The earliest records of an established linen industry are 4,000 years old, from Egypt. The earliest written documentation of a linen industry comes from the Linear B tablets of Pylos, Greece, where linen is depicted as an ideogram and also written as "li-no" , and the female linen workers are cataloged as "li-ne-ya".
The Phoenicians, who, with their merchant fleet, opened up new channels of commerce to the peoples of the Mediterranean, and developed the tin mines of Cornwall, introduced flax growing and the making of linen into Ireland before the common era. It is not until the twelfth century that we can find records of a definite attempt to systematize flax production.
When the Edict of Nantes was revoked, in 1685, many of the Huguenots who fled France settled in the British Isles, and amongst them was Louis Crommelin, who settled in the town of Lisburn, about ten miles from Belfast. Belfast itself is perhaps the most famous linen producing center throughout history; during the Victorian era the majority of the world's linen was produced in the city which gained it the name Linenopolis.
Although the linen industry was already established in Ulster, Louis Crommelin found scope for improvement in weaving, and his efforts were so successful that he was appointed by the Government to develop the industry over a much wider range than the small confines of Lisburn and its surroundings. The direct result of his good work was the establishment, under statute, of the Board of Trustees of the Linen Manufacturers of Ireland in the year 1711. Several grades were produced from the coarsest lockram to the finest sasheen.