University of Hertfordshire

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  • 906548

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-170
JournalTextile History
Journal publication dateNov 2013
StatePublished - Nov 2013


The Worsted Acts, passed between 1777 and 1791, established semi-official industrial police forces in nearly a third of the counties of England, charged with detecting and prosecuting fraudulent reeling of worsted yarn by hand spinners. The Acts have been interpreted as the response of late eighteenth-century employers to new and growing problems of labour discipline associated with the putting-out system. But frauds by spinners in reeling yarn were not new. They had characterised the worsted industry since its rapid expansion began at the end of the sixteenth century. Over the subsequent two centuries, employers addressed the problem repeatedly. How they tackled it depended
crucially on the way the different regional worsted industries were organised and on dramatic changes in the willingness and capacity of the state to regulate manufacturing.
The Worsted Acts emerge as the product of a distinctive eighteenth-century approach to industrial regulation, reactive and particularistic, but bureaucratically innovative


Copyright Pasold Research Fund Ltd 2013. MORE OpenChoice articles are open access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0.


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