Paul, Lewis

SUBJECT AREA: Textiles
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d. April 1759 Brook Green, London, England
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English inventor of hand carding machines and partner with Wyatt in early spinning machines.
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Lewis Paul, apparently of French Huguenot extraction, was quite young when his father died. His father was Physician to Lord Shaftsbury, who acted as Lewis Paul's guardian. In 1728 Paul made a runaway match with a widow and apparently came into her property when she died a year later. He must have subsequently remarried. In 1732 he invented a pinking machine for making the edges of shrouds out of which he derived some profit.
Why Paul went to Birmingham is unknown, but he helped finance some of Wyatt's earlier inventions. Judging by the later patents taken out by Paul, it is probable that he was the one interested in spinning, turning to Wyatt for help in the construction of his spinning machine because he had no mechanical skills. The two men may have been involved in this as early as 1733, although it is more likely that they began this work in 1735. Wyatt went to London to construct a model and in 1736 helped to apply for a patent, which was granted in 1738 in the name of Paul. The patent shows that Paul and Wyatt had a number of different ways of spinning in mind, but contains no drawings of the machines. In one part there is a description of sets of rollers to draw the cotton out more finely that could have been similar to those later used by Richard Arkwright. However, it would seem that Paul and Wyatt followed the other main method described, which might be called spindle drafting, where the fibres are drawn out between the nip of a pair of rollers and the tip of the spindle; this method is unsatisfactory for continuous spinning and results in an uneven yarn.
The spinning venture was supported by Thomas Warren, a well-known Birmingham printer, Edward Cave of Gentleman's Magazine, Dr Robert James of fever-powder celebrity, Mrs Desmoulins, and others. Dr Samuel Johnson also took much interest. In 1741 a mill powered by two asses was equipped at the Upper Priory, Birmingham, with, machinery for spinning cotton being constructed by Wyatt. Licences for using the invention were sold to other people including Edward Cave, who established a mill at Northampton, so the enterprise seemed to have great promise. A spinning machine must be supplied with fibres suitably prepared, so carding machines had to be developed. Work was in hand on one in 1740 and in 1748 Paul took out another patent for two types of carding device, possibly prompted by the patent taken out by Daniel Bourn. Both of Paul's devices were worked by hand and the carded fibres were laid onto a strip of paper. The paper and fibres were then rolled up and placed in the spinning machine. In 1757 John Dyer wrote a poem entitled The Fleece, which describes a circular spinning machine of the type depicted in a patent taken out by Paul in 1758. Drawings in this patent show that this method of spinning was different from Arkwright's. Paul endeavoured to have the machine introduced into the Foundling Hospital, but his death in early 1759 stopped all further development. He was buried at Paddington on 30 April that year.
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Bibliography
1738, British patent no. 562 (spinning machine). 1748, British patent no. 636 (carding machine).
1758, British patent no. 724 (circular spinning machine).
Further Reading
G.J.French, 1859, The Life and Times of Samuel Crompton, London, App. This should be read in conjunction with R.L.Hills, 1970, Power in the Industrial Revolution, Manchester, which shows that the roller drafting system on Paul's later spinning machine worked on the wrong principles.
A.P.Wadsworth and J.de L.Mann, 1931, The Cotton Trade and Industrial Lancashire, 1600–1780, Manchester (provides good coverage of the partnership of Paul and Wyatt and the early mills).
E.Baines, 1835, History of the Cotton Manufacture in Great Britain, London (this publication must be mentioned, but is now out of date).
A.Seymour-Jones, 1921, "The invention of roller drawing in cotton spinning", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 1 (a more modern account).
RLH

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

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