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Title: London clothmaking, c. 1270-c. 1550
Author: Oldland, John Rupert.
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2003
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This is a business history of clothmaking in London that begins with the earliest surviving records, the city Letter Books and concludes when cloth exports peaked in the 1550's. Towards the end of the thirteenth century London may have been the largest centre for weaving in the country and remained important until the end of the fourteenth century. In the fifteenth century it became the leading centre in the country for fmishing cloth. The city always had a small but successful dyeing industry that became very prosperous at the end of the fifteenth century, before declining in the sixteenth. The study follows clothmaking in London at three levels; the individual craftsman and his work, the six textile craft organizations in the city, the bure1lers, weavers, fullers, shearmen, dyers and, after 1528, the cloth workers , and the textile industry as a whole. The study examines why the individual crafts grew or declined, and how the London industry was affected by structural changes in textile production elsewhere in England and on the continent. It also comments on the way the crafts reacted to the problems they faced. The introduction places London clothmaking in the European and English context, and discusses the significance and purpose of a study on clothmaking in late medieval and early modem London. The first chapter analyses the industry between 1270 and 1340 when the burellers were the most successful textile craft making the' cloth of Candlewick Street', and who then faded with the transition from weaving worsted and serge to woollen cloths. The second chapter examines the growth of woollens' production between 1325 and 1420 and the improving economic position of the weavers and fullers until they succumbed to lower cost rural manufacturers. The third chapter discusses the nature of the work of the cloth fmishers, the fullers and the shearmen, and provides an overview of their growing importance through an analysis of their wills and the alnage records. The fourth chapter studies the dyers throughout the period, but concentrates on their success at the end of the fifteenth century and decline in the early sixteenth century. The fifth chapter covers the growth in numbers, wealth and importance of the cloth finishers, the fullers and shearmen, their internal problems and conflicts with the merchants. The sixth chapter traces the growing mercantile element within the cloth finishing crafts and the events leading up to the amalgamation of the fullers and shearmen as clothworkers in 1528. The seventh chapter examines the first twenty-five years of the clothworkers' company, and specifically explores the mercantile success of its leading members, and the growing wealth and political influence of the company. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the competitive forces that controlled, not just the total industry, but the success or failure of the individual crafts and their members, and provides some observations on the way that the masters and journeymen managed to cooperate, and at times conflicted, in their continual struggle to remain competitive and to provide themselves with a secure livelihood.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available