Sunday, 13 May 2012

13th May 1812: Parliamentary Select Committee on the Framework-knitters Petition commences

On Wednesday 13th May, a Parliamentary Select Committee was convened at the Houses of Parliament in London to enquire into the state of the Framework-knitting trade, owing to the petitioning of Framework-knitters over the past few months. Framework-knitters, Hosiers and members of the United Committee of Framework-knitters would be interviewed by the Select Committee over the next 7 days.

The proceedings commenced by examining Thomas Large of the United Committee of Framework-knitters.

Large attested that he had been a framework-knitter for 17 years, and was occupied solely in the plain silk branch of the trade, exclusively concerned with making stockings and gloves. He earned between half a guinea to 15 shillings a week. He told the committee that in 1807, the trade had been flourishing, with 1200 frames in use, but the decline had been so great that only 150 frames were now employed.

He considered that the loss of trade was the cause of 'fraudulent goods' - principally single-press lace that had been looped once rather than twice, and lost its shape after washing. Agreements preventing the manufacture of such lace had been broken, and the 'fraud' came about when some manufacturers had sold the single-press lace as the best type available, extracting huge profits and deceiving the consumer. Large considered that these practices had wrecked the trade, and also commented on the effect that the trade blockades of the Orders in Council and the American Non-Intercourse Act had had on the trade, and felt that their existence had in fact heralded the new practices of the Hosiers. Large stated that he felt that the prohibition of the production of single-press lace would greatly benefit the trade and also advocated the regulation of frame-rents, and the limitation of frames for rent, even though this would mean those employed by the trade would diminish.

Large also spoke of the practice of Colting (i.e. employment of non-apprenticed labour).

This has been summarised from the Report from the Committee on the Framework-Knitters Petitions, 1812 (247) 2, pp.9-19.

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