The History of Sutton-in-Craven
written 1927 by Nellie Stell

This history of Sutton was written between 1925 and 1927 by local historian Nellie Stell. I've tried to preserve the spellings and punctuation of the original. Special thanks to Mrs Armitage of Sutton CE School and Christine Robinson for the extended loan of the manuscript.

<< 29. Agriculture 31. Trades-people in 1820 >>


  1. Foreword
  2. The Position of Sutton
  3. The Ice Age
  4. Early Man
  5. The Bronze Age
  6. The Hitchingstone
  7. Place Name
  8. Other Place Names
  9. Domesday Book
  10. Reign of King John
  11. The de Sutton Family
  12. Nomina Villarum
  13. The Life of the People
  14. Inhabitants of Sutton 1379
  15. The Poll Tax of 1379
  16. Bolton Priory
  17. Flodden Field
  18. Lay Subsidy 1524
  19. Muster Roll
  20. County Rate 1584
  21. Copley and Malsis Hall
  22. Plagues
  23. Old Jenkins
  24. The Civil War
  25. Commonwealth Marriages
  26. Ratepayers in 1658
  27. Encroachments
  28. Enclosure Acts
  29. Agriculture
  30. Woollen Manufacture
  31. Trades-people in 1820
  32. The Corn Mill
  33. T and M Bairstow
  34. Township Account Books
  35. Relief of the Poor
  36. Settlements
  37. Constables Accounts
  38. The Pinfold & Stocks
  39. Boundary Riding
  40. The Church
  41. The Baptist Church
  42. Roads
  43. Roman Road
  44. Maintenance of the Roads
  45. Halifax - Settle Road
  46. Holme Lane
  47. Eastburn Lane
  48. Bridges
  49. Sutton in the 19th Century
  50. Sutton in 1927

30. Woollen Manufacture

All through the middle ages in this country, woollen manufacture was carried on as a domestic industry. The earliest reference found for this district, is in a document relating to Glusburn in 1558. There "a payre or tentars, a payre of sheares, and a payre of homes wythe a shearborde" are mentioned. Evidently the industry has been carried on in the district from the 16th century, and probably earlier.

In Sutton there are several 17th century houses. Most of these old homes have what is known as a "Wuzzing" hole outside the door. The wool was washed, and fastened onto a stick. One end of this was put into the hole and it was then "wuzzed" or whirled round until the wool was dry. Up to 20 years ago there was a house standing in Sutton which had an attic built for hand loom weaving. Most of the cottages would not have been so fortunate. The weaving would be done in the room where the family lived.

Another source of information about the domestic industry is he township account books. There are many references to providing new spinning wheels and hand looms and repairing old ones, for people who were getting parish assistance.

The following are examples of these entries.

April 1790To two spinning wheels for Betty Shackleton 3/8
Sept 1790 Two wheels mending for Betty and Luke Shackleton2/4
Oct 1811 To Peter Gregson for Robert Heaton loome £2.8.0
Jan 1812 To Jno Walters for Betty Shopham loome8/8
Mar 1829John Gill 2/2 Shuttle 
Nov 1829Iram Barret wif's loom repairing 3/2
Sept 1830Looms for Mary Dale 26/- and repairing 5/5½£1.11.5½

The township also paid experienced weavers to teach young persons. For example on April 19th 1833 Thos Midgley received 2/- "for setting Ann Dale on weaving". In the same year on May 7th we find that "George Kidds expense of starting to weave" was 2/6.

Besides the purely cottage industry small factories grew up. One of these existed up to 50 years ago. Four looms were worked in a room where houses now stand in the Town Gate.

Side by side with the hand loom weaving, the power loom weaving grew up. After 1780 looms could be run by water power, to get this the mills were built in the Pennine Valleys. The men who started these mills were village men who had saved a little capital, and started in business for themselves. They could not afford to wait long for their returns, and it was in these mills that the terrible conditions grew up.

The first water power mill in Sutton was owned by John Smith who died in 1793. From the parish register he was "for many years an eminent worsted manufacturer". He may possibly have had a hand loom factory earlier. His mill stood on the stream at the bottom of Sutton Clough.

In the township accounts are many references to boys and girls being put out as apprentices, but none say definitely that they were going to any of the mills.

By 1807 there were quite a number of manufacturers in the village. John Smith, worsted manufacturer was probably the son of the first John Smith mentioned above. John Clough and John Spencer carried in the same trade. John Feather was a Stuff maker. David MacRoby was a cotton spinner, Benjamen Smith and Francis Stirk were Cotton Manufacturers. In 1838 the late Thomas and Matthew Bairstow laid the foundations of what has since proved to be a most successful business.

The change from hand loom weaving to power loom weaving was evidently resented by the people of Sutton. They would see the new looms doing more work in one day than they could do in several. Many of the villagers depended on their handloom weaving for their Livelihood. They would think that the new looms meant unemployment and poverty for themselves and their families. They therefore took the only course which suggested itself to them. They tried to check the course of the new industry by breaking the looms. In 1827 is the entry "expenses of power looms breaking £4.14.0½. Evidently the township had to compensate the mill owner for the damage. Later a manufacturer, Mr John Preston, received £72.17.0½ from the township for the same reason.

<< 29. Agriculture 31. Trades-people in 1820 >>

This history of Sutton was written between 1925 and 1927 by local historian Nellie Stell. I've tried to preserve the spellings and punctuation of the original. Special thanks to Mrs Armitage of Sutton CE School and Christine Robinson for the extended loan of the manuscript.