Holden, Sir Isaac, Bart
HOLDEN, SIR ISAAC, BART. (1807-1897), English inventor and manufacturer, was the son of Isaac Holden, a native of Cumberland, and was born at Hurlet, a village between Paisley and Glasgow, on the 7th of May 1807. His early life was passed in very straitened circumstances, but his father spared no pains to give him as much elementary education as possible. At the age of ten he began to work as weaver's draw-boy, and afterwards was employed in a cotton mill. Meanwhile his education was continued at the night schools, and from time to time, as funds allowed, he was taken from work and sent to the grammar-school, to which he at last went regularly for a year or two until he was fifteen, when his father removed to Paisley and apprenticed him to an uncle, a shawl-weaver there. This proving too much for his strength, in 1823 he became assistant teacher in a school at Paisley, and in 1828 he was appointed mathematical teacher in the Queen's Square Academy, Leeds. At the end of six months he was transferred to Lingard's grammar school, near Huddersfield, and shortly afterwards became classical master at Castle Street Academy, Reading. It was here that in 1829 he invented a lucifer match by adopting sulphur as the medium between the explosive material and the wood, but he refused to patent the invention. In 1830 his health again failed, and he returned to Scotland, where a Glasgow friend set up a school for him. After six months, however, he was recommended for the post of bookkeeper to Messrs. Townend Brothers, worsted manufacturers, of Cullingworth, where his interest in machinery soon led to his transfer from the counting-house to the mill. There his experiments led him to the invention of his square motion wool-comber and of a process for making genappe yarns, a patent for which was taken out by him in conjunction with S. C. Lister (Lord Masham) in 1847. The firm of Lister & Holden, which established a factory near Paris in 1848, carried on a successful business, and in 1859, when Lister retired, was succeeded by Isaac Holden and Sons, which became the largest wool-combing business in the world, employing upwards of 4000 workpeople. In 1865 Holden's medical advisers insisted on complete change of occupation, and he entered parliament as Liberal member for Knaresborough. From 1868 to 1882 he was without a seat, but in the latter year he was elected for the northern division of the West Riding, and in 1885 for Keighley. He was created a baronet in 1893, and died suddenly at Oakworth House, near Keighley, on the 13th of August 1897.
His son and heir, Sir Angus Holden, was in 1908 created a peer with the title of Baron Holden of Alston.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)