I was of the mistaken view that the life of the word textile only began with artificial fibres.
However I discovered from the OED that it was being used in the 17th century and that its etymology is from the Latin
< Latin textilis woven, textile (sc. opus) woven fabric, <
text-, participial stem of texĕre to weave. So French textile.
But what is now puzzling me is why it was not used in English before the 17th century? The following are the earliest OED examples:
Noun. 1626 Bacon Sylua Syluarum §846 In the warp and woof of textiles.
Adjective: 1656 T. Blount Glossographia Textile,..that is weaved or wounden, embroidered.
There are no other seventeenth-century examples and the word does not appear to come into its own until the mid-nineteenth century.
My MA history dissertation which I am finally getting ready for publication concerned the eighteenth-century woollen industry in Norwich. There are plenty of references to cloth, but nowhere did I come across the term textile.