James Hargreaves

Inventor of the Spinning-Jenny


James Hargreaves was born in Oswaldtwistle, near Blackburn in about 1720, the time of the industrial revolution. He did not attend school and therefore could not read or write, instead He worked as a carpenter and weaver but prefered engineering. In the 1760’s James hargreaves moved to the village of Stanhill, a Surrey village largely populated by weavers.

He married Elizabeth Grimshaw and 13 children, It is thought that one of his daughters, named Jenny, accidentally knocked over over the family spinning wheel however he spindle continued to work and it gave Hargreaves the inspiration that a many spindles could work off one wheel.

The Spinning-Jenny

In 1764 Hargreaves built what is now known as the Spinning-Jenny, the Spinning-Jenny consisted of eight spindles on which the thread was spun. By turning a single wheel, the weaver could now spin eight threads at once, meaning more products could be made, in a shorter time and with less of the weaver’s effort.

The spinning-jenny was initially intended for family use, however he began to sell 2 years after first production, however other spinners from Lancashire, feared the option of a cheaper machine and invaded his house, destroying his equipment. Hargreaves did not apply for a patent for his Spinning Jenny until 1770 and therefore others copied his ideas without paying him any money, meaning he was largely unheard of for years.

Improvements and Death

Hargreaves moved to Nottingham where he created a little spinning-mill, meanwhile Others began to make improvements to the Spinning-Jenny, increasing the size by ten times, with 80 spindles working from one wheel, this was a major improvement and meant that weaving could be of industrial use, creating products in large quantities. James Hargreaves died in Nottingham in 1778 aged 58, at the time of his death over 20,000 Spinning-Jenny machines were being used in Britain by industrial weavers and families alike.