Archive | July, 2016

Benford Family: Northamptonshire 1600’s – Plague, War and Fire

15 Jul

SoEaEng_Janss

Northampton, on the Great North Road out of London, was for many centuries, subject to a steady flow of people and goods on the move and thus liable to infections and diseases from this transient population. It succumbed to the plague from 1570 to 1579, then again from 1603 to 1605 when 500 perished.

In 1638, the Register Book for St. Sepulchre’s ChurchThe-Church-of-St-Sepulchre-Northampton-by-Harris-Brothers-Abel-Son-c-1850s2  has  an entry on March 29 among the burials…”att which time the sickness beegan”…and on January 1 of the following year…”att which time the sickness ceased, the Lord be praised.” In this parish in 1638, there were 114 deaths, the average for the previous five years only 18. Great_plague_of_london-1665 (1)

Understanding what is happening in the area in which your ancestors lived is extremely important. We often overlook the fact that entire families can die when a disease sweeps through the city, town or village. We are searching the records without success and asking ourselves why we can’t find any marriages…perhaps the reasons could include deaths in the family causing families to break apart and move elsewhere to re-establish themselves.

There is also the fact of war..in this case, The English Civil War, a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between the Parliamentarians (Round Heads) and the Royalists (Cavaliers)  principally over the manner of government.

One of the famous battles took place at Naseby in Northamptonshire. “It was a war that more men per head of population lost their lives than in the First World War, with Northamptonshire always on the front line between the Royalists and Parliamentarians.

Article comes from “Northampton Herald and Post”   Posted: May 27, 2015 By Mike Ingram

Battle of nasby

Battle at Naseby, Northamptonshire

“On 22 August 1642, King Charles I raised the Royal Standard at Nottingham, signalling the start of the war. He immediately sent around 300 men under the command of Sir John Byron (the poet’s ancestor), from Nottingham to the Royalist center of Oxford to enlist effort in the south. Byron’s route took him through Brackley, where he arrived on the evening of 28th August. Then, as supper was being prepared, they were attacked by a force of some five hundred locals wielding pikes, bills and pitchforks. Whether the attack was opportunistic or planned is unknown, although the numbers are large enough to suggest an ambush. Byron and about half his men made their escape towards Oxford. The others were caught unprepared and routed. The booty was enormous, and the value of all the gold, money and apparel taken was worth more than £6,000 to £8,000. Most but not all was handed over to Parliament.

Parliament began to assemble its army at Northampton under the Earl of Essex. In letters to his brother in London, Nehemiah Wharton, sergeant of musketeers recounted how he, and his men marched from Coventry to the town, plundering the countryside as they went. On 1 September, they spent a night at Long Buckby, ignoring the Royalist presence at Holdenby House, but there was a shortage of accommodation and the church was crowded with tired soldiers. Nehemiah Wharton, told his brother they “were glad to dispossess the very swine.”

 Northampton would become the main infantry garrison and supply depot for the Parliamentarian Army in the East Midlands for the entire war. On 14 September, the Earl of Essex reviewed his army in Northampton. It was said to be 00 – 20,000 strong. The royal connection to Northampton Castle had becomes less significant, and by the time of the English Civil War,  Northampton was decidedly pro-Parliament, the people of Northampton supported Parliament and Oliver Cromwell’s Republican Roundhead Army. The town had a long history of religious dissent from the Lollards and Puritanism gained a strong hold on the town. The corporation of the town, having already refused to provide troops to the King in 1632 or to pay the notorious Ship Money Tax in 1636, petitioned Parliament in 1642 against papists and bishops.

Over 4,000 pairs of leather shoes and 600 pairs of cavalry jack-boots for the Parliamentary armies were manufactured in Northampton during the Civil War, and a further 2,000 for Cromwell’s New Model Army  in 1648. Until well into the 19th century, the shoe industry boomed in and around the town with small manufacturing workshops set up in the surrounding areas.

The war ended with a Parliamentary victory. England became a Commonwealth which lasted 10 until the restoration of King Charles II in 1660.”

Casualties

As usual in wars of this era, disease caused more deaths than combat. There are no accurate figures for these periods, and it is not possible to give a precise overall figure for those killed in battle, as opposed to those who died from disease, or even from a natural decline in population.

Figures for casualties during this period are unreliable, but some attempt has been made to provide rough estimates. In England, a conservative estimate is that roughly 100,000 people died from war-related disease during the three civil wars. Historical records count 84,830 dead from the wars themselves. Counting in accidents and the two Bishops’ wars, an estimate of 190,000 dead is achieved,out of a total population of about five million.

Northampton had only begun to recover following the war when the entire town center was destroyed by fire in 1675.  The blaze was caused by sparks from an open fire in St. Mary’s Street near the castle and devastated the town center, destroying about 700 buildings [out of 850] including All Saints Church, in six hours. Three quarters of the town was destroyed, 11 people died and about 700 families were made homeless.

The Fire of Northampton in September 20th 1675. (Northampton Mercury Sept’ 25 1875.) 

The late Mr de Wilde, writing in the “Northampton Mercury” on September 25th 1875, says:  “September 20th 1675` – perhaps the most memorable day in the history of Northampton – was a blistering autumn day, with a fierce wind blowing from the West. We can imagine that the industrious trade folk were not tempted out much but preferred – those that were in the leather trade to stay at home and apply their skill to the manufacture of leathern bottles and the immense pliant folding-top boots of the period, the women plying their bobbins and thread. Towards 12 o’clock, however, when, perhaps dinner was occupying the attention of most, the news spread that a fire had broken out in a hovel near the castle, and had extended to some adjoining tenements. Some run down to the scene of the disaster, to look or assist in extinguishing the flames, while others deemed it the wiser and more comfortable thing to make sure of a good dinner while it was good, designing to stroll down afterwards and see what was to be done. Little did they think, those who were thus nonchalant, that the fire was coming to them to save them the trouble of going to it. But such it was and with terrible speed. The bells of All Hallows had scarcely chimed the hour of noon, when say an eyewitness they “began to jangle a different tune.” Dinner was then forgotten and boots and leathern bottles and lace, and everything save personal safety, for fanned and fostered by the fierce west wind, it was making its way with terrific speed to the centre of town, literally licking everything up in its course. It commenced in a cottage at the upper end of St Mary’s Street near the castle”

Now you may ask what all this has to do with my Family History and my Research. Our ancestors did not live in a bubble. They were part of the action that was going on around them. It is extremely important to know your history and its timelines. It is also important to have maps from that same time period. Villages disappear..borders move. All this information can help you understand why your ancestors did what did and moved where they moved. 

 Nathanel Benfford was likely born around the end of the English Civil War…circa 1654. He married Jane Joalmer in 1679, four years after the great fire destroyed Northampton. They were married at St. Giles on December 20, 1679. The register indicates they were living in Denton, a small village 7 miles outside Northampton.

100430874_00235

Nathanel Benfford of Denton 1679

Interestingly, at the same parish church, St Giles, in 1660, a Will Benfford married a Mathe?  Taylor on February 11, 1660. It took me awhile to decipher the early English writing, but when I did I had quite the surprise. Here was a possible C. The register indicated that Will Benfford was from Couentree (Coventry, Warwickshire) and Mathe? Taylor was from Northan (Northampton, Nothamptonshire). Hours of hard work had finally paid off….and only if you are a Family Historian will you understand why anyone would spend hours searching for one record.

100430874_00228

Will Benfford of Couentree…1660

Why would I stop searching at this point when I am on such a roll. WOW…there he was…..an even earlier Bennford…William Bennford… with another spelling of the surname….this time in Raunds, Northamptonshire in 1626 and marrying Mary Wells. Raunds is 20 miles from Northampton. Don’t      know where this William is from….more digging.

FreeReg Marriage entry on 13 Jul 2016

For information about this place follow the link to Raunds

If you believe there to be an error in this transcription then please report it to our data manager.
Field Value
County NTH
Place Raunds
Church name St Peter
Register type
Marriage date 01 May 1626
Groom forename William
Groom surname BENNFORD
Bride forename Mary
Bride surname WELLS
Register note
Transcriber not
 People move….people have always moved….we tend to overlook this fact when trying to locate our ancestors. 

POPULATION MOVEMENT IN SEVENTEENTH CENTURY ENGLAND

Peter Spufford is a Senior Lecturer in History

ww.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/PDF/LPS4/LPS4_1970_41-50.pdf

“single population movement in seventeenth century England was this enormous flow of people into London. The growth in size of London affected many parts of the country...He mentions Cogenhoe in Northamptonshire where “in a 10 year period…1618 to 1628…two thirds of the population changed due to migration”.
Don’t limit your thinking to the village where your ancestors were born and when you can’t find them there in subsequent years …give up…It would be like saying “people born on the other side of the country in Newfoundland would never move to Ft. McMurray Alberta for work”…they do now and they did then!
mary wells

Mary Wells daughter of Thomas Wells, Parish Record, 1606 of Wadenhoe..21 miles from Northampton

Going backwards one generation, to search for William’s father has proved difficult. There are a number of William’s born in Warwickshire around this time and also one born in Lichfield, Staffordshire in 1600. Are any of these William’s the father I am seeking….who knows…..suffice to say….likely one could be and that makes my connection to Warwickshire even more certain.

TIP: Spellings of names aren’t fixed..they change for many reasons….I look for Benford, Bentford, Beneford, Bendford, Benfford and Bennford and I am sure there are others….makes life interesting. 

 

If you are interested in Coventry…..Further Reading

The City of Coventry: Social history to 1700

“The 1590s and 1600s were marked by another period of activity on the part of the Puritan council. The same council meeting which gave permission for the last performance of plays in Coventry ordered all the maypoles in the city to be taken down ‘and not hereafter to be set up’. With the suppression of the last of the public festivals, life became very drab, and, moreover, trade probably suffered. Ben Jonson’s description of the Puritan tradesmen of Coventry, though written in 1625, doubtless applied equally to the 1590s:

‘A pure native bird This: and tho’ his hue Be Coventry Blue Yet is he undone By the thread he has spun For since the wise town Has let the sports down Of May games and morris For which he right sorr’ is, Where their maids and their mates At Dancing and Wakes, Had their napkins and posies . . .’ Jonson ends by suggesting that the only use left for the Puritan’s thread is ‘to hang or choke him’.

Sabbatarianism was also growing during this period. In 1588 the opening of shops, playing games, or idly walking about were forbidden during servicetime on Sundays.  In 1599 these orders were intensified, indoor games and idly sitting in streets or fields being added to the other forbidden activities. Football in the streets would incur gaol after 1595 and children’s games in the street were forbidden in 1605.  This suggests that the earlier prohibitions were being disregarded, as does the complaint of churchwardens that, in spite of their efforts, many ‘do lie in bed’, while others went to neighbouring villages where they could spend the Sabbath profanely, drinking and enjoying themselves ‘to the great dishonour of God and the offence of others’. In the same year church attendance on Sundays was made compulsory and listening to sermons and theological debates replaced the more frivolous recreations of the past. The first weekly lecture, which was to become a feature of the Commonwealth period, was established in 1609.

The Puritans found that James I, like Elizabeth, disappointed their expectations. In 1611 they were ordered, in a letter from the king himself, to receive the sacrament kneeling, ‘to the grief of many’. Ten years later James refused to approve the new charter until he was satisfied that the orders of the church were being observed.

The Puritans were back in the ascendancy in 1641 when the altar of Holy Trinity was replaced by the table. Two Presbyterians, Obadiah Grew and John Bryan, became vicars respectively of St. Michael in 1642 and Holy Trinity in 1644. The covenant was taken in 1643 and Coventry remained staunchly Parliamentarian throughout the Civil War period. It is possible that the phrase ‘sent to Coventry’ derived from the unbending attitude of the townsfolk to Royalist prisoners sent there.  The diary of Robert Beake (mayor, 1655) gives some indication of the strict Sabbatarianism in force in Coventry during the Commonwealth period. Offenders were put in the stocks or the cage for travelling on Sunday, and even the man who was travelling ‘to be a godfather’ was fined.

Most of Coventry’s chief citizens remained Protestant and anti-Royalist in sympathy, and many of the measures of the Puritan years, like the compulsory attendance at church and the closing of shops on Sunday, remained. Nevertheless, there was a conscious reaction against Puritan repression at the Restoration, at least on the part of those in power, and probably among many of the people as well. The Restoration was celebrated with feasting, bonfires, and conduits running wine. Grew and Bryan were ejected, the lectures suppressed, and maypoles brought back.  In 1662 the font and organ were restored to St. Michael’s and the king’s brother, later James II, was entertained by the city council.  The pageants were never revived but there was some attempt to recreate the pageantry and gaiety of an earlier period. Waits were appointed in 1674 ‘to play in the city as the waits formerly did, during the pleasure of the house’ and the Great Show Fair, the successor of the Corpus Christi Fair, was celebrated by feasting at about the same time.  The year 1678 saw the permanent establishment of two institutions – the waits and the Godiva procession.

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Benford Family….Weavers of Kettering, Northamptionshire

5 Jul
2013-09-26 07.01.41

Settlement Certificate for Benjamin and Sarah Benford of Kettering – 1745 to the Parish Of Ullesthorpe and attested by: Thomas Benford  and George Smille (DOC 1)

The Northamptonshire worsted trade began in the late seventeenth century.  The Militia Lists of 1762 and onwards  list a number of freeholders engaged in the industry in the market town of Kettering. The establishment of the trade is attributed to the local supply of the long – staple wool that was necessary for worsted cloth production.

Northamptonshire Milita Lists for Kettering:

Benford John    Kettering Hux     weaver   1762

“WEAVER – A person who runs one or more looms to weave cloth. The more looms, the more money. Weaving is a very noisy operation, leaving many weavers deaf. Whether deaf or not, most weavers will have learned to lip-read since this is the only way to hold a conversation in the weaving shed.”

Benford Sam     Kettering Hux     combmaker    1762

COMB MAKER – “Makes Combs for the Textile Industry”

 

Benford Ben      Kettering Hux     weaver    1771

Benford Thos     Kettering Hux    wool comber    1771

 WOOL COMBER – “Operated machinery that separates the fibres ready for spinning in woollen industry”

Benford Wm      Kettering Hux     weaver    1771

 

Benford Ben Jr  Kettering Hux     weaver     1774

Benford Ben Sr    Kettering Hux     weaver    1774

Benford Thos     Kettering Hux     wool sorter    1774

WOOL SORTER – “one that sorts wool according to grade specifications”

Benford Wm      Kettering Hux     weaver    1774

 

Benford Ben       Kettering Hux    weaver    1777

Benford John     Kettering Hux    weaver    1777

Benford Thos     Kettering Hux    wool sorter    1777

Benford Wm       Kettering Hux    weaver    1777

 

Benford Wm     Kettering Hux    weaver 1781

Kettering was an influential urban area in the 13th and 14th centuries and by 1700  it had become an important centre for the woollen cloth trade. During the late 17th century and in the 18th century, Kettering specialized in the worsted trade, which has been attributed to the local availability of long-staple wool, best suited to domestic spinning. The wool was sorted and that which was intended for manufacture at home, was combed and then distributed in small quantities to the lower economic class of people who spun and reeled the wool. The spun wool was then passed on to the weavers. A Randall, in his book The Kettering Worsted Industry of the Eighteenth Century, claims “weaving was concentrated in Kettering, while the wool combing took place at Long Buckley about 15 miles south-west of Kettering”.  By 1741 Kettering was producing Shalloons – “A fabric of tightly woven wool, mainly used for the linings of articles of clothing” (Wiktionary) and was sending upwards of 1,000 pieces to the London markets.

There was a sudden collapse of the Northamptonshire worsted industry in 1770 and by 1794 the work force was 50% of the 5–6,000 people employed at its peak. The decline of the worsted trade of 1770 was largely due to the mechanization of worsted spinning in the West Riding of Yorkshire and over the county border in Leicestershire.

In my previous Blog, I referenced Benjamin and Sarah Benford who had relocated from Kettering to Ullesthorpe around 1745. They had relocated  prior to the decline of the Worsted Textile Industry, but their move may have had more to do with family as Sarah was from there and the birth of their first child was eminent. Many young women returned to their family at this time.

On my visit in 2013, I was able to visit the County Records Office in Leicester and discovered a document  known as a Settlement Certificate. These were documents issued by Church Wardens and Overseers of the Poor in a given Parish, to prove in which Parish a Family was  legally settled and to indicate, that should Poor Relief be needed, the family could be returned to that Parish. These certificates weren’t only provided to paupers. Regular Families often obtained them if they were moving to a new parish, and subsequently, if they fell on hard times, that Parish would know where to return them to obtain Poor Relief. This document helped me break through one of the many Brick Walls I had encountered in my research.

  1. In 1745, one such Certificate was issued to Benjamin Benford and Sarah (Page) Benford of Kettering, Northamptionshire and was addressed to the Church Wardens of the Parish of Ullesthorpe in Leicestershire. Benjamin had been born in Kettering in 1714 to Thomas and Sarah (Stanley) Benford (married Dec 16, 1708. On January 3, 1745 he married Sarah Page of Ullesthorpe. In order to settle in Ullesthorpe, the family would need a Settlement Certificate.  This Certificate answered my question….Was Benjamin who lived in Ullesthorpe, Leicestershire….from eleswhere? It seems this was the case… And just like like in the Bible…Benjamin begat Nathaniel in 1748?, Nathaniel begat Nathaniel in 1774, and Nathaniel begat Nathaniel in 1804.  (see Document 1 at the top of the Page) It is from this line that my Great Grandmother Clara Benford Perkins descends…..she being the daughter of Nathaniel (1804).

 

2013-09-26 06.59.44

Settlement Certificate for Benjamin and Elizabeth Benford and their Children Joseph, Jesse and Hannah – 1779. (DOC 2)

In this document (Doc 2), we have a Settlement Certificate for a later Benford Family who looks to be relocating at the time the decline is hitting its peak. It is 44 years later……1789 when this Benford Family is looking for opportunity eleswhere. There are two signatures of interest on the document…..Thomas Benford Senior and Thomas Benford Junior. On the document (DOC 1) created in 1745, there was one Benford signature…..there was a Thomas Benford who dies in Kettering in 1750 and I would guess he is the signatory on document. He had a son Thomas born in 1721 who could be Thomas Senior age 58 on document 2 and the other signature that of his son, Thomas Jr. likely around 25. Have I confused everyone…if only these people would have used different names or incorporated their birth year into the name as in Thomas 1721. You have no idea how difficult it is to sort out who is who in the records.

I located a Thomas Benford of Kettering listed as a Master Serge Maker in 1753 (The Genealogist) and he had an Apprentice by the name of Benjamin Meadows. In 1755 Thomas is listed as a Serge Weaver and has an apprentice Thomas Spriggs. This is likely Thomas Senior (Thomas 1721 who would be 34). 

The Genealogist-paid site

Masters Name Thomas Benford
Masters Trade Serge Weaver
Masters Abode Kettering, Northamptonshire
Apprentice Name Thomas Spriggs
Date of Duty 29th July 1755
Date of Indenture 4th July 1755
Term 7 Years From 24th Ju

Serge Weavers weave SERGE, a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave. The worsted variety is used in making military uniforms, suits, great and trench coats. Its counterpart, silk serge, is used for linings.  The word is also used for a high quality woolen woven.

I have been attempting to trace the ancestry of the Benford Family of Claybrooke Magna, Leicestershire for the past 10 years. I had always thought that the family likely originated in Warwickshire and moved up the road through marriage, perhaps from somewhere in the Coventry area.  My thinking may be partially correct.It would appear that at least one Benford Family…Benjamin Benford/Sarah Page had moved up the road …not from Warwickshire but from Kettering, Northamptonshire to Ullesthorpe, Leicestershire in 1745.  

I can’t find Benford’s in the Parish Records of that County (Northamptonshire) earlier than the 1700’s and these people all appear to be connected to the Worsted Industry which developed in the 1600’s. Could it be that the ancestors of these Thomas Benford’s…..weavers of Kettering, had originated in Warwickshire where the Benford name appears in the Parish Records from the 1500’s. People always moved for economic opportunities.  (Distance from Coventry, Warwickshire to Kettering, Northamptonshire is only 33 miles.) More research is needed.

From parish records for Claybrooke LEI we have a Benjamin Benford christened in 1751 – parents Benjamin and Sarah Benford. From apprenticeship records, we have a Nathaniel Benford (age 14 born circa 1748) apprenticed to John Barker CARPENTER of Little Ashby (Ashby Parva) about 1.5 miles from Ullesthorpe in 1762…perhaps the beginnings of the Carpenter trade for the Benford Family. The BIG Question…Is he Benjamin and Sarah Benford’s eldest son? Have not located a Birth Record for him. He would have been born 3 years after they married. Are there previous births for this couple..maybe the child died? 

We have in the Kettering Fuller Street Baptist records, a Benjamin Benford buried  21 Sept 1800 age 84 (born 1716) and his wife Sarah buried 26 Oct 1800 age 82 (1718).   We have a Thomas Benford buried there in 1791 age 81 (born 1710) and  a Nathaniel who was christened in Theddingworth , LEI (13 miles from Kettering)  June 5, 1714… parents Thomas and Sarah Bendford.  Are these  Benford’s related and the sons of one Thomas Ben(d)ford of Kettering? Did Benjamin and Sarah return to Kettering at some point in their lives?  ketteringca1900

If my thinking is correct then a Benjamin Benford of Kettering, Northamptionshire married a Sarah Page of Ullesthorpe LEI and started the Benford dynasty in Leicestershire. They were Non Conformists (Baptists) and the records are difficult to track, but a Benjamin and Sarah Benford are both buried back in Kettering (Silver Street Baptist). The names Benjamin and Nathaniel run through several lines in both counties making great difficulties in determining who is who.

On top of that, there are Benford’s in the southern USA in the early days of the plantations where a Nathaniel Benford is a slave owner in Charles City Virginia. He frees his slave and they move north and today there are many Slave Descendents with the Benford name. Many Non-Conformists left the Midlands to escape religious persecution and became some of the earliest settlers in the USA. Thomas, Benjamin and Nathaniel are the names running through generations on both sides of the pond.

As is always the case, my research will continue. I think I have proved the Kettering and  Ullethorpe/Claybrooke connection. Now I must continue to find out the Kettering/Warwickshie connection…if there is one.

More info on the Textile Industry if you are interested…

Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World | 2004 | GULLICKSON, GAY L.
COPYRIGHT 2004 The Gale Group Inc.
TEXTILE INDUSTRY.

“Between 1450 and 1800, textile production was second only to agriculture in economic importance. It employed more people and produced more profit than any other manufactured product. Production and trade existed at two levels:

Peasants and villagers turned locally grown wool and flax into fabric and clothing for themselves and their neighbors. The cloth they produced was of poor quality and not designed for export to distant markets.

On top of this local market, there was a large and lucrative trade in quality goods.

Two types of wool fabric were produced in Europe—woolens and worsteds.

Woolens were made from short-staple wool fibers that were swirled together before spinning. The cloth had a soft-textured appearance and feel.

Worsteds were made from long-staple wool and had a harder, smoother finish. Soft woolens were considered far more desirable than the harsher worsteds and dominated the wool trade.

Turning raw wool into fabric was a long, complicated process. The sheep’s fleece was sheared in one continuous piece, rolled, sacked, and sold to merchants (drapers) or clothiers or their agents. The fleeces were dirty and greasy, not uniform, and far from ready for spinning and weaving. Fleece breakers opened up the fleece and removed the large pieces of debris that were caught in it. The fleece was then pulled apart, and the wool was sorted into three or four grades. Next, the sorted wool was cleaned. Any remaining debris was removed from the fleece by beating it with sticks, and then it was washed in alternating hot and cold, soapy and clean water. Some fleeces were dyed at this point, but dyeing raw wool produced dull colors, and it was common to dye fabric after it was completed rather than when the wool was raw. Whether it was dyed or not, the fleece was now lubricated with butter or oil to make it easier to work.

After breaking, cleaning, and oiling, the wool passed into the hands of combers and carders. Their task was to convert a mass of tangled, curling wool into long, straight, smooth fibers for worsteds by combing, or into a smooth ball of short wool fibers for woolens by carding. Spinners converted the combed or carded wool into continuous lengths of yarn by pulling, twisting, and turning it into a thin, continuous thread. This was the most labor-intensive part of the process.

Weavers usually wound their own warps and prepared their own bobbins for the loom. The best woolens were woven on broadlooms that produced fabric that was 1¼ meters wide and 22 to 23 meters long. It commonly took two men and one child (most often, probably, a boy in training) to operate a loom and weave the cloth. Once the woolen cloth was woven, it passed into the hands of fullers who cleaned and softened it by dunking it in water that contained various kinds of detergents and soaps that dissolved or absorbed the fat that had been added to the wool before it was carded or combed.  Fullers placed the folded cloth in a vat and trod on it with their feet, periodically removing and refolding the cloth so it would be evenly fulled.

After fulling, the cloth was dried, stretched, bleached, and perhaps dyed. Teaselers raised the nap by brushing the cloth with the burr of the teasel plant to impart a soft finish. It was clipped smooth by shearmen, pressed, and returned to the merchant for sale. The entire process involved twenty people (not including dyers) for each piece of cloth produced and took at least six weeks. Women worked as carders, combers, and spinners, while men performed most of the other tasks. The finer the cloth, the larger the labor force and the longer the time it took to produce it. The finishing of worsteds was much simpler (they did not require fulling, teaseling or shearing, for instance), but the market for them was much smaller.

For the  luxury trade in silk, wool, linen, and (eventually) cotton fabric, the most important were heavy woolens. The customers for these fabrics were wealthy landowners, government and church officials, merchants, financiers, aristocrats, and master craftsmen in Europe, Asia and the Levant.

Most important of all the textile industries was the trade in raw wool and wool fabric. Sheep raising abounded everywhere and in the fifteenth century, the best fleeces came from England. In the sixteenth century, Spanish merino sheep knocked English sheep into second place.

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