Crossley, Sir Francis

Crossley, Sir Francis
SUBJECT AREA: Textiles
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b. 26 October 1817 Halifax, England
d. 5 January 1872 Belle Vue, Halifax, England
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English developer of a power loom for weaving carpets.
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Francis Crossley was the youngest of three brothers employed in their father's carpet-weaving business in Halifax and who took over the running of the company on their father's death in 1837. Francis seems to have been the one with technical ability, for it was he who saw the possibilities of weaving by power. Growth of the company was rapid through his policy of acquiring patents and then improving them, and it was soon at the forefront of the carpet-manufacturing trade. He had taken out rights on the patents of John Hill of Manchester, but his experiments with Hill's looms for weaving carpets were not successful.
In the spring of 1850 Francis asked a textile inventor, George Collier of Barnsley, to develop a power loom for carpet manufacture. Collier produced a model that was a distinct advance on earlier looms, and Francis engaged him to perfect a power loom for weaving tapestry and Brussels carpets. After a great deal of money had been expended, a patent was taken out in 1850 in the name of his brother, Joseph Crossley, for a loom that could weave velvet as well as carpets and included some of the ideas of the American E.B. Bigelow. This new loom proved to be a great advance on all the earlier ones, and thus brought the Crossleys a great fortune from both sales of patent rights and the production of carpets from their mills, which were soon enlarged.
According to the Dictionary of National Biography, Francis Crossley was Mayor of Halifax in 1849 and 1850, but Hogg gives this position to his elder brother John. In 1852 Francis was returned to Parliament as the Liberal member for Halifax, and in 1859 he became the member for the West Riding. Among his benefactions, in 1855 he gave to the town of Halifax a twelve-acre park that cost £41,300; a statue of him was erected there. In the same year he endowed twenty-one almshouses. In 1863 a baronetcy was conferred upon him in recognition of his commercial and public services, which he continued to perform until his death. In 1870 he gave the London Missionary Society £20,000, their largest single donation up to that time, and another £10,000 to the Congregational Pastor's Retiring Fund. He became ill when on a journey to the Holy Land in 1869, but although he made a partial recovery he grew worse again towards the end of 1871 and died early in the following year. He left £800,000 in his will.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Baronet 1863.
Further Reading
Obituary, 1872, The Times 6 January.
Dictionary of National Biography.
J.Hogg (ed.), n.d., Fortunes Made in Business, London (provides an account of Crossley's career).
RLH

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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