Huguenot trades

The woollen[3]-cloth trade established at Nottingham seems to have there given rise to many considerable families, some of whose names would indicate a Flemish origin; viz., the families named Bugge or Buggen, Willoughby (a quo Lord Middleton, of the house of Willoughby, at Wollaton, near Nottingham), Mappurley, Thurland, Amyas, Plumtree, Tamesley, Bingham, and Hunt. At Bristol, three brothers of the name of Blanket set up looms in their houses for the weaving of cloth; and from their name it has by some been supposed that “blankets” (woollen bed-sheets) derive their name. But, as that bed-sheet was well-known abroad by the name blanchet (meaning the absence of colour), it is more likely that the “blanket” gave its name to the three brothers, than that the article was named after them; for, in those days, it was quite usual for men to take as their surname the name of the place whence they came, the name of the article they manufactured, or the trade they lived by. Webb cloth and Clutterbucks were, however, so called after the names of the persons who first manufactured them, in the west of England.

Edward continued indefatigable in his efforts to promote in his kingdom the establishment and extension of the new branches of industry; but, strange to say, he ordered that none but English-made cloth should be worn throughout England, except by himself and certain privileged persons of the higher classes. He not only fixed by Edict the prices of cloth, but prescribed the kind to be worn by tradesmen, mechanics, and rustics, respectively; as well as the quality of the woollen shrouds in which they were to be buried. It was the Flemish artizans, also, who, in Edward’s reign, made the first cannon in England.

The kings who succeeded Edward pursued the same policy, and from time to time induced fresh bodies of foreign artizans to settle in England, and begin new branches of industry: Thus, in A.D. 1387, Richard II. invited a colony of Flemish linen-weavers to London; he also induced a band of silk-weavers from Lucca to settle in the city, and teach his subjects their trade.

Edward III. invited a body of German miners to settle in England, and to instruct his subjects in copper-mining; and, in 1430, we find Henry VI. inviting three famous German miners, named Michael Gosselyn, George Harbryke, and Matthew Laweston, with thirty skilled workmen of Bohemia and Hungary, to superintend and work the royal tin-mines of Cornwall; and, a few years later, the same monarch invited John de Schieldame—a gentleman of Zealand, with sixty workmen, to come to England and instruct his subjects in the manufacture of salt.

In 1471, Edward IV. landed a corps of three hundred Flemish armourers at Ravenspurg, in Yorkshire, for the purpose of manufacturing hand-guns for his army.

Queen Elizabeth also invited skilled miners from Germany to settle in England; to two of these, named Hochstetter and Thurland, of Augsburg, she granted a patent to search for gold, silver, quicksilver, and copper, in eight counties, with power to convert the proceeds to their own use.

Paper-making, like printing, was introduced into England from the Low Countries: Caxton brought over from Haarlem, about the year 1468, a Dutch printer, named Frederick Corsellis; but the first books printed by Caxton were printed on foreign-made paper.

In 1507, William Tate erected a paper-mill at Hertford; but it does not appear to have prospered. Another was then started by a man named Remigius, a German; and a third venture was made by Sir Thomas Gresham, but all alike failed; and it was not until 1598 that John Spilman, the German jeweller of Queen Elizabeth, erected a paper-mill at Dartford, that the manufacture of paper may be said to have become established in England. Of Spilman and his industry, Thomas Churchyard, a poet of the sixteenth century, writes as follows:

“Six hundred men are set at work by him,

That else might starve, or seek abroad their bread;

Who nowe live well, and go full braw and trim,

And who may boast they are with paper fed.”

The manufacture of felt hats was introduced into England by Spaniards and Dutchmen, in 1524; before which time the ordinary coverings for the head were knitted caps, cloth hoods, and “thromed hats” (whatever that means), the common people for the most part going bare-headed as well as bare-legged. An old writer says:

“Spaniards and Dutchmen instructed us how to make Spanish felts; but the French taught us not only how to perfect the mystery of making hats, but also how to take them off.”

Glove-making was, in the reign of Elizabeth, introduced into England by one Andreas de Loos.

The manufacture of glass was begun by Venetians; and first introduced into England by Jacob Venalini, in 1564. Another Italian named Verselyn started a glass-house at Greenwich.

It will thus be seen that in manufactures requiring special skill the main reliance in England was upon foreigners, down to the middle of the 17th century; and the finest fabrics of all kinds were, as a rule, made almost exclusively by foreign workmen.


[3] Woollen: England’s first great blow was struck at the Irish cattle trade. As early as the reign of Charles II., English land-owners took alarm at the influx of Irish cattle; and laws were passed by the English Parliament forbidding Ireland to export live stock of any kind, dead meat, or even butter and cheese. Deprived of their natural market in England, the Irish breeders turned their attention to the woollen-manufactures. Three-fourths of the island became a sheep-walk, and its unequalled pastures, and the care bestowed in stocking them, resulted in the production of an excellent quality of wool. English, Scotch, and even foreign manufacturers were attracted to the country, capital was rapidly invested, and in a few years the Irish-woollen industry gave employment to many hands. English manufacturers began to tremble for their supremacy, and vehemently petitioned the English Parliament to protect their interests. Faithful to the maxim, that “a colony only existed for the benefit of the mother country,” the House lent a ready ear to complaints of injury done to English trade, and in 1698 a Parliament was summoned at Dublin, with the declared object of destroying this Irish industry. The Lords Justices, in their opening speech, informed the Irish people that England claimed the manufacture of woollens as her monopoly, and was imperially pleased that the sister island should cease from weaving them; and turn her attention instead to linen and hemp. The Irish Parliament reluctantly agreed to lay heavy duties on the export of woollens. Even this concession failed to satisfy; and in 1699 England framed an act prohibiting the export from Ireland of woollen fabrics. The industry was ruined, capital left the country, and multitudes of the Protestant population followed it.

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