In the late 1700s, it was common for clothiers to purchase wool and supervise each stage of its manufacture into cloth. Clothiers paid people to do other manual processes such as carding, spinning and weaving. Before the 1800s, this was carried out in houses and cottages. Some processes, such as fulling and teazle raising, required water power and equipment. These needed to be carried out in mills.
'One person with a great stock and large credit buys wool, pays for the spinning, weaving, milling, dyeing, shearing, dressing etc. That is he is master of the whole manufacture from first to last and probably employs a thousand persons under him.'
* [Tucker, J, 1757, Instructions to Travellers, p.39]
[Quoted in Finberg, 1957]
An inventory of John Bond, a Stroud clothier who died in 1692, provides evidence of his wealth and the tools of his trade. It includes scales and a weight for weighing wool, shearing equipment for cropping cloth and handle stocks. Also fullers' earth was used as a cleaning agent during fulling.
Wool was usually weighed on a beam scale using stone weights. It was measured in units of 28lbs (12.7 Kg) or 1 'tod'. A single stone weight or two 14lb (6.6 Kg) 'stone' weights could be used.
In the late 1700s, clothiers could become very wealthy. Capital was invested in constructing and enlarging mills. Many large properties were built with profits, including Rodborough Manor and Rodborough Fort.