David Dale by Hugh William Williams (1773-1829).
David Dale (1739-1806) was born in Stewarton, Ayrshire. He was apprenticed as a weaver in Paisley and then worked as a weaver's agent, travelling the country delivering yarn and collecting finished cloth. At the age of 24, Dale set up his own business in Glasgow importing linen yarn from Europe. The business was extremely successful and by 1783 he was wealthy enough to hire Robert Adam to build a mansion in Charlotte Street. The following year Dale met Richard Arkwright (developer of the spinning frame) and decided to build a cotton mill at New Lanark. By 1793 it had grown to become the largest water-powered spinning mill in Britain, with over 1,300 employees.
A religious man, Dale was a founder member of the Old Scotch Independents in 1768. His Christian beliefs were translated into practice at New Lanark where he built a model village for his workers. The workforce included displaced Highlanders and hundreds of pauper children from the workhouses of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
In 1799 Dale's daughter Caroline married Robert Owen. Dale sold New Lanark to his son-in-law that same year and moved to Cambuslang, where he lived until his death in 1806.
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums
children, cotton manufacturers, cotton merchants/manufacturers, cotton mills, Highlanders, importers, imports, linen manufacturers/suppliers, linen merchants, model villages, Old Scotch Independents, portraits, spinning mills, weavers, weaving, workhouses