Sunday, 17 July 2016

17th July 1816: Stockport Weavers send a Memorial to the Prince Regent


Of the undersigned, being Manufacturers of Cotton Goods, and Workmen, who have been employed in the various branches of that once extensive and important Manufacture,—


THAT Your Royal Highness’s humble Memorialists, who on all occasions have proven themselves His Majesty's most faithful and loyal subjects, are brought to the greatest distress, which is every day becoming more poignant; and unless some means of Relief be speedily devised, one Common Ruin must involve both Masters and Workmen.

Your Memorialists are well aware that many classes of His Majesty’s subjects labor under similar distresses, with this difference,—THEIRS have not long existed—OURS have almost become permanent;—They have had constant Employment and full Wages, until within these few months; but the evils of which Your Memorialists complain, have been growing for upwards of Fifteen Years, till they have arrived at a climax of unparalleled WANT, MISERY, and RUIN!!!

THAT the evils to which Your Memorialists allude, may be ascribed to One great Cause, viz. the Exportation of the half-wrought Material, as TWIST and WEFT. By this traffic, one part of His Majesty’s subjects work to enable Foreigners to do without the labor of the other part; and hence their restrictive measures against the finished Manufactures of your Memorialists. Another evil arising out of the above, is the frequent Reduction of Wages. This system must at all times decrease the value of the Stock on hand, which is sometimes immense.

The consequence is, that the most wealthy of the Masters have either altogether, or partly, declined the Manufacture; whilst others, by repeated sacrifices of depreciated stocks, have become insolvent. Hence many thousands of Weavers are out of employ; whilst those who have work, cannot on an average, earn more than Four Shillings per Wweek; and little more than two years ago, for a short period (Foreign Looms being prevented for some time from manufacturing goods from British Cotton Yarns, owing to their country’s being then the Seat of War) they could earn Sixteen Shillings and sixpence in the same time.

THAT since Peace took place, and the Foreign Looms were set to work again with British Yarns, Wages have been gradually decreasing to their present ruinous state; nor can Your Memorialists see any period when they can be employed again, so long as Yarns continue to be sent out of the Kingdom in such increasing quantities.

THAT the Cotton Manufacture has given employment and support to many Hundreds of Thousands of Persons in the United Kingdom; and Your Memorialists humbly presume, has been of considerable importance in a financial point of view. Shall such a source of our national greatness be removed?—No! 

Your Memorialists trust, with humble confidence, that Your Royal Highness will be graciously pleased to take the above into Your Royal Highness's most serious consideration;

And Your Memorialists will ever pray, &c.

Stockport, July 17th, 1816.

This document can be found at HO 42/152.

No comments:

Post a Comment