Edmund Cartwright

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Edmund Cartwright was an English priest and inventor who is credited with inventing the first power loom. His power loom, which he conceived and improved, is the forerunner of modern power looms. It’s worth noting that Cartwright had no formal training or qualifications in the field. Despite his lack of knowledge and experience, he created a wonderfully modelled power loom that provided the world the first automated textile manufacturing machine. Cartwright began his career in the Church of England after graduating from University College, Oxford. He faithfully served the Church from his position as rector to his appointment as prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral. An unexpected visit to Sir Richard Arkwright’s cotton spinning mills changed Cartwright’s life and turned him into an innovator. He is also credited with developing a wool-combing machine and a cordelier, in addition to the power loom.

Childhood and Adolescence

Edmund Cartwright was born in Marnham, Nottingham, on April 24, 1743. He was a wealthy landowner’s son. John Cartwright, a naval officer and political reformer, and George Cartwright, an English army officer, were his two brothers.

Edmund Cartwright received his primary education at Wakefield’s Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. Later, he enrolled at Oxford’s University College.

Career of Edmund Cartwright

Cartwright became a minister for the Church of England after finishing his studies. In 1779, he was appointed as a rector of the church of Goadby Marwood in Leicestershire.

Cartwright went to Sir Richard Arkwright’s cotton-spinning mills in Cromford, Derbyshire, for the first time in 1784. He was inspired by the weaving machine and set out to build a machine that would improve weaving speed and quality.

People laughed at Cartwright’s concept for an automated weaving machine, believing that such a difficult operation would be impossible to automate. He was unfazed by the remarks, though, and went to work on the machine.

With the help of a blacksmith and a carpenter, he developed his first primitive power loom in 1784. He received the patent for the machine the following year. However, the machine performed poorly at this point, owing to his lack of knowledge.

In Doncaster, Yorkshire, he established a weaving and spinning mill. However, his lack of knowledge on the subject reduced the plant to nothing more than a test bed for new technologies.
He was elected a prebendary in the cathedral of Lincoln (Lincolnshire) in 1786, a position he held until his death.

He patented yet another machine in 1789, which served as a model for future machines. He built a machine with the help of Zach Dijkhoff. He invented and patented a wool-combing machine the same year. Despite the fact that the machine reduced production costs significantly, it did not provide Cartwright with a significant financial benefit.
In 1792, he sought a cordelier, or rope-making machine, as well as a steam engine that ran on alcohol rather than water.

Cartwright began producing fabric at his Doncaster facility after adding features such as a positive let-off motion, warp, and weft stop motion to his previously constructed weaving machine. During the automated weaving process, however, he became aware of the machine’s flaws.

Cartwright received his last patent for weaving machinery in 1792. The machine has multiple shuttle boxes for weaving checks and crosses stripes in this model. The machine, however, was not as productive as he had hoped because the warps were still being sized while the loom was motionless.

He became bankrupt in 1793 as a result of his lack of expertise and experience, as well as losses from his Doncaster weaving mill. As a result, the creditors took possession of his mill. Cartwright moved to London, completely in debt, and worked on additional ideas such as interlocking bricks, incombustible flooring, and so on. None of his experiments, however, were successful.

At Knott Mill, Robert Grimshaw of Gorton, Manchester, established a weaving factory. He also bought 400 Cartwright-designed power looms for the same purpose. Tragically, the facility was burned to the ground in an arson attempt by handloom weavers who feared that further installation would cost them their jobs and, eventually, their livelihood.

William Radcliffe and his colleague Thomas Johnson solved the difficulty of measuring the warp while a loom was in operation in 1803. The beam warper and the dressing sizing machine were both invented by the pair.

A huge number of factory owners began employing a modified version of Cartwright’s power loom in the early nineteenth century. When Cartwright understood this, he filed a compensation claim with the House of Commons. His case was persuasively supported by MPs such as Robert Peel, and he was eventually awarded £10,000 by parliament for his innovation in 1809.

Major Projects of Edmund Cartwright

Cartwright devised the power loom during his brief career, which was crucial in changing the fate of the handloom weaving business. It was thanks to his idea that automated textile manufacturing machinery became a reality. Despite the fact that none of his patented machines were particularly successful, they did provide the groundwork for future development and improvement.

Achievements & Awards

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May 1821.

Personal History and Legacy

Edmund Cartwright married Elizabeth McMac when he was only 19 years old. Elizabeth, the couple’s daughter, went on to become an author, publishing books under the pen name Mrs Markham.
On October 30, 1823, at Hastings, Sussex, he passed away.

Edmund Cartwright Net worth

Edmund Cartwright’s estimated net worth is $ USD 2 million, according to online sources (Wikipedia, Google Search, Yahoo Search). His primary source of income is as an inventor and engineer.


Cartwright would have spent the rest of his life as a shady rural preacher if it hadn’t been for a chance visit to Sir Richard Arkwright’s cotton-spinning mills.