By The Rev. Thomas Gimlette, Waterford.
Louis Crommelin, to whose energy, activity, and skill, Ireland owes so much in the promotion of her linen manufacture, about this time, during his tour throughout Ireland, came to Waterford; and John Latrobe, one of his most active confederates, became a settler there, and was entrusted with the chief care of promoting the manufacture. His exertions were acknowledged by the Government, though in a far less degree than those of his friend and employer. In the Civil Incidents of the Treasury from 1715 to 1730, several small sums appear, as free grants, to John Latrobe, on account of adequate services rendered in promoting the flax and hempen manufactories in Leinster.
The degree of success which Crommelin had attained in Lisburn prompted him to extend his field of operations to the South; and to accomplish this he required a grant in aid from the Irish Parliament. Their Journal states that, on the 4th day of December, 1717 --
"A petition of Louis Crommelin, gent, was presented to the House and read, setting forth -- That the Petitioner, upon the encouragements given him by his late Majesty King William, of glorious memory came into this kingdom to settle a manufactory of Linen Cloth, and fixed a colony for that purpose at Lisburn, in the North of Ireland, wherein, notwithstanding the many difficulties that attended the same, he succeeded beyond expectation, and by such means increased the trade of the nation in such a measure, and to such a degree, as the revenue and produce thereof is becoming very considerable, as appears by the great exportation every year; and the Petitioner considering that there are several branches of the said manufacture which may be set up in some parts of the kingdom, and tend to the great benefit, advantage, and support of a multitude of poor people, and will be of great benefit to this kingdom in particular and to Great Britain in general, upon a suitable encouragement, the Petitioner, there fore, most humbly offers to set up and carry on the Hempen manufacture of Sail-cloth, of the growth of this country, in such a place or part of the kingdom as the House shall think most proper, being well assured of the same success therein as he had in the former, which will prove no less, if not more beneficial and advantageous to both nations." On reading this, it was ordered -- "That the consideration of the said petition be referred to the Committee appointed to inspect the state of the Linen manufacture, and that they do examine the matter thereof, and report the same, with their opinion therein, to the House, and that all members have voice who come." Accordingly the committee met, and, on Dec. 10, 1717,
Mr. Ward reported the following resolutions:--
Resolved -- "That it is the opinion of this Committee that settling manufactures of Hempen Sail-cloth in proper places would be highly advantageous to this kingdom."
Resolved -- "That it is the opinion of this Committee that Lewis Crommelin is a proper person to be employed in making settlements of the manufacture of Hempen Sail-cloth, in such places as the Trustees for improving the Hempen and Flaxen manufacture shall appoint, and subject to their directions."
Resolved -- "That an humble address be presented to his Majesty that he will be graciously pleased to order £1000 a year for the space of two years, to be paid to the Trustees for managing the Hempen and Flaxen manufacture, pursuant to the said Address of this House last session, whereby they may be enabled the better to promote the said manufactures."
Ordered -- "That such members of this House as are of his Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, do attend his Grace the Lord Lieutenant, with the said Address, and desire his Grace will be pleased to lay the same before his Majesty as the Address of this House."
A Committee being appointed to make further inquiry on this interesting subject, presented the following report:--
"Your Committee find that the Trustees have, by their encouragement, promoted two very considerable manufactories for Sail-cloth in the Southern parts of this knigdom, at Rathkeale and Cork; and we find that the Trustees have now proposals before them from merchants of considerable substance in England, for setting up another Hempen manufactory in the county of Waterford, the expense of which will amount to a considerable sum."
Louis Crommelin had already received large sums.
In the account of the several sums of money for which the Vice-Treasure's have claimed credit as being paid by them for the use of the Hempen and Linen manufacture, in the year 1703 appears the following:-- "Paid the Earl of Abercorn and other Trustees of the Linen Manufacture, to be paid by them over to Mr. Louis Crommelin for erecting looms for weaving fine Linen Cloth, &c., ... ... ... ... £430 0 0."
In the year 1705 --
"Paid Mr. Louis Crommelin, Overseer of the Linen Manufacture, to complete the allowance due to him and his three assistants, for one year and three quarters, to Dec. 1704, by king's letters ... ... ... ... £470 12 0."
"1705 -- Paid the Trustees appointed by her Majesty for carrying on the Linen Manufacture, and by them paid over to Mr. Louis Crommelin, on account thereof, to the 25th Dec, 1704, ... ... ... ... £1515 9 8."
"More to be paid over to Sir Thomas Southwell, for several pieces of Sail-cloth, and to William Crommelin, assistant to Louis Crommelin, his salary to 25th Dec., 1704, ... ... ... ... £337 18 8½."
"1711. -- Joseph Beaumont, on account of his services to the Linen Manufacture, ... ... ... ... £100 0 0.
"1713. -- More to be paid him, .. ... ... ... ... £100 0 0.
"1715. -- Louis Cromlin, . ... ... ... ... ... ... £10 6 2.
"1715. -- John Latrobe, Waterford, ... ... ... £8 4 11½
"1719. -- Do. do., . ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... £10 3 11½
"1720. -- Do. do., . ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... £7 9 1¼
"1721. -- Do. do., . ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... £8 2 11½
On the 4th day of August 1719, the Irish Parliament, in a Committee of Ways and Means, voted the following duties, to increase the revenue:-- "An additional duty on Tea of 12d. per lb.; Coffee, 3d. per lb,; and Chocolate 3d. per lb.; to commence the 1st of September next following," These increased duties were for the purpose of promoting the linen manufactures in the South. Leave was given to bring in the Bill, and it was ordered--
"That it be an instruction to the Committee to insert a clause or clauses in the said heads of a Bill, for applying the duties laid on tea, coffee, chocolate, and cocoa-nuts, for the use and encouragement of the Hempen and Flaxen manufactures."
The Bill passed on the 7th of August following, and a portion of the money thus raised was immediately applied for increasing the linen trade in Waterford, and establishing the sail-cloth factory. Some few sessions after, a committee of the House were appointed to report on the progress of the works: on the 8th of December, 1725, they made their report, one portion of which stated as follows:-- "Your Committee observe that the Trustees of the Hempen and Flaxen Manufactories have encouraged the setting up a new manufacture for hempen sail-cloth, at Rathbridge, in the county of Killare, and that this and the two manufactories at Cork, and one at Waterford, are in an improving way."
Mr. Maxwell, who was chairman of this Committee, further reported on the same day respecting Waterford:--
"That an arrear of £499 1s. 6d. was due to the Hempen manufactory of Waterford." This trade, which was carried on at first with so much energy and ability, after some little time again languished; but in the year 1746, a vigorous attempt was again made to resuscitate it, and this was mainly owing to the personal exertion of a noble descendant of the Refugees. Dr. Chenevix, who but the year before had been appointed to the See, desiring to assist and foster those who were, like himself, "the sons of the strangers," interested his patron and benefactor, the witty and urbane Philip Earl of Chesterlield (who had just been appointed Lord Lieutenant) in the linen manufacture of Waterford, and induced him to give it his patronage. From a residence in his diplomatic capacity at the Hague, where Doctor Chenevix was his chaplain, Lord Chesterfield had been enabled to judge of the great advantages derived by Holland from the manufactures of the refugees; and immediately active measures were undertaken to accomplish a revival of business in the city where his friend had undertaken the episcopal charge. An enterprising and skilful employer, named Patrick Smith, was induced, with his family, to remove from Belfast to Waterford. The entire expense of their transplantation was defrayed by the Trustees for promoting the Linen Manufacture, and an annual payment made to them of £300 per annum, until the looms were in full operation. Two Dutch families of French descent were brought over to instruct in the making of tapes and bobbins; and fifty Protestant families were conveyed from the North of Ireland, most of them, if not all, descendants of the Huguenot settlers in Lisburn and Dundalk.
The extent of the operations of this family may be gathered from the petition which was presented by them to the House of Commons, on the 24th of January, 1758, when a sum not exceeding £2,000 was voted to them as an assistance in their undertaking; and a second petition on the 3rd of Nov., 1761, which embodies the substance of the former one. It was as follows:--
"A Petition of Patrick Smith, Arthur Smith, Chalmers Smith, Mary Smith, Sarah Smith, Jane Smith, Anne Smith, Agatha Cornelia Smith, Mary Smith, junr., Elinor Smith, Elizabeth Smith, and Helena Amelia Smith, of the city of Waterford, linen thread, tape, bobbin and boss manufacturers, was presented to the House and read, setting forth:-- That, in year 1740, Petitioners, Patrick Smith and his family, consisting of his wife, four sous, and eight daughters, [-- ? --] by the Earl of Chesterfield, and enouraged by the Right Honourable and Honourable the Trustees of the Linen Manufacture, removed from Belfast to Waterford, in order to introduce and establish the Linen Manufacture in the South; and by giving encouragement there, prevailed on fifty Protestant families to settle there. That Petitioners, Patrick and Arthur Smith, by their contract with the Trustees, were allowed £501 15s. 0d., to defray the expense of removing themselves and the colony they carried wth them, and to purchase looms and other machines, and were to receive for the support of their family, from the year 1746, to 1750, £300 annually; for the year 1750, £250; and for every year after, during contract, £200 annually. The poor in that city being inured to sloth and idleness rendered the undertaking very difficult; but by the industry and perseverance of petitioners the intention of the Trustees to raise a spirit of industry was so effectually answered, that though there were only 297 hanks of yarn spun in the first year, there were in the second 2,958, in the third 18,748, and a great increase in proportion since. As the greatest part of the petitioner's family consisted of females, who could not be profitably employed in other branches of the linen manufacture, they, in the year 1750, on £100 being given by the Trustees, began the thread manufacture, by which a great number of hands, before useless to, and a burthen on, the public, are constantly and usefully employed. This branch has been so much improved and extended that, from 378lbs. manufactured in the year 1750, they manufactured no less than 4,511 pounds, 4 ounces, from 3d. to 32s. per ounce, and would have increased so as to have exported greater quantities could they have extended their credit to obtain a fund for that purpose. That petitioners, attentive to every measure by which the linen manufacture might be extended, and themselves rendered worthy the bountiful encouragement of the public, and on being well informed of the great advantages arising to the Dutch by their exports of thread, tape, and bobbins to England, and having, on examining the books of entries in the custom-house of London, found that from the 11th of September, 1752, to the 15th of October following, not less than £11,917 12s. value (on a moderate calculation) of thread, tape, bobbin, and inkle, was imported and entered from France, Holland, and Hamburg, they did, in the year 1752, at very great expense, attempt the manufactures of tape and bobbin, which great undertaking they supported till all the apparatus was complete, by borrowing from time to time such sums as were necessary, and receiving from the Dublin Society £500 to help them till a more suitable bounty could be obtained. That, in 1757, petitioners petitioned the Honourable House of Commons, who were pleased, on the merits of the petitioners being fully proved, to grant £2,000 to enable petitioners to continue their useful design, till an opportunity should offer for receiving such aid as might enable them to carry it into full execution. That, at this time the Dutch, jealous of being rivalled in so valuable a branch of their trade, reduced the price of threads, tapes, and bobbins, so low that petitioiicrs, for want of a sufficient fund to carry them on in an extensive manner, could derive no advantage from what they manufactured, though they had borrowed the sum of £10,000, £3,384 13s. 8½d. of that sum being sunk in buildings, erecting mills, looms, and machines, and in payments to two Dutch families for instruction in the art of manufacturing tapes and bobbins; which, joined to the rents they pay, swallowed up the profits on the remainnig sum, which was employed in manufacturing; and, as petitioners' credit is in England, they have within these two years, on the supplies being raised to carry on the war, been obliged to pay in near £3,000, on their creditors demanding it, by which petitioners are greatly distressed, and many of their machines useless for want of money to work them.
"That petitioners, knowing the manufactures could not be established in their full utility to the public till the husbandmen were led into the cultivation of their land for raising flax, did, in 1758, plan a scheme for raising a fund for premiums, which scheme was laid before several nobelmen and gentlemen, and the Earls of Grandison,, Tyrone, Besborough, and Donegal, the Lords Loftus and Beresford, the Lord Bishop of Waterford. the speaker of the Honourable House of Common, subscribed to it; the scheme was published and a society appointed to direct the payment according to the merits of the claimants; and in 1750 premiums were given on 1,032 stone weight of flax, and 2,654 hanks of yarn spun of said flax and sold at the public market; and in 1760, the quantity increased to 2,400 stone weight of flax, and 5,059 hanks of yarn; and petitioners are hereby of opinion that, by continuing the premiums two or three years, the raising flax may become of great use by being more generally used in the South. That, in March 1759, petitioners were applied to by the most considerable dealers in London for their threads, tapes, and bobbin, the additional duties on importation of those articles from foreigners being so heavy, they would have engaged for very considerable quantities from petitioners, who, for want of a sufficient sum to increase their manufactures, were obliged to decline accepting a proposal so advantageous to the public and themselves. How exactly petitioners have fullilled the engagements to the Trustees they hereby refer themselves to that honourable Board, and for the happy consequences that have arisen from their settlement in the South they would appeal to the gentlemen of that country, particularly in Waterford and its neighbourhood, who know how different the state of that country is from what it was before they settled in it. Petitioners' works have been seen by several gentlemen of rank and fortune, who were pleased to express their satisfaction at seeing so great an undertaking under the direction of so numerous a family; the apparatus petitioners now have would employ 1,417 men, women, and children, in spinning, winding, weaving, spooling, skeaning, and bleaching, besides those employed in raising the flax and preparing it for spinning. But, amidst all the advantages arising from the industry of petitioners, whose time and industry' has for fifteen years been entirely devoted to the introduction and establishment of these manufactures, they, from innumerable losses and disappointments necessarily attending the introduction of infant manufactories, have been unavoidably led into the disbursements of very large sums, a burthen under which they must infallibly sink unless timely support is offered them by the public. Petitioners, therefore, most humbly entreat the House to take their case into consideration, and to grant them such relief and assistance as to its great wisdom shall seem fit."
On the petition being read, it was referred to a committee consisting of Lord Beresford, member for Coleraine; Mr. Le Hunte, member for Wexford; and some others; to be considered on the Friday following. The committee accordingly met, and prepared the following report, which was handed into the House on the 9th of November:--
REPORT OF COMMITTEE HANDED IN, NOVEMBER 9, 1761, BY LORD BERESFORD.
"MR. SPEAKER, -- The Committee appointed to examine the matter of the petition of Patrick Smith and several others, of the city of Waterford, linen thread, tape, bobbin, and boss manufacturers, have accordingly examined and considered the matter to them referred, and have desired me to report the same, as it appeared to them, with their opinion thereupon, to the House, which is as follows:--
"Arthur Smith being sworn, said -- That the family, consisting of fourteen, removed from the North to Waterford in 1746, to introduce and carry on the linen manufacture, by encouragement of the Linen Board. That, when the family first came to Waterford, there was little or no appearance of the linen manufacture in that country. That they brought about fifty Protestant families, who were mostly employed by the Smiths in the linen manufacture. That the encouragement from the Linen Board was not sufficient to establish the manufacture in that country. That there were not more than 300 hanks of yarn to be bought when tliey first came to Waterford, which would not make more than five pieces of linen. That near 5,000 pieces of cloth have been made in and about the city of Waterford this last year, to the value of between £10,000 and £12,000. That they purchased flax and sold it in pounds and small parcels to encourage spinners, which increased the spinning to 3,000 hanks the next year; and it has increased every year since, so that this year the family bought 6,000 hanks, besides what others have bought, which may amount to as much more.
That several persons of property have engaged in this manufacture since the family came to Waterford. That they now carry on the making of linens, tapes, bobbins, boss, and thread, &c. That there would be great demand for tapes, &c., from England and the plantations, if they could undersell the Dutch. That the family are at great expense in setting up the apparatus for this manufacture of tapes, &c. That they have had application made to them by considerable dealers in London to furnish them with tapes and bobbins; that they would contract for £10,000 worth yearly, if they could be afforded as cheap as the Dutch. That the family wanting a sufficient capital, is the reason they cannot extend it to a greater degree. That there are two kinds of tapes made by this family that are not made by any others in this kingdom. That it would take £9,000 to employ the machines already erected for these manufactures, and to supply them constantly with materials. That about £4,500 is now employed in these manufactures by this family, and £5,200 has been expended in setting up the manufacture. That they cannot have a return in less than seven months, and for a great part in not less than thirteen months, and they must pay ready money for all the materials. That Parliamentary aid could procure them credit, so as to extend the manufacture greatly, and give the family a reasonable profit. That if all the machines were constantly at work upwards of 1400 persons might be usefully employed. That they could not enter into such contracts as have been proposed to them from England, by the most considerable dealers in these articles, unless they are encouraged by Parliament."
It was resolved by the House, on the motion of the Committee -- "That the Petitioner proved the allegation of the petition. That the Petitioner deserves the aid of Parliament. That the report be referred to the Committee of Supply."
Following the example of the Smiths, some of the inhabitants of the city and its neighbourhood entered upon the same speculation, and sought to revive the trade, and to receive a subsidy from the Parliament in aid of the undertaking. On the Kilkenny side, John Green, Esq., of Greenville, petitioned, praying aid, and described himself as the first founder of the linen manufacture in the county of Kilkenny. His petition is dated the 3rd of Nov., 1755, and he describes it as "flourishing and extending itself with great credit," The year following brought a similar petition from Robert Snow, of Waterford; it is thus recorded:-- "13th March, 1756. -- A petition of Robert Snow, of the city of Waterford, linen manufacturer and bleacher, praying aid and encouragement, was presented to the House, and read, and referred to Committee. -- March 14th, 1756." The Committee reported -- "That Petitioner had proved his allegation, and deserved aid and encouragement; and referred to a Committee of the whole House."
For many years this manufacture was a staple trade in this city, and its guild one of the wealthiest and most prosperous. To Louis Crommelin and John Latrobe in the first instance, to Bishop Chenevix in the next, Waterford was indebted for it as a source of industrial employment. Since the invention of power-looms it has completely vanished. A few years ago a manufactory of sail-cloth was attempted, but was soon given up as a failure; and now, in the cloister of the Franciscan Abbey, and close beside the French Church, a manufacture of coarse tarpaulin-cloth and bacon-wrappiug is all that remains of this important trade, which was once so flourishing, and which had gathered together so large a number of the Huguenot congregation of the Rev. James Denis.
The hearers were not, however, confined to the industrious classes above referred to. The medical profession in Waterford, at this time, was well represented by two worthy members of it, both of whom appear to have belonged to the little band, who preferred freedom of religious opinions and a quiet home amongst a strange people, to an abode in the land they loved, but where their conscience was at the will of a despot or of his bigotted advisers, who would not even allow a Huguenot physician to follow his profession. The names of those two worthies were, Dr. Peter De Rante, and Doctor Jacques Reynette. The former had married into the Alcock family, who were chief rulers in the Corporation, and to him was entrusted the care of the sick poor throughout the entire city; for which the munificent (!) salary of £10 per annum was voted to him by the Council. On the 28th of July, 1722, when a fit of economy had seized the burgomasters, the French minister's allowance was thrown out by the learned forty who composed this body, and who were styled by the wags "the forty thieves;" and, at the same time, Dr. De Rante, "the French doctor," was also superseded; but in the following year the doctor again seems to have made friends, for he was restored at Michaelmas, l723. His first wife was taken from him soon after his marriage. A large stone slab covers her remains in the French Church, with the following inscription:--
"Mary De Rant, alias ALCOCK,
died ye 17th of January, 1716, aged 33 years."
The baptisms of several of his children, by the Rev. J. Denis, are also recorded.
Mary Alcock was not, however, long mourned over. On the 5th of December, 1717, Doctor Peter De Rante and Miss Anne Pyke were united together in holy matrimony, by Mr. Dean Ecles, in the Cathedral, and the widower was comforted. But his first love claimed him back again, when he was summoned to his last resting place; for on the 27th of January, 1756, Doctor Peter De Rante was laid beside her in the southern angle of the choir of the French Church.
Of Doctor Jacques Reynette wo have even less to say. The family tradition tells that he was but a boy when, with his father, he fled from Languedoc. The family estates were claimed and restored in after years to a Senior branch. The parish register records that --
"Jan. 23rd 1720. -- Doctor James Reynette was buried by Mr. Denis in the French Church."
Some months before, his daughter was provided for to his satisfaction: the following is the entry in the register: "July, 23rd 1719. Captain John Ramsay and Miss Charlotte Reynette, both of Saint Michael's parish, were married by Mr. Jacob Denis in Doctor Reynette's house." The name of Ramsay was well known in connection with Waterford, for many years after, through most parts of Ireland; as Ramsay's Waterford Chronicle, one of the first provincial newspapers established in Ireland, owes its origin to Captain Ramsay's son; and it is a singular circumstance that the second Waterford Newspaper was also started by the descendant of another of the refugees, Mr. Fleury. The good old doctor's descendants, in the succeeding generations, have served both Church and State, and served them well. They still remain, settled in Waterford or near it.
Amongst them, this day we have a worthy alderman, a skilful physician, and a brave Peninsular officer, who still can tell of the story "sent down from sire to son," how Louvois' tyranny drove forth the first of their name to Ireland as an alien and a stranger; and in the collateral branches are many "brave striplings and bright-eyed maidens," all of whom claim as their progenitor the brave old man whose family left rich estates and personal property behind for conscience' sake.
To be continued...
The above article is reproduced from the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, vol. 4, 1856.