Oldham Historical Research Group

William Rowbottom's Diary as published in the Oldham Standard


Samuel Crompton - inventor of 'The Mule'

Samuel Crompton - inventor of 'The Mule'

This excellent machine, which has superseded the jenny, and to a considerable extent the water-frame, and which has carried the cotton manufacture to a perfection it could not otherwise have attained, was invented by Samuel Crompton, a weaver, of respectable character and moderate circumstances, living at Hall-in-the-Wood, near Bolton. The date of the invention has been generally stated to be 1775, but Mr. Kennedy, who personally knew Crompton, and who has published an interesting " Memoir" of his life, " with a description of his Machine called the Mule, and of the subsequent improvement of the machine by others,"* states that " he was only twenty-one years of age when he commenced this undertaking, which took him five years to effect ; at least, before he could bring his improvements to maturity. As the inventor was born in 1753, he must therefore have begun to make his machine in 1774, and completed it in 1779. His own account is decisive: he says in a letter to a friend - " In regard to the mule, the date of its being first completed was in the year 1779 : at the end of the following year I was under the necessity of making it public, or destroying it, as it was not in my power to keep it and work it, and to destroy it was too painful a task, having been four and a half years, at least, wherein every moment of time and power of mind, as well as expense, which my other employment would permit, were devoted to this one end, the having good yarn to weave ; so that destroy it, I could not." Being of a retiring and unambitious disposition, he took out no patent, and only regretted, that public curiosity would not allow him " to enjoy his little invention to himself in his garret," and to earn, by his own manual labour, undisturbed, the fruits of his ingenuity and perseverance. The very superior quality of his yarn drew persons from all quarters, to ascertain the means whereby he produced it."

From: 'History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster', Vol 2 by Edward Baines, Exq. M.P. Pub. 1836


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William Rowbottom's Diary as published in the Oldham Standard - Transcribed by Mary Pendlbury & Elaine Sykes
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