The industry originated with the colony of straw-plaiters transplanted by James I.
Tradition says that the straw-plait industry owes its introduction to James I., who transferred to Luton the colony of Lorraine plaiters whom Mary queen of Scots had settled in Scotland.
The finest work is excessively trying to the eyes of the plaiters, who can at most give to it two or three hours' labour daily.
The plaiters work up the material in a damp state, either into whole straw or split straw plaits.
The result is that, while the Luton trade in the manufacture of straw and fancy hats of every description has largely extended, the number of English plaiters, all told, was not more than a few hundreds in 1907, as compared with 30,000 in 1871.