Why Was the Spinning Jenny so Important?

The Spinning Jenny was one of the the first machines of the Industrial Revolution designed to reduce labor costs and increase production. James Hargreaves receives credit for inventing it in 1764 as a replacement for the spinning wheel, but some historians believe that he may have improvised an earlier, unpatented machine made by Thomas High. Some models could spin more than 100 pieces of yarn at a time while a spinning wheel could only spin one.

The Spinning Jenny was simple enough for anyone to operate, and it could fit in an average farmhouse. Higher production caused the price of yarn to fall, which upset spinners. In 1768, an angry mob broke into Hargreaves’ home and forced him to leave Stanhill and move to Nottingham. This was one of the first labor disputes of the Industrial Revolution.

The Spinning Jenny was followed by the larger spinning mule, which needed a team of people to operate. The increased supply of thread also led to better looms.