In 1796, the Board of Trustees of the Linen and Hempen Manufacturers of
Ireland wanted to encourage the growth of flax and hemp seed. To do this, they
awarded spinning wheels, reels or looms, in proportion to the acreage sown. The
Irish Linen Board published a list of nearly 60,000 individuals who received
awards for planting between one and five acres of flax, one of Ireland's chief crops
in the 18th and 19th centuries. Individuals who planted one acre were awarded
four spinning-wheels, and those growing five acres were awarded a loom.
result of this incentive, many landowners allocated part of their land to flax
and hemp crops. County inspectors were appointed to receive claims from the
growers and county lists were published as official documents of the Board.
Ulster had 64.6% of the wheels, the remaining were distributed throughout Ireland. (No records exist for Dublin and Wexford. Either they received no wheels or, the records have been lost.)
Only one copy of the records is known to survive and is now part of a special collection or rare books held in the Linen Hall Library of Belfast.
The Linen Industry was particularly strong in County Tyrone - so if your ancestors lived there, be sure to check the list!
The lists include: