Towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars, food was scarce and unemployment was high. James and Enoch Taylor, two brothers who were smiths in Marsden, developed and made a cropping machine that could do the work of 10 hand-croppers. The mill owners in the Marsden area were installing these machines. Enoch Taylor also made sledgehammers, which were called 'Enochs', so the Luddites would quip, 'Enoch made them, and Enoch shall break them.'
Apparently, the law-abiding menfolk of Marsden were stirred to riot by 'desperate men of Longroyd Bridge!' The first riot was at the scene of William Horsfall's mill, which had been fortified.
The leader of the Marsden Luddites was George Mellor. He could read and write, and while in prison signed a petition calling for Parliamentary reform. He worked at John Wood's finishing shop at Longroyd Bridge, along with Benjamin Walker, who, according to some, was to betray them eventually. New documentary evidence, however, seems to suggest that this may not be altogether true.
Regular troops and cavalry were brought in and quartered in the village.