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Reverend Edmund Cartwright (1743-1823)

Edmund Cartwright

Edmund Cartwright was originally from Nottingham. After graduating from Oxford University in 1779, he became the rector of Goadby church, Marwood in Leicestershire. In 1784 he visited Arkwright's cotton-spinning mill. Cartwright was sure that he could develop similar technology to benefit weaving.

In 1785, he patented the first version of his power loom and set up a factory in Doncaster. He was no businessman, however, and he went bankrupt in 1793, which forced him to close his factory.

Cartwright was a prolific inventor. He patented a wool-combing machine in 1789 and a steam engine that used alcohol, as well as a machine for making rope, in 1797. He even helped the American, Robert Fulton, with his steamboat inventions.

The power loom was quickly integrated into the weaving industry. It was improved upon by William Horrocks, famous for his invention of the variable speed batton in 1813. The power loom was used alongside Crompton's Spinning Mule in many factories. Although Cartwright did not make very much money from any of his patents, in 1809 the House of Commons voted him a sum of £10000 in recognition of his contribution to the textile industry. Cartwright retired to a farm in Kent, where he spent the rest of his life improving farm machinery.

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