The Domestic System

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The Domestic System

The Domestic System was in occurrence from around 1720 to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. The way the Domestic System worked, was because each individual family worked for themselves, in their own home. Firstly, the businessman would buy amounts of wool from sheep farmers. He would then go on to give poor families the wool and the necessary machinery such as looms. The idea was that the family would make the yarn and then subsequently, cloth/textile and then sell it back to the businessman. Next, the businessman would sell the cloth of textile on to the clothiers, so that they could make clothes out of it, as the name suggests.

However, as peasants’ cottages had a limited amount of working space, it was usually the case that it took several different families to produce the final product. For example, the first family would clean the wool. They would then take the cleaned wool on to the second family, who would card the wool (carding is the process that separates the individual wool fibres from each other). Once the wool was cleaned and carded, it would be spun into yarn by the young girls of the next family (these girls were often known as spinsters, and it was believed that if they didn’t marry at a young age, they would remain un-married for the rest of their life, hence the term today ‘spinster’). The final part of the process was the yarn being woven into cloths with a hand loom. Of course, these different parts of the process could be mixed around, so that it only took two families to make the cloth, or maybe three.

Advantages of the Domestic System:

The main benefit of the Domestic System was that the families could work at their own pace, and take breaks whenever they wanted to. This is because there was no one else but themselves in their home, to tell them when they needed to work, and how fast. Of course, they would have known they would’ve had to work at a particular pace so that they could get the...
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