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Thomas Newcomen and his Great Work


Abstract and Figures

The first successful commercial application of steam power technology was pumping water out of tin mines in Cornwall. A number of factors created a window of opportunity for an experience curve which allowed the innovators to improve the reliability and cost-effectiveness of their disruptive invention while enjoying positive cashflow on the application of each engine. The inventors, Thomas Newcomen and John Calley of Dartmouth were able to gain the trust of mine adventurers through Newcomen’s prior family, social and economic relationships with Cornwall. This paper assesses the available textual evidence for the location and timing of each pre-1712 engine for which records are preserved. An overall timeline for the technical maturity and commercialisation application of the atmospheric engine is proposed. This development coincided with a short period of lower tax on shipped coal following which the inventors were forced to focus on draining coal works instead of tin mines. Cornwall’s unique context of sharing the risks and rewards of mining ventures shaped Newcomen’s initial business model as a build-operate-own- transfer contractor; this factor in turn facilitated the initial rapid spread of the technology subsequent to its public launch at Dudley in 1712.
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Thomas Newcomen and his Great Work
James Greener
“There are two engines lately invented for drawing water, which much exceed
any hitherto found out. The one a water engine, by the late Mr. John Coster, the
other the re engine rst invented by Captain Savory, of Exeter, but improved and
brought to the perfection it is now in, by Mr. Thomas Newcomen, of Dartmouth.”1
The rst successful commercial application of steam power technology was
pumping water out of tin mines in Cornwall. A number of factors created a window
of opportunity for an experience curve which allowed the innovators to improve
the reliability and cost-effectiveness of their disruptive invention while enjoying
positive cashow on the application of each engine. The inventors, Thomas
Newcomen and John Calley of Dartmouth were able to gain the trust of mine
adventurers through Newcomen’s prior family, social and economic relationships
with Cornwall.
This paper assesses the available textual evidence for the location and timing of
each pre-1712 engine for which records are preserved. An overall timeline for the
technical maturity and commercialisation application of the atmospheric engine is
proposed. This development coincided with a short period of lower tax on shipped
coal following which the inventors were forced to focus on draining coal works
instead of tin mines. Cornwall’s unique context of sharing the risks and rewards
of mining ventures shaped Newcomen’s initial business model as a build-operate-
own-transfer contractor; this factor in turn facilitated the initial rapid spread of the
technology subsequent to its public launch at Dudley in 1712.
Historical consensus is that the rst installation of an atmospheric engine was
in Devon and Cornwall:
“It is doubtful if Newcomen would have developed an engine so far from
Staffordshire unless he had built a similar one nearer home.”2
“For geographical reasons we should expect to nd Newcomen making
the rst full-scale trial of his engine in the mining districts of Devon or
Cornwall where he was well-known.”3
West Cornwall is indeed closer to Dartmouth than Dudley (108 miles versus
187 miles) and easier and faster by sea. Newcomen already had business links
with both regions, respectively the market for his tools and source for his iron.
In 1748, Daniel Hawthorne of Walsall (born c. 1688), then a man with 30 years
of setting up engines, testied that the Old Engine at Tipton, originally with a
brass cylinder of 21 inches diameter, was “the third that was built in all England”
from which it is deduced that at least one of the previous two engines had been
installed in Cornwall.4
This rst application of the atmospheric steam engine in Cornwall, the
introduction of “the most important invention of the Industrial Revolution”5 into
“probably the most important metalliferous mining eld in Britain at the time”6
has not been explored in detail by previous authors.
Unlike the strong evidence supporting many later Newcomen engines, the
evidence from extant primary sources for installations in Devon and Cornwall
before 1715 is weak. By collating and examining such coeval and subsequent
texts and maps, this paper is able to advance a timeline for the signicant events
and to identify factors which led to this matching of adventurer, idea, expertise,
application and improvement that were the precursors of the Dudley engine of
1712. Most of the evidence presented is new to this Journal and, mainly from
published sources and archives, has never been correlated before.
The article, covering the period 1700 to 1710, reviews ve different aspects:
1) the problem of draining mines; 2) Newcomen’s existing connections with
Cornwall; 3) the economic and legal timing; 4) the historical texts recording the
rst engine; and 5) the mines themselves. Finally the author proposes a feasible
The developments we shall follow now were summarised by one Cornish
historian thus:
“Savery’s rst engine was erected at a mine called Creegbraws; subsequently
Newcomen’s atmospheric engine was applied to Huel Vor, a celebrated tin-
mine; and another was erected at Huel Fortune within a few years.”7
1. Draining Mines
“Technological history is not the logic of engineers alone. It is highly dependent
on the changing social relationships which bind the entrepreneurs. These can
be studied in the archives, What rarely can be found there, except when there
has been some conict, is the outcome of the interplay between engineer and
entrepreneur, the actual installation of new technology and its date. For this we
depend on archaeology.”8
Until 1600, tin mining in Cornwall had been typied by streaming, the production
high grade ‘white’ tin metal by hydraulic separation of sedimentary tin particles
and charcoal smelting, under Stannary laws done nearby. As alluvial deposits
became exhausted, demand grew for lower grade tin ore extracted from the ‘backs’
or outcrops of tin lode by setting re to split the country rock and using iron tools.
Deep mines required drainage: pumping was initially by hand or man engine until
horse whims were introduced. In 1602 Carew wrote:
“In Cornwall they pray in aide of sundry devices, as Addits, Pumps and
Wheeles driven by a streame, and interchangeably lling and emptying two
Buckets with many such like; all which notwithstanding, the springs do incroche
upon there inventions as in sundry places they are driven to keep men, and some
where horses also at worke both day and night without ceasing; and in some all
this will not serve the time. For supplying such hard service they always have
fresh men at hand.”9
Haniball Vyvyan, Comptroller of the Coinage of Tin and holder of patent No.
67 for an engine for raising water, claimed in 1634 that the cost of dewatering
mines amounted to “ve parts in six of the full value of the tynne gotten there.”10
In 1690, Francis Godolphin, aged 11, visited his family seat, Godolphin House, in
the parish of Breage reporting “within a Mile is the Ball Which formerly was of
great advantage but now the price of Tin is so low and the Mines so deep that the
charge eats up much of the prott.”11
Near St. Austell, Celia Fiennes reported in 1695:
“I went a mile further on to the hills where there were at least twenty mines,
all in sight, which employ a great many people at work almost night and
day, including the Lords day, which they are forced to, to prevent their
mines being overowed with water; more than a thousand men and boys are
taken up with them; they have great labour and expense to drain the mines
with mills that horses turn, and now they have mills or water engines that
are turned by the water.”
And near Redruth:
“100 mines some of which were at work, others that were lost by the waters
overwhelming them.”12
The running costs of rag-and-chain pumps and horse whims were high, as
exemplied by Thomas Savery:
“I have known, in Cornwall, a work with three lifts of about eighteen feet
each lift, and carrying a three and a quarter inch bore, that cost forty-two
shillings per diem, reckoning twenty-four hours the day, for labour, besides
wear and tear of engines; each pump having four men working eight hours,
at fourteenpence a man, and the men obliged to rest at least one-third part
of that time.”13
More efcient engines, whether of Savery, Newcomen or Coster design, held
the prospect of draining mines at lower expense.
Engine trials by Thomas Savery
On 26 November 1697 Thomas Savery lodged a petition for
letters patent for “a New Invention for raising of water and
occasioning motion to all sorts of Milwork by the impellant
force of re which will be of great use and advantage for
draining mines,” which were duly granted on 25 July 1698
as Patent No. 356.15 Savery, who had already formed a
company around a previous invention, quickly mustered
political support for “An Act for the Encouragement of a
new Invention,” later known as the “Fire Engine Act”.16
This was rst read to the House of Lords on 20 March
1698/9.17 Championing the bill was Francis Scobell (1664-
1740), returned only two months earlier at the Grampound
by-election, and therefore well known to Cornish members
of Parliament and mine adventurers alike.18 The bill
passed on 25 April 1699 forbidding any to “make, imitate,
use or exercise any vessells or engines for raiseing water
or occasioning motion to any sort of mill works by the
impellent force of re.”19
Named among the bill’s supporters was Hugh Boscawen
the elder (1625-1701) of Tregothnan, the Member for
Cornwall, and owner, among other properties, of the manor
of Creegbrawse in the parish of Kenwyn.20 Boscawen
died at London on 13 May 1701 and his Cornish estates
passed to his nephew and namesake, Hugh Boscawen the
younger (1680-1734),21 later 1st Viscount Falmouth, M.P.
for Tregony and from 1705 for Cornwall as knight of the
shire and from 1708 onwards Warden of the Stannaries; he
also happened to be a nephew of Sidney Godolphin, First
Lord of the Treasury.22
It was later stated that “Savery’s rst engine was erected
at a mine called Creegbraws”23 and “that some trials of it
were made with it in some of the Cornish mines. Wheal
Vor, near Helston, is named as one of the mines employing
SAVERY’s engine for pumping, and Creegbraws, in
Gwennap, is said to have been the other.”24 Creegbraws
belonged to Boscawen and Wheal Vor was partly owned
by the Godolphins.25
On 22 September 1701, Thomas Savery prefaced ‘The
Miner’s Friend’ in which he did not present evidence of
having conducted engine trials at mines in Cornwall or
elsewhere prior to that date.
In the rst edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1797), Professor Robison
Figure 1.14
“Of all places in England the tin-mines of Cornwall stood most in need
of hydraulic assistance; and Mr Savary was much engaged in projects for
draining them by his steam-engine. This made its construction and principles
well known among the machinists and engineers of that neighbourhood.
Among these were a Mr Newcomen, an ironmonger or blacksmith, and Mr
Cawley a glazier at Dartmouth in Devonshire, who had dabbled much with
this machine.”26
Savery’s engine was not widely adopted in Cornwall, likely because of its
high operating cost, and his attention had switched to coal pit owners by 1705.
Another pumping technology however did nd acceptance in Cornwall, as retold
by William Pryce (1778):
“Mr. Newcomen, and Mr. J. Cawley, contrived another way to raise water
by re, where the steam to raise the water from the greatest depths of Mines
is not required to be greater than the pressure of the atmosphere ; and this is
the structure of the present re engine, which is now of about seventy years
We now turn to the context within which this development occurred.
2. Connections with Cornwall
Our primary authority is Mårten Triewald, engineer and business partner of John
Calley’s son, who wrote:
“Now it happened that a man from Dartmouth, named Thomas Newcomen,
without any knowledge whatever of the speculations of Captain Savery, had
at the same time also made up his mind, in conjunction with his assistant, a
plumber by the name of Calley, to invent a re-machine for drawing water
from the mines. He was induced to undertake this by considering the heavy
costs of lifting water by means of horses which Mr. Newcomen found
existing in the English tin-mines. These mines Mr. Newcomen often visited
in the capacity of a dealer in iron tools, with which he used to furnish many
of the tin-mines. For ten consecutive years Mr. Newcomen worked at this
Only three contemporary references have been found conrming the installation
of atmospheric engines in Cornwall prior to 1720: Henric Kalmeter in 1724 wrote
that at Wheal an Vor in Breage, “a re-engine was erected about seven years ago
to draw up the water,” i.e. circa 1717.29 In 1717 John Meres wrote, “we shall have
a barrell and boiler coming round from Cornwall...” implying an engine in
Cornwall had ceased service.30 The previous year, The Joint Stock Company of
the Proprietors of the Invention for Raising Water by Fire had advertised:
“Whereas the invention for raising water by the impellant force of re,
authorised by parliament, is lately brought to the greatest perfection, and all
sorts of mines, &c., may be thereby drained, and water raised to any height
with more ease and less charge than by the other methods hitherto used,
as is sufciently demonstrated by diverse engines of this invention now at
work in the several counties of Stafford, Warwick, Cornwall, and Flint…”31
Other early extant sources (Bradley, Switzer, Wilkes, Hawthorne, Borlase)
offer no details of Thomas Newcomen’s rst connection with Cornish mines.
Desaguliers merely stated:
“Tho. Newcomen, Ironmonger, and John Calley, Glazier of Dartmouth in
the County of Southampton, (Anabaptists) made then several experiments
in private…”32
This article will review the evidence for early engines at two locations; the
complex including Wheal an Vor and Great Work in Breage parish; and at Balcoath
near Porkellis in Wendron parish. First, however, it is important to understand
Newcomen’s existing social and commercial links with West Cornwall.
Three men called John Pendarves
The riverside village of Dittisham in Devon lies under three miles north of
Dartmouth and the two parishes adjoin. Its rector from 1669 until his death in
1686 was Rev. Robert Beale. His wife Mary (born 1650) was the sister of Jonathan
Trelawny (1648-1705) MP for West Looe whose estate included of the manor of
Treworlis33 which overlay the southern part of Wheal an Vor in Breage.
Their daughter Mary Beale (born c. 1669) married Rev. John Pendarves (c.
1666-1711) who also served as rector of Dittisham from 1689 to 1704. His brother,
Alexander Pendarves (1662-1725) was member of Parliament for Penryn from
1689 until 1714, was Surveyor-general of the Crown and Duchy lands in Cornwall
to Queen Anne, and also owned the manor of Porkellis,34 “the neighbourhood of
Porkellis boasted of producing the best tin in Cornwall.”35
Their father was Sir John Pendarves of Roskrowe (c.1629-1729), a patriarch
who lived to around one hundred and was the major landholder in central West
Cornwall. Sir John was the uncle of Gertrude Carew (1682-1736), wife of Sir
Godfrey Copley, F.R.S. (1653-1709), a supporter of Thomas Savery.
In their professional capacities as the repairers of church locks, clocks and
windows, Newcomen and Calley would have had contact with Rev. John Pendarves
at Dittisham. Thomas Newcomen also happened to be his fourth cousin – through
yet another John Pendarves.
Thomas Newcomen had an Aunt Thomasine, christened in 1618 at St Petrox,
Dartmouth, who by 1646 had married this John Pendarves (born in 1622 at Skewes
second son of John Pendarves of Crowan).36 In 1637, during the puritan rectorship
of Oxford’s Exeter College of John Prideaux, later royalist Bishop of Worcester,
John Pendarves had entered the college as Servitor, suggesting his father’s
education fund had run dry.37 He received B.A. in March 1641-2 but took his name
off the college books in July 1642, becoming an itinerant preacher “in houses,
barns, under trees, hedges, &c.”.38 In May 1644 he was appointed Lecturer at
Abingdon, from 1645-1647 Chaplain to Colonel Thomas Rainborowe’s Regiment
of Foot and by 1649 Lecturer at Wantage.39 He had resigned these posts by 1650
to become minister of the Particular Baptist church at Wantage and Abingdon.
Almost all the places featuring in this article are to be found on this map.
Helston, St Erth and Penryn were shown with access to the sea. The single main
road passed over Porkellis and St Erth bridges.
Missions and Fifth Monarchists
In 1650, a few years after their marriage, John and Thomasine obtained leave from
their church to spend several months in Devon and Cornwall, visiting her parents
and preaching.40 During this time, it is likely he helped consolidate Particular
Baptist groups within churches in Exeter, Dartmouth, where he preached on 25
November 1651,41 Plymouth, East Looe and around Penryn, the history of which
Guarding the mouth of Falmouth harbour to its east stands the Castle of St
Figure 2. Extract of Mordern, Robert (1695) ‘Cornwall’
Mawes. About 1650, it is recorded, the adult baptism was held of the eldest daughter
of the governor of the castle from 1642 to 1660, Lt. Col. George Kekewich, M.P. for
Liskeard (c.1599-1672), Susan Kekewich (born 1634).
During the 1645-6 Siege
of Plymouth he had served under Colonel Savery, grandfather of Thomas Savery
the inventor.
Extant correspondence shows close links between George Kekewich,
Colonel Robert Bennet (1606-1683, member of Parliament from 1648 for West
Looe, for the county of Cornwall and then for Launceston, and one of the Council of
State) and Abraham Cheare (1626-1669), pastor of the Baptist church in Plymouth,
who likely performed the baptism around the time of the Pendarves’ journeys.
John and Thomasine Pendarves were associated with a group known as Fifth
Monarchists who held apocalyptic views regarding the replacement of England’s
monarchy with a government of righteousness. In 1652 John established the
Berkshire Association of twelve Particular Baptist churches in the Thames Valley.
The Plymouth congregation, numbering some 150, took responsibility for the
Baptists in Cornwall. Abraham Cheare, sought to set up a similar association of
the Baptists in the Southwest.
Both the Pendarves and Bennets were associates of a prophetess called Anna
Trapnell who, on a dream, in 1654 visited Devon and Cornwall.44 Here she was
accused of witchcraft, madness, whoredom, vagrancy and sedition; in April she
was apprehended and held at Pendennis Castle, and then sent to London via
Plymouth for trial.45 Acquitted, she published (1654) the tract, ‘Anna Trapnel’s
report and plea, or, A narrative of her journey into Cornwal the occasion of it, the
Lord’s encouragements to it, and signal presence with her in it, proclaiming the
rage and strivings of the people against the comings forth of the Lord Jesus to
reign’ in clarion Fifth Monarchist tone.
In January 1654/5 Cheare made a formal request to Bennet invite one of
the leading Particular Baptist pastors in London, such as Hanserd Knollys, to
strengthen the churches Cornwall.46 There is no evidence that Knollys visited
Cornwall but the pastor Henry Jessey toured the region in 1655. Robert Steed,
whose parents lived at Abingdon and likely were members of Pendarves’ church,
moved to Dartmouth around this time as pastor, presumably having apprenticed
in as a physician London.47 Over the coming years, Abraham Cheare and Robert
Steed [Steede] of Dartmouth jointly published a number pamphlets.48
John Carew, one of the King’s Judges in 1648, had purchased and converted
part of Exeter Cathedral into a Baptist chapel; in 1653 he opposed Cromwell
declaring himself Lord Protector and was imprisoned at Pendennis and then St.
Mawes.49 In December 1655 Anna Trapnell again came to Cornwall “on purpose
to visit Master John Carew who is a prisoner at St. Mawes.”50 In 1655, that Gorge
Kekewich would be John Carew’s gaoler and that Robert Bennet incarcerated
George Foxe, the founder of the Quaker movement, at Launceston evidence rifts
incompatible with our modern paradigm of Baptists as a denomination.51
In early 1656 Bennet and Cheare went to Wells to meet John Pendarves and
other pastors, as the Western Association, by then at least an annual event. Bennet
himself was in Looe in 1656.52 In 1656 a tract called ‘Sighs for Sion’ was published
by ‘Abraham Cheare of Plymouth, Henry Forty of Abingdon, Thomas Glasse of
Totnes, John Pendarves of Bovey Tracey, Robert Steede of Dartmouth’ implying
either musical chairs among the pastors or slack proof-reading.
John Pendarves was in London in August 1656, where he preached at Petty
France ‘The fear of God’. He died there in September, “Whose body thereupon
being disembowelled and wrap’d up in Sear-cloth” was returned to Abingdon
by boat in a sugar chest lled up with salt and buried on 30 September 1656 at
Abingdon Baptist burial place.53 The slow transport gave time for Fifth Monarchist
sympathisers from around the region to gather at Abingdon for the funeral and
hold a symposium which was broken up after three days by mounted troopers sent
by Oliver Cromwell, landing many mourners in custody.54
Many Fifth-Monarchy men had discussed staging an uprising at the funeral but
were opposed by the Baptists present. In consequence the name of John Pendarves
became widely known beyond the Baptist movement. Shortly after, Thomas
Venner and 23 other Fifth Monarchists were arrested after issuing a proclamation
for an uprising for 9 April 1657.55 Considered disaffected with the Protectorate,
such people were watched with suspicion by government agents.
In 1658 Bennet was in Penryn.56 The three leading Fifth Monarchists, Harrison,
Carew and Courtney were publicly baptised in mid-winter, shortly after which
Major Courtney was committed to the Tower.57 Around this time Susan Kekewich
married Richard Goodgroom, a military chaplain under General Monck in
Scotland, Digger and Leveller sympathizer, Fifth Monarchist and public preacher.
In 1659 Goodgroom was likely arrested in Edinburgh by his own general and
purged from his regiment along with all other Baptists as Monck prepared to
march on London, terminate the Commonwealth and restore the monarchy.
At the Restoration in 1660 Carew surrendered himself in Cornwall and
with Harrison was hung, drawn and quartered at Charing Cross.58 Kekewich
relinquished command of St Mawes Castle.59 Bennett retired from government to
his home near Launceston and later to Hampstead.
The aftermath of Venner’s Rebellion
London, Sunday 7 January 1661/2. Thomas Venner preached to his congregation
at Coleman Street that “that the saints were to take the kingdom themselves,”
whereupon, fully armed, they marched out into the streets and perpetrated a bloody
but abortive insurrection.60 Venner was hung in front of his Baptist meeting house,
drawn and quartered and most of his comrades were executed. The Church party
seized the opportunity to purge Presbyterians from the Church and launch a 27
year campaign of persecution of dissidents.
London’s other Baptist pastors tried immediately to distance themselves from
the militarist sect of Fifth Monarchists, but in vain and most were arrested including
Knollys and Henry Jessey. Anna Trapnell was detained and disappeared from
history. Thomas Glass was jailed and died in 1666.
Abraham Cheare spent most
of the next years in custody, rst in Exeter and from 1665 incarcerated on an island
off Plymouth where he died in 1668. Henry Forty spent 12 years in Exeter Gaol;
once released, he moved to London.
In 1675 he became pastor of Abingdon,
likely at the instigation of Thomasine Pendarves who had remained in the Wantage
area until at least 1671 and had as forceful a character as her husband.
So it fell to Robert Steed, still at liberty and living in Dartmouth, to look after
the Southwest Baptist churches.
Thomas Tregosse (c.1635-1670/1) of St. Ives had been in 1659 installed as
vicar of Mylor and Mabe.64 He refused to conform and was ejected from his living
on St Bartholomew’s Day 1662 along with some 40 other clergy in Cornwall.65
He was an associate of John Flavell of Dartmouth and likely Congregationalist;
he preached at the homes of local gentry, was imprisoned ve times from 1662 to
1669, accrued nes of £220 “for holding a Conventicle” and died on 18 January
Tregosse’s legacy was forming a church around and Penryn which evolved
into Falmouth Baptist Church. In the 1672 Indulgence proceedings no Baptist
ministers in Cornwall were named but “the Long Loft in Park Hellen [Helland],
belonging to Thomas Smales, of Penryn, Anabap.” was put under the king’s
In the summer of 1672, Steed wrote home:
“Plymouth 20. 5 m. ‘72. I am yet in this place having been detained here by
some occupations longer than I intended. Next week I intend to start, if the
Lord will, for Cornwall when I shall tarry a month longer. Let me have the
benet of your prayers for the supply of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus for this
great work I am about.”68
Among other opportunities presented by the Indulgence that year was to edit a
posthumous publication of Cheare’s writings which, together with some of Henry
Jessey, who had also died in jail, reached the booksellers in February 1672/3 under
the title ‘A Looking Glass for Children’ which ran to several editions and would
certainly have been staple reading for the nine-year-old Thomas Newcomen.
The Kekewich connection
Richard Goodgroom had been gaoled from 1661 in London and then Hull until
1667. He was at liberty in 1668, likely until 1671 when a secret meeting of Fifth
Monarchists in London was raided. In the last ofcial record of October 1672
he was pronounced mad and imprisoned for refusing the Oath of Allegiance in
the Tower of London where it is assumed he died.69 His widow Susan remarried
a “Mr Carey of Dartmouth”, who may have been none other than Philip Carey
(1636-1710), the apothecary who, from October 1660, “was for a considerable
time imprisoned for his nonconformity in Exeter gaol”.70
We know relatively little about Philip Carey [Cary]. His father was William
Carey, a leading Dartmouth merchant. An extant farthing tradesman’s token of
his of 1663 and St Saviour’s parish registers of infant baptistms of his children
Sarah, John and Mary, all in the month of July in the years 1668, 1672 and 1674
respectively, would suggest that he was at liberty through much of period of
persecution and that his rst wife lived at least until 1674.71 From 1684 to 1693
he published six tracts, mainly defending the doctrine of adult baptism against
Presbyterian critique, and, from the time of Robert Steed’s move to London
around 1685 until his death around 1710 he was pastor of the Baptist church
which presumably met in Hawley’s Hoe, the house which the Careys shared
with the Newcomen family.72 So Susan née Kekewich seems to have come to
join the extended Newcomen household around 1676. As Philip Carey’s wife she
was greeted in a letter of 1697 to Thomas Newcomen from Robert Steed, his
“cousin”.73 In a warrant of 1663 Mrs Steed is named as Dorothy, presumably the
inventor’s Aunt.74
Robert Steed’s younger brother was Ezekiel Steed (died 1699), silkmercer of
Exeter who gained Freedom of the City in 1673 by a ne of £30.75 His rst wife
Elizabeth Reynolds died in 1679.76 The following year Ezekiel married Frances
Kekewich (died c.1725), Susan’s younger sister. In 1681 Ezekiel Steed was one
of the investors in a glass kiln and bottle works at Countess Ware, Topsham
established by Richard Rennell of Exeter, later described as “A Round Bottle
Glass House 94 foot high, and 60 foot broad, with all Conveniences”.77 Ezekiel’s
daughter Elizabeth married Richard’s son William Rennell (c.1663-c.1701), of
Topsham, ironmonger, in 1687 receiving as Elizabeth’s dowry the land, houses
and gardens for the glass works.78
Adjacent to Topsham glass house was Buttall Sugar House established in
1684, baking sugar cones and distilling spirits, likely buying both sugar moulds
and liquor bottles from the Rennells’. Its founder was Samuel Buttall (1641-
1723), sugar baker and distiller. The son of a Wrexham blacksmith, he and his
brothers were involved in sugar planting, trading and processing. He most likely
apprenticed in Battersea. He established the Sugar House at Cockside in Plymouth
in 1663-4 and retained ties in London. Here he was an elder of Henry Jessey’s
church along with Henry Forty. In late 1673 he married the daughter of a Bristol
sugar baker and Baptist.79 Around this time he moved to Plymouth and was active
in the Baptist churches both there, in Bristol and in London as an open air preacher
during the imprisonments of their pastors.80 Samuel Buttall represented Plymouth
at the 1689 Baptist Convention in London and was appointed its pastor from 1690
until 1698.81
Exeter apprentices
Thomas Newcomen’s father Elias lived until 1702 but the records are quiet about
all but his taxes. It can be assumed that, since neither son became a merchant,
Elias Newcomen had not met with the success at Atlantic shipping which his
father had enjoyed. So both his sons became tradesmen. Around 1678 to 1685
Thomas Newcomen is reported to have apprenticed to either an ironmonger or a
locksmith in Exeter, of which no record has been found.82 If so, he would likely
have lodged with the Ezekiel and Frances Steed.
His elder brother John Newcomen apprenticed as an apothecary around 1676-
1683 and set up shop in Chard, around the time the Duke of Monmouth was
proclaimed king there on 16 June 1685. John appears to have avoided involvement
and certainly any punishment: he remained at Chard, started a family and his sons
later joined Uncle Thomas in the engine business.
On 3 July 1685 a warrant was issued for the arrest of some 27 disaffected
persons in Kerrier Hundred, as in many other parts of England. The names appear
all to be Presbyterian ministers and supporters, including Joseph Sherwood of
Budock, John Cowbridge and Lewis Facey of Mylor: no name on the list has
known Baptist links.83
Devon’s Baptists seem to have been minimally involved in the 1685 Rebellion
for much the same reason that so few applied for licences under the 1672
Indulgence: they did not believe “matters of conscience” were the prerogative of
temporal authorities.84 Not only had Charles II effectively eliminated the militant
Fifth Monarchist movement but Baptist theology had evolved from dreams of
regime change as the means of transforming society to practical matters of trade,
industry and healthcare, known as natural philosophy.
One notable exception was the elderly Colonel Holmes of Lime [Lyme Regis].
Holmes, a Baptist, who with Richard Goodgroom had been purged from Monck’s
regiment 26 years previously and had recently departed Devon for Holland to
support Monmouth. He and hundreds of others were “hung up and down in most
Towns of the County, and their Quarters and Heads scattered up and down the
High-ways and publick Places.”85
Three years later in 1688 William of Orange landed at Brixham. Thomas Savery
is believed to have enrolled in his forces at Exeter. Joseph Boson, ironmonger and
“wharnger or key-master” at Exeter, to whom William Rennell had apprenticed,
provided substantial assistance to the transport of ordinance at the landing.86
Thomas Newcomen, as far as we know, stayed in Dartmouth as its ironmonger
and, trading ironware with Cornish mines, assumed the mantle of messenger
between the Baptist churches supported by Robert Steed who had recently moved
London as co-pastor with the aging Hanserd Knollys.
On 6 March 1695/6 Patent No. 349 was granted to “Sam. Buttall” who for “his
new inventions for raiseing & discharging water out of mines, meeres, ponds, and
vessells, & pipes, & other instruments & meanes, exercised in a different manner
from any hitherto used, & that the same will be of great advantage, not only to the
publick, but to private Familys.”87 As usual no further details of the invention were
revealed or consigned to history. The patent holder was almost denitely the same
person as the pastor of the Baptist church Plymouth.
The Baptist church around Penryn seems to have been without an ordained pastor
until 1692 when at the instigation of Samuel Buttall “Mr. Bass of the Plymouth
Church was given up to the Falmouth Church to be their minister.”88 William
Taylder of Helland provided use of a large building at Trelevah (near today’s
Treliever Farm).89 John Plurrett was the next ordained pastor but died in 1698 aged
only 22.90 From 1694 Thomas Cowlin [Cowlinge] of Looe had also ministered at
Penryn and he became pastor until his death in 1720.91 Records tell:
“vast numbers of people attended his ministry for many miles about, so
that on a Lordsday, to use the language of my informer, the country about
looked like a fair & the eld … for the horses of the country people looked
like a park; while companies of the people, in ye summer, collected under
the hedge-rows to eat their dinner.”92
The meeting place moved to a house of Thomas Richards and in 1703 expanded
into a purpose-built thatched house near the same place erected by his cousin John
Lobb [Lob] of Stithians, the deacon (1665-1720).
So we see that Thomas Newcomen was already well connected with the
mining area of West Cornwall through Robert Steed and Susan Carey and through
the rectors of Dittisham. He would have had through his Baptist network a ready
base near Falmouth for his mercantile visits to tin mines. Two other Dartmouth
neighbours linked him straight to the very mines where legend recalls that the rst
Fire Engine trials occurred: his neighbour Sarah Dottin and his childhood friend
and M.P. William Hayne.
Sarah Dottin was the wife of George Dottin, Merchant of Dartmouth, who
“imported timber from New England, tobacco from Virginia and sugar, Molasses,
melons and lignum vitae from barbados and Antigua. He exported train oil,
cottons, serges, broadcloths and serges to the American plantations, cable yarn
to Rotterdam, strong beer to Barbados. He was also part owner of the letter of
marque ship the Nicholas, a Dartmouth vessel of some 300 tons burden,” and
owner of the merchantman America.93 His will was proved in May 1702, signed
by “hand and seale this tenth day of January One thousand seven Hundred and
one … in the presence of us Thos Newcommen John Osborne Nicholas Marck”.94
The Dottin family owned a house in Dartmouth next to John Calley, Thomas
Newcomen’s partner in the Engine business. Sarah Dottin’s maiden name was
Jago and she was one of the many children of Walter Jago, with whom from
1671 to 1678, Elias Newcomen, Thomas’ father, had shared a lease at Foss Street.
Little information exists in Dartmouth parish registers about the Dottins, so it
may be fair to assume that they were also members of the Baptist church.95 On
Sarah Dottin’s death in 1719, “All the Residue and Remainder … Credits Debts
dues and Demands whatsoever not herein before given or disposed of” were
bequeathed to her nephew Walter Prideaux, slave trader and great great nephew
of the theologian, Rector of Exeter College and Bishop of Worcester, a dispute
arising from which led to the Chancery case Newcomen v Prideaux.96
Sarah Dottin’s uncle was the Rev. Robert Jago senior, christened in 1608 at
Dartmouth, who in 1630 gained an M.A. from Exeter College, Oxford and in
1633 was appointed vicar of Wendron and Helston, Helston then being a chapelry
of Wendron. Before the construction of turnpikes, winter communications were
so poor that Helston was also the primary residence of many of the landowning,
mineral and professional families of the surrounding parishes and its Corporation
was controlled by the Godolphin family. In 1662 Robert Jago was evicted from
his living for “inConformity” but remained at Helston and was classed in 1665 as
“peaceable… Quietly in Reference to ye Church and State” (words likely written
by his successor and son); he continued as the spiritual mentor of local families
including two critical to this story, Hill and Penneck. In July 1685 a warrant was
issued for his arrest as a disaffected person.97 He died the same year at Helston.98
Rev. Robert Jago had about 8 children, Sarah Dottin’s rst cousins, who
remained in and around Helston, of whom the eldest, Robert Jago junior, born in
Dartmouth in 1632, matriculated cler. l. at Exeter College in 1650, then a Puritan
hotbed.99 In 1656 he was a candidate for Minister of Dartmouth but was refused by
the Protector Oliver Cromwell, John Flavell eventually being selected instead.100
Robert became vicar of Wendron, under his father. At the Restoration, “he was
at rst a zealous Non-conformist, and was in Jail three Months for defaming the
Liturgy: But as soon as he came out of Prison, a Benece being offer’d him,
he conform’d and afterwards liv’d but scandalously.101 He married Joana Pierce
of Sithney in Cornwall in 1658 at St Saviour, Dartmouth; they too had about 8
children and Robert lived until 1705. His elder son John, christened in 1664 at
Wendron, went to Exeter College in 1681, gained B.A. from New Inn Hall in
February 1686-7, became vicar of Wendron in 1692 and died in 1722. His third
son William married Susannah Arundell, whose father was a major landowner
across Breage, Sithney and Wendron and was both neighbour and cousin of the
Robert Jago junior’s sister Joanna, Sarah Dottin’s rst cousin, in 1667 married
Robert Cock (1642-1695), merchant of Helston, in 1676 and 1684 mayor, and
from March 1694 Supervisor of Tin Blowing Houses.102
Another merchant of Dartmouth was John Haine (died 1684), who was associated
with John Flavell’s Presbyterian church.103 His son William Hayne (c.1662-1698)
was MP for Dartmouth until his early death.104 His daughter Marcella in 1686
married Francis Hill, grocer of Plymouth (1661/2-1740), a native of Wendron,
who was a political associate of Godolphin and Harley and owned lands at
Boswin including the Balcoath mine.105 For the next 50 years the Hill, Hayne,
Jago and Prideaux families were linked by trusteeships and inheritance disputes,
Newcomen v Prideaux being just part of a wider conict.106
An interesting document of 1689, demonstrating an ideological link between
the Cock and Hill families, is the ‘Protest by fteen parishioners forbidding
churchwardens of Wendron to pay Samuel Williams four pounds yearly for his ofce
of Parish Clerk out of church or poor rates. On pain of prosecution, if necessary,
with legal advice of Mr John Hill, of Wendron and if prosecution necessary, at their
joint costs. Signed, John Wearne, John Carne, Sampson Hill, Frances Hill, Thomas
Tresillian William Robinson, Christopher Cock, Nicholas Wearne, William Eva,
Thomas Allen, Bennett Treloaer, John Treloaen. Witnessed by Robert Cock, Joanna
Williams, William Cock. (All approving the above protest).’
In summary, it seems no coincidence that the rst three re engine installations
may have occurred at mines connected with Thomas Newcomen’s pre-existing
personal contacts in Wendron and Helston, notwithstanding his commercial links
as at tool supplier throughout the mining region.
The tool trade
Gunpowder replaced lime-setting from 1690 as the prime means for splitting rock
in the mines of Cornwall and Devon. The types of tools which Thomas Newcomen
likely supplied were described by a later traveller thus:
“The tools they work with are, rst, a hammer, called a pick, having
commonly a driving end and a sharp end; with one they work into the lode,
with the other they drive an iron wedge, called a gall, from 3 to 9 inches
long and about an inch and a-half one way and an inch another, ending in
a point, by which they separate the ore. They have also a bar of iron, cau’d
a brosier, about 2 1/2 feet long, 2 inches broad at bottom, and sharpened
as a wedge: this is used to make holes in order to blow, one holding it,
and giving it a turn, after every blow given by another with a mallet or
hammer, with two [blank] or heads, as they bore for blowing; the operation
of blowing up the rock by gun-powder being well known.”108
It is likely Thomas Newcomen produced tools such as brosiers at his workshop
in Dartmouth. His sources of iron included the Foley Partnership around
Stourbridge in Worcestershire from 1694. He purchased over 25 tons of different
grades in 1698-99 on credit.109 The winter season was busy retting ships returned
from the Atlantic trade and it is possible that he visited the tin mines in the spring
and early summer months. Payment is likely to have been in copper ore, which
was not smelted locally but in South Wales, Gloucestershire and Bristol. So the
next leg of his annual round would have been from Hayle to one of the Severn
ports to barter copper ore for iron. By 1700 Newcomen may have traded with the
Redbrook forges.
Thomas Newcomen was from a formerly wealthy family and as yet unmarried,
so, with few overheads, he could have built up sufcient stock to become a
dominant supplier in the mining tool business.
From Dartmouth, gateways to the tin-mining areas were the coastal towns
of Plymouth, East Looe and Penryn where Thomas Newcomen had strong
connections though the Baptist church movement whose Western Association,
following the Act of Toleration, met openly for the rst time since the Restoration.
His tooling trade may have been ourishing. We now look at the historical
circumstances of the beginnings of his Fire Engine business.
3. Timing
The original chief purpose of Savery’s Miners’ Friend was to drain the metal
mines of gentlemen adventurers, rather than backyard pit-coal-works, and, upon
the deployment of Newcomen’s “better invention”, a positive impact on tin
production could be anticipated.
Under stannary laws, all tin ore dug had to be smelted locally and coined, that
is declared for tax. Tin was at various times also pre-empted, bought under a xed
price contract by the Crown. We might therefore expect ofcial records accurately
to depict the state of Cornwall’s tin mines from one year to the next. Not so, alas,
especially during the period in question: where there is a rule, there is a loophole
and during the War of the Spanish Succession from 1701 to 1714 local politics
were particularly evident.
The tin price in continental Europe was usually attractive enough to encourage
illegal arbitrage – smuggling – a characteristic trade on Cornwall’s rocky shores:
brandy and baccy for tin and wool. Often uncoined tin was smuggled at night
onto ships ostensibly loading slate or sheltering from storms. The war with France
however meant French privateers regularly preyed on Cornwall’s coastal shipping
deterring much smuggling, and necessitating coined tin to be shipped under Naval
“In the later Stuart period a determined effort was made to put down
smuggling through the appointment of a supervisor of blowinghouses. One
man at rst attempted to ll the ofce, but when it was seen to be too large
an undertaking, four under-supervisors were appointed, who divided the
inspection between them. What their duties were we know largely from the
correspondence of the energetic Mr. George Treweek, who held the post of
supervisor general in the reign of James II. The supervisor was continually
running about, visiting the blowing-houses, examining into the records of the
day’s work, and taking note of the amounts blown in each. He was to see that
no small moulds were in use, that the workmen had been properly vouched
for, and that the house-mark and the tin owner’s mark were on each block.
On the coinage day he compared his records of the tin blown in each house
with those which the blowing-house proprietor had turned into the steward’s
court, ferreting out irregularities and seizing all forfeited tin. He must also be
active along the coast, to intercept tin that might be carried down to creeks or
inlets and hoisted aboard suspicious luggers. He must be prepared also to hunt
down suspected tin even to London, and claim it on proof of its falsity. It was
no very easy position to ll, and all the more difcult when, as Mr. Treweek
bitterly complained, the ofcers were systematically obstructed in the
performance of their duties and on imsy pretexts hauled before the stannary
courts for punishment. That much tin was sold uncoined is undeniable, and
to a large extent this factor vitiates whatever ofcial statistics may have to
say concerning the production. But with regard to the sums actually paid in
as coinage dues, the gures are clear.”
Here we see an additional dimension: the stannary courts were in the hands
of large landowners who were likely to have had conicting interests if ore was
raised on their ground. And if they were also major actors on the national and
international political and nancial stage. Such was the case during these years.
Tin output 1697-1718
Instead of statistical analysis, the following observations can be made:
1. Devon experienced a production sudden spike in 1706-1707.114
2. Cornwall consistently produced vastly more tin than Devon – on average 75
times as much.
3. Reported tin production for Cornwall appears to have been articially capped
between the years 1706 and 1709 in order to x the value of coinage duty. The
excess stock seems subsequently to have been dumped into the market (to the
Crown in excess of pre-emption) in 1710.
4. Although much price data is missing, the highest tin price seems to have
occurred during period of output manipulation.
5. New all-time records for reported tin coinage were set in 1703 and 1710.
6. Coinage slumped during the years 1714 to 1717 back to its 1675-1702 average.
7. The excess tin production during the ten bumper years 1703 to 1712 in
Cornwall was greater than two normal years’ output.
8. Tin output and price do not seem to be correlated; supply is not likely to be
Three factors may explain Cornwall’s bumper years: 1) lower smuggling
because of the war, discussed above; 2) a high pre-emption price from the Crown;
and 3) the introduction of new technology.
The following table presents the raw data from the year before the Fire-engine
Patent until the year 1718 when we have documentary evidence of Newcomen
having been active in Cornwall installing engines.111
Table 1. Cornwall and Devon Tin Production and Coinage 1697-1718; Sources112
Year ending
Production of tin
Cornwall lb
Coinage Duty
Cornwall £
Production of tin
Devon ’000lb
1697 2,342,568 4,685 6.8 49,466
1698 2,772,978 5,546 6.8 45,666
1699 3,178,821 5,358 6.8 31,489
1700 3,151,504 6,343 6.8 47,384
1701 3,048,484 6,096 6.8 34,128
1702 2,460,266 6,841 34,294
1703 3,578,452 7,157 8.2113 28,186
1704 3,312,416 6,625 26,230
1705 3,087,586 6,175 64,890
1706 3,200,316 6,400 123,636
1707 3,200,022 6,400 79,028
1708 3,200,000 6,400 57,914
1709 3,140,044 6,400 8.6 57,914
1710 4,800,060 9,600 73,862
1711 3,169,938 6,340 48,080
1712 3,199,860 6,340 24,048
1713 3,012,338 6,025 7.8 24,700
1714 2,464,756 6,025 8.0 27,064
1715 2,651,780 5,804 6.4 11,686
1716 2,417,864 4,836 8.1 15,838
1717 3,697,014 7,394 6.4 11,062
1718 3,639,388 7,278 6.3 15,136
Pre-emption was re-introduced for seven years in 1703 by the Crown on behalf
of the Stannary Parliament in Truro, despite petitioning by the Company of
“the tinners having represented their sad and deplorable condition and the
great decay of the Stannaries during the late war occasioned by the fall
in the price of tin and their apprehensions of falling under the like if not
greater calamities by the combination of merchants and other dealers in tin;
and the tin works being become more chargeable by reason of their great
depth and expenses in drawing of water and materials being much dearer
than formerly. The said purchases are to be at 3l. 10s. 0d. per hundred
[weight] stannary weight to encourage the tinners to continue and improve
their adventures.”117
The x was over 30% higher than the 1702 market price.118
The pre-emption price would have been raised further in 1706 except for the
recommendation of Sir Isaac Newton to Godolphin because of the threat of tin
import from the East Indies.119 The nal extension of pre-emption for a further
seven years in 1710 by the stannary parliament in Truro, the Convocation of
Tinners, was opposed by many Tories and would have been defeated were it not
for the polite persuasion of “the tinners, and all the mob, round the country to
the manner of at least 5 or 6000, were come to town… threatening violence to
such Members of this Convocation, as should vote against a farm” at the apparent
behest Hugh Boscawen.120
New technology: smelting tin with anthracite
One new technology which affected the tin market can be dated. In June 1702
Robert Lydall (died 1716), the chief operator of copper smelting works at
Melyncryddan near Neath for the foundering ‘Governor and the Company of the
Mine Adventurers of England’, obtained his second patent, No. 368 for “A New
Way of Smelting and Melting Black Tinn into good merchanable White Tinn, in
a Revertatory Furnace without the Help of Bellows, by means of some peculiar
Fluxes”. Lydall assigned the invention and his services for £2000 to the investors
of a new company which set up works at Newham and Calenick near Truro
and Angarrack in Phillack, 6 miles from Godolphin Ball, with 24 reverberatory
furnaces and annual costs of £5000.121
The shareholders included:122
Francis Moult (died 1733), of Watling Street, fellow of the Apothecaries,
“a most ingenious chimist” better known for his infringement of Nehemiah
Grew’s Patent No. 354 for making Epson salts;123
Sir Richard Hoare (1649-1719), merchant, goldsmith and banker, alderman,
sheriff and in 1712 Lord Mayor of London, M.P. for London, Receiver of
the Salt Duty Act, Commissioner of Greenwich Hospital and Director of the
South Sea Company;
Colonel Robert Gower (died 1733) apothecary of London, twice Master, and
supplier of drugs and medicines to the army and to the Sick and Wounded
Richard Bull, of London, druggist at Golden Lion upon Ludgate Hill, holder
of patent No. 373 for “roasting coffee… without the use of charcoal or wood
Richard Shepheard and Edmund Shepherd (died 1719) merchant and painter-
stainer of London;126
Dr. Richard Morton (1669-1730) gentleman, F.R.C.P. and physician to
Greenwich Hospital;127
Michael Tesmond (died after 1737) citizen and saddler of London, of St.
Clement Danes, Middx.128
Robert Lydall’s background, according to John Woodward writing about 1710,
was this:
“The furnaces for reneing, or parting lead from silver by sea cole, were
invented by Mr R. Lydall, about the year 1692. He obtained a patent for the
sole use of them about 1698. The rst he set up was at Fox-Hall [Vauxhall]
about the year 1694. This was demolished. The 2d. he built for for Mr Peck
at Flint. This is now in use. 3. There are 4 or 5 near Newcastle. 4. Sir H
Mackworth at Neath Glamorganshire. 5. Mr R. Lydalls at Truro in Cornwall.
This he has improved: and made it superior to the rest. Insomuch that he
can, by a test of 3 foot long, work of 5 or 6 tons of lead, in about 48 hours.”
“Mr Robert Lydall runs tin ores with sea cole. (His cupoloes have several
turns checques, or curbs in the chimneys, by which he prevents the ascent
and dissipation of the tin by the force of re. In this his cupoloes differ
from the common ones.) But the common method of reuceing the ores of
that metall in Cornwall and Devonshire, is by a furnace with bellowes and
charcoles. They use no ux: nor any lime. They collect and lay aside the tin
slages and melt them afterwards by themselves, repeating the melting 3 or
4 times, till the tin is near all drawn off.”129
The Calenick works was evidently managed by Lydall. At Newham however,
the assay master, John Heyden, began using cast iron and later iron mundic as an
additive to rene lower grades of black tin.
Around 1704 Lydall quit Moult & Co alleging that metal farmed to the Crown
from Newham had been adulterated by Heyden’s practice.130 In 1705 Lydall was
granted patent No. 374 for “Smelting Black Tynn oar into good merchantable
White Tynn, with Culm and Sea Coal, in a Blast Furnace called Ignifurens” and
set up shop in 1705 with Charles Middleton, a business associate of Moult.131
The following year Middleton sued Moult & Co and lost.132 On petition, Lydall’s
1705 patent was warranted void, as being “unjustly obtained, and upon false
suggestions” and the same invention as that of 1702.133
Another suit was against John Borlase in 1707: “And some tyme after one John
Burlace [Borlase] by like contrivance sett up another attempt to melt Tynn Oar in
Derogacion of… patents untill enjoyn’d by this [Chancery] Court.”134
In November 1707, the Agents for Managing the Tin Contract in Cornwall,
Richard Corker and Richard Enys (1654-1712), assayed tin from Newham
and, nding it did not “Breake Graine”, viewed the furnaces and interviewed
the technicians. Coincidentally in 1707 John Heyden left his contract with of
Moult & Co and was hired by Samuel Enys (1681-1744), Richard’s nephew, to
infringe Lydall’s 1702 patent at a new blowing house in Kenwyn built behind
high walls.
In 1708 Heyden’s process of adding scrap iron to the smelt was then vindicated
by the Royal Mint under Sir Isaac Newton. In the ensuing legal proceedings
initiated by Moult & Co, Samuel Enys claimed that a reverberatory furnace had
been set up at Polruddan near St Austell around 1682.136 The key to the case, and
to the 1702 patent, however was use of ux, lime and spar, and not the design of
furnace or choice of fuel.
In 1716, 17 days after the expiry of Lydall’s patent, Francis Moult took out a
further patent in his own right, No. 406 for “A new way of uxing, separating and
reducing black tin into white tin by alkaline and saline mixtures.”137 A few months
later Lydall died.
Coal may have rst been used for smelting tin in Cornwall at Treloweth near
St Erth in 1681 by Johann-Joachim Becher (1635-1682), a close friend of Robert
Boyle, and was possibly continued by his colleague’s son Joachim Frederick
Lofer [Löfer] of Phillack.138 Friederick Lofer was in 1711 an agent to Francis
Moult & Co at Angarick [Angarrack] Melting House and it is likely that he ran the
Phillack operation.139
This author would argue that, rather than the method of smelting, the major
capacity constraint on white tin production was the volume of ore brought to the
surface. The availability of a better method of draining mines could therefore have
been a critical enabler of the tin boom; and its withdrawal could help explain the
subsequent slump from 1714 to 1717.
However there are reasons why Moult & Co. is relevant to Newcomen’s
re engine. Robert Gower, shareholder and apothecary, had also invested in the
Duke’s Playhouse and in 1702 sued its duplicitous manager as co-plaintiff with
William Shiers, of the Middle Temple, company secretary of The Company of
the Mine Adventures (Lydall’s former employer), and one “Thomas Savery of the
Citty of Exeter Gentleman”, holder of patent No. 356, ‘for raising of water, and
occasioning motion to all sorts of mill works, by the important force of re, which
will be of great use for draining mines’.140
Robert Gower was likely both a subscriber to the Navy Stock in August 1702
set up by John Meres and a link between Meres and Savery. It would be safe to
assume that both Gower and Meres also held shares in the Proprietors of Savery’s
invention and, like Moult, were quick to litigate to defend their interests.
If so, any Welsh coal unloaded at St. Erth for a re engine was no secret from
Lofer at Phillack and from Savery’s Proprietors. Moult & Co. hauled Lydall
before the Solicitor General and Borlase before Chancery, voided Lydall’s 1705
patent and shut Enys down. But Newcomen and Calley acted with impunity
in agrant violation of patent No. 356. They may even have bartered ore for
anthracite directly with Lofer.
Could Newcomen and Calley have protected their invention under Buttall’s
patent No. 349 as prior art? Following the Broadwaters debacle around 1705,
they are believed to have reached agreement with the Proprietors of Savery’s now
discredited invention. With Buttall’s patent due to expire in 1709/10 and Savery’s
extended by Parliament until 1733, there would have been incentive enough for
both parties to combine interests; one held the better patent and the other the better
Stephen Switzer and Mårten Triewald, who both knew both Newcomen and
Savery, stated:
“I am well inform’d, that Mr. Newcomen was as early in his Invention, as
Mr. Savery was in his, only the latter being nearer the Court, had obtain’d
his Patent before the other knew it; on which Account Mr. Newcomen was
glad to come in as a Partner to it.”142
“In spite of all the differences between the inventions, Mr. Newcomen and
Calley did not see any other way out of the difculties but to join Captain
Savery and form a Company…”143
It would not be unreasonable to date this partnership several years prior to 1712.
Duties on sea-borne Coals
Trade and tax revenue were two policy areas of stark contrast between the whig
and tory parties during the years in view and duty on sea-coals was a ashpoint.
The original focus of the duty was on shipments from Newcastle to London for
domestic heating – originally viewed as a luxury tax. As the volume of coal used
in industrial processes, such as smelting, rose in response to deforestation, whigs,
who wished to promote trade, saw the sea-coal duty as reducing the competitiveness
of English exports. Tories, whose focus was conservation of privilege, saw any
duty on commerce as an easy way to tax whig supporters and to reduce the high
tax burden on the landed gentry to fund the war against France. This may be a
gross over-simplication, but presents some of the principles at play.144
The net effect of duty on sea-coals was to concentrate coal consuming
industries close to coalelds during periods of high sea-coal duty. It explains why
copper smelting with coke concentrated in south Wales and even Flintshire but
not in Cornwall, and why re-engines became focused on coalelds and not, as
originally intended, at metal mines.
The following table summarises the political and scal environment during the
period of the rst re-engines. There was a scal window of lower taxes on sea-
borne coals from 1707 to 1712 under the inuence of Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl
Godolphin. During this period Godolphin had appointed as Lord Warden of the
Stannaries rst his son, Francis Godolphin, Viscount Rialton, followed, for life,
by his nephew, Hugh Boscawen, later 1st Viscount Falmouth.
The Godolphin family estates included much of the parish of Breage, including
the Godolphin Ball area and part of Wheal Vor, and Wheal Fortune in Ludgvan. On
Hugh Boscawen’s estates sat the sites of Creegbraws (Albalanda or Branchland)
and Chacewater (Wheal Busy), two early rich mines.
One may surmise that the estates of both Godolphin and Boscawen would
have beneted from the low duty on sea-coals years during the nal years of
the Godolphin Ministry. Especially if they owned blowing houses and had re-
engines installed before 1710.
Act Starting date Duty on sea-borne Coals145
Shillings per Chalder146
First Lord
Lord Warden
of the
Stannaries 148
“New” “Additional” Total
1697 5s. Nil 5s. Montagu Granville
9&10 W 13§1 15 May 1698 5s. 5s.
10&11 W
15 May 1699 5s. 5s. 10s.
15 Nov 1699 10s. Grey
9 Dec 1700 10s. Godolphin
30 Dec 1701 10s. Howard Robartes
8 May 1702 5s. 10s. Godolphin Granville
1 A c4§1 15 May 1703 5s. 10s.
1705 10s. ” Godolphin
1707 Nil 5s.
4 A c6§4 15 May 1708 5s. 5s. Boscawen
11 Aug 1710 5s. Powlett
30 Sep 1710 3s. 3s.
8 A c6§4,
9 A c6§8
9 Mar 1710-1 2s. 5s.
30 May 1711 5s. Harley
13 A c24§ 1713 5s. 10s.
30 July 1714 10s. Talbot
30 Oct 1714 10s. Montagu
23 May 1715 10s. Howard
The Godolphin Ministry fell in 1710 and was replaced by Harley’s increasingly
tory-dominated ministry. Events proceeded as follows:
6 April: Queen Anne distanced herself from Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
14 June: Anne dismissed Sunderland; the whig Junto did not to resign, averting
5 August: Lord Poulett and Harley presented themselves as the Treasury
Commission to Anne
8 August: Queen Anne demanded Godolphin’s resignation as Lord High Treasurer
1 September: Queen Anne appointed Rochester Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall in
Table 2. Duties on Coals 1697-1718
place of Godolphin
20 September: Queen Anne dismissed Somers and Devonshire and allowed
Secretary Boyle to resign
21 September: Queen Anne dissolved parliament
24 September: Church bells rang when the Queen received back the Great Seal
from the Whigs
25 November: The General Election returned to parliament an absolute tory
majority of 147 seats149
In September 1710, Poulett and Harley reimposed English tax on sea coal and
harmonised the tax across Great Britain at the rates of 5s. the chalder, for coal sold
by that measure, and the (reduced) rate of 3s. 4d. the ton, if sold by weight.150
To Newcomen’s team, mainly active in Cornwall at the time of the fall (and
especially if they had adventurers’ shares in ore output), the prospect of higher
fuel costs and lower tin pre-emptions would have been a clarion call to abandon
Cornwall for the coalelds. That second story has been well told by previous
contributors of this and other Journals and we turn our attention now to the
documentary evidence for very the earliest re engines in Cornwall.
4. Historical texts
It is worth reading the following historical texts together. They speak of two
separate locations: Balcoath in Wendron, and the mines in Breage, Great Work
and Wheal Vor. These texts, in chronological order, are secondary sources which
are selected because they claimed to contribute new information to the story from
primary sources. We should also bear in mind the effects of time and transmission
on the accuracy of reports. Besides these below, numerous tertiary sources have
added speculation but not facts.
Kalmeter (1724): “To go from Helston to Penzance I took the road through
the parish of Breage, where, about two miles from Helston, can be seen the
large and old work, Wheal an Vor, which means, in Cornish, a work in the
road. It was formerly so important that the mine gave 1,000 sacks of tin
ore, and more, every twelve hours, each sack of ten gallons. In three years
a 1-8th share in the mine gave £5000 clear, and 100 such sacks gave 5,000
lbs. of white or block tin. The mine is said to be 55 fathoms deep and 80
fathoms in the length of the level. The lode is sometimes twelve to fteen
feet wide, sometimes not more than two or three feet, but all in killas, a black
slate. As this work was one of the deepest in the county and therefore very
wet, a re-engine was erected about seven years ago to draw up the water. It
worked for about four years, but as this type of machine, particularly at that
depth, is a mass of difculties and subject to repairs, it proved too costly.
The engine was therefore removed and the mine lies largely idle except
that six poor miners have it on tribute and work here and there upon the
lode and upon the backs, paying a fee which is liberal enough. The owner
of the ground, Dean Telawney of Exeter, has 1-19th; the bounders of rst
holders of the ground 1-11th, and thereafter the adventurers or owners, or
those who run the works, 1-3rd and 1-12th. However, the tin is delivered
up to them on the grass, that is, as it comes out of the mine and before it
is stamped and dressed. That which remains belongs to the poor workmen
who sell it to the smelting house for 1000 to 1100 lbs. tin metal for 2000 lbs.
black tin. At the western end of the lode and in the bottom a little copper ore
has been found which was sold for £3.10s. a ton. The most they have had in
a year the mine was worked came to £120 worth.
“When one has ridden a mile and a half further west one comes into
the so-called Godolphin Ball, which is arid land and about 2 miles in
circumference, but everywhere worked and full of tin mines and trials…
Further down in this tract [from Wheal Reeth] there used to be a large
working where over 400 men were employed, but it now stands idle, apart
from six men, who bring up ore from the back or roof of the lode. It is
called the Great Work. To keep these mines in Godolphin Ball free of water
the mine of the same name has an adit which is over half a mile long, and
through which the water pumped up from the mine can run off. It is kept
in order by eight men and a boy, who enjoy 13s. a month and work or keep
watch eight hours a day; and the adit runs right through Godolphin Ball.
The other tin mines are Balwest, Wheal an Dreath, the higher & the lower,
Wheal Breage etc. There was once a melting house there called Godolphin
Melting House, which belonged to one Francis Penneck. But since he died
two years ago, it has been left idle. Its mark was the dolphin and the letters
Carne (1828) “The rst steam-engine in Cornwall was erected at Huel Vor
[Wheal Vor], a tin mine in Breage, which was at work from 1710 to 1714.”
Gilbert (1838) “Whele Vor, now employing several steam-engines of the
largest size to exhause the water, and numerous others to draw up the ore,
and afterwards to reduce it into the state of a ne powder, is said to have
used, about a century ago, the rst steam-engine ever seen in Cornwall”153
“The steam engine, which consists essentially in a piston alternately sliding
through a cylindrical vessel, had been used at least on one mine, called the
Great Work, in Breage…”154
Cunnack (c. 1855): “Wheal Vor… At the close of the 17th century, Savery’s
engine was introduced into Wendron and Breage, and about 1710 a
Newcomen’s engine is said to have been put up on the Engine Shaft in front
of the present accounting house on this mine. Here it is said to have worked
until 1715 when the mine was put down to a depth of 60 fms. At this time,
no doubt, all the ground from this shaft, home to the ookan at the west,
was worked away as far as it could be made to pay… The operations appear
to have ceased about 1715 with the stoppage of the steam engine...”155
“Great Work, Breage. Thus is probably one of the oldest mines in Cornwall
in which extended operations have been carried out… this mine being in
an elevated position allowed the extension of adits at a depth of 30 fms.”156
“Balcoath: This is an old mine in the downs north of Porkellis. Tradition
is that the rst steam-engine was put up here and that the fuel used under
the boiler was turf dug up in the moors adjacent. At a subsequent working
another engine was erected here which was afterwards taken to Tregonobris
and to Trevenen. This was reported to have been a short stroke, ve to six
feet, and of small diameter cylinder… There are no reliable reports relative
to the depth that this old mine was worked, but probably not exceeding
about 50 to 60 fms.” “The old engine was of very short stroke, one of the
rst put up in Cornwall (and) in that case perhaps a Newcomen, and was
brought to Tregonebris, it was reported, from Balcoath, near Porkellis.”
(1891) “It is said that the steam engine was rst employed in working at
Balcoath in Wendron, and at Great Wheal Vor, and steam is supposed to
have been raised from burning turf. The engine was worked by ve lifts
down to the 50 or 60 fathoms level: ve holes were bored in the sollar
through which ve rods were worked.”158
Lidstone (1876): “When he [Newcomen] was engaged on his great work,
which took him three years from its commencement until it was completed,
and was kept a profound secret, some of his friends would press Mrs.
Newcomen to nd out what her husband was engaged about, and, for their
part, they would not be satised to be kept in ignorance. Mrs. Newcomen
replied, ‘I am perfectly easy. Mr. Newcomen cannot be employed about
anything wrong; and I am fully persuaded, when he thinks proper, he will,
himself, unasked, inform me.’”159
Daniell (1880) “Wendron… This parish has produced much tin, through
many ages. It is reported that it was for the drainage of the tin mines of this
and the adjacent parish of Breage that the steam engine was rst applied to
real work. “Balcoath” near Porkellis, is the place where the rst engine is
said to have been put up, and peat and turf were employed for fuel.”160
“Breage: In this parish is the great tin mine called Wheal Vor, once the
richest mine in the county, but now entirely stopped. One of Newcomen’s
engines worked here in 1710. The mine has been exceedingly rich, and
attained a depth of 340 fathoms. A smith’s shop for the repair of the miners’
tools was erected at the 280-fathom level from surface. This is supposed
to have been the rst mine in which gunpowder was used for blasting.”
Hunt (1884): “It is an old proverb among miners that ‘good lode is good
from grass,’ and experience of the best mines shows that large deposits of
mineral generally crop out shallow on the course of a vein. It is just such
a history as this that appears to belong to the famous Wheal Vor mine, or,
as it should perhaps be more properly spelt, in its old Cornish form, Huel
Veor, signifying ‘the Great Working.’… the rst record of the working of the
ground as a mine, relates to its being a portion of the extensive works carried
on by the Godolphin family, in the fteenth and following two centuries.
The ore course was then apparently followed down as far as the means of
drainage enabled the miners to go; and it is reported that one of the earliest
steam-engines was erected here to pump out water. This was probably at the
close of the seventeenth century. From about 1705 to 1715 it is said that one
of Newcomen’s engines worked on the shaft, in front of the account-house
still standing, by which that shaft was sunk to 60 fathoms under adit. Here
the old course appears to have become small and operations were abandoned
shortly after the latter date. The mine was left in abeyance till the year 1812
On proceeding to drain the works, a ‘sollar’ or platform was found in
the shaft near the adit which had six holes through it, corresponding to six
rods that were reported to have hung from the beam of the old Newcomen
engine (one to each drawing lift of ten fathoms). The holes probably served
as guides to the rods. The bottom of the mine was found to be 60 fathoms
below the adit (which is 30 fathoms from the surface at this place), and the
lode at the deepest point was small and poor.”162
Jenkin (1927): “There is a vague tradition that the rst of these new engines
was worked at ‘Balcoath’, near Porkellis, in Wendron, the steam being raised
by turf fuel. This engine, it is said, was subsequently moved to Tregonebris,
and then to Trevenen Mine, both ancient tin-works in the Wendron district.
According to other accounts steam was rst used at Wheal Vor, in the parish
of Breage, between 1710 and 1714. The pumps of the Newcomen engine on
this mine are said to have been arranged in six lifts of ten fathoms each, a
separate rod for each lift being hung from the engine-beam. In conrmation
of this, about 1815 a subsequent reworking of Wheal Vor disclosed a ‘sollar
having six holes in it, corresponding to the reported number of rods for
which they doubtless served as guides.”163
These accounts could be summarised as strong and indicative hearsay. This
author would argue, along with J. S. Allen, that among the strongest primary
evidence so far is the 1719 Barney print of the 1712 Dudley engine on the grounds
that such a level of technical maturity could only be the product of ten years of
iterative development without today’s engineering tools, such as nite element
analysis, failure mode and effect analysis and functional simulation.164
In the light of the prevailing relational and economic factors presented, it is worth
analysing the textual records afresh to see if they can present a coherent story. We
will focus on the three mines, Great Work, Wheal Vor and Balcoath. Here are the
main points in summary:
Table 3. Summary of Historical Evidence for Early Newcomen Engines
in Breage and Wendron
Parish Germoe-Breage Breage Wendron
Mine Godolphin Ball (Great
Wheal Vor Balcoath (Porkellis)
Kalmeter Largely idle in 1724 Engine at Wheal an Vor
On Trelawny estate
At work c. 1717 to c. 1721
55 fathoms deep in slate
Engine removed
Mine idle in 1724
Worked by hand on tribute
Carne First engine in Cornwall
At work 1710 to 1714
Henwood Ore body in granite Ore body in slate (killas)
Gilbert Had Newcomen engine First engine in Cornwall
Hamilton First Newcomen engine
Daniell Newcomen engine in 1710 First engine put up here
Burnt peat and turf
Lidstone Project took 3 years
Location was “great work”
Work was done in secret
Cunnack Early engine at Wheal Vor First engine put up here
Five lifts to 50 or 60
Burnt turf; very short
Five rods through sollar Small diameter
Hunt Early engine at Wheal Vor
At work c.1705 to 1715
In front of Account-house
60 fathoms under adit (six
Six rods through sollar
General comments
Triewald The tin-mines “Newcomen often visited in the capacity of a dealer in iron tools”
“He was induced … by considering the heavy costs of lifting water by means of
He decided with Calley “to invent a re-machine for drawing water from the
“For ten consecutive years Mr. Newcomen worked at this re-machine.”
Thomas Newcomen did not know about Savery’s activities (until the patent)165
Pryce “Mr. Newcomen, and Mr. J. Cawley” developed the re engine about 1708.166
5. The Engines
The use of a re engine to drain a mine required a more or less vertical shaft from
a sump at the lowest part of the mine directly to the surface. This was distinct from
access shafts and was not necessary for earlier forms of drainage such as rag and
chain engines driven by underground water wheels, tread wheels or hand pumps
which raised water into an adit or level.
In 1700 the only mines likely to have shafts suitable for a installing a re
engine would be ones which already had a bob gin with a beam and spears. The
“Stangenkunst” rod engine had been at use at mines in the Harz since around 1540;
the earliest known in England was at copper mines in Cumberland in 1569.167
On 14 March 1674/5, Sir Samuel Morland (1625-1695) gained patent No.
175 for a plunger pump with gland and stufng box.168 There is relatively little
evidence of widespread adoption of reciprocating pumps in England until after
1690: Felling, Heworth, Gateshead, Lumley in County Durham and Heaton in
Northumberland being among the leaders.169 In 1700 in Somerset, Mr Brewer’s
works at Paulton had a waterwheel driving two cranks raising water from 17
fathoms. The same year at South Park, Wraxall, a wind-powered pump was
erected to draw from 12 fathoms.170
“Seen in perspective, the technology of colliery drainage shows a ne and
satisfying logic. Inheriting a system of mill, rotating chain, and buckets
it rst replaced buckets by a pipe, keeping chain and rotation; next chain
and ragwheel gave way to spears and beam, but the column of pipes was
retained; then the rotary mill was ousted by the reciprocating atmospheric
engine driving the existing beams and spears.”171
Griff in Warwickshire, with bob gins by 1707, was an early adopter – hence its
attraction to Newcomen. By contrast at Wolverhampton in 1712 it appears no set
of spears or plungers was installed; as a consequence “They were at a loss about
the pumps, but being so near Birmingham, and having the assistance of so many
admirable and ingenious workmen, they so soon came to the method of making
the pump valves, clacks, and buckets, whereas they had but an imperfect notion
of them before.”172
Possibly one major impediment to the speedy diffusion of the atmospheric
engine was the small number of mine shafts in Britain which had by 1710 had
been installed with its logical predecessor, the bob gin. By corollary, a factor in
the non-adoption of the Savery engine for raising water from mines, aside from
safety and scalability, was its incompatibility with existing mine infrastructure,
particularly ventilation.
The diarist Richard Pococke observed the structure of a typical tin mine at
Chasewater in 1750:
“I had the curiosity to see the nature of the tin works. They call a work a balle.
There are to each mine two shafts or wells, which, as they are open one to
another, and only some frames of wood between them, are in the working but
one well; one they call the ladder-shaft, in which the perpendicular ladders
are xt by which they descend; they are about thirty feet long to a landing
place, called a solear, which brings to another ladder; the other is called
the wem-shaft, from the wem or windlace, turned by a horse, by the help
of which they let down the tub, called a kible, to bring up the ore, another
coming up at the same time. Below the ladders, when they have come to the
lode or vein, they burrow down in holes which they call gunnies; and at this
place the wem-shaft is an inclined plane, in which a frame is made for the
kible to slide on, which is called the sliding poles. Besides these shafts there
is the re engine shaft, by which they pump up the water by means of the re
engine, which was invented about 40 or 50 year ago by Mr. Newcommen,
of Dartmouth, as I mentioned, and one Captain Savory in partnership. At the
bottom is a hole, about six feet deep, to receive the water which runs from
all parts; this is called the prison bottom, out of which the water is pumped
up 24 fathoms three feet, to the channel call’d an audit, which conveys it to
a valley abroad, and this audit is about thirty fathoms from the top, the whole
being about 55 fathoms, or 330 feet.”
The Machine
Newcomen and Calley’s Fire Engine, installed at the surface, powered a bob gin.
Our assumption is that Thomas Newcomen forged the mechanical parts himself;
John Calley made the piping and seals. The boiler is likely to have been a typical
copper brewer’s boiler such as those made by Abraham Darby at Bristol.
The source of the rst cylinder, cast in brass or bronze, is not known; candidates
include: the Penningtons’ bell foundries at Exeter and Bodmin; John Stadler of
Chulmleigh (active 1693-1715); the Cockeys of Totnes (active 1666-1701).174
Mordecai Cockey of Totnes (1644-1702) was a brazier, bell founder and leading
Non-conformist who sculpted John Flavell’s memorial plaque at Dartmouth; his
son Mordecai (died 1736) continued the business in Plymouth.175 A new bell for
Townstall Church in Dartmouth was cast in 1700 by the Cockeys; John Dottin was
among the wardens who commissioned it; and Thomas Newcomen likely forged
its clapper.176
Newcomen’s mechanical skill is evidenced by payment in 1704 by the Mayor
of Dartmouth of £1.4s.1d. for “ye Cloke” [the clock].177 However before the Fire
Engine could run like clockwork by automation of the valve cycle by means of the
buoy and scoggan, it required at least two men on constant duty.
“It may be interesting to know that it required three hands to work
Newcomen’s rst engines. I have heard it said that when the engine was
stopped, and set at work, the words were passed, “snift, Benjy !” “blow
the re, Pomery !” “work away, Joe !” the last let in the condensing water.
Lifting the condensing clack was called “snifting,” because on opening the
valve, the air rushing through it made a noise like a man snifting. The re
was increased through articial means by another hand, and all being ready,
the machine was set in motion by a third.”178
The earliest commercial design has been illustrated as shown below.
The Team
Although we lack any denitive records, it would be fair to speculate that Thomas
Newcomen (1663/4-1729) and John Calley (1663-1717) were joined by Charles
Trengove who was most likely a member of the Trelevah church ve miles from
Balcoath; he was in some way a “Relation” of Thomas Newcomen and may have
been apprenticed to him.180
John Dunsford of Tiverton was the nephew of the pastor of Kingsbridge
Baptist church. In 1710/1 he was recommended by letter to the Baptist church at
Netherton near Dudley, placing him as a near certain member of the rst engine
team in Cornwall.181 In 1713 a John Dunsford married Elizabeth Sutter at Tiverton;
assuming this was the same man, he would likely have been born before 1691.
Apprenticeships for boys typically commenced at age 14 for 7 years. It therefore
Sketch illustrating the Newcomen Engine
before it was made automatic
Illustration of the “Buoy” and
Figure 3. Engine mechanisms179
appears that Thomas Newcomen took on John Dunsford as an apprentice around
1702-4 just after Newcomen’s father’s death and around the time when he started
borrowing money from Sarah Dottin. The indication is of a change in the type of
business in which he and Calley were engaged.
Thomas Newcomen’s nephews George (born c.1689) and Elias (c.1693-c.1725)
were likely involved in Cornwall at various points. John Calley’s son John (c.1695-
1725) would have been the youngest and possibly last to join.
All these men were instrumental in the development and diffusion of the re
engine over the next 30 years.
The Scoggan affair
A moot question is where and when the scoggan was invented and whether Stephen
Potter’s boys from Worcestershire, John (born c.1687) Humphrey (1689-1718)
and possibly Isaac (1690/1-1735) were present in Cornwall. Desaguliers wrote:
“They used before to work with a Buoy in the Cylinder inclos’d in a pipe,
which Buoy rose when the Steam was strong, and open’d the Injection, and
made a Stroke;* thereby they were only capable of giving six, eight, or ten
Strokes in a minute, ’till a Boy, Humphry Potter, who attended the Engine,
added (what he call’d a Scoggan) a Catch that the Beam Q always open’d :
and then it would go 15 or 16 Strokes in a Minute.”182
He glossed “SCOGGAN 1713” in the margin and added the footnote “The
Manner of this working with a Buoy would be tediuous, and require a particular
Figure to explain; but since it is now out of Use, it is needless to do it”.
Humphrey Potter was 24 years old in 1713 so a much earlier date is likely,
certainly before 1710. Desaguliers (1683-1744) must have known Humphrey
personally because it was he who brokered the deal whereby Humphrey and Isaac
Potter in June 1717 sailed to Venice with Nicolò Tron (1685-1771), its departing
ambassador, immediately following the foundation ceremony of the Freemason’s
Grand Lodge of London, to assemble a re engine at Anguillara where seven
months later Humphrey drowned.183
The scoggan is the catch which supports the weighted F lever. When released,
the F falls and triggers the injection of cold water into the steam-lled cylinder.
This feature of a “pawl or detent which retains the valves in the closed position
till tripped” is critical to the function of the engine’s self-acting valve-gear was
deployed in most Cornish engines for the next 150 years, retaining this name until
Scoggan is the Cornish word for a mackerel head which the early pawl catch
resembled.185 A cord was passed through its eye to trigger the release of the F. The
earliest engine boilers were tted with a buoy activated by steam pressure to which
this scoggan cord was attached. The iterative innovation matching Desaguliers’
denition was the attachment of a second cord from the scoggan, the ‘Potter cord’,
to the perpendicularly moving plug tree (“Beam Q”) thus releasing the F one to
two seconds earlier than the buoy would do.186 The consensus explanation runs
It has been supposed by some writers that this means that the invention of
self-acting gear is to be credited to Potter, so that this story has been very
generally discredited; it now becomes intelligible, and also credible. What
the scoggan really was and what a very small improvement is attributable
to Potter has been ably elucidated by Mr. Alfred Marson in a letter in our
correspondence columns of January 15th, 1897. He there shows that all that
the improvement consisted in was to attach the cord that released the catch
of the injection cask the plug rod instead of to the spindle of the buoy, thus
transferring the duty of liberating the injection from the buoy to the plug
rod, and obviating any delay in waiting for a predetermined pressure in the
boiler before making a. down stroke. Both these methods are shown, albeit
very indistinctly, in the Dudley print, but in the prints under consideration
the latter method is exceedingly clearly shown :- The “ballance R” is the
same as the scoggan, and the “interceptor 7” takes the place of the cord.187
Both buoy and Potter cord are shown in detail of the engraving dated 1719 by T.
Barney of the rst Coneygree engine near Dudley Castle which shows an unusual
double ratchet described, possibly quoting the engine keeper, thus “Scoggen and
his Mate who work Double to the Boy, ϒ is the axis of him.”
William Borlase of Ludgvan described the improvement:
“…as this engine formerly stood, if the re-men chanced to nod, the violence
of the motion increasing with the re, the weighty bob, O I, beat shocked,
and endangered the whole machine, and the fabric that it is inclosed in; but
now when the re is at the extreme height, and the bob begins to beat and
strike the springs, it lets fall a trigger into a notch and stops the injection-
cock, and the whole movement is stopped, till the injection of the cold
water into the cylinder is restored; so that this engine is now brought to
Figure 4. Three species of scoggan: from the left, the atlantic mackerel, Scomber
scombrus L. (1758),188 the pawl lever detent (c. 1700), and a double ratchet (1719)
such perfection, that in a great measure it tends, regulates, frees, and checks
itself; several subordinate members, wires, clacks, and valves are all moved,
opened, and shut by the force of the steam, and the motion of the piston;
inasmuch as that by enlarging the cylinder, and other parts in proportion,
few Cornish mines are subject to more water than this engine will master:
its power is in proportion to the diameter of the cylinder principally, the
strength of the steam, and the depth it draws.”189
The business model
Under the cost book system used in Cornwall, adventurers shared the cash expenses
and were paid in ore raised from mine which was laid out in heaps on the “grass”
or ground near the shaft. Tin ore had to be dressed, stamped, smelted and coined in
Cornwall but copper ore was exported to South Wales, Gloucestershire and Bristol
for smelting.190 Suppliers were frequently paid in ore and it is likely that Thomas
Newcomen was already paid in copper ore for the tools which he delivered to the
mines; in this barter trade, he may even have served as agent for a Bristol smelter,
such as the Bristol Brass Company, from which city he could source the tough
iron he needed for tool-making.191 The same formula would also apply to raising
water: ore could be purchased by supplying drainage services to a mine.
On 31 January 1692/3 Marmaduke Hodgeson of Fencurch, London, engineer,
author and lecturer,
was granted patent No. 312 for “his new invention for
making a motion worke or engine, whereby water & other liquors may be raised
and discharged in the greatest quantities, and from any depth to any height given,
in much shorter time and with les costs and charges then any other heretofore
and he promoted a company in Scotland for the working of his pump.
In September of that year Hodgeson, and John Rowley of London, mathematical
instrument maker, agreed with adventurers several tin mines to “build, erect, sink
shafts for and place an engine or engines at some place on the tin bounds” at Poldice,
Polgooth and 16 other setts. The payment was “1/6 of the tin stuff and oar raised”
Contemporary evidence shows the extent of the workings and the value of tin and
copper raised from several of these mines, validating the business model.
Figure 5. Cross sections of Mulvra Hill and Polgooth, showing underground adits
and shafts (c. 1695).192
AR 18/8 Published with permission of Cornwall Records Ofce
In March 1711/2, when Newcomen and Calley “bargain’d to draw water for
Mr. Back, of Woolverhampton,” the assumption is that a proportion of output was
under discussion.198 One may also infer that they had an engine on hand from
Cornwall and ready to install. The contemporary diary of Dr Wilkes of Willenhall
(1691-1760) describes the re engine built at Wolverhampton in 1711 as “the rst
that ever drew water” which does not mean that it was new.199 Soon after the death
of William Bache in August 1712 it seems to have been relocated again, perhaps
to the neighbouring parish of Bilston.200
If Coneygree Coalworks at Dudley was indeed the third atmospheric engine, as
Daniel Hawthorne testied, Newcomen and Calley had a second engine in 1712
most likely still in Cornwall. On 30 November 1717 John Meres wrote to George
Liddell, “We hope we shall have a barrell and boiler for you in a short time, having
some coming round from Cornwall which will t your purpose.”201 This could
mean that, at that date, at least one engine in Cornwall was to be dismantled and
its main parts, still owned by Newcomen or by The Proprietors, reused nearer
sources of fuel.
The two largest tin mines in Tudor and Stuart England were in Breage.202 The
western mine, known as Godolphin Ball, Great-work or Great Work,203 straddled
Breage and Germoe parishes and was entirely within the Godolphin estate. The
eastern mine was known as Huel Veor, Wheal Vor and Wheal-an-Vor and underlay
the boundary of two estates: its southern part was in the manor of Treworlis, part of
the Trelawny estate, while North Wheal Vor belonged to the Godolphin estate.204
The etymology of Vor or Veor is uncertain: various sources suggest the meanings
great, road or furrow (from its appearance of parallel trenches).
Wheal Vor
Carne wrote that an engine was at Wheal Vor whereas Lidstone’s source reported
Newcomen had spent three years at Great Work. There are few other points of
disagreement except the dates of engine installation and stoppage at Godolphin
Ball, the earliest source and eye-witness giving the latest date.
Kalmeter clearly says that the mine he saw was about two miles from Helston
on the road to Penzance, which would normally correspond to a site marked on
maps as Wheal Fortune, in Sithney Parish by the boundary with Breage, an old
mine with both a Whim shaft and an Engine shaft of uncertain dates.205 Could
he have mixed up his notes? Alternatively and more likely, Kalmeter was not
following the main road from Helston to Marazion but taking a detour through
Godolphin Ball Carleen and Boscreege. By this route within three miles of
Helston Church he would have reached the Count House at Wheal Vor.
His description of “Wheal an Vor” matches that of Wheal Vor: 55 fathoms
depth in killas (black slate). It is also possible his dates refer to a second engine
which had proven uneconomic once a narrowing of the lode was reached at the
mine bottom. Wheal Vor lies a mile to the west of Great Work and on a different
lode, a situation thus explained:
“…the same vein is seldom productive in two different rocks; thus the
immense mass of tin-ore, I believe more a million sterling worth, in Wheal
Vor, was in slate, whilst the same vein is entirely unproductive in Granite.
The adjoining mine of Great Work gives all its tin-ore in granite and is poor
in slate.”206
Kalmeter’s reference to “Dean Trelawney of Exeter” would indicate that the
mine site was within the manor of Treworlis.207
Cornwall Archaeological Unit conducted an evaluation of this site in 1996 and
identied the working as Pearce’s Shaft, shown in a later plan as a double shaft.209
On 13 August 1705 John Pearce the younger, tinner of Breage, leased from
Jonathan Trelawny, esquire of Coldrenick a “house and plot (3½ acres) bounded on
the east by the Helston-Godolphin road; on the west by Whealangrouse tinworks,
on the north by Whealangrouse lode; on the south by Wheal an Vor tinworks”; the
term was 99 years or the lives of John Pearce the elder and Christian James, rent
was 5 shillings. On 25 March 1715 this was released for 99 years to Bennet Pearce,
tinner of Breage: rent had risen to 6 shillings and the life of Edward Thomas was
added.210 The Pearces’ 1705 lease suggests the earliest date an engine might have
been erected. Just west-south-west of Pearce’s Shaft lies Old Engine Shaft, sunk
to at least 77 fathoms below the 12 fathom Deep Adit.
Jonathan Trelawny (1648-1705) of Coldrenick is easily confused with his
second cousin, contemporary at Christ Church Oxford, and namesake, Rev.
Jonathan Trelawney (1650-1721) Bishop of Exeter from 1689 to 1707, who in
July 1705 granted Thomas Newcomen and Hannah Waymouth a marriage licence.
Figure 6. Ordnance Survey map of Wheal Vor surveyed in 1877 and published in 1888.
Jonathan Trelawny of Coldrenick had
entered Parliament for West Looe in
1690 in league with the bishop’s brothers
Charles and Henry, members for East
Looe since 1683. Jonathan of Coldrenick
died a few months after the 1705 lease
was granted and his estates, including
South Wheal Vor, passed rst to his
brother John, then to the youngest brother,
Edward, the Dean of Exeter mentioned by
Kalmeter.211 Their oldest sibling Mary’s
family had lived at Dittisham Rectory
near Dartmouth until 1704.
Breage parish registers record the
birth of Benedeck Peirce or Griger to John Peirce or Griger and Frances and his
christening on 9 October 1681. He had an elder brother John Griger christened
on 18 April 1679. On 5 March 1711/12 Rt. Hon. Sidney, Earl of Godolphin
leased to John Pearce alias Gregor of Breage, yeoman, for 99 years “Chynance,
Trenwheele, Longeld. (Manor of Godolphin). Consideration £257-12-6d. Rent
20/- p. annum. Lives: Lessee, Benedict Pearce, Thomas Pearce, brothers of lessee
(also alias Gregor)”.212 Chynance or Chyrase Farm, directly north of Godolphin
House, was the site of a set of tin stamps driven by a waterwheel,213 a burning
house and of a mine called Wheal Fortune marked in an estate map of 1786 near
the words “Lease Pearce”.214 Around 1710 to 1715 John, Bennet and their brother
Thomas Pearce each sold properties in Breage to John Thomas of Breage, likely
a business partner.215
The historical accounts would suggest that engines were erected twice at Wheal
Vor. Carne specically stated that an engine was at work at Wheal Vor from 1710
to 1714; this engine may have been at Old Engine Shaft. A second installation
was likely circa 1717 at Pearce’s or another shaft, running for four years until
1721. Thomas Newcomen testied that in 1718 his “affairs obliged him to go
into Cornwall where he stayed for the space of the twelve months”216 returning in
January 1718/9. It would be rational to associate this time with the installation of
larger and more efcient machinery at Wheal-an-Vor and possibly at other mines.
Godolphin Ball (Great Work)
We have considerably less evidence concerning this reported engine site: Gilbert
(1838) and Lidstone (1875) quoting unnamed earlier sources.
Lidstone’s source implied that Hannah Newcomen did not know herself
what her husband was doing at Great Work. We may also infer that, unfamiliar
with Cornish mines, Lidstone misunderstood “Great Work” to be Newcomen’s
“magnum opus” – which coincidentally it was.
Figure 7. Section of Wheal Vor Mine208
Thomas Newcomen obtained bishop’s licence at Exeter 13 July 1705 to
marry Hannah Waymouth217 daughter of Peter Waymouth (1660-1751), a farmer
at Malborough near Kingsbridge; they married 11 September 1705 at South
Huish.218 A reasonable interpretation would be that he had commenced this “great
work” of three years some time prior to their marriage and Newcomen’s friends
had quizzed his newly-wed wife as to his whereabouts after a prolonged and
unexplained “secret” absence. On this assumption, a re engine at Great Work
was commenced between 1702 and 1705 and completed towards the end of 1705
at the earliest.
Great Work, originally an opencast working at the intersection of one main
and three branch lodes, had been drained by a shallow adit at about the 400 foot
contour southwest towards Boscreege since signicantly before 1540. John
Leland described the adit thus: “Carne Godalcan on the top of an hille, wher is a
diche, and there was a pile and principal habitation of the Godolcans. The diche
yet apperith, and many stones of late time hath beene fetchid thens; it is a 3. miles
from S. Michael’s Mont by est north est.”219
A deeper adit was referred to in 1673 as new220 by Richard Sleeman, one of its
“Greatwork deep adit was driven from a level on approximately the 220
ft contour giving a depth to adit of 30 fathoms at Leeds shaft. The adit
was driven on lode and would probably have been driven 300 yds before
entering the workings. Driving in killas and latterly granite, it was driven
before the advent of gunpowder as no drill holes are present.”221
Gunpowder was used from 1689 when Thomas Epsley was recruited from the
Mines Royal to introduce the technique of blasting rock at the Godolphin Ball
with a reed of gunpowder and a goose quill as a fuse. The Breage parish register
recorded: “Thomas Epsley, Senior, of Chilcomption, p’ish of Bath & Wells, in
Somerset-shire, he was the man that brought that rare invention of shooting the
Figure 8. John Woodward’s sketch of lodes at Godolphin Ball
Reproduced by the kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library
rocks, which came here in June 1689; and he died at the ball, and was buried
at breag the 16 day of December, in the yeare of our Lord Christ 1689.”222 His
son presumably stayed to open up the signicant subterranean lodes of tin. The
following year, as the young Francis Godolphin noted, the mines at the Ball were
already “so deep that the charge eats up much of the prott.”223
The engineering challenge for Thomas Newcomen was to raise water to the
adit using an engine located either in the opencast Great Work itself or on the grass
at a shaft near the adit 30 or 33 fathoms below.
Around 1720 Godolphin Ball was inspected by Dr John Woodward (1665-
1728), geologist and physician, Professor of Physic at Gresham College and
Fellow of the Royal Society, who was a frequent correspondent224 of Dr John Allen
of Bridgwater, a “good friend” of Thomas Newcomen.225 He collected several
samples including cassiterite and marcasite.226 It is worth quoting his report in full
because, to the author’s knowledge, it has never before been published.
“The have brought up an Adit about 33 fathom deep. They say it is whole
and unwrought to the East, at that level: but it is several Fathom Deeper
wrought to the West. The Load is about a yar wide; full of Sulphur, and
white Mundick. Soe that they are forc’t, as in several other Places, to burn
their Ore, so that they call Roasting it in a calcining Furnace, after it is
Stampt and wash’d for about 12 hours. Their Furnaces are very low Roof’d:
the Roofe and Sole at. The most observable things I saw were that the rst
ve Fathom, or there about, was Growan: after that about about 15 Fathom
of Killas: then Growan again. I cannot say that they lay horizontally true
with plain Faces to each other: but they say they lay on each other through
the Field. The Load continued good, no higher than the lowest Growan,
where I saw it. It put up unto the Killas, above, only about a hand breadth
Figure 9. Godolphin Ball from Estate Map (1786)228
Note the Engine House (c.1733) and Shaft at left of centre and Good Fortune Shaft
and Adit Shaft to its northwest.
RH 1/2936 Published with permission of Cornwall Records Ofce
thick and was here chiey of Sulphur. The Load below, in the Growan, had
several strings ew out from it, which, the Miners say, came in again. In the
Old Work, one of them (which was about a Foot wide), had run paralel to
the Load, at about a Fathom distance, and the Rider on the wall betwixt was
broke down) was full of Clay. Farther on in the Field, where the Mainload
had be wrought, there had been several lesser Loads gone off from it. In
form of Branches. (see the Figure below.) Some of them, they say, have been
extremely Rich: and extended a great length, and to a great distance from
the Load. The Load is near perpendicular. I heard not of any Loads, that
underlay, that sent off such Branches. I could not my self see the Divisions
underneath in the Works; they being now deserted. I only saw the Rows of
Shafts on the Surface. Cap.t John Trezies says that those loads going out did
not diminish the great Load.
The main row of abandoned shafts would have included (from east to west)
Engine Shaft, Crane Shaft, Bob Shaft, Pennick’s [Pennock’s] Shaft and Blow
Shaft which are identied in the 1786 estate map.
Kalmeter stated that Great Work remained mainly idle in 1724 and lay “further
down” in the Godolphin Ball tract from the Wheal Reeth “situated close to the
main road and over 100 fathoms long”.229 That description does not appear to
match modern topography: from Helston and Wheal Vor, he would rst have
reached Great Work,230 around the saddle between Tregonning and Godolphin
Figure 10. Ordnance Survey map of Great Work surveyed 1877, published 1888
hills at an altitude of 115m, before descending gently westward to Wheal Reeth at
105m above mean sea level. Stephen Polgase explains:
“The workings on Wheal Reeth lode stretch from its intersection with
the Greatwork lode in Crane shaft, next to Engine shaft, westwards for
an estimated distance of 250 fathoms, to The Weeth near Germoe. Green
shaft was the rst shaft on that run after it left Greatwork. The lode was
extensively worked from surface down to the deep adit all along its length.
This was particularly so from Green shaft down through the area known as
Trewithen. Green shaft, which lies about 50 fathoms southwest of Burnt
Whim shaft at the extreme eastern end of the Wheel Reeth workings, is
higher than The Greatwork workings. Which 100 fathoms Kalmeter is
referring to is debatable. The main area of Wheel Reeth working shown
on the Godolphin Estate map of 1784 is at the western end. However the
Wheal Reeth lode was very rich as it entered Greatwork.”231
In summary, the contemporary texts above neither conrm nor deny that a re
engine might have operated at Great Work in Godolphin Ball prior to 1720.
The Pennecks
Unlike many landowners who leased bounds to adventurers, the Godolphin family
had always operated their own tin works. John Penneck (1650-1710) was estate
manager for the Godolphin family, followed by his third son Francis (1681-
1722/3). Sidney Godolphin had been granted a lease of the manor of Rialton and
Retraish in 1660, land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall, and in 1671 a 31 year
lease of the mineral rights by Charles II; in 1690 John Penneck by royal grant took
over these leases for 99 and 19 years respectively.232
In 1695 a close friend of John Penneck died, Robert Cock of Helston, the
husband of Sarah Dottin’s rst cousin, who held the salaried post as one of the
four Supervisors of Tin Blowing Houses.233 John Penneck was appointed his
successor, doubtless with the Godolphins’ full trust and support.234 In 1702 the
post was transferred to John’s son: “to Charles Penneck seven Blowing Houses
viz. one called Godolphin House in the parish of Bryack [Breage], one in the
parish of Ludgvan, one usually called Chyan Dower House in the parish of
Gulval; three in the parish of Givendowne [Wendron] and one lately built called
Rose Kymershouse in the parish of Mawgon near Helston: all in Co. Cornwall.”235
We learn from Kalmeter that Francis Penneck ran the Godolphin blowing house
until his death in 1722.
The contractual relationship between the Godolphin estate and the Pennecks
transitioned from stewardship towards tenancy over a generation. John Penneck
would have been Thomas Newcomen’s interface in any business with Godolphin
Ball. His son John (c.1671-1724) became Canon of Exeter in 1705 and may have
been Thomas Newcomen’s contact person in his ecclesiastical dealings there.
Life at Breage came to a head in 1710 when John Penneck died on 29 May, on 8
August Sidney, Earl of Godolphin was dismissed from ofce by Queen Anne and
nine days later his elder brother, Sir William Godolphin of Breage, died childless
and was buried on 3 September at Westminster Abbey.
In 1710 Francis Penneck became steward to the Earl and kept the ‘Book of
accounts, monthly receipts and payments of steward’ and rent accounts for the
13 manors within the estate.236 These papers for the years 1710 to 1712 are extant
and may provide further evidence of whether a re engine was set up at the Ball.
Engine fuel
Godolphin Ball lay equidistant between the two ports of Hayle and Porthleven
where coal from Wales could be landed, both about 5 miles away. The effects of
silting caused by tin streaming and mining since the 1700s have reduced Cornish
river navigation but, until 1825, the River Hayle would have been navigable by
boat as far as Saint Erth Bridge, where sea coal was landed for Moult & Co’s
Treloweth smelting house. Here coal could have been carried by river craft as high
as Relubbus, miles from Great Work, above which water had been diverted
into leats for stamps, and from thence by mule train as in later years.237
In 1724 Henric Kalmeter recorded that land transport by packhorse cost about
1s 3d per ton per mile or 8s 5d per chalder of coals from Relubbus to Great
Work.238 Great Work would not have provided much return mineral cargo just
some copper mundic – because, until about 1722, its tin was smelted at Godolphin
by Francis Penneck and coined at Helston.239 Wheal Vor however was already
producing copper ore before 1715.240
That Newcomen may have been seeking a source of sea coal may be related to
a proposal in 1709 in a ‘Review of the LLanwerne Mines’ (near Swansea) to erect
an “engin” at the cost of £200 with annual upkeep estimated at £120.241 These
sums could cover an engine house for a small engine plus a team of two engineers;
the engine would have belonged to the contractor while its fuel would be free.
Balcoath, “the wood (coat), or old (coth), mine”, lies in Wendron parish towards
the summit of Boswin Hill north of Porkellis village.242 The site was recorded as
already working in 1644. In 1908 when a section of the old mine workings was
reopened, evidence unique in Cornwall was discovered of lime setting, a used
method for splitting rock before gunpowder; nearby was a pipe dated 1650.243
The estate of Boswin belonged from before 1500 to the Hill family of
Trenethick.244 To the north and south was land owned by Thomas Ryse who in
1589 reached agreement to build a leat across Pawle Hill’s land to power stamps
at Porkellis Mills, taking out a lease. Winifred Ryse received her father’s land
in dowry upon her marriage to John Enys in 1603.245 The Enys’ copies of lease
renewals have been archived and provide snapshots of tinning life in the area: for
instance, in 1683 Samuell Enys (1611-1697, grandfather of the patent infringer
and great uncle of Alexander and Rev. John Pendarves) extended the lease of the
watercourses running out of Boswin to Porkellis from Francis Hill, grocer, of
Plymouth. When the lease was extended in 1727, the conceptual map of 1605 was
In 1670, Samuel Enys, “lord of the tinwork or ball of the Higher Porkelles”
granted a sett “for an adit leading to Lodendridden Loade” to Christopher Cock,
John Cock and Alexander Penaluna who were joined by other adventurers over
time as the adit was extended.248 There is mention of “an old adit” and three shafts
being worked in Porkellis Ball in 1725.249 The lead adventurer is likely to have
been Christopher Cock of Wendron (born 1643), the same person who signed the
Wendron parishioners’ protest of 1689 and brother of Robert Cock (1642-1695).250
Neighbouring shafts in the Hill estate are referred to when the lease for the leat
was renegotiated in 1755 it included an “Adit so Conveyed to Mr. Hill’s Lands to
a Certain Mine there called Whele Puffett on the Tenement called Boswenn for the
Benet of the working of the said Mine or any other Mines on the said Tenement
of Boswenn… Provided Mr. Hill & his partners Peter Perry and his partners will
Figure 11. Leats leading to Stamp-an-Pons Stamps, Porkellis247
EN 511/4/1 Published with permission of Cornwall Records Ofce
Immediately Return the said Adit into Mt Enys’ lands in Penelunan Tenement and
Drive the same 20 fathoms therein on the Load or Loads there in certain Fields in
the said Tenement called the Ball Fields ~ Keeping two men continually working
in the said Adit at all working Times…”251
A deep adit, driven from 1795 which may be that now known as the Halwin
Adit, running from Balcoath down to near Porkellis Church, opens at an altitude of
about 500 feet.252 Balcoath lies just over the 600 foot contour so the adit was likely
about 18 fathoms below the grass. The adit had not yet reached the main workings
in 1755 so we can assume some form of pump was used to drain Balcoath and
Whele Puffett, before this date.
The Balcoath sett we can thus ascertain was on the Hill family estates. The
Cock family is likely to have been among the adventurers. It appears that together
they were sufciently acquainted with Thomas Newcomen to have commissioned,
the rst engine of Thomas Newcomen. Their objective was presumably to explore
whether it was worth continuing the adit further northwards.
We might therefore interpret the phrase that the inventors “made then several
experiments in private”253 to refer to secret eld trials at Balcoath of their
‘improved’ re engine, in infringement of Patent No. 356 but apparently covered
by Patent No. 349.
Porkellis is one of the most landlocked mining areas in Cornwall, the closest
harbours being Porthleven and Gweek to the south, both over six miles away.
Portreath, on the north coast, is some ten miles distant: land transport of seacoals,
at about £1 13s 8d per chalder would have been prohibitive. Moreover, had
Newcomen sought secrecy, burning coal a mile from Porkellis Bridge would have
attracted unwelcome attention. Porkellis however had sources of both moorland
and bog peat nearby and it is within this context that we can read the traditional
accounts about Newcomen engines burning turfs. Charred peat was the favoured
fuel in tin blowing houses, western Cornwall having few coppices, and the waste
heat from charcoal burning may have been harnessed to provide cheap energy for
the re engine’s boiler.
By way of anecdote, one of the rst Bull engines operated at Balcoath in 1792
which became the subject of a successful infringement claim by Boulton and
Watt and was soon replaced by a Watt machine. Today the Cornish Mining World
Heritage Site surrounds but omits Balcoath; its inclusion would be an appropriate
recognition to this small mine’s global signicance to the history of thermal power
Balcoath II, Tregonebris and Trevenen
Daniell and Cunnack seem to have had a common source for their information which
implied that a second early engine was installed at Balcoath which was “afterwards
taken to Tregonebris and to Trevenen,” both of which are in Wendron parish.
The Tregonebris sett was originally worked to a depth of 17 fathoms.255 In 1854
it was reopened as East Wheal Lovell and “at the bottom of an open excavation
the old shaft showed the remains of an old lift of wood pumps left by the last
workers, who carried on their operations with a water-wheel.”256 “This old [re]
engine was of very short stroke, one of the rst put up in Cornwall (and) in that
case perhaps a Newcomen, and was brought to Tregonebris, it was reported, from
Balcoath, near Porkellis.“257
Cunnack described how Trevenen and its neighbour, Trenethick were drained:
“Anciently this mine was worked by a water-wheel… The Cober river was
diverted into Trevenen mine and thence into this [Trenethick Wood mine] the
stream afterwards coming out of the adit, then through a second adit cut for the
purpose back to the Cober valley at Lowertown, just above the Higher Mills. A
water-wheel between the shallow and deep adits drained Trevenen mine when it
was originally worked.”258 Trenethick Wood mine is synonymous with the Wood
Work visited by Kalmeter, but he does not mention any re engine in operation
near there.
“The leading works or mines now at work hereabouts lie in the parish of
Wendron, about two miles from Helston, and are as follows: The Wood
Work is an old mine recently reworked. It was formerly worked for tin
which is found there in the upper part of the lode, and is being worked by
Figure 12. Porkellis and Boswin Down showing location of Balcoath and
approximate path of the Boswin Leat, the Halwin Adit254 and the assumed
boundary between the lands of Hill and Enys.
a few miners who have taken it upon tribute, as they say. That is, it is at
their own risk, paying the adventurers in the work 1-5th of all the ore they
raise, and in addition paying all the other expenses that arise in such a work.
But mostly copper ore is found, of a good grade, being sold for £15 a ton.
Thomas Pattin from Lancaster runs the working, and pays Mr Jonathan
Hill, the owner of the ground, which is in feu or fee, 1-6th part of the ore.
The mine is twenty fathoms deep, and the level in which the ore is being
followed is thirty fathoms long. There is also a water-wheel with pumps to
draw the water out of this and Roselidden tin mine, for the reason that this
machine is paid for by the adventurers in the last-named mine.”259
This passage is diagnostic of the changes which had occurred between 1700
and the 1720s: the adit was complete with water-wheel (likely of Coster design),
rod pumps had been installed (likely a bob gin), copper was the metal and the
adventurer was no local yeoman but a merchant smelter from Lancashire.
Thomas Patten of Warrington (1662–1726), sugar and tobacco importer, had in
1717 established a copper works at Bank Quay, later Thomas Patten & Company, in
partnership with William “Halfpenny” Wood of Wolverhampton (1671–1730).260
He was also a founding partner in the Cheadle Company brassworks (founded in
1719) with Thomas Barker (died 1725) of the London Lead Company.261
Jonathan Hill (1692-1725) of Trevethick Esq., who died aged 33 a year after
Kalmeter’s visit, was the nephew of Francis Hill of Plymouth, owner of land at
Boswin. The Hill family had several land holdings in Wendron and may have
decided to invest in a second re engine for Balcoath on account of previous
experience with the technology while the adit was being extended.
In 1726 Trevenen returned a prot of £7,000 but whether that was a result of
the re engine is unclear.262 We do know it was abandoned soon after because
in 1729 an agreement was made to reopen Trevenen, described as “very deep”
and full of water, by means of a adit from another nearby mine, Tremenheere.
Operations ceased in 1741.263
The engine’s relocation to Trevenen was likely later than 1724 and possibly
connected with ownership reshufe of Porkellis land and tin bounds in 1727-28
which led to the mine being reopened.264
That this second engine was worth relocating twice each time it became
redundant would suggest that its intended application was to de-water a reopened
mine shaft while the adit was being driven. Such short term installations of re
engines need not be seen as inefcacy of the technology: rather, a re engine was
one method of drainage among many, each economic within different parameters,
as illustrated by Pryce at Bullen Garden Mine in 1778.265
6. Hypothesis
The following scenario is an attempt to harmonise the disparate accounts and
their economic and historical constraints into one plausible, albeit speculative,
narrative. The timeline, while signicantly earlier than the historical consensus,
concurs with the available evidence, both documentary and anecdotal.
1685-onwards: Newcomen built a trading business buying iron on credit from
Foley’s partnership and selling iron tools to mines in Devon and Cornwall and
possibly for export to North America.
1689-1699: Newcomen and Calley spent ten years developing the re-engine in
1695: Patent No 349 granted to Sam. Buttall for “his new invenčions for raiseing
& discharging water out of mines.
1699: The Fire-engine Act was passed with sponsorship from Cornish MPs.
1700: Newcomen experimented with Savery’s design in his garden in Dartmouth.
1702: Savery published ‘The Miners’ Friend’.266
1702: George Dottin died. Thomas Newcomen’s father Elias died.
1702: Newcomen took on apprentices and borrowed money from Mrs Dottin.
1702: Savery may have experimented with his re-engine in Cornwall.
1703: Newcomen and Calley likely began experiments with an atmospheric en-
gine at Balcoath “in private”.
1703: Stannary pre-emption price support began.
1704: Newcomen and Calley started on their engine at Great Work “in secret”.
1705: Thomas Newcomen married Hannah Waymouth.
1705: Great Work engine likely was successfully commissioned.
1705: Savery’s engine trials at Wednesbury were an abject failure: the engine
1706: Great Work produced some 200,000 lb tin for each of the next four years.
1706: Balcoath Engine, modied to use local fuel, was ‘perfected’.
1707: Great Work was modied from four lifts to six to reach 60 fathoms.
1708: Newcomen and Calley reached agreement with Savery and his investors.
1709: Balcoath Engine was likely relocated to Wheal an Vor for Messrs Pearce.
1709: Some 400 miners at Godolphin Ball raised a vast quantity of tin.
1710: John Penneck and Sir William Godolphin died.
1710: The autumn election produced a tory landslide.
1710: The Newcomen team left Cornwall, taking one engine to the Midlands.
1710: Charles Trengove and George Newcomen likely remained in Cornwall.
1711: Stow Heath and Coneygree engines erected at Wolverhampton and Dudley.
1712: Ofcial opening of Dudley engine with Savery and potential customers.
1713: Possible installation of Wheal-an-Vor II engines
1713: Seaborne Coals duties doubled from 5s. to 10 s.
1714: Great Work and/or Wheal-an-Vor I engines stopped work.
1716: Charles Trengove was in the Midlands.
1717: Wheal-an-Vor and one or more other engines in Cornwall were dismantled.
1718: Newcomen and Hornblower set up new engine Wheal-an-Vor II.
1719: National Debt Act further raised duties on Sea Coals by 4s.6.
1721: Engine Wheal-an-Vor II stopped work; the mine was abandoned.
1724: Kalmeter toured Cornwall and saw no re engines at work.
“Mr. Newcornen’s invention of the steam re engine, even in the Weakness
of its infancy, promised that future excellence to which it is since arrived,
whereby we are enabled to sink our Mines to twice the depth we could
formerly do by any other machinery.”267
The time period 1702-1710 was the period when the Newcomen team developed
the atmospheric re engine from prototype to an automated and reliable industrial
machine, an alternative to the water wheel and at rod for the bob gin, and a
temporary power source while adits were driven.
Appendix 1: Notes
Units of measurement
This article uses units of measurement in use at the time of the events described.
The following table provides the Système International equivalents:
Unit SI equivalent
Inch 0.0254 m
Fathom 1.83 m
Mile 1609 m
Pound (lb) 0.454 kg
Stannary hundred (120 pounds) 54.4 kg
Chalder (72 heaped bushels; 53 hundredweight) 2693 kg
The value of English coinage was based on the silver standard whereby one pound
sterling (20 shillings of unclipped coins) was equivalent to 129.4 grains of gold
(0.00839 kg) with a present value of around £210. The shilling consisted of 12
pennies (“d”).
Until 1752 under the Julian calendar in Britain there existed an eleven day time
difference with continental Europe. For legal purposes the calendar year began
on Lady Day, 25 March. April was the second month of the year and the date
12.11.1701 or 170½ is here by convention rendered 12 January 1701/2 and was
simultaneous with 23 January 1702 in Paris or Amsterdam.
Spelling and Grammar
Words and names have been spelled and formatted as in original texts (with the
exceptions of “ƒ” and “FF”) and therefore names are not consistent between
sources (e.g. Pearce and Pierse). This has been done to avoid imposing modern
conventions retrospectively on original accounts and to encourage the texts
to speak for themselves. The same principle is followed for capitalisation and
This article is merely a supplement to the prior research and publications of Rhys
Jenkins, Henry Dickinson, Tom Rolt and John Allen: “If I have seen further it is
by standing on ye sholders of Giants.”269
I would like to express my thanks to the following people for their support in
writing this paper:
Colin Buck CIfA, Senior Archaeologist, Historic Environment (Projects), Cornwall
Council; Tony Bennett, Huel Vor historian; Ken Buttall and Philip Buttall, Buttall
family historians, Ainsley Cocks, Research and Information Ofcer, Cornish
Mining World Heritage Site Ofce, Economic Development and Culture,
Cornwall Council; Rev. Dr. Stephen Dray, Cornish Baptist chuch historian; Prof.
Rev. Richard Hills, Fire-Engine engineer; Janet Lewis, Administrative Assistant,
Historic Environment, Cornwall Council; Pete Joseph, our indefatigable
typesetter; Professor David Perrett, industrial archaeologist and engineering
historian; Stephen Polglase, Breage and Germoe historian; Ken Ripper, Breage
historian; Rick Stewart, copper mining historian; David Thomas, Claire Bradley
and Katrina Grifths at the Cornwall Records Ofce; The staff of the Courtney
Library at the Royal Cornwall Museum; Mark Trengove and Graham Trengove,
Trengove family historians
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Survey of Cornwall’ page 38.
2. Hills, Richard L. (1989) ‘Power from Steam: A History of the Stationary Steam
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3. Rolt, L. T. C and Allen, J. S. (1997) ‘The Steam Engine of Thomas Newton’ Landmark
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4. P.R.O. C12/1436/12 quoted in Allen, John S. (1964) ‘The 1712 and other Newcomen
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37 page 59.
5. Todd, Alexander R. (1963) ‘Science in Modern Society’ in ‘Proceedings of the Ghana
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6. Cocks, Ainsley (2014), personal correspondence with the author
7. Hamilton, James (1854) ‘British Mining’ in ‘Excelsior: Helps to Progress in Religion,
Science, and Literature.’ Volume 2 page 203.
8. Clavering, Eric (1994) ‘Coal Mills in Tyne and Wear Collieries: the Use of the
Waterwheel for Mine Drainage 1600-1750’ in ‘Bulletin of the Peak District Mines
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Volume 25 page 112.
11. Godolphin, Francis (5 July 1690) letter to Sir John Evelyn, British Library Add.
MS 78307; Francis Godolphin was a protege of John Evelyn, the diarist and close
friend of Robert Hooke; Ball or Bal in the Cornish language means a group of mine
workings on the same lode
12. Fiennes, Celia (1695) ‘Through England on a Side Saddle’
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103. Two of John Hayne’s legatees had signed Flavell’s indulgence petition in 1672: John
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and Bloomeryes. Of Reduceing the Ores of Lead, Copper, Iron, Tin. Of Reneing. Of
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131. Lysons, Daniel and Samuel (1814) ‘Magna Britannia: Volume the Third Containing
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132. (1706) ‘Middleton v Moult, Pensent and Lydall: Middlesex’ and (1714) ‘Moult,
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diary, the Y and F levers (“ye wey” and “ye Efe”) needed “mendin” in late 1714
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at Bilston’ in Transactions of the Newcomen Society, Volume 74, Issue 2, pages
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187. The Gorsedh Kernow Bardic Collection cited in (29 August 2013) ‘Cornish collection
of Bards and all things Kernowek’ Exeter University Press Ofce
188. The Bilston engine, where no mention is made of the Potters in Edward Shorts’s
diary, the Y and F levers (“ye wey” and “ye Efe”) needed “mendin” in late 1714
which also suggests that the scoggan was signicantly earlier than 1713. Allen, John
S. and Elton, Julia M. H. (2004) ‘Edward Short and the 1714 Newcomen Engine
at Bilston’ in Transactions of the Newcomen Society, Volume 74, Issue 2, pages
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of Edward Short - a detailed reappraisal’ in British Mining No 86, pages 122-146.
189. Marson, Alfred (15 January 1897) letter to ‘The Engineer’; Davey, Henry (October
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190. Hertwig, Richard (1909) ‘A Manual of Zoology’ page 577
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193. Investors included Edward Lloyd, Benjamin Coole, Arthur Thomas, John Andrews,
Abraham Darby, Nehemiah Champion, John Coster and Thomas Coster
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195. Hodgeson, Marmaduke (1689) ‘A treatise of practical gauging’; Science Museum
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197. Cornish Records Ofce AR/14 and AR/18 series.
198. Desaguliers, J. T. (1744) ‘A Course of Experimental Philosophy.’ Volume II, pages
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199. (1737) Wilkes ‘Journal of Dr Wilkes’ Staffordshire Record Ofce 53550 pages 54-55.
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201. Meres, John (30 November 1717) Letter to George Liddell, Durham Archives
202. Viz: Hamilton Jenkin, A. K. (1929) ‘The History of Great Wheal Vor’ in ‘Journal of
the Royal Institution of Cornwall’ Volume XXIII page 300; Polglase, Stephen (2003)
‘The Book of Breage & Germoe’ page 12, published by Halsgrove.
203. Viz: Jars (1765) ‘Voyages Métallurgiques’ volume III page 194; Hemwood, W.J.
(1843) ‘The Metalliferous Deposits of Cornwall and Devon’ pages 51 to 56.
204. Note: another mine of the same name was located near Scorrier, viz. “Wheal Vor
lies near the 7th mile-stone on the road from Truro to Redruth” (1817) ‘Gwennap’ in
‘The gazetteer of the county of Cornwall’.
205. This Wheal Fortune is not the same Wheal Fortune in Ludgvan Parish where the 48
inch engine Newcomen and Hornblower buit by around 1718 for Mr. Lemon. Later
that same day (26 November 1724) Kalmeter passed through Marazion and within
one mile and easy view of this latter Wheal Fortune but recorded nothing in his diary.
206. Henwood, W. J. (10 November 1836) ‘A lecture on the Phenomena of Metalliferous
Veins; delivered at the Penzance Institution’ in ‘The Edinburgh Philosophical
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207. Lysons, Daniel and Samuel (1814) ‘Magna Britannia: Volume the Third Containing
Cornwall’ page 351; Bishop Trelawny died in 1721 and was succeeded by his brother
Edward (1652-1727) Dean of Exeter.
208. Section of Great Wheal Vor Mine c. 1840’s from Collins (1919) ‘Observations on the
West of England Mining Region’ plate XII (Pearce’s Shaft shown as being double)
209. Reynolds, Ann (1997) ‘Pearce’s Shaft Wheal Vor: An Archaeological Survey’
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213. Polglase, Stephen (2003) ‘The Book of Breage and Germoe’ page 63, published by
214. (1786) ‘Plan of part of the Manor of Godolphin in Breage, Germoe, Crowan and St
Hilary made in 1791 from a survey taken in 1786’ Cornwall Record Ofce RH/1/2936
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217. Marriage licenses of the Diocese of Exeter from the Bishop’s registers
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Itinerary of John Leland in or about the Year 1535-1543 Part I to III”, page 189.
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221. Polglase, Stephen (16 April 2014) personal correspondence with the author.
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225. Allen, John (1730) ‘Specimina Ichnographica’ page 14; Woolrich, A. P. (1998)
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226. Woodward, John (1728) ‘Attempt towards a Natural History of the Fossils of
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228. (1786) ‘Plan of part of the Manor of Godolphin in Breage, Germoe, Crowan and
St Hilary made in 1791 from a survey taken in 1786’ Cornwall Record Ofce
229. Ordnance Survey Grid Reference: SW588305. Note: another mine called Wheal
Reeth was in Lelant parish.
230. Ordnance Survey Grid Reference: SW595308.
231. Polglase, Stephen (16 April 2014) personal correspondence with the author.
232. Shaw, William A., editor (1931) ‘Entry Book: December 1690, 1-10’ in ‘Calendar of
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1695, 16-30’ in ‘Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 10: 1693-1696’ page 1412;
(20 November 1695) “one blowing house each in the parishes of St. Allen, St. Agnes,
Illogan, Redruth, Gwennap, Penryn, and one other called Trecoas, lately built near
Penryn” in ‘King’s Warrant Book’ XVIII, page 289
235. (7 August 1702) Shaw, William A., editor (1939) ‘Treasury Warrants: August 1702,
1-15’ in ‘Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 17: 1702’ page 323
236. Cornwall Record Ofce GO/33
237. Great Work Cost Book 1759-1764 in Hamilton Jenkin, Kenneth (undated) ‘A West
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‘Magna Britannia: Volume the Third Containing Cornwall’ page 5.
238. Henric Kalmeter (1725) edited by Justin Brooke (2001) “The Kalmeter Journal
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239. Merret, Christopher (25 March 1678) ‘A Relation of the Tinn-Mines, and working
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England’ page 18
240. Reynolds, Ann (1997) ‘Pearce’s Shaft Wheal Vor: An Archaeological Survey’
Cornwall County Council page 17
241. Burroughs, John (1709) ‘Review of the Llanwerne Mines’ Margam Estate Collection
in John, A.H. (1943) ‘Iron and Coal on a Glamorgan Estate, 1700-1740’.
242. Bannister, John (1816) ‘A Glossary of Cornish Names’; Ordnance Survey Grid
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243. (1908) ‘Mining Jornal’; Cunnack, Richard John (c. 1845) quoted in Brooke, Justin,
ed. (1993) ‘The Cunnack manuscript: from notes taken between 1845 and 1907’ page
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District – Overview and notes’
244. (13 January 1501/2) ‘Notice of grant and conrmation, lands in Boswin, Wendron’
CRO AD528/2
245. (2 Jan 1603/4) ‘Pre-nuptial settlement, Budock, St Gluvias, Wendron’ CRO EN/11
246. (1 January 1604) ‘Map of watercourses across Porkellis and Lizerea, Wendron with
extract from a deed between Thomas Rise senior and Thomas Seyntaubin concerning
the reservation of the watercourses’ CRO EN/510 Item 19;
(5 June 1683) Lease of watercourses running out of Boswen’, EN/511 Item 5; (1727)
‘Map showing watercourse across Boswen, Porkellis and Lizerea, Wendron’ EN/510
Item 20; (1727) ‘Map showing the course of the water rising in Caluadnack, the
Duchy land of John Nants, esquire’ EN/511 Item 4.
247. (1727) ‘Map respecting water that issueth in Caludnack in Mr. Nances’s Dutch
Lands’ CRO EN 511/4/1.
248. (20 August 1670) ‘Sett granted to Christopher Cock, John Cock and Alexander
Penaluna for seven years for an adit leading to Lodendridden Loade’ CRO EN/509
Item 3.
249. (13 September 1725) ‘Memorandum by Samuell Dower, of Wendron relating to the
three shafts he is working in Percellas Ball and an old adit’ CRO EN/509 Item 8;
(23 September 1725) ‘Sett of two shafts in Porkellis Ball, part of Porkellis Wartha,
Wendron’ CRO EN/509 Item 9.
250. Hill, John (4 Feb 1689) ‘Protest by parishioners, Wendron’ (Moulton, 186, R800)
CRO AD528/12
251. Enys John and Warren, Samuel (24 February 1755) ‘Memorandum’ Cornwall
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252. (9 September 1795) ‘Agreement ... tenement of Porkellis and carry the deep adit
from there to ... Boswen’ CRO EN/511 Item 10; “The adit which drains Boswin and
Balcoath Mines… was found at the side of the lane leading south from Porkellis
church but the entrance was blocked by rubbish and probably collapse though a
short dig would probably give access.” Jarratt, Tony (9 October 1981) ‘Tony Jarratt’s
Caving Log’ Volume 2, 1974-1981, page 142.
253. Desaguliers, J. T. (1744) ‘A Course of Experimental Philosophy.’ Volume II, page 533.
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Cornwall’ Vol. XIV page 592
257. Cunnack, Richard John (c. 1855) quoted in Brooke, Justin, ed. (1993) ‘The Cunnack
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258. Cunnack, Richard John (c. 1845) quoted in Brooke, Justin, ed. (1993) ‘The Cunnack
manuscript: from notes taken between 1845 and 1907’ pages 14 to 18 published by
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260. Sellers, Ian (1998) ‘Early Modern Warrington, 1520-1847: a Denitive History’ page
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263. Hamilton Jenkin, A. K. (1978) ‘Wendron Tin’ pages 51 to 52, Wendron Forge.
264. Cornwall Records Ofce EN/510 item 6.
265. Pryce, William (1778) ‘Mineralia Cornubensis’ page 170 illustration in Rolt, L. T. C
and Allen, J. S. (1997) ‘The Steam Engine of Thomas Newton’ Landmark Publishing,
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266. Stuart, Robert (1824) ‘A Descriptive History of the Steam Engine’ page 34
267. Pryce, William (1778) ‘Mineralogia Cornubiensis: A Treatise on Minerals, Mines
and Mining’ page 308
268. Newton, Isaac (5 Februar y 1675/6) Letter to Robert Hooke
... Thus Allen(2009) argues that the steam engine emerged in Britain only because coal was abundant, butGreener (2015) showed that Thomas Newcomen's early steam engines were fuelled by peat and turf, and that Newcomen moved to coal fuelling only opportunistically, not obligatorily. ...
Knowledge commons facilitate voluntary private interactions in markets and societies. These shared pools of knowledge consist of intellectual and legal infrastructures that both enable and constrain private initiatives. This volume brings together theoretical and empirical approaches that develop and apply the Governing Knowledge Commons framework to the evolution of various kinds of shared knowledge structures that underpin exchanges of goods, services, and ideas. Chapters offer vivid and illuminating case studies that illustrate this conceptual framework. How did pooling scientific knowledge enable the Industrial Revolution? How do social networks underpin the credit system enabling the Agra footwear market? How did the market category Scotch whisky emerge and who has access to it? What is the potential of blockchain-ledgers as shared knowledge repositories? This volume demonstrates the importance of shared knowledge in modern society.
... Evidence suggests that Newcomen and Calley built two engines 'in private', one, a portable, demonstration engine, which was erected at two or three Cornish tin mines, Balcoath and Great Work, and probably another which remained in service for about a decade at Wheal Vor. 95 In his role as Treasurer for the Sick and Wounded Seamen and Prisoners of War, Thomas Savery had contact with agents in each major port each year to disburse money; for example for the year to 30 June 1711, £382 4s. 2d. was paid: 96 ...
It is well documented that the first public Newcomen engine was built in 1712 near Dudley Castle. Less well known is that Thomas Newcomen first visited Stourbridge in 1694 and maintained social and economic connections in Worcestershire. This paper describes the range and progression of relationships centred on Newcomen, which proved conducive to his and John Calley’s later deployment of the atmospheric engine in the neighbouring South Staffordshire coalfield, culminating in the construction of the 1712 engine.
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An excavation on the eastern side of Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, uncovered the remains of a sugar house and related buildings. Documentary evidence confirms that the sugar house was built anew around the middle of the 17th century and remained active for at least a century, being out of use by 1754. The excavation has produced a large assemblage of ceramics used in the refining of sugar, but very little of it is of local manufacture. Once the sugar house ceased functioning, the ceramics were discarded on site and used to infill structures and build new surfaces. The assemblage includes ceramic forms not previously catalogued in sugar-refining before.
Thomas Harrison is today perhaps best remembered for the manner of his death. As a leading member of the republican regime and signatory to Charles I's death warrant, he was hanged, drawn and quartered by the Restoration government in 1660; a spectacle witnessed by Samuel Pepys who recorded him 'looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition'. Beginning with this grisly event, this book employs a thematic, rather than chronological approach, to illustrate the role of millenarianism and providence in the English Revolution, religion within the new model army, literature, image and reputation, and Harrison's relationship with key individuals like Ireton and Cromwell as well as groups, most notably the Fifth Monarchists. Divided in three parts, the study starts with an analysis of Harrison's last year of life, the nature of his response to the political collapse of the Interregnum regimes, and his apparent acceptance of the Restoration without overt resistance. Part two considers Harrison's years of 'power', analysing his political activities and influence in the New Model, especially with regard to the regicide. The final part ties Harrison's political retreat to his initial emergence from obscurity; arguing that Harrison's relative political quietism during the later 1650s was a reflection of the development of his millenarianism. Unlike the only two previous full length studies of Harrison the present work makes use of a full range of manuscript, primary and secondary sources, including the huge range of new material that has fundamentally changed how the early modern period is now understood. Fully footnoted and referenced, this study provides the first modern academic study of Harrison, and through him illuminates the key themes of this contested period.