The textile industry in early eighteenth century Lancashire

Hart, Anthony Joseph (1999) The textile industry in early eighteenth century Lancashire. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis offers a fresh interpretation of industrial activity in Lancashire some two to three generations before the arrival of the factory system of textile production. It is based on a county-wide study of occupations recorded in Church of England
parish registers for the I 720s, a source which has, with the exception of a few localised case studies, hitherto been ignored by historians. Whilst this period is crucial to the subsequent development of the textile industry, much work to date has
focused on a theoretical approach from which empirical data is all too often missing. Aspects relating to the emergence of a supply of labour for the industry are explored following analysis of the location of Lancashire's textile workforce as revealed by parish registers. Reasons for differences in high textile productivity in certain parts of the county rather than others are proffered by contrasting theoretical stances with empirical data. It debates whether inheritance practices in the east of the
county led to subdivision of landholdings into unviable plots, forcing many to take up weaving to supplement their income. This is contrasted with the ability of fertile land in west Lancashire to sustain agricultural activity on a full year-round basis.
The organisation of the textile trade is evaluated using will and inventory data left by hitherto unresearched entrepreneurs. Opportunities for upward social mobility provided by the prosperity generated from textile activity are analysed in the context
of the respective layers of the industry. Investment in weavers' cottages by provision of loomshops and storage facilities is discussed, together with the impact of weavers' housing on later settlement growth.

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