excerpt | history of irish linen part ii

continue from the history of irish linen part i

the government encouraged the coming to the north of ireland of some five hundred families of huguenots, french protestants. fleeing persecution, by louis XIV, at the end of the seventeenth century, they brought with them skills which were to take root in ulster and out of which grew a widespread cottage industry.  

a leading huguenot, louis crommelin, was given the grandiose title, 'overseer of the royal linen manufacture' and had a great influence over the development of the industry from the base which these immigrants had established in lisburn and the lagan valley.

it was not only immigrants who assisted the development of the industry. landlords, especially lord conway, lord hillsborough and the brownlows in lurgan as well as the london livery companies in the coleraine area, set in train important development work. samuel waring of waringstown, in the late seventeenth century, imported a colony of flemish weavers who brought with them improved methods entirely new to ireland.

in addition, a linen board was established in 1711 to oversee the development of the industry. the board functioned for over a century, during which time the industry moved from cottage to factory production. this came about, in the early nineteenth century, due to the proliferation of inventions in the textile industry in britain and america. the application of these spread rapidly, due to the effective juxtaposition of surplus captial and entrepreneurial initiative that characterised the period of the industrial revolution in ulster.

... to be cont.


colins, p. (1994) history of irish linen

31 Chapel Lane