Category Archives: cotton

I Find My Soul Knit to These Poor Sheep

Elizabeth Bennis. Picture cropped from the cover of her edited diary, which you can buy very cheaply here. Elizabeth Patten was born in Limerick in 1725. The Pattens were an upper-middle-class Presbyterian family, headed by Isaac (d.1743). At the age of … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, eighteenth century, ireland, limerick, linen, personalities, quilting, religion, USA, waterford | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The Most An Attentive Spinster Could Earn

Photo source. The 1830s decline of the cotton, linen, and wool industries coincided with the Poor Law Commissions, a series of inquiries which were intended to shape the Poor Law Act of 1838. In Mayo, a Reverend Peter Ward told … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, hand-spinning, linen, mayo, nineteenth century, poor law inquiry, spinning, wool | Leave a comment

One Stiff Gown For Sunday

In 1765, Lady Arabella Denny founded the first Magdalen Asylum in Ireland, for Protestant ‘fallen women and penitent prostitutes’ in Lower Leeson Street in Dublin. A year previous to this she had been awarded the Freedom of the City of … Continue reading

Posted in caps, caps, clothing, cotton, dresses, dublin, handkerchiefs, lace, linen, neck handkerchiefs, nineteenth century, personalities, petticoats, serge, shawls, shoes, socks, stockings, wool | Leave a comment

The City of Spindles

From the 1840s on, emigration from Ireland caused by the Great Famine, meant that the newly industrialized cotton mills in America had a fresh supply of single women (many widows), skilled in textile arts, who needed work. The mills were … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, mills, USA | Leave a comment


The 1798 Rebellion, or Rising, was an uprising in Ireland against British rule, which was inspired by the ideals of the American and French revolutions. It was mainly organised by a group called the United Irishmen. Around 10,000 people died … Continue reading

Posted in antrim, belfast, cotton, linen, northern ireland, personalities, ulster | Leave a comment


On 24 March 1793, Lady Mary Boyle Roche wrote a letter (National Library of Ireland Manuscript 5391). In it, she described Lady Pamela Fitzgerald (pictured above) who had just married Lord Edward Fitzgerald a mere three months previously. I came … Continue reading

Posted in colour, cotton, dublin, eighteenth century, socks, stockings | 2 Comments

An Experiment

Nicolas Grimshaw, ‘Father of the Belfast Cotton Industry’. On 11 November, 1778, Grimshaw received the thanks of the Belfast Charitable Society, who were directors of the local poorhouse. This was because he had given the poorhouse a machine for carding … Continue reading

Posted in belfast, carding, cotton, hand-carding, hand-spinning | 1 Comment

Rise and Fall

York Street Mill, Belfast, around 1880. The original cotton mill burned down in 1828 and rebuilt as a flax mill. I’ve been reading up on the industrialization (or not, as the case actually was) of the Irish cotton spinning industry. … Continue reading

Posted in antrim, belfast, cotton, fibre, flax, ireland, linen, mills, northern ireland, water-power mills | 4 Comments