Eng. (Lancashire). Parish Bury.

The registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) online

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to be so firmly established in the Netherlands, as to obtain a supe-
riority over the woollen manufactures of Britain : and it was pro-
bably owing to this superiority that our forefathers lost the know-
ledge of many branches of this manufacture which it is evident they
once possessed ; of this kind especially may be reckoned the art of
dyeing and dressing cloths, which was only revived in Britain in a
very modern period.

We find the introduction of the woollen manufacture into Ireland
marked under the year 1376, in Anderson's History of Commerce,
but the following curious anecdote preserved by Madox shews that
Irish cloth was known in England long before that period: — " In
the reign of Henry III. (i. e. between 1'219 and 1272,) Walter
Blowburne accused Haman la Starre of a robbery, &c. whereof the
said Haman had for his share two coats, viz. one of Irish cloth."

In the reign of Edward IV. Lincoln was a place noted for its fine


woollen manufacture, the abbot of St. Godwins is represented by a
poet of that time, as living in great pomp, his dress is thus de-
scribed : —

" His cope was all of Lycolne clothe so fine,
With a gold button fasten'd near his chynne ;
His autremere was edged with golden twynne.''

In confirmation of this anecdote many particulars are preserved in
Hackluyt's collection, that about this time a very considerable trade in
cloth was carried on between Boston and Prussia, and other places
of the Baltic.

A circumstance mentioned in this collection, although it
may not be pertinent to my enquiry, goes far to establish the fact,
that the author of the History of Commerce is wrong in some of his
data : thus the discovery of the art of knitting stockings is there
marked about the year 15G1, when Queen Elizabeth is said to have
worn the first pair of hose of this kind ; but it would seem that this
art v/as introduced into Britain sooner than is imagined, for in the
song by Sir Shybbot Gorges in the interlude of Ella, mention is
thus made of it :

" As Elynour bie the green lesselle was syttynge,

As from the sone's heat she hurried,

She sayde, as her wliyte hands whyte hozen was knyttinge.

What pleasure yt ys to be married."

In the year 1331 John Kemp, a master manufacturer from Flan-
ders, received a protection to establish himself at York, with a
number of dyers and fullers to carry on his trade, and in the following
year several manufacturers came over from Brabant and Zealand.
It is said, that the king's marriage with the daughter of the earl of
Hainault enabled him to send over emissaries, without suspicion, to
invite the manufacturers to this kingdom. These manufacturers were
distributed over the country, at the following places : — The manu-
facturers of fustians (woollens) were established at Norwich, of
baize at Sudbury in Suffolk, of sayes and serges at Colchester in
Essex, of broad cloths in Kent, of kersies in Devonshire, of cloth
in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, of Welch friezes in Wales,
of cloth at Kendal in Westmoreland, of coarse cloths, afterwards
called Halifax cloths, in Yorkshire, of cloth in Hampshire, Berkshire,
and Sussexj and of serges at Taunton in Devonshire. Fresh


supplies of foreigners contributed to advance tlic woollen trade of
these districts.

The wholesome statutes that were passed in the reign of Edward
III. for the regulation of trade, and the encouragement given by that
monarch to this branch of it in particular, certainly entitle him to the
appellation of the "Father of manufactures." The trade of the nation at
this time consisted principally in the exportation of wool to Bruges
and other foreign places, whence fine cloths and other products were
brought back in exchange. This defect being wisely considered by
King Edward III. in a parliament held at Nottingham, in the tenth
year of his reign, he took the most judicious measures for improving
the English manufactures ; an edict was issued, inviting cloth-
workers to settle in this country, for the advancement of the trade,
and he granted his protection to two Brabant weavers, viz."Willielmus
de Brabant, and Hanckcinus de Brabant, textores," to settle at
York, and granted them very considerable privileges. Shortly after
the first emigration of the Flemings, a. d. 1335, an act was passed,
prohibiting the wear of cloths made in foreign parts, and interdicting
the export of English wool : this restraining act was soon repealed,
but in order to support and encourage the home manufacture, a tax
of 50s. per pack was imposed upon it : notwithstanding which so
much continued to be exported, that the customs amounted annu-
ally to the amazing sum of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds.
From this remote period the manufacture has been always regarded
of the first importance, and has been tlie object of the especial
solicitude of the legislature.

By degrees, however, the art of cloth making became more gene-
rally known and practised, and the extension of manufactures
diminished the exportation of wool more effectually than could have
been done by "restraining acts."

As to the precise period of the introduction of woollen manufac-
tures into this district, we have no direct evidence ; York we have
shewn was one of the places assigned as the residence for the
Flemish weavers. From the protection afforded them, and the en-
coui-agement given to manufactures in general, by the reigning
monarch, it is evident that the trade could not be confined to the
towns which were first set apart to it, but extended itself to those
places where the trade had decayed, in consequence of the events I


have before mentioned. That the Parish of Halifax possessed some
of those peculiar advantages so favorable for manufactures is very
evident : it is therefore reasonable to suppose, that it would be
among the first, as the most inviting. Whether the art was brought
hither from York, or some other part, is not very clear. The author
of the Eboracum, says, "there is a tradition, that one of his ances-
tors, of the name of Drake, first brought the woollen manufactory
to these parts, out of Devonshire, where it was settled by workmen
brought from Flanders," but mentions no date. Wright, in his
History of Halifax, p. 7, afiirms that the woollen trade was brought
to Halifax in the time of one Mr. Waterhouse, from Ripon, for the
sake of coals and water, but gives no authority for his assertion.
This Mr. Waterhouse was born in 1443, and died in 1540 ; during
which time the woollen manufactures had increased so rapidly, that
the houses in Halifax were during that period, increased from
13 to 520.

On this Mr. Watson judiciously remarks, " it is wrong to
say that trade was first introduced here at that time, for by copy of
court roll, dated at the court ofthe Prior of Lewes, held at Halifax, on
the Thursday next after the feast of St. Thomas, 2 Henry V. 1414,
llichard de Sunderland, and Joan his wife, surrendered into the hands
of the Lord, an inclosure in Halifax, called Tenter-Croft. Also
two fulling mills were erected in Rastrick, and about 17 Edward
IV. 1477, Elizabeth, the widow of John Thornhill, granted a parcel
of land and water in Rastrick, lying to the river Calder, called Black-
greiss, to John Andrew and Nicholas Bamforth, for 30 years, on
condition that they should build there two fulling mills and make a
sufficient dam for the water."

From these facts I think we are justified in inferring that the
trade at this early period was in a flourishing condition within this
district, although the population might at that time have been too
small to admit of any thing that could deserve the name of a manu-
factory. Camden has fixed the introduction of the trade here to
the end of the reign of Henry HL or beginning of Edward VL but
he depended entirely on information, and there is proof enough
that his intelligence was not correct. Amongst the rest, one Richard
King, who lived in this parish in the time of king Henry VHI. in
a covenant of marriage, wrote himself occupier, meaning a buyer


and seller of cloth. In the reign of Philip and Mary, Halifax
enjoyed the peculiar protection of the legislature, it had then
doubtless attained some notoriety by reason of its trade, but
attempts were made by some great capitalists during this reign,
to monopolize the stock of wool, and the act which was then passed
exhibits the state of the parish and its trade at that time, after re-
citing, " that the parish of Halifax, 8ic. being planted in the great
waste and moores, where the fertility of ground is not apt to bring
forth any come, nor good grasse, but in rare places, and by exceeding'
and great industry of the inhabitants ; and the same inhabitants
altogether doe live by cloth making ; and the great part of them
neither getteth corne, noris able tokeepe a horse to carry wools, nor
yet to buy much wool at once, but hath ever used onely to repair to
the toAvne of Halifax, &c. and there to buy upon the wool driver,
some a stone, some two, and some three and foure, according to their
ability, and to carry the same to their houses, some three, foure,
five, and six miles off, upon their heads and backes and so to malie
and convert the same either into yarne or cloth, and to sell the same,
and so to buy more wool of the wool driver, by means of which
industry, the barren grounds in those parts be now much inhabited,
and above five hundred households there newly increased within
these forty yeares past, which now are like to be undone, and driven
to beggery, by reason of the late estatute (37 Henry VIH,) that
taketh away the wool driver, so that they cannot now have their
wool by such small portions as they were wont to have, and that
also they are not able to keepe any horses whereupon to ride, or set
their wools further from them in other places, unlesse some remedy
may be provided. It was enacted, that it should be hu\'fule to any
person or persons inhabiting within the parish of Halifax, to buy
any wool or wools, at such time as the clothiers may buy the same
otherwise than by engrossing, and forestalling, so that the persons
so buying the same, doe carry, or cause to be carried, the said wools
so bought by them, to the towne of Halifax, and there to sell the
same to such poore folkes of that and other parishes adjoining, as
shall worke the same in cloth of yarn (to their knowledge) and not
to the rich and wealthy clothier, nor to any other to sell again.
Ofi:endors against this act to forfeit double the value of the wool so
sold. Justices of Peace to hear and determine the offences."


In consequence of the increase of our manufactures, the export
of wool had nearly ceased before the reign of Elizabeth ; and a con-
siderable advance appears to have taken place in the price of food,
clothing and rents.

We are told by Bentley in his description of Halifax, that about
the beginning of the last century, the lord of the manor erected a
laro-e and spacious hall, towards the upper end of the town, where
the weavers and buyers of cloth met weekly, namely every Saturday
morning, to transact business : the cloth sold at this hall was undrest
cloth. The lord of the manor reserved to himself a penny for every
piece of cloth sold at the hall on each Saturday morning, and received
weekly thirty, and sometimes forty shillings. Great quantities of
colored cloth were also sold in the butchers' shambles, before other
markets began, being regularly placed on their stalls for that purpose.
The market began precisely at six o'clock, between the twenty-fifth
of March and the twenty-ninth of September, and at eight o'clock
the rest of the year : notice whereof was given by ringing a bell,
and a penalty of thirty-nine shillings and eleven pence was levied
upon any one who asked the price of a piece of cloth before the bell
rung. Likewise on the Saturday market, merchants from Leeds,
and other places, bought many white-dressed kerseys, to send to
Hamburgh and Holland, &c. Contracts for these were made by
patterns. Independently of the Saturday market, a considerable
business was also transacted here on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The shalloon trade was introduced here, says Watson, about
the beginning of the 17th century, and what are called figured stuffs
and draw boys, about the middle of it. Formerly much bone lace
was made here, but it subsequently fell into so low a state, that
few were put apprentices to the trade. Stocking weaving or frame
work knitting was first brought into Halifax in 1724, at which time
a fine was paid to the corporation at Nottingham, for every apprentice.

Pennant, in his tour to Scotland, when giving a description of
Halifax, says, " the woollen manufactures flourish here greatly,
such as that of the narrow cloth, bath coatings, shalloons, everlast-
ings, a sort of coarse broad cloth, with black hair lists for Portugal,
and with blue for Turkey ; sayeg, of a deep blue color, for Guinea ;
the last are packed in pieces of twelve yards and a half, wrapped in
an oil cloth, jiaintcd with negroes and elephants, in order to cap-


tivate these poor people. Many blood red cloths are exported to
Italy, from whence they are supposed to be sent to Turkey ; the blues
are sent to Norway."

For some time past the staple manufactures of the toAvn and
neighbourhood have been shalloons, tammies, and draw boys, known
best under the title of figured lastings and amens, superfine quilled
everlastings, double russels and serges : these are all made from
combing wool. They are brought in the unfinished state to the
piece hall, where the merchants attend every Saturday to make
their purchases. Formerly the greater part of these goods were
bought by the London merchants for the supply of foreigners, but
within the present century, dye houses and other conveniences have
been erected by merchants who finish the goods upon the spot, and
are thereby able to undersell the London merchant. Of these goods
very few in proportion are sold inland ; large quantities are exported
to the continent of Europe, of which those sent to Cadiz are chiefly
exported to Spanish America. Many shalloons are sent to London
for the Turkey trade.

There is, besides, a very considerable manufactory of kerseys
and half-thicks, also of bookings and baize, principally in the hands
of merchants of property in the neighbourhood of Sowerby, and
made in the valley from Sowerby-Bridge to Ripponden. The whole
of the British navy is clothed from this source. Large quantities
are exported to Holland and also to America.

But the most promising branch of manufactory is that of cloth
and coatings, which was also introduced at the latter end of the last
century by persons of enterprise, who at vast expence, erected
mills on the Calder, and other smaller streams. The success of
these factories, on their first introduction, was such as to excite
the jealousy of the Leeds merchants, who were accustomed to buy
the same articles from the lower manufacturers at their cloth hall ;
and to such an extent was it carried, that in 1794 a deputation was
sent from thence to petition for an act to prevent any merchant from
becoming a manufacturer ; but on consideration the absurd idea was
very pi'operly dropt. It is evident that merchants, concentrating in
themselves the whole process of a manufactory, from the raw wool
to the finished piece, have an advantage over those who permit the
article to pass through a variety of hands, each taking a profit.



A custom, it is said, long prevailed in the manufacturing of broad
cloth, which was that of the merchant allowing one yard in every
twenty, as an indemnity for the length of the cloth being stretched
beyond its length from the mill ; which had the bad effect of tempting
the merchant to stretch the cloth still more, in order to gain length,
though the quality was injured by it. This practise threw the
Yorkshire cloth into disrepute, both at home and abroad ; and pre-
ference was given to the West of England fabrics, especially by the
East India Company, notwithstanding the West of England cloths,
which measure 48 yards in the white, do not when dyed, measure
on the average so much as 45 yards. An honest and intelligent
manufacturer will be able to prove " that all cloth manufactured
honestly Avill be as long when dyed and finished, as in the white."

Fuller adverts to this practice of stretching cloth, and in his
quaint way says: — "As I am glad to hear the plenty of a coarser
kind of cloth is made in this county, at Hallifax, Leeds, and else-
where, whereby the meaner sort are much employed, and the mid-
dle sort inriched ; so I am sorry for the generall complaints made
thereof, insomuch that it is become a general by- word "to shrink as
Northern cloths" (a giant to the eye, and dwarf in the use thereof)
to signify such as fail their friends in deepest distress, depending on
their assistance. Sad that the sheep, the emblem of innocence,
should unwillingly cover so much craft under the wool thereof ; and
sadder th.?it fullers, commended in scripture for malving cloth white,
should justly be condemned for making their own consciences Hack,
by such fraudulent practices. I hope this fault, for the future, will
be amended in this county and elsewhere ; for sure it is, that the
transporting of wool and fullers' earth (both against law) beyond the
seas are not more prejudicial to our English clothing abroad, than
the deceit in making cloth at home, debasing the foreign estimation
of our cloth, to the invaluable damage of our nation."

About the year 1814 a considerable alteration is said to have
taken place in the British wool trade : the manufacturers, finding
that the foreign markets could not be supplied with cloths sufficiently
fine, made from English wool, had recourse to Germany and Spain.
They now use foreign wool in their broad and narrow cloths, almost
to the total exclusion of the British produce, and for this, it would
appear, there is an absolute necessity.


"The ancient manufacture of woollen cloth in the West Riding
of the county of York, greatly increased during the war which
terminated in 1815, and the advantage of machinery has combined
with this circumstance, to transfer thither a great share of the West
country clothing trade. In the three wapentakes of Agbrigg, Mor-
ley, and Skyrack, respectively, are found 17,000, 22,000, and
29,000 males, twenty years of age, thus employed, in all 68,000 ;
surpassed indeed as to manufacturing population by the adjacent
hundreds of Blackburn and Salford in Lancashire, where the tractable
nature of cotton wool subjected it earlier to the operation of ma-
chinery. The limit of the two counties is not a very erroneous line
of demarcation between the great woollen and cotton manufactories.
The places most eminent in woollen fabrics and worsteds are, the
parish of Halifax containing nearly 12.000 men so employed; Leeds
9.400 in the town and liberty; Bradford, 7.900; Almondbury
parish, 4.500 adjacent to it ; Huddersfield, worsted and silks, 3.700 ;
Kirkburton, 2.400; Calverley, 2.100; Dewsbury parish, 1.800;
Birstal, 1.700; Batley, 1.400; Kirkheaton, 1.200: and Saddle-
worth about 1.300 ; besides the same number employed in cotton
factories, this being the frontier Township of the large Lancashire
parish of Rochdale."*

I have purposely abstained from entering upon a statistical
enquiry, as to the general state of the Wool trade and Woollen
manufacture, inasmuch as it would throw little light on our local
history ; it may be sufficient to state, that Halifax has participated,
with other districts, in the general prosperity that has attended our
manufactures throughout the country, since the restrictions, con-
nected with this particular branch of trade, have been removed.

I am indebted to Robert Baker, esq. of Leeds, superiutendant of
Factories, for the following interesting particulars respecting the
manufactories in this parish. Mr. Baker in his communication, very
properly observes, that a more detailed account of power and hands,
with the number and kind of mills, would not be fair towards the
manufacturers, many of whom are singular in their particular branch,
however useful and important such information may be in another
quarter ; it would be objectionable as laying open to public view more
of the private business of a man than would be either proper or

• Parliamentary Paper. 1831.

X 2



agreeable ; and after all,
from correct.

far as power is concerned, might be far

An Account, shewing the number of Mills and Factories, in
THE Parish of Halifax, in the year 1835; with the ag-
gregate AMOUNT OF Horse Power employed : also shewing


Parish, its prevailing Manufacture, and the kind of
Power employed.

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Elland ....

Erringden . .

Halifax . . ^

Heptonstall .
Langfield . .
Norland ....
Ovenden. . . .
Rastrick ....
Rish worth . .
Skircoat ....
Sowerby. . . .
Soyland ....
Stansfield . .
Wadsworth .


Of the 23 Townships comprising the Parish of Halifax, 19 may
be said to be manufacturing ; out of whose population, according to
the census of 1831, amounting to 101,491, — 18,377 are employed
in the different branches of Cotton, "Worsted, "Woollen and Silk.

In the Parish of Halifax, there are
57 Cotton Mills employing an aggregate power of 716 horses*

35 Woollen do 662 . .

45 Worsted do 855 . .

4 Silk do 86 ..

3 Mills unoccupied

9 do. incomplete

153 2319

From the above statement it appears that the Cotton trade is
carried on here to a considerable extent ; and is gradually increa-
sing. The Silk trade, although of recent introduction, gives every
promise of its becoming a very flourishing branch of manufacture in
this parish ; " and in reference to the manufacture of Silk, (says
Mr. Baker,) it is remarkable, that Halifax from its local situation,
is peculiarly adapted for the preservation of its color."

With reference to "the intellectual condition of the Factory
people ;" I am also indebted to Mr. Baker for the following table
taken by that gentleman, which, he observes, is a fair sample of
factory children generally, and an important item in any account ot
their moral condition.
20 mills in the Sowerby district contain 827 Males. 696 Females.

Of these are above 18 . . 464 285

Under that age 363 411

Of these, 325 Males 400 Females read.

94 . . 37 . . write.

303 .. 381 .. attend Sunday schools.

37 . . 25 . . attend other Schools.


The state of the population of this extensive parish from time
to time, will be best illustrated by a simple adherence to historical
facts, these will be found to be all that are necessary for every
useful purpose.

As regards the town : — In the original MS. S. referred to both
by Wright and Watson in their respective histories, the state of
the population, at the earliest period to which our enquiries can

Online LibraryEng. (Lancashire). Parish BuryThe registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) → online text (page 28 of 52)