Knuzden Brook, Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, England
|Died||1778 (aged 57–58)|
|Known for||Spinning Jenny|
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth Grimshaw (m. 1740)|
James Hargreaves (1720–1778) was a weaver, carpenter and inventor in Lancashire, England. He was one of three inventors responsible for mechanising spinning. Hargreaves is credited with inventing the spinning jenny in 1764, Richard Arkwright patented the water frame in 1769, and Samuel Crompton combined the two creating the spinning mule a little later.
Life and work
James Hargreaves was born at Knuzden Brook near Stanhill, Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire, he lived in Blackburn, then a town with a population of about 5,000, known for the production of "Blackburn greys," cloths of linen Warp and cotton weft. They were usually sent to London to be printed. The demand for cotton yarn outstripped supply, and the one-thread spinning wheel could not keep up.
Hargreaves was described as "stout, broadset man of about five foot ten, or rather more". He married and baptismal records show he has 13 children, of whom the author Baines in 1835 was aware of '6 or 7'. He was survived by eight children.
The idea for the spinning jenny is said to have come from the inventor seeing a one-thread wheel overturned upon the floor, when both the wheel and the spindle continued to revolve. He realised that if a number of spindles were placed upright and side by side, several threads might be spun at once. The spinning jenny was confined to producing cotton weft, it was unable to produce yarn of sufficient quality for the warp. High quality warp was later supplied by Arkwright's spinning frame.
Hargreaves produced the Jenny for himself but sold a few to neighbours.
The jenny was initially welcomed by the hand spinners, but when the price of yarn fell the mood changed.
Opposition to the machine caused Hargreaves to leave for Nottingham, where the cotton hosiery industry benefited from the increased provision of suitable yarn. Arkwright also ended up in the town, and was even more successful. Hargreaves made jennies for a man called Shipley, and on 12 June 1770, he was granted a patent, which enabled him to take legal action against the Lancashire manufacturers who had begun using it. This action was withdrawn. With a partner Thomas James, Hargreaves ran a small mill in Hockley and lived in an adjacent house. The business was carried on until his death in 1778 when his wife received a payment of ₤400. When Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule in c.1779 he stated he had learned to spin in 1769 on a jenny that Hargreaves had constructed.
As early as 1835, the distinguished author Edward Baines reports that there were many false claims being made about Hargreaves, and Arkwright. There had been a ferocious legal battle to get Arkwright's two most important patents annulled. Thomas Highs of Leigh had claimed that he was the true inventor of both these devices and the spinning jenny as well. In his testamony, Arkwright had over-emphasised the humble nature of both himself and Hargreaves - some of which was not based on fact. He wrongly attributed the date of invention as 1767. Richard Guest opposed Arkwright, and the Edinburgh Review, No. 91reported Guest's opinions and introduced other fallacies. Parish burial registers misspelt Hargreaves as Hargraves, but prove that he did not die in the workhouse. This was confirmed to Baines by Hargreaves's grandson, John James. Parish registers show that neither his wife nor any of his daughters was called Jenny - debunking a myth repeated in school textbooks as late as the 1960s, and to this day on educational websites.
- "James Hargreaves Family". Geocities.ws. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
- "James Hargreaves, or James Hargraves (English inventor) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
- Timmins, pp. 21,24.
- Baines, p. 162.
- Baines, p. 159.
- Baines 1835, p. 155.
- Baines 1835, p. 161.
- Baines 1835, p. 163.
- eg Burchill S.A.
- Hargraves Spinning Jenny - Confined to spinning weft
- Deutsches Museum (auf deutsch) Secondary source.
- Baines, Edward (1835). History of the cotton manufacture in Great Britain;. London: H. Fisher, R. Fisher, and P. Jackson.
- Nasmith, Joseph (1895). Recent Cotton Mill Construction and Engineering (Elibron Classics ed.). London: John Heywood. ISBN 1-4021-4558-6.
- Marsden, Richard (1884). Cotton Spinning: its development, principles an practice.. George Bell and Sons 1903. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- Guest, Richard (1828). The British Cotton Manufactures: and a Reply to an Article on the Spinning Contained in a Recent Number of the Edinburgh Review. London: E. Thomson & Sons and W. & W. Clarke and Longman, Rees, & Co.
- Timmins, Geoffrey (1996), Four Centuries of Lancashire Cotton, Preston: Lancashire County Books, p. 92, ISBN 1-871236-41-X
- Essay from www.cottontown.org on Hargreaves and the Spinning Jenny
- Essay from www.cottontimes.co.uk/