Involvement of the Grimshaws in the Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution started in northern England generally between 1760 and 1840 with the mechanization of the processes of cotton weaving. Lancashire, and particularly the city of Manchester, were the location of many of the inventions and other early developments. Grimshaw families, who were concentrated northwest of Manchester in the area around Blackburn, played many important and varied roles in the unfolding events of the Industrial Revolution because of their inventiveness and their propitious location at the right time in history.
Click here for a description of the role of Manchester in the Industrial Revolution.
Click here for a webpage on the geologic context of the Blackburn area.
Shown below, with links to other webpages on the Grimshaw Origins website, are cases of Grimshaw involvement in various aspects of the Industrial Revoultion.
James Hargreaves is generally credited* for inventing the spinning jenny, one of the most important early developments of the Industrial Revolution. The spinning jenny also exemplified the kind of inventiveness that made the Industrial Revolution possible in Lancashire.
*(The original idea, subsequently expanded and improved upon by Hargreaves, probably came from Thomas Highs.)
James was born in 1720 at Church Kirk and married Elizabeth Grimshaw, also at Church Kirk, on September 10, 1740. Hargreaves was born at Ostwaldtwistle, about halfway between the Grimshaw locations in Eccleshill and Clayton-le-Moors, and he made his discovery in about 1764 at Stanhill, about half a mile away. He married Elizabeth Grimshaw on September 10, 1740 at nearby Church Kirk, and they had 11 children from 1744 to 1767. Elizabeth was baptized on November 6, 1720 in Churck Kirk; she was born to Henry and Margaret (Broughton) Grimshaw.
Click here for the webpage on James and Elizabeth (Grimshaw) Hargreaves.
Click here for a webpage on the ancestry of Elizabeth Grimshaw.
One of the most noted and successful of the Grimshaws in their native Lancashire was Nicholas, who served as mayor of Preston seven times. His noteworthy political career spanned more than 40 years, from 1790 to 1832, and included two Guild mayoralties. A noteworthy historical role that Nicholas Grimshaw’s played was to assist Richard Arkwright in the invention of the waterframe. Arkwright was a native of Preston and returned there briefly during the time Nicholas Grimshaw was mayor.
Click here for the webpage on Nicholas Grimshaw.
Robert Grimshaw Obtained a License for Cotton Weaving from Cartwright and Built a Mill that Was Burned Down in 1792
Robert Grimshaw was born in 1757, the son of Robert and Jane (Hobson) Grimshaw. He secured an agreement with Edmund Cartwright to build a mill at Knott Mill, near Manchester, that would contain 500 power looms of Cartwright’s design. Robert and his brother John (born 1761) apparently jointly had the business concern that built the mill in 1790 at Knott’s Mill. The mill was destroyed in 1792 by fire, apparently the result of arson, during the beginnings of the social unrest that led to the loom riots of 1826. Only 30 of the 500 power looms had been installed. There were technical problems related to “dressing the warp” that Robert was trying to solve in the mill before it was destroyed. A number of sources on Cartwright’s role in the development of the Industrial Revolution make reference to Robert Grimshaw’s contributions.
Click here for the webpage on Robert Grimshaw and his mill at Knott’s Mill near Manchester.
During the same timeframe that members of the Grimshaw family were actively participating* in the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in England, Nicholas Grimshaw played a pivotal role in bringing the textile industry to Ireland. Nicholas was from Blackburn and apparently emigrated to Ireland in about 1776. He initiated the textile industry when he opened the first cotton mill in 1784 at a location near Belfast.
Click here for the webpage on Nicholas Grimshaw of Ireland.
Mortimer Grimshaw was born in or near Great Harwood. He worked intermittently as a cotton weaver and achieved local national fame as a strike leader and political activist in the mid-1850s. He rose to fame in Royton, near Oldham, as a factory reformer, and claimed to have been blacklisted by the cotton manufacturers for his political campaigning. Grimshaw opposed unrestricted competition within the industry and feared the class power of the mill owners.
Click here for the webpage on Mortimer Grimshaw.
Eccleshill Township is underlain by coal-bearing strata of the Lancashire Coalfield, and coal has been mined in the township probably since not long after it was settled. Given their ancient holdings and economic interests in Eccleshill, it is not surprising that the Grimshaws were heavily involved in coal mining in the township. Perhaps fittingly (given the depth of involvement of the family in the early development of the Industrial Revolution), the original Grimshaw location in Eccleshill was given over to an industrial site at an early date, first as a water-powered cotton mill in 1782 and then as a paper mill from 1872 to 1999. The paper mill is now closed, but an adjacent envelope factory continues in operation.
Click here for the webpage on coal mining at Eccleshill.
Click here for the webpage on Industrial Development at Eccleshill.
Click here for the webpage on Eccleshill on an 1846 map.
Apparently the power loom riots of April 24 to 26, 1826 reached the Grimshaw cotton mill in Eccleshill.
Click here for the webpage on the attacks on the Grimshaw mill during the 1826 power loom riots.
Coal mining apparently took place in and around Clayton-le-Moors as early as the 16th and 17th centuries. The first recorded instances of coal mining in Clayton-le-Moors and Altham was in 1641. Coal mining at Clayton-le-Moors became more extensive after the Grimshaws had been replaced by the Lomaxes in 1715. Like Eccleshill, Clayton-le-Moors was very heavily involved in the early industrial development of Lancashire County, with primary emphasis on textiles. A major feature in Clayton-le-Moors is the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, an artifact of the Industrial Revolution.
Click here for the webpage on coal mining at Clayton-le-Moors.
Click here for the webpage on Industrial Development at Clayton-le-Moors.
Click here for the webpage on Clayton-le-Moors in 1790.
Click here for the webpage on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, built in Clayton-le-Moors in 1801
Click here for the webpage on the 1826 Power Loom Riots at Clayton-le-Moors
Click here for the webpage on the Moorfield Pit Disaster of 1883
Two Grimshaws, both women (Alice and Ellen) were involved in the power loom riots of 1826. In both cases, the alleged involvement in the riots occurred on April 26 (the first day of the riots) at the White Ash factory in Ostwaldtwistle. This factory was one of eight attached on that date (of a total of 27 over the course of four days), and 94 looms were destroyed (of 415 destroyed on that date and 1139 destroyed in total).
Click here for the webpage on Grimshaw involvement in the Power Loom Riots
Henry Ewart Grimshaw Wrote a Thesis Entitled “Hand-Loom Weavers in England during the Firsl Half of the Nineteenth Century” in 1915
Henry Ewart Grimshaw received an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 1914 and went on to obtain a Master’s degree in 1915. He wrote his thesis on the plight of the handloom weavers in the early 1800s. The title of the thesis is “Hand-Loom Weavers in England during the First Half of the Nineteenth Century”.
Click here for the webpage on Henry Ewart Grimshaw.
- Arkwright and Cartwright
- Clayton-le-Moors Coal Mining
- Eccleshill Coal Mining
- Geology of the Blackburn Area
- Grimshaw Industrial Development
- Harold Charlesworth Grimshaw
- Manchester, the First Industrial City
- Power Loom Riots
- Robert Grimshaw, Builder of Manchester Loom Mill in 1790 that Was Destroyed by Fire in 1792
- Site Map – Involvement of Grimshaw Family Members in the Industrial Revolution
- The Industrial Revolution: the Role of the Grimshaw Family
- The Leeds & Liverpool Canal
- The Moorfield Pit Disaster
Webpage posted April 2011. Updated and finalized in February 2013.