Factory Production in Nineteenth-Century Britain

By Elaine Freedgood | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FIVE
PRACTICE

GEORGE BEAUMONT


from THE BEGGAR'S COMPLAINT

It will, no doubt, be gratifying to some Readers, to be made acquainted with the origin of Luddism. From the enquiries I made in Nottinghamshire, where Luddism originated, I learnt the following particulars, namely, That a good many years ago, there lived a poor man at Loughborough, in Leicestershire, about fifteen miles from Nottingham, whose name was Edward Ludd: This man was not one of the brightest cast, in regard to his intellects; and, as is commonly the case with such characters, was of an irritable temper. This Edward Ludd, called by his neighbours Ned Ludd, was by trade a Frame Work Knitter: or in plainer language, and which is all the same, a Stocking Weaver. This man, being irritated, either by his Employer, or his work, or both, took the desperate resolution of avenging himself, by breaking his Stocking Frame. As the value of a common Stocking Frame is considerable, being not much less than Forty Pounds, Ned's exploit was much more admired for its temerity than its utility.

However, the consequence of this affair was, a Bon Mot: for, whenever any Stocking Weaver was out of patience with his Employer or his Employment, he would say, speaking of his Frame, “I have good mind to Ned Ludd it”: meaning, I have a good mind to break it, &c.

About the latter end of the year 1811, the Stocking and Lace Weavers of Nottingham, having been for a long time harrassed by abridged wages, and

From The Luddites: Three Pamphlets, 1812–1839. New York: Arno Press, 1972.

-122-

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