Woollen Manufacturing in Yorkshire: The Memorandum Books of John Brearley, Cloth Frizzer at Wakefield, 1758-1762

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Anyone interested in the domestic system of cloth manufacture will find this publication a treasure house of insight. Albion will become an important source for historians of the wool textile industries in the eighteenth century...Brearley's idiosyncratic jottings, far rarer as those of a skilled artisan than the more usual observations of a merchant or early factory owner, provide an uncommon chronicle of a key region on the brink of great change...Textile historians are greatly in Smail's debt. - English Historical Review. This edition of the memorandum books of John Brearley of Wakefield provides a fascinating insight into the economic and social conditions prevalent in West Yorkshire in the middle of the eighteenth century. Brearley worked in Wakefield as a cloth frizzer, operating a mill which put a fine raised nap on woollen cloth by running it between two boards covered with sand. Many of the entries in his memorandum book reflect his familiarity with the region's woollen and worsted industries, covering all aspects of the trade, from directions for making particular kinds of cloth or dyeing a particular colour, to descriptions of merchants' activities, and the markets, domestic and foreign, where they bought and sold cloth. Brearley's work as a frizzer underlies the many entries describing machines and inventions (some more practical than others) which are described and often drawn in these pages. Still other entries - ranging from recipes for ketchup and bread, to get-rich-quick schemes, to observations on women, drinking, and the marital habits of merchants - provide a flavour of life in the pre-industrial north at the beginning of George III's reign. John Smail teaches history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.