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Edmund Cartwright

Edmund Cartwrig
Edmund Cartwright
Born 24 April 1743 (1743-04-24)
Died Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter.
Hastings, Sussex
Resting place Battle, Sussex
Nationality English
Occupation Clergyman, inventor
Known for Power loom
Religion Christian (Anglican)

Edmund Cartwright (24 April 1743 – 30 October 1823) was an English inventor. He graduated from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield, and University College, Oxford, and became a clergyman of the Church of England. Cartwright began his career as a clergyman, becoming, in 1779, rector of Goadby Marwood, Leicestershire. In 1783, he was elected a prebendary in the Lincoln (Lincolnshire) cathedral.


  • Power loom 1
  • Other inventions 2
  • Family 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Power loom

He designed his first power loom in 1784 and patented it in 1785, but it proved to be valueless. In 1789, he patented another loom which served as the model for later inventors to work upon. For a mechanically driven loom to become a commercial success, either one person would have to attend one machine, or each machine must have a greater productive capacity than one manually controlled. An old man named Zach Dijkhoff assisted him in his work with creating this contraption.

He added parts to his loom, namely a positive let-off motion, warp and weft stop motions, and sizing the warp while the loom was in action. He commenced to manufacture fabrics in Doncaster using these looms, and discovered many of their shortcomings. He attempted to remedy these by: introducing a crank and eccentric wheels to actuate its batten differentially; by improving its dicking mechanism; by a device for stopping the loom when a shuttle failed to enter a shuttle box; by preventing a shuttle from rebounding when in a box; and by stretching the cloth with temples that acted automatically. His mill was repossessed by creditors in 1793.[1] In 1792, Dr Cartwright obtained his last patent for weaving machinery; this provided his loom with multiple shuttle boxes for weaving checks and cross stripes.[1] But all his efforts were unavailing; it became apparent that no mechanism, however perfect, could succeed so long as warps continued to be sized while a loom was stationary. His plans for sizing them while a loom was in operation, and before being placed in a loom, failed. These were resolved in 1803, by William Radcliffe, and his assistant Thomas Johnson, by their inventions of the beam warper, and his dressing sizing machine. In 1790 Robert Grimshaw, of Gorton Manchester, erected a weaving factory at Knott Mill which he was to fill with 500 of Cartwright's power looms, but with only 30 in place, the factory was burnt down probably as an act of arson inspired by the fears of hand loom weavers. The prospect of success was not sufficiently promising to induce its re-erection. In 1809, Cartwright obtained a grant of £10,000 from parliament for his invention.[1] In May 1821, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society[2]

Other inventions

Ropemaking machine of Edmund Cartwright

He also patented a wool combing machine in 1789 and a cordelier (machine for making rope) in 1792. He also designed a steam engine that used alcohol instead of water.[1]


He died in Hastings, Sussex and was buried at Battle.[3]

His daughter Elizabeth (1780–1837) married the Reverend John Penrose and wrote books under the pseudonym of Mrs Markham.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d  
  2. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Strickland (?), M. (1843). A Memoir of the Life, Writings, and Inventions, of Edmund Cartwright, D.D. FRS, Inventor of is Power Loom, Etc. Etc. London: Saunders and Otley. 

Further reading

  • Cartwright, Edmund (1772). Armine and Elvira: A Legendary Tale (3 ed.). London: John Murray. 
  • Strickland (?), M. (1843). A Memoir of the Life, Writings, and Inventions, of Edmund Cartwright, D.D. FRS, Inventor of the Power Loom, Etc. Etc. London: Saunders and Otley. Retrieved 21 April 2008. 
  • Hunt, David. "Cartwright, Edmund (1743–1823)". (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)  

External links

  • Edmund Cartwright – at Historic Figures at the BBC
  • "Edmund Cartwright and the power loom" – at Cotton Times
  • "Richard Arkwright and Edmund Cartwright: Inventors of Important Textile Manufacturing Machines" – at Grimshaw Origins
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