Kay, John, 1704–64, English inventor. He patented (1733) the fly shuttle, operated by pulling a cord that drove the shuttle to either side, freeing one hand of the weaver to press home the weft. Workers in the weaving industry who regarded Kay's invention as a threat to their jobs mobbed Kay and destroyed his model. Various factory owners duplicated his device but managed not to pay him a royalty. Kay went to France, resumed his work, and tried unsuccessfully to win recognition in England. Although he was the inventor of one of the most important principles of modern mechanical weaving, he died in poverty.
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