The Luddites


What gave the Luddites their name?

 The Luddites were named after ‘Ned Ludd’ or ‘King Ludd’, a mythical figure who lived in Sherwood Forest and supposedly led the movement.

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What did they want?

The Luddites wanted to get rid of the machinery that was causing unemployment. Hand weavers did not want the introduction of power looms. They were protesting against the wage reductions.

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How did the authorities deal with them?

To catch the culprits, men were engaged to guard the factories and rewards were offered for information. The government sent thousands of troops to the areas where there had been riots. In 1812, machine-breaking became a crime punishable by death and 17 men were executed the following year. The Luddites were very effective, and some of their biggest actions involved as many as a hundred men, but there were relatively few arrests and executions. This may be because they were protected by their local communities.

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