History of dyeing (3)

Posselt's Textile Journal 3, 1914

(Continued from page 49.)

As regards the word dyeing, we find in "A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words" that the word "lit" meant "to color or dye," and the author finds that in Holland in early times "litster'' meant dyer. This is illustrated by North in the following : "He'll die all manner of colors but blue, and that is gone to the litting," and further in, "We use na clathes that are littede of dyverse colors: our wiffes tie are not gayly arayed for to please us."

Madder and woad are also mentioned in 1436 in Pal. Poems, in "Yit marchaundry of Braban and Selande the madre and woode that dyers take on hande to dyne with."

The making of caps was the principal trade of Coventry prior to the year 1436, and the manufacture of woolen broadcloth was introduced when the town became famous for its "Coventry true blue." The term "true blue" was adopted by the Puritans in opposition to the scarlet badge of Charles I. In an old proverb it says, "He is true blue, he'll never stain."

We find that a Company of Dyers is mentioned as a Guild in 1188, but the first Charter of Incorporation was granted to the Worshipful Company of Dyers by Henry IV. on February 16th, 1471. The Charter was renewed by Edward IV., December 2nd, 1472, in the same words, and was subsequently confirmed by Henry VIII., Edward VI., and by Philip and Mary. An inspeximus Charter was granted by 2nd Elizabeth, November 22nd, 1559 (fine paid £6. 13s. 4d.) and by 4th James I., June 30, 1606. Under the Charter no person could exercise the Art of Dyeing in London, or within ten miles thereof, unless he were a Freeman of the Company. Under the Byelaws of the Company, approved 31st October, 1704, the Company had jurisdiction over the trade in the city and within ten miles thereof, with power to enter and make search in every house, shop and warehouse within the radius, and to take for such search once every quarter 1s. towards the expenses.

The Company also had power to impose certain penalties in the event of using substitutes for the proper materials in dyeing. By Act of Parliament in 1783, special powers were given to the Company with reference to the preventing of fraud and abuses in the trade.

Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, the younger, of Leighton Broomswould, in the County of Huntingdon, England, gave in 1545, to the Dyers' Company, his mansion house in Upper Thames Street, known as "The Three Stars," and other estate there, now Dyers' Hall Wharf.

The Hall of the Company originally stood on the present site of the Dyers' Hall Wharf, Upper Thames Street, and on its destruction by fire in 1666 and 1681 was built in College Street, Dowgate Hill. The present Hall stands on the same site, and was rebuilt in 1838.

The Arms of the Dyers' Company contain a chevron engrailed argent, between three bags of madder of the last, corded or, Crest: on a wreath three sprigs of the grain-tree erect vert, fruted gules, etc., with the motto, "Da gloriam Deo."

According to Anderson, Henry VII., in 1507, granted "a Licence to Augustin Chigi, a Merchant of Sienna in Tuscany, to import from Flanders... 1,300 Quintals of Alum," but "not to sell the said  Alum at a higher price than £1. 6s. 8d. per Quintal or Hundred weight." In 1608, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, an alum works was established by Thomas Chaloner at Gisborough, in Yorkshire. James I. assumed the monopoly, and Charles I. in 1625 prohibited the importation of foreign alum into England.

Henry VIII, granted to the weavers of the City of York a privilege that "no one else to make cloths dyed or striped within the city," provided that the dyers without the city shall not contribute to those within.

Cochineal is distinctly mentioned in a letter January 17th, 1538, by Husee to Lady Lisle, in which we read that "the kersey that James left to be dyed scarlet cannot be done, as there is no grain to be had, and Baptist, the dyer, will not do it for 6s. the yard." From this we are able to form an idea of the costliness of dyeing at the time.

The use of Brazil wood, presumably in place of Cochineal, was condemned in 1532-3 by an act of Henry VIII.

In books containing instructions for dyeing which were published prior to the middle of the 17th century, no mention is made of the dyeing of cotton. This may be explained by the following statements found in Barlow. He informs us that cotton was imported from Antwerp into England in 1560, and Wm. Camden (1551-1623), speaking of Manchester, says: "This town excels the towns immediately around it for handsomeness . . . but did much more excel them in the last age as well by the glory of its woollen cloths, which they call Manchester cottons."

In a pamphlet entitled "The Treasure of Traffike," by Lewis Roberts, published in 1641, the first mention is made of cotton being made into cloth in Lancashire and in the "History of the Cotton Manufacture," by Baines, this statement is confirmed. What before this time went under the name of Manchester cotton was really composed of wool.

The "Calendar of State Papers," supplies us with authentic information regarding dyeing and dyers in England during the 16th and 17th centuries. The following extracts have been taken from the copies in the British Museum:

"Peter Back to the Queen (Elizabeth) on June 7th, 1567, solicits to be allowed to carry on certain experiments in the manufacture of salt and preparation of madder as a dye," while in April, 1571, Caspar Vosbergh sent a communication to Burghley concerning the uses of Woad in dyeing.

On June 23rd, 1572, the Wardens and Company of Dyers of London sent to Burleigh "observations on Mr. Hasting's plan for the dyeing of all cloths and manufactures in England, with curious particulars of the art and mystery of dyeing."

On September 29th, 1573, the "Articles of a bill for the true dyeing of wools and cloths" and on March 7th, 1576, "the advantages to be gained by the bill for the avoiding false and counterfeit colours, and for bringing in a true and perfect manner of dyeing into the realm, with answers to the same," were published.

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