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Title: The Scottish linen industry, 1707-1775, with particular reference to the early history of the British Linen Company
Author: Durie, Alastair James
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1973
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The manufacture of linen was the leading industry in Scotland during the first three-quarters of the eighteenth century. Output, as reflected in the amount of linen stamped for sale, rose from 2.2 million yards in 1728 to 12.1 in 1775. This thesis analyses the development in the light of such factors as the Union, the work of the Board of Trustees for Manufactures, and the expert Bounty on linen, and examines in detail the experience of one large firm within the industry, the British Linen Company. The first section deals with the twenty years immediately following the Union. Although there was unrestricted access to the English and Colonial markets, which was a necessary pre-condition for expansion, the short-term effects were to expose and focus attention on the defects of the industry. In 1727 was formed a Board of Trustees for Manufactures and Fisheries, part of whose funds was to be devoted to the encouragement of the linen industry. The work of the Board and developments within the linen industry during the period 1727 to 1775 are discussed in the second section. After examination of the Board's policies, it is suggested that some were less efficacious than has been commonly supposed, and with the exception of the regulatory network of stampmasters, much of its work may have had only a marginal effect on the long-term development of the industry. A study of the outlets for production indicates that a leading role in the expansion was played by English and Colonial demand, and that the advance of the industry, both quantitatively and qualitatively, was based not on home but extra-domestic demand. In the final section, a close study is made of the history of the British Linen Company for those years between 1746 and c. 1766, when it was primarily and integrally concerned in the promotion of the linen industry in Scotland. Many of the problems with which it was confronted were common to the whole of the industry, although the extent of its capital resources and the size of its operations were quite untypical in an industry dominated by numbers of small, domestic producers. In the fostering of the Osnaburg fabric, and the diffusion of spinning into the Highland areas of the North-East, the Company made distinctive contributions to the development of the industry. It is suggested in conclusion that the withdrawal of the Company to banking after 1765 demonstrates the extent to which the industry had grown and become self-reliant.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available