RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Archive Reference / Library Class No.D6948
TitleMessrs W G and J Strutt of Belper, cotton spinners
Extent54 boxes and 80 outsize volumes
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Archive CreatorMessrs W G & J Strutt
English Sewing Cotton Company Limited
Administrative HistoryThe business was initially established due to the abilties and dedicated hard work of Jedidiah Strutt (1726-1797), who was responsible for obtaining patents for the Derby Rib Attachment which improved cotton spinning machines and for helping to develop factories which took advantage of the opportunities for mass production.

The son of William Strutt, a farmer and maltster of South Normanton, Jedediah had been apprenticed to a wheelwright in Findern, but on the death of an uncle in 1754, he took over a farm in Blackwell. In 1755 he married Elizabeth Woollat, whose brother William Woollat was in the hosiery trade. Jedediah, with his brother-in-law William, developed an idea to improve William Lee's framework knitting machine by adding what became known as the Derby Rib Attachment, for which Jedidiah obtained patents in 1758. Jedediah went into partnership with his brother-in-law William Woollat from 1762 to 1794, and they established a very successful hosiery business in Derby based on the silk mill built there, by which means Strutt amassed a considerable fortune. When they ran short of capital they sought the financial backing of Samuel Need, a wealthy Nottingham hosiery manufacturer, and they formed a partnership with Richard Arkwright, who established a cotton spinning mill at Cromford in the 1770s, which partnership lasted until Samuel Need's death in 178 .
Jedidiah Strutt had began his own spinning operations in Belper, building the first South Mill there in 1775, which was working by 1778. The site for the Milford mills was purchased about 1780, and further mills were built there, including a bleaching mill. More mills were built in Belper over the nest 30 years; the North Mill, begun in 1784 and working by 1786, which was destroyed by fire on 12 January 1803 but was soon rebuilt and operating again by the end of 1804: the West Mill, begun in 1792 and working by 1796: the Reeling Mill, built in 1807 and operating by 1808: and the Round Mill, built between 1803-1813 and working by 1816.

Jedediah's family were heavily involved in the running of the busines, with his sons and daughter Elizabeth taking on different areas of managerial responsibility. After the death of Jedidiah in 1797, his brother William Strutt (1730-1800) became the figure head of the company, which was styled William Strutt and Co until William's detah in 1800. Jedediah's three sons William, George and Joseph, took on the management of the business, with company being styled W G & J Strutt from 1801 onwards. The three brothers were William Strutt (1756-1830), responsible for mill design, making various attempts to fireproof the Derby Mills and then designing the rebuilding of the iron framed "fireproof" Belper North Mill: George Benson Strutt (1761-1841), who managed the Belper and Milford mills and estates: and Joseph Strutt (1765-1844), who developed the commercial side of the business, as well a great benefactor of Derby, donating and helping to design the world's first Arboretum in Derby.

Succeeding generations of the Strutt took on the management of the company. George's son, Jedediah Strutt (1784-1854) took over from him in running the Belper and Milford factories, while two more of his sons, Anthony Radford Strutt (1791-1875) and John Strutt (1793-1858), were heavily involved in the business. Jedediah II's son, George Henry Strutt (1826-1895) was made a partner of the company in September 1848, which he remained until 1881, when he retired. In 1892, however, he bought out the interests of the sons of Edward Strutt (1801-1880). who had taken no active role himself in the running of the business, pursuing a successful political career, which resulted in him being elevated to the peerage as Lord Belper of Belper. With the buying out of the two sons, Henry Strutt, 2nd Lord Belper, and Frederick Smith, control of the company passed in effect to George Henry's son, George Herbert Strutt (1854-1928). George Herbert had not been encouraged to take any interest in the family business, and so had found himself suddenly catapolted into it. In a time of depression for the cotton industry, he was able to keep the mills going with the help of managers John Hunter and James Grant, albeit making no profit.

Eventually in 1897 fourteen firms, whose individual owners did not actually sell their properties or interests until later, combined to form the English Sewing Cotton Company, this event was reported in the September 18th issue of The Drapers' Record as "most important event the consolidation into a powerful and wealthy corporation of many of the principal old-established and well-know English thread makers" The original 14 firms were:

John Dewhurst & Sons Ltd, of Skipton and Airton, Yorkshire
Ermen & Roby Ltd, of Pendelbury and Patricroft, Lancashire
S. Manlove & Sons, of Chesterfield and Belper
W. G & J Strutt, of Belper and Milford
Sir Richard Arkwright & Company, of Cromford, Matlock Bath and Mellor
C A Rickards, of Bell Busk and Skipton, Yorkshire
Bagley & Wright, of Oldham, Lancashire
Edmund Ashworth & Sons Ltd, of Bolton, Lancashire
Crawford Brothers, of Beith, Scotland
J & E Waters & Co, of Hulme in Manchester and Carlisle
William Waller & Co, of Manchester
Marsland, Son & Co, of Manchester
John Thomas Raworth, of Leicester
George Wigley & Co, of the Old Silk Mill, Derby
Administrative History SourcesFS Fitton and AP Wadsworth (1958), 'The Strutts and the Arkwrights, 1758-1830: A Study of the Early Factory System', Manchester University Press
Custodial HistoryDonated by Manchester Archives & Local Studies in 2008. The archive had been transferred to Manchester Archives & Local Studies from the Economics Department of Manchester University in 1958. The English Sewing Cotton Company had originally donated the archive to Manchester University in January 1951. In the preface to RS Fitton & AP Wadsworth’s "The Strutts and the Arkwrights 1758-1830: A study of the factory system" (1958), it is recorded that in the spring of 1950 The English Sewing Cotton Company Limited informed Professor Arthur Redford that there was a large collection of records of W G and J Strutt at the West Mill, Belper, and Dr RS Fitton went to examine the material, which was then transferred to the University of Manchester University. It is also recorded that Mr AN Smith and Mr TG Ride had preserved the Strutt records from destruction during the salvage campaigns of Worl War II.
ArrangementThe collection has been arranged in 16 groups.
A Ledgers
B Cash books
C Sales account books
D Cotton production and expenditure account books
E Workforce wages account books
F Workforce time books
G Workforce deduction and stoppage books
H Child workforce registers and certificate books
J Child workforce school records
K Office correspondence and related business papers
L Machinery, equipment, stock and delivery records
M Forge and foundry records
N Printing and paper records
P Building account records
Q Estate records
R Watchmen's records
Organisation Sub-TypeTextiles
RelatedMaterialThe following records are held at Derbyshire Record Office:

Strutt Family of Belper. The records relate mainly to the family estate and to the personal interests of members of the family. There are some business records dating from the 1760s onwards but no major series (D3772).

Strutt estate maps and plans including Belper, Milford, Crich, Derby, Makeney, Holbrook, Hazelwood 1790-1837, plans of mills and houses in Belper, Milford, Crich, Makeney and Heage 1796-1927, weather observations at Belper 1880-1900 (ref: D1564).

Letters to Jedidiah Strutt and other members of the family dealing with family and personal matters but also including letters from Jeremy Bentham, Joseph Lancaster, Richard Lovell Edgeworth and his daughter Maria, and Joseph Chamberlain (ref: D5303).

Travel diaries probably written by female members of the Strutt family of Derby, including England 1814-1831 and Europe 1823-1861, with copies of Jedidiah's letters 1750-1775 and family memoirs (ref: D2943).

Records of the English Sewing Cotton Company and its predecessors including records of production and photographs at Strutt Belper mills 1823-1990 (ref: D3638).

For business and family letters, some relating to the Derby Rib machine, 1748-1850, see D5303.

Strutt Library of printed material on Derbyshire bequeathed to Derbyshire County Council under the will of Frederick Strutt in 1910 and prints of Derbyshire scenes etc given by Lord Belper in 1912 (Derbyshire Record Office Printed Books).

Nottinghamshire Archives holds records of the Barons Belper including deeds, family and estate papers relating to Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire 17th-20th cent (ref: DD/BK).
Archivist NoteThis archive was originally catalogued by David Jenkins, Archivist, Nov 2008, and re-catalogued by Neil Bettridge, Archivist, Dec 2022

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Related Names
Name (click for further details)
Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site; 2001-
Belper; WG and J Strutt Ltd; 1762-1897; cotton spinners
Place (click for further details)Type
Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site 
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