Leeds Woollen Workers Petition (1786)

Leeds Woollen Workers Petition (1786)

Leeds Woollen Workers Petition (1786)

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Leeds Woollen Workers Petition (1786)

Leeds Woollen Workers Petition (1786) was a great concern for the workers, especially laborers who depended on their employment on the plant to feed their families and provide for their basic needs. With the introduction of the machines, there was a petition that these machines were against their rights, and this can be seen as true from so many perspectives. However, it is also trued that the machines were there to serve as a helping agent towards the increase in productivity and lower the production cost to manage these cloth producing firm. Therefore, the workers who used to work in these wool industries and firms were much agitated and saw it as an end to their work. Basing their accusations on the lack of consideration of human rights and general humanity principles, they went ahead to have a petition that stated that the introduction of the machines was completely contrary to the wishes and wills of the workers who were replaced by the machines (Deane, 1957).

Looking at the petitioners’ needs from their side is a good thing that can help us understand how difficult a situation it was and the reasons that made them go on with this petition. The desire of the workers can therefore be described as the need for them to retain and maintain their employment for the longest period possible. Consequently, the machines’ introduction made this impossible as there was a very big loss of jobs. In union for this similar course, the workers filed the petition to oppose the introduction of these machines in their working industries. The aggressiveness of these petitioners can be placed under the need for them to have stable financial lives and their inability to find other jobs easily as the managers and those in charge thought or assumed after they lost their jobs. Furthermore, their families depended on them, and it meant a lack of bread to put on the table if the members present their working lost their employment (Smail, 1992).

Therefore, this was a very difficult time for the petitioners, and they had to face it through all its processes. It wasn’t easy, though, for the Leeds cloth merchants to redecide their machinery introduction to make work easier, make more profits, and reduce the labor cost by replacing these workers with machines. Therefore it was a time of stagnation for the workers and the company as it was very difficult to come up with the best thing to do since there were workers’ conditions to be considered and at the same time, the needs of the company to be considered. There was also the element of modernity that the company needed to embrace and feel like a new way of doing things (Deane, 1957).

The side of the factory, even though conscious of the factors which led to this and what it meant to have the workers leave work had still to do it because they needed a faster method as well as a chap one of producing cloths and using machines was the best thing to do. Therefore their decision was based on their needs that they wanted to make sure that the production speed was increased and the quality was good while the cost went down. This is always the desire of any business, and therefore Leeds factory got this and implemented it. (Smail, 1992).

In conclusion, we can say that Leeds cloth factory implemented what was right according to them. Even though it was not fair according to the workers, they still implemented it because it served their needs best and helped them be better every day as their productivity increased, leading to an increase in the profit they were making.


Deane, P. (1957). The output of the British woolen industry in the eighteenth century. The Journal of Economic History, 17(2), 207-223.

Smail, J. (1992). Before the Luddites: Custom, Community and Machinery in the English Woolen Industry, 1776-1809.

Internet History Sourcebooks. (n.d.). Sourcebooks.fordham.edu. https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1786machines.asp

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