luddite

Since the 1960s the term luddite has meant someone who refused or feared to use new technology.

200 years ago Luddites were an organised group of textile workers who, rather than fearing new technology because it was unfamiliar, worried that their wages would be diminished as mechanised looms replaced hand looms.

Between 1812 and 1817 the Luddites destroyed mill machinery – their main target was the stocking frame, a knitting machine. Many of the Luddites were imprisoned or transported to Australia. The Destruction of Stocking Frames Act 1812 meant that judges could bring the death penalty for the destruction of machinery, which they did from 1812-13, and again in 1817.

The Luddites took their name from King Ludd, a character inspired by the tale of a man named Ned Ludd, a textile worker who in 1779 was believed to have broken two stocking frames.

Lord Byron, who sympathised with the movement and argued vehemently in parliament against Acts allowing capital punishment for the breaking of machinery, wrote this poem about the Luddites.