Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Annals of Lisburn and Vicinity


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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1442. -- The Dioceses of Down and Connor United.

1579. -- Castle-Robin, on the White Mountain, re-built by Sir Robert Norton. Earlier a stronghold of the O'Neills stood on the same site.

1585. -- Sir Shane O'Neill, the Captain of Kill-ul-Tagh, owned the territory of Killultagh, and a stronghold of his is believed to have been situate in what is now known as the Castle Gardens. The Captain joined the Earl of Tyrone in rebellion, was outlawed about 1606, and his estate seized by the Crown and given to General-Conway. Sir Foulke Conway, in 1614, was Governor of Ennis-Loughlin, one of the last of the native forts, situate at Trumra, near Moira.

1586. -- Killultagh is described as "a very fast country, full of wood and bog, bordering on Lough Neagh." The name of Killultagh is used in three senses. First, it is the name of a townland, the fuller name of which is Derry Killultagh. Secondly, there was the territory of Killultagh, an ancient term, defined as the district lying between the River Lagan and Lough Neagh. Sir Foulke Conway received a grant of this territory, other portions were added, and it became known later as the Manor of Killultagh.

1608. -- Sir Foulke Conway received a grant of the territory of Killultagh. Afterwards other lands were added, and it became known as the Hertford Estate. Sir Foulke was succeeded, in 1624, by his brother, Sir Edward, Baron Conway, Viscount of Killultagh. He built, about 1630, the Castle, of which remains still exist in the Castle Gardens. It was destroyed by the great fire of 1707, and never re-built. It was by Sir Foulke Conway, and in his time, that the town was laid out, practically in its present form, in so far as regards Castle Street, Bridge Street, and Market Square.

1608. -- Long prior to 1608, probably before the reign of Queen Elizabeth, there was a small village here, even then known as Lisnegarvey, Linsley Garvin, or Lis-na-Garvagh -- Gamester's Mount. To the North East of the town there was a mount, moated about, and another to the South West, these were surrounded with a great wood, and thither resorted all the Irish outlaws to play cards and dice.

1610. -- Plantation of Ulster by James I.

1610. -- The early settlers of Killultagh, brought over by the Conway family, were chiefly from the counties of Worcester, Warwick, and Gloucester. The tradition of the people for long was that their fathers came from "the apple counties" of England.

1611. -- Brookhill, built by Sir Foulke Conway. An earlier building is said to have been erected there by Sir Francis Brook.

1623. -- The church of St. Thomas opened for Divine service, re-named Christ Church, and raised to the dignity of a Cathedral in 1662. It was destroyed by fire twice. In 1641, during the battle of Lisburn, and in 1707, at the time of the great conflagration that consumed almost the whole of Lisburn. Canon Pounden, who was appointed rector in 1884, carried out many extensive improvements, both to the interior and exterior of the edifice, expending thereon some £3,000. He was 62 years in Holy orders, and died in 1917 at the advanced age of 87 years. The church records exist in almost unbroken succession from 1639.

1628. -- A charter establishing the Lisburn markets was granted to Viscount Conway by Charles I.

1641. -- Piper Hill received its name in 1641. During the battle of Lisburn the head of a piper of one of the regiments was blown off and rolled down the hill, hence the name.

1641. -- The battle of Lisnagarvey was fought on the 28th day of November, 1641, when the Irish Rebels attempted to capture the town. The garrison was under the command of Sir George Rawdon. The battle continued from early morning till late into the night, and the town was practically burnt to the ground. Some 200 rebels were slain in Bridge Street, and 300 Castle Street. In their retreat the rebels burnt Brookhill House, containing Lord Conway's library and other goods to the value of five or six thousand pounds.

1641. -- The Old Castle, Hillsborough, erected. It was strongly fortified, and in 1660, it was made a Royal Garrison. King William III., on his march to the Boyne, spent two days in it. From it the king issued the Royal Warrant authorising the payment of £1,200 yearly to the Presbyterian ministers of Ulster.

1644. -- General Munroe made an attempt to get possession of the town of Lisburn, but was frustrated by the vigilance of the garrison.

1648. -- A great victory was obtained by the Parliament's Forces in the North of Ireland, on the Plains of Lisnegarvey, at Lisnastrain, Parish of Drumbeg, against the Royalists and Irish there, wherein were 1,400 slain, Colonel John Hamilton taken prisoner, and seventeen more of quality. The place of the encounter is described as at a "boggy pass," and that Lord Clandeboy was slain or sank in a bog, being corpulent.

1648. -- Derriaghy Church, it is said, was almost destroyed during a battle between the Royalist and Scotch forces. In 1750 the roof was of shingles. The old church enlarged in 1813; the new church consecrated 1872.

1662. -- A Charter, dated 1662, erected the Church of Lisburn into a Cathedral for the United Dioceses of Down and Connor, and empowered the inhabitants of Lisburn to return two Burgesses to the Irish Parliament, which they did till 1802, when the representation was limited by the Act of Union to one member.

1664. -- Portmore Castle, Ballinderry, erected by Lord Conway, on the site of a more ancient fortress. It contained accommodation for two troops of horse, with a range of stabling, 140 feet in length, 35 feet in breadth, and 40 feet in height. It was dismantled in 1761.

1667. -- Bishop Jeremy Taylor died in Lisburn in the year 1667, in a house in Castle Street, almost opposite the entrance to the Cathedral, and was buried at Dromore. He resided at various times at Portmore, Hillsborough, Magheralave, and Castle Street, between the years 1658 and 1667. He was a lecturer in Lisburn Church, and later created Bishop of Down and Connor.

1683. -- Lord Conway died without an heir, and left his Irish estate to Colonel Seymour, who took the name of Seymour-Conway.

1684. -- Sir George Rawdon was possibly the most influential man in Killultagh in the 17th century. He was M.P. for Belfast in 1639, and resided for a time at Brookhill. In 1654 he built a residence in Lisburn, having married in that year, as his second wife, Dorothy Conway, sister of the second Viscount Conway. Rawdon assisted in the defence of Lisburn against the Irish rebels in 1641. He was the ancestor of the Earl of Moira. Died in 1684 and was buried in Lisburn.

1687. -- Rev. Silvanius Haslam, rector of the parish, built a row of cottages which still bears his name -- Haslam's Lane. It was situated a short distance from the Sluice River, which crosses Bow Street, close to the Ulster Bark. At this period the southern section of the town was said to end with the Sluice River, which ran unbridged across the street. The portion afterwards known as Bow Lane, consisted only of a few scattered houses.

1689. -- Lisburn is described as one of the prettiest inland towns in the North of Ireland, and one of the most English-like places in the Kingdom.

1689. -- Duke Schomberg summoned all the gentlemen in the country to meet him at Lisburn, where they presented him with an address, and agreed upon rates for all sorts of provisions which were commanded to be sold according to the Duke's proclamation, but this was very disagreeable to the country people who had been receiving treble rates before for everything purchased from them.

(To be Continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 28 February 1919 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Some Aspects of Scottish Wit and Humour (1919)

The articles, in the "Standard" which have dealt with Ulstermen and Ulster-Scots lead one to think of one characteristic common to both; that lighter quality commonly called wit. It has been said that the Scottish people do not possess the faculty of being witty. Not only that, but also that it requires a surgical operation to put a joke into a Scotsman's head. We all know of the Scot who heard a funny story one morning, and to the surprise of everybody, had a violent fit of laughter just at suppertime. It had taken the intervening time; for the pith and point of the joke to soak into his humourless brain! Nevertheless, a Scot can be funny, and he does appreciate humour when he sees it, no matter how the general opinion seems all the other way.

Of course, there is a great difference between the humour of the Irish man and the Scot; the one is merry and joyous and sparkling with laughter, like the effect a bright Irish sky would have on the temperament; the latter is dour and heavy, often pawky, and bears the effect of the more stern upbringing and sober atmosphere of Scottish life. We are speaking of the humour of a century ago. Alas, it has gone! The rush of present-day civilisation has quite changed both; that is in the more industrial re-modernised parts of both countries. How could we expect the quaint, ingenuous sallies we read of in by-gone days to thrive under smoky skies and amidst the worry and bustle of modern life. In those by-gone days things were taken at more leisurely pace, and more of the real essence of life's joy and laughter was got out of it. In comparison, present-day wit as we hear it, or read it in paper and magazine is lamentably thin and watery. Now it has become a profession almost to be funny; then it was real, integral part of the daily life of the people. The gift of humour in its many grades was common to all classes, and the poorest or humblest thought nothing of pointing a joke or directing a witty sarcasm at their superiors. In spite of all our advantages, indeed, it is doubtful if all ranks of society to-day are in as intimate connection with each other as they were then -- so delightfully and simply, too. We propose to retail a few of those choice stories with this in view, showing how in the Scottish life of that time the gift of humour was a gift common to all classes. In the main these stories are quoted from Dean Ramsay's "Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character." One of the commonest features of the Scot, lowland or highland, is his coolness in all circumstances, his refusal to get excited or over-exhuberant, no matter how the circumstances call for such. This dry and unconcerned quality is seen to advantage in the following story, a gentleman was sitting in a stage-coach at Berwick, and was complaining bitterly to his fellow-passengers of the condition of the cushion on which he sat. On looking up to the roof he saw a hole from which the rain was descending copiously. He called for the coachman, and in great wrath reproached him with the evil under which the suffered, and pointed to the hole which was the cause of it. All the satisfaction he got, however, was the quiet unmoved reply, "Ay, mony a ane has complained o' that hole." The following is a good example of child-humour and shows that the humourist also is born not made.  It is related of the son of an old Mr. Campbell, of Jura. It seems the boy was much spoilt by indulgence. In fact, the parents were scarce able to refuse him anything he demanded. He was in the drawing room on one occasion when dinner was announced, and on being ordered up to the nursery, he insisted on going down to dinner with the company. His mother was for refusal, but the child persevered, and kept saying, "If I dinna gang, I'll tell thou." His father then for peace sake let him go. So he went and sat at a table by his mother. When he found everyone getting soup, and himself omitted, he demanded soup, and repeated, "If tell thou." His father then for peace given, and various other things yielded to his importunities, to which he always added the usual threat of "telling thou." At last when it came to wine, his mother stood firm, and positively refused, as "a bad thing for boys" and so on. He then became more vociferous than ever about "telling thou," and as still he was refused, he declared, "Now, I will tell them thou," and at last roared out, "Ma new breeks were made oot o' the auld curtains." We mentioned that there was perfect freedom in these days between all classes, and many a joke was made by servant at the expense of master, without the slightest offence being taken. The following is a case in point. A former Duke of Athol was met one day by one of his gardeners. He asked him, "How Marget, his wife, was the day," to which the man replied that she had that morning given birth to twins. Upon which the Duke who had no family of his own, said, "Well, Donald, ye ken the Almighty never sends bairns without the meet." To which Donald replied, "That may be, your grace, but whiles I think that Providence maks a mistak in thae matters, and sends the bairns to ae hoose and the meat to anither." Next to the Laird, the minister probably came in the social scale, and, while the folk had a due respect for his office, sometimes his person and his performance did not escape their shafts of humour. A young minister was preaching for a few Sundays in a country pulpit, and on one of these occasions dined with one of the famers after service was over. He thought it necessary to apologise to his host for eating so substantial a dinner. "You see," he said, "I am always very Hungry after preaching." The old gentleman, not much admiring the youth's ministrations at last replied sarcastically, "Indeed, sir, I'm no' surprised at it, considering the trash that came off your stomach in the morning." The following story is also good. The Laird in this case being the unconscious humourist. A Laird in a small way once called see the late Duke of Hamilton, with whom he had business, and the Duke politely asked him to lunch. A liveried servant waited upon them, and was most assiduous in his attentions to the Duke and his guest. At last the latter lost patience, and looking at the servant, addressed him thus, "What the deil are ye dance, dancing, about the room that gait; can ye no draw in your chair, and sit down? I'm sure there's plenty on the table for three!" Our last story has a touch of grimness about it. Funerals in the days we speak of were attended by scenes the reverse of solemn and a farmer had been exercising hospitality at an inn near by his house, where his second wife lay dead. The master of the inn on looking over his bill, defended his charge as moderate, when the farmer reminded him "Ye forget, man, that its no ilka ane that brings a second funeral to your house."

These are few specimens of the humorsome tendencies of the past generation of Scots. Dean Ramsay's "Reminiscences" from which these samples are culled is, indeed, a treasure, and the lucky owner of his immortal work can, when he is so minded dip into its pages anywhere, and find himself refreshed by the charm of his writing. In a future issue we hope to quote and comment on a few more of these stories.

(This article (though not the illustrations) was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 21 February 1919. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Memoir of the Late Thomas Moore (1852)

Portrait of Thomas Moore
THOMAS MOORE was born in Dublin on the 30th of May, 1780, the son of a small tradesman, who afterwards became a quartermaster in the army, It is not easy to decide when he first attempted verse. Upon looking back he could not discover when he was not a scribbler. In his thirteenth year he was already a contributor to a magazine; in his fourteenth he had addressed a sonnet to his schoolmaster; and some three years before he sent his production to the Irish periodical, he had distinguished himself in another branch of art by undertaking principal characters in amateur theatricals. Moore was privileged to be precocious without paying the penalty of precocity. When he was twelve years old, he accompanied his father, a Roman Catholic, to a patriotic dinner held in honour of the French Revolution, then a recent event, and regarded, as he himself tells us, as a signal to the slave, wherever suffering, "that the day of his deliverance was near at hand. Men's hearts, it has been written, are cradled into poetry by wrong. The early genius of Moore was, no doubt, nurtured by the sufferings of his race, and maintained in vigour and freshness until the decaying music of his native land came to claim him wholly as her own. The Act of Parliament having opened the University to Roman Catholics in 1703, the young poet immediately availed himself of this opportunity. The year following his admission, while still a child, he wrote and published a paraphrase of Anacreon's fifth ode, and then proceeded to the translation of other odes by the same poet, for which he vainly hoped the University Board might deem him "deserving of some honour or reward." Disappointed in his expectation he, nevertheless, continued his task, and occupied himself in improving his verses and illustrating them by learned annotations, until he reached his 19th year, when he quitted Ireland for the first time, and set out for London, "with the two not very congenial objects of keeping his terms in the Middle Temple and publishing, by subscription, his translation of Anacreon." The translation duly appeared in 1800. It was dedicated to George IV., then Prince of Wales, who, we may remark, received no further honour at the poet's hands.

In 1803, Moore had the misfortune to obtain worldly advancement. He was promoted to an official situation in Bermuda. In the year named, Moore set out for Bermuda, and subsequently visited the United States. The effects of the voyage were to subdue the admiration with which he had previously regarded "American institutions," and the publication, in 1806, of two volumes of Odes and Epistles. The well-known "Canadian Boat Song" owes its origin to this tour. In his passage down the St. Lawrence, Moore jotted down, in pencilling, upon a fly-leaf of a volume he was then reading, both the notes and a few of the words of the original song by which his own boat glee had been suggested. The volume was given, at parting, to a fellow-traveller as a keepsake. Years afterwards the book found its way back to its former owner, who, to his great surprise, discovered that the music of this celebrated glee was actually as much his own as the words. In the original note to the song, the reader is informed "that the words were written to an air which the boatmen sang to us frequently." Extraordinary as it may appear, the air had never been heard at all until Moore presented it, for all time, to the lovers of plaintive song and romantic imagery.

Two years after the publication of the descriptive sketches, illustrating the poet's travels, appeared the Works of the late Thomas Little, a gentleman, "who gave much of his time to the amatory writers." Long before his death Mr. Moore became thoroughly ashamed of Thomas Little and of the compositions of his wanton and salacious pen. The Fudge Family, written in 1817, after a visit to Paris with Mr. Rogers, the Twopenny Posting, and similar productions, full of point, wit, and polish, are unrivalled as political lampoons, and preserve to this hour their first exquisite relish. The apprenticeship of Moore was served when he commenced the Irish Melodies, which have rendered his name famous wherever music is cherished. From that hour his genius triumphed, and most deservedly.

The publication of the Irish Melodies commenced in 1807, and, continued at intervals, was concluded in 1834. They have been translated into Latin, Italian, French, and Russian, and are familiar as proverbs amongst the fellow-countrymen of the poet, and indeed wherever English is understood and music loved. A lengthened criticism of these admirable songs -- now sparkling -- now plaintive -- here glowing with fervour -- there laden with pathos -- all teeming with exuberant illustration -- is scarcely needed here.

The year 1812 found Moore, in his 23rd year, enjoying a well-earned fame, but on circumscribed ground. He had not as yet given to the world a long and continuous work, and shown how well he could sustain the brilliancy that seemed too keenly elaborate for a protracted effort. In that year, however, impelled by the suggestions of his friends, the poet resolved to take the field against his most favoured competitors, and to attempt a poem upon an Oriental subject, of the dimensions which Sir Walter Scott's then recent triumphs had rendered the poetical standard. A negotiation was at once opened with the house of Longman, but it led to no decisive result, and for two years the matter slumbered. Finally, an interview took place between Messrs. Longman and Mr. Moore, with a view to an arrangement, and before it closed, "much to the honour and glory of romance," as Moore with becoming pride relates, the publishers chivalrously undertook to pay the poet 3,000 guineas for his poem, even before seeing a single line of the production. In 1815, some progress having been made in the task, Moore wrote to his publishers, expressing his willingness to submit his manuscript for their consideration. The answer was in conformity with the magnanimity of the original engagement. "We are certainly impatient for the perusal of the poem," wrote Messrs. Longman, "but solely for our gratification. Your sentiments are always honourable." Another year elapsed, and in 1816, the work being complete, was placed in the hands of the publishers. In 1817 Lalla Rookh appeared, Messrs. Longman made no unsound or hasty calculation. The poem was hailed with a burst of admiration from sceptics as well as believers.

And no wonder! It was a triple triumph of industry, learning, and genius. The broad canvas exhibited a gorgeous painting; from beginning to end the same lavish ornament, the same overpowering sweetness, the same variegated and delicate tracery, the same revelling of a spirit happy in its intense enjoyment of beauty that characterised the miniatures and gems that heretofore had proceeded from the artist's pencil. So far from betraying a diminution of power, or an inability to maintain his high-pitched note, the poet pursued his strain until he fairly left his reader languishing with a surfeit of luscious song, and faint from its oppressive odours. We peruse the romance, and marvel at the miraculous facility of the writer who has but to open his lips to drop emeralds and pearls, like the good princess in the fairly tale. Nor does astonishment cease when we learn, that, eager and all but involuntary as the verse appears to issue from its source, the apparently effortless composition is actually a labour performed with all the diligence of the mechanic and all the forethought of science.

Moore had done something more than read over D'Herbelot. He had devoured every book he could get relating to the East, and did not rise from his occupation until he positively knew more of Persia than of his own country, and until his acclimated genius found it as easy to draw inspiration from the influences of a land he had never seen as from the living and silent forms by which, in his own country, he had been from his childhood surrounded. Eastern travellers and Oriental scholars have borne testimony to the singular accuracy of Moore's descriptive pen. Travellers, also, who followed the poet across the Atlantic, and visited after him Bermuda and America, dwell upon his scrupulous exactness in all his references to these regions, whether they regard monuments or manners. As far as Lalla Rookh is concerned, one extraordinary piece of evidence is most conclusive. The poem, translated into Persian, has found its way to Ispahan, and is thoroughly appreciated on the shores of the Caspian. In London, the poem looks like an exotic; there it is racy of the soil.

In the Autumn of 1817, and the fulness of his triumph, Moore visited Paris with Mr. Rogers, and picked up, as we have already noted, the materials of his Fudge Family, a satire written on the plan of the New Bath Guide, and intended to help the political friends of the satirist at the expense of their opponents. Time has taken away from much of the interest that attaches to those squibs of the hour, but age can never blunt the point of their polished wit or dull its brilliancy. The popularity of the Fudge Family kept pace with that of Lalla Rookh. In 1819 the poet went abroad again, this time with Lord John Russell. The travellers proceeded in company by the Simplon into Italy, but soon parted company, Lord John Russell to proceed to Genoa, Moore to visit Lord Byron in Venice. Moore had made the acquaintance of Byron in 1S12, when the latter, then in his twenty-fifth year, had just taken the world by surprise with his publication of the earlier cantos of Childe Harold, The poets took to each other as soon as they met, and their friendship continued unimpaired until death divided them.

Returning from Rome, Moore took up his abode in Paris, in which capital he resided until the year 1822. The conduct of the Deputy in Bermuda had thrown the poet into difficulties, and, until he could struggle out of them, a return to England was incompatible with safety. There were not wanting friends to run to the rescue, but Moore honourably undertook to provide for his own misfortunes. Declining all offers of help, he took heart, and resolutely set to work for his deliverance. After much negotiation, the claims of the American merchants against him were brought down from 6,000 guineas to 1,000. Towards this reduced amount, the friends of the offending deputy subscribed £300. The balance (£750) was deposited "by a dear and distinguished friend" of the principal in the hands of a banker, to be in readiness for the final "settlement of the demand." A few months after the settlement was effected, Moore received £1,000 for his Loves of the Angels, and £500 for the Fables of the Holy Alliance. With half of these united sums, he discharged his obligation to his benefactor.

Great poets are, for the most part, masters of prose. In 1827, Moore appeared before the public as the author of a prose romance. The Epicurean, intended originally to be written in verse, retains the essential beauty of a poem. It reproduces the feeling and the fancy of Lalla Rookh, its soft and glowing colouring, and all its erudition. The spirit is borne along in the perusal with a soothing, dreamy, fascinating motion, yet is sustained throughout by a lofty, wholesome, and consolatory thought. In the Epicurean, Moore made amends for the levities of his youth, and for once the fancy of the poet was sublimed by the moral and religious aspirations of the teacher. Love had ceased to be mere gallantry. It is here the noblest, purest, best of human passions. The discontent of the Athenian philosopher -- his uneasy longing after immortality -- his communion with the devoted Alethe, move angelic in her nature than the angels of the poet -- her Christian martyrdom his own death, are all described with masterly skill, and with the finest perception of moral and artistic I beauty. If the eye of the sensualist is too palpably evident in many of Moore's metrical compositions, it is altogether invisible in the ethical romance, which is consecrated to piety alone. Never did meek religion present herself in more enchanting a guise before.

In 1825 (previously to the publication of the Epicurean) Moore wrote a Life of Sheridan, in 1830 he issued his Notices of the Life of Lord Byron, and in the following year the Memoirs of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, in all the biographies maintaining his well-earned position. In his Life of Sheridan he did not shrink from the difficulties of his task. To borrow the language of a critic at the time, "He did not hide the truth under too deep a veil, neither did he blazon it forth." Of Byron, Moore (influenced by his affection) thought more tenderly than the majority of his contemporaries. The character of the staunch ally, old associate, and brother bard, is finely painted in the Notices, and to the honour of Moore be it said, he knew how to stand by his departed friend while fulfilling his obligations to the public, whom it was his business to instruct. The History of Ireland, published from time to time in Lardner's Cyclopedia, we believe it to be the latest, as it is the most elaborate and serious, of our author's compositions.

(This article was originally published in the Belfast Newsletter on 8 March 1852. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Linen Industry in Ulster (pt4)


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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The Factory System.

Meantime, James Watt was struggling with the steam-engine. In the year 1765, by a flash, of genius, he discovered the error in the Newcomen engine, which was then in use for pumping purposes, and after a long struggle he was able to remedy the defect and to produce a new engine which performed its work satisfactorily. The discovery of the "rotative" motion shortly afterwards enabled it to be applied to drive machinery, and in 1785 the first steam-engine was introduced into a cotton mill at Popplewick.

All these discoveries taken together dealt a fatal blow to the domestic system. The output of cloth was enormously increased, and the cost no greatly reduced that a great increase took place, in the demand. In fifteen years the cotton trade trebled itself. Old barns, cart-houses and out-buildings of every description were repaired and converted into loom-shops. Means of communication had improved, the canal system had become developed, the money market was springing up, banking had increased and was providing the necessary, capital and credit, without which the revolution could not have been carried out. Hand-loom weaving in the cotton trade gradually ceased to be a paying trade. It could not compete against the power-loom. Gradually the weavers flocked to the centres of manufacture seeking employment. They had to sacrifice their independence and submit to the discipline of the factory system. Under the domestic system where journeymen were employed, there was a great deal of intimacy between master and labourers, which brought about a good feeling between them. Under the new system, workers were thrown together under very hard and rigid conditions. The hours were long, and the employers in the early days not very humanitarian. A great proportion of them were self-made ignorant men who did not understand the economy of good wages and shorter hours. The workers had not grown up to the new system and found it oppressive. Consequently from the evils of those early days there sprang up that antagonism between employer and worker which has caused so many strikes and lock-outs, which has caused combinations between capital and labour, and which has handed down to our time industrial problems, the solving of which will be one of the greatest difficulties of the future.

It now remains to trace what the effects of the establishment of the factory system in the cotton industry were on the linen industry of the North of Ireland.

The mechanical inventions which revolutionised the cotton industry must have excited a great deal of interest amongst the linen manufacturers who soon heard about them. For a considerable time afterwards it was not thought practicable to apply any of these inventions to the manufacture of linen, consequently the minds of enterprising men turned instinctively to the manufacture of cotton. There had been some manufacture of cotton goods carried on in the north of Ireland previous to this time, but it now made rapid headway.

Lisburn again came to the front, and it is on record that the first steam-engine applied to drive machinery was in a Lisburn cotton mill. The following is rather interesting extract from McCall's history of the Cotton Manufacture in Ireland:--

Steam Power.

In 1789, Mr. Wallace erected a cotton mill in a court off Castle Street, Lisburn, and had the concern filled with the most modern machinery. Job Ryder, a shrewd watchmaker of Belfast, offered his services as superintendent of works, and these were accepted; but when all had been nearly finished, some difference of opinion arose between the proprietor and his people as to what description of "power" would be most effective for driving the spindles. The building being situate in the centre of the town no one of all the local streams could have been brought to bear on the machinery, horse-power was out of the question, consequently the only course open to Mr. Wallace was to call in the aid of steam. He had heard much about the discoveries of Watt and Boulton, but he was also aware that several manufacturers of Lancashire and Lanark, who had great experience in the matter, were of opinion that, besides its great cheapness, the strength of a mountain stream, where it could be made available, was quite equal to that of the new agent. As it was, Mr. Wallace had no choice, he must try steam power; and, for the purpose of personally examining the principle and seeing it at work, he set oft for Glasgow -- a full week's run in those days -- and on arriving there, he visited several concerns in the cotton spinning trade, and in each of which that machinery was driven by steam. Having been convinced of the superiority of the new principle, he purchased a fifteen horsepower engine, engaged competent mechanics to set it up, and returned home. Many were the difficulties he had to contend against in the preliminary proceedings -- a well had to be sunk to obtain water for condensing purposes, and competent hands had to be engaged to work at the concern; but at length all arrangements were completed, and Mr. Wallace enjoyed the triumph of seeing the first steam-engine that ever whirled in the North of Ireland driving the spindles of the Lisburn Cotton Mill. The wonderful power of mechanism stirred up immense curiosity, not only in that town, but in several other places, and many scientific men from distant parts of the North visited Lisburn to see the new power at work. A venerable friend of mine, who lived to a patriarchal age, and was one of that race of gentleman-farmers which has few representatives in these days, told me that he recollected perfectly the erection of Mr. Wallace's mill, and he described with great interest the excitement which had been created about the steam-engine. Its construction was, of course very inferior to that of those manufactured in after days, the beam having been made of wood, and the inner work roughly finished, still, it worked well and was considered a marvellous invention.

In 1793 another cotton mill was erected in Lisburn by George Whitla and Robert Stirling. That concern was not so large as that of James Wallace; it gave employment to fifty hands, and the spindles were driven by an engine of twelve-horse-power. These cotton spinning mills were carried on successfully for several years, but death and other casualties brought "about many changes, and in 1812 not a spindle was in motion in Lisburn."

The Cotton Manufacture

now extended very rapidly, and it looked about the beginning of last century as if cotton would displace linen manufacture. In the year 1800 ten thousand bales of raw cotton were landed at Belfast, and in the year 1807 the imports amounted to 14,000 bales, worth about £420,000. Another important factor must have helped to stimulate cotton manufacture; the interruption of the supplies of flax and flaxseed which was practically all imported from abroad, during the Napoleonic wars. Prices of flax increased enormously and manufacturers were obliged to turn their looms on to cotton the supply of the raw material being available.

It was natural at this period that Belfast should become an important centre, owing to the growing facilities for importing the raw material and exporting the finished article. We find, therefore, that out of the fourteen cotton spinning mills started about this time, ten were located in Belfast and the immediate neighbourhood, and gave employment to over two thousand hands.

By the year 1810 cotton manufacture seems in have attained its zenith in Ireland. In the year 1776 there were about 500 linen looms at works in Belfast. In 1790 there were 158 linen and 500 cotton looms, and in the year 1810 there were 6 linen looms and 860 cotton looms. From 1812 to 1814, owing to the war with America about the right of search, raw cotton supplies were interrupted, and cotton spinning in Ireland received a check. During the years of financial disasters that recurred at regular intervals after the Napoleanic wars, owing to the great fall in prices, great losses were sustained and cotton spinning lost ground rapidly until it became practically extinct in the North of Ireland in the year 1828.

During this period the Lisburn market was still the most important centre for the sale of brown cloth and was celebrated for the superiority of its thirty-eight inch linens. The turn-over at each day's sales, in the busy season, about the year 1816, amounted to £5,200. After this a gradual transition seems to have taken place, other markets increased in importance, and Lisburn gradually lost ground, until at a late date Ballymena and Armagh were finally the only two places where brown linens were sold in the open market, and when the domestic system was displaced this method of selling cloth disappeared altogether.

Flax-Spinning by Machinery.

was first invented and developed in England and afterwards introduced into Ireland. Experiments had been going on for some years previous to 1788, but during that year John Marshall, the son of a Leeds shopkeeper, entered into partnership with two others and erected a small mill in Leeds. It was not very successful at the commencement, but in the course of a few years the machinery was improved and the undertaking commenced to be a success. Under this system coarse yarns could only be spun as the flax was spun in a dry state. In the year 1825 Mr. Thomas Kaye, who was a very ingenious manufacturer, discovered the method of "wet spinning" which enabled yarns of much finer counts to be spun. This was a great stimulus to flax-spinning in England, and machine-spun yarn rapidly gained ground.

The year 1828 marks a very important period in the history of the linen industry in Ireland, for during that year flax spinning by steam power was adopted and introduced by two firms -- Messrs. Mulholland Bros., of York Street, Belfast, and Messrs. James and William Murland, Castlewellan. Both these enterprises were successful and succeeded beyond expectations. In a short time yarns were produced which were superior to those produced by hand-spinning, and besides the cost proved much cheaper. A great demand sprung up for machine-spun yarns, and the linen industry was greatly stimulated. Meantime, other important changes had taken place which accelerated the development of the new system. In 1825 the Irish coinage was reformed. There had been important accumulations of capital, and through the operations of banking which was now being developed in Ireland this capital could be readily utilised for the extension of enterprise. The channel was being cleared, shipping was increasing, and regular services between Belfast and English ports were established. It was now possible to transport easily heavy and bulky machinery necessary for the development of the industry. Improvement in spinning machinery quickly followed. The development was pushed energetically, and by the end of the year 1840 there were thirty-eight mills working in Ireland, containing 245,000 spindles, and hand-spinning had practically ceased to exist. In 1845 there were sixty mills at work containing 290,000 spindles and in 1850 the number of spindles bad increased to 330,000. This rapid growth continued until in the year 1867 the number of spindles at work in Ireland was about equal to the spindles of England and Scotland combined.

The date of the introduction of power-loom weaving into the linen manufacture in Ireland seems uncertain. McCall states that power-loom production of linen goods was "little thought of by Irish manufacturers until 1848, and even then was looked on by over-cautious men as a risky speculation." It is evident that the cloth was practically all produced in hand-looms up to this time. Enterprising bleachers and merchants had established hand-loom factories for the production of cloth on an extensive scale, and even successful and pushing country hand-loom weavers who had accumulated a little capital, took advantage of the facilities that Belfast offered to come there and start small hand-loom shops which were afterwards greatly developed. After 1850 the power-loom manufacture greatly extended, and in the year 1867 there were 12,500 power-looms at work in Ireland.

A special feature which encouraged the development of the factory system in Belfast is worthy of notice, and may explain to some extent the rapid development of the industry there in comparison with its development in other cities in the United Kingdom. Between 1828 and 1840 most of the land on which Belfast now stands was let at low rents under leases for lives renewable for ever, and by the operation of the Renewable Leaseholds Conversion Act 1848, these leases were converted into grants in perpetuity subject to the same rents and other payments as were reserved by the leases. Some years after the Donegall Belfast Estate was sold through the Encumbered Estate Court, and in many cases the rents were redeemed at low cost owing to values being depreciated by so much estate being thrown on the market at once. Where they were not redeemed the grant in perpetuity operates to prevent any increase in rent. As the urbanisation of industry was a feature of the industrial revolution, the development of the industry in Belfast received a notable advantage in this way.

The progress of industry has been continuous, and since 1867 it has quickly outstripped the linen industry in Great Britain where it has rapidly declined, until to-day there are about 1,000,000 spindles and 40,000 looms engaged in the manufacture of linen in Ireland, and as well as Irish linens having the reputation of being the finest in the world, the industry in Ireland occupies the premier place amongst the world's rivals.


In making this brief survey of the history of the development of our staple industry, one cannot help being impressed by the fact that the development has been unfortunately lob-sided; that is to say, the spinning, weaving, and marketing branches of the trade have developed, while there has been practically no progress made for nearly two hundred years in the culture of the flax and the method of preparing the flax for the market. As a matter of fact, the growth of flax instead of increasing with the growth of the industry had actually declined so much that the industry was being carried on mainly by the supplies of flax that were imported from abroad. During the great European war when these supplies were cut off, when the fate of our Empire was hanging in the balance, and when linen was vitally essential for the equipment of our aeroplanes the sorry spectacle was witnessed of frantic efforts having to be made at the eleventh hour to stimulate the growth of flax at home in order to help to bring the war to a successful issue. It was only when foreign supplies failed, and such a contingency never seemed to have been reckoned upon, that any thought was given to the idea of stimulating the culture of flax in Ireland. The farmer, although in some measure responsible for the diminution in the production of home grown flax, cannot be blamed for the weakness of the position of our industry during the critical years of the war. He was rendered powerless by the economic conditions which had been at work during past years. Foreign flax was imported cheaper than could be grown at home, consequently Irish farmers, not being philanthropists, neglected its culture.

The outstanding feature in connection with the development of our industry is the fact that the cost of the production and handling of flax in the hands of the farmers has increased, while, on the other hand, the cost of production in the other branches of the industry has under the factory system been enormously reduced. This latter has always been the case in every other industry, to which science, ingenuity and organisation have been applied. It would appear that there is a missing link in the organisation of the linen industry. The farmer should not be asked to do more than grow the flax, and by the assistance of education and the application of scientific methods there is no reason why the flax crop should not be profitable under normal conditions. When the crop has been harvested the farmer's work should cease. He has neither the capital nor the labour at his disposal, nor can he grow the flax in sufficient quantity to undertake the retting and handling in an organised and scientific manner. Because no advance has been made in the, retting and handling of the flax crop for two hundred years, no person would be insane enough to say that a state of perfection had been reached, that the old method of steeping in bog holes under arduous and difficult conditions where nature, never in a hurry, is allowed to work out her own ways, is the only one. It is here that an advance in the development of the industry is essential in order to cheapen the cost of production. There is room for the growth of an organisation to buy the flax straw from the farmers, to discover and apply scientific methods by which the spinner will be supplied with flax at a cost that will check foreign competition.

Already a movement is on foot to establish a Research Association in connection with the linen trade. Such a movement should receive the support of everyone interested in the welfare of our trade, and it is to be hoped that their efforts will be directed to try and find a remedy for the weak parts of the organisation of the industry.

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 14 February 1919 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Linen Industry in Ulster (pt3)


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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Damask Manufacture in Lisburn.

Lisburn appears to have been associated with this important branch of manufacture from its earlier stages of development in Ireland. There are traces of the manufacture of fancy patterns in Lurgan about the beginning of the eighteenth century. In 1712 a man called Quinn, who appears to have been very ingenious in fitting up looms for fancy weaving, settled there, and with the aid of two or three families of Huguenots commenced the manufacture of damask on an extensive scale. At this time the style of design seems to have been diaper patterns, which could be produced by a certain number of needles, which were connected with treddles and operated by the feet of the weaver.

In 1764, when William Coulson, the founder of the Lisburn Damask Factory, commenced work with a small number of looms, there was not much variety of patterns, and it was his determination to produce more intricate designs, which lead to the development of damask weaving. He adopted the system of damask weaving by means of draw-boys. In order to make the pattern more intricate the heddles had to be increased to such an extent that it was impossible for the weaver to operate them. Under the draw-boy system, the heddles were attached to pulleys placed above the loom. These pulleys raised and lowered the heddles, and were operated by the draw-boy, whose duty it was to read the pattern and operate the heddles accordingly. By this means more elaborate patterns were woven, and it was possible to introduce pictorial designs. Mr. Coulson was the first manufacturer who successfully worked into his designs armorial devices, national emblems, and heraldic designs, and his success was recognised by British Royalty, to whom he became manufacturer of damask.

Some idea of the intricacy of the mechanism employed to weave a tablecloth of extensive design can be gathered from the following description of a loom mounted to weave damask for a Royal patron:--

"It has five thousand sets of pulleys, and is so wonderful as to preclude the possibility of giving an accurate description, particularly of the method made use of to show a pattern or picture upon a ground where the ground and pattern are equally colourless."

This tablecloth, which was fourteen quarters wide was woven in a loom which required twelve weavers and four draw-boys to operate it.

Sixty years after the first damask loom had been erected in Lisburn, Mr. Michael Andrews started a factory at Ardoyne, which was described then as "being near Belfast." This was the means of drawing to that neighbourhood skilled damask weavers from all parts, and particularly from Lisburn. This seems to have been the commencement of damask weaving in Belfast. Belfast manufacturers, when starting, were able to take advantage of the new invention of Jacquard, which displaced the old draw-boy system, and brought damask manufacture to a greater state of perfection. Gradually the centre shifted until at a later date Belfast became the most important centre of linen damask manufacture in the world.

Thread Manufacture in Lisburn.

The thread manufacture was introduced into the North of Ireland in the year 1784 by Mr. John Barbour, who came from Scotland, and settled, very fortunately for Lisburn, at Plantation. This important branch of the industry affords a striking example of the benefits a community can derive from the judgment, enterprise, and determination of a capable business man. As thread spinning was unknown, Mr. Barbour, by employing qualified instructors, and by paying a high rate of wages, soon put the industry on a sound basis. Progress seems to have been rapid, and soon an extensive industry was established which gave regular and profitable employment to vast numbers of people in the vicinity. The success of the enterprise was assured, and in 1823 a site for its extension was chosen at Hilden, on the Lagan, at the spot where more than one hundred years before Louis Crommelin had erected his first bleachworks in Ireland. This now became the headquarters of the business and under the able and energetic leadership of the founder's son and successor, Mr. William Barbour, the business made rapid progress. Machinery was introduced and applied to the manufacture in 1840, with successful results, and from that time, by able leadership, by keeping abreast of the times, by improving and introducing the most up-to-date machinery, by a liberal scale of wages, by organisation, and by extension of enterprise the progress of the firm has been continuous, much to the benefit of thousands of workers in Lisburn and the vicinity.

The Domestic System.

Before considering the causes which led to the establishment of the factory system, and in order to understand clearly how the domestic system developed into the factory system, it will be necessary to glance at the organisation of the domestic system of industry.

As mentioned before, the manufacture of linen was in the hands of the farmers. Another class of manufacturer grew up who could employ ten or twenty hands. These manufacturers were called drapers and it was considered that a great advance had been made in social status when the weaver rose to that rank. As there was a considerable export of linen yarn to England, to which it will be necessary to refer later, there were considerable quantities of linen yarn being put on the market, which were bought largely for export purposes. The drapers were able to but yarns which they gave out to farmers to weave for them at fixed prices. In this way the markets were kept supplied with brown webs by both drapers and farmers, who sold to the bleachers. The bleachers were the most important and interesting men in the trade. In order to carry on their business it was necessary for them to have command of a considerable amount of capital, as they paid cash to the manufacturers and drapers for the cloth which they bought. The bleaching process in those days was a very slow one, consequently from the time the brown cloth was bought until it was bleached and disposed of a considerable time had to elapse. We find, therefore, that the bleachers were wealthy men who generally owned a lot of land and took a considerable interest in the trade. Some drapers, when they had accumulated a sufficient amount of capital, became bleachers, and some became merchants, giving out their cloth to the bleachers to be bleached, which they then disposed of either by sending it to factors in London or Dublin, or else sold it at the Linen Hall in Dublin to English merchants and factors, who came in great numbers to purchase their requirements.

In 1783 the White Linen Hall was established in Belfast, which was a significant fact showing that the centre of trade had shifted, and that the export was going from Belfast instead of from Dublin.

It is well to remember that during this stage of the industry the means of communication were in a very backward condition. Communication with London, then the commercial centre, was very slow. Arthur Young, famous for his tours, describes the roads as being "atrociously bad" in England, but in contrast the Irish roads he describes as quite good. Goods were conveyed by means of pack-horses and it was only towards the end of the eighteenth century, after the canals were made, that bulky and heavy goods could be conveniently transported.

Under the domestic system, no orders were booked before the goods were made. There was a constant flow of brown cloth to the different provincial towns from the weavers in the neighbourhood of each. In the year 1784 markets were held for the sale of linen goods in thirty-four towns in Ulster. Lisburn still held the lead at this time, and the amount of money paid out for linen each market day averaged £3,000 for that year. Lurgan came next with £2,500, Armagh £1,800, Dungannon £1,500, Belfast £1,000, Ballymena £1,000, Newry £1,000, Cootehill £1,000, Derry £1,000, Stewartstown £800, and the lesser markets averaged from £300 to £700. As mentioned before, the bleachers and merchants sold the cloth when finished to factors in London or Dublin, or to London merchants who came to Dublin to buy. The London merchants either shipped abroad or supplied the home markets, or did both. When the home market was catered for these merchants employed droves of pack-horses to carry it their goods to all the fairs and market towns throughout England. In the market towns they sold to the shops, and in the country districts through which they passed they dealt directly with the consumers. Hence arose the name packmen or pedlars, who were an economic feature at this time.

As banking was little developed, ready cash was an absolute essential for carrying on business. It 1750 there were only twelve country banks in England, which increased to about 400 towards the end of the century. In Ireland there was, practically speaking, no banking system during the eighteenth century. When merchants had to make payments abroad it was necessary to buy London bills, for which as high a premium as 14 per cent. had to be sometimes paid. Consequently those who could afford to do so bought bills when cheap and locked them away until required. This was a great disadvantage, as it meant that merchants had to use part of their capital in this way, which could have been more profitably used in developing their industry, and was one of the main reasons why the factory system developed more slowly in the linen industry than in the other textile industries. The accumulation of capital came most of all to the bleachers and merchants, and this capital at a later date enabled enterprising men to take advantages of the mechanical inventions, which were introduced first in the cotton industry, which caused the industrial revolution in England, and which made the factory system inevitable in the linen industry.

It will now be necessary to examine these causes which revolutionised the cotton industry, and which later had such a powerful effect in the linen industry.

The Cotton Industry

was in its infancy during the first part of the eighteenth century. As mentioned before, there was a large export of linen yarns to England during the century. At one period it was reckoned that three-fourths of the linen yarns spun in Ireland were exported, the reason being that cotton yarn could not be used for warp. Consequently there was really no cotton cloth manufactured, but only a union cloth, the linen yarns imported from Ireland being used for the warp and cotton yarns for the weft.

The first revolutionary impulse was the invention of the fly-shuttle by John Kay in 1738, by means of which the shuttle could be propelled from side to side of the loom between the warp threads by the weaver. Before the invention the weaver had to pass the weft through by hand and consequently a weaver could only weave narrow cloth. When the cloth was broad two or more weavers were necessary. By this invention broad cloth could be woven by one weaver. It also increased the speed of weaving, giving a greater output in a given time. This device does not seem to have been largely used until Kay's son Robert invented the drop-box in 1760. It then suddenly became popular, and caused a great increased demand for yarns owing to the speed of weaving. In fact, it upset the supply of yarns so much that a great shortage of yarns prevailed. More attention was then turned to spinning in order to increase the output.

In 1764 James Hargreaves, of Blackburn, invented the spinning-jenny, by means of which the treadle-driven wheel could drive a number of spindles. As very little power was required to work the spindles, it was not long before jennies were in use which spun twenty or thirty threads at the same time. Yarns became plentiful, and in a short time the supply increased so much that the weavers could not keep up, and spinners were soon short of work. The new machinery, was highly unpopular in consequence, and was frequently smashed by the workers.

In 1769 another invention had a very important effect. Richard Arkwright, who was a barber by trade, invented a machine called the water-frame. This machine was intended to be driven by a horse, and by means of successive pairs of rollers, each pair revolving at increasing speed, a thread was spun which was firm enough to be used for warp. In 1771 a mill driven by water-power was erected at Cromford, and in 1778 six small mills were put up at Oldham, three worked by horses and three by waterwheels. This invention was a very important one, because cotton yarn was now being spun strong enough to serve for warp. In a very short time linen warps were displaced, and all cotton cloth began to be manufactured. This fact caused a falling off in the export of linen yarns from Ireland, and in consequence must have stimulated the weaving trade in Ireland, as is evidenced by the fact that exports of linen cloth increased enormously from 1780 to 1795.

These inventions greatly reduced the cost of cotton yarns, and trade was quickly stimulated. A great demand arose for cotton cloth. The supply of yarns had increased so quickly that it looked as if sufficient weavers were not available to weave them up. Large quantities were being exported, but there were great discussions amongst the spinners as to what was going to be done with the output if yarns kept on increasing. In 1784 a minister of a very ingenious turn of mind, the Rev. Edmund Cartwright, hearing the gossip that was going on, conceived the idea of investing a weaving machine. He set himself to work, with the aid of a carpenter and smith, and constructed a machine which turned out very cumbersome. His reverence, however, persevered, it is to be feared much to the neglect of his spiritual duties, and finally improved on his first attempt, and produced the power-loom which eventually became a commercial success. The power-loom did not become popular for some time. This was owing to the fact that there had been no improvement in the method of dressing the yarn before weaving. There was not any advantage with the power-loom which it had to be stopped incessantly in order to dress the yarn as it was unwound off the back beam, which was a slow process. Consequently it could only be used where yarn-dressing was not necessary. This difficulty was overcome in the year 1803 by the invention of a dressing machine by Johnston, an employee of Messrs. Radcliffe & Ross, of Stockport, who had devoted much attention to the problem. By this invention the warp was dressed and wound unto the weaver's beam, which could then be placed in the loom and the yarn unwound as it was woven, continuously.

(To be continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 7 February 1919 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)