Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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John Horrocks

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John Horrocks (1768 - 1804), British cotton manufacturer, was born at Edgeworth, near Bolton.

His father was the owner of a small quarry, and John Horrocks spent his early days in dressing and polishing mill-stones. The Lancashire cotton industry was then in its infancy, but Horrocks was greatly impressed with its future possibilities, and he managed to obtain a few spinning-frames which he erected in a corner of his father's offices. For a time he combined cotton-spinning on a very small scale with stone-working, but finally devoted himself entirely to cotton-spinning, working the frames with his own hands, and travelling through the Lancashire manufacturing districts to sell the yarn.

His goods obtained a reputation for quality, and his customers increased so rapidly that ~fl 1791 he removed to Preston, where he began to manufacture cotton shirtings and long-cloths in addition to spinning the cotton yarn. By taking full advantage of the machinery invented for manufacturing textiles, and by rigidly maintaining the quality of his goods, Horrocks rapidly developed his business, and with the aid of the capital of a local banker, whom he took into partnership, erected within a year of his arrival in Preston his first large mill, securing shortly afterwards from the British East India Company a monopoly of the manufacture of cottons and muslins for the Indian market. The demand for Horrocks's goods continued to increase, and to cope with the additional work he took first an elder brother and in 1801 a Mr Whitehead and a Mr Miller into partnership, the title of the firm being altered to Horrockses, Miller and Co.

In 1802 he entered parliament as tory member for Preston. He died in London in 1804 of brain-fever resulting from over-work.

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