The Role of Cotton in the Growth of the Economy

  • S. D. Chapman
Part of the Studies in Economic History book series


THE period between about 1450 and 1750 saw relatively few mechanical inventions introduced into the European textile industries; the stocking frame at the end of the sixteenth century and the Dutch loom in the seventeenth appear to be the only conspicuous exceptions to this generalisation. The great burst of invention that began with Arkwright and Crompton has some roots reaching down earlier in the century, but the desultory reception of Kay’s flying shuttle and Lewis Paul’s roller spinning in the 1730s and 1740s occurred in a different economic climate from the last thirty years of the century. Most of the explanations that are offered on the causes of this unprecedented period of technical development have been familiar to historians for a long time: a chronic shortage of yarn and steeply rising costs as weavers adopting the flying shuttle had to draw their yarn supplies from domestic spinners further and further away; the physical qualities of cotton, which make it peculiarly amenable to mechanical handling; and the high elasticity of supply of raw cotton from the rapidly growing United States.


Eighteenth Century Industrial Revolution Business History Cotton Industry Mechanical Invention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 83.
    D. E. C. Eversley, The Home Market and Economic Growth in England, 1750–80’, in E. L. Jones and G. E. Mingay (eds.), Land, Labour and Population in the Industrial Revolution (1967).Google Scholar
  2. 84.
    W. W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth (1960).Google Scholar
  3. 85.
    H. J. Habakkuk and P. Deane, ‘The Take-off in Britain’, in W. W. Rostow (ed.), The Economics of Take-off into Sustained Growth (1965) p. 71.Google Scholar
  4. 89.
    E. M. Sigworth, Black Dyke Mills (Liverpool, 1958) pp. 3–6; Chapman, The Early Factory Masters chap. 6.Google Scholar
  5. 90.
    Rees, Cyclopaedia, article on ‘Worsted Manufacture’ (c. 1818).Google Scholar
  6. 91.
    W. G. Rimmer, Marshalls of Leeds, Flax Spinners (1960).Google Scholar
  7. 93.
    T. Bannister, ‘The First Iron-Framed Buildings’, Architectural Review cvn (1950) pp. 231–46.Google Scholar
  8. 95.
    J. D. Chambers, Vale of Trent (1959) p. 62; S. D. Chapman (ed.). The History of Working Class Housing: A Symposium (1971).Google Scholar
  9. 98.
    S. Broadbridge, ‘The Early Capital Market: The Lancs. and Yorkshire Railway’, Economic History Review 2nd ser., viii (1955–6).Google Scholar
  10. 101.
    Cf. N. McKendrick, ‘An Eighteenth Century Entrepreneur in Salesmanship and Marketing Techniques’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., xn (1960).Google Scholar
  11. 102.
    Anne Buck, ‘Variations in English Women’s Dress in the Eighteenth Century’, Folk Life xi (1971) pp. 20, 24.Google Scholar
  12. 103.
    T. S. Ashton, ‘Some Statistics of the Industrial Revolution’, in E. M. Carus-Wilson (ed.), Essays in Economic History, vol. n (1962).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Economic History Society 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. D. Chapman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations