Wednesday, 4 April 2012
The Risings of the Luddites
In Yorkshire, resentment was running high amongst the woollen croppers or ‘shearmen’. They believed that new ‘shearing-frames’ were taking away their livelihoods. On Saturday 11 April, over 100 Luddites tried to break into Cartwright’s mill at Rawfolds in Yorkshire.
In Cheshire, food riots in Macclesfield on 13 April were followed the next day by attacks on cotton powerloom mills at Stockport. Then on 28 April Yorkshire mill-owner William Horsfall, well-known for his hatred of Luddites, was shot dead.
You can find out more about the Luddites’ stories and why they took direct action in the forthcoming May issue of Jane Austen's Regency World.
Update April 2015: My forthcoming book Regency Spies (which if all goes well with be published by Pen & Sword later this year), will discuss the authorities' hunt to find the Luddite leaders, and the spies who tried to infiltrate the ranks of the frame-breakers.
Images: Interior of John Wood’s cropping shop: headquarters of the Yorkshire Luddites. Rising of the Luddites, Chartists & Plug-Drawers, 3rd edition, (Brighouse, 1895).
Lord Byron. Great Authors of English Literature, W. Scott Dalgleish, (Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1899).
Lancaster Castle. Lancashire Luddites were tried and executed here after the 1812 riots. Engraved by T. Higham from a drawing by T. Allom. People’s Gallery of Engravings Vol.2 (Fisher, Son & Co., 1845). Both images from the author’s collection.