William Lee Unknown - 1610

Nationality:
English; British

Rev. William Lee is believed to have invented the first knitting frame in 1589 at Calverton, near Nottingham, assisted by his brother James. Lee's frame was not well received - no patent was granted even after a machine to make fine silk stockings was produced in 1798, and demonstrated to the Queen. In 1603 he moved to France but, being a Protestant, did not do very well there either. He died in France in 1610 in an impoverished state. However, his machines soon became much used in London and Nottinghamshire and was little altered until Jedediah Strutt invented the ribbing attachment in 1758/59: this was an addition to the machine; so that Lee's basic design continued in use well into the latter part of the 19th century. There is no clear evidence that he was a member of the clergy.