Arkwright, Sir Richard, 1732–92, English inventor. His construction of a machine for spinning, the water frame, patented in 1769, was an early step in the Industrial Revolution. His machines and his gift for organization enabled him and his partner, Jedediah Strutt, to establish huge cotton mills and thus helped to start the factory system. He became very wealthy and was knighted in 1786.
See R. S. Fitton and A. P. Wadsworth, The Strutts and the Arkwrights, 1758–1830 (1958, repr. 1968); The Arkwright Society, Arkwright and the Mills at Cromford (1971).