and 
hostile tariffs will tell more and more as time goes on. 
There were two reasons why the trade could not and did 
not use native filature chassum, and other low wastes ; 
and the same may be said even to this day, although not 
to the same extent. First, at that time good waste was 
so cheap, and the cost of dressing low materials so high, 
that it did not pay with the ordinary machinery, and 
required special machinery invented and constructed before 
it could be used with profit. Then again, supposing it 
could have been dressed at that time with the comparatively 
rude gill boxes then in use, no one could make level yarn 
from it. The intersecting gill the invention of my last 
partner, Mr. Warburton has changed all that, and made 
it now comparatively easy, whereas, when the sliver of 
combed native chassum was drawn from my patent silk- 
combing machine, it was as level as a roving, and no one 
in Europe could or did make any yarn comparable to it. 
When Manningham Mills were burned down, in 1872 

Spinning, Drawing Preparatory for Spinning 

Silk Waste. 

Plate XLV . Silk Spinning, Drawing Preparatory for Spinning 

Silk Waste. 


I think, I had orders for a year's production. The raw Waning 
material was costing me from 6d. to Is. 2d., and I was Pros- 
selling on the Rhine two-fold 60s. for 24s. per pound, perity. 
My respected friends of the Silk Club, we should all like 
those very pleasant and prosperous days to come back 
again, but, alas ! I am afraid they will never. In these 
evil days the raw material is double the price, and the 
yarn less than one-half, and if there be any profit at all, 
it goes to the foreigner. In conclusion, let me say I 
sincerely wish prosperity to the Club and the trade. 

I am, &c., 

Swinton, March 26th, 1887. 

P.S. I suppose that the reason of the Silk Club asking 
for explanations arises from the terms in which the Albert 
medal was awarded to me ; but I had nothing to do with 
that, as I was ill in bed at the time. I quite agree in 
thinking that some alteration ought to be made more 
in accordance with the facts, and I shall endeavour to 
have such alteration made by the Council of the Society 
of Arts, as I have not the slightest wish to have accorded 
to me that to which I am not fairly entitled." 

Mr. Lister was as good as his word in the matter of 
the award of the Albert medal, bestowed upon him in 
1886.* A letter from him was received by the Society, 
suggesting some amendment of the terms in the final clause 
of the award. The Council of the Society of Arts were of 
opinion that it would not then be possible to vary the 
terms which had been made public about a year before. 

In Lord Masham's Inventions a more extended account 
is given of that which Mr. Lister did invent. Lord Masham 
wrote : The 

" In 1859 we succeeded I and my partner, Mr. James First 
Warburton in making the first silk comb, which Silk 
we patented in our joint names. From the begin- Comb, 
ning it made a first-rate sliver and fairly clean 

* The terms of the award to Mr. Lister of the Albert Medal of the Society of Arts are thus 
reported in the Journal of the Society, June 4, 1886 : 

"The Council of the Society of Arts have (with the approval of the President, 
H.R.H. the Prince of Wales) awarded the Albert Medal to Mr. Samuel Cunliffe 
Lister for the services he has rendered to the textile industries, especially by 
the substitution of mechanical wool-combing for hand-combing, and by the intro- 
duction and development of a new industry and the utilisation of waste silk." 


The work, but its great fault a fatal one was that 

First it produced so little top and made so much noil 

Silk that it did not pay. . . . The mechanical arrange- 

Comb. ment was admirable, and it did what had never been 

done before. It produced a splendid, regular 

and even sliver, just what was wanted in the spun 

silk trade. 

" Net silk, Italian, was at that time (1859) worth over 
40s. a pound, and was anything but level and 
free from lumps and other imperfections, whereas 
our Manningham spun silk yarn was in many 
respects superior and was used as a substitute. 
" I was greatly helped by my partner .... but 

he took little interest in working it." 
The Lister silk-comb upon this confession shared the 
common defect of other substitutes for the flat dressing 
frame which, now as in 1846, remains the mainstay of 
the English silk-spinner. The intersecting gill a drawing 
machine with teeth above and teeth below used nowa- 
days by spinners in preparing the shorter fibres for spinning, 
and employed principally upon yarns made from the third 
and fourth drafts of dressed silk, is claimed both in the 
letter and book as Mr. Warburton's discovery. 
Lord Masham's book "says : 

" The best thing Warburton did was to invent the 

intersecting screw gill, which may be said to work 

two sets of fallers or gills, one up and the other 

down, but intersecting each other. 

" I have no copy of the patent, nor do I remember 

when it was invented, but in after years I had 

The good reason to know something about it. At first, 

Inter- and for many years, the English spinners would 

secting not look at it, but after a time Messrs. Greenwood 

Screw and Batley took it in hand, and being always 

Gill. first class in their work, made it work so admirably 

that the foreign spinners adopted it, and with 

such success as to make nearly as good yarn out 

of hand-dressed silk as I could with the comb, 

which they had never been able to do before, 

as with the ordinary preparing machinery they 


could never make it level and free from thick and Silk 
thin places. It is very remarkable, but absolutely Comb 
true, that this very machine was the means of super- 
killing the silk comb, which for some years was seded. 
immensely profitable. 

" At one time, especially for velvets, Lister and Co. 
could command almost any price for their yarns, 
but this intersecting gill changed this, as the 
yarn from the hand-dressed silk was nearly as 
level and good as the machine-combed." 
It appears that Mr. Lister was more appreciative of 
the merits of the intersecting gill machine than were some 
of his English competitors. Lister and Co. were amongst 
Greenwood and Batley's earliest customers for the 
machines, and it may be supposed that the intersecting 
gill assisted the Lister silk-comb in producing an excep- 
tionally uniform yarn. The supposition is favoured by 
Lord Masham's repeated declaration that his advantage 
vanished when his Continental competitors adopted the 
same machine. 

The comb was superseded in its inventor's own mill, The 
and he has added : Self- 

" We had, much against my will, to adopt the old acting 
system of hand-dressing, and we have some now. Dressing 
The hand-dresser could always beat the comb Frame, 
in the yield, the proportion of top to noil, so 
that it could always produce a cheaper yarn ; 
and when by improvements in preparing and 
drawing they succeeded in getting a level yarn, 
the comb became obsolete and worthless except 
for some special purposes, especially making a 
very superior sliver. 

" We had not many hand-dressing machines, and 
when one day, walking round and looking at 
them with vexation and disdain, as I thought it 
a terrible humiliation that I (of all men) should 
be obliged to adopt them, it suddenly occurred 
to me that I could make a self-acting frame. 
" To my great delight, my self-acting frame went to 
work, so far as I remember, without a single 



The alteration, and is, I believe, at work to-day. It 

Self- did not make a sliver (it made a lap). The sliver 

acting was an improvement that was made afterwards. 

Dressing It is an immense and costly machine, and requires 

Frame. a great deal of room and power. The first twenty 

cost us considerably over 1,000 each. . . . Mr. W. 

Watson has considerably improved them, for which 

he has taken several patents/' 

The two pieces of machinery, the silk-comb and the 
self-acting dressing frame, are the inventions that the 
waste silk spinning trade owes to Lord Masham's 
initiative. Their influence has been less felt than his 
part in the development of the Reixach plush loom, 
but to arrive at a complete estimate of the great manu- 
facturers' mechanical achievements one has to go outside 
the silk trade and consider the work done by him in per- 
fecting the wool-comb. 

The In the course of its manufacture, spun yarn is " gassed," 

Yam- i.e., is passed through a gas flame to burn off protruding 
Cleaning ends of its constituent fibres, which, left untouched, 
Patent. obscure the play of light, and hence the lustre of the 
thread. Some ash remains to sully the colour of the 
yarn, and it was at one time usual to send yarn out in a 
distinctly dirty-looking state. Then came the invention 
by which yarn was gassed as one part of the operation, 
and cleaned as the other part, and the name " gassed and 
cleaned " came into being. The improvement is traceable 
to two inventions of Mr. W. H. Prince and Mr. James 
Tomlinson, machine maker of Rochdale, who took out 
patents Nos. 141 and 2194 of 1868, for a means of drawing 
yarn from the bobbin, gassing it and passing it " round a 
number of caps to obtain friction enough to clear the 
loose fibre and smoothe the yarn." These patent rights 
and the machines for the purpose were sold to Lister and 
Co., of Manningham Mills, in 1871 or 1872. Subsequently 
according to information which has been supplied by Tomlin- 
son (Rochdale), Ltd., licences to work the machines were 
granted by Mr. Lister, or by Lister and Co., to various other 
spinners. The caps or bars are referred to as " Lister's 
cleaning bars " in machine catalogues of the present day. 

mm mm 

lfy Spinning Spinning Silk Waste 

Plate XLVl. Silk Spinning, Gassing and Cleaning Yarn Silk 



The imports of waste silk afford an index to the growth The 
of the spinning industry, although not at all times a Growth 
perfect one, because spinners have had much larger of Silk- 
quantities of home waste at their disposal in some periods spinning, 
than in others. The English silk-throwing trade has 
undergone great fluctuations, and the importation of waste 
has not always been equally practicable. The English 
duty on silk waste in 1787 was fourpence a pound, a charge 
which would represent one shilling a pound on the 
yarn produced from it. In 1819, the tariff stood at the 
prohibitive level of four shillings a pound, or 22 8s. per cwt., 
and 3s. 9d. a pound on waste from India. The impost 
was reduced in 1824 to threepence a pound, regardless of 
origin, and so remained until 1826, when it was further 
reduced to one penny. In 1829 the tax of a penny a pound 
was changed to the nominal rate of one shilling per hundred- 
weight, and later this rate was halved in the case of 
material from British Possessions, and, later still, was 
removed entirely. The imports of waste during the 
earlier years of the factory era have been stated in suc- 
cessive Parliamentary papers as follows : 

Average. Ibs. 

1815, 1816, 1817 .. .. 27,000 

1821, 1822, 1823 .. .. 74,000 

1831, 1832, 1833 .. .. 688,369 

1839, 1840, 1841 .. .. 1,055,737 

The foregoing statement does not disclose the fact that Imports 
imports for consumption in 1834 were over one million of 
Ibs., over one million in 1835, and over 1J millions in Waste. 
1836. Such totals are sufficient signs of the existence of 
a considerable consumption, and there are numerous 
independent evidences that the spinning trade was becom- 
ing established. Fuller particulars are to be found in the 
chapters relating to local industry concerning the mill 
opened at Galgate in 1792, in Leeds before 1812, in Halifax 
before 1822, in Congleton in 1829, in Brighouse in the 
1840's, and that described by Arthur Young in Kendal 
in 1769. 

In 1844, according to Geo. Dodd in British Manufac- 
tures, mills devoted to silk-spinning in contradistinction 


Man- to silk-throwing, had " increased to an astonishing 
Chester extent in the last few years, and are situated chiefly 
Spinning in Manchester." The yarn produced was "for cheap 
Mills. shawls, handkerchiefs and other articles, by a process 
nearly resembling cotton spinning ; thus opening up an 
entirely new manufacture and bringing into use a com- 
modity which was formerly almost useless." 

Some other contemporary information is found in 
McCulloch's British Empire (1837), in which it was 
said : 

" A great many Bandanas (particularly in 1834) 
were manufactured from spun silk for the advan- 
tage of claiming the drawback of 3s. 6d. allowed on 
exportation, the amount of which in many cases 
realised a large percentage on the manufactured 
value. On the opening of the trade in 1826 a 
great stimulus was given to the manufacture of 
low silk goods generally, and this in particular, 
owing to the drawback allowed on all manu- 
factured goods above the value of 14s. per Ib. ; a 
certificate or debenture for a corresponding weight 
of Italian organzin imported being produced to 
entitle the exporter to this advantage. Many 
Bandanas were in consequence made of so inferior 
a silk as barely to exceed the manufactured value 
required by the Act. This trade was also pro- 
moted by the low price of the debenture 
certificate, which in the first instance was to be 
obtained at ld.-2d. per Ib. ; but the demand for 
debenture increasing in consequence of the large 
quantity of low manufactured silks bought for 
exportation, the price speedily advanced ; in 1834 
it was selling at Is. 3d. per Ib., and its present 
price is 2s. 7d., with every prospect of a further 
increase. The inducement, therefore, to export 
the low goods has to a great extent ceased, and 
the manufacture of them has consequently been 
Low much reduced. The low price at which Indian 

Grade Bandanas could be purchased in the market 

Goods. interfered with this manufacture, and has led to 


the production of better qualities and more 
tasteful patterns in order to meet this com- 

The employment of spun waste in this direction was 
mentioned also by Mr. R. Baggally in evidence before 
the House of Commons Committee of 1832, when it was 
said " spun silk may be purchased at Macclesfield for 3s. 
a lb., woven into bandanas, and receives a bounty on 
exportation of 3s. 6d." 

The adventitious demand for Bandana handkerchiefs The 
was probably responsible for the appearance of numbers Trade in 
of new spinners about this time, and the same demand Bandana 
may have tempted silk throwsters into the spinning Hand- 
business. Indeed a firm in Congleton, founded long kerchiefs, 
before as a throwing and weaving concern, commenced silk- 
spinning in 1829, or three years after the opening of this 
trade by which time the import duty on waste had been 
reduced to a nominal charge. Soon after 1834 silk warps 
began to be used in manufacturing stuff goods in Bradford, 
and to provide a more constant market for yarn than the 
bounty-fed and short-lived Bandana business. " Bandanas, 
plain and figured Barcelonas, and fancy and gauze hand- 
kerchiefs of entire silk " to quote further from McCulloch 
constituted the handkerchief trade of the period. He 
added that " the bulk of the silk employed is consumed 
at Manchester and Macclesfield in the manufacture of 
Bandanas and Barcelonas," the remainder was used at 
" Paisley, Glasgow and elsewhere in the manufacture of 
gauze and fancy handkerchiefs." Paisley used spun-silk 
for many of its famous shawls and table cloths, and a living 
spinner remembers the good trade with Paisley in 1848. 

Further developments in the consumption of waste Spun 
silk are reflected in McCulloch's presentation of the average Silk for 
imports in certain later years. From the average slightly Paisley 
exceeding one million Ibs. in 1839-41, the progress was as Shawls, 
follows : 

1850-52 1,693,000 *. 

1861-65 3,349,000 

1865-67 3,126,000 

(Subsequent to the Anglo-French Treaty.) 



of Long- 

A Short 
Era of 

The decade of the 'thirties may be distinguished as 
that of Bandanas and the introduction of the principle 
of long-spinning. The 'forties stand out as the period 
of development in and around Manchester, and of the 
inception of silk-spinning in Brighouse. The 'fifties were 
the years of the demand from Bradford and Paisley 
and the beginnings of spinning in Bradford. The 'sixties 
brought the Anglo-French Treaty and the removal of 
duties from foreign manufactured silk. In 1861 the 
American Civil War broke out, and in 1862 the supply of 
cotton from that country was equal only to one-third of the 
requirements. The next two years brought no relief, 
and not until 1865-66 did the cotton supply resume the 
normal course. The Cotton Famine, the greatest of all 
the calamities that have befallen Lancashire, put a premium 
on all materials capable of replacing cotton, and 
fortunes were made out of substitutes. Beddings stuffed 
with silk waste found their way into the market, and 
men who picked up the material at three-halfpence a 
pound sold it again at half-a-crown. 

Silk materials were high in price in the period between 
the Cotton Famine and the outbreak of the Franco- 
Prussian War, and their values at the end of the decade 
are shown in this quotation from a broker's circular : 

7 Jany., 1869. 


per Ib. 

5/3 to 








Gum waste 
Do. good to fine 
Do. knubs and husks 
Turkey do. 
East India Chassum 
,, Cocoons 
Raws Tsatlees 
Canton . . 

So well informed an authority as the late Mr. Joseph 
Boden called the period 1870-6 " the most prosperous 
in the history of the trade," and as in his own person 
he "paid buyers 10s. per Ib. clear profit upon their 
purchase of a year before," the opinion was well 
founded. Without knowing precisely what profits 








spinners did make in this period, he estimated that those A Short 
who avoided too heavy contract obligations may have Era of 
made as much as 15s. per Ib. upon yarn. The demands Pros- 
of the lace and fancy dress goods trades, coupled with perity. 
the disabilities under which Continental competitors 
suffered during this time of war, created these abnormal 
opportunities of money-making. 

The 'eighties brought plushes which were close imitations 
of seal fur into favour, and created a large demand for 
tussah yarn, and the profits were still good enough to 
tempt Yorkshire capital from other trades into the busi- 
ness. The early 'nineties, after a discouraging opening, 
provided a large business in Balernos of Bradford make, 
in which spun -silk was used in conjunction with worsted 
and cotton for stripes. Crepe de Chine, blouse cloths 
and moirette skirt cloth came into new prominence and 
consumed large quantities of yarn. The advent of 
mercerised cotton in the later 'nineties may have exercised 
some influence in giving the decade 1900-1909 a humdrum 
tone. The American panic of 1907 adversely affected 
the business, and, allowing for incidental fluctuations, 
there was a general increase in the price of raw materials. 
The opening years of the succeeding decade have brought 
a renaissance of the demand for pile fabrics made from 
tussah yarn and, in view of the inroads made by com- 
peting bright materials, the development must be regarded 
as a fortunate one. Raw materials have risen to higher 
peaks than in the decade preceding, and classes of silk 
waste formerly neglected by Continental spinners have 
now to be bought in competition with them. 

The history of the effective employment of the waste The 
of brown silk, the produce of the wild or oak-fed worm Waste of 
began in the 'eighties of the last century. The product Brown 
had been known before that decade, and Mr. Lemuel Silk. 
Clayton, of Halifax, spoke in 1879, at a meeting of the 
Society of Arts, of seeing a large quantity four or five 
years before in the Lower Thames Street Dock ware- 
houses. The material was said to have been unfavourably 
regarded in London and to have been removed to Man- 
chester, where it remained unsold for two or three years. 




Waste of 

of Tussah 

Mr. H. T. Gaddum, of the eminent Manchester merchant 
firm, in a communication to Sir Thomas Wardle, declared 
his inability to say when the importation of this article 
began. Before the last months of 1883, it had been 
consumed at prices ranging from 6d. to lOd. a pound to 
make " a low-priced yarn for the manufacture of a variety 
of different goods requiring a glossy cheap silk." Up to 
that date the material had apparently owed its market 
rather to its comparative cheapness than to the especial 
characteristics distinguishing it from white and yellow 
silks, the produce of the cultivated worm. 

Sir Thomas Wardle elicited from the Lyons Chamber 
of Commerce the information that until the 'eighties tussah 
silk waste was even less known there than in England. 
The Chamber had no knowledge of any importation before 
1879, nor did several Lyons and St. Etienne merchants, 
whose experience was sought. In 1879, 53 bales of raw 
tussah and 59 bales of tussah waste were brought into 
Lyons, and in the following year 375 bales of raws and 
147 bales of waste. Although the exact date of the intro- 
duction of tussah silk has not been found, there is a refer- 
ence in British Manufacturing Industries (1877) which 
seems to assign an earlier date than that suggested by 
Mr. Clayton. In a contribution by Mr. B. F. Cobb, 
Secretary of the Silk Supply Association, these -passages 
occur : 

" The great stimulus given to the consumption of 

tussahs has been the invention of machinery 

for dressing, carding and spinning these cocoons 

with waste and floss silk of a higher class." 

" What beautiful fabrics may now be made from 

tussahs and waste silk was shewn by the exhibits 

of manufactured spun silk in 1873." 

This allusion to an invention is obscure, for none was 

needed. Tussah and white silk are dressed on precisely 

the same machines, and for occasional purposes are still 

intermingled in one yarn. Spinners prefer, however, to 

dress them separately and to blend the two sorts in course 

of the drawing operation, and it is improbable that a 

system of mixing the wastes together at an earlier stage 


could have presented any advantage. The materials are The 
mixed in order to obtain a lighter " natural " (i.e. undyed) Advent 
colour than is given by tussah alone, and they may also of Tussah 
be mixed in yarns for dyeing to relatively dark shades. Yarn. 
The admixture is rather exceptional than usual, but the 
suggestion that it was in mixtures that tussah first came 
into use is of interest on the technical side. It is probably 
to the Paris Exhibition that the further passage refers, 
and the " beautiful fabrics " doubtless include the specimen 
of silk sealskin in which tussah waste found its supreme 

In 1883, or thereabout, the special qualities of tussah 
obtained recognition, and the price rose from lOd. to 2s. 3d. 
per Ib. under the influence of the demand for imitation 
sealskin cloth. Re-action followed, and the price, after 
falling to Is. 6d., rose to 3s. 3d. in 1887, at which date 
imitation sealskins were having a great vogue in America. * 
Tussah waste became a more marketable article than 
tussah net silk, and spinners began to buy tussah raws at 
4s. a pound and to cut the hanks and reduce them to the 
form of waste. They paid according to Mr. Gaddum's 
letter as much as 5s. 3d. per Ib. Then the manufacture The 
of sealskins having been seriously overdone, prices fell Demand 
back to 3s. 4d.-3s. 6d. for raw tussah, and Is. 2d.-ls. 3d. for Imi- 
for tussah waste in 1891, and ten years later the waste tation 
was once more a drug at prices lower than in 1883. These Sealskin 
particulars emphasise the truth that silk values are Cloth, 
singularly subject to fluctuation. The experience has been 
repeated since, and tussah waste in 1912, again in response 
to a fashion for long-piled plushes, reached 2s. 3d., the 
price attained when it first came into public favour. 

In a paper in June, 1891, before the Society of Arts, 
Sir Thomas Wardle related his share in the turning of 
tussah waste to its highest economic purpose. Being 
unable to interest English manufacturers in tussah, he 
caused a quantity to be dyed black and took it to Crefeld 
with an offer to pay a German manufacturer to convert 
it into cloth. This was in 1872, and the fabric then made 
and publicly displayed first at the Paris Exhibition and 
afterwards in the South Kensington Museum, was believed 










by Sir Thomas Wardle to be the first plumose fabric 
ever made from this species of material. If Crefeld was 
the cradle of the trade, England was its growing ground, 
and at Manningham, Saltaire, Queensbury, Huddersfield 
and Rochdale large manufacturing developments followed. 
Exports of seal plushes from the Bradford district to the 
United States rose from a value of 11,000 in 1883 to 
535,000 in the year 1888. For two years longer the 
trade was maintained at a value of 400,000, to be cut 
down to a nominal total by the McKinley Tariff guillotine 
and the sating of American demand. Crefeld and Elberfeld 
made their original plushes by hand-loom, whereas the 
English makers used power machines to produce the 
two millions worth sent to America in 1883-1890, and 
the large quantity sold in the home and Continental 

Silk-spinning has had its reverses as well as its successes, 
and although the trade as a whole is larger than ever, 
its path is strewed with the wrecks of fallen firms. Before 
Mr. Chamberlain's Tariff Commission in 1905, Mr. A. J. 
Solly deposed that of 24 silk-spinning concerns existent in 
England in 1870, only nine then remained. There had 
been newcomers, but of the older firms nine had failed 
and six withdrawn from the business. Thirty separate 
undertakings existed in 1886, and by 1904 this number 
had contracted to that of 1870. In thirty-four years 
there occurred seventeen failures and eleven voluntary 
stoppages. Allowing duly for those processes of growth 
and decay which take place in the industrial as in the 
physical world, the record is still a significant one and 
hardly matched in the larger branches of the textile 

Spinners follow the changes of numerous and fickle 
trades, and there is every assurance that the defection 
pHarge markets has been prejudicial to them. However, 
it is not alone to the closing of markets that we are to look 
for the reasons of this formidable list of mortality among 
firms engaged in the business. Silk is subject to fluctua- 
tions, and spinners caught unprepared, or lacking capital 
beyond that demanded for their daily needs, are exposed 


to heavy risks. In rising markets the spinner short of 
surplus funds is unable to buy as freely as he would wish, 
and upon a fall of values he is not strong enough to hold 
in stock materials which may fetch better prices later. 
Fortunes have been made out of fluctuations in value, and A 
similarly fortunes have also been lost. Rapid rises followed hazard- 
by sudden falls are bad alike for rich spinners and poorer ous 
ones, for the spinner cannot escape from his obligations Business, 
to his .suppliers of waste, and the yams sold at top prices 
in the period preceding the fall are too often never delivered. 
Prices have only to rise high enough and fall low enough 
and they strain the resources of the strongest. When 
the fluctuation is less extreme, all the difference between 
success and failure lies in the ability to tide over a time 
of adversity. Those who buy too late and sell too soon 
are manifestly unable to hold their ground in the struggle 
to survive. 

Sudden fluctuations in the price of silk waste have been 
traced to different reasons. Short crops, due to disease 
among silk-worms, war and large speculative buying, have at 
different times driven up the price. The heaviest falls 
have been attributable to financial panics, commonly 
having their origin in America. It is easy to appreciate 
the consequences of a doubling of the price of raw material 
within a period of months, followed by a headlong 
descent to a lower level than at the beginning. Such 
movements have been known in the purchase price of 
waste, and they are magnified three times in the cost 
price of yarn. The late Mr. Joseph Boden, of Manchester, 
named some of the extreme limits of fluctuation in his 
paper to the Silk Association in 1905. He showed that 
in the year 1793 spinners paid about 5s. for waste to make 
into yarn selling at about 17s. a pound. In 1870-76 
two-fold 60s. yarn sold at 27s. to 31s. per lb., and it was 
added " as good yarn as that sold at 27s. has within the 
past three years been obtainable at 6s. 3d." There are Fluctua- 
long intervals between these dates and the fluctuations tions 
noted in the waste market occurred within a long span, which 
" During the past 40 years," Mr. Boden said, " the prices spell 
of silk have varied enormously China waste between 2s. failure. 





and 10s. 6d., mixed French between Is. lOd. and 9s. 6d., 
China tussah waste between 5d. and 3s. Id." Periods of 
quiescence have fortunately been known, but a trade is 
unmistakably speculative in which fluctuations of from 
500 to 700 per cent, are possible. At its lowest recorded 
prices silk waste is still relatively an expensive commodity. 
The yarn made from it fetches much more than cotton yarn 
or worsted, but the by-products generated in the course 
of dressing and spinning waste are not correspondingly 
valuable. The effect of this disparity is easy to appreciate. 
As yarn, the waste spun and delivered may be worth 9s. 
a pound in an ordinary case, but as spoilt material its 
value is more like ninepence. Therefore unless the spinner 
checks the production of waste upon his own machinery 
at every point, and adopts every available means of 
reducing this source of expense, a heavy and insidious 
drain is made on his resources. The possible number of 
leaks in a spinning mill is great, and it is not in spinning 
silk alone that an unregulated and unsuspected excess 
production of spinners' waste has brought disaster to 
individual concerns. 

The lowest reaches of the waste silk industry have a 
greater antiquity than might be supposed, and in point 
of age the production of silk shoddy may rival that of 
wool. The present woollen rag-pulling industry of the 
West Riding is dated from the setting up of a rag-grinding 
machine in Batley in 1813 by Benjamin Law. There are 
vague rumours of an earlier beginning in Brighouse, 
and in any case it is certain that fibre recovered from 
worsted yarn had been introduced into cloths at much 
more distant dates. It was in 1801 that three Scotsmen, 
Thomas Parker of Broomward, Glasgow, Esquire, and 
William Telfer and Alexander Affleck of the same city, 
mathematical instrument makers, patented (No. 2469) 
" improvements in preparing and manufacturing flax, 
hemp, silk and other materials." 

So far as it related to silk, the patent was for a machine 
" for preparing wove silk .... from articles that have 
been wore " ; in short for reducing silk rags to their 
ultimate filaments. The machine is substantially that 


which the woollen trade knows as a grinding machine Silk 
or " devil," and its product might by similitude be called Shoddy, 
silk shoddy. The nature of the machine can be learned 
from the description given by its inventors : 

" Fig. 1. A, a cylinder set with sharp teeth in rows 
across the cylinder in a standing direction, for 
carding or reducing the article to be prepared or 
teazed. B, a circular brush placed below the 
. cylinder, and made to go at greater speed than 
the cylinder, by which the article teazed or 
carded is brushed off, and the teeth kept con- 
stantly free to produce their full effect. C, a pully 
that drives the cylinder, &c. D, the rollers through 
which the articles to be teazed pass to the teeth 
of the cylinder, the upper roller being sufficiently 
weighted to keep the articles firm between the 
rollers. E, a flat brush placed across the cylinder, 
to keep the articles to be carded down to the teeth 
of the cylinder, and also to displace them by a 
motion given to the brush endways. F, a worm 
on the end of the cylinder A. G, a face wheel on 
the end of one of the rollers D. H, the feeding 
cloths, represented by Fig. 2, or the under cloth a. 
The articles to be teazed are spread, in order to 
be drawn under the upper feeding cloth 6, by 
which they are conveyed smooth to the rollers, 
and through them to the teeth of the cylinder. 
" Fig. 3, rollers attached to the same machine, or 
placed on a separate frame, with cutting wheels 
raised on the rollers to cut articles of silk into 
breadths required, in order to their being 

The by-product of one branch of textile industry becomes 
the raw material of another as a matter of course. The 
spun-silk trade is fed with the remains of silk-reeling and 
silk-throwing, much as the woollen industry is supplied with 
the leavings of the worsted processes. The manufacture 
of spun yarn of long fibre involves the production of Spun 
large quantities of noils and of smaller quantities of Silk 
spinning waste, all capable of further employment Trade. 



in yarn of another class. Producers of short-spun yarn 
take the noils from the dressing-frames of the long-spinners 
and re-comb them, extracting in the process all fibres 
of a certain length suitable for their purposes. The soft 
waste engendered in spinning is freed from its oil and dirt 
and made to do service in company with material from 
other sources. The one process is the complement 
of the other in making the fullest use of the supply. 
Noil When the short-spinner has taken out from the noils 

Spinning, such portions as he can employ, there remains a 
residue of some 80 or 90 per cent, of exhaust noils, too 
short, and too much curled into " nibs," to be eligible for 
yarn of fine count. This supply is the natural food of the 
noil spinner, whose products serve a different range of 
purposes. Noils are mixed with woollen to give " snow- 
flake " effects in tweeds, or thick slubs in grotesque novelty 
yarns. Chenille yarn is made from noils, and by virtue 
of their non-inflammable nature and cheapness they are 
employed also for making cloth for ammunition bags. 
Yarn suitable for stripes in tweeds and for embellishing the 
ends of pieces of cotton or woollen cloths is made from 
the better and brighter qualities of material. Noils 
suitable for no higher purpose are consumed in a lower 
department of the waste silk industry, the manufacture of 
sponge-cloths for the cleaning of machinery. The natural 
affinity of silk for oil, which is as marked as its antipathy 
for water, promotes their use in this direction, as does the 
immunity from risk of spontaneous combustion, which is to 
be gained by using cloths of pure noil silk. 

Products The products of the waste silk industry lend themselves 
and By- in the main to a summary in this form : 
products. Waste silk from the reeler and throwster 

Drafts for 

Drafts for 

Noils for 

I I 

Long noil fibres Exhaust noils for 

for short-spinning. inferior purposes. 


The spun yarn, the produce of the drafts manufactured Products 
in this country, is distinguished for its strength, lustre and By- 
and purity, and is mainly used for one or other of the products, 
following purposes : 

Weaving : Plain cloths, plushes, stripings or border- 
ings, handkerchiefs, ribbons, upholstery goods and 
trimmings, small wares. 

Knitting : All silk or wool and silk, garments and 

. undergarments, ties, &c. 

Lace making : Calais and Nottingham laces. 

Sewing : Machine twist, embroidery, crewel, crochet. 
The consumption on weaving account is the chief one, 
and the requirements of the plush trade have for some 
time been the largest. The hosiery trade takes a small 
but increasing proportion of the whole, and is a trade 
which in itself has undergone a wonderful expansion of 
late years. Material that washes well and wears well is 
indispensable for many knitted articles, and in these 
qualities spun-silk possesses an advantage over its nearest 
competitors. The lace trade is singularly susceptible 
to dictates of fashion, and although Continental tariffs 
have a discouraging effect on the consumption of English 
silk, English yarn is exceptionally suited for the funda- 
mental needs and commands a sale in foreign centres of 
lace manufacture despite the handicap of the lace market. 
Sewing silks, in which class are included those for needle- Sewing 
work in general, are a speciality of English spinners, Silks, 
and the solid virtues that make English silk threads 
best for lace assist the demand for sewing silks. Dyed 
sewing silks are better able to resist wear and atmospheric 
influences than the mercerised cotton that has replaced 
them for many purposes. The railway and steamship 
companies in charging ultra-heavy rates of carriage on 
consignments consisting in large part of wood and paper, 
embarrass this branch particularly, and the natural dis- 
parity of price between silk and cotton is accentuated 
disproportionately by the heavy retail profits taken on 
threads for domestic use. 

At present waste silk is spun into yarn by some 22 
mills established in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire ajid 



Sewing Staffordshire, concerning which fuller particulars are given 
Silks. in the chapters treating of these localities. It is found 
from analysis of the import and export returns that there 
was retained for consumption in the five years 1907-11 
an average of seven million Ibs. of foreign knubs, husks 
and waste of silk. To this may be added nearly the 
whole of the waste produced in winding and throwing 
net silk in this country ; a quantity of probably 40,000 Ibs. 
Applying the customary formula that 3 Ibs. of waste yields 
1 Ib. of yarn, an output of 2,347,000 Ibs. of yarn may be 
estimated. The estimate does not materially differ from 
the 2,306,000 Ibs. returned as the output in the 1907 
Census of Production. There are signs that the production 
has increased since the taking of the census. Imports of 
raw material have been larger in the later years of the 
quinquennium ; trade has been brisker and new and more 
efficient machinery has been brought into use. 

Silk is too much exposed to variations in price to make 
quotations a good basis of comparison, but its values are 
always high relatively to those of wool or cotton, and if 
in comparison with the output of worsted or cotton yarns 
that of waste silk looks small, it has to be remembered 
that the volume recorded for 1907 gave a value of roundly 
one million sterling. 

Output The approximate output being known, it is simple 

and arithmetic to calculate the number of spindles required 

Values. for its production. There may be a difference of opinion 

as to the average count of yarn produced at any one time 

and the number varies with the demand, but spinners 

for the most part have proportioned their machinery to 

produce 2/60's. 

" Two-thirds of the whole of the yarn produced in 
the spun silk trade in England is made in two-fold 60's," 
said Mr. William Watson to the Tariff Commission in 1905. 
Yarn of this denomination is made by combining two 
threads of 120's (120 x 840 yards), and the output of one 
ring spindle is some 13 Ibs. per annum of thread of this 
fineness. Were all the spinning frames ring-frames, it 
could be shown that 177,400 spindles would be required to 
spin 2,306,000 Ibs, of yarn. Many thousands of the 


slower flyer frames remain in use however, and the Output 
estimate must be increased. A total of 200,000 spinning and 
spindles does not appear to be an excessive allowance, the Values, 
less so in view of the information obtained from 
the manager of a large spinning mill. Adding together 
coarse yarns and fine ones and including frames which must 
be run slowly with those which may be run fast, the records 
of the mill show that 209,000 spindles would be required 
to turn out in one year the quantity named in the Census. 

Some of the machinery required is very expensive 
when compared with the average cost of conventional 
textile machines ; the raw material is costly ; the time 
consumed in process is relatively long, and consequently the 
capital engaged is correspondingly greater than for an equal 
number of worsted or cotton spindles. An amount between 
4 and 5 per spinning spindle is not an excessive sum 
to allow, and it may be computed with rough accuracy 
that the British waste silk spinning industry employs a 
capital sum of one million sterling at the present time. 

Both in methods and in products the English silk 
spinning industry differs from that of the Continent. 
The typical product of English mills is a yarn of long 
fibres, spun from materials from which the natural silk 
gum has been thoroughly boiled out. That of the 
Continental mills is a yarn of fibres shorter than the 
English, and from which the gum has been more or less 
incompletely removed by a process of fermentation. The 
English yarn is the stronger of the two, and the more 
lustrous in the first instance, for the lustre of " schappe " 
or Continental yarn is developed in subsequent processes. 
The presence of sericin or animal gum facilitates the 
working of silk in certain forms of machine combs and 
assists in the production of a round thread from British 
relatively short-fibred materials. Continental spinners and 
are able to use shorter fibre than the majority of English Foreign 
mills, and, with the assistance of cheap labour, to turn Trade 
out a cheaper but different yarn from the English. Conti- com- 
nental spinners of certain qualities of yarn compete with pared. 
English users of the short-spun process for the noils rejected 
in dressing long silk. 



British According to Mr. Boden's address, to which earlier 

and reference has been made, J. S. Alioth and Co. started 

Foreign the first spinning factory in Europe, beginning in 1822 in 
Trade Basle, and transferring their machines to Arlesheim in 1824. 
com- By amalgamation their firm became Chancel, Veillon, 

pared. Alioth and Co. in 1872, and later La Societe Industrielle 
de Schappe. Old as the hand-spinning process is known 
to be upon the Continent of Europe, the larger develop- 
ments of factory spinning are a product of the last half- 
century. One of the witnesses before the Tariff Com- 
mission (1905), speaking partly upon hearsay, said : 

" In 1861, my information is that there was practically 
only one silk-spinning firm on the Continent, 
and that was in France. In 1866 there were 
three firms alone spinning more than all the 
English firms put together and many small ones. 
At the present day there are two foreign spinners 
who certainly spin more than all the 24 English 
spinners together." 

English The rapid advance after a relatively late start owes 
Textile much to the employment of English textile machinery, 
Machi- with which certain departments of Continental spinning 
nery mills are generally equipped. Lord Masham's reference to 

Abroad, the introduction upon the Continent of the English inter- 
secting gill machine (p. 415), bears upon this point, and 
there is a suspicion that the example of a Manchester 
firm also had its effect. So long as the machines used 
by this firm for spinning waste were confined to a secluded 
valley in the Canton Vaud there was a marked superiority 
in their product over that of Continental mills in general. 
When the machines were removed to near Milan, their 
existence became more generally known, and their adoption 
by foreign spinners followed. On the Continent, spinning 
has made most progress in the countries identified with 
the production and manufacture of silk at large, and 
these countries in general have pursued a protective fiscal 

An estimate quoted from a French source places the 
current annual production of spun waste yarn in the whole 
world at 5,500,000 kilogrammes (roughly 12,000,000 Ibs.). 


The German production, disclosed by the census of 1907, 
is 2,457,000 Ibs. ; an amount produced upon only 69,590, 
spindles. The inference is that the yarn is not com- 
parable with British and consisted mainly of spun noils. 
Mr. Boden, in 1905, assessed the world's production at 
about 15| million Ibs., allotting 11 millions to the Continent, 
3 millions to England, and 1J millions to China, Japan, 
America and India. The production has increased since 
that year, and notably so in the case of Japan. 

Japanese silk-spinners have cheap, if not very efficient Japan 
labour at their service, and are supposed to derive Trade, 
advantages in more than one way from their proximity 
to the sources of supply. Freight is saved, and they are 
able to receive the waste wet from the cocoon-reeling 
machines with its gum in a condition lending itself more 
freely to discharging than had the material been dried 
for transport. 

The export trade is detailed in the following tables :- 

(Official Tables.) 

Countries. 1908. 1909. 1910. 1911. 

Ibs. Ibs. Ibs. Ihs. 

America .. 118 3,216 50 3,331 

British India 

Great Britain 


Other Countries 

126,973 214,413 302,751 375,586 

1,978 31,782 29,951 

661 9,363 1,452 338 

131 2,568 107 8,364 

127,883 231,538 336,142 417,570 

There is an additional export from Japan of silk drafts, 
i.e. of waste silk freed from gum and dressed in readiness 
for lapping, drawing and spinning. 

The spinning industry of the United States is a com- Spinning 
paratively small one, employing some 130,000 spindles, in the 
according to the Census of 1909, and the spindles are United 
distributed over six States. There were 24,000 in Con- States, 
necticut, where the Cheney Brothers started the first 
American silk spinning mill in 1868, obtaining their 
machines from England. In 1909 there were in 
Massachusetts 11,500 spindles, in New Jersey 34,000, 
in New York 26,000, with a similar number in Pennsylvania, 
and in Rhode Island 7,000. No distinction is drawn 
between spinning and twisting spindles in the official 




in the 




return, so that of the spindles enumerated only a certain 
number are as productive in the initial sense. It 
would appear from the census reports that the greater 
part of the waste silk spun in America is for consumption 
by the producer, not for sale in the state of yarn. The 
quantities spun for sale have been returned at their 
ferent dates as : 

1899. 1904. 1909. 

Ibs. Ibs. Ibs. 

437,459 570,529 779,462 

The spun silk used in America includes the imports, 
which are considerable, and the totals recorded as used 
have been : 

1899. 1904. 1909. 

Ibs. Ibs. Ibs. 

1,550,291 1,951,201 2,212,972 

The following share quotations of large schappe spinning 
companies, contained in a circular of August, 1912, testify 
to the prosperity of the industry upon the Continent : 

Filature Lyonnaise de Schappe 
Filature de Schappe de Lyon 
Filature de Schappe de Russie 
Filature de Schappe de Bale 










One other highly successful Continental undertaking 
is an Italian one, the Societa per la Filatura del Cascami 
di Seta, Milan. 

Of late years Continental spinners have become users 
of forms of waste such as the Steam Waste from Canton 
long the staple material of the English industry which 
formerly they did not use. They employ also some 
wastes of filatures and throwing mills in Western countries, 
and the following tables of exports from the Far East 
indicate at least roughly the consumption within the 
countries named : 

(Messrs. Arnhold Karberg and Co.'s Tables.) 
Countries. 1909-10. 

Picul Bales. 

France 49,202 

England 26,763 

Italy, Sweden and Germany . . 14,927 

Japan 14,740 17,3?1 

1910-11. 1911-12. 

Picul Bales. Picul Bales. 

57,580 63,988 

23,116 28,139 

18,232 22,074 





Trieste, Austria 

Total for three seasons 




Picul Bales. 

Picul Bales. 

Picul Bales. 







Messrs. Arnhold Karberg's table relating to the whole Chinese 
of China is followed by that of Messrs. Herbert Dent and Figures. 
Co., referring exclusively to Canton : 


(Messrs. Herbert Dent and 

Co.'s Tables. 

Seasons 1902-3 

to 1911-12 (June 1 May 


Seasons. England. 





Picul Bales. 

Picul Bales. 

Picul Bales. 

Picul Bales. 

Picul Bales. 





























































Totals for ten seasons . . 160,295 





It is shewn by the official return of exports of waste 
silk from Japan that the Japanese production obtains 
greater appreciation from Continental than British con- 
sumers : 



(Official Tables.) 

Countries. 1908. 




























British India 





Italy . . 










Other Countries 

















A difficulty in the way of presenting a complete record British 
of the imports of silk waste into Great Britain lies in the Import 
inclusion of waste noils along with knubs, husks and waste, Statistics 



British in the Statistical Abstracts for the United Kingdom, from 
Import whence the following particulars have been derived. The 
Statistics. Abstracts fail to show the re-exports, and only when these 

are deducted is the net quantity available for consumption 





Average 3 yrs. 


27,593 cwts. 





Average 10 yrs. 
33,005 cwts. 











Average 10 yrs. 
63,256 cwts. 











Average 10 yrs. 
63,209 cwts. 






Q _ 

8 '.38 



Average 10 yrs. 
64,039 cwts. 







Average 2 yrs. 
79,644 cwts. 


Average 3 yrs. 

Average 10 yrs. 

Average 10 yrs. 

Average 10 yrs. 

Average 10 yrs. 

Average 2 yrs. 

Fall in 

From the grouping by decennial periods it appears 
that the gross imports of waste silk and noils rose from 
about half that amount to 63,000 cwts. in 1880-89, and 
for two decades remained at that level, with a rise to 
nearly 80,000 cwts. in 1910-11. The average prices 
reveal a long fall, but with some appreciation in the last 



A more exact account has been summarised from the 
Annual Statement of Trade, covering a period of five 
recent years. 


Exports Foreign and Colonial, 

Imports. Knubs, Husks and Waste. 

Cwts. Cwta. 

64,245 4,254 

61,388 2,022 

65,149 4,362 

72,320 6,999 

73,171 7,727 

Available for 
Home Consumption. 


59,366 Average 

60,787 6,965,500 

65,321 Ibs. 


Separating the years to accord with the decennial 
grouping, it appears that since 1909 the industry has 
had 65,000 cwts. of waste at disposal, in lieu of the 60,000 
of the preceding triennium. 

Imports of waste silk noils are inconstant in quantity 
and are not all retained for consumption. Of late there 
has been a marked rise in these imports : 


1907 . . 

1908 . . 

1909 . . 

1910 .. 

1911 .. 


Imports. Foreign and Colonial 

Cwts. Cwts. 

2,054 753 

3,281 402 

2,983 198 

5,708 1,198 

8,090 2,521 

Available for 
Home Consumption. 

The export of silk noils, the by-product of English silk 
spinning also exhibits variation : 

1907 . . . . 6,753 cwts. 1910 . . . . 10,995 cwts. 

1908.. .. 6,571 1911 .. .. 19,024 

1909 .. . , 7,743 

Marked fluctuations occur in the imports into the 
United Kingdom of foreign spun yarn, and these are 
attributable to changes in the fashion for goods. For 
instance, a good demand for velvets stimulates the 
purchasing of schappe weaving yarns for English looms. 






Other foreign Countries 















































1907. 1908. 1909. 1910. 1911. 

Ibs. Ibs. 0)8. Ibs. Ibs. 

20,144 21,928 21,425 20,965 10,915 


1907. 1908. 1909. 1910. 1911. 

312,317 275,850 326,130 489,864 613,217 

Mis- The origin assigned to the import entries cannot in all 

leading cases be trusted implicitly, as goods passing in transit 
Returns, through several countries are apt to be ascribed to the 
country of last departure. It may be for example 
that portions of the imports from the Netherlands and 
Belgium have their real origin in Switzerland, France 
or Italy. 

In the same way the destinations ascribed to exports 
are not always final, and confusion is common in goods 
passing overland through the nearer European ports. 
A detailed table of the exports of yarn in five past years 
is appended : 

Germany . . 


Belgium . . 




U.S. America 

British India 
Straits Settlements 


Other British Countries 






















































617,722 1,027,121 1,188,260 1,166,644 































821,521 1,200,758 1,419,863 1,363,340 

Yarn The table is headed "dyed or not dyed," and it will be 

Exports, understood that the particulars include thread for sewing, 
embroidery and kindred purposes, as well as yarns for 
lace making, knitting and weaving. Read in conjunction 
with the Census of Production (1907), it becomes clear 
that roughly one-half of the silk yarn spun in England 


is exported, unwoven or unworked. The balance finds Yarn 
its way into home industry, but is not all ultimately con- Exports, 
sumed within the Kingdom, as portions enter into manu- 
factured goods which are subsequently sold abroad. It 
is the case also that a small proportion of the yarn exported 
finds its way back into the home market in the form of 
later stage manufactured materials, perhaps most frequently 
in the form of lace or embroidery than of woven tissues. 
No statistics display either these exports of spun silks 
woven or these re-entries of British yarn in the form of 



Silk, in its development from the cocoon of the silk- 
worm into the finished product of the loom, passes through 
several processes, each process giving occupation to a 
different set of more or less skilled operatives and forming 
a separate branch of silk manufacture. This will have 
been realised by the reader from the general statements 
in previous chapters, but it now becomes necessary to 
describe more in detail the operations themselves and 
to point out the necessity for these different departments 
of the trade. 

Sericulture and Reeling, Throwing, Conditioning, Spin- 
ning,* Dyeing, Winding, Warping, Beaming, various classes 
of Weaving including Trimming and Braid-making Silk 
Finishing, Textile Machine-making, Mounture and Harness- 
building, Designing and Draughting on ruled paper, and 
many other minor trades, as well as the wholesale and retail 
dealing in the raw or manufactured material or the finished 
products are all comprised under the general name of 
Silk Manufacture. 

Introduced at first from abroad, all branches of 
the trade, except sericulture, gradually became settled 
departments of British industry. They give to-day, as 
they did in the past, interesting and useful occupation 
to large numbers of British people. 

The first-named branch, viz., the breeding of silk-worms 
and the reeling of raw silk from the cocoons has never 
been commercially successful in this country. Although 
many attempts have been made to introduce this branch, 
especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 

* See Chapter XXXIII, Waste Silk, Origin and Uses. 


they have always for some reason or other failed. In 
its first stage, therefore, the preparation of raw silk has 
never become a British industry. 

Silk-throwing is the name given to the process of twisting 
the combined threads of raw silk in such a manner that Silk 
the silk is rendered hard and even enough to be used for Throw- 
weaving and other purposes requiring strength, elasticity, ing. 
and regularity of size. " In the throwing mill the 
raw . silk fibre goes through many processes including 
sorting, washing, drying, winding, cleaning, twisting, 
doubling or folding, second twisting, steaming, sizing 
and reeling or skeining, and in all these infinite care has 
to be exercised in order to produce a perfect thread."* 

The Italians have, ever since they learned the art of 
manipulating silk from the East in the twelfth century, 
been the manufacturers of the best thrown silk, and they 
are continually studying to improve their processes 
and appliances for the work. They jealously guarded 
the secrets of their inventions, and it was not until 1717, 
when John Lombe returned to England, after living some 
years in Italy, where he had learned the secrets of the 
process while working as a journeyman, that perfectly 
thrown silk was manufactured in Great Britain.f 

Introduced by John and Thomas Lombe, who erected 
successful silk -throwing mills at Derby, silk - throwing 
became in the eighteenth century an important branch 
of British industry : not only at Derby, were .silk-throwing 
mills established, but at Southport, Macclesfield, Congleton, 
Leek, St. Albans and other places. Many of these throwing 
mills are still at work, for it is gratifying to know that, 
although other countries produce the raw silk fibre, English 
manipulation of it is still superior in many respects to 
that practised in other countries.! 

Silk-conditioning is a process of testing, through which Silk 
freshly imported raw or thrown silk is passed in the interest Condi- 
of the purchaser. It is rendered necessary by the natural tioning. 
affinity which the beautiful thread produced by the 
silk-worm, especially in its natural undyed state, has for 

* Silk, by Luther Hooper. 

f See Silk Manufacture in Derby, p. 198. 

j See note in Appendix, Statistics of Silk-throwing. 



Silk water. As much as one-third its own weight of water 

Condi- may be absorbed by a given weight of raw silk without 

tioning. its feeling wet to the touch. It is obvious, therefore, 

that considerable loss might fall on the purchaser of a 

bale of silk, which is sold by weight at a price varying 

generally from 16s. to 24s. per lb., unless some means of 

ascertaining the quantity of water absorbed and retained 

in it could be accurately determined. 

As early as 1799 an agreement was come to by merchants 
in the silk trade* for regulating the allowances to be 
made for tare and tret on bales of silk as they arrived 
from abroad, but in this agreement nothing was allowed 
for humidity, and it was not until 1851 that attention was 
called to the fact that a further allowance was reasonable 
on this account, and a scientific means of discovering 
the exact weight of water absorbed by the silk was intro- 
duced into this country. At the International Exhibition 
held in London, in that year, an appliance was shown 
by means of which a few skeins of silk from the centre 
of each bale could be dried by applied heat and weighed 
in grammes with the greatest ease and exactness both 
before and after the drying. Any diminution in weight 
after this testing indicated the extra allowance for humidity 
to be made to the purchaser on the whole bale. Some- 
times this super-allowance on a bale of silk amounts to as 
much as six pounds sterling.! 

The attention of silk merchants and manufacturers 
having been directed to the matter soon after the Exhibi- 
tion, a French merchant named De Larbe purchased the 
necessary machinery and commenced business in London 
as a silk conditioner. 

This undertaking, probably because it was a private 

venture, was not much supported, and would have been 

discontinued had not a scientific gentleman, a Mr. Chabot, 

of Huguenot descent, who had been interested in silk 

Allow- dyeing, induced several manufacturers to form a limited 

ance for company to take over M. De Larbe's business in their 

humidity, own interest. The first Directors were Thomas Brooks, 

* For a list of these merchants see Appendix, note. 

t It was agreed that 11 per cent of water is natural to the fibre, accordingly tare is allowed 
only on moisture in excess of that amount. For a scientific description of the machine and 
process, see Appendix. 


Martin Cornell, Edward Fox, Richard Harrison, George Work 
Kemp, William Kemp and Henry Soper. The company of 
commenced operations in 1859. The first premises were London 
in Alderman's Walk, Bishopsgate Churchyard, and the Corn- 
Company afterwards removed to Worship Street, Fins- pany. 

In 1901, in consequence of the falling off of the 
volume of trade, it was decided to approach the London 
and India Dock Company* with a view to their purchasing 
the business and plant. This they consented to do, and 
the plant was re-erected in a building attached to their 
up-town warehouses in New Street, Bishopsgate. 

The Directors of the Company at the time of the transfer 
were Arthur W. Bailey, Frank Warner, Henry J. Offord, 
W. R. Fox, Herbert A. Walters and William Stokes. 
Henry A. Titford was Secretary and Manager, and he 
still supervises the work for the Port of London Authority. 

Winding and re-winding play an important part in 
the operations of silk-throwing, but beyond this there is 
a great deal of winding required in preparing silk for 
different uses in the textile industry, as well as for sewing, 
embroidery and kindred arts, in which a vast quantity of 
silk thread is used. This being so, silk-winding is an im- 
portant separate branch of silk manufacture. Winding 
silk from the long skeins on to reels or bobbins has 
been done by means of special machinery from very 
early times. Machines capable of winding a great many Silk 
bobbins at once were not uncommon in the Middle Ages ; Winding, 
small machines of cranks and pulleys were worked with 
foot treadles, but larger ones were actuated by a heavy 
wheel turned by water or other power. Since then, how- 
ever, innumerable contrivances have been, from time to 
time, invented and utilized in this branch of the silk 
industry, with the result that mechanical silk -wind- 
ing at its best, falls little short of perfection. Large 
factories are organised and devoted to this work alone, 
and an immense number of workers, especially women 
and children, are employed in it. Doubling, sizing and 
winding of differently twisted threads, both dyed and 

* Now the Port of London Authority. 



undyed, for an infinite variety of purposes is carried on 
in these factories, and much skill, as well as very exact, 
elaborate and costly machinery, is required in preparing 
the thread for modern silk-weaving by hand and power, 
and for other works in which silken thread is used. 
Silk With the single exception of weaving, there is no branch 

Dyeing, of silk manufacture of such paramount importance as 
that concerned with dyeing. At the same time, there 
is no textile material that lends itself so kindly to the 
processes of the dyers' art as silk, or so well repays the 
artificer for the necessary care and skill expended on it. 

The importance of the Dyers' Craft was fully realized in 
the Middle Ages and the period of the Renaissance ; but 
nowhere in Europe was it appreciated and fostered more 
than in France, after the introduction of silk-weaving 
to that country from Italy in the fifteenth century. It 
was perhaps rather in the beauty of the colours and the 
excellence of the dyes used than in their delicacy of handling 
and ingenious weaving that the French silk manufacturers 
finally excelled the Italians, who had hitherto monopolized 
the craft of silk-weaving in Europe. In France laws were 
made and strictly enforced regulating the methods of 
dyeing, especially with regard to silk. There were two 
separate guilds of dyers recognised by law. These were 
Great called respectively the grand and lesser dyers, and the 
and Little dyes themselves were called great and little dyes. Only 
Dyes. common goods were allowed to be dyed by the lesser dyers, 
because the little dyes, although brighter and more various 
in colour than the great dyes, were not permanent, and 
were therefore considered unworthy to be used for colouring 
such precious material as silk. The test exacted for 
classification in the great dye class was : " Twelve days' 
exposure to the summer sun and the damp air of night." 
If the dye stood this test, there could be no doubt as to 
the class under which it should be ranked. 

All materials dyed by the great dyers were examined 
by a Government official appointed for the purpose, and 
were stamped with his mark as a guarantee of good quality. 
The penalties for deceitfully using inferior dyes on good 
material were heavy fines and suspension or expulsion 


from the Guild of Dyers. If the latter penalty were 
enforced, it rendered the offender an outcast from the 
trade either temporarily or permanently. 

The colouring pigments used by the Guild of Great Dyers Vegetable 
were few in number, and were, with the exception of the Dyes, 
crimson of cochineal,* extracted from vegetable substances. 
Woadf furnished the blue tints ; the yellows were derived 
from Welds J; and the reds from Madder root. Welds 
dyed upon woad produced greens ; Welds upon Cochineal, 
orange ; cochineal upon woad, purple ; while cochineal 
upon a tin mordant gave a brilliant scarlet. A great 
variety of colours were also obtained from the same dye- 
stuffs by using different mordantsll when preparing the 
silk for the colouring process. 

In England the art of extracting colours from vegetable 
substances was practised in very early times. That woad 
was used as a colouring matter for personal adornment 
by the ancient Britons is common knowledge, and there 
can be no doubt that many simple vegetable preparations 
were used for colouring the homespun wool which was the 
famous staple product of Saxon England, but little is 
recorded of the practice of the dyer's craft in this country 
until the fifteenth century, when the Company of Dyers 
was incorporated by Edward IV (1472). In the reign 
of Edward VI, an Act of Parliament was passed limiting 
the variety of colours the dyers might use to " Scarlet, 
Red, Crimson, Murrey, Pink, Brown, Blue, Black, Green, 
Sadnew Colour, Azure, Watchitt, Sheep's Colour, Motley 
and Iron Grey." It is impossible now to assign the 
exact tints to some of the colours thus quaintly named, 
but no doubt they all resulted from the manipulation or 
blending of the few natural dye-stuffs named above. 

It was not until the eighteenth century that Indigo The 
(introduced to France from India) superseded woad Coming 
as a blue dye. It was known much earlier, but its of 
use was strenuously resisted, notwithstanding that Indigo. 

* Cochineal is derived from an insect of the species. See note in Appendix. 

f Woad, a plant of the Cruciferous order, common in Europe. 

j Welds, a plant of the Resedaceae order, common in Europe. 

Madder, a plant of the Bubiacea order, very widely distributed. 

|| Mordants, a variety of the alum or other chemicals in solution. In vegetable dyeing, the 

silk has to be steeped in such a preparation, in order that it may take the dye-stuff 

evenly and permanently. 


Prohibi- the colouring matter of the Indigo plant is precisely 
tion of the same as that of woad and that the intensity of the blue 
Logwood, extract is much greater. In England in like manner, 
Logwood, which was introduced in the time of Elizabeth, 
and from which many beautiful dyes were derived, was 
prohibited under severe penalties. The Statute* not only 
authorised, but directed the " burning of it wherever 
found within the realm." Logwood was only clandestinely 
used for nearly a hundred years, but the Act of Elizabeth 
was repealed in the time of Charles Ilf by another Statute 
in the preamble of which it was declared that, " the in- 
genious industry of modern times hath taught the Dyers of 
England the art of fixing colours made of logwood, so as 
that, by experience, they are found as lasting as the colours 
made with any other sort of dyewood whatever." 

Many other Acts of Parliament passed from time to 
time testify to the importance attributed to the art of 
dyeing in England. These Acts were not only intended 
to regulate the use of the dye-stuffs themselves, but, 
which is of more importance in the permanence and 
fastness of the colour, the methods of preparing and 
working the materials to be dyed in preparation for the 
colouring process. 

Aniline With the rapid development of the textile industries 

Dyes. following the introduction of power-weaving, the art of 
dyeing became of the greatest commercial importance, 
and the production of new inexpensive dye-stuffs and 
easy rapid methods of applying them to textile materials 
engaged the attention of many eminent chemists. 

Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Perkin early in the last 
century made the important discovery of a means of 
extracting dye-stuffs of various brilliant colours from coal- 
tar. The discovery, however, was not commercially 
applied until experiments had been conducted, both in 
England and Germany particularly in the latter country 
for at least thirty years. It was between 1855 and 
1860 that the new coal-tar or aniline dyes were brought 
to a sufficient degree of perfection to warrant their use 

* 23rd Elizabeth, 
f 14th Charles H. 


for common manufacturing purposes, and they were Aniline 
accordingly at that time put upon the market. Dyes. 

At first the coal-tar colours were very crude, but this 
fault was gradually corrected, and when they were skilfully 
blended they became equal in quality of tint to the 
dye-stuffs they superseded, but, like the little dyes 
of ancient times, they were rather fugitive, and had the 
additional disadvantage that they faded to a colour that 
made them unsuitable for use by recognised silk manufac- 
turers. Had they been employed to any degree by the 
industry, the degradation of silk would have been of a two- 
fold character, as the artificial weighting of silk had at this 
period of the 19th century reached a maximum development. 
It had been found as early as the sixteenth century that 
silk had a special affinity for certain metallic salts, and 
that bulk and weight could be largely increased by their use, 
but it remained for the dyers of the nineteenth century 
to carry this art to such perfection that sixteen ounces 
of silk could be and were made to weigh as much as 
thirty or more ounces. 

In course of time some of the aniline dyes were con- 
siderably improved in permanence, but it was not until 
the alizerine* colours were introduced that artificial 
dyes could be considered as at all satisfactory in com- Alizerine 
parison with the ancient vegetable dyes. When the Dyes, 
alizerine dyes are properly applied, they are as per- 
manent, if not more so, than the ancient great dyes, 
but no manufacturer who values his reputation would make 
use of these materials without the necessary guarantees. It 
may be safely asserted that whatever may have had to be 
done under the stress of manufacturing conditions during 
the Great War, there has never been shown any tendency 
during periods of normal trading for silk manufacturers to 
use any colouring materials less fast than the vegetable dyes.f 

There are, broadly speaking, two branches of dyeing 
in general use in silk manufacture, viz., yarn dyeing and 
piece dyeing. Most of the best silken materials are dyed 
before being woven, but many of the cheaper kinds of stuff, 

* Alizerine Dyes. 

f For Statistics of Silk Dyeing in Great Britain at the present time, see note in Append**, 



both for dresses and furniture, are woven of hard, unboiled 

silk, and are afterwards boiled off and dyed in the piece. 

Warping Warping and beaming were under the old system of 

and silk manufacture which is described in the section on 

Beaming. Spitalfields, separate branches of the trade, but since the 

factory system has prevailed, the warping and beaming 

are simply departments of the silk-weaving manufactory. 

Warping ensures that the requisite number of threads 

of any desired length are laid in such order that when 

threaded in the loom the weaver can trace and mend 

any threads that may be broken during the weaving 

process. The success of the weaver in his work depends 

greatly on the delicate process of warping being accurately 

done. * 

Beaming or Cane spreading! is the name given to the 
operation of transferring the warp from the warping mill 
to the back roller of the loom, and is also a work requiring 
great care and exactitude. 

Weaving. The most important branch of all in silk manufacture 
is that of weaving, and this branch is again divided into 
two, viz., the Broad weaving division and the Narrow. 
In ancient times the number of operatives employed in 
weaving narrow goods ribbons, tapes, braids, fringes, 
laces, galloons, etc., which were all woven in single 
widths, far exceeded that of the weavers of broad silks 
for dresses, hangings, furniture, etc. When, however, 
after much opposition, the loom for weaving narrow 
goods, in several breadths at one operation, was 
introduced, the narrow branch of weaving sank into 
insignificance, in point of the number of operatives 
employed by comparison with the broad weaving 

At the present time almost all narrow goods are woven 

on power-looms, governed by Jacquard or other machines, 

thirty or forty breadths at a time. In the very best 

Survival work, however, and for special upholstery orders the 

of old ancient method of weaving one breadth at a time is still 

methods, in use, and it is interesting to know that within a hundred 

* See Handloom Weaving, Luther Hooper. 
t See Chapter 1. 

Plate XLVIL 

Weaver of Narrow Webs. 


yards of Piccadilly Circus, in the heart of London, a Survival 
factory may be found in which such looms as that depicted of old 
in the accompanying illustration are in use. On these methods, 
looms, some of which are more than a hundred years 
old, the pattern is tied up by the weaver himself on the 
harness of string and wood in such a manner as to work 
out automatically, and is woven in single breadths exactly 
as in the old times. The reason for this survival is that 
the trimmings made in this factory, and a few others in 
London, are for special upholstery orders for which only 
comparatively short lengths of a particular design are 
required. All orders for large quantities would now be 
woven on power-looms several breadths at a time. 

The broad silk weaving branch is again sub-divided 
into others for particular kinds of work. There are four 
sub-divisions of broad silk weaving. These are the plain 
and fancy branches for the weaving of dress materials, 
and the plain and figured branches for weaving stuffs 
for furniture and hangings. 

Materials for costume, as well as mixed goods for 
furniture and hangings, are now, for the most part, woven 
in factories on power-looms. A considerable quantity, 
however, of the best webs, especially in the furnishing 
branches of the trade are still made on hand-looms, and 
notwithstanding the perfection to which modern textile 
machinery has attained, there are certain qualities in 
good hand-woven materials which it seems impossible 
to obtain by machine weaving. 

Silk-finishing, as a separate trade, may be regarded as a Silk 
modern branch of silk manufacture, but the after-finishing Finish- 
of certain classes of silk and silk-mixed goods by hot ing. 
pressing and steaming has probably been practised for a 
long period. Well woven webs, in which good silk or 
silk mixed with other yarns has been used, rarely require 
more expert finishing than the weaver himself can give 
them when he has completed the weaving. Inferior 
goods, however, whether their inferiority consists in their 
workmanship or the poverty or adulteration of the 
materials used in their manufacture, invariably owe the 
appearance, which renders them saleable, to the clever 

3 ? 


Silk processes of finishing to which they have been subjected 

Finish- by the expert silk-finisher. At the present time the trade 
ing. of silk-finishing is a very extensive one, and exceedingly" 

ingenious chemical and other processes, as well as expen- 
sive and elaborate machinery, are made use of in the 
factories where it is carried on. 

The other departments of trade depending on silk 
manufacture, mentioned at the beginning of the present 
chapter, do not require detailed description here ; their 
scope and importance will be gathered from references 
to them in succeeding chapters, if they have not already 
been described in the earlier portion of the book. 



It was not until the beginning of the nineteenth century Silk 
that the demand for designs, which had been made possible Design- 
by the mechanical inventions of the eighteenth century for ing. 
the production of pattern in textile work, became so urgent 
that the profession of designer became a separate branch 
of the textile industry. At the same time it is known that 
as early as the first half of the eighteenth century there 
were in Spitalfields a few artists who devoted their talents 
to the production of such designs and drafts as the silk 
weavers from time to time required. 

It is generally supposed that these early designers of 
silk fabrics were all of French nationality, but that this 
is not the case is proved by the existence of a very large 
and beautiful collection of sketches for silken fabrics 
which may be seen in the department of designs and 
drawings of the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

A very valuable purchase of a set of early eighteenth 
century designers' sketch books was made by the 
authorities of the Museum in 1869. The books contain 
more than six hundred designs for silk damasks, brocades, 
brocatelles and all other varieties of figured silk fabrics. 
Each book contained also a beautifully written index, 
with the names of the manufacturers by whom the designs 
were purchased and appropriated. Many of the drawings 
bear interesting written directions for working out the 
drafts on ruled paper, as well as for the mounture or harness 
builder, and the weaver. 



Eight- The earliest of these interesting drawings do not bear 

eenth the names of the designers, but in one dated 1705 the 
Century name of Anna Maria Garthwait appears, and from that 
Designers, time forward most of the drawings are unmistakably by 
her hand. On one of them she has written " Before I 
came to London," and on another " When I was in York- 
shire/' but these brief notes are the only biographical 
references to be found on them. These early designs, 
though very graceful and pretty, are not so particularly 
adapted for reproduction in silk as some of her later work. 
It is most interesting to trace, as it is quite possible 
to do, the gradual development of the artist's power of 
design and adaptability to the requirements of silk textile 
technique. The drawings were all preserved in books 
and carefully numbered and indexed. The name of the 
manufacturer to whom each drawing belonged is also 
given. From this it appears that the method of procedure 
at that time was for the designer to make a freely-drawn 
coloured sketch of the subject as nearly to the size, 
as well as the finished effect of the proposed material as 
possible. If this were approved by the manufacturer, 
the designer proceeded to divide the sketch up into squares 
to correspond with the dividing lines of the ruled paper 
on which the working drawings, or drafts, were to be 
made. Each of these divisions was called a design, and 
as the ruled paper drawing was generally very much larger 
than the sketch or the finished woven design, this ruling in 
of larger squares materially assisted the draft-maker in 
the proportional enlargement of the drawing.* 

When the draft was completed and approved it was 
handed over to the manufacturer, and the original sketch 
replaced in the sketch book and indexed as appro- 
priated by the purchaser. Some of the names which 
appear in these books are to be found in old documents 
of the period. Amongst the signatories of the bye-laws 
Methods of the Weavers' Company, which were issued in 1737, three 
of names occur, Peter Le Keux, in the design book called 

Working. Captain Le Keux, and James Leman, assistants of the 

The draft being divided into equates also assisted the weaver in tying up the design 
on the " simple " cords. 

Figured Velvet Loom, worked by draw boy, before 
the invention of the Jacquard machine. 


Loom for Weaving SiU^ Brocade, worked by the 

same method. 


Court, and Henry Baker, Liveryman. In the index in one 
place, Mr. Baker is also called Captain Baker. These master 
silk weavers were probably captains of the " trained bands " 
so frequently mentioned in eighteenth century records. 

Although so various in style and scale and representing 
the work of over thirty years, most of these drawings appear 
to be by one hand, and point to the fact that Anna Maria 
Garthwait was not only an industrious and prolific artist, An 
but one of great individuality. Born in Yorkshire, and English 
early showing a natural and becoming taste for orna- Lady 
mental design, she removed to London. Here her rare Designer, 
talent for arranging floral design was more or less quickly 
appreciated by manufacturers, to whom she had probably 
been recommended by friends in Yorkshire. After in- 
dustrious application to work and eager study of the tech- 
nicalities of silk -weaving, there came assured success and 
constant employment. The first signed drawing is dated 
1705, and the last 1735, and if the high remuneration paid 
to persons having the rare talent for design, at that time, 
be taken into consideration, we cannot but conclude that 
this enterprising lady's business career during the first 
half of the eighteenth century was most successful. Seldom 
indeed has such a complete record of an artist's work, 
connected with manufacture, been preserved. 

The invention of the Jacquard machine at the end of The 
the eighteenth century, and its introduction to Great Jacquard 
Britain early in the nineteenth, had the effect of vastly Machine, 
increasing the demand for textile designs so that the 
occupation of a designer became one of the most remunera- 
tive to which a youth with a taste for drawing could be 

The fundamental idea of this machine consists in the 
substitution of a band of paper, perforated with holes 
to correspond with the ruled paper draft of the design, 
for the weaver's tie-up on the cords of the simple. This 
device was first applied to the draw-loom in 1725, but 
in 1728 a chain of cards was substituted for the paper 
and a perforated cylinder was also added. * 

* For a description of the draw-loom and its mechanism, see Report of Lectures on the Loom 
and Spindle, by Luther Hooper, Royal Society of Arts, London, 1912 ; also Hand-loom 
Weaving, John Hogg, London, 1911. 



The These early contrivances were placed by the side of the 

Jacquard loom and worked by an assistant. In 1745 Vauconson 
Machine, placed the apparatus at the top of the loom, and caused 
the cylinder to rotate automatically. But it was reserved 
for Jacquard to carry the contrivance to such perfection 
that, although many slight improvements have since been 
made to it, it remains to-day practically the same as when 
it was introduced in 1801, and this notwithstanding 
the astonishing development of textile machinery during 
the nineteenth century and the universal adoption of the 
machine both for hand and power-loom weaving. 

Although the invention was introduced in 1801 to the 
French public, it was not until 1820 that a few Jacquard 
machines were smuggled into England and secretly set 
up. In spite of much opposition, it soon came into 
general use, first and particularly, for hand-looms and 
silk pattern weaving, but afterwards for power-looms, 
so that now all kinds of fancy and ornamental webs are 
woven by its means. 

As a piece of mechanism this machine is a wonderful 
invention. It can be made to govern all the operations 
of the loom except throwing the shuttle and actuating 
the lever by which it is put in operation. It opens the 
shed for the pattern, changes the shuttle boxes in proper 
succession, regulates the take-up of cloth on the front roller 
and works out many other details, all by means of a few 
holes punched in a set of cards. At first the machine was 
only adopted in the silk trade for the weaving of rich bro- 
cades and other elaborate materials for dress or furniture ; 
but, ever since its introduction, its use has been grad- 
ually extending both in hand-loom and power-loom 

The most striking change the use of the Jacquard 

machine effected in the textile arts was the facility it 

gave for quickly substituting one design for another. It 

Influence was only necessary to lift down one endless band or set 

on of cards and substitute another in order to change the 

Design. pattern. 

The result of this facility was that the early part of the 
nineteenth century witnessed a perfect orgie of fantastic, 


inappropriate ornamentation. The manufacturers of all Influence 
sorts of ornamental silk and fine woollen textiles vied on 
with each other in the number and originality of their Design, 
designs. The profession of designer may almost be said 
to be an outcome of Jacquard's invention. Previously 
to this time the master weaver, or some person in practical 
touch with the looms, had arranged or adapted the design, 
which, when tied up on the loom, was in some cases good 
for a lifetime, and a few good designs were all that a 
master weaver required. But with the introduction of the 
new draw-engine, as the machine was called, all this was 
altered and a restless change of pattern and fashion in 
design was the result. 

In a sensible article deprecating this state of things, 
a writer in the Journal of Designs, April, 1849, says : 
" Nothing would be a better comment upon our previous 
remarks as to the inordinate desire for new patterns than 
the sight of our table loaded with spring novelties ; it 
would at once illustrate the present aimlessness of design, 
and the hopelessness of any good arising with such a 
condition of trade. Novelty ! Give us novelty ! seems 
to be the cry, and good or bad, if that be obtained, the 
public seems to be satisfied ; perhaps we should say 
that the bad, being generally the most extravagant is 
the most satisfactory to the ignorant public ; and that 
nothing is too outre to be purchased aye, and even worn 
by those who would be indignant were their good taste 
called in question." 

In another part of the Journal it is stated that a Common's Vicious 
paper in 1846 (No. 445), reports that, out of 8,000 designs Fashions, 
registered, 7,000 belonged to woven fabrics, 500 to 
paperhangings, 175 to metal work, and the remainder to 
pottery, glass, etc. At the same time the Customs report 
of the value of exports confirms the statement, for textile 
exports were valued at 29,000,000, metals 7,000,000, 
and pottery, glass, etc., 1,000,000. 

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries designing for 
textiles and other manufactures was rightly considered 
to be a most important part of the manufacturing 
business. The designer's shop was looked upon as one 


Status of the principal departments of the factory or group of 

of the factories with which it was connected. Young people 

early aspiring to this highly paid work were carefully selected, 

Designer, and, after a preliminary trial, formally apprenticed for 

seven years to learn the business. High premiums were 

often paid for this introduction to and training for a lucrative 

occupation. It is a pity that so few of the original drawings 

produced in these old designing shops have been preserved, 

for those that have escaped destruction, such as the 

Garthwait collection already described, are of the highest 

excellence and entirely appropriate for the materials for 

which they were designed. 

As soon as the Jacquard machine was introduced, the 
demand for original designs so vastly increased that the 
drawing departments of the manufactories to a great 
extent discontinued the work of designing and were entirely 
occupied in translating the more or less amateurish sketches 
of the numerous tribe of artists who, without any technical 
training, found it profitable to make designs and carry 
them round for sale to the various manufacturers. To 
this casual system of originating patterns for textile and 
other manufactures, many are inclined to attribute the 
terrible state of degradation to which the art of ornamental 
designing had fallen by the middle of the last century. 
It was from this state that the National System of Art 
Education, after much mistaken policy and many futile 
experiments, as well as the teaching and example of such 
artists as Digby Wyatt, Owen Jones, Charles Dresser, 
William Morris, Walter Crane, and many others whose 
The names are associated with the revival of arts in England, 

Degrada- raised the art of commercial designing to the undoubtedly 
tion of high position it had reached by the beginning of the present 
Design. century. 



The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed the 
passing away of the old class of small master craftsmen and 
the organisers of domestic manufacture as already described, 
as well as the establishment of the new order of great 
manufacturer. It was the members of this new order 
who, adopting all kinds of inventions and scientific pro- 
cesses, built large factories, filled them with machinery, 
sought out all new inventions, employed multitudes of 
" hands," opened trading accounts with the whole world, 
and proudly set Great Britain in the fore-front amongst 
the nations in manufacture and commerce. 

Owing to the value of the raw material of silken thread, 
and the skill and delicacy required in its manipulation, 
the silk weaving trade was slow to adopt the changes 
which in other branches of textile work had so rapidly 
taken place. Writing as late as 1831, Mr. Porter, in his 
treatise on silk manufacture, says that " it is doubtful 
whether the use of the power-loom, however it may be 
modified, is susceptible of much extension in any save the 
commonest branches of the silk manufacture." 

Since the time that the above was written the improve- Intro- 
ments in weaving silk by power have been so rapid and duction 
so successful that now almost all plain and fancy silk of the 
dress materials, as well as low-class furniture silks and Power- 
silk mixed goods are woven by power in large factories. loom. 

In the preface of a publication written by the late 
Sir Thomas Wardle, in which he describes the improve- 
ments in power-looms which he saw in France in 1890, 




Intro- the author writes as follows : " The object of this brochure 

duction is simply to call the attention of the British silk manu- 

of the facturer to the gradual but certain displacement by the 

Power- power-loom of the traditional hand-loom for silk weaving 

loom. for which Lyons has for centuries been so famous, and to 

show how economics in production in silk weaving are 

being effected by the change/' One of the changes 

referred to by Sir Thomas was the replacing in France of 

the old style of domestic manufacture by a counterpart of 

that which obtained in England through the machine factory 


In recent years, therefore, not only in England and 
France, but wherever silk is woven to a large extent, 
the hand-loom is giving place to the power-loom, and the 
system of domestic weaving to factory work. The triumph 
of the factory system over that of domestic manufacture 
is, perhaps, more pronounced than that of the power-loom 
over the hand-loom, for in those branches of the trade 
where the hand-loom still holds its own, the hand-looms 
fitted with Jacquard machines are for the most part grouped 
together in large factories where better oversight and 
superior economic arrangements are possible. 

Although it was in London that one of the first large 
silk-weaving factories was established, more than three- 
quarters of a century ago, the system has seldom proved 
a success in this ancient centre of the silk trade. Most 
of the factories since set up have been small branches of 
larger ones established by firms in the provinces. 
First The first important and successful silk-weaving factory 

London in London was that of Messrs. Walters and Sons after- 
Factory, wards known as Stephen Walters and Sons. This was 
established in the year 1824. Shortly after that date, 
however, the firm established another factory at Ket- 
tering, where power-looms were set up, whilst in the 
London factory only hand-looms were used. Messrs. T. 
Kemp and Sons also had, a few years after, a small silk 
factory in Spitalfields and an extensive one at Sudbury in 
Suffolk. The Spitalfields factory was established about 
1830, and the Sudbury one was organised rather later. 
Messrs. Vavasseur and Rix's London factory established 


in 1850, was first fitted up with hand-looms only, but The 

afterwards power-looms were introduced. This firm is Modern 

still carrying on business in the old district, and owns Industry. 

the only old established silk factory in London still at 

work. Silk factories were also started and carried on 

more or less successfully for some years by Messrs. Robinson 

and Co., Sanderson and Reed, Foot and Sons, and J. Kemp 

and Co. At a much later date, Messrs. Bailey, Fox and Co. 

opened a factory chiefly for power-loom weaving in Old 


The organisation of a modern silk factory on a large 
scale differs little, if any, from that for the manufacture 
of any other modern commodity of commerce. Such a 
business, if it is to succeed under the stress of modern 
conditions, requires an ample supply of free capital, so 
that the management may be relieved from the strain 
of mere finance and be able to make purchases to the 
best advantage and to take all the discounts which are 
associated with orders for cash or prompt payment. The 
foundations of success lie in the ability to buy the necessary 
raw materials at the right time, in the best way and on 
the most advantageous terms. 

The site selected for the factory should be in a neigh- 
bourhood where there is an ample supply of water suitable 
for use in dyeing operations, but, unfortunately, in Great 
Britain it is almost impossible to find a district where 
water can be used for power purposes except at inter- 
mittent periods. The factory should also be built in a 
district which is as free as possible from the grime and 
smoke of great centres of population, and yet at the same 
time in a locality where there is a plentiful supply of 
the right type of female labour. It has been stated, and 
the available statistics support the contention, that the 
silk trade gives employment to a higher proportion of 
female labour to male labour than almost any other British 
industry, the ratio of women to men so employed being A 
about eleven to five. An ideal factory should, and indeed Field 
does, enable every operation from the time the raw for 
material enters the works until the finished product is Women 
consigned to the customer, to be performed. In order Workers. 


Self- that the manufacturing operations may be properly carried 

contained out, and advantage taken of the latest applications of 
Organisa- science to industry, the works must possess an adequate 
tion. staff thoroughly trained on the technical side and the 

necessary number of skilled workers. 

The various stages of the work in a modern silk factory 
consist of the throwing or the spinning of the raw materials, 
as described in earlier chapters.* The equipment of the 
factory comprises machinery for the winding, warping, 
and beaming of the silk, as well as for weaving, dyeing, 
finishing, printing, blocking, folding or boxing. This chain 
of operations implies a large expenditure, not merely in 
providing the main machinery, but the auxiliary plant 
necessary for repair work, as well as other auxiliary 
mechanics' shops. In addition there would be a card- 
cutting shop and departments for the building of the 
mounture and the harness and for the processes of warp 
cleaning and entering. 

The general management of such a business should be 
in the hands of broad-minded, energetic, capable men, 
who would take care that the high standard of efficiency 
they set for themselves should be present in the depart- 
mental managers and in all sections of the business. The 
technical staff would naturally include a works chemist, 
as well as a laboratory, in which research work could be 
carried out under the supervision of the technical expert. 
There should also be a designer's studio and a draughts- 
man's atelier for the preparation and extension of the 
designs on the ruled paper. If the firm is to be a successful 
enterprise, equal care should be bestowed on the selection 
of those responsible for the commercial side of the under- 
taking. There should be a complete organisation for 
dealing with the finished products in home and foreign 
markets. Those engaged in overseas trade should be able 
to speak and read the necessary foreign languages, and 
The have instilled into them the necessity for quoting to 

Com- foreign buyers in the currency of the country which is 
mercial being canvassed for business, and to meet in other ways 
Side. the wishes of customers abroad. 

* Silk-throwing, see Chapters XVIII and XXXIV. Silk-spinning, see Chapters XX 
and XXXIII. 


Beyond all this, the management should be ready to 
adapt itself to changes of fashion and to initiate new modes 
by showing originality in cloth construction and in design 
and colour effects. There should also be evident a willing- 
ness to scrap machinery the moment it shows signs of being 
out of date, and only to work with the most modern 
equipment. There are, fortunately, in Great Britain many 
factories which fulfil these somewhat exacting require- 
ments, and which have attained prosperity by a rigid 
observance of the conditions on which success is founded. 

The factory system made more rapid progress in the 
provinces than in London when modern methods of manu- 
facture began to permeate the industry. At Leek, Lead 
Macclesfield, Coventry and Manchester the power-loom from 
was adopted at an earlier date, and forced upon manu- the 
facturers the employment of the factory system. In the Pro- 
early stages of the industrial revolution, of which one of vinces. 
the chief outward signs was the building of workshops 
where large numbers of machines could be installed, there 
was a partial attempt, to which reference is made in the 
chapter* dealing with the particular centre of the industry, 
to combine the power system with cottage working, and for 
this purpose arrangements were made for a supply of 
power to be available in the homes of the workpeople. 
Modern business conditions, however, demand that manu- 
facturing costs shall be reduced to the lowest possible 
level, and this result can only be achieved by the con- 
centration of work in a factory established and managed 
on the lines indicated and in which the various stages of 
manufacture are under constant and skilled supervision. 

* Chapter XI, "The Coventry Ribbon Trade." 




The old The difference between the old and new methods of 

type of manufacture and their effect on the persons employed 

Worker, in them is strikingly illustrated by the general characteristics 

of the hand-loom silk weaver of the old style and the 

machine factory operative of the present day. 

The manipulation and management of a complicated 
silk hand-loom required a high degree of skill, delicacy 
of handling, patience and ingenuity on the part of the 
weaver; the result was that the old hand-loom silk 
weavers, especially those engaged in the higher branches 
of this interesting employment, were, for the most part, 
men of character and high ideals. They loved nature, 
poetry, philosophy and science, a fact proved not only by 
the many literary and scientific clubs and societies which 
flourished in old Spitalfields, but by the honourable roll of 
weavers who have distinguished themselves in various 
departments of art, science and invention. 

A Lancashire writer contrasting the old and new style 
of cotton and linen weaver in that county says : " The 
Old Handloom weavers were broad-minded and had 
visions of a world happy in the beauty of brotherhood, 
lofty conceptions of the purpose of existence and high 
hopes for the future destiny of the human race ; whilst 
the factory operatives of to-day are narrow and un- 
developed in mind and body. They, as a class, ignore 
Mechan- all serious thought or study in their leisure hours, and 
ism and seek all that is frothy and exciting in amusement and 
Mentality literature. Put into concise summary, the factory peoples' 




houses, clothing, food, education, amusement, morals, 
and religion are all manufactured goods mixed with a 
deal of shoddy. The stuffiness, narrowness, frailness and 
machine automatism of the factory are part of their lives 
and souls. In short the factory folk have been reduced 
as far as their work is concerned literally from human 
beings into mere hands." 

The depressing contrast between the old hand-loom 
weavers and the modern factory hand is still more 
pronounced in the higher branches of the silk trade. A 
vivid picture of a silk weaver and his environment, as well 
as many interesting references to the state of trade at the 
end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the 
nineteenth, is given in a rare pamphlet preserved in 
the Guildhall Library, London. 

Samuel Sholl, the author of the pamphlet,* was, as he 
tells us, "born at Taunton in Somersetshire, on the 
28th January, 1752, of poor though not mean parents." 
Both his father and mother were weavers and belonged 
to families in which weaving was the traditional occupa- 
tion. Like most of the children of the working classes 
of his time, he had very little schooling. 

Young Sholl continued with his parents, and took very 
kindly to his father's trade, especially to the inventive 
part of it. Before he was able, for lack of strength, 
actually to weave, he could, as he writes, " put up a foot 
figure," which means that he could, reading from a sketch, 
tie the headles and treadles of a loom together in such a 
way that when the treadles were worked in a certain order 
by the weaver, a small ornamental pattern could be 

Samuel, when fourteen years of age, feeling himself 
capable of working at his father's trade, and having his 
parents' consent, left home and made his way to London. 
There he soon found that he was less proficient in the trade 
than he had supposed and underwent much privation. 
However, he learnt much more of his business, gained 
experience of life, and by application and economy, as he 

* A Short History of the Silk Manufacture in, England, by Samuel Sholl. Printed and 
published in Brick Lane, London, 1811. 

ism and 




Extracts says, " surmounted all his troubles." Although he found 
from work in various shops, Sholl did not remain very long 

an old in London. He had an offer of a good situation in his 
Pamphlet, native town, which he accepted. 

At this time Sholl says of himself : " I was always fond 
of old men's company, and used to think they knew every- 
thing better than myself, in fact I used to think this of 
every person I met. It took me a considerable time to 
persuade myself out of this opinion. However, as various 
things in so large a town as Taunton were frequently 
wanted, I thought, after some inspection, that I could 
make improvements in looms and weavers' tools. Thus, 
under every disadvantage, I became handicraftsman, and 
by the time I was twenty-one could make and mend 
looms, shuttles, etc. I soon provided myself with such 
a set of tools that I could do almost anything that weavers 

Thus prospering in Taunton, Sholl, before he was 

twenty took to himself a wife. Mrs. Sholl had a sister 

living in London, married to a silk weaver, and from this 

London sister she constantly received glowing descriptions of the 

in the attractions of the great City and the advantages of a 

18th silk weaver's occupation and chances there. After he had 

Century, been married five years, Sholl, in response to a pressing 

invitation from his brother-in-law, and at the earnest 

desire of his wife, was persuaded against his inclination 

again to try his fortune in London. Accordingly, on 

July 23rd, 1776, he set off by himself, having sold his goods 

and left his wife and children with his parents till he could 

arrange to send for them. 

Sholl was disappointed at first by finding that his wife's 
relations could not help him to any work, but after a good 
deal of privation and ill-health, which he describes in 
detail with gruesome enjoyment, he at length got into 
regular employment as a silk weaver, sent for his wife and 
children, set up his home and little workshop in Bethnal 
Green, where he continued, made many friends, and brought 
up his family. Sholl soon became known in the weaving 
district as a skilful silk weaver and an ingenious inventor, 
as well as an organizer of Weavers' Clubs and Benefit 



Societies. One of his inventions was an improved loom London 
for silk weaving, for which the Society of Arts in 1789 in the 
awarded him a silver medal and thirty guineas.* 18th 
Remarking on this, he quaintly says : " It may be proper Century, 
here to say a word or two by way of caution to young 
men of a speculative turn or their ingenuity may otherwise 
prove a serious injury to them, as has been the case with 
many to my knowledge. This imprudence has prevented 
others from meeting with that assistance which might 
have been useful to them and beneficial to the community. 
I well weighed any projects before I set out, and always 
found the trouble worth the pains. My plan was to get 
up early, perform a certain portion of work, and thereby 
earn sufficient to pay every one their just due, then devote 
the remainder of the day to my speculations/'f I n com- 
mon with so many mechanicians, Sholl sometimes found 
that others had been before him. This was the case, 
he tells us, with one of his most brilliant inventions, but 
the nature of it he does not describe. 

On the whole, the autobiography graphically portrays a 
skilful, ingenious, self-respecting, Calvinistic but not un- 
kindly respectable artisan of the period in which he 
lived. He may be taken as a type of the best class of silk 
weavers at the end of the eighteenth century and the 
beginning of the nineteenth. 

The pamphlet is rounded off at the end with a few pages 
of moral reflections, concluding thus : " I have done 
with temporal things. They were of use to me to procure 
a livelihood, but now I have done Farewell ! All is A 
worn out with me. Weaver 

My Loom's entirely out of square, and a 

My rollers now wormeaten are ; Philoso- 

My clamps and treadles they are broke, pher, 

My battons they won't strike a stroke ; 
My porry's covered with the dust, 
My shears and pickers eat with rust ; 

* Society of Arts Report. 

f It is similarly recorded of Samuel Crompton, the inventor of the mule for spinning, that 
his mother, though always kind, was strict and insisted that he should weave a certain length 
of cloth daily. He was then allowed to amuse himself with mechanical speculations and 





and a 


My reed and harness are worn out, 
My wheel won't turn a quill about ; 
My shuttle's broke, my glass is run, 
My drolie's shot my cane is done." 

The first part of the pamphlet written by Samuel Sholl 
is of great value and interest to the student of industrial 
development. It gives a vivid and evidently truthful 
account, from the operative silk weaver's point of view, 
of the attempts made by the most intelligent workmen 
to maintain their privileges and customs, to improve 
themselves in the technicalities of their trade, to maintain 
a fair price for their work, and to defend themselves 
against foreign competition at a time when, from 
causes which have already been discussed, the silk industry 
of Spitalfields was gradually declining. It is possible to 
gather from this artless but graphic account by the illiterate 
but ingenious silk weaver some of the admirable char- 
acteristics of the author and his associates, and one cannot 
but admire the courage, self denial and perseverance which 
they displayed in their endeavours to carry out schemes 
for bettering the conditions of their fellow workers, not- 
withstanding the fact that most of their plans fell short 
of success. 

A consideration of this part of the pamphlet rightly 
belongs to the section treating of Trade Unions, and will 
be found in Chapter XXXIX, p. 494, but it may with 
advantage be read at this point in the above connection. 

It would be easy, were it necessary, to multiply instances 
of the admirable characteristics of those who followed the 
gentle craft of silk weaving under the old regime. The 
annals of the Royal Society of Arts and many other 
learned societies record the names of operative silk 
weavers who were awarded medals and money prizes for 
additions to the mechanism of the loom, for new pro- 
cesses of weaving, for inventions or improvements of tools, 
or for their achievements in mathematics, astronomy, 
natural history and other branches of science. These 
things apart, however, from the old silk weaving trade, 
when thoroughly mastered and industriously practised under 


a good employer, must have been full of interest and have A 

had a refining influence. Few of this old breed of silk vanished 

weavers are left, although they often lived to a great age. Type. 

One such died a year or two ago who had been weaving 

for just upon ninety years. Amongst the things he had 

treasured were a most interesting collection of samples 

of the work he had done, drafts for tie-ups, which he and 

his father before him had used, as well as tools and all 

sort$ of small weaving appliances. He had begun life 

as a drawboy,* and had worked his way up to a perfect 

mastery of the weavers' craft in several of its branches. 

In contrast to the variety and interesting activity 
of the life of the old hand-loom silk weaver, the work of 
the machine factory hand in a great silk-weaving mill 
would appear to be drab and uninteresting. The modern 
silk loom almost does the work by itself with unerring 
exactness. Everything is most carefully prepared before 
the silk is put into the loom by different workers, 
each trained to do only one small thing and to do 
it perfectly. Several looms are supervised by a mechan- 
ical engineer, whose duty is to keep all their parts in 
working order. One set of workers spend all their time 
clearing the warp threads that is cutting out knots 
and small knubs of untwisted silk as these would hinder 
the weaving by frequently breaking the threads when 
brought into contact with the harness and reed. Another 
class, called joiners or twisters, joins the new warp, thread 
by thread, to the old warp ends, which are left in the loom 
for that purpose. The actual weaver has little to do 
but keenly watch the loom, hour after hour, as it works, The 
on the look-out for broken threads of warp and weft, modern 
and for the emptying of the spools in the shuttles. It is factory 
one of the ironies of industry that the supreme skill of hand, 
one man in devising new mechanical processes will often 
reduce his fellow workers to the rank of machine minders, 
until fresh channels for the exercise of their skill can be 
opened up. 

* A weaver's assistant, whose duty was to draw the cards in order to form the design. 


Although it has been necessary in previous sections 
of this history to refer incidentally to the action of 
Parliament in relation to manufacture and trade, it has 
not been possible to convey to the reader a clear con- 
ception of the amount of consideration given to the subject 
of silk and its manipulation by the British Legislature, 
nor to give any adequate idea of the number and wide 
scope of the statutes which have been passed from time 
to time. 

From the date of the Great Charter, and even in earlier 
years, a very large proportion of the enactments agreed to 
by to quote from the preamble of the first statute of 
Edward 1, 1275 "the King and Council with Archbishops, 
Bishops, Abbotts, Priors, Earls, Barons, and all the com- 
monalty of the Realm," were for the regulation of the prices 
of the necessaries of life bread, meat, wine, beer, etc., 
the price, methods and details of unskilled labour and handi- 
craft, and the rights, duties, responsibilities and limitations 
Legisla- of masters and servants and of traders and trading, 
tion The Statute Book of the reign of Edward III is particu- 

m the larly rich in records of this kind of legislation ; no 
Four- less than one hundred and forty statutes relating to 
teenth trade are there stated to have been discussed by Par- 
Century, liament and confirmed by that monarch during the 
fifty years of his reign 1327 to 1377. Two-thirds of 
these laws had reference to textile manufacture, and 
amongst them the first actual reference to silk occurs, 
as stated in the chapter on " Beginning of Silk 



Industry." The text of this interesting statute freely 
translated from the antique French, in which it is written, 
is as follows : 

" 37 Edward III, Cap. VI. Made at Westminster. 
" Handicraftsmen shall use but one Mystery, but 

Handiworkwomen may work as they did. 
" It is ordained that artificers or handicraftsmen, 
merchants and shopkeepers shall be restricted to 
working or trading in one kind of manufactured 
goods only. They shall declare their choice before 
the feast of Candlemas to a Justice of the Peace. 
The Justices are directed to punish offenders against 
the Statute by imprisonment for half a year, or 
a fine at their discretion. But the intention of the 
King and his Council is that female brewers, bakers, 
weavers, spinsters and other women employed upon 
works in wool, linen or silk, in embroidery and 
all other handiwork may work freely as they used 
to do before this time." 

From this time forward (1363) there are occasional 
references to silk in the statutes, especially in the laws 
which were framed for the purpose of regulating the 
traffic of foreign merchants and the dress of different 
orders and classes of persons. For instance, in the 
ordinance for " The Diet and Apparel of Servants," after 
directing that the servants of the gentry are not to be 
extravagantly fed or clothed, but are to be treated in 
accordance with the estate of their masters, it is expressly 
forbidden that their garments should be embroidered 
with gold, silver or silk." Other statutes direct that 
neither handicraftsmen nor yeomen nor their wives or 
children are to wear silk in any form. Again, " gentlemen 
under the estate of knights," unless they own " two hundred 
mark land " may not wear " cloth of gold, silk or silver 
embroidered vesture." Those having the latter qualifica- 
tion, however, may wear " cloth of silk and a ribbon 
sash reasonably garnished with silver." 

There is no direct reference to silk manufacture or 
silk workers in the printed statutes for nearly a century 
from the date of 39 Edward III, Cap. VI, where women 

in the 

ence to 



workers in silk are first mentioned. It is certain, however, 
that the trade was gradually growing in importance, 
Protec- and that it was regulated, together with other branches of 
tion for textile work, by the laws and ordinances made for the 
English governance of handicraftsmen in general. In 1455 
Traders. (33 Henry VI) an urgent appeal to Parliament for pro- 
tection against the competition of foreign traders, who 
brought ready wrought silken goods into the country, 
was made by the silk women and spinsters of the City of 
London. They complained that great detriment was 
done to their industry by the intrusion of these strangers. 
The appeal was successful, as described in the section 
on alien immigration, and an experimental measure to 
take effect for five years was ordained for their 

Arguments for and against prohibition, protection, 
reciprocity and free trade, not only as regards foreign 
countries, but between different home districts, seem 
to have exercised the minds of our forefathers and the 
ingenuity of their law-makers to a great extent. Previous 
to the reign of Edward III the disputes which required 
authoritative adjustment and regulation were for the 
most part between the municipalities and the more or 
less organised trade guilds and fraternities, or between 
handicraftsmen or traders engaged in different branches 
of manufacture and commerce. With the accession of 
that monarch, however, an advance from a municipal to a 
national commercial policy took place ; and foreign artificers 
were invited to settle in England, in spite of the persistent 
opposition of the guilds of native merchants and craftsmen 
Politics to the settlement of the strangers. The general action of the 
and King in Council, as proved by the frequent confirmation 

Industry, of the edicts in its favour, was also towards freedom of 
import and export trade. It is true that occasional 
ordinances were promulgated prohibiting the import or 
export of certain commodities, but these had usually 
some political bearing, as when the export of wool 
from Great Britain to Flanders was forbidden in order 
to force the Flemings to abandon the French Alliance. 


A good specimen of the early statutes which embody Politics 
this generous policy in regard to foreign merchants and crafts- and 
men is furnished by Cap. I. of the 2nd of Richard II (1378). Industry. 
This is also interesting as giving in its preamble a graphic 
idea of the opposition of the native craftsmen and traders 
to the intrusion of strangers. The statute may indeed 
be quoted almost at length, with advantage. It read : 
" Statutes made at Gloucester, Anno 2 Rich. II, 
A.D. 1378. 

" Our Lord the King, at his Parliament holden at 
Gloucester the Wednesday next after the Feast 
of St. Luke, the second year of his Reign, amongst 
other things there assented and accorded, hath made 
certain Statutes and Ordinances, as well for the 
common Profit of the Realm, as for the main- 
tenance of Peace in his said Realm, in the form 
following : 

Cap. I. 
" All Merchants may buy and sell within the Realm 

without Disturbance. 

" First. Because that before this time in the time 
of the noble King Edward, Grandfather of our 
Lord the King that now is, in his Parliaments 
holden at York and Westminster, and also in 
this present Parliament, great complaint hath 
been made to our said Lord, for that in many 
Citties, Boroughs, Ports of the Sea, and other 
Places within the Realm of England, great damages 
and outrageous grievances have been, and yet be 
done, to the King and to all his Realm, by the 
Citizens, Burgesses and other people of the Citties, 
Boroughs, and other Towns and Places aforesaid, A 
which have not suffered, nor yet will not suffer Notable 
Merchants, Strangers, nor other that do bring, carry Enact- 
or convey by sea or by land Wines, avoir de pois ment. 
Sustenance, Victuals, or other things vendable, 
profitable, and necessary, as well for the King, 
the Prelates, and Lords, as for all the Common- 
alty of this Land, to sell or deliver the said 
Wines, Sustenance, or Victuals, nor other things 





A Wel- 
come to 

vendable to any other than to them of the same 
Cities, Boroughs, Ports of the Sea, and other places, 
to which such Wines, Sustenance, Victuals, or other 
things vendable were and be brought, carried and 

" (2) And by so much those things have been, and 
yet be sold and let to the King, to his Lords and 
to all his People, by the hands of the Citoyens, 
Burgesses and other people Denizens, to a great 
and excessive Dearth over that they should have 
been, if the Merchant Strangers and other which 
bring such things into the Realm might freely 
have sold them to whom they would. 

" (3) They also would not nor yet will suffer the Mer- 
chant Strangers that do come, or would come 
within the Realm, to buy woolls and other Mer- 
chandises growing within the Realm, to go, travel 
and merchandise, or abide freely as they were wont 
to do, to the great damage of the King, Prelates, 
of the Lords and all the Realm, and against the 
common profit, and against the Statutes and Or- 
dinances thereof made in times past in the said 
two Parliaments. 

" (4) Our Lord the King considering clearly the coming 
of Merchant Strangers within the Realm to be 
very profitable for many causes to all the Realm, 
by the assent of the Prelates, Dukes, Earls, Barons, 
and the Commons of the Realm, hath ordained 
and established that all Merchants, Aliens, of 
what Realms, Countries, or Seigniories that they 
come, which be at amity with the King, and of 
this Realm, may from henceforth safely and 
surely come within the Realm of England, and in 
all Cities, Boroughs, Ports of the Sea, Fairs, 
Markets, or other Places within the Realm, within 
Franchise and without, and abide with their goods 
and all Merchandises under the safeguard and pro- 
tection of the King as long as they shall please 
them, without disturbance or denying of any 


" (5) And that as well those Merchants, Aliens and A Wei- 
Denizens, and every of them that will buy and come to 
sell corn, Flesh, Fish, and all Manner of other Merchant 
Victuals and Sustenance, and also all manner of Strangers. 
Spicereis, Fruit, Fur, and all manner of Small 
Wares, as Silk, Gold Wire or Silver Wire, Cover- 
chiefs, and other such small ware, may from hence- 
forth freely and without denying or any manner 
. of disturbance as well in the City of London as 
in all Cities, Boroughs, Ports of the Sea, Fairs, 
Markets, and other places within the Realm, Sell 
and Buy in Gross and in Parcels to whom and of 
whom they please, Denizens or Foreign. 

" (6) Except the King's Enemies and except that all 
manner of Wines shall be sold by the said 
Strangers in gross and by whole vessels and not 
by retale by any in the said Cities, Boroughs and 
other Towns Franchised, but only by the inhabi- 
tants and Freemen of the same. 

" (7) And as to all other great wares as Cloth of Gold 
and Silver, Silk, Sendal, Napery, Linen Cloth, 
Canvas, and other such great wares, and also all 
manner of other great Merchandises not above ex- 
pressed whatsoever they be, from henceforth as 
well aliens as Denizens, as well in the City of Home 
London as in other Cities, Boroughs, Ports of the Re- 
Sea, Towns, Fairs, Markets and Elsewhere through tailers 
the said Realm, within Franchise and without, may Pro- 
sell the same in gross to every person foreign or tected. 
Denizen that will buy the same free and without 
denying (except to the King's Enemies and their 
Realms) as well as by the Bale, Cloth, or by whole 
Pieces at their pleasure, and not at Retail, upon 
pain of Forfeiture of the same Merchandises, but 
only the Citizens and in their own Cities and 
Boroughs, and other good Towns franchised, to 
whom (and to none other strange merchant of 
their Franchise) they may. 

" (8) And it shall be lawful for them without Impeach- 
ment, to unfold, undo, and cut in their same proper 







Cities, and Boroughs, the great Merchandises and 
other great wares aforesaid, and as well the same, 
as Wines and other Merchandises whatsoever there 
to sell in gross and by retail at their pleasure, 
paying all the Customs and Subsidies due, notwith- 
standing any Statutes, Ordinances, Charters, 
Judgments, Allowances, Customs, and Usages 
made or suffered to the contrary. 

(9) Which Charters and Franchises, if any there be, 
they shall be utterly repealed and annulled, as a 
thing made, used, or granted against the common 
Profit of the People. 

(10) Saving always to Prelates and Lords of the Realm 
wholly their liberties and Franchises, that they 
may make their purveyances and Buyings of 
Victuals, and of other their necessaries, as they 
were wont to do in old time. 

(11) And saving that the Ordinances made before 
this time of the Staple of Calais be holden in their 
force and virtue. 

(12) And it is not the King's mind, that Merchants, 
Strangers or Denizens, that will buy and sell their 
Woolls, Woollfels, Wares, Cloths, Iron and other 
Merchandises, at Fairs and Markets in the Country, 
should be restrained or disturbed by this Statute 
to sell or buy freely in gross or at retail as they 
were wont to do heretofore. 

(13) And if it so happen, that from henceforth Dis- 
turbance be made to any Merchant, Alien or 
Denizen, or other, upon the sale of such things 
in City, Borough, Town, Port of the Sea or other 
place that hath Franchise, against the form of 
this Ordinance ; and the Mayor, Bailiffs, or other 
that have the keeping of such Franchise, required 
by the said Merchants or other in their name, 
thereof to make remedy, do not the same, and 
thereof be attainted the Franchise shall be seized 
into the King's hand ; and nevertheless, they that 
have done such Disturbance against this Statute, 
shall be bound to render and restore to the Plaintiff 


his double damages that he hath suffered by this Regula- 
occasion. tions for 

" (14) And if such disturbance be made to such mer- Alien 
chants or to other in Towns and Places where no Traders. 
Franchise is, and the Lord, if he be present, or his 
Bailiff or Constable or other Warden of the Towns 
and Places, in absence of the Lords thereof, 
required to do Right and do not, and therefor 
be duly attainted, they shall yield to the Plaintiff 
his double Damages, as afore is said, and the 
Disturbers in the one case and in the other, as well 
within Franchise or without if they be attainted 
shall have one year's imprisonment and be ran- 
somed at the King's will. 

" (15) And it is ordained and established that the 
Chancellor, Treasurer, and Justices assigned to hold 
Pleas of the Bang in the places where they come, 
shall diligently inquire of such Disturbances and 
grievances, and do Punishment according as afore 
is ordained. 

" (16) And nevertheless the King shall assign by Com- 
mission certain people, where and when shall please 
him, to inquire of such Disturbances and griev- 
ances, and to punish the offenders in this particular 
as before is said." 

Two interesting points in the above Statute, amongst Effect on 
many others, are : (1) The Freedom of Trading by Alien Home 
Merchants set forth in the Act was such as would only Industry, 
affect the rich wholesale Merchants of the cities and sea- 
ports, and not the local retail traders who alone had the 
right of cutting up bales of cloth and parcels of goods 
and selling stuff by the yard or small weight or measure. 
(2) The lists of wares mentioned in clauses 5 and 7, small 
and great wares, in both of which classes silk holds a 
most important place. 

This Act of Richard II, which embodied in itself all 
the previous political legislation as regards trading and 
the treatment of alien merchants, may be taken as setting 
forth the prevailing attitude of the English lawmakers 


Effect on in those respects throughout the following centuries. 
Home It is true that owing to local complaints and agitation, 
Industry, in seasons of more or less temporary distress, petitions 
were often made to the authorities to curtail the privileges 
of alien merchants and craftsmen, to whose operations and 
competition were generally, and very naturally, attributed 
the distressful circumstances of the petitioners. More 
or less temporary and local edicts were, on such demands 
frequently issued; a common reason for the departure 
from the ordinary policy being, that, " the poor people 
may be set on work." Legislation, however, limiting the 
liberties of foreign craftsmen or merchants was clearly 
the exception rather than the rule, and there are indications 
that whenever these demands were acceded to, to any 
great extent, or for any long period, the trades and crafts 
which they affected gradually declined in point of 
excellence of workmanship. 

Although the good treatment of foreign merchants would 
appear to be sufficiently provided for in the statute quoted, 
it was evidently found necessary, probably because the 
law was not strictly enforced and had fallen into abeyance, 
to restate more clearly this provision of the Ordinance 
in the fifth year of Richard II. An Act passed by Par- 
liament in that year was as follows : 

Laws " First it is accorded and assented in the Parliament, 

not that all manner of Merchants Strangers, of what- 

Enforced. soever nation or country they be, being in amity 

of the King and of his Realm, shall be welcome, 
and freely may come within the Realm of England 
and elsewhere within the King's power, as well 
within Franchise as without, and there to be 
conversant, to merchandise and tarry, as long as 
them liketh, as those whom the said Lord the King 
by the tenour hereof, taketh into his protection 
and safeguard, with their goods, merchandises 
and all manner of familiars. (2) And for so much 
the King willeth and commandeth that they and 
every of them be well, friendly and merchant-like 
intreated and demeaned in all parts within his 
said Realm and Power, with their Merchandises 


and all manner of Goods, and suffered to go and Laws 
come, and unto their proper Country peacefully not 
to return, without disturbance or Impeachment Enforced, 
of any." 

Nor did this suffice, for in the eleventh year of the 
reign of Richard II it was again found necessary to re- 
state the whole Statute, and still further to strengthen it 
by many references to the statutes of the " Noble King 
Edward, Grandfather to the King that now is," in which 
full freedom and protection was given to the alien merchants 
to traverse the land and to seU their merchandise whole- 
sale where they would. It ended with the clear announce- 
ment in Clauses 11 and 12 as follows : 

" Our Lord the King seeing clearly that the said 
Statutes if they were holden and fully executed, 
should much extend to the profit and wealth of all 
the Realm, hath ordained and established, by 
the assent of the Prelates, Dukes, Earls, Barons, 
Great Men, Nobles, and Commons in this present 
Parliament assembled, that the said Statutes shall 
from henceforth be firmly holden, kept, main- 
tained and fully executed in all points and articles 
of the same, notwithstanding any Ordinance, 
Statute, Charter, Letters Patents, Franchise, 
Proclamation, Commandment, Usage, Allowance, 
or Judgement made or used to the contrary. 
(12) And that if any Statute, Ordinance, Charter, 
Letters Patents, Franchises, Proclamation, Com- 
mandment, Usage, Allowance or Judgement be 
made or used to the contrary, it shall be utterly 
repealed, avoided, and holden for none." 

The 16th of Richard II, Cap. 1, was evidently Ebb and 
framed as the result of a petition of the Citizens of London. Flow of 
This class, who were becoming very wealthy and influential, Legisla- 
represented that great damage was done to their business, tion 
and the business of traders and craftsmen in general, by 
the alien merchants buying and selling preferably with 
one another, and making a corner to themselves in certain 
manufactured goods and raw materials. By this Statute 
it was made illegal for an alien merchant to sell to another 



Ebb and alien merchant either foreign goods or goods purchased 
Flow of within the realm. 

Legisla- There followed at intervals, evidently in response to 
tion. petitions of interested manufacturers and traders, more 

or less temporary and partial statutes against carrying 
certain manufactured goods or raw materials the latter 
generally wool in one form or another, or food stuffs, or 
gold or silver out of the country. In 1429, for instance 
8 Henry VI, Cap. 24 it was ordained that " None shall 
pay alien merchants in gold, but in silver only, and that 
no credit was to be given to foreigners." 

The 25th Henry VI, Cap. 4, is a Statute of Reciprocity, 
for it enacts that " If cloth manufactured in England 
shall be prohibited in Brabant, Holland and Zealand, 
then no merchandise, growing or wrought there within the 
Dominion of the Duke of Burgoins, shall come into England 
on pain of forfeiture." 

The 27th Henry VI, Cap. 3, ordains that " Merchant 
Strangers must bestow all the money they receive for 
their merchandises upon merchandises English goods 
and carry forth no gold or silver, on pain of forfeiture." 

A Statute made in the second year of Edward IV, 
Cap. 3, is headed : " Whosoever shall bring into this 
Realm any wrought silk to be sold, concerning the mystery 
of silk workers, shall forfeit the same." 

The text of this Act is given in the chapter on " Alien 

Immigration from Italy." It clearly states that it was 

enacted in answer to the petition of the silk workers 

and throwsters of London, where a great industry for 

spinning silk and making small silk wares had been 

developed. In Cap. 4 of the next year a much more 

comprehensive and definite statute was framed, as the 

Prohibi- complaints and petitions of the makers of small wares of 

tion of different sorts were added to those of the silk workers. 

Silk The list of small wares named is so interesting as to be 

Imports, worth quoting in full : " Woollen caps, woollen cloths, 

laces, corses, ribbands, fringes of silk, fringes of thread, laces 

of thread, silk twined, silk in any wise embroidered, 

laces of gold or of silk and gold, saddles, stirrups, or any 

harness pertaining to saddles, spurs, bosses of bridles, 


andirons, gridirons, any manner of locks, hammers, pinsors, Restric- 
firetongs, dripping pans, dice, tenis balls, points, purses, tion of 
gloves, girdles, harness for girdles of iron, latten, steel, Imports, 
tin or of alkemine, any wrought of any tawed leather, any 
tawed furs, buskins, shoes, galoches, or corks, knives, 
daggers, woodknives, bodkins, sheers for tailors, scissors, 
razers, chessmen, playing cards, combs, pattins, pack 
needles, any painted ware, forcers, caskets, rings of copper, 
or of latten gilt, chaffing-dishes, hanging candlesticks, 
chaffing bells, facing bells, rings for curtains, ladles, 
scummers, counterfeit basons, ewers, hats, brushes, cards 
for wool, white wire or any of those wares or chaf- 

In the first year of Richard III, 1483, an Act was passed 
for the further restriction of Alien especially Italian 
Merchants. This was in response to a petition of the 
Citizens of London, in which they complained of the 
great prosperity of the large number of alien merchants 
who had taken up their abode in London and not only 
traded and competed with English merchants, but intro- 
duced alien handicraftsmen and servants to the detriment 
of native workmen and servants in London and other 
great cities. In consequence of this petition, the Act 
1 Richard III, Cap. 9, was framed. In it, in addition to 
the restrictions of former Acts, aliens were forbidden to 
be hosts to aliens, to have servants or workmen other 
than natives of England, to practise any handicraft them- 
selves or to take apprentices. Merchants were not to 
hold wares they had purchased or brought from abroad 
longer than eight months ; they must carry them away Alien 
to other parts at the expiration of that time or forfeit Traders 
them. Moreover, aliens might not deal at all in English lose 
woven cloth. Privi- 

In Cap. 10 of the same year's Parliament the prohibition leges, 
of small silk goods is extended for ten years longer. 

During the reign of Henry VII, 1485-1509, only one small 
Act relating to this subject is recorded. It is Cap. 21, 
year 19. It continues the prohibition of small silk wares, 
but gives free admission to all great works as well as silk 
in a raw state. 



Regula- From this date the Parliamentary authorities seem to 
tion of have concerned themselves for a considerable time more 
Home about the perfecting of the productions of manufacture 
Trade. in the country and the welfare of the English handi- 
craftsmen than the regulation of the trade of alien 
merchants. The examination and official sealing of goods ; 
the production of raw material and safeguards against 
adulteration ; the number of apprentices a master might 
keep in proportion to the number of his journeymen, as 
well as the hours of their labour and the periods for 
which they might be hired ; how the servants were to be 
housed ; the food with which they were to be fed and the 
holidays they were to enjoy, and the number of times in 
the year they were to attend church, were all regulated by 
a bewildering number of special Statutes. 

These Statutes had, by the year 1562, the fifth year of 

the reign of Queen Elizabeth, become so numerous and in 

some respects so contradictory that it was found necessary 

to codify and revise them. This was the origin of the 

The great Act of Elizabeth known as the " Act of Apprentices," 

Great and although from time to time this Act was modified, 

Act of and sometimes partially fell into abeyance, it continued 

Eliza- for more than two centuries and a half the beneficent 

beth. Charter of the artisan and labourer and in great measure 

the safeguard of the industrious poor from the oppression 

of capital. It is remarkable that it was while this Act 

was in force that the most prosperous period the silk 

industry in England has ever known was enjoyed by 

both masters and journeymen alike. 

As this Act, its provisions and its effects both when 
in force and in neglect, has been several times referred 
to in this book, it is not necessary to recapitulate in full 
the details of its forty-eight clauses. It will be sufficient 
to quote its Preamble and briefly to enumerate the subject 
matter of the clauses as given in the marginal notes of the 
Statute Book. 

" Anno Quinto Reginae Elizabethee. 

" Cap. IV. 

" Although there remain and stand in Force presently 
a great number of Acts and Statutes concerning 


the Retaining, Departing, Wages and Orders of The 
Apprentices, Servants and Labourers, as well in Great 
Husbandry as in divers other Arts, Mysteries and Act of 
Occupations ; (2) yet partly for the imperfection Eliza- 
and contrariety that is found, and doth appear in beth. 
sundry of the said Laws, and for the Variety and