The manufacture of linen made great progress in Scotland, especially in the town and neighbourhood of Dundee. In 1814 the quantity of flax imported into Dundee for use in the factories did not exceed 3,000 tons; but in 1831 it was 15,000 tons, and in 1833 it was nearly 18,000 tons, including 3,380 tons of hemp. The quantity of linen sail cloth and bagging into which this material was made, and which was shipped from Dundee in the same year, amounted to 60,000,000 yards. The manufacture of linen has increased rapidly in England, and the improvement of the quality has been something wonderful, owing to the perfection of the machinery. The length of a pound of yarn of average fineness in 1814 was only 3,330 yards; but in 1833 a pound of the average quality contained 11,170 yards; the yarn of that quality having during twenty years fallen to one-ninth of the price; the raw material having been reduced in price at the same time about one-half. The English manufacturers embarked to so large an extent in the linen trade, that they became large exporters of linen! yarn to Ireland and also to France. The export of linen yarn is a new branch of trade, resulting from the perfection in the spinning machinery. In past times, and even so late as 1827, our weavers used nearly 4,000,000 lb. of foreign yarn, but the importation gradually diminished. Our exports of linen fabrics to the United States, where our principal market is found, amounted in 1848 to nearly 31,000,000 yards, the declared value of which was £859,479.
The following statistics will give a comprehensive view of the state of the linen manufacture in the United Kingdom. The total number of factories ait work in England in 1850 was 152; in Scotland, 170; in Ireland, 25: total in the United Kingdom, 347. The number in the West Riding of Yorkshire was 64, more than double the whole number then in Ireland. It is a singular fact that there was then no linen factory in Wales. The total number of persons employed in the trade was 33,283, of whom 22,888 were females, about half of the number being under 18 years of age, upwards of 2,000 between twelve and thirteen years, and more than 600 between eight and twelve. The proportions in which persons of different ages were employed in each of these four branches of industry in 1835 was nearly the same in cotton and flax. In wool the employment of young children under twelve years of age was double the number in the others, and in the silk trade it was more than six times the number. The largest proportion of adults was employed in the cotton trade, amounting to 57 per cent, of the whole. In 1839 there were no children under nine years of age employed in factories, except a few in the silk trade. The proportion of adults was nearly the same.