Ned Ludd

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The Leader of the Luddites, engraving of 1812

Ned Ludd or Ned Lud, possibly born Ned Ludlam[1] or Edward Ludlam,[2][3] is the person from whom, it is popularly claimed, the Luddites took their name.

In 1779, Ludd is supposed to have broken two stocking frames in a fit of rage. After this incident, attacks on the frames were jokingly blamed on Ludd. When the "Luddites" emerged in the 1810s, his identity was appropriated to become the folkloric character of Captain Ludd, also known as King Ludd or General Ludd, the Luddites' alleged leader and founder.


Supposedly, Ludd was a weaver from Anstey, near Leicester. In 1779, either after being whipped for idleness,[4] or after being taunted by local youths,[5] he smashed two knitting frames in what was described as a "fit of passion".[6][7] This story is traceable to an article in The Nottingham Review on 20 December 1811, but there is no independent evidence of its truth. John Blackner's book History of Nottingham, also published in 1811, provides a variant tale, of a lad called "Ludnam" who was told by his father, a framework-knitter, to "square his needles". Ludnam took a hammer and "beat them into a heap".[8] News of the incident spread, and whenever frames were sabotaged, people would jokingly say "Ned Ludd did it".[6][7]

By 1812, the organized frame-breakers who became known as the Luddites had begun using the name King Ludd or Captain Ludd for their mythical leader. Letters and proclamations were signed by "Ned Ludd".[6]

In popular culture[edit]


They said Ned Ludd was an idiot boy
That all he could do was wreck and destroy, and
He turned to his workmates and said: Death to Machines
They tread on our future and they stamp on our dreams.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anstey at Welcome to Leicester ( According to this source, "A half-witted Anstey lad, Ned Ludlam or Ned Ludd, gave his name to the Luddites, who in the 1800s followed his earlier example by smashing machinery in protest against the Industrial Revolution."
  2. ^ Palmer, Roy (1998) The Sound of History: Songs and Social Comment, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-215890-1, p. 103
  3. ^ Chambers, Robert (2004) Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar, Part 1, Kessinger, ISBN 978-0-7661-8338-4, p. 357
  4. ^ Hammond, J.L.; Hammond, Barbara (1919), The Skilled Labourer 1760-1832 (pdf), London: Longmans, Green and co., p. 259 
  5. ^ Chase, Alston (2001) In a Dark Wood, Transaction Publishers, ISBN 978-0-7658-0752-6, p. 41
  6. ^ a b c Alsen, Eberhard (2000) New Romanticism: American Fiction, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-8153-3548-1, p. 43
  7. ^ a b George Gordon Lord Byron (2002) The Works of Lord Byron. Letters and Journals, Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN 978-1-4021-7225-0, p. 97
  8. ^ Traill, Henry Duff & Mann, James Saumarez (1902) Social England, Cassell & Co, p. 841
  9. ^ Coe, Jonathan. "The Gourds," The Daily Gamecock, January 20, 2009
  10. ^ Scott Snyder (w), Jim Lee (p), Scott Williams (i). "The Fall" Superman Unchained 2 (September 2013), DC Comics