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John Spilman set up a great mill at Dartford in Kent, bringing over workmen from Germany. Possibly he was not aware of it, but there were paper mills already at work in various parts of the country. The industry had been started at Hertford as far back as 1496, but this venture was discontinued, although very good paper was made. Spilman's mill, however, if not the first set up, was a school from which papermakers spread over Kent and other parts of the country.
John Spilman was one of Queen Elizabeth's goldsmiths, and it was with money earned in the pursuit of that calling that he was enabled to set up his paper mill, and perhaps to keep it at work.