Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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John Thornton

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John/Johann Edler von Thornton (1771-1847) of Austria, Mechanical Engineer and entrepreneur

1771 Born in Manchester, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth, who had a small farm near Bradford, West Yorkshire.

John became a spinner, working for the Chorlton Twist Company in Manchester, but he was interested in spinning machinery. Another source associates him with McConnel and Kennedy of Manchester.

1799 Emigrated to Hamburg, where he established a small cotton mill for the merchant George Christoph Hansen. This was despite a British ban on the export of technology.

1801 He built a cotton spinning mill, and its textile machinery, for Karl Kolbielski in Hernals, and another in Pottendorf. Presumably he had been joined by other workers from Britain who had the required knowledge and expertise.

1802-43 He was the director of the large cotton mill in Pottendorf, in which he had a one quarter share. It produced 600,000 kg of yarn per year, with over 1,000 machines.

1847 He died in Baden (Austria) on 28 March.

In 1800, John Thornton started to influence the development of the industrial revolution in the Habsburg dominions by supplying machines for spinning cotton, wool and flax. The weaving industry also dramatically developed under Thornton in the early 19th century.[1]

A brother, Jonathan Thornton (1776-1847) was the owner of the Ebenfurther cotton spinning mill. Another brother, Joseph/Josef Thornton, had established a spinning mill in Münchendorf in 1814 with John and Jonathan.

Except where otherwise stated, the above information is drawn from two sources in German, translated by Google[2] [3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'The Contribution of British Entrepreneurs to the Industrial Revolution on the European Continent' Korean Minjok Leadership Academy , 2011
  2. [2] Wikipedia entry for Johann Thornton
  3. [3] 'Thornton, Johann (John) Edler von (1771–1847), Mechaniker und Unternehmer': Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon und biographische Dokumentation