Charles Swaisland

B1. Charles Swaisland’s invoice for block making for Vint & Co., 1809 to 1810
Little is known of Charles Swaisland’s beginnings as a calico printer. The designer George C. Haité wrote in 1897 that Swaisland started as a designer working at Mitcham. This invoice shows that in 1809, Swaisland was working independently as a block maker. While most of the invoice consists of charges for blocks and block making, the entry for November 16th includes supplying a pattern indicating that he was indeed also a designer. This work was done for Edward Vint, a calico printer who occupied the “Lower Works” site east of Crayford Bridge that eventually became Swaisland’s.

The invoice does not provide Swaisland’s address, but his connection with Mitcham is documented by a notice in the London Gazette of 7 May 1814 stating that the partnership between Bailey Austin and Charles Swaisland, calico-printers at Mitcham, was dissolved. Austin had other partners until the end of 1810, so sometime after this, Swaisland probably decided to give up his independent business and join Austin. Austin carried on at Mitcham after 1814, but Swaisland went to Crayford, taking over from Vint who died the following year. The date by which he began at the Crayford site is also corroborated by a return submitted to a parliamentary inquiry that shows he employed the designer John Audsley in the year 1814.

Mess(rs) Vint & Comp [Debtor] to Ch(s) Swaisland

Aug 28 1 Holly Block 10 by 8 4-0
Sep(r) 14 1 Ditto
1 Ditto
12 by 9½
10 by 8
Sep(r) 24 2 Ditto 10 by 6 6-0
Sep(r) 28 4 Ditto 10 by 6 12-0
Nov(r) 16 Pattern & putting on
print 13 days Ground 4(d)
[@ 5s. per day]
June 25th
1809 to
May 25th
Holly faces
20 faces
82 Ditto
40 Ditto
Glue for 142 Blocks
10 by 6 @ 8d
8 by 5 @ 6d
10 by 8 @ 10d
TOTAL     12-2-6


1. Pattern from a Vint & Gilling pattern book, around 1792 to 1802
Edward Vint began calico printing around the mid-1780s on the site near Crayford Bridge formerly occupied by John and Mary Ware. Over the next thirty years, he had a number of different partnerships. His partnership with Thomas Gilling began around 1792 and was dissolved in October 1802, providing an end date for the pattern book from which this design is taken. Gilling began his own firm at Hall Place after splitting up with Vint.

The book contains proofs on paper of engraved copperplates for textile printing. The proofs are printed in black, but hand-coloured to suggest possible colourings that might be added using hand-blocks. Some of the designs in the book bears some resemblance to Swaisland’s rough sketch on his 1809 invoice. Although quite a tentative link, it is possible that Charles Swaisland may have designed these patterns for Vint sometime in the 1790s.

B2. Henry Cooke's printed "valencias", around 1821
Swaisland was said to have been a "printer of valencias" in his early days. Valencias were fabrics with a worsted warp and silk weft making them more hard-wearing than silks but with similar fineness and sheen. So they were well suited to menswear, and much used for waistcoating material. They often featured ribbing in the warps similar to the dimities used as summer waistcoatings, and could be enlivened by silk satin stripes in the weft. Swaisland acquired the books of a competitor in the valencia field, Henry Cooke of Islington, probably after Cooker ceased trading. Henry Cooke was probably the London dyer whose partnership, Stevenson and Cooke, ended in 1818. By 1821, he had his own business as a textile printer at White Conduit Fields in Islington. Cooke’s waistcoating patterns were block printed, usually in two to three colours; the patterns were often small and featured fine pinned details. Cooke also printed larger border patterns on valencia cloth, possibly for women’s wear. His cloth was woven in West Yorkshire, his most prominent customers being manufacturers and merchants from Leeds and Huddersfield. Cooke’s order book finishes in 1823, and it is possible this is when his business closed.

B2a. Microphotograph of wool and silk weave structure