Publication on the historic global connections of cotton in the Derwent Valley mills

A publication based on the historical research aspects of the GCC project was published in autumn 2015. The chapter by Susanne Seymour, Lowri Jones and Julia Feuer-Cotter, entitled ‘The global connections of cotton in the Derwent Valley mills in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries’, was published in The Arkwright Society volume, The Industrial Revolution: Cromford, the Derwent Valley and The Wider World, edited by Chris Wrigley (2015). It is based on a presentation given by Susanne and Lowri at The Arkwright Society’s conference on The Industrial Revolution, hosted at Cromford Mills in October 2014, attended by a range of academics, publics and staff and volunteers from the mills. We are grateful for the audience feedback on the paper received at the event.

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The chapter itself focuses on tracing the raw cotton supplies brought to the Derwent Valley mills from around the globe. It also considers the attitudes of the mill owners to enslavement and its abolition since most of the raw cotton used in the mills in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was produced by enslaved Africans in the Americas. There is an in-depth case study of the Strutt family which also considers their cotton product markets. The chapter includes maps, statistics and contemporary descriptions of raw cotton supplies.

This publication re-contextualises older published material and analyses original archival sources, drawing on recent scholarship on British colonial and enslavement histories.The materials it presents have been used to inform discussions with the community groups involved in the GCC project, the Nottingham Slave Trade Legacies group and the Sheffield Hindu Samaj heritage group, with one of the cotton source maps appearing in the Nottingham Slave Trade Legacies group film, Global Cotton Connections: Untangling the Threads of Slavery. These findings have also been presented at a range of conferences in the UK (Nottingham, Lincoln, London).

A pdf version of the chapter can be accessed on the link below. (Please note that this version includes the correct label for Figure 3 which is wrong in the original printed version)

Seymour et al 2015 ch scan

The chapter is free to download but if you wish to use any material from it we would be grateful if you would reference the publication:

Seymour, S, Jones, L and Feuer-Cotter, J (2015) ‘The global connections of cotton in the Derwent Valley mills in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries’, in Wrigley, C (ed) The Industrial Revolution: Cromford, The Derwent Valley and the Wider World (The Arkwright Society: Matlock), 150-70.

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