The Origins of Silk Manufacture: A Chronology 

The Bednall Archive 

Last updated 05/07/2008  

 


DATE  

 PLACE  

 NOTES

2700 BC  

 China  

 Oldest silks 4000 years.

700 BC  

 Japan  

 Producing silk

?   BC  

 India  

 Silk manufactured for more than 2000 years.

400 BC  

 Persia  

 Manufacturing wrought silks around Tyre

340 BC  

 Greece  

 Alexander the Great conquered Persia took secret of manufacture  of wrought silks to Greece.

173 AD  

 Rome  

 Silk a rarity. Pure silk could be worn only by women.

552  AD 

 Greece  

 Industrial espionage by 2 Persian monks who smuggled eggs and details of Sericulture etc from China to Constantinople enabled the Greeks to learn the art of silk manufacture.  

1100   

 Sicily  

 Roger I forced captured Greek silk workers to move to Sicily and set  up silk manufactury there. From Sicily the industry spread all over  Italy.

1200   

 England  

 Fresh mulberries traded in London  in 1170. may indicate attempted establishment of silk manufacture.

1300   

 Italy  

 Thousands employed in silk manufacture around Florence.

1363   

 England  

 Act restricting tres to "one kind of goods" me an exception for weavers, spinsters and "other women employed upon works in linen, wool  or silk....in embroidery etc"

1454   

 England  

 Law passed to protect the silk women of London against imports of small wares such as "twined ribbons, chains or girdles". Extended in 1463 to:  "laces, ribands, fringes of silk, silk twined, silk embroidered, tires of silk, purses and girdles".

1455   

 England  

 "Sylkewomen and throwsters of the craft and occupation of silkwork"  London. ..people from the provinces apprenticed to the tre. (Fretwell).

1466   

 France  

  Louis XI encouraged development of silk  industry. In 1480 workmen from  Florence, Genoa and Venice settled at  Tours. 

1482   

 England  

 Act no longer in force "Great Distress. Imports again prohibited.

1504   

  England  

 Prohibition of import of wrought silk, ribands, laces, girdles, corses, tissues and points but it was me lawful to import  raw and unwrought silk as well as other wares.

1521   

 France  

 Silk manufacture at Lyons.

1554   

 England  

 Sumptuary Law -to encourage home manufacture.

1567   

 England  

 Draw loom introduced by Flemish weavers

1585   

 England  

 Influx of artisans and merchants from Flanders, Brabant

1604   

 England  

 Dutch engine loom for tape and ribbon weaving introduced to Britain

1606   

 England  

 James I encourages silk manufacture. John & Frances Bonnell employed to manufacture silk at Greenwich.

1608   

 England  

 Mulberries and silkworm eggs offered by the King. Project failed but why is not known.

1628   

 England  

 Lord Aston of Tixall  paid 60a year to continue the Greenwich project.

1629   

 England  

 Mr Burlamach a London Merchant brought silk  dyers, throwsters and weavers from Europe to  make bro silks  from raw materials. Rapid  increase in manufacture so that silk  throwsters were able to achieve corporate  status

1630   

 England  

 In an act of Charles I the tre in importing, throwing, dyeing and manufacturing silks was said to be "much increased within a few years past".

1661   

 England  

 The company of London silk throwsters said to employ 40000 men, women and children. Tre was restricted to freemen.

1685   

 England  

 Refugee merchants and manufacturers from France (70000) of whom many settled in Spitalfields. Introduced the manufacture of alamodes, lustrings, broces, ducapes, watered tabbies, satins, mantuas, black velvets etc.

1698   

 England  

 Import of French (and later Indian & Chinese) manufactured silks prohibited .

1701

 

 

1713   

 England  

 Treaty of Utrecht .One provision was   for "reciprocal trade under a low valued added tax. Manufacturers petitioned against it.. English manufactures said to be 20 times   greater than in 1664 in blacks, coloured silks, gold and silver stuffs.. and the industry was involved in a reciprocal trade  in woollen and other English goods with Italy and Turkey.

1715   

 England  

 First throwing mill on the Italian model established at Derby by Lombe.

1720s   

 England  

 Tide of fashion in favour of English Goods -Warehouses of London and Manchester the resort of French merchants (Lardner).

  

   England  

    Export incentives. Duties on dye drugs  removed

1732   

 England  

 Petition against renewal of Lombe's patent opposed.

173.   

 England  

 Throwing mill built in Stockport.

1749   

 England  

 Duties on imports of raw silk from China removed.

1753   

  England  

 Throwing mills built in Congleton and Macclesfield.

1763   

 England  

 End of the  7 years war. Depression in silk industry. Intense competition from imported products. Fashion from wearing French silks. Imports of ribands, laces girdles banned.

1764

England  

Duties on raw and thrown silks  reduced.

1766   

 England  

 Imports of brocade and other wrought silks banned .

1773   

 England  

 Spitalfields Act to regulate the wages on the London industry.

1779   

 England  

 Shortage of organzined silk leads to importation of Italian thrown silk being permitted.

1812   

 England  

 Jacquard loom brought into use.

1820

 

 

1826  

 England  

 Repeal of Act prohibiting the import 1829 of  wrought silks. Repeal of Spitalfields Act. Duties reduced. "Free Trade"

1830   

 England  

 Power loom weaving of bro silks.

1838   

England  

 Patent for Jaquard attachment for a power loom  

1860   

 England  

 Cobden-Chevalier treaty allowed French  silks into England duty free but English silks imported into France paid a 30% duty!

1890   

 England  

 Artificial fibres -Rayon, compete 1900  with silk.

1925   

 England  

 Protective duties imposed on imported silks.

1939   

USA  

   Nylon invented

A.W.Bednall, Macclesfield 1990-2008