Philippe DE GIRARD

Family tree of Philippe DE GIRARD


FrenchBorn Philippe Henri DE GIRARD

French engineer and inventor of the first flax spinning frame

Born on February 01, 1775 in Lourmarin, France , France

Died on August 26, 1845 in Paris, France

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Girard was born in the village of Lourmarin in the département of Vaucluse, France, to a wealthy aristocratic family. As a child he was sent by his parents to some of the most notable French schools of the era. However, in the effect of the French Revolution, his family was forced to flee France and young Philippe had to abandon his studies in order to help his family earn money for living.

In May 1810 Napoleon I tried to stop English cotton fabrics entering the continent of Europe and offered a reward of one million francs to any inventor who could devise the best machinery for the spinning of flax yarn. After only a short period Philippe de Girard took out a French patent for important inventions for both dry and wet methods of spinning flax. He was not awarded the prize money and failed to gain the recognition he felt was deserved. So he accepted, when in 1815 he was invited by the Austrian government to establish a spinning mill in Hirtenberg near Vienna, which employed his spinning frames, however it failed to prove a commercial success.


In 1817 Girard returned to France with a prototype ready, but the internal situation of France after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte prevented the new French authorities from payment of the debts and eventually Girard sold his patent to England. His inventions were patented in England in 1814, by Horace Hall (possibly a pseudonym). It would not have been easy for a French man to introduce a new development into England at this point in history. It never really caught on.

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Geographical origins

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