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Aitken, James [alias John the Painter] (1752–1777), radical and arsonist, was born in Edinburgh on 28 September 1752 to George Aitken, a blacksmith, and his wife, Magdalen. The eighth of twelve children, James qualified for admission as an impoverished student to Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh...

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James Aitken (1752–1777) by unknown engraver, pubd 1777 (after W. Cave) © Copyright The British Museum

Article

Helliker [Hilliker], Thomas [called the Trowbridge Martyr] (1783–1803), woollen-cloth worker and machine breaker, was the sixth child of Thomas Hilliker (1745–1819) and Elizabeth Ebsworth (1749–1831); he was born at Horningsham, Wiltshire, and baptized there on 17 May 1783. Like his elder brothers ...

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Ludd, Ned (fl. 1811–1816), mythical machine-breaker, was the name signed by the authors of letters threatening the destruction of knitting frames. Luddism emerged initially in the small villages of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire (the address affixed to some of the letters was Sherwood Forest...

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Mellor, George (c. 1790–1813), machine breaker and assassin, lived at Longroyd Bridge, Huddersfield, where he was employed by his stepfather, John Wood. His parentage is unknown as are the exact date and place of his birth, but he is presumed to have been born in ...

Article

Towle, James (1780–1816), stocking knitter and machine breaker, was a native of Basford, Nottingham. Almost nothing is known about his private life except that he had a wife and four children. Luddism—attacking machines in the name of ‘King Ludd’—had broken out in the cloth-finishing trade of the ...