Records of the Morley Family of Nottingham and I. and R. Morley Limited, hosiers of Nottingham, 1710-1895

Scope and Content

The collection is divided into the business records of I. and R. Morley and papers of the Morleyfamily.

The business records include: account books 1799-1859 and articles of partnership and agreements,1830-1855.

The family papers include: wills, executory and other legal records 1750-1886, receipts and otherpapers c.1710-c.1841, correspondence 1800-1874, and correspondence with family lawyers Wells andHind, 1834-1895. The papers are largely those of Richard Morley but records of Benjamin, James,Arthur and William Morley, Elizabeth Widdowson and William Statham are also present. There are alsolegal documents and plans relating to land at Sneinton.

Administrative / Biographical History

The hosiery firm of I. and R. Morley was established by brothers John (1768-1849) and RichardMorley (1775-1855) from Sneinton, Nottinghamshire in about 1797. Hosiery was still primarily acottage industry at the time. Entrepreneurs like I. and R. Morley were essentially wholesalers,buying in goods and storing them in warehouses in Nottingham and in the City of London.

The company expanded greatly under the direction of John's son Samuel Morley (1809-1886) who tookcharge of the Nottingham operation in 1855 and London in 1860, at a time when the firm was alreadythe market leader in British hosiery. He adopted mechanisation of the hosiery industry and built newfactories in Manvers Street and Handel Street, Nottingham, and in Heanor, Leicester, Loughboroughand Sutton in Ashfield. Samuel Morley continued the firm's policy of quality standards but added newpolicies, such as ensuring constant availability of the firm's product lines and responding tomarket rather than production requirements. He also oversaw the expansion of the company into newoverseas markets.

In the twentieth century, I. and R. Morley continued to supply hosiery to independent retailerswhile many competitors were supplying direct to the new multiples such as Marks and Spencer. Itsmarket share fell, particularly after the second world war, and was finally absorbed into theCourtaulds textile group in 1965.

The Morley family have a long association with the village of Sneinton in Nottinghamshire and thenon-conformist church. Its church connections provided associations with textile machinerymanufacturers Manlove and Alliot and the law firm of Wells and Hind.


The collection has been divided by document type into series. Within these series, items havebeen arranged chronologically.

Access Information

ACCESS: Accessible to registered readers only by advanceappointment. Some series are restricted pending full cataloguing.

REPROGRAPHIC: Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright in thedescription belongs to The University of Nottingham. A bundle listing of the different series has been prepared (incomplete) and is accessible to staff at Nottingham to help woth access enquiries pending full cataloguing.

Conditions Governing Use

COPYRIGHT: Permission to make published use of any material from this collection must be soughtin advance in writing from the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections(email TheDepartment will try to assist in identifying copyright owners but this can be difficult and theresponsibility for copyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the person wishingto publish.


Custodial History

The collection was acquired by The University of Nottingham's Department of Manuscripts andSpecial Collections in September and December 1994.

Related Material

  • The University of Nottingham; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections:Threads, the magazine of I. and R. Morley Limited. East Midlands Collection: Periodicals
  • The University of Nottingham; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections: Records of the Wholesale Textile Association, an organisation in which the senior partners of I. and R. Morley were heavily involved, 1913-1964. GB 159 WTA
  • Courtaulds Group Archives Department: Records of I. and R. Morley Limited including minutes, balance sheets, inventory, papers, relating to subsidiaries, 1935-1970.


  • Chapman, Professor Stanley D., 'I. and R. Morley: Colossus of the Hosiery Trade and Industry 1799-1965' in volume 28, number 1 of Textile History (Pasold Research Fund: London, Spring 1997)
  • Thomas, Frederick Moy, I. and R. Morley, A record of a Hundred Years (1900)