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Book: The cotton famine of 1862-’63, by Hugh McCall




Cotton Famine book photoHugh McCall, The cotton famine of 1862-’63 (Belfast, 1881) – ILC&LM Collection

The cotton famine of the early 1860s was devastating for the weavers of Lisburn and the surrounding area. In this rare book, the Lisburn journalist and historian, Hugh McCall (1805-97), who acted as secretary to the Lisburn Relief Committee, told the story of the local weavers’ plight, and of the committee’s efforts to save them from destitution. McCall grew up in the cotton industry as the son of a muslin manufacturer, so the cause was close to him personally. He dedicated the book to ‘those noble and generous-hearted philanthropists’ who contributed to relief efforts, and included a memoir of A. T. Stewart of New York, the Lisburn-born millionaire who chartered a ship, the Mary Edson, with provisions for the poverty-stricken. More than 130 weavers and their families sailed to America on the ship’s return journey, many of them never to return to Lisburn.

This particular copy was signed and owned by the McCall family before being acquired by the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum.

Learn more at our exhibition, The Mary Edson: from Lisburn to New York, 1863 (ends Spring 2024).

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