The Luddites were a secret oath-based organisation[1] of English textile workers in the 19th century, a radical faction which destroyed textile machinery through protest. The group are believed to have taken their name from Ned Ludd, a weaver from Anstey, near Leicester. They protested against manufacturers who used machines in what they called "a fraudulent and deceitful manner" to get around standard labour practices.[2] Luddites feared that the time spent learning the skills of their craft would go to waste, as machines would replace their role in the industry.[3] Many Luddites were owners of workshops that had closed because factories could sell the same products for less. But when workshop owners set out to find a job at a factory, it was very hard to find one because producing things in factories required fewer workers than producing those same things in a workshop. This left many people unemployed and angry.[4] Over time, the term has come to mean one opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation, or new technologies in general.[5] The Luddite movement began in Nottingham in England and culminated in a region-wide rebellion that lasted from 1811 to 1816.[6] Mill and factory owners took to shooting protesters and eventually the movement was suppressed with legal and military force.

The Leader of the Luddites, 1812. Hand-coloured etching.