The Domestic Linen Industry in Ulster

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 229 pages
Author: W.H. Crawford
Year: 2021
ISBN: 9781913993313
Other: photos, maps, appendixes, index
Publisher: Ulster Historical Foundation

The domestic linen industry left an indelible imprint on Ulster history. It was introduced by colonists from the north of England in the seventeenth century, before the arrival of the Huguenots, and encouraged by the landlords to improve their rentals.

Earnings from raising flax, spinning yarn and weaving cloth, provided farming families with regular incomes that enabled them to lease small farms and improve marginal land. Continual improvements by Ulster bleachers in the finishing of linens secured for them control of the industry, focusing its development.

Exports to Britain first through Dublin and then direct to Liverpool and London, created a merchant class and underpinned the development of Belfast and the provincial market towns. By 1800 Ulster was reckoned to be the most prosperous province in Ireland. It was also the most densely peopled with a population of two million in 1821, almost equal to that of Scotland.


1 Introduction
2 The origins of the linen industry in north Armagh and the Lagan valley
3 Drapers and bleachers in the early Ulster linen industry
4 The market book ofThomas Greer, a Dungannon linendraper, 1758-9
5 The linen industry portrayed in the Hincks prints of 1783
6 Ulster landowners and die linen industry
7 The political economy of linen: Ulster in the eighteenth century
8 The ‘linen triangle’ in the 1790s
9 Women in the domestic linen industry
10 The introduction of the flying shuttle into the weaving of linen in Ulster
11 The evolution of the linen trade in Ulster before industrialisation
12 A handloom weaving community in County Down

1 Thomas Turner. New methods of improving flax and flax-seed and bleaching cloth (1715)
2 The case of the linen manufacture of Ireland, relative to the bleaching and the whitening the same (1750)
3 Serious considerations on the present alarming state of agriculture and the linen trade, by a farmer (1773)
4 The report ofJohn Greer, Inspector General for Ulster, of the state of the linen markets in said province (1784)
5 Report made to the Linen Board by Mr Kirk of Keady, 1822


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