Cotton mill owners were given the title of the Cotton Lords to signify their powerful status in the economy and society.  The Cotton Lords of Preston were sometimes viewed as manipulative, greedy tyrants, and other times they were lauded as the deliverers from unemployment and starvation.  They truly were benefactors of relief and community enhancements, but sometimes their wealth gaining methods were questionable or downright wrong.

Preston workers used to sing a little ditty about their Cotton Lords, excerpts of which include:

The Cotton Lords of Preston

The working people such as we,

Pass their time in misery,

                           While they live in luxury,

The Cotton Lords of Preston.

They’re making money every way,

And building factories every day,

Yet when we ask them for more pay,

They had the impudence to say,

To your demands we’ll not consent,

You get enough so be content,

But we will have the Ten per Cent,

From the Cotton Lords of Preston. (Hunt 178)

Everybody’s crying shame

On these gentlemen by name

Don’t you think they’re much to blame

The Cotton Lords of Preston

(CIRCA 1830) (Walch, p. 68)

In our next post we meet one of these Cotton Lords – Thomas Miller.