Industrial Biography
Samuel Smiles

Part 2 out of 7

part worked by the power of water, carefully stored in the artificial
"Hammer-ponds" above described. The hammer-shaft was usually of ash,
about 9 feet long, clamped at intervals with iron hoops. It was
worked by the revolutions of the water-wheel, furnished with
projecting arms or knobs to raise the hammer, which fell as each knob
passed, the rapidity of its action of course depending on the
velocity with which the water-wheel revolved. The forge-blast was
also worked for the most part by water-power. Where the furnaces were
small, the blast was produced by leather bellows worked by hand, or
by a horse walking in a gin. The foot-blasts of the earlier
iron-smelters were so imperfect that but a small proportion of the
ore was reduced, so that the iron-makers of later times, more
particularly in the Forest of Dean, instead of digging for ironstone,
resorted to the beds of ancient scoriae for their principal supply of
the mineral.

Notwithstanding the large number of furnaces in blast throughout the
county of Sussex at the period we refer to, their produce was
comparatively small, and must not be measured by the enormous produce
of modern iron-works; for while an iron-furnace of the present day
will easily turn out 150 tons of pig per week, the best of the older
furnaces did not produce more than from three to four tons. One of
the last extensive contracts executed in Sussex was the casting of
the iron rails which enclose St. Paul's Cathedral. The contract was
thought too large for one iron-master to undertake, and it was
consequently distributed amongst several contractors, though the
principal part of the work was executed at Lamberhurst, near
Tunbridge Wells. But to produce the comparatively small quantity of
iron turned out by the old works, the consumption of timber was
enormous; for the making of every ton of pig-iron required four loads
of timber converted into charcoal fuel, and the making of every ton
of bar-iron required three additional loads. Thus, notwithstanding
the indispensable need of iron, the extension of the manufacture, by
threatening the destruction of the timber of the southern counties,
came to be regarded in the light of a national calamity. Up to a
certain point, the clearing of the Weald of its dense growth of
underwood had been of advantage, by affording better opportunities
for the operations of agriculture. But the "voragious iron-mills"
were proceeding to swallow up everything that would burn, and the old
forest growths were rapidly disappearing. An entire wood was soon
exhausted, and long time was needed before it grew again. At
Lamberhurst alone, though the produce was only about five tons of
iron a-week, the annual consumption of wood was about 200,000 cords!
Wood continued to be the only material used for fuel generally--a
strong prejudice existing against the use of sea-coal for domestic
It was then believed that sea or pit-coal was poisonous when burnt in
dwellings, and that it was especially injurious to the human
complexion. All sorts of diseases were attributed to its use, and at
one time it was even penal to burn it. The Londoners only began to
reconcile themselves to the use of coal when the wood within reach of
the metropolis had been nearly all burnt up, and no other fuel was to
be had.
It therefore began to be feared that there would be no available fuel
left within practicable reach of the metropolis; and the contingency
of having to face the rigorous cold of an English winter without fuel
naturally occasioning much alarm, the action of the Government was
deemed necessary to remedy the apprehended evil.

To check the destruction of wood near London, an Act was passed in
1581 prohibiting its conversion into fuel for the making of iron
within fourteen miles of the Thames, forbidding the erection of new
ironworks within twenty-two miles of London, and restricting the
number of works in Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, beyond the above limits.
Similar enactments were made in future Parliaments with the same
object, which had the effect of checking the trade, and several of
the Sussex ironmasters were under the necessity of removing their
works elsewhere. Some of them migrated to Glamorganshire, in South
Wales, because of the abundance of timber as well as ironstone in
that quarter, and there set up their forges, more particularly at
Aberdare and Merthyr Tydvil. Mr. Llewellin has recently published an
interesting account of their proceedings, with descriptions of their
[footnote ...
Archaeologia Cambrensis, 3rd Series, No. 34, April, 1863. Art.
"Sussex Ironmasters in Glamorganshire."
remains of which still exist at Llwydcoed, Pontyryns, and other
places in the Aberdare valley. Among the Sussex masters who settled
in Glamorganshire for the purpose of carrying on the iron
manufacture, were Walter Burrell, the friend of John Ray, the
naturalist, one of the Morleys of Glynde in Sussex, the Relfes from
Mayfield, and the Cheneys from Crawley.

Notwithstanding these migrations of enterprising manufacturers, the
iron trade of Sussex continued to exist until the middle of the
seventeenth century, when the waste of timber was again urged upon
the attention of Parliament, and the penalties for infringing the
statutes seem to have been more rigorously enforced. The trade then
suffered a more serious check; and during the civil wars, a heavy
blow was given to it by the destruction of the works belonging to all
royalists, which was accomplished by a division of the army under Sir
William Waller. Most of the Welsh ironworks were razed to the ground
about the same time, and were not again rebuilt. And after the
Restoration, in 1674, all the royal ironworks in the Forest of Dean
were demolished, leaving only such to be supplied with ore as were
beyond the forest limits; the reason alleged for this measure being
lest the iron manufacture should endanger the supply of timber
required for shipbuilding and other necessary purposes.

From this time the iron manufacture of Sussex, as of England
generally, rapidly declined. In 1740 there were only fifty-nine
furnaces in all England, of which ten were in Sussex; and in 1788
there were only two. A few years later, and the Sussex iron furnaces
were blown out altogether. Farnhurst, in western, and Ashburnham, in
eastern Sussex, witnessed the total extinction of the manufacture.
The din of the iron hammer was hushed, the glare of the furnace
faded, the last blast of the bellows was blown, and the district
returned to its original rural solitude. Some of the furnace-ponds
were drained and planted with hops or willows; others formed
beautiful lakes in retired pleasure-grounds; while the remainder were
used to drive flour-mills, as the streams in North Kent, instead of
driving fulling-mills, were employed to work paper-mills. All that
now remains of the old iron-works are the extensive beds of cinders
from which material is occasionally taken to mend the Sussex roads,
and the numerous furnace-ponds, hammer-posts, forges, and cinder
places, which mark the seats of the ancient manufacture.



"God of his Infinite goodness (if we will but take notice of his
goodness unto this Nation) hath made this Country a very Granary for
the supplying of Smiths with Iron, Cole, and Lime made with cole,
which hath much supplied these men with Corn also of late; and from
these men a great part, not only of this Island, but also of his
Majestie's other Kingdoms and Territories, with Iron wares have their
supply, and Wood in these parts almost exhausted, although it were of
late a mighty woodland country."--DUDLEY's Metallum Martis, 1665.

The severe restrictions enforced by the legislature against the use
of wood in iron-smelting had the effect of almost extinguishing the
manufacture. New furnaces ceased to be erected, and many of the old
ones were allowed to fall into decay, until it began to be feared
that this important branch of industry would become completely lost.
The same restrictions alike affected the operations of the glass
manufacture, which, with the aid of foreign artisans, had been
gradually established in England, and was becoming a thriving branch
of trade. It was even proposed that the smelting of iron should be
absolutely prohibited: "many think," said a contemporary writer,
"that there should be NO WORKS ANYWHERE--they do so devour the

The use of iron, however, could not be dispensed with. The very
foundations of society rested upon an abundant supply of it, for
tools and implements of peace, as well as for weapons of war. In the
dearth of the article at home, a supply of it was therefore sought
for abroad; and both iron and steel came to be imported in
largely-increased quantities. This branch of trade was principally in
the hands of the Steelyard Company of Foreign Merchants, established
in Upper Thames Street, a little above London Bridge; and they
imported large quantities of iron and steel from foreign countries,
principally from Sweden, Germany, and Spain. The best iron came from
Spain, though the Spaniards on their part coveted our English made
cannons, which were better manufactured than theirs; while the best
steel came from Germany and Sweden.*
As late as 1790, long after the monopoly of the foreign merchants had
been abolished, Pennant says, "The present Steelyard is the great
repository of imported iron, which furnishes our metropolis with that
necessary material. The quantity of bars that fills the yards and
warehouses of this quarter strikes with astonishment the most
indifferent beholder."--PENNANT, Account of London, 309.

Under these circumstances, it was natural that persons interested in
the English iron manufacture should turn their attention to some
other description of fuel which should serve as a substitute for the
prohibited article. There was known to be an abundance of coal in the
northern and midland counties, and it occurred to some speculators
more than usually daring, to propose it as a substitute for the
charcoal fuel made from wood. But the same popular prejudice which
existed against the use of coal for domestic purposes, prevented its
being employed for purposes of manufacture; and they were thought
very foolish persons indeed who first promulgated the idea of
smelting iron by means of pit-coal. The old manufacturers held it to
be impossible to reduce the ore in any other way than by means of
charcoal of wood. It was only when the wood in the neighbourhood of
the ironworks had been almost entirely burnt up, that the
manufacturers were driven to entertain the idea of using coal as a
substitute; but more than a hundred years passed before the practice
of smelting iron by its means became general.

The first who took out a patent for the purpose was one Simon
Sturtevant, a German skilled in mining operations; the professed
object of his invention being "to neale, melt, and worke all kind of
metal oares, irons, and steeles with sea-coale, pit-coale,
earth-coale, and brush fewell." The principal end of his invention,
he states in his Treatise of Metallica,*
STURTEVANT'S Metallica; briefly comprehending the Doctrine of Diverse
New Metallical Inventions, &c. Reprinted and published at the Great
Seal Patent Office, 1858.
is to save the consumption and waste of the woods and timber of the
country; and, should his design succeed, he holds that it "will prove
to be the best and most profitable business and invention that ever
was known or invented in England these many yeares." He says he has
already made trial of the process on a small scale, and is confident
that it will prove equally successful on a large one. Sturtevant was
not very specific as to his process; but it incidentally appears to
have been his purpose to reduce the coal by an imperfect combustion
to the condition of coke, thereby ridding it of "those malignant
proprieties which are averse to the nature of metallique substances."
The subject was treated by him, as was customary in those days, as a
great mystery, made still more mysterious by the multitude of learned
words under which he undertook to describe his "Ignick Invention" All
the operations of industry were then treated as secrets. Each trade
was a craft, and those who followed it were called craftsmen. Even
the common carpenter was a handicraftsman; and skilled artisans were
"cunning men." But the higher branches of work were mysteries, the
communication of which to others was carefully guarded by the
regulations of the trades guilds. Although the early patents are
called specifications, they in reality specify nothing. They are for
the most part but a mere haze of words, from which very little
definite information can be gleaned as to the processes patented. It
may be that Sturtevant had not yet reduced his idea to any
practicable method, and therefore could not definitely explain it.
However that may be, it is certain that his process failed when tried
on a large scale, and Sturtevant's patent was accordingly cancelled
at the end of a year.

The idea, however, had been fairly born, and repeated patents were
taken out with the same object from time to time. Thus, immediately
on Sturtevant's failure becoming known, one John Rovenzon, who had
been mixed up with the other's adventure, applied for a patent for
making iron by the same process, which was granted him in 1613. His
'Treatise of Metallica'*
Reprinted and published at the Great Seal Patent Office, 1858.
shows that Rovenzon had a true conception of the method of
manufacture. Nevertheless he, too, failed in carrying out the
invention in practice, and his patent was also cancelled. Though
these failures were very discouraging, like experiments continued to
be made and patents taken out,--principally by Dutchmen and Germans,*
Among the early patentees, besides the names of Sturtevant and
Rovenzon, we find those of Jordens, Francke, Sir Phillibert Vernatt,
and other foreigners of the above nations.
--but no decided success seems to have attended their efforts until
the year 1620, when Lord Dudley took out his patent "for melting iron
ore, making bar-iron, &c., with coal, in furnaces, with bellows."
This patent was taken out at the instance of his son Dud Dudley,
whose story we gather partly from his treatise entitled 'Metallum
Martis,' and partly from various petitions presented by him to the
king, which are preserved in the State Paper Office, and it runs as
follows: --

Dud Dudley was born in 1599, the natural son of Edward Lord Dudley of
Dudley Castle in the county of Worcester. He was the fourth of eleven
children by the same mother, who is described in the pedigree of the
family given in the Herald's visitation of the county of Stafford in
the year 1663, signed by Dud Dudley himself, as "Elizabeth, daughter
of William Tomlinson of Dudley, concubine of Edward Lord Dudley."
Dud's eldest brother is described in the same pedigree as Robert
Dudley, Squire, of Netherton Hall; and as his sisters mostly married
well, several of them county gentlemen, it is obvious that the
family, notwithstanding that the children were born out of wedlock,
held a good position in their neighbourhood, and were regarded with
respect. Lord Dudley, though married and having legitimate heirs at
the time, seems to have attended to the up-bringing of his natural
children; educating them carefully, and afterwards employing them in
confidential offices connected with the management of his extensive
property. Dud describes himself as taking great delight, when a
youth, in his father's iron-works near Dudley, where he obtained
considerable knowledge of the various processes of the manufacture.

The town of Dudley was already a centre of the iron manufacture,
though chiefly of small wares, such as nails, horse-shoes, keys,
locks, and common agricultural tools; and it was estimated that there
were about 20,000 smiths and workers in iron of various kinds living
within a circuit of ten miles of Dudley Castle. But, as in the
southern counties, the production of iron had suffered great
diminution from the want of fuel in the district, "though formerly a
mighty woodland country; and many important branches of the local
trade were brought almost to a stand-still. Yet there was an
extraordinary abundance of coal to be met with in the
neighbourhood--coal in some places lying in seams ten feet
thick--ironstone four feet thick immediately under the coal, with
limestone conveniently adjacent to both. The conjunction seemed
almost providential--"as if." observes Dud, "God had decreed the time
when and how these smiths should be supplied, and this island also,
with iron, and most especially that this cole and ironstone should
give the first and just occasion for the invention of smelting iron
with pit-cole;" though, as we have already seen, all attempts
heretofore made with that object had practically failed.

Dud was a special favourite of the Earl his father, who encouraged
his speculations with reference to the improvement of the iron
manufacture, and gave him an education calculated to enable him to
turn his excellent practical abilities to account. He was studying at
Baliol College, Oxford, in the year 1619, when the Earl sent for him
to take charge of an iron furnace and two forges in the chase of
Pensnet in Worcestershire. He was no sooner installed manager of the
works, than, feeling hampered by the want of wood for fuel, his
attention was directed to the employment of pit-coal as a substitute.
He altered his furnace accordingly, so as to adapt it to the new
process, and the result of the first trial was such as to induce him
to persevere. It is nowhere stated in Dud Dudley's Treatise what was
the precise nature of the method adopted by him; but it is most
probable that, in endeavouring to substitute coal for wood as fuel,
he would subject the coal to a process similar to that of
charcoal-burning. The result would be what is called Coke; and as
Dudley informs us that he followed up his first experiment with a
second blast, by means of which he was enabled to produce good
marketable iron, the presumption is that his success was also due to
an improvement of the blast which he contrived for the purpose of
keeping up the active combustion of the fuel. Though the quantity
produced by the new process was comparatively small--not more than
three tons a week from each furnace--Dudley anticipated that greater
experience would enable him to increase the quantity; and at all
events he had succeeded in proving the practicability of smelting
iron with fuel made from pit-coal, which so many before him had tried
in vain.

Immediately after the second trial had been made with such good
issue, Dud wrote to his father the Earl, then in London, informing
him what he had done, and desiring him at once to obtain a patent for
the invention from King James. This was readily granted, and the
patent (No. 18), dated the 22nd February, 1620, was taken out in the
name of Lord Dudley himself.

Dud proceeded with the manufacture of iron at Pensnet, and also at
Cradley in Staffordshire, where he erected another furnace; and a
year after the patent was granted he was enabled to send up to the
Tower, by the King's command, a considerable quantity of the new iron
for trial. Many experiments were made with it: its qualities were
fairly tested, and it was pronounced "good merchantable iron." Dud
adds, in his Treatise, that his brother-in-law, Richard Parkshouse,
of Sedgeley,*
Mr. Parkshouse was one of the esquires to Sir Ferdinando Dudley (the
legitimate son of the Earl of Dudley) When he was made Knight of the
Bath. Sir Ferdinando's only daughter Frances married Humble Ward, son
and heir of William Ward, goldsmith and jeweller to Charles the
First's queen. Her husband having been created a baron by the title
of Baron Ward of Birmingham, and Frances becoming Baroness of Dudley
in her own right on the demise of her father, the baronies of Dudley
and Ward thus became united in their eldest son Edward in the year
"had a fowling-gun there made of the Pit-cole iron," which was "well
approved." There was therefore every prospect of the new method of
manufacture becoming fairly established, and with greater experience
further improvements might with confidence be anticipated, when a
succession of calamities occurred to the inventor which involved him
in difficulties and put an effectual stop to the progress of his

The new works had been in successful operation little more than a
year, when a flood, long after known as the "Great May-day Flood,"
swept away Dudley's principal works at Cradley, and otherwise
inflicted much damage throughout the district. "At the market town
called Stourbridge," says Dud, in the course of his curious
narrative, "although the author sent with speed to preserve the
people from drowning, and one resolute man was carried from the
bridge there in the day-time, the nether part of the town was so deep
in water that the people had much ado to preserve their lives in the
uppermost rooms of their houses." Dudley himself received very little
sympathy for his losses. On the contrary, the iron-smelters of the
district rejoiced exceedingly at the destruction of his works by the
flood. They had seen him making good iron by his new patent process,
and selling it cheaper than they could afford to do. They accordingly
put in circulation all manner of disparaging reports about his iron.
It was bad iron, not fit to be used; indeed no iron, except what was
smelted with charcoal of wood, could be good. To smelt it with coal
was a dangerous innovation, and could only result in some great
public calamity. The ironmasters even appealed to King James to put a
stop to Dud's manufacture, alleging that his iron was not
merchantable. And then came the great flood, which swept away his
works; the hostile ironmasters now hoping that there was an end for
ever of Dudley's pit-coal iron.

But Dud, with his wonted energy, forthwith set to work and repaired
his furnaces and forges, though at great cost; and in the course of a
short time the new manufacture was again in full progress. The
ironmasters raised a fresh outcry against him, and addressed another
strong memorial against Dud and his iron to King James. This seems to
have taken effect; and in order to ascertain the quality of the
article by testing it upon a large scale, the King commanded Dudley
to send up to the Tower of London, with every possible speed,
quantities of all the sorts of bar-iron made by him, fit for the
"making of muskets, carbines, and iron for great bolts for shipping;
which iron," continues Dud, "being so tried by artists and smiths,
the ironmasters and iron-mongers were all silenced until the 21st
year of King James's reign." The ironmasters then endeavoured to get
the Dudley patent included in the monopolies to be abolished by the
statute of that year; but all they could accomplish was the
limitation of the patent to fourteen years instead of thirty-one; the
special exemption of the patent from the operation of the statute
affording a sufficient indication of the importance already attached
to the invention. After that time Dudley "went on with his invention
cheerfully, and made annually great store of iron, good and
merchantable, and sold it unto diverse men at twelve pounds per ton."
"I also," said he, "made all sorts of cast-iron wares, as brewing
cisterns, pots, mortars, &c., better and cheaper than any yet made in
these nations with charcoal, some of which are yet to be seen by any
man (at the author's house in the city of Worcester) that desires to
be satisfied of the truth of the invention."

Notwithstanding this decided success, Dudley encountered nothing but
trouble and misfortune. The ironmasters combined to resist his
invention; they fastened lawsuit's upon him, and succeeded in getting
him ousted from his works at Cradley. From thence he removed to
Himley in the county of Stafford, where he set up a pit-coal furnace;
but being without the means of forging the iron into bars, he was
constrained to sell the pig-iron to the charcoal-ironmasters, "who
did him much prejudice, not only by detaining his stock, but also by
disparaging his iron." He next proceeded to erect a large new furnace
at Hasco Bridge, near Sedgeley, in the same county, for the purpose
of carrying out the manufacture on the most improved principles. This
furnace was of stone, twenty-seven feet square, provided with
unusually large bellows; and when in full work he says he was enabled
to turn out seven tons of iron per week, "the greatest quantity of
pit-coal iron ever yet made in Great Britain." At the same place he
discovered and opened out new workings of coal ten feet thick, lying
immediately over the ironstone, and he prepared to carry on his
operations on a large scale; but the new works were scarcely finished
when a mob of rioters, instigated by the charcoal-ironmasters, broke
in upon them, cut in pieces the new bellows, destroyed the machinery,
and laid the results of all his deep-laid ingenuity and persevering
industry in ruins. From that time forward Dudley was allowed no rest
nor peace: he was attacked by mobs, worried by lawsuits, and
eventually overwhelmed by debts. He was then seized by his creditors
and sent up to London, where he was held a prisoner in the Comptoir
for several thousand pounds. The charcoal-iron men thus for a time
remained masters of the field.

Charles I. seems to have taken pity on the suffering inventor; and on
his earnest petition, setting forth the great advantages to the
nation of his invention, from which he had as yet derived no
advantage, but only losses, sufferings, and persecution, the King
granted him a renewal of his patent*
Patent No. 117, Old Series, granted in 1638, to Sir George Horsey,
David Ramsey, Roger Foulke, and Dudd Dudley.
in the year 1638; three other gentlemen joining him as partners, and
doubtless providing the requisite capital for carrying on the
manufacture after the plans of the inventor. But Dud's evil fortune
continued to pursue him. The patent had scarcely been securedere the
Civil War broke out, and the arts of peace must at once perforce give
place to the arts of war. Dud's nature would not suffer him to be
neutral at such a time; and when the nation divided itself into two
hostile camps, his predilections being strongly loyalist, he took the
side of the King with his father. It would appear from a petition
presented by him to Charles II. in 1660, setting forth his sufferings
in the royal cause, and praying for restoral to certain offices which
he had enjoyed under Charles I., that as early as the year 1637 he
had been employed by the King on a mission into Scotland,*
By his own account, given in Metallum Martis, while in Scotland in
1637, he visited the Highlands as well as the Lowlands, spending the
whole summer of that year "in opening of mines and making of
discoveries;" spending part of the time with Sir James Hope of Lead
Hills, near where, he says, "he got gold." It does not appear,
however, that any iron forges existed in Scotland at the time: indeed
Dudley expressly says that "Scotland maketh no iron;" and in his
treatise of 1665 he urges that the Corporation of the Mines Royal
should set him and his inventions at work to enable Scotland to enjoy
the benefit of a cheap and abundant supply of the manufactured
in the train of the Marquis of Hamilton, the King's Commissioner.
Again in 1639, leaving his ironworks and partners, he accompanied
Charles on his expedition across the Scotch border, and was present
with the army until its discomfiture at Newburn near Newcastle in the
following year.

The sword was now fairly drawn, and Dud seems for a time to have
abandoned his iron-works and followed entirely the fortunes of the
king. He was sworn surveyor of the Mews or Armoury in 1640, but being
unable to pay for the patent, another was sworn in in his place. Yet
his loyalty did not falter, for in the beginning of 1642, when
Charles set out from London, shortly after the fall of Strafford and
Laud, Dud went with him.*
The Journals of the House of Commons, of the 13th June, 1642, contain
the resolution "that Captain Wolseley, Ensign Dudley, and John
Lometon be forthwith sent for, as delinquents, by the
Serjeant-at-Arms attending on the House, for giving interruption to
the execution of the ordinance of the militia in the county of
He was present before Hull when Sir John Hotham shut its gates in the
king's face; at York when the royal commissions of array were sent
out enjoining all loyal subjects to send men, arms, money, and
horses, for defence of the king and maintenance of the law; at
Nottingham, where the royal standard was raised; at Coventry, where
the townspeople refused the king entrance and fired upon his troops
from the walls; at Edgehill, where the first great but indecisive
battle was fought between the contending parties; in short, as Dud
Dudley states in his petition, he was "in most of the battailes that
year, and also supplyed his late sacred Majestie's magazines of
Stafford, Worcester, Dudley Castle, and Oxford, with arms, shot,
drakes, and cannon; and also, became major unto Sir Frauncis
Worsley's regiment, which was much decaied."

In 1643, according to the statement contained in his petition above
referred to, Dud Dudley acted as military engineer in setting out the
fortifications of Worcester and Stafford, and furnishing them with
ordnance. After the taking of Lichfield, in which he had a share, he
was made Colonel of Dragoons, and accompanied the Queen with his
regiment to the royal head-quarters at Oxford. The year after we find
him at the siege of Gloucester, then at the first battle of Newbury
leading the forlorn hope with Sir George Lisle, afterwards marching
with Sir Charles Lucas into the associate counties, and present at
the royalist rout at Newport. That he was esteemed a valiant and
skilful officer is apparent from the circumstance, that in 1645 he
was appointed general of Prince Maurice's train of artillery, and
afterwards held the same rank under Lord Ashley. The iron districts
being still for the most part occupied by the royal armies, our
military engineer turned his practical experience to account by
directing the forging of drakes*
Small pieces of artillery, specimens of which are still to be seen in
the museum at Woolwich Arsenal and at the Tower. ...]
of bar-iron, which were found of great use, giving up his own
dwelling-house in the city of Worcester for the purpose of carrying
on the manufacture of these and other arms. But Worcester and the
western towns fell before the Parliamentarian armies in 1646, and all
the iron-works belonging to royalists, from which the principal
supplies of arms had been drawn by the King's army, were forthwith

Dudley fully shared in the dangers and vicissitudes of that trying
period, and bore his part throughout like a valiant soldier. For two
years nothing was heard of him, until in 1648, when the king's party
drew together again, and made head in different parts of the country,
north and south. Goring raised his standard in Essex, but was driven
by Fairfax into Colchester, where he defended himself for two months.
While the siege was in progress, the royalists determined to make an
attempt to raise it. On this Dud Dudley again made his appearance in
the field, and, joining sundry other counties, he proceeded to raise
200 men, mostly at his own charge. They were, however, no sooner
mustered in Bosco Bello woods near Madeley, than they were attacked
by the Parliamentarians, and dispersed or taken prisoners. Dud was
among those so taken, and he was first carried to Hartlebury Castle
and thence to Worcester, where he was imprisoned. Recounting the
sufferings of himself and his followers on this occasion, in the
petition presented to Charles II. in 1660,*
State Paper Office, Dom. Charles II., vol. xi. 54.
he says, "200 men were dispersed, killed, and some taken, namely,
Major Harcourt, Major Elliotts, Capt. Long, and Cornet Hodgetts, of
whom Major Harcourt was miserably burned with matches. The petitioner
and the rest were stripped almost naked, and in triumph and scorn
carried up to the city of Worcester (which place Dud had fortified
for the king), and kept close prisoners, with double guards set upon
the prison and the city."

Notwithstanding this close watch and durance, Dudley and Major
Elliotts contrived to break out of gaol, making their way over the
tops of the houses, afterwards passing the guards at the city gates,
and escaping into the open country. Being hotly pursued , they
travelled during the night, and took to the trees during the daytime.
They succeeded in reaching London, but only to drop again into the
lion's mouth; for first Major Elliotts was captured, then Dudley, and
both were taken before Sir John Warner, the Lord Mayor, who forthwith
sent them before the "cursed committee of insurrection," as Dudley
calls them. The prisoners were summarily sentenced to be shot to
death, and were meanwhile closely imprisoned in the Gatehouse at
Westminster, with other Royalists.

The day before their intended execution, the prisoners formed a plan
of escape. It was Sunday morning, the 20th August, 1648, when they
seized their opportunity, "at ten of the cloeke in sermon time;" and,
overpowering the gaolers, Dudley, with Sir Henry Bates, Major
Elliotts, Captain South, Captain Paris, and six others, succeeded in
getting away, and making again for the open country. Dudley had
received a wound in the leg, and could only get along with great
difficulty. He records that he proceeded on crutches, through
Worcester, Tewkesbury, and Gloucester, to Bristol, having been "fed
three weeks in private in an enemy's hay mow." Even the most
lynx-eyed Parliamentarian must have failed to recognise the quondam
royalist general of artillery in the helpless creature dragging
himself along upon crutches; and he reached Bristol in safety.

His military career now over, he found himself absolutely penniless.
His estate of about 200L. per annum had been sequestrated and sold by
the government;*
The Journals of the House of Commons, on the 2nd Nov. 1652, have the
following entry: "The House this day resumed the debate upon the
additional Bill for sale of several lands and estates forfeited to
the Commonwealth for treason, when it was resolved that the name of
Dud Dudley of Green Lodge be inserted into this Bill."
his house in Worcester had been seized and his sickly wife turned out
of doors; and his goods, stock, great shop, and ironworks, which he
himself valued at 2000L., were destroyed. He had also lost the
offices of Serjeant-at-arms, Lieutenant of Ordnance, and Surveyor of
the Mews, which he had held under the king; in a word, he found
himself reduced to a state of utter destitution.

Dudley was for some time under the necessity of living in great
privacy at Bristol; but when the king had been executed, and the
royalists were finally crushed at Worcester, Dud gradually emerged
from his concealment. He was still the sole possessor of the grand
secret of smelting iron with pit-coal, and he resolved upon one more
commercial adventure, in the hope of yet turning it to good account.
He succeeded in inducing Walter Stevens, linendraper, and John Stone,
merchant, both of Bristol, to join him as partners in an ironwork,
which they proceeded to erect near that city. The buildings were well
advanced, and nearly 700L. had been expended, when a quarrel occurred
between Dudley and his partners, which ended in the stoppage of the
works, and the concern being thrown into Chancery. Dudley alleges
that the other partners "cunningly drew him into a bond," and "did
unjustly enter staple actions in Bristol of great value against him,
because he was of the king's party;" but it would appear as if there
had been some twist or infirmity of temper in Dudley himself, which
prevented him from working harmoniously with such persons as he
became associated with in affairs of business.

In the mean time other attempts were made to smelt iron with
pit-coal. Dudley says that Cromwell and the then Parliament granted a
patent to Captain Buck for the purpose; and that Cromwell himself,
Major Wildman, and various others were partners in the patent. They
erected furnaces and works in the Forest of Dean;*
Mr. Mushet, in his 'Papers on Iron,' says, that "although he had
carefully examined every spot and relic in Dean Forest likely to
denote the site of Dud Dudley's enterprising but unfortunate
experiment of making pig-iron with pit coal," it had been without
success; neither could he find any traces of the like operations of
Cromwell and his partners.
but, though Cromwell and his officers could fight and win battles,
they could not smelt and forge iron with pit-coal. They brought one
Dagney, an Italian glass-maker, from Bristol, to erect a new furnace
for them, provided with sundry pots of glass-house clay; but no
success attended their efforts. The partners knowing of Dudley's
possession of the grand secret, invited him to visit their works; but
all they could draw from him was that they would never succeed in
making iron to profit by the methods they were pursuing. They next
proceeded to erect other works at Bristol, but still they failed.
Major Wildman*
Dudley says, "Major Wildman, more barbarous to me than a wild man,
although a minister, bought the author's estate, near 200L. per
annum, intending to compell from the author his inventions of making
iron with pitcole, but afterwards passed my estate unto two barbarous
brokers of London, that pulled down the author's two mantion houses,
sold 500 timber trees off his land, and to this day are his houses
unrepaired. Wildman himself fell under the grip of Cromwell. Being
one of the chiefs of the Republican party, he was seized at Exton,
near Marlborough, in l654, and imprisoned in Chepstow Castle.
bought Dudley's sequestrated estate, in the hope of being able to
extort his secret of making iron with pit-coal; but all their
attempts proving abortive, they at length abandoned the enterprise in
despair. In 1656, one Captain Copley obtained from Cromwell a further
patent with a similar object; and erected works near Bristol, and
also in the Forest of Kingswood. The mechanical engineers employed by
Copley failed in making his bellows blow; on which he sent for
Dudley, who forthwith "made his bellows to be blown feisibly;" but
Copley failed, like his predecessors, in making iron, and at length
he too desisted from further experiments.

Such continued to be the state of things until the Restoration, when
we find Dud Dudley a petitioner to the king for the renewal of his
patent. He was also a petitioner for compensation in respect of the
heavy losses he had sustained during the civil wars. The king was
besieged by crowds of applicants of a similar sort, but Dudley was no
more successful than the others. He failed in obtaining the renewal
of his patent. Another applicant for the like privilege, probably
having greater interest at court, proved more successful. Colonel
Proger and three others*
June 13, 1661. Petition of Col. Jas. Proger and three others to the
king for a patent for the sole exercise of their invention of melting
down iron and other metals with coal instead of wood, as the great
consumption of coal [charcoal ?] therein causes detriment to
shipping, &c. With reference thereon to Attorney-General Palmer, and
his report, June 18, in favour of the petition,--State Papers,
Charles II. (Dom. vol, xxxvii, 49.
were granted a patent to make iron with coal; but Dudley knew the
secret, which the new patentees did not; and their patent came to

Dudley continued to address the king in importunate petitions, asking
to be restored to his former offices of Serjeant-at-arms, Lieutenant
of Ordnance, and Surveyor of the Mews or Armoury. He also petitioned
to be appointed Master of the Charter House in Smithfield, professing
himself willing to take anything, or hold any living.*
In his second petition he prays that a dwelling-house situated in
Worcester, and belonging to one Baldwin, "a known traitor," may be
assigned to him in lieu of Alderman Nash's, which had reverted to
that individual since his return to loyalty; Dudley reminding the
king that his own house in that city had been given up by him for the
service of his father Charles I., and turned into a factory for arms.
It does not appear that this part of his petition was successful.
We find him sending in two petitions to a similar effect in June,
1660; and a third shortly after. The result was, that he was
reappointed to the office of Serjeant-at-Arms; but the Mastership of
the Charter-House was not disposed of until 1662, when it fell to the
lot of one Thomas Watson.*
State Papers, vol. xxxi. Doquet Book, p.89.
In 1661, we find a patent granted to Wm. Chamberlaine and--Dudley,
Esq., for the sole use of their new invention of plating steel, &c.,
and tinning the said plates; but whether Dud Dudley was the person
referred to, we are unable precisely to determine. A few years later,
he seems to have succeeded in obtaining the means of prosecuting his
original invention; for in his Metallum Martis, published in 1665, he
describes himself as living at Green's Lodge, in Staffordshire; and
he says that near it are four forges, Green's Forge, Swin Forge,
Heath Forge, and Cradley Forge, where he practises his "perfect
invention." These forges, he adds, "have barred all or most part of
their iron with pit-coal since the authors first invention In 1618,
which hath preserved much wood. In these four, besides many other
forges, do the like [sic ]; yet the author hath had no benefit
thereby to this present." From that time forward, Dud becomes lost to
sight. He seems eventually to have retired to St. Helen's in
Worcestershire, where he died in 1684, in the 85th year of his age.
He was buried in the parish church there, and a monument, now
destroyed, was erected to his memory, bearing the inscription partly
set forth underneath.*

Pulvis et umbra sumus
Memento mori.

Dodo Dudley chiliarchi nobilis Edwardi nuper domini de Dudley filius,
patri charus et regiae Majestatis fidissimus subditus et servus in
asserendo regein, in vindicartdo ecclesiam, in propugnando legem ac
libertatem Anglicanam, saepe captus, anno 1648, semel condemnatus et
tamen non decollatus, renatum denuo vidit diadaema hic inconcussa
semper virtute senex.

Differt non aufert mortem longissima vita
Sed differt multam cras hodiere mori.
Quod nequeas vitare, fugis:
Nec formidanda est.

Plot frequently alludes to Dudley in his Natural History of
Staffordshire, and when he does so he describes him as the "worshipful
Dud Dudley," showing the estimation in which he was held by his



"There never have been wanting men to whom England's improvement by
sea and land was one of the dearest thoughts of their lives, and to
whom England's good was the foremost of their worldly considerations.
And such, emphatically, was Andrew Yarranton, a true patriot in the
best sense of the word."--DOVE, Elements of Political Science.

That industry had a sore time of it during the civil wars will
further appear from the following brief account of Andrew Yarranton,
which may be taken as a companion memoir to that of Dud Dudley. For
Yarranton also was a Worcester ironmaster and a soldier--though on
the opposite side,--but more even than Dudley was he a man of public
spirit and enterprise, an enlightened political economist (long
before political economy had been recognised as a science), and in
many respects a true national benefactor. Bishop Watson said that he
ought to have had a statue erected to his memory because of his
eminent public services; and an able modern writer has gone so far as
to say of him that he was "the founder of English political economy,
the first man in England who saw and said that peace was better than
war, that trade was better than plunder, that honest industry was
better than martial greatness, and that the best occupation of a
government was to secure prosperity at home, and let other nations
PATRICK EDWARD DOVE, Elements of Political Science. Edinburgh, 1854.
Yet the name of Andrew Yarranton is scarcely remembered, or is at
most known to only a few readers of half-forgotten books. The
following brief outline of his history is gathered from his own
narrative and from documents in the State Paper Office.

Andrew Yarranton was born at the farmstead of Larford, in the parish
of Astley, in Worcestershire, in the year 1616.*
A copy of the entries in the parish register relating to the various
members of the Yarranton family, kindly forwarded to us by the Rev.
H. W. Cookes, rector of Astley, shows them to have resided in that
parish for many generations. There were the Yarrantons of Yarranton,
of Redstone, of Larford, of Brockenton, and of Longmore. With that
disregard for orthography in proper names which prevailed some three
hundred years since, they are indifferently designated as Yarran,
Yarranton, and Yarrington. The name was most probably derived from
two farms named Great and Little Yarranton, or Yarran (originally
Yarhampton), situated in the parish of Astley. The Yarrantons
frequently filled local offices in that parish, and we find several
of them officiating at different periods as bailiffs of Bewdley.
In his sixteenth year he was put apprentice to a Worcester
linendraper, and remained at that trade for some years; but not
liking it, he left it, and was leading a country life when the civil
wars broke out. Unlike Dudley, he took the side of the Parliament,
and joined their army, in which he served for some time as a soldier.
His zeal and abilities commended him to his officers, and he was
raised from one position to another, until in the course of a few
years we find him holding the rank of captain. "While a soldier,"
says he, "I had sometimes the honour and misfortune to lodge and
dislodge an army;" but this is all the information he gives us of his
military career. In the year 1648 he was instrumental in discovering
and frustrating a design on the part of the Royalists to seize Doyley
House in the county of Hereford, and other strongholds, for which he
received the thanks of Parliament "for his ingenuity, discretion, and
valour," and a substantial reward of 500L.*
Journals of the House of Commons, lst July, 1648.
He was also recommended to the Committee of Worcester for further
employment. But from that time we hear no more of him in connection
with the civil wars. When Cromwell assumed the supreme control of
affairs, Yarranton retired from the army with most of the
Presbyterians, and devoted himself to industrial pursuits.

We then find him engaged in carrying on the manufacture of iron at
Ashley, near Bewdley, in Worcestershire. "In the year 1652", says he,
"I entered upon iron-works, and plied them for several years."*
YARRANTON'S England's Improvement by Sea and Land. Part I. London,
He made it a subject of his diligent study how to provide employment
for the poor, then much distressed by the late wars. With the help of
his wife, he established a manufacture of linen, which was attended
with good results. Observing how the difficulties of communication,
by reason of the badness of the roads, hindered the development of
the rich natural resources of the western counties,*
There seems a foundation of truth in the old English distich --

The North for Greatness, the East for Health,
The South for Neatness, the West for Wealth.
he applied himself to the improvement of the navigation of the larger
rivers, making surveys of them at his own cost, and endeavouring to
stimulate local enterprise so as to enable him to carry his plans
into effect.

While thus occupied, the restoration of Charles II. took place, and
whether through envy or enmity Yarranton's activity excited the
suspicion of the authorities. His journeys from place to place seemed
to them to point to some Presbyterian plot on foot. On the 13th of
November, 1660, Lord Windsor, Lord-Lieutenant of the county, wrote to
the Secretary of State--"There is a quaker in prison for speaking
treason against his Majesty, and a countryman also, and Captain
Yarrington for refusing to obey my authority."*
State Paper Office. Dom. Charles II. 1660-1. Yarranton afterwards
succeeded in making a friend of Lord Windsor, as would appear from
his dedication of England's Improvement to his Lordship, whom he
thanks for the encouragement he had given to him in his survey of
several rivers with a view to their being rendered navigable.
It would appear from subsequent letters that Yarranton must have lain
in prison for nearly two years, charged with conspiring against the
king's authority, the only evidence against him consisting of some
anonymous letter's. At the end of May, 1662, he succeeded in making
his escape from the custody of the Provost Marshal. The High Sheriff
scoured the country after him at the head of a party of horse, and
then he communicated to the Secretary of State, Sir Edward Nicholas,
that the suspected conspirator could not be found, and was supposed
to have made his way to London. Before the end of a month Yarranton
was again in custody, as appears from the communication of certain
justices of Surrey to Sir Edward Nicholas.*
The following is a copy of the document from the State Papers: --
"John Bramfield, Geo. Moore, and Thos. Lee, Esqrs. and Justices of
Surrey, to Sir Edw. Nicholas.--There being this day brought before us
one Andrew Yarranton, and he accused to have broken prison, or at
least made his escape out of the Marshalsea at Worcester, being there
committed by the Deputy-Lieuts. upon suspicion of a plot in November
last; we having thereupon examined him, he allegeth that his Majesty
hath been sought unto on his behalf, and hath given order to yourself
for his discharge, and a supersedeas against all persons and
warrants, and thereupon hath desired to appeal unto you. The which we
conceiving to be convenient and reasonable (there being no positive
charge against him before us), have accordingly herewith conveyed
him unto you by a safe hand, to be further examined or disposed of as
you shall find meet.--S. P. O. Dom. Chas. II. 23rd June, 1662.
As no further notice of Yarranton occurs in the State Papers, and as
we shortly after find him publicly occupied in carrying out his plans
for improving the navigation of the western rivers, it is probable
that his innoceney of any plot was established after a legal
investigation. A few years later he published in London a 4to. tract
entitled 'A Full Discovery of the First Presbyterian Sham Plot,'
which most probably contained a vindication of his conduct.*
We have been unable to refer to this tract, there being no copy of it
in the British Museum.

Yarranton was no sooner at liberty than we find him again occupied
with his plans of improved inland navigation. His first scheme was to
deepen the small river Salwarp, so as to connect Droitwich with the
Severn by a water communication, and thus facilitate the transport of
the salt so abundantly yielded by the brine springs near that town.
In 1665, the burgesses of Droitwich agreed to give him 750L. and
eight salt vats in Upwich, valued at 80L. per annum, with
three-quarters of a vat in Northwich, for twenty-one years, in
payment for the work. But the times were still unsettled, and
Yarranton and his partner Wall not being rich, the scheme was not
then carried into effect.*
NASH'S Worcestershire, i. 306.
In the following year we find him occupied with a similar scheme to
open up the navigation of the river Stour, passing by Stourport and
Kidderminster, and connect it by an artificial cut with the river
Trent. Some progress was made with this undertaking, so far in
advance of the age, but, like the other, it came to a stand still for
want of money, and more than a hundred years passed before it was
carried out by a kindred genius--James Brindley, the great canal
maker. Mr. Chambers says that when Yarranton's scheme was first
brought forward, it met with violent opposition and ridicule. The
undertaking was thought wonderfully bold, and, joined to its great
extent, the sandy, spongy nature of the ground, the high banks
necessary to prevent the inundation of the Stour on the canal,
furnished its opponents, if not with sound argument, at least with
very specious topics for opposition and laughter.*
JOHN CHAMBERS, Biographical Illustrations of Worcestershire. London,
Yarranton's plan was to make the river itself navigable, and by
uniting it with other rivers, open up a communication with the Trent;
while Brindley's was to cut a canal parallel with the river, and
supply it with water from thence. Yarranton himself thus accounts for
the failure of his scheme in 'England's Improvement by Sea and
Land': -- "It was my projection," he says, "and I will tell you the
reason why it was not finished. The river Stour and some other rivers
were granted by an Act of Parliament to certain persons of honor, and
some progress was made in the work, but within a small while after
the Act passed*
The Act for making the Stour and Salwarp navigable originated in the
Lords and was passed in the year 1661.
it was let fall again; but it being a brat of my own, I was not
willing it should be abortive, wherefore I made offers to perfect it,
having a third part of the inheritance to me and my heirs for ever,
and we came to an agreement, upon which I fell on, and made it
completely navigable from Stourbridge to Kidderminster, and carried
down many hundred tons of coal, and laid out near 1000L., and there
it was obstructed for want of money."*
Nash, in his Hist. of Worc., intimates that Lord Windsor subsequently
renewed the attempt to make the Salwarp navigable. He constructed
five out of the six locks, and then abandoned the scheme. Gough, in
his edition of Camden's Brit. ii. 357, Lond. 1789, says, "It is not
long since some of the boats made use of in Yarranton's navigation
were found. Neither tradition nor our projector's account of the
matter perfectly satisfy us why this navigation was neglected..... We
must therefore conclude that the numerous works and glass-houses upon
the Stour, and in the neighbourhood of Stourbridge, did not then
exist, A.D. 1666. ....The navigable communication which now connects
Trent and Severn, and which runs in the course of Yarranton's
project, is already of general use.... The canal since executed under
the inspection of Mr. Brindley, running parallel with the river....
cost the proprietors 105,000L."

Another of Yarranton's far-sighted schemes of a similar kind was one
to connect the Thames with the Severn by means of an artificial cut,
at the very place where, more than a century after his death, it was
actually carried out by modern engineers. This canal, it appears, was
twice surveyed under his direction by his son. He did, however,
succeed in his own time in opening up the navigation. of the Avon,
and was the first to carry barges upon its waters from Tewkesbury to

The improvement of agriculture, too, had a share of Yarranton's
attention. He saw the soil exhausted by long tillage and constantly
repeated crops of rye, and he urged that the land should have rest or
at least rotation of crop. With this object he introduced
clover-seed, and supplied it largely to the farmers of the western
counties, who found their land doubled in value by the new method of
husbandry, and it shortly became adopted throughout the country.
Seeing how commerce was retarded by the small accommodation provided
for shipping at the then principal ports, Yarranton next made surveys
and planned docks for the city of London; but though he zealously
advocated the subject, he found few supporters, and his plans proved
fruitless. In this respect he was nearly a hundred and fifty years
before his age, and the London importers continued to conduct their
shipping business in the crowded tideway of the Thames down even to
the beginning of the present century.

While carrying on his iron works, it occurred to Yarranton that it
would be of great national advantage if the manufacture of tin-plate
could be introduced into England. Although the richest tin mines then
known existed in this country, the mechanical arts were at so low an
ebb that we were almost entirely dependent upon foreigners for the
supply of the articles manufactured from the metal. The Saxons were
the principal consumers of English tin, and we obtained from them in
return nearly the whole of our tin-plates. All attempts made to
manufacture them in England had hitherto failed; the beating out of
the iron by hammers into laminae sufficiently thin and smooth, and
the subsequent distribution and fixing of the film of tin over the
surface of the iron, proving difficulties which the English
manufacturers were unable to overcome. To master these difficulties
the indefatigable Yarranton set himself to work. "Knowing," says he,
"the usefulness of tin-plates and the goodness of our metals for that
purpose, I did, about sixteen years since (i.e. about 1665),
endeavour to find out the way for making thereof; whereupon I
acquainted a person of much riches, and one that was very
understanding in the iron manufacture, who was pleased to say that he
had often designed to get the trade into England, but never could
find out the way. Upon which it was agreed that a sum of monies
should be advanced by several persons,*
In the dedication of his book, entitled Englands Improvement by Sea
and Land, Part I., Yarranton gives the names of the "noble patriots"
who sent him on his journey of inquiry. They were Sir Waiter Kirtham
Blount, Bart., Sir Samuel Baldwin and Sir Timothy Baldwin, Knights,
Thomas Foley and Philip Foley, Esquires, and six other gentlemen. The
father of the Foleys was himself supposed to have introduced the art
of iron-splitting into England by an expedient similar to that
adopted by Yarranton in obtaining a knowledge of the tin-plate
manufacture (Self-Help, p.145). The secret of the silk-throwing
machinery of Piedmont was in like manner introduced into England by
Mr. Lombe of Derby, who shortly succeeded in founding a flourishing
branch of manufacture. These were indeed the days of romance and
adventure in manufactures.
for the defraying of my charges of travelling to the place where
these plates are made, and from thence to bring away the art of
making them. Upon which, an able fire-man, that well understood the
nature of iron, was made choice of to accompany me; and being fitted
with an ingenious interpreter that well understood the language, and
that had dealt much in that commodity, we marched first for Hamburgh,
then to Leipsic, and from thence to Dresden, the Duke of Saxony's
court, where we had notice of the place where the plates were made;
which was in a large tract of mountainous land, running from a place
called Seger-Hutton unto a town called Awe [Au], being in length
about twenty miles."*
The district is known as the Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains, and the
Riesengebirge or Giant Mountains, MacCulloch says that upwards of 500
mines are wrought in the former district, and that one-thirtieth of
the entire population of Saxony to this day derive their subsistence
from mining industry and the manufacture of metallic products.--
Geographical Dict. ii. 643, edit. 1854.

It is curious to find how much the national industry of England has
been influenced by the existence from time to time of religious
persecutions abroad, which had the effect of driving skilled
Protestant artisans, more particularly from Flanders and France, into
England, where they enjoyed the special protection of successive
English Governments, and founded various important branches of
manufacture. But it appears from the history of the tin manufactures
of Saxony, that that country also had profited in like manner by the
religious persecutions of Germany, and even of England itself. Thus
we are told by Yarranton that it was a Cornish miner, a Protestant,
banished out of England for his religion in Queen Mary's time, who
discovered the tin mines at Awe, and that a Romish priest of Bohemia,
who had been converted to Lutheranism and fled into Saxony for
refuge, "was the chief instrument in the manufacture until it was
perfected." These two men were held in great regard by the Duke of
Saxony as well as by the people of the country; for their ingenuity
and industry proved the source of great prosperity and wealth,
"several fine cities," says Yarranton, "having been raised by the
riches proceeding from the tin-works"--not less than 80,000 men
depending upon the trade for their subsistence; and when Yarranton
visited Awe, he found that a statue had been erected to the memory of
the Cornish miner who first discovered the tin.

Yarranton was very civilly received by the miners, and, contrary to
his expectation, he was allowed freely to inspect the tin-works and
examine the methods by which the iron-plates were rolled out, as well
as the process of tinning them. He was even permitted to engage a
number of skilled workmen, whom he brought over with him to England
for the purpose of starting the manufacture in this country. A
beginning was made, and the tin-plates manufactured by Yarranton's
men were pronounced of better quality even than those made in Saxony.
"Many thousand plates," Yarranton says, "were made from iron raised
in the Forest of Dean, and were tinned over with Cornish tin; and the
plates proved far better than the German ones, by reason of the
toughness and flexibleness of our forest iron. One Mr. Bison, a
tinman in Worcester, Mr. Lydiate near Fleet Bridge, and Mr. Harrison
near the King's Bench, have wrought many, and know their goodness."
As Yarranton's account was written and published during the lifetime
of the parties, there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of his

Arrangements were made to carry on the manufacture upon a large
scale; but the secret having got wind, a patent was taken out, or
"trumpt up" as Yarranton calls it, for the manufacture, "the patentee
being countenanced by some persons of quality," and Yarranton was
precluded from carrying his operations further. It is not improbable
that the patentee in question was William Chamberlaine, Dud Dudley's
quondam partner in the iron manufacture.*
Chamberlaine and Dudley's first licence was granted in 1661 for
plating steel and tinning the said plates; and Chamberlaine's sole
patent for "plating and tinning iron, copper, &c.," was granted in
1673, probably the patent in question.
"What with the patent being in our way," says Yarranton, "and the
richest of our partners being afraid to offend great men in power,
who had their eye upon us, it caused the thing to cool, and the
making of the tin-plates was neither proceeded in by us, nor possibly
could be by him that had the patent; because neither he that hath the
patent, nor those that have countenanced him, can make one plate fit
for use." Yarranton's labours were thus lost to the English public
for a time; and we continued to import all our tin-plates from
Germany until about sixty years later, when a tin-plate manufactory
was established by Capel Hanbury at Pontypool in Monmouthshire, where
it has since continued to be successfully carried on.

We can only briefly refer to the subsequent history of Andrew
Yarranton. Shortly after his journey into Saxony, he proceeded to
Holland to examine the inland navigations of the Dutch, to inspect
their linen and other manufactures, and to inquire into the causes of
the then extraordinary prosperity of that country compared with
England. Industry was in a very languishing state at home. "People
confess they are sick," said Yarranton, "that trade is in a
consumption, and the whole nation languishes." He therefore
determined to ascertain whether something useful might not be learnt
from the example of Holland. The Dutch were then the hardest working
and the most thriving people in Europe. They were manufacturers and
carriers for the world. Their fleets floated on every known sea; and
their herring-busses swarmed along our coasts as far north as the
Hebrides. The Dutch supplied our markets with fish caught within
sight of our own shores, while our coasting population stood idly
looking on. Yarranton regarded this state of things as most
discreditable, and he urged the establishment of various branches of
home industry as the best way of out-doing the Dutch without fighting

Wherever he travelled abroad, in Germany or in Holland, he saw
industry attended by wealth and comfort, and idleness by poverty and
misery. The same pursuits, he held, would prove as beneficial to
England as they were abundantly proved to have been to Holland. The
healthy life of work was good for all--for individuals as for the
whole nation; and if we would out-do the Dutch, he held that we must
out-do them in industry. But all must be done honestly and by fair
means. "Common Honesty," said Yarranton, "is as necessary and needful
in kingdoms and commonwealths that depend upon Trade, as discipline
is in an army; and where there is want of common Honesty in a kingdom
or commonwealth, from thence Trade shall depart. For as the Honesty
of all governments is, so shall be their Riches; and as their Honour,
Honesty, and Riches are, so will be their Strength; and as their
Honour, Honesty, Riches, and Strength are, so will be their Trade.
These are five sisters that go hand in hand, and must not be parted."
Admirable sentiments, which are as true now as they were two hundred
years ago, when Yarranton urged them upon the attention of the
English public.

On his return from Holland, he accordingly set on foot various
schemes of public utility. He stirred up a movement for the
encouragement of the British fisheries. He made several journeys into
Ireland for the purpose of planting new manufactures there. He
surveyed the River Slade with the object of rendering it navigable,
and proposed a plan for improving the harbour of Dublin. He also
surveyed the Dee in England with a view to its being connected with
the Severn. Chambers says that on the decline of his popularity in
1677, he was taken by Lord Clarendon to Salisbury to survey the River
Avon, and find out how that river might be made navigable, and also
whether a safe harbour for ships could be made at Christchurch; and
that having found where he thought safe anchorage might be obtained,
his Lordship proceeded to act upon Yarranton's recommendations.*
JOHN CHAMBERS, Biographical Illustrations of Worcestershire. London,

Another of his grand schemes was the establishment of the linen
manufacture in the central counties of England, which, he showed,
were well adapted for the growth of flax; and he calculated that if
success attended his efforts, at least two millions of money then
sent out of the country for the purchase of foreign linen would be
retained at home, besides increasing the value of the land on which
the flax was grown, and giving remunerative employment to our own
people, then emigrating for want of work. " Nothing but Sloth or
Envy," he said, "can possibly hinder my labours from being crowned
with the wished for success; our habitual fondness for the one hath
already brought us to the brink of ruin, and our proneness to the
other hath almost discouraged all pious endeavours to promote our
future happiness."

In 1677 he published the first part of his England's Improvement by
Sea and Land--a very remarkable book, full of sagacious insight as
respected the future commercial and manufacturing greatness of
England. Mr. Dove says of this book that Yarranton" chalks out in it
the future course of Britain with as free a hand as if second-sight
had revealed to him those expansions of her industrial career which
never fail to surprise us, even when we behold them realized."
Besides his extensive plans for making harbours and improving
internal navigation with the object of creating new channels for
domestic industry, his schemes for extending the iron and the woollen
trades, establishing the linen manufacture, and cultivating the home
fisheries, we find him throwing out various valuable suggestions with
reference to the means of facilitating commercial transactions, some
of winch have only been carried out in our own day. One of his
grandest ideas was the establishment of a public bank, the credit of
which, based upon the security of freehold land,*
Yarranton's Land Bank was actually projected in 1695, and received
the sanction of Parliament; though the Bank of England (founded in
the preceding year) petitioned against it, and the scheme was
should enable its paper "to go in trade equal with ready money." A
bank of this sort formed one of the principal means by which the
Dutch had been enabled to extend their commercial transactions, and
Yarranton accordingly urged its introduction into England. Part of
his scheme consisted of a voluntary register of real property, for
the purpose of effecting simplicity of title, and obtaining relief
from the excessive charges for law,*
It is interesting to note in passing, that part of Yarranton's scheme
has recently been carried into effect by the Act (25 and 26 Vict. c.
53) passed in 1862 for the Registration of Real Estate.
as well as enabling money to be readily raised for commercial
purposes on security of the land registered.

He pointed out very graphically the straits to which a man is put who
is possessed of real property enough, but in a time of pressure is
unable to turn himself round for want of ready cash. "Then," says he,
"all his creditors crowd to him as pigs do through a hole to a bean
and pease rick." "Is it not a sad thing," he asks, "that a
goldsmith's boy in Lombard Street, who gives notes for the monies
handed him by the merchants, should take up more monies upon his
notes in one day than two lords, four knights, and eight esquires in
twelve months upon all their personal securities? We are, as it were,
cutting off our legs and arms to see who will feed the trunk. But we
cannot expect this from any of our neighbours abroad, whose interest
depends upon our loss."

He therefore proposed his registry of property as a ready means of
raising a credit for purposes of trade. Thus, he says, "I can both in
England and Wales register my wedding, my burial, and my christening,
and a poor parish clerk is entrusted with the keeping of the book;
and that which is registered there is held good by our law. But I
cannot register my lands, to be honest, to pay every man his own, to
prevent those sad things that attend families for want thereof, and
to have the great benefit and advantage that would come thereby. A
register will quicken trade, and the land registered will be equal as
cash in a man's hands, and the credit thereof will go and do in trade
what ready money now doth." His idea was to raise money, when
necessary, on the land registered, by giving security thereon after a
form which be suggested. He would, in fact, have made land, as gold
now is, the basis of an extended currency; and he rightly held that
the value of land as a security must always be unexceptionable, and
superior to any metallic basis that could possibly be devised.

This indefatigable man continued to urge his various designs upon the
attention of the public until he was far advanced in years. He
professed that he was moved to do so (and we believe him) solely by
an ardent love for his country, "whose future flourishing," said he,
"is the only reward I ever hope to see of all my labours." Yarranton,
however, received but little thanks for his persistency, while he
encountered many rebuffs. The public for the most part turned a deaf
ear to his entreaties; and his writings proved of comparatively small
avail, at least during his own lifetime. He experienced the lot of
many patriots, even the purest--the suspicion and detraction of his
contemporaries. His old political enemies do not seem to have
forgotten him, of which we have the evidence in certain rare
"broadsides" still extant, twitting him with the failure of his
schemes, and even trumping up false charges of disloyalty against
One of these is entitled 'A Coffee-house Dialogue, or a Discourse
between Captain Y--and a Young Barrister of the Middle Temple; with
some Reflections upon the Bill against the D. of Y.' In this
broadside, of 3 1/2 pages folio, published about 1679, Yarranton is
made to favour the Duke of York's exclusion from the throne, not only
because he was a papist, but for graver reasons than he dare express.
Another scurrilous pamphlet, entitled 'A Word Without Doors,' was
also aimed at him. Yarranton, or his friends, replied to the first
attack in a folio of two pages, entitled 'The Coffee-house Dialogue
Examined and Refuted, by some Neighbours in the Country ,
well-wishers to the Kingdom's interest.' The controversy was followed
up by 'A Continuation of the Coffee-house Dialogue,' in which the
chief interlocutor hits Yarranton rather hard for the miscarriage of
his "improvements." "I know," says he, "when and where you undertook
for a small charge to make a river navigable, and it has cost the
proprietors about six times as much, and is not yet effective; nor
can any man rationally predict when it will be. I know since you left
it your son undertook it, and this winter shamefully left his
undertaking." Yarrantons friends immediately replied in a four-page
folio, entitled 'England's Improvements Justified; and the Author
thereof, Captain Y., vindicated from the Scandals in a paper called a
Coffee-house Dialogue; with some Animadversions upon the Popish
Designs therein contained.' The writer says he writes without the
privity or sanction of Yarranton, but declares the dialogue to be a
forgery, and that the alleged conference never took place. "His
innocence, when he heard of it, only provoked a smile, with this
answer, Spreta vilescunt, falsehoods mu st perish, and are soonest
destroyed by contempt; so that he needs no further vindication. The
writer then proceeds at some length to vindicate the Captain's famous
work and the propositions contained in it.

In 1681 he published the second part of 'England's Improvement,'*
This work (especially with the plates) is excessively rare. There is
a copy of it in perfect condition in the Grenville Library, British
in which he gave a summary account of its then limited growths and
manufactures, pointing out that England and Ireland were the only
northern kingdoms remaining unimproved; he re-urged the benefits and
necessity of a voluntary register of real property; pointed out a
method of improving the Royal Navy, lessening the growing power of
France, and establishing home fisheries; proposed the securing and
fortifying of Tangier; described a plan for preventing fires in
London, and reducing the charge for maintaining the Trained Bands;
urged the formation of a harbour at Newhaven in Sussex; and, finally,
discoursed at considerable length upon the tin, iron, linen, and
woollen trades, setting forth various methods for their improvement.
In this last section, after referring to the depression in the
domestic tin trade (Cornish tin selling so low as 70s. the cwt.), he
suggested a way of reviving it. With the Cornish tin he would combine
"the Roman cinders and iron-stone in the Forest of Dean, which makes
the best iron for most uses in the world, and works up to the best
advantage, with delight and pleasure to the workmen." He then
described the history of his own efforts to import the manufacture of
tin-plates into England some sixteen years before, in which he had
been thwarted by Chamberlaine's patent, as above described,--and
offered sundry queries as to the utility of patents generally, which,
says he, "have the tendency to drive trade out of the kingdom."
Appended to the chapter on Tin is an exceedingly amusing dialogue
between a tin-miner of Cornwall, an iron-miner of Dean Forest, and a
traveller (himself). From this we gather that Yarranton's business
continued to be that of an iron-manufacturer at his works at Ashley
near Bewdley. Thus the iron-miner says, "About 28 years since Mr.
Yarranton found out a vast quantity of Roman cinders, near the walls
of the city of Worcester, from whence he and others carried away many
thousand tons or loads up the river Severn, unto their iron-furnaces,
to be melted down into iron, with a mixture of the Forest of Dean
iron-stone; and within 100 yards of the walls of the city of
Worcester there was dug up one of the hearths of the Roman
foot-blasts, it being then firm and in order, and was 7 foot deep in
the earth; and by the side of the work there was found a pot of Roman
coin to the quantity of a peck, some of which was presented to Sir
[Wm.] Dugdale, and part thereof is now in the King's Closet."*
Dr. Nash, in his History of Worcestershire, has thrown some doubts
upon this story; but Mr. Green, in his Historical Antiquities of the
city, has made a most able defence of Yarranton's statement (vol.i.
9, in foot-note).

In the same year (1681) in which the second part of 'England's
Improvement' appeared, Yarranton proceeded to Dunkirk for the purpose
of making a personal survey of that port, then belonging to England;
and on his return he published a map of the town, harbour, and castle
on the sea, with accompanying letterpress, in which he recommended,
for the safety of British trade, the demolition of the fortifications
of Dunkirk before they were completed, which he held would only be
for the purpose of their being garrisoned by the French king. His
'Full Discovery of the First Presbyterian Sham Plot' was published in
the same year; and from that time nothing further is known of Andrew
Yarranton. His name and his writings have been alike nearly
forgotten; and, though Bishop Watson declared of him that he deserved
to have a statue erected to his memory as a great public benefactor,
we do not know that he was so much as honoured with a tombstone; for
we have been unable, after careful inquiry, to discover when and
where he died.

Yarranton was a man whose views were far in advance of his age. The
generation for whom he laboured and wrote were not ripe for their
reception and realization; and his voice sounded among the people
like that of one crying in the wilderness. But though his
exhortations to industry and his large plans of national improvement
failed to work themselves into realities in his own time, he broke
the ground, he sowed the seed, and it may be that even at this day we
are in some degree reaping the results of his labours. At all events,
his books still live to show how wise and sagacious Andrew Yarranton
was beyond his contemporaries as to the true methods of establishing
upon solid foundations the industrial prosperity of England.



"The triumph of the industrial arts will advance the cause of
civilization more rapidly than its warmest advocates could have
hoped, and contribute to the permanent prosperity and strength of the
country far move than the most splendid victories of successful
war.--C. BABBAGE, The Exposition of 1851.

Dud Dudley's invention of smelting iron with coke made of pit-coal
was, like many others, born before its time. It was neither
appreciated by the iron-masters nor by the workmen. All schemes for
smelting ore with any other fuel than charcoal made from wood were
regarded with incredulity. As for Dudley's Metallum Martis, as it
contained no specification, it revealed no secret; and when its
author died, his secret, whatever it might be, died with him. Other
improvements were doubtless necessary before the invention could be
turned to useful account. Thus, until a more powerful blowing-furace
had been contrived, the production of pit-coal iron must necessarily
have been limited. Dudley himself does not seem to have been able to
make more on an average than five tons a-week, and seven tons at the
outside. Nor was the iron so good as that made by charcoal; for it is
admitted to have been especially liable to deterioration by the
sulphureous fumes of the coal in the process of manufacture.

Dr. Plot, in his 'History of Staffordshire,' speaks of an experiment
made by one Dr. Blewstone, a High German, as "the last effort" made
in that county to smelt iron-ore with pit-coal. He is said to have
"built his furnace at Wednesbury, so ingeniously contrived (that only
the flame of the coal should come to the ore, with several other
conveniences), that many were of opinion he would succeed in it. But
experience, that great baffler of speculation, showed it would not
be; the sulphureous vitriolic steams that issue from the pyrites,
which frequently, if not always, accompanies pit-coal, ascending with
the flame, and poisoning the ore sufficiently to make it render much
worse iron than that made with charcoal, though not perhaps so much
worse as the body of the coal itself would possibly do."*
Dr. PLOT, Natural History of Staffordshire, 2nd ed. 1686, p. 128.
Dr. Plot does not give the year in which this "last effort" was made;
but as we find that one Dr. Frederic de Blewston obtained a patent
from Charles II. on the 25th October, 1677, for "a new and effectual
way of melting down, forging, extracting, and reducing of iron and
all metals and minerals with pit-coal and sea-coal, as well and
effectually as ever hath yet been done by charcoal, and with much
less charge;" and as Dr. Plot's History, in which he makes mention
of the experiment and its failure, was published in 1686, it is
obvious that the trial must have been made between those years.

As the demand for iron steadily increased with the increasing
population of the country, and as the supply of timber for smelting
purposes was diminishing from year to year, England was compelled to
rely more and more upon foreign countries for its supply of
manufactured iron. The number of English forges rapidly dwindled, and
the amount of the home production became insignificant in comparison
with what was imported from abroad. Yarranton, writing in 1676,
speaks of "the many iron-works laid down in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and
in the north of England, because the iron of Sweadland, Flanders, and
Spain, coming in so cheap, it cannot be made to profit here." There
were many persons, indeed, who held that it was better we should be
supplied with iron from Spain than make it at home, in consequence of
the great waste of wood involved by the manufacture; but against this
view Yarranton strongly contended, and held, what is as true now as
it was then, that the manufacture of iron was the keystone of
England's industrial prosperity. He also apprehended great danger to
the country from want of iron in event of the contingency of a
foreign war. "When the greatest part of the iron-works are asleep,"
said he, "if there should be occasion for great quantities of guns
and bullets, and other sorts of iron commodities, for a present
unexpected war, and the Sound happen to be locked up, and so prevent
iron coming to us, truly we should then be in a fine case!"

Notwithstanding these apprehended national perils arising from the
want of iron, no steps seem to have been taken to supply the
deficiency, either by planting woods on a large scale, as recommended
by Yarranton, or by other methods; and the produce of English iron
continued steadily to decline. In 1720-30 there were found only ten
furnaces remaining in blast in the whole Forest of Dean, where the
iron-smelters were satisfied with working up merely the cinders left
by the Romans. A writer of the time states that we then bought
between two and three hundred thousand pounds' worth of foreign iron
yearly, and that England was the best customer in Europe for Swedish
and Russian iron.*
JOSHUA GEE, The Trade and Navigation of Great Britain considered,
By the middle of the eighteenth century the home manufacture had so
much fallen off, that the total production of Great Britain is
supposed to have amounted to not more than 18,000 tons a year;
four-fifths of the iron used in the country being imported from
When a bill was introduced into Parliament in 1750 with the object of
encouraging the importation of iron from our American colonies, the
Sheffield tanners petitioned against it, on the ground that, if it
passed, English iron would be undersold; many forges would
consequently be discontinued; in which case the timber used for fuel
would remain uncut, and the tanners would thereby be deprived of bark
for the purposes of their trade!

The more that the remaining ironmasters became straitened for want of
wood, the more they were compelled to resort to cinders and coke made
from coal as a substitute. And it was found that under certain
circumstances this fuel answered the purpose almost as well as
charcoal of wood. The coke was made by burning the coal in heaps in
the open air, and it was usually mixed with coal and peat in the
process of smelting the ore. Coal by itself was used by the country
smiths for forging whenever they could procure it for their smithy
fires; and in the midland counties they had it brought to them,
sometimes from great distances, slung in bags across horses'
backs,--for the state of the roads was then so execrable as not to
admit of its being led for any considerable distance in carts. At
length we arrive at a period when coal seems to have come into
general use, and when necessity led to its regular employment both in
smelting the ore and in manufacturing the metal. And this brings us
to the establishment of the Coalbrookdale works, where the smelting
of iron by means of coke and coal was first adopted on a large scale
as the regular method of manufacture.

Abraham Darby, the first of a succession of iron manufacturers who
bore the same name, was the son of a farmer residing at Wrensnest,
near Dudley. He served an apprenticeship to a maker of malt-kilns
near Birmingham, after which he married and removed to Bristol in
1700, to begin business on his own account. Industry is of all
politics and religions: thus Dudley was a Royalist and a Churchman,
Yarranton was a Parliamentarian and a Presbyterian, and Abraham Darby
was a Quaker. At Bristol he was joined by three partners of the same
persuasion, who provided the necessary capital to enable him to set
up works at Baptist Mills, near that city, where he carried on the
business of malt-mill making, to which he afterwards added brass and
iron founding.

At that period cast-iron pots were in very general use, forming the
principal cooking utensils of the working class. The art of casting
had, however, made such small progress in England that the pots were
for the most part imported from abroad. Darby resolved, if possible,
to enter upon this lucrative branch of manufacture; and he proceeded
to make a number of experiments in pot-making. Like others who had
preceded him, he made his first moulds of clay; but they cracked and
burst, and one trial failed after another. He then determined to find
out the true method of manufacturing the pots, by travelling into the
country from whence the best were imported, in order to master the
grand secret of the trade. With this object he went over to Holland
in the year 1706, and after diligent inquiry he ascertained that the
only sure method of casting "Hilton ware," as such castings were then
called, was in moulds of fine dry sand. This was the whole secret.

Returning to Bristol, accompanied by some skilled Dutch workmen,
Darby began the new manufacture, and succeeded to his satisfaction.
The work was at first carried on with great secrecy, lest other
makers should copy the art; and the precaution was taken of stopping
the keyhole of the workshop-door while the casting was in progress.
To secure himself against piracy, he proceeded to take out a patent
for the process in the year 1708, and it was granted for the term of
fourteen years. The recital of the patent is curious, as showing the
backward state of English iron-founding at that time. It sets forth
that "whereas our trusty and well-beloved Abraham Darby, of our city
of Bristol, smith, hath by his petition humbly represented to us,
that by his study, industry, and expense, he hath found out and
brought to perfection a new way of casting iron bellied pots and
other iron bellied ware in sand only, without loam or clay, by which
such iron pots and other ware may be cast fine and with more ease and
expedition, and may be afforded cheaper than they can be by the way
commonly used; and in regard to their cheapness may be of great
advantage to the poor of this our kingdom, who for the most part use
such ware, and in all probability will prevent the merchants of
England going to foreign markets for such ware, from whence great
quantities are imported, and likewise may in time supply other
markets with that manufacture of our dominions," &c..... grants the
said Abraham Darby the full power and sole privilege to make and sell
such pots and ware for and during the term of fourteen years thence

Darby proceeded to make arrangements for carrying on the manufacture
upon a large scale at the Baptist Mills; but the other partners
hesitated to embark more capital in the concern, and at length
refused their concurrence. Determined not to be baulked in his
enterprise, Darby abandoned the Bristol firm; and in the year 1709 he
removed to Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, with the intention of
prosecuting the enterprise on his own account. He took the lease of a
little furnace which had existed at the place for more than a
century, as the records exist of a "smethe" or "smeth-house" at
Coalbrookdale in the time of the Tudors. The woods of oak and hazel
which at that time filled the beautiful dingles of the dale, and
spread in almost a continuous forest to the base of the Wrekin,
furnished abundant fuel for the smithery. As the trade of the
Coalbrookdale firm extended, these woods became cleared, until the
same scarcity of fuel began to be experienced that had already
desolated the forests of Sussex, and brought the manufacture of iron
in that quarter to a stand-still.

It appears from the 'Blast Furnace Memorandum Book' of Abraham Darby,
which we have examined, that the make of iron at the Coalbrookdale
foundry, in 1713, varied from five to ten tons a week. The principal
articles cast were pots, kettles, and other "hollow ware," direct
from the smelting-furnace; the rest of the metal was run into pigs.
In course of time we find that other castings were turned out: a few
grates, smoothing-irons, door-frames, weights, baking-plates,
cart-bushes, iron pestles and mortars, and occasionally a tailor's
goose. The trade gradually increased, until we find as many as 150
pots and kettles cast in a week.

The fuel used in the furnaces appears, from the Darby
Memorandum-Book, to have been at first entirely charcoal; but the
growing scarcity of wood seems to have gradually led to the use of
coke, brays or small coke, and peat. An abundance of coals existed in
the neighbourhood: by rejecting those of inferior quality, and coking
the others with great care, a combustible was obtained better fitted
even than charcoal itself for the fusion of that particular kind of
ore which is found in the coal-measures. Thus we find Darby's most
favourite charge for his furnaces to have been five baskets of coke,
two of brays, and one of peat; next followed the ore, and then the
limestone. The use of charcoal was gradually given up as the art of
smelting with coke and brays improved, most probably aided by the
increased power of the furnace-blast, until at length we find it
entirely discontinued.

The castings of Coalbrookdale gradually acquired a reputation, and
the trade of Abraham Darby continued to increase until the date of
his death, which occurred at Madeley Court in 1717. His sons were too
young at the time to carry on the business which he had so
successfully started, and several portions of the works were sold at
a serious sacrifice. But when the sons had grown up to manhood, they
too entered upon the business of iron-founding; and Abraham Darby's
son and grandson, both of the same name, largely extended the
operations of the firm, until Coalbrookdale, or, as it was popularly
called, "Bedlam," became the principal seat of one of the most
important branches of the iron trade.

There seems to be some doubt as to the precise time when pit-coal was
first regularly employed at Coalbrookdale in smelting the ore. Mr.
Scrivenor says, "pit-coal was first used by Mr. Abraham Darby, in his
furnace at Coalbrookdale, in 1713;"*
History of the Iron Trade, p. 56.
but we can find no confirmation of this statement in the records of
the Company. It is probable that Mr. Darby used raw coal, as was done
in the Forest of Dean at the same time,*
See Mr. Powle's account of the Iron Works in the Forest of Dean
(1677-8), in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. ii. p. 418, where
he says, "After they have pounded their ore, their first work is to
calcine it, which is done in kilns, much after the fashion of
ordinary lime-kilns, These they fill up to the top with coal and ore,
stratum super stratum, until it be full; and so setting fire to the
bottom, they let it burn till the coal be wasted, and then renew the
kilns with fresh ore and coal, in the same manner as before. This is
done without fusion of the metal, and serves to consume the more
drossy parts of the ore and to make it friable." The writer then
describes the process of smelting the ore mixed with cinder in the
furnaces, where, he says, the fuel is "always of charcoal." "Several
attempts," he adds, "have been made to introduce the use of sea-coal
in these works instead of charcoal, the former being to be had at an
easier rate than the latter; but hitherto they have proved
ineffectual, the workmen finding by experience that a sea-coal fire,
how vehement soever, will not penetrate the most fixed parts of the
ore, and so leaves much of the metal unmelted"
in the process of calcining the ore; but it would appear from his own
Memoranda that coke only was used in the process of smelting. We
infer from other circumstances that pit-coal was not employed for the
latter purpose until a considerably later period. The merit of its
introduction, and its successful use in iron-smelting, is due to Mr.
Richard Ford, who had married a daughter of Abraham Darby, and
managed the Coalbrookdale works in 1747. In a paper by the Rev. Mr.
Mason, Woodwardian Professor at Cambridge, given in the
'Philosophical Transactions' for that year,*
Phil. Trans. vol. xliv. 305.
the first account of its successful
employment is stated as follows: -- "Several attempts have been made
to run iron-ore with pit-coal: he (Mr.Mason) thinks it has not
succeeded anywhere, as we have had no account of its being practised;
but Mr. Ford, of Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, from iron-ore and coal,
both got in the same dale, makes iron brittle or tough as he pleases,
there being cannon thus cast so soft as to bear turning like
wrought-iron." Most probably, however, it was not until the time of
Richard Reynolds, who succeeded Abraham Darby the second in the
management of the works in 1757, that pit-coal came into large and
regular use in the blasting-furnaces as well as the fineries of

Richard Reynolds was born at Bristol in 1735. His parents, like the
Darbys, belonged to the Society of Friends, and he was educated in
that persuasion. Being a spirited, lively youth, the "old Adam"
occasionally cropped out in him; and he is even said, when a young
man, to have been so much fired by the heroism of the soldier's
character that he felt a strong desire to embrace a military career;
but this feeling soon died out, and he dropped into the sober and
steady rut of the Society. After serving an apprenticeship in his
native town, he was sent to Coalbrookdale on a mission of business,
where he became acquainted with the Darby family, and shortly after
married Hannah, the daughter of Abraham the second. He then entered
upon the conduct of the iron and coal works at Ketley and Horsehay,
where he resided for six years, removing to Coalbrookdale in 1763, to
take charge of the works there, on the death of his father-in-law.

By the exertions and enterprise of the Darbys, the Coalbrookdale
Works had become greatly enlarged, giving remunerative employment to
a large and increasing population. The firm had extended their
operations far beyond the boundaries of the Dale: they had
established foundries at London, Bristol, and Liverpool, and agencies
at Newcastle and Truro for the disposal of steam-engines and other
iron machinery used in the deep mines of those districts. Watt had
not yet perfected his steam-engine; but there was a considerable
demand for pumping-engines of Newcomen's construction, many of which
were made at the Coalbrookdale Works. The increasing demand for iron
gave an impetus to coal-mining, which in its turn stimulated
inventors in their improvement of the power of the steam-engine; for
the coal could not be worked quickly and advantageously unless the
pits could be kept clear of water. Thus one invention stimulates
another; and when the steam-engine had been perfected by Watt, and
enabled powerful-blowing apparatus to be worked by its agency, we
shall find that the production of iron by means of pit-coal being
rendered cheap and expeditious, soon became enormously increased.

We are informed that it was while Richard Reynolds had charge of the
Coalbrookdale works that a further important improvement was effected
in the manufacture of iron by pit-coal. Up to this time the
conversion of crude or cast iron into malleable or bar iron had been
effected entirely by means of charcoal. The process was carried on in
a fire called a finery, somewhat like that of a smith's forge; the
iron being exposed to the blast of powerful bellows, and in constant
contact with the fuel. In the first process of fusing the ironstone,
coal had been used for some time with increasing success; but the
question arose, whether coal might not also be used with effect in
the second or refining stage. Two of the foremen, named Cranege,
suggested to Mr. Reynolds that this might be performed in what is
called a reverberatory furnace,*
Reverberatory, so called because the flame or current of heated gases
from the fuel is caused to be reverberated or reflected down upon the
substance under operation before passing into the chimney. It is
curious that Rovenson, in his Treatise of Metallica of 1613,
describes a reverberatory furnace in which iron was to be smelted by
pit-coal, though it does not appear that he succeeded in perfecting
his invention. Dr. Percy, in his excellent work on Metallurgy, thus
describes a reverberatory furnace: -- "It consists essentially of
three parts--a fireplace at one end, a stack or chimney at the other,
and a bed between both on which the matter is heated. The fireplace
is separated from the bed by a low partition wall called the
fire-bridge, and both are covered by an arched roof which rises from
the end wall of the fireplace and gradually dips toward the furthest
end of the bed connected with the stack. On one or both sides of the
bed, or at the end near the stack, may be openings through which the
ore spread over the surface of the bed may be stirred about and
exposed to the action of the air. The matter is heated in such a
furnace by flame, and is kept from contact with the solid fuel. The
flame in its course from the fireplace to the stack is reflected
downwards or REVERBERATED on the matter beneath, whence the name
in which the iron should not mix with the coal, but be heated solely
by the flame. Mr. Reynolds greatly doubted the feasibility of the
operation, but he authorized the Cranege, to make an experiment of
their process, the result of which will be found described in the
following extract of a letter from Mr. Reynolds to Mr. Thomas Goldney
of Bristol, dated "Coalbrookdale, 25th April, 1766 ": --

.... "I come now to what I think a matter of very great consequence.
It is some time since Thos. Cranege, who works at Bridgenorth Forge,
and his brother George, of the Dale, spoke to me about a notion they
had conceived of making bar iron without wood charcoal. I told them,
consistent with the notion I had adopted in common with all others I
had conversed with, that I thought it impossible, because the
vegetable salts in the charcoal being an alkali acted as an absorbent
to the sulphur of the iron, which occasions the red-short quality of
the iron, and pit coal abounding with sulphur would increase it. This
specious answer, which would probably have appeared conclusive to
most, and which indeed was what I really thought, was not so to them.
They replied that from the observations they had made, and repeated
conversations together, they were both firmly of opinion that the
alteration from the quality of pig iron into that of bar iron was
effected merely by heat, and if I would give them leave, they would
make a trial some day. I consented, but, I confess, without any great
expectation of their success; and so the matter rested some weeks,
when it happening that some repairs had to be done at Bridgenorth,
Thomas came up to the Dale, and, with his brother, made a trial in
Thos. Tilly's air-furnace with such success as I thought would
justify the erection of a small air-furnace at the Forge for the more
perfectly ascertaining the merit of the invention. This was
accordingly done, and a trial of it has been made this week, and the
success has surpassed the most sanguine expectations. The iron put
into the furnace was old Bushes, which thou knowest are always made
of hard iron, and the iron drawn out is the toughest I ever saw. A
bar 1 1/4 inch square, when broke, appears to have very little cold
short in it. I look upon it as one of the most important discoveries
ever made, and take the liberty of recommending thee and earnestly
requesting thou wouldst take out a patent for it immediately.... The
specification of the invention will be comprised in a few words, as
it will only set forth that a reverberatory furnace being built of a
proper construction, the pig or cast iron is put into it, and without
the addition of anything else than common raw pit coal, is converted
into good malleable iron, and, being taken red-hot from the
reverberatory furnace to the forge hammer, is drawn out into bars of
various shapes and sizes, according to the will of the workmen."

Mr. Reynolds's advice was implicitly followed. A patent was secured
in the name of the brothers Cranege, dated the 17th June, 1766; and
the identical words in the above letter were adopted in the
specification as descriptive of the process. By this method of
puddling, as it is termed, the manufacturer was thenceforward enabled
to produce iron in increased quantity at a large reduction in price;
and though the invention of the Craneges was greatly improved upon by
Onions, and subsequently by Cort, there can be no doubt as to the
originality and the importance of their invention. Mr. Tylor states
that he was informed by the son of Richard Reynolds that the wrought
iron made at Coalbrookdale by the Cranege process "was very good,
quite tough, and broke with a long, bright, fibrous fracture: that
made by Cort afterwards was quite different."*
Mr. TYLOR on Metal Work--Reports on the Paris Exhibition of 1855.
Part II. 182. We are informed by Mr. Reynolds of Coed-du, a grandson
of Richard Reynolds, that "on further trials many difficulties arose.
The bottoms of the furnaces were destroyed by the heat, and the
quality of the iron varied. Still, by a letter dated May, 1767, it
appears there had been sold of iron made in the new way to the value
of 247L. 14s. 6d."
Though Mr. Reynolds's generosity to the Craneges is apparent; in the
course which he adopted in securing for them a patent for the
invention in their own names, it does not appear to have proved of
much advantage to them; and they failed to rise above the rank which
they occupied when their valuable discovery was patented. This,
however, was no fault of Richard Reynolds, but was mainly
attributable to the circumstance of other inventions in a great
measure superseding their process, and depriving them of the benefits
of their ingenuity.

Among the important improvements introduced by Mr. Reynolds while
managing the Coalbrookdale Works, was the adoption by him for the
first time of iron instead of wooden rails in the tram-roads along
which coal and iron were conveyed from one part of the works to
another, as well as to the loading-places along the river Severn. He
observed that the wooden rails soon became decayed, besides being
liable to be broken by the heavy loads passing over them, occasioning
much loss of time, interruption to business, and heavy expenses in
repairs. It occurred to him that these inconveniences would be
obviated by the use of rails of cast-iron; and, having tried an
experiment with them, it answered so well, that in 1767 the whole of
the wooden rails were taken up and replaced by rails of iron. Thus
was the era of iron railroads fairly initiated at Coalbrookdale, and
the example of Mr. Reynolds was shortly after followed on all the
tramroads throughout the Country.

It is also worthy of note that the first iron bridge ever erected was
cast and made at the Coalbrookdale Works--its projection as well as
its erection being mainly due to the skill and enterprise of Abraham
Darby the third. When but a young man, he showed indications of that
sagacity and energy in business which seemed to be hereditary in his
family. One of the first things he did on arriving at man's estate
was to set on foot a scheme for throwing a bridge across the Severn
at Coalbrookdale, at a point where the banks were steep and slippery,
to accommodate the large population which had sprung up along both
banks of the river. There were now thriving iron, brick, and pottery
works established in the parishes of Madeley and Broseley; and the
old ferry on the Severn was found altogether inadequate for ready
communication between one bank and the other. The want of a bridge
had long been felt, and a plan of one had been prepared during the
life time of Abraham Darby the second; but the project was suspended
at his death. When his son came of age, he resolved to take up his
father's dropped scheme, and prosecute it to completion, which he
did. Young Mr. Darby became lord of the manor of Madeley in 1776, and
was the owner of one-half of the ferry in right of his lordship. He
was so fortunate as to find the owner of the other or Broseley half
of the ferry equally anxious with himself to connect the two banks of
the river by means of a bridge. The necessary powers were accordingly
obtained from Parliament, and a bridge was authorized to be built "of
cast-iron, stone, brick, or timber." A company was formed for the
purpose of carrying out the project, and the shares were taken by the
adjoining owners, Abraham Darby being the principal subscriber.*
Among the other subscribers were the Rev. Mr. Harris, Mr. Jennings,
and Mr. John Wilkinson, an active promoter of the scheme, who gave
the company the benefit of his skill and experience when it was
determined to construct the bridge of iron. For an account of John
Wilkinson see Lives of the Engineers, vol. ii. 337, 356. In the
description of the first iron bridge given in that work we have, it
appears, attributed rather more credit to Mr. Wilkinson than he is
entitled to. Mr. Darby was the most active promoter of the scheme,
and had the principal share in the design. Wilkinson nevertheless was
a man of great energy and originality. Besides being the builder of
the first iron ship, he was the first to invent, for James Watt, a
machine that would bore a tolerably true cylinder. He afterwards
established iron works in France, and Arthur Young says, that "until
that well-known English manufacturer arrived, the French knew nothing
of the art of casting cannon solid and then boring them" (Travels in
France, 4to. ed. London, 1792, p.90). Yet England had borrowed her
first cannon-maker from France in the person of Peter Baude, as
described in chap. iii. Wilkinson is also said to have invented a
kind of hot-blast, in respect of which various witnesses gave
evidence on the trial of Neilson's patent in 1839; but the invention
does not appear to have been perfected by him.

The construction of a bridge of iron was an entirely new idea. An
attempt had indeed been made at Lyons, in France, to construct such a
bridge more than twenty years before; but it had entirely failed, and
a bridge of timber was erected instead. It is not known whether the
Coalbrookdale masters had heard of that attempt; but, even if they
had, it could have been of no practical use to them.

Mr. Pritchard, an architect of Shrewsbury, was first employed to
prepare a design of the intended structure, which is still preserved.
Although Mr. Pritchard proposed to introduce cast-iron in the arch of
the bridge, which was to be of 120 feet span, it was only as a sort
of key, occupying but a few feet at the crown of the arch. This
sparing use of cast iron indicates the timidity of the architect in
dealing with the new material--his plan exhibiting a desire to effect
a compromise between the tried and the untried in
bridge-construction. But the use of iron to so limited an extent, and
in such a part of the structure, was of more than questionable
utility; and if Mr. Pritchard's plan had been adopted, the problem of
the iron bridge would still have remained unsolved.

The plan, however, after having been duly considered, was eventually
set aside, and another, with the entire arch of cast-iron, was
prepared under the superintendence of Abraham Darby, by Mr. Thomas
Gregory, his foreman of pattem-makers. This plan was adopted, and
arrangements were forthwith made for carrying it into effect. The
abutments of the bridge were built in 1777-8, during which the
castings were made at the foundry, and the ironwork was successfully
erected in the course of three months. The bridge was opened for
traffic in 1779, and proved a most serviceable structure. In 1788 the
Society of Arts recognised Mr. Darby's merit as its designer and
erector by presenting him with their gold medal; and the model of the
bridge is still to be seen in the collection of the Society. Mr.
Robert Stephenson has said of the structure: " If we consider that
the manipulation of cast-iron was then completely in its infancy, a
bridge of such dimensions was doubtless a bold as well as an original
undertaking, and the efficiency of the details is worthy of the
boldness of the conception."*
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 8th ed. Art. "Iron Bridges."
Mr. Stephenson adds that from a defect in the construction the
abutments were thrust inwards at the approaches and the ribs
partially fractured. We are, however, informed that this is a
mistake, though it does appear that the apprehension at one time
existed that such an accident might possibly occur.

To remedy the supposed defect, two small land arches were, in the
year 1800, substituted for the stone approach on the Broseley side of
the bridge. While the work was in progress, Mr. Telford, the
well-known engineer, carefully examined the bridge, and thus spoke of
its condition at the time: -- "The great improvement of erecting upon
a navigable river a bridge of cast-iron of one arch only was first
put in practice near Coalbrookdale. The bridge was executed in 1777
by Mr. Abraham Darby, and the ironwork is now quite as perfect as
when it was first put up. Drawings of this bridge have long been
before the public, and have been much and justly admired."*
PLYMLEY, General View of the Agriculture of Shropshire.
A Coalbrookdale correspondent, writing in May, 1862, informs us that
"at the present time the bridge is undergoing repair; and, special
examination having been made, there is no appearance either that the
abutments have moved, or that the ribs have been broken in the centre
or are out of their proper right line. There has, it is true, been a
strain on the land arches, and on the roadway plates, which, however,
the main arch has been able effectually to resist."

The bridge has now been in profitable daily use for upwards of eighty
years, and has during that time proved of the greatest convenience to
the population of the district. So judicious was the selection of its
site, and so great its utility, that a thriving town of the name of
Ironbridge has grown up around it upon what, at the time of its
erection, was a nameless part of "the waste of the manor of Madeley."
And it is probable that the bridge will last for centuries to come.
Thus, also, was the use of iron as an important material in
bridge-building fairly initiated at Coalbrookdale by Abraham Darby,
as the use of iron rails was by Richard Reynolds. We need scarcely
add that since the invention and extensive adoption of railway
locomotion, the employment of iron in various forms in railway and
bridge structures has rapidly increased, until iron has come to be
regarded as the very sheet-anchor of the railway engineer.

In the mean time the works at Coalbrookdale had become largely
extended. In 1784, when the government of the day proposed to levy a
tax on pit-coal, Richard Reynolds strongly urged upon Mr. Pitt, then
Chancellor of the Exchequer, as well as on Lord Gower, afterwards
Marquis of Stafford, the impolicy of such a tax. To the latter he
represented that large capitals had been invested in the iron trade,
which was with difficulty carried on in the face of the competition
with Swedish and Russian iron. At Coalbrookdale, sixteen "fire
engines," as steam engines were first called, were then at work,
eight blast-furnaces and nine forges, besides the air furnaces and
mills at the foundry, which, with the levels, roads, and more than
twenty miles of iron railways, gave employment to a very large number
of people. "The advancement of the iron trade within these few
years," said he, "has been prodigious. It was thought, and justly,
that the making of pig-iron with pit coal was a great acquisition to
the country by saving the wood and supplying a material to
manufactures, the production of which, by the consumption of all the
wood the country produced, was formerly unequal to the demand, and
the nail trade, perhaps the most considerable of any one article of
manufactured iron, would have been lost to this country had it not
been found practicable to make nails of iron made with pit coal. We
have now another process to attempt, and that is to make BAR IRON
with pit coal; and it is for that purpose we have made, or rather are
making, alterations at Donnington Wood, Ketley, and elsewhere, which


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