Paul Moody (inventor)

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Paul Moody
Paul Moody Lowell.jpg
Born (1779-05-23)May 23, 1779
Byfield, Massachusetts
Died July 5, 1831(1831-07-05) (aged 52)
Lowell, Massachusetts
Occupation Master mechanic & inventor
Employer Boston Manufacturing Company, Waltham, MA and later Propiretors of Locks and Canals, Lowell, MA
Known for First power loom in U.S.

Paul Moody (May 23, 1779 - July 5, 1831) was a U.S. textile machinery inventor born in Byfield, Massachusetts (Town of Newbury). He is often credited with developing and perfecting the first power loom in America, which launched the first successful integrated cotton mill at Waltham, Massachusetts in 1814, under the leadership of Francis Cabot Lowell and his associates.

Early life[edit]

Paul Moody was born May 23, 1779 at Byfield, Massachusetts, the son of Paul Moody and one of nine children.[1]

Although Moody's academic education was limited, at age sixteen he learned the weaver's craft, and soon became an expert. He later went to work at a nail factory of Jacob Perkins, first in Byfield and later in Amesbury, Massachusetts when the company moved. In 1812 he worked for Kendrick and Worthen, makers of carding machinery.[2]

In September 1798, he married Susan Morrill of Amesbury.

Soon after his marriage, he partnered with Ezra Worthen, Thomas Boardman and Samuel Wigglesworth to form a cotton mill powered by the Powwow River in Amesbury. During this time, Moody became a thorough, practical machinist, fully acquainted with all aspects of the textile business. The venture proved to be successful.[1]


In 1814 he arrived at Waltham, Massachusetts to supervise the setting up of machinery for a new cotton mill under Francis Cabot Lowell and The Boston Associates, a group of wealthy Boston investors who were seeking to develop an "integrated" cotton textile producing mill. Lowell had visited Britain a few years earlier, virtually memorizing plans for the power looms then in use there, because it was illegal to export the new technology out of Great Britain at the time.

With Moody's mechanical genius, the first power loom in America was eventually developed and perfected, and installed at the Boston Manufacturing Company mill, which harnessed the power of the Charles River. For the first time, all facets of cloth production could be done under one roof. This was truly a "revolution". Even though Samuel Slater is often credited with establishing the first successful textile mill in 1793 at Pawtucket, Rhode Island, it was simply a "spinning" mill for the production of cotton yarn. There still was not a working power loom anywhere in the States.

In 1819, Moody patented the throstle filling frame, a device which greatly contributed to the steadily decreasing cost of cotton manufacture in America.[3]

During his time at Waltham, he also invented the dead spindle, the governor, and the double speeder, warping and dressing frame.


With the success of Waltham, The Boston Associates would establish an entirely new city a few years later along the banks of the Merrimack River. The city would be named Lowell, after the man who began the enterprise, but did not live to see its creation. Operating from Waltham, Moody was in charge of producing all the mechanical components required for the new industrial venture, including the textile machinery, water turbines and power transmission systems. He moved to Lowell to become head machinist at the Lowell Machine Shop when it was established in 1824.[4] The city of Lowell would become extremely successful, and would be used as a model industrial city over the next quarter-century, for other cities established by the same group, including Lawrence, Massachusetts and several others.

In 1824 Moody developed a system of leather belting and pulleys to power machinery, which was almost exclusively used in American mills from then on. The new mode of power transmission was more economical and required less maintenance than the shaft-and-gear system used in the British mills.[5] See: Line shaft

Moody died in Lowell in 1831.[6] He was later honored by having streets in Waltham and Lowell, Massachusetts named after him, although a section of the one in Lowell was later renamed University Avenue.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Moody, Charles C.P. (1847), Biographical sketches of the Moody family, Boston: S. G. Drake, p. 145, retrieved 2012-01-26 
  2. ^ History of Lowell and Its People By Frederick William Coburn
  3. ^ Biographical dictionary of American business leaders By John N. Ingham
  4. ^ NPS Lowell Machine Shop
  5. ^ Suffolk Mills Turbine Exhibit Pamphlet
  6. ^ Bulletin of the Essex Institute , Volumes 7-8

External links[edit]