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James Hargreaves

Civilization:British: England
Era: Foundation
1720–1778Field of Renown:inventor: Spinning Jenny
hargreaves
 Hargreaves discovers the spinning jenny.

James Hargreaves is credited with inventing the Spinning Jenny, which was one of the earliest inventions that launched the industrial revolution in England. In the eighteenth century, spinning and weaving were very largely home-based industries employing thousands of women that spun yarn, or wove cloth in their homes. The town of Blackburn, where Hargreaves and his family lived was something of a textile center, and Hargreaves' wife spun yarn for the local weavers. One day her spinning wheel fell on the floor, and Hargreaves realized that a contraption could be made in such a way that eight or ten wheels could be spun simultaneously by a single spinner.

It took Hargreaves some time to build an working machine, which he called the "spinning jenny". He took pains to keep his invention a secret but word eventually leaked out that such a marvelous machine existed. Instead of being pleased, the local spinners were angry, because they feared that mechanization would destroy their livelihoods. An irate mob of spinners broke into his home and destroyed his workshop, forcing Hargreaves and his family to leave town. He soon set up a new shop in Nottingham, and obtained a patent in 1770.

Hargreaves was not however a successful businessman, and many other manufactures stole his idea without giving him any benefit. He died a few years later, neither wealthy nor destitute, leaving the task of founding an industry based on automated spinning to Richard Arkwright.


Key events during the life of James Hargreaves

Year Event
1720 Birth of Hargreaves
1764 Invented spinning Jenny when wife's spinner fell on the floor.
1767 Completed first spinning Jenny for commercial use.
1769 Forced to leave Blackburn after a mob of irate spinners attacks shop.
1770 Obtains patent and moves to Nottingham.
1778 Death of Hargreaves

 

Story LinksBook Links
Invention of the Spinning Machines  in  Great Inventors and Their Inventions  by  Bachman
Industrial and Social Changes  in  Story of England  by  Harding

Image Links
Hargreaves Discovers the Spinning Jenny  in Great Inventors and Their Inventions Hargreaves' Spinning Jenny  in Great Inventors and Their Inventions


Contemporary Short Biography
Richard Arkwright Inventor of the spinning frame, which allowed water or steam power to spin cloth.
Thomas Highs Inventor credited along with Hargreaves, for inventing the spinning jenny.