• People vs. things: the Worshipful Company of Weavers and regulation in eighteenth-century London

    William Farrell (see profile)
    Guilds--Law and legislation, Silk industry, England--London, Eighteenth century, Mercantile system, Livery companies, Guilds
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Innovation before the Modern: Cloth and Clothing in the Early Modern World
    Conf. Org.:
    Pasold Research Fund
    Conf. Loc.:
    Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
    Conf. Date:
    27-28 September 2012
    Weaver's Company
    Permanent URL:
    This paper compares the efforts of the Worshipful Company of Weavers in London to control the movement of technology and textiles with its more laissez - faire management of migrant weavers, over the long eighteenth century. From the introduction of the engine loom in the 1670s, the Weavers’ Company regulated new technology in the London textile industries. The Company was involved in stopping weaving tools from leaving England for other European countries, such as Spain. It was even more effective in lobbying Parliament to have foreign cottons and silks banned from England in order to protect London producers. The Company also controlled access to French silk designs seized by customs officers. By contrast, it made no formal attempts to regulate the movements of textile workers, either in or out of London. It allowed large number of Huguenot and Irish workers to enter the textile industry. In times of unemployment, many weavers left London often signing up for military service; they faced no restrictions on their movement and often re - entered the textile trades at a later date. The Company helped organise campaigns against ‘foreign’ textiles but allowed foreign - born weavers to work in London, often ignoring xenophobic campaigns from journeymen. This paper suggests that that the difference between the regulation of things and people can be understood in terms of the particular regime of ‘proto - globalization’ in the eighteenth century, and the differences in importance between technology and the tacit knowledge of artisans.
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago


    Item Name: pdf farrell-people-vs-things-pasold-2012-v2.pdf
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