The organisation of spinners1 societies as it evolved from the latter part of the eighteenth century was of considerable complexity. Where numbers of spinners worked together, local societies covering particular towns or districts seem to have been derived from shop clubs. These took the form of sick or trade clubs or, from Rose's Act of 1793, as officially constituted friendly societies.1 This was followed by other Acts in 1795, 1803, 1809,1819 and a consolidation Act in 1829 providing a lawful base for organisations which acted, with such discretion as they could muster in order not to fall foul of the authorities, to raise prices and to provide funds for use in industrial disputes. By the beginning of the nineteenth century 30 or 40 Lancashire, Cheshire and Derbyshire cotton towns had within a generation developed such local spinners1 societies.2 Indeed, spinner organisation may have developed on a much wider scale, according to Factory Commissioner Tufnell who wrote in 1834: 'All, or nearly all, the workmen of this class in England, Scotland and Ireland have been united together in their respective districts for the space of 30 years or more1.3 The first documented combination was at Stockport in 1785 and in the friendly society which followed this in 1892. This seems to have been dissolved by 1811. The formal date order of other early societies seems to have been Preston (July 1795), Manchester (October 1795, though rules had been submitted for approval in the previous January) and Oldham (January 1797, though the society dated itself from 1796). It was such societies which initially faced conflicts with employers about wages and conditions, and with magistrates over picketing or over unsuccessful attempts to force parliament to compel them to fulfil their obligations to fix wages in their localities, and which were confronted by the general prohibition of trade combinations under the notorious Acts of 1799 and 1800.