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The English cotton spinning industry, 1780-1840, as revealed in the columns of the London Gazette


  • Peter Solar
  • John Lyons


We investigate the early development of English cotton spinning by analysing about 700 bankruptcies and 1300 dissolutions of partnership reported in the London Gazette, 1770-1840. The data show three temporal cycles, peaking in the early to mid-1800s, in the later 1820s and again in the later 1830s, near the ends of investment booms. Both earlier peaks were absolutely higher than the later ones, despite industry expansion. Over time both bankruptcies and dissolutions show rising concentration of spinning in greater Lancashire, and within greater Lancashire in the surrounding towns rather than in Manchester. The industry was throughout dominated by single proprietors or firms with only two partners. Integration with weaving was increasing steadily. The paper demonstrates the potential of the Gazette, now searchable online, as a source for business and industrial history.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Solar & John Lyons, 2011. "The English cotton spinning industry, 1780-1840, as revealed in the columns of the London Gazette," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(3), pages 302-323.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:bushst:v:53:y:2011:i:3:p:302-323 DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2011.565510

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lyons, John S., 1985. "Vertical Integration in the British Cotton Industry, 1825–1850: a Revision," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(02), pages 419-425, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Crafts, Nicholas & Wolf, Nikolaus, 2014. "The Location of the UK Cotton Textiles Industry in 1838: A Quantitative Analysis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(04), pages 1103-1139, December.

    More about this item


    English industry; cotton spinning; bankruptcy; partnership dissolution; industrial revolution; spatial distribution of firms; vertical integration;

    JEL classification:

    • N63 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N9 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History
    • N6 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction
    • N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913


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