Hatmakers' petition, 1777
HLRO Manuscript Journal, H.C. (5 February 1777)


5 die February 1777.
347.
Ordered,  
That Leave be given to bring in a Bill, pursuant to the Prayer of the said Petition, and that Mr. Knightley and Mr. Powys do prepare, and bring in, the same.  
A Petition of the several Hatmakers and others concerned in the Hat Manufactory of Fur and Wool, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, that the Hatters in and near the City of London have been for several years past, and now are, under many Difficulties in carrying on their Manufactories, by reason of the great Scarcity of Journeymen in the Trade, and of their repeated Demands for an advance of Wages to unreasonable Prices, and to lessen their usual Hours of Work; and, in order to enforce a compliance with such Demands, they have entered into a Combination (which they call by the Name of a Congress) and have made Bye Laws exacted Fines, and prevented divers of the said Manufacturers from having or taking Apprentices, which are at this Time much wanted in the said Manufactory, and is one great Cause of the scarcity of Journeymen; and that the said Journeymen have, by means of the above Practices compelled the most industrious Part of the whole to quit the Service of those who will not submit to such unwarrantable Proceedings, which the Petitioners feel with great concern will be the utter Ruin of the said Manufactory, if not speedily prevented; and that besides the above Practices, the Petitioners are great and daily sufferers by Journeymen who embezzle their Materials, and by the Buyers and Receivers of the same, the Punishment for which (by the present Laws) hath been found ineffectual on account of the great Difficulty in Convicting the offenders; and therefore the Petitioners are without Remedy, unless they can obtain the Aid of Parliament in those Cases; and that the Petitioners now pay, and are willing at all Times to pay, to their Journeymen, a full and adequate Price for their Labour, and such as will be sufficient to enable them comfortably to support themselves and Families; but that those their Intentions will be entirely frustrated, unless they are allowed to have a greater number of apprentices, than the Law at present allows them; and unless the wages and Prices of Work, and the Hours of working by their Journeymen, by [sic] fixed by Authority of Parliament, or a Power invested in the Magistrates, within their respective Jurisdictions, to settle and  
regulate
 

348
5 die February 1777.
regulate the same from time to time, as Occasion may require; and therefore praying the House, that Leave may be given to bring in a Bill for the above Purposes, or to grant the Petitioners such other Aid as to the house shall seem meet.
Ordered,
That the said Petition be referred to the Consideration of a Committee; and that they do examine the Matter thereof, and report the same, as it shall appear to them to the House.
And it is referred to,
Mr. Alderman Harley Mr. Alderman Oliver &c.
And they are to meet tomorrow Morning at Nine of the Clock in the Speakers Chamber; and have Power to send for Persons, Papers, and Records.

 


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