What are Fustians?
The first cotton based cloths to be produced in Lancashire were fustians, which were cloths with a linen warp and a cotton weft. Cotton was sometimes incorporated into linen cloths to produce smallwares, or 'cotton-linens,' which were often woven with coloured, striped or checked patterns. Fustians were a fairly coarse, cheap cloth.
Production was well established in Lancashire by the mid-seventeenth century and Blackburn had become a recognised centre for the industry. During the next century many handloom weavers turned from producing woollens and linens to fustians.
The materials were supplied by local merchants who bought linen from Liverpool and raw cotton from London. They would then sell the finished cloth in London and throughout the country.
Figures for the import of raw cotton suggest a steady growth of the fustian industry throughout the eighteenth century and a survey of Blackburn parish registers for the years 1704-7 show that almost half the bridegrooms were fustian weavers.
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