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Industrial Biography - Iron Workers and Tool Makers
by Samuel Smiles
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As much wealth was gained by the pursuit of the revived iron manufacture in Sussex, iron-mills rapidly extended over the ore-yielding district. The landed proprietors entered with zeal into this new branch of industry, and when wood ran short, they did not hesitate to sacrifice their ancestral oaks to provide fuel for the furnaces. Mr. Lower says even the most ancient families, such as the Nevilles, Howards, Percys, Stanleys, Montagues, Pelhams, Ashburnhams, Sidneys, Sackvilles, Dacres, and Finches, prosecuted the manufacture with all the apparent ardour of Birmingham and Wolverhampton men in modern times. William Penn, the courtier Quaker, had iron-furnaces at Hawkhurst and other places in Sussex. The ruins of the Ashburnham forge, situated a few miles to the north-east of Battle, still serve to indicate the extent of the manufacture. At the upper part of the valley in which the works were situated, an artificial lake was formed by constructing an embankment across the watercourse descending from the higher ground,[9] and thus a sufficient fall of water was procured for the purpose of blowing the furnaces, the site of which is still marked by surrounding mounds of iron cinders and charcoal waste. Three quarters of a mile lower down the valley stood the forge, also provided with water-power for working the hammer; and some of the old buildings are still standing, among others the boring-house, of small size, now used as an ordinary labourer's cottage, where the guns were bored. The machine was a mere upright drill worked by the water-wheel, which was only eighteen inches across the breast. The property belonged, as it still does, to the Ashburnham family, who are said to have derived great wealth from the manufacture of guns at their works, which were among the last carried on in Sussex. The Ashburnham iron was distinguished for its toughness, and was said to be equal to the best Spanish or Swedish iron.

Many new men also became enriched, and founded county families; the Fuller family frankly avowing their origin in the singular motto of Carbone et forcipibus—literally, by charcoal and tongs.[10]

Men then went into Sussex to push their fortunes at the forges, as they now do in Wales or Staffordshire; and they succeeded then, as they do now, by dint of application, industry, and energy. The Sussex Archaeological Papers for 1860 contain a curious record of such an adventurer, in the history of the founder of the Gale family. Leonard Gale was born in 1620 at Riverhead, near Sevenoaks, where his father pursued the trade of a blacksmith. When the youth had reached his seventeenth year, his father and mother, with five of their sons and daughters, died of the plague, Leonard and his brother being the only members of the family that survived. The patrimony of 200L. left them was soon spent; after which Leonard paid off his servants, and took to work diligently at his father's trade. Saving a little money, he determined to go down into Sussex, where we shortly find him working the St. Leonard's Forge, and afterwards the Tensley Forge near Crawley, and the Cowden Iron-works, which then bore a high reputation. After forty years' labour, he accumulated a good fortune, which he left to his son of the same name, who went on iron-forging, and eventually became a county gentleman, owner of the house and estate of Crabbett near Worth, and Member of Parliament for East Grinstead.

Several of the new families, however, after occupying a high position in the county, again subsided into the labouring class, illustrating the Lancashire proverb of "Twice clogs, once boots," the sons squandering what the father's had gathered, and falling back into the ranks again. Thus the great Fowles family of Riverhall disappeared altogether from Sussex. One of them built the fine mansion of Riverhall, noble even in decay. Another had a grant of free warren from King James over his estates in Wadhurst, Frant, Rotherfield, and Mayfield. Mr. Lower says the fourth in descent from this person kept the turnpike-gate at Wadhurst, and that the last of the family, a day-labourer, emigrated to America in 1839, carrying with him, as the sole relic of his family greatness, the royal grant of free warren given to his ancestor. The Barhams and Mansers were also great iron-men, officiating as high sheriffs of the county at different times, and occupying spacious mansions. One branch of these families terminated, Mr. Lower says, with Nicholas Barham, who died in the workhouse at Wadhurst in 1788; and another continues to be represented by a wheelwright at Wadhurst of the same name.

The iron manufacture of Sussex reached its height towards the close of the reign of Elizabeth, when the trade became so prosperous that, instead of importing iron, England began to export it in considerable quantities, in the shape of iron ordnance. Sir Thomas Leighton and Sir Henry Neville had obtained patents from the queen, which enabled them to send their ordnance abroad, the consequence of which was that the Spaniards were found arming their ships and fighting us with guns of our own manufacture. Sir Walter Raleigh, calling attention to the subject in the House of Commons, said, "I am sure heretofore one ship of Her Majesty's was able to beat ten Spaniards, but now, by reason of our own ordnance, we are hardly matcht one to one." Proclamations were issued forbidding the export of iron and brass ordnance, and a bill was brought into Parliament to put a stop to the trade; but, not withstanding these prohibitions, the Sussex guns long continued to be smuggled out of the country in considerable numbers. "It is almost incredible," says Camden, "how many guns are made of the iron in this county. Count Gondomar (the Spanish ambassador) well knew their goodness when he so often begged of King James the boon to export them." Though the king refused his sanction, it appears that Sir Anthony Shirley of Weston, an extensive iron-master, succeeded in forwarding to the King of Spain a hundred pieces of cannon.

So active were the Sussex manufacturers, and so brisk was the trade they carried on, that during the reign of James I. it is supposed one-half of the whole quantity of iron produced in England was made there. Simon Sturtevant, in his 'Treatise of Metallica,' published in 1612, estimates the whole number of iron-mills in England and Wales at 800, of which, he says, "there are foure hundred milnes in Surry, Kent, and Sussex, as the townsmen of Haslemere have testified and numbered unto me." But the townsmen of Haslemere must certainly have been exaggerating, unless they counted smiths' and farriers' shops in the number of iron-mills. About the same time that Sturtevant's treatise was published, there appeared a treatise entitled the 'Surveyor's Dialogue,' by one John Norden, the object of which was to make out a case against the iron-works and their being allowed to burn up the timber of the country for fuel. Yet Norden does not make the number of iron-works much more than a third of Sturtevant's estimate. He says, "I have heard that there are or lately were in Sussex neere 140 hammers and furnaces for iron, and in it and Surrey adjoining three or four glasse-houses." Even the smaller number stated by Norden, however, shows that Sussex was then regarded as the principal seat of the iron-trade. Camden vividly describes the noise and bustle of the manufacture—the working of the heavy hammers, which, "beating upon the iron, fill the neighbourhood round about, day and night, with continual noise." These hammers were for the most part worked by the power of water, carefully stored in the artificial "Hammer-ponds" above described. The hammer-shaft was usually of ash, about 9 feet long, clamped at intervals with iron hoops. It was worked by the revolutions of the water-wheel, furnished with projecting arms or knobs to raise the hammer, which fell as each knob passed, the rapidity of its action of course depending on the velocity with which the water-wheel revolved. The forge-blast was also worked for the most part by water-power. Where the furnaces were small, the blast was produced by leather bellows worked by hand, or by a horse walking in a gin. The foot-blasts of the earlier iron-smelters were so imperfect that but a small proportion of the ore was reduced, so that the iron-makers of later times, more particularly in the Forest of Dean, instead of digging for ironstone, resorted to the beds of ancient scoriae for their principal supply of the mineral.

Notwithstanding the large number of furnaces in blast throughout the county of Sussex at the period we refer to, their produce was comparatively small, and must not be measured by the enormous produce of modern iron-works; for while an iron-furnace of the present day will easily turn out 150 tons of pig per week, the best of the older furnaces did not produce more than from three to four tons. One of the last extensive contracts executed in Sussex was the casting of the iron rails which enclose St. Paul's Cathedral. The contract was thought too large for one iron-master to undertake, and it was consequently distributed amongst several contractors, though the principal part of the work was executed at Lamberhurst, near Tunbridge Wells. But to produce the comparatively small quantity of iron turned out by the old works, the consumption of timber was enormous; for the making of every ton of pig-iron required four loads of timber converted into charcoal fuel, and the making of every ton of bar-iron required three additional loads. Thus, notwithstanding the indispensable need of iron, the extension of the manufacture, by threatening the destruction of the timber of the southern counties, came to be regarded in the light of a national calamity. Up to a certain point, the clearing of the Weald of its dense growth of underwood had been of advantage, by affording better opportunities for the operations of agriculture. But the "voragious iron-mills" were proceeding to swallow up everything that would burn, and the old forest growths were rapidly disappearing. An entire wood was soon exhausted, and long time was needed before it grew again. At Lamberhurst alone, though the produce was only about five tons of iron a-week, the annual consumption of wood was about 200,000 cords! Wood continued to be the only material used for fuel generally—a strong prejudice existing against the use of sea-coal for domestic purposes.[11] It therefore began to be feared that there would be no available fuel left within practicable reach of the metropolis; and the contingency of having to face the rigorous cold of an English winter without fuel naturally occasioning much alarm, the action of the Government was deemed necessary to remedy the apprehended evil.

To check the destruction of wood near London, an Act was passed in 1581 prohibiting its conversion into fuel for the making of iron within fourteen miles of the Thames, forbidding the erection of new ironworks within twenty-two miles of London, and restricting the number of works in Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, beyond the above limits. Similar enactments were made in future Parliaments with the same object, which had the effect of checking the trade, and several of the Sussex ironmasters were under the necessity of removing their works elsewhere. Some of them migrated to Glamorganshire, in South Wales, because of the abundance of timber as well as ironstone in that quarter, and there set up their forges, more particularly at Aberdare and Merthyr Tydvil. Mr. Llewellin has recently published an interesting account of their proceedings, with descriptions of their works,[12] remains of which still exist at Llwydcoed, Pontyryns, and other places in the Aberdare valley. Among the Sussex masters who settled in Glamorganshire for the purpose of carrying on the iron manufacture, were Walter Burrell, the friend of John Ray, the naturalist, one of the Morleys of Glynde in Sussex, the Relfes from Mayfield, and the Cheneys from Crawley.

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

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



[1] WILKINS, Leges Sax. 25.

[2] Life of St. Egwin, in Capgrave's Nova Legenda Anglioe. Alcester was, as its name indicates, an old Roman settlement (situated on the Icknild Street), where the art of working in iron was practised from an early period. It was originally called Alauna, being situated on the river Alne in Warwickshire. It is still a seat of the needle manufacture.

[3] The following is an extract of this curious document, which is dated the 26th Dec. 1352: "Ceste endenture fait entre monsire Richard de Goldesburghe, chivaler, dune part, et Robert Totte, seignour, dautre tesmoigne qe le dit monsire Richard ad graunte et lesse al dit Robert deuz Olyveres contenaunz vynt quatre blomes de la feste seynt Piere ad vincula lan du regne le Roi Edward tierce apres le conqueste vynt sysme, en sun parke de Creskelde, rendant al dit monsire Richard chesqune semayn quatorzse soutz dargent duraunt les deux Olyvers avaunt dist; a tenir et avoir al avaunt dit Robert del avaunt dit monsire Richard de la feste seynt Piere avaunt dist, taunque le bois soit ars du dit parke a la volunte le dit monsire Richard saunz interrupcione [e le dicte monsieur Richard trovera a dit Robert urre suffisaunt pur lez ditz Olyvers pur le son donaunt: these words are interlined]. Et fait a savoir qe le dit Robert ne nule de soens coupard ne abatera nule manere darbre ne de boys put les deuz olyvers avaunt ditz mes par la veu et la lyvere le dit monsire Richard, ou par ascun autre par le dit monsire Richard assigne. En tesmoigaunz (sic) de quenx choses a cestes presentes endentures les parties enterchaungablement ount mys lour seals. Escript a Creskelde le meskerdy en le semayn de Pasque lan avaunt diste."

It is probable that the "blomes" referred to in this agreement were the bloomeries or fires in which the iron was made; and that the "olyveres" were forges or erections, each of which contained so many bloomeries, but were of limited durability, and probably perished in the using.

[4] The back of a grate has recently been found, cast by Richard Leonard at Brede Furnace in 1636. It is curious as containing a representation of the founder with his dog and cups; a drawing of the furnace, with the wheelbarrow and other implements for the casting, and on a shield the pincers and other marks of the blacksmith. Leonard was tenant of the Sackville furnace at Little Udimore.—Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. xii.

[5] For an interesting account of the early iron industry of Sussex see M. A. LOWER'S Contributions to Literature, Historical, Antiquarian, and Metrical. London, 1854.

[6] Archaeologia, vol. x. 472.

[7] One of these, 6 1/2 feet long, and of 2 1/2 inches bore, manufactured in 1543, bears the cast inscription of Petrus Baude Gallus operis artifex.

[8] Mr. Lower says, "Many foreigners were brought over to carry on the works; which perhaps may account for the number of Frenchmen and Germans whose names appear in our parish registers about the middle of the sixteenth century ."—Contributions to Literature, 108.

[9] The embankment and sluices of the furnace-pond at the upper part of the valley continue to be maintained, the lake being used by the present Lord Ashburnham as a preserve for fish and water-fowl.

[10] Reminding one of the odd motto assumed by Gillespie, the tobacconist of Edinburgh, founder of Gillespie's Hospital, on whose carriage-panels was emblazoned a Scotch mull, with the motto,

"Wha wad ha' thocht it, That noses could ha' bought it!"

It is just possible that the Fullers may have taken their motto from the words employed by Juvenal in describing the father of Demosthenes, who was a blacksmith and a sword-cutler—

"Quem pater ardentis massae fuligine lippus, A carbone et forcipibus gladiosque parante Incude et luteo Vulcano ad rhetora misit."

[11] It was then believed that sea or pit-coal was poisonous when burnt in dwellings, and that it was especially injurious to the human complexion. All sorts of diseases were attributed to its use, and at one time it was even penal to burn it. The Londoners only began to reconcile themselves to the use of coal when the wood within reach of the metropolis had been nearly all burnt up, and no other fuel was to be had.

[12] Archaeologia Cambrensis, 3rd Series, No. 34, April, 1863. Art. "Sussex Ironmasters in Glamorganshire."



CHAPTER III.

IRON-SMELTING BY PIT-COAL—DUD DUDLEY.

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

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

The use of iron, however, could not be dispensed with. The very foundations of society rested upon an abundant supply of it, for tools and implements of peace, as well as for weapons of war. In the dearth of the article at home, a supply of it was therefore sought for abroad; and both iron and steel came to be imported in largely-increased quantities. This branch of trade was principally in the hands of the Steelyard Company of Foreign Merchants, established in Upper Thames Street, a little above London Bridge; and they imported large quantities of iron and steel from foreign countries, principally from Sweden, Germany, and Spain. The best iron came from Spain, though the Spaniards on their part coveted our English made cannons, which were better manufactured than theirs; while the best steel came from Germany and Sweden.[1]

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

The first who took out a patent for the purpose was one Simon Sturtevant, a German skilled in mining operations; the professed object of his invention being "to neale, melt, and worke all kind of metal oares, irons, and steeles with sea-coale, pit-coale, earth-coale, and brush fewell." The principal end of his invention, he states in his Treatise of Metallica,[2] is to save the consumption and waste of the woods and timber of the country; and, should his design succeed, he holds that it "will prove to be the best and most profitable business and invention that ever was known or invented in England these many yeares." He says he has already made trial of the process on a small scale, and is confident that it will prove equally successful on a large one. Sturtevant was not very specific as to his process; but it incidentally appears to have been his purpose to reduce the coal by an imperfect combustion to the condition of coke, thereby ridding it of "those malignant proprieties which are averse to the nature of metallique substances." The subject was treated by him, as was customary in those days, as a great mystery, made still more mysterious by the multitude of learned words under which he undertook to describe his "Ignick Invention" All the operations of industry were then treated as secrets. Each trade was a craft, and those who followed it were called craftsmen. Even the common carpenter was a handicraftsman; and skilled artisans were "cunning men." But the higher branches of work were mysteries, the communication of which to others was carefully guarded by the regulations of the trades guilds. Although the early patents are called specifications, they in reality specify nothing. They are for the most part but a mere haze of words, from which very little definite information can be gleaned as to the processes patented. It may be that Sturtevant had not yet reduced his idea to any practicable method, and therefore could not definitely explain it. However that may be, it is certain that his process failed when tried on a large scale, and Sturtevant's patent was accordingly cancelled at the end of a year.

The idea, however, had been fairly born, and repeated patents were taken out with the same object from time to time. Thus, immediately on Sturtevant's failure becoming known, one John Rovenzon, who had been mixed up with the other's adventure, applied for a patent for making iron by the same process, which was granted him in 1613. His 'Treatise of Metallica'[3] shows that Rovenzon had a true conception of the method of manufacture. Nevertheless he, too, failed in carrying out the invention in practice, and his patent was also cancelled. Though these failures were very discouraging, like experiments continued to be made and patents taken out,—principally by Dutchmen and Germans,[4]—but no decided success seems to have attended their efforts until the year 1620, when Lord Dudley took out his patent "for melting iron ore, making bar-iron, &c., with coal, in furnaces, with bellows." This patent was taken out at the instance of his son Dud Dudley, whose story we gather partly from his treatise entitled 'Metallum Martis,' and partly from various petitions presented by him to the king, which are preserved in the State Paper Office, and it runs as follows:—

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

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

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

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

Dud proceeded with the manufacture of iron at Pensnet, and also at Cradley in Staffordshire, where he erected another furnace; and a year after the patent was granted he was enabled to send up to the Tower, by the King's command, a considerable quantity of the new iron for trial. Many experiments were made with it: its qualities were fairly tested, and it was pronounced "good merchantable iron." Dud adds, in his Treatise, that his brother-in-law, Richard Parkshouse, of Sedgeley,[5] "had a fowling-gun there made of the Pit-cole iron," which was "well approved." There was therefore every prospect of the new method of manufacture becoming fairly established, and with greater experience further improvements might with confidence be anticipated, when a succession of calamities occurred to the inventor which involved him in difficulties and put an effectual stop to the progress of his enterprise.

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

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

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

Charles I. seems to have taken pity on the suffering inventor; and on his earnest petition, setting forth the great advantages to the nation of his invention, from which he had as yet derived no advantage, but only losses, sufferings, and persecution, the King granted him a renewal of his patent[6] in the year 1638; three other gentlemen joining him as partners, and doubtless providing the requisite capital for carrying on the manufacture after the plans of the inventor. But Dud's evil fortune continued to pursue him. The patent had scarcely been securedere the Civil War broke out, and the arts of peace must at once perforce give place to the arts of war. Dud's nature would not suffer him to be neutral at such a time; and when the nation divided itself into two hostile camps, his predilections being strongly loyalist, he took the side of the King with his father. It would appear from a petition presented by him to Charles II. in 1660, setting forth his sufferings in the royal cause, and praying for restoral to certain offices which he had enjoyed under Charles I., that as early as the year 1637 he had been employed by the King on a mission into Scotland,[7] in the train of the Marquis of Hamilton, the King's Commissioner. Again in 1639, leaving his ironworks and partners, he accompanied Charles on his expedition across the Scotch border, and was present with the army until its discomfiture at Newburn near Newcastle in the following year.

The sword was now fairly drawn, and Dud seems for a time to have abandoned his iron-works and followed entirely the fortunes of the king. He was sworn surveyor of the Mews or Armoury in 1640, but being unable to pay for the patent, another was sworn in in his place. Yet his loyalty did not falter, for in the beginning of 1642, when Charles set out from London, shortly after the fall of Strafford and Laud, Dud went with him.[8] He was present before Hull when Sir John Hotham shut its gates in the king's face; at York when the royal commissions of array were sent out enjoining all loyal subjects to send men, arms, money, and horses, for defence of the king and maintenance of the law; at Nottingham, where the royal standard was raised; at Coventry, where the townspeople refused the king entrance and fired upon his troops from the walls; at Edgehill, where the first great but indecisive battle was fought between the contending parties; in short, as Dud Dudley states in his petition, he was "in most of the battailes that year, and also supplyed his late sacred Majestie's magazines of Stafford, Worcester, Dudley Castle, and Oxford, with arms, shot, drakes, and cannon; and also, became major unto Sir Frauncis Worsley's regiment, which was much decaied."

In 1643, according to the statement contained in his petition above referred to, Dud Dudley acted as military engineer in setting out the fortifications of Worcester and Stafford, and furnishing them with ordnance. After the taking of Lichfield, in which he had a share, he was made Colonel of Dragoons, and accompanied the Queen with his regiment to the royal head-quarters at Oxford. The year after we find him at the siege of Gloucester, then at the first battle of Newbury leading the forlorn hope with Sir George Lisle, afterwards marching with Sir Charles Lucas into the associate counties, and present at the royalist rout at Newport. That he was esteemed a valiant and skilful officer is apparent from the circumstance, that in 1645 he was appointed general of Prince Maurice's train of artillery, and afterwards held the same rank under Lord Ashley. The iron districts being still for the most part occupied by the royal armies, our military engineer turned his practical experience to account by directing the forging of drakes[9] of bar-iron, which were found of great use, giving up his own dwelling-house in the city of Worcester for the purpose of carrying on the manufacture of these and other arms. But Worcester and the western towns fell before the Parliamentarian armies in 1646, and all the iron-works belonging to royalists, from which the principal supplies of arms had been drawn by the King's army, were forthwith destroyed.

Dudley fully shared in the dangers and vicissitudes of that trying period, and bore his part throughout like a valiant soldier. For two years nothing was heard of him, until in 1648, when the king's party drew together again, and made head in different parts of the country, north and south. Goring raised his standard in Essex, but was driven by Fairfax into Colchester, where he defended himself for two months. While the siege was in progress, the royalists determined to make an attempt to raise it. On this Dud Dudley again made his appearance in the field, and, joining sundry other counties, he proceeded to raise 200 men, mostly at his own charge. They were, however, no sooner mustered in Bosco Bello woods near Madeley, than they were attacked by the Parliamentarians, and dispersed or taken prisoners. Dud was among those so taken, and he was first carried to Hartlebury Castle and thence to Worcester, where he was imprisoned. Recounting the sufferings of himself and his followers on this occasion, in the petition presented to Charles II. in 1660,[10] he says, "200 men were dispersed, killed, and some taken, namely, Major Harcourt, Major Elliotts, Capt. Long, and Cornet Hodgetts, of whom Major Harcourt was miserably burned with matches. The petitioner and the rest were stripped almost naked, and in triumph and scorn carried up to the city of Worcester (which place Dud had fortified for the king), and kept close prisoners, with double guards set upon the prison and the city."

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

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

His military career now over, he found himself absolutely penniless. His estate of about 200L. per annum had been sequestrated and sold by the government;[11] his house in Worcester had been seized and his sickly wife turned out of doors; and his goods, stock, great shop, and ironworks, which he himself valued at 2000L., were destroyed. He had also lost the offices of Serjeant-at-arms, Lieutenant of Ordnance, and Surveyor of the Mews, which he had held under the king; in a word, he found himself reduced to a state of utter destitution.

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

In the mean time other attempts were made to smelt iron with pit-coal. Dudley says that Cromwell and the then Parliament granted a patent to Captain Buck for the purpose; and that Cromwell himself, Major Wildman, and various others were partners in the patent. They erected furnaces and works in the Forest of Dean;[12] but, though Cromwell and his officers could fight and win battles, they could not smelt and forge iron with pit-coal. They brought one Dagney, an Italian glass-maker, from Bristol, to erect a new furnace for them, provided with sundry pots of glass-house clay; but no success attended their efforts. The partners knowing of Dudley's possession of the grand secret, invited him to visit their works; but all they could draw from him was that they would never succeed in making iron to profit by the methods they were pursuing. They next proceeded to erect other works at Bristol, but still they failed. Major Wildman[13] bought Dudley's sequestrated estate, in the hope of being able to extort his secret of making iron with pit-coal; but all their attempts proving abortive, they at length abandoned the enterprise in despair. In 1656, one Captain Copley obtained from Cromwell a further patent with a similar object; and erected works near Bristol, and also in the Forest of Kingswood. The mechanical engineers employed by Copley failed in making his bellows blow; on which he sent for Dudley, who forthwith "made his bellows to be blown feisibly;" but Copley failed, like his predecessors, in making iron, and at length he too desisted from further experiments.

Such continued to be the state of things until the Restoration, when we find Dud Dudley a petitioner to the king for the renewal of his patent. He was also a petitioner for compensation in respect of the heavy losses he had sustained during the civil wars. The king was besieged by crowds of applicants of a similar sort, but Dudley was no more successful than the others. He failed in obtaining the renewal of his patent. Another applicant for the like privilege, probably having greater interest at court, proved more successful. Colonel Proger and three others[14] were granted a patent to make iron with coal; but Dudley knew the secret, which the new patentees did not; and their patent came to nothing.

Dudley continued to address the king in importunate petitions, asking to be restored to his former offices of Serjeant-at-arms, Lieutenant of Ordnance, and Surveyor of the Mews or Armoury. He also petitioned to be appointed Master of the Charter House in Smithfield, professing himself willing to take anything, or hold any living.[15] We find him sending in two petitions to a similar effect in June, 1660; and a third shortly after. The result was, that he was reappointed to the office of Serjeant-at-Arms; but the Mastership of the Charter-House was not disposed of until 1662, when it fell to the lot of one Thomas Watson.[16] In 1661, we find a patent granted to Wm. Chamberlaine and—Dudley, Esq., for the sole use of their new invention of plating steel, &c., and tinning the said plates; but whether Dud Dudley was the person referred to, we are unable precisely to determine. A few years later, he seems to have succeeded in obtaining the means of prosecuting his original invention; for in his Metallum Martis, published in 1665, he describes himself as living at Green's Lodge, in Staffordshire; and he says that near it are four forges, Green's Forge, Swin Forge, Heath Forge, and Cradley Forge, where he practises his "perfect invention." These forges, he adds, "have barred all or most part of their iron with pit-coal since the authors first invention In 1618, which hath preserved much wood. In these four, besides many other forges, do the like [sic ]; yet the author hath had no benefit thereby to this present." From that time forward, Dud becomes lost to sight. He seems eventually to have retired to St. Helen's in Worcestershire, where he died in 1684, in the 85th year of his age. He was buried in the parish church there, and a monument, now destroyed, was erected to his memory, bearing the inscription partly set forth underneath.[17]



[1] As late as 1790, long after the monopoly of the foreign merchants had been abolished, Pennant says, "The present Steelyard is the great repository of imported iron, which furnishes our metropolis with that necessary material. The quantity of bars that fills the yards and warehouses of this quarter strikes with astonishment the most indifferent beholder."—PENNANT, Account of London, 309.

[2] STURTEVANT'S Metallica; briefly comprehending the Doctrine of Diverse New Metallical Inventions, &c. Reprinted and published at the Great Seal Patent Office, 1858.

[3] Reprinted and published at the Great Seal Patent Office, 1858.

[4] Among the early patentees, besides the names of Sturtevant and Rovenzon, we find those of Jordens, Francke, Sir Phillibert Vernatt, and other foreigners of the above nations.

[5] Mr. Parkshouse was one of the esquires to Sir Ferdinando Dudley (the legitimate son of the Earl of Dudley) When he was made Knight of the Bath. Sir Ferdinando's only daughter Frances married Humble Ward, son and heir of William Ward, goldsmith and jeweller to Charles the First's queen. Her husband having been created a baron by the title of Baron Ward of Birmingham, and Frances becoming Baroness of Dudley in her own right on the demise of her father, the baronies of Dudley and Ward thus became united in their eldest son Edward in the year 1697.

[6] Patent No. 117, Old Series, granted in 1638, to Sir George Horsey, David Ramsey, Roger Foulke, and Dudd Dudley.

[7] By his own account, given in Metallum Martis, while in Scotland in 1637, he visited the Highlands as well as the Lowlands, spending the whole summer of that year "in opening of mines and making of discoveries;" spending part of the time with Sir James Hope of Lead Hills, near where, he says, "he got gold." It does not appear, however, that any iron forges existed in Scotland at the time: indeed Dudley expressly says that "Scotland maketh no iron;" and in his treatise of 1665 he urges that the Corporation of the Mines Royal should set him and his inventions at work to enable Scotland to enjoy the benefit of a cheap and abundant supply of the manufactured article.

[8] The Journals of the House of Commons, of the 13th June, 1642, contain the resolution "that Captain Wolseley, Ensign Dudley, and John Lometon be forthwith sent for, as delinquents, by the Serjeant-at-Arms attending on the House, for giving interruption to the execution of the ordinance of the militia in the county of Leicester."

[9] Small pieces of artillery, specimens of which are still to be seen in the museum at Woolwich Arsenal and at the Tower.

[10] State Paper Office, Dom. Charles II., vol. xi. 54.

[11] The Journals of the House of Commons, on the 2nd Nov. 1652, have the following entry: "The House this day resumed the debate upon the additional Bill for sale of several lands and estates forfeited to the Commonwealth for treason, when it was resolved that the name of Dud Dudley of Green Lodge be inserted into this Bill."

[12] Mr. Mushet, in his 'Papers on Iron,' says, that "although he had carefully examined every spot and relic in Dean Forest likely to denote the site of Dud Dudley's enterprising but unfortunate experiment of making pig-iron with pit coal," it had been without success; neither could he find any traces of the like operations of Cromwell and his partners.

[13] Dudley says, "Major Wildman, more barbarous to me than a wild man, although a minister, bought the author's estate, near 200L. per annum, intending to compell from the author his inventions of making iron with pitcole, but afterwards passed my estate unto two barbarous brokers of London, that pulled down the author's two mantion houses, sold 500 timber trees off his land, and to this day are his houses unrepaired." Wildman himself fell under the grip of Cromwell. Being one of the chiefs of the Republican party, he was seized at Exton, near Marlborough, in 1654, and imprisoned in Chepstow Castle.

[14] June 13, 1661. Petition of Col. Jas. Proger and three others to the king for a patent for the sole exercise of their invention of melting down iron and other metals with coal instead of wood, as the great consumption of coal [charcoal?] therein causes detriment to shipping, &c. With reference thereon to Attorney-General Palmer, and his report, June 18, in favour of the petition,—State Papers, Charles II. (Dom. vol. xxxvii, 49.)

[15] In his second petition he prays that a dwelling-house situated in Worcester, and belonging to one Baldwin, "a known traitor," may be assigned to him in lieu of Alderman Nash's, which had reverted to that individual since his return to loyalty; Dudley reminding the king that his own house in that city had been given up by him for the service of his father Charles I., and turned into a factory for arms. It does not appear that this part of his petition was successful.

[16] State Papers, vol. xxxi. Doquet Book, p.89.

[17]

Pulvis et umbra sumus Memento mori.

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

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

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



CHAPTER IV.

ANDREW YARRANTON.

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

That industry had a sore time of it during the civil wars will further appear from the following brief account of Andrew Yarranton, which may be taken as a companion memoir to that of Dud Dudley. For Yarranton also was a Worcester ironmaster and a soldier—though on the opposite side,—but more even than Dudley was he a man of public spirit and enterprise, an enlightened political economist (long before political economy had been recognised as a science), and in many respects a true national benefactor. Bishop Watson said that he ought to have had a statue erected to his memory because of his eminent public services; and an able modern writer has gone so far as to say of him that he was "the founder of English political economy, the first man in England who saw and said that peace was better than war, that trade was better than plunder, that honest industry was better than martial greatness, and that the best occupation of a government was to secure prosperity at home, and let other nations alone." [1]

Yet the name of Andrew Yarranton is scarcely remembered, or is at most known to only a few readers of half-forgotten books. The following brief outline of his history is gathered from his own narrative and from documents in the State Paper Office.

Andrew Yarranton was born at the farmstead of Larford, in the parish of Astley, in Worcestershire, in the year 1616.[2] In his sixteenth year he was put apprentice to a Worcester linendraper, and remained at that trade for some years; but not liking it, he left it, and was leading a country life when the civil wars broke out. Unlike Dudley, he took the side of the Parliament, and joined their army, in which he served for some time as a soldier. His zeal and abilities commended him to his officers, and he was raised from one position to another, until in the course of a few years we find him holding the rank of captain. "While a soldier," says he, "I had sometimes the honour and misfortune to lodge and dislodge an army;" but this is all the information he gives us of his military career. In the year 1648 he was instrumental in discovering and frustrating a design on the part of the Royalists to seize Doyley House in the county of Hereford, and other strongholds, for which he received the thanks of Parliament "for his ingenuity, discretion, and valour," and a substantial reward of 500L.[3] He was also recommended to the Committee of Worcester for further employment. But from that time we hear no more of him in connection with the civil wars. When Cromwell assumed the supreme control of affairs, Yarranton retired from the army with most of the Presbyterians, and devoted himself to industrial pursuits.

We then find him engaged in carrying on the manufacture of iron at Ashley, near Bewdley, in Worcestershire. "In the year 1652", says he, "I entered upon iron-works, and plied them for several years." [4] He made it a subject of his diligent study how to provide employment for the poor, then much distressed by the late wars. With the help of his wife, he established a manufacture of linen, which was attended with good results. Observing how the difficulties of communication, by reason of the badness of the roads, hindered the development of the rich natural resources of the western counties,[5] he applied himself to the improvement of the navigation of the larger rivers, making surveys of them at his own cost, and endeavouring to stimulate local enterprise so as to enable him to carry his plans into effect.

While thus occupied, the restoration of Charles II. took place, and whether through envy or enmity Yarranton's activity excited the suspicion of the authorities. His journeys from place to place seemed to them to point to some Presbyterian plot on foot. On the 13th of November, 1660, Lord Windsor, Lord-Lieutenant of the county, wrote to the Secretary of State—"There is a quaker in prison for speaking treason against his Majesty, and a countryman also, and Captain Yarrington for refusing to obey my authority." [6] It would appear from subsequent letters that Yarranton must have lain in prison for nearly two years, charged with conspiring against the king's authority, the only evidence against him consisting of some anonymous letter's. At the end of May, 1662, he succeeded in making his escape from the custody of the Provost Marshal. The High Sheriff scoured the country after him at the head of a party of horse, and then he communicated to the Secretary of State, Sir Edward Nicholas, that the suspected conspirator could not be found, and was supposed to have made his way to London. Before the end of a month Yarranton was again in custody, as appears from the communication of certain justices of Surrey to Sir Edward Nicholas.[7] As no further notice of Yarranton occurs in the State Papers, and as we shortly after find him publicly occupied in carrying out his plans for improving the navigation of the western rivers, it is probable that his innocence of any plot was established after a legal investigation. A few years later he published in London a 4to. tract entitled 'A Full Discovery of the First Presbyterian Sham Plot,' which most probably contained a vindication of his conduct.[8]

Yarranton was no sooner at liberty than we find him again occupied with his plans of improved inland navigation. His first scheme was to deepen the small river Salwarp, so as to connect Droitwich with the Severn by a water communication, and thus facilitate the transport of the salt so abundantly yielded by the brine springs near that town. In 1665, the burgesses of Droitwich agreed to give him 750L. and eight salt vats in Upwich, valued at 80L. per annum, with three-quarters of a vat in Northwich, for twenty-one years, in payment for the work. But the times were still unsettled, and Yarranton and his partner Wall not being rich, the scheme was not then carried into effect.[9] In the following year we find him occupied with a similar scheme to open up the navigation of the river Stour, passing by Stourport and Kidderminster, and connect it by an artificial cut with the river Trent. Some progress was made with this undertaking, so far in advance of the age, but, like the other, it came to a stand still for want of money, and more than a hundred years passed before it was carried out by a kindred genius—James Brindley, the great canal maker. Mr. Chambers says that when Yarranton's scheme was first brought forward, it met with violent opposition and ridicule. The undertaking was thought wonderfully bold, and, joined to its great extent, the sandy, spongy nature of the ground, the high banks necessary to prevent the inundation of the Stour on the canal, furnished its opponents, if not with sound argument, at least with very specious topics for opposition and laughter.[10] Yarranton's plan was to make the river itself navigable, and by uniting it with other rivers, open up a communication with the Trent; while Brindley's was to cut a canal parallel with the river, and supply it with water from thence. Yarranton himself thus accounts for the failure of his scheme in 'England's Improvement by Sea and Land':—"It was my projection," he says, "and I will tell you the reason why it was not finished. The river Stour and some other rivers were granted by an Act of Parliament to certain persons of honor, and some progress was made in the work, but within a small while after the Act passed[11] it was let fall again; but it being a brat of my own, I was not willing it should be abortive, wherefore I made offers to perfect it, having a third part of the inheritance to me and my heirs for ever, and we came to an agreement, upon which I fell on, and made it completely navigable from Stourbridge to Kidderminster, and carried down many hundred tons of coal, and laid out near 1000L., and there it was obstructed for want of money." [12]

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

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

While carrying on his iron works, it occurred to Yarranton that it would be of great national advantage if the manufacture of tin-plate could be introduced into England. Although the richest tin mines then known existed in this country, the mechanical arts were at so low an ebb that we were almost entirely dependent upon foreigners for the supply of the articles manufactured from the metal. The Saxons were the principal consumers of English tin, and we obtained from them in return nearly the whole of our tin-plates. All attempts made to manufacture them in England had hitherto failed; the beating out of the iron by hammers into laminae sufficiently thin and smooth, and the subsequent distribution and fixing of the film of tin over the surface of the iron, proving difficulties which the English manufacturers were unable to overcome. To master these difficulties the indefatigable Yarranton set himself to work. "Knowing," says he, "the usefulness of tin-plates and the goodness of our metals for that purpose, I did, about sixteen years since (i.e. about 1665), endeavour to find out the way for making thereof; whereupon I acquainted a person of much riches, and one that was very understanding in the iron manufacture, who was pleased to say that he had often designed to get the trade into England, but never could find out the way. Upon which it was agreed that a sum of monies should be advanced by several persons,[13] for the defraying of my charges of travelling to the place where these plates are made, and from thence to bring away the art of making them. Upon which, an able fire-man, that well understood the nature of iron, was made choice of to accompany me; and being fitted with an ingenious interpreter that well understood the language, and that had dealt much in that commodity, we marched first for Hamburgh, then to Leipsic, and from thence to Dresden, the Duke of Saxony's court, where we had notice of the place where the plates were made; which was in a large tract of mountainous land, running from a place called Seger-Hutton unto a town called Awe [Au], being in length about twenty miles." [14]

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

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

Arrangements were made to carry on the manufacture upon a large scale; but the secret having got wind, a patent was taken out, or "trumpt up" as Yarranton calls it, for the manufacture, "the patentee being countenanced by some persons of quality," and Yarranton was precluded from carrying his operations further. It is not improbable that the patentee in question was William Chamberlaine, Dud Dudley's quondam partner in the iron manufacture.[15] "What with the patent being in our way," says Yarranton, "and the richest of our partners being afraid to offend great men in power, who had their eye upon us, it caused the thing to cool, and the making of the tin-plates was neither proceeded in by us, nor possibly could be by him that had the patent; because neither he that hath the patent, nor those that have countenanced him, can make one plate fit for use." Yarranton's labours were thus lost to the English public for a time; and we continued to import all our tin-plates from Germany until about sixty years later, when a tin-plate manufactory was established by Capel Hanbury at Pontypool in Monmouthshire, where it has since continued to be successfully carried on.

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

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

On his return from Holland, he accordingly set on foot various schemes of public utility. He stirred up a movement for the encouragement of the British fisheries. He made several journeys into Ireland for the purpose of planting new manufactures there. He surveyed the River Slade with the object of rendering it navigable, and proposed a plan for improving the harbour of Dublin. He also surveyed the Dee in England with a view to its being connected with the Severn. Chambers says that on the decline of his popularity in 1677, he was taken by Lord Clarendon to Salisbury to survey the River Avon, and find out how that river might be made navigable, and also whether a safe harbour for ships could be made at Christchurch; and that having found where he thought safe anchorage might be obtained, his Lordship proceeded to act upon Yarranton's recommendations.[16]

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

In 1677 he published the first part of his England's Improvement by Sea and Land—a very remarkable book, full of sagacious insight as respected the future commercial and manufacturing greatness of England. Mr. Dove says of this book that "Yarranton chalks out in it the future course of Britain with as free a hand as if second-sight had revealed to him those expansions of her industrial career which never fail to surprise us, even when we behold them realized." Besides his extensive plans for making harbours and improving internal navigation with the object of creating new channels for domestic industry, his schemes for extending the iron and the woollen trades, establishing the linen manufacture, and cultivating the home fisheries, we find him throwing out various valuable suggestions with reference to the means of facilitating commercial transactions, some of winch have only been carried out in our own day. One of his grandest ideas was the establishment of a public bank, the credit of which, based upon the security of freehold land,[17] should enable its paper "to go in trade equal with ready money." A bank of this sort formed one of the principal means by which the Dutch had been enabled to extend their commercial transactions, and Yarranton accordingly urged its introduction into England. Part of his scheme consisted of a voluntary register of real property, for the purpose of effecting simplicity of title, and obtaining relief from the excessive charges for law,[18] as well as enabling money to be readily raised for commercial purposes on security of the land registered.

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

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

This indefatigable man continued to urge his various designs upon the attention of the public until he was far advanced in years. He professed that he was moved to do so (and we believe him) solely by an ardent love for his country, "whose future flourishing," said he, "is the only reward I ever hope to see of all my labours." Yarranton, however, received but little thanks for his persistency, while he encountered many rebuffs. The public for the most part turned a deaf ear to his entreaties; and his writings proved of comparatively small avail, at least during his own lifetime. He experienced the lot of many patriots, even the purest—the suspicion and detraction of his contemporaries. His old political enemies do not seem to have forgotten him, of which we have the evidence in certain rare "broadsides" still extant, twitting him with the failure of his schemes, and even trumping up false charges of disloyalty against him.[19]

In 1681 he published the second part of 'England's Improvement,'[20] in which he gave a summary account of its then limited growths and manufactures, pointing out that England and Ireland were the only northern kingdoms remaining unimproved; he re-urged the benefits and necessity of a voluntary register of real property; pointed out a method of improving the Royal Navy, lessening the growing power of France, and establishing home fisheries; proposed the securing and fortifying of Tangier; described a plan for preventing fires in London, and reducing the charge for maintaining the Trained Bands; urged the formation of a harbour at Newhaven in Sussex; and, finally, discoursed at considerable length upon the tin, iron, linen, and woollen trades, setting forth various methods for their improvement. In this last section, after referring to the depression in the domestic tin trade (Cornish tin selling so low as 70s. the cwt.), he suggested a way of reviving it. With the Cornish tin he would combine "the Roman cinders and iron-stone in the Forest of Dean, which makes the best iron for most uses in the world, and works up to the best advantage, with delight and pleasure to the workmen." He then described the history of his own efforts to import the manufacture of tin-plates into England some sixteen years before, in which he had been thwarted by Chamberlaine's patent, as above described,—and offered sundry queries as to the utility of patents generally, which, says he, "have the tendency to drive trade out of the kingdom." Appended to the chapter on Tin is an exceedingly amusing dialogue between a tin-miner of Cornwall, an iron-miner of Dean Forest, and a traveller (himself). From this we gather that Yarranton's business continued to be that of an iron-manufacturer at his works at Ashley near Bewdley. Thus the iron-miner says, "About 28 years since Mr. Yarranton found out a vast quantity of Roman cinders, near the walls of the city of Worcester, from whence he and others carried away many thousand tons or loads up the river Severn, unto their iron-furnaces, to be melted down into iron, with a mixture of the Forest of Dean iron-stone; and within 100 yards of the walls of the city of Worcester there was dug up one of the hearths of the Roman foot-blasts, it being then firm and in order, and was 7 foot deep in the earth; and by the side of the work there was found a pot of Roman coin to the quantity of a peck, some of which was presented to Sir [Wm.] Dugdale, and part thereof is now in the King's Closet." [21]

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

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



[1] PATRICK EDWARD DOVE, Elements of Political Science. Edinburgh, 1854.

[2] A copy of the entries in the parish register relating to the various members of the Yarranton family, kindly forwarded to us by the Rev. H. W. Cookes, rector of Astley, shows them to have resided in that parish for many generations. There were the Yarrantons of Yarranton, of Redstone, of Larford, of Brockenton, and of Longmore. With that disregard for orthography in proper names which prevailed some three hundred years since, they are indifferently designated as Yarran, Yarranton, and Yarrington. The name was most probably derived from two farms named Great and Little Yarranton, or Yarran (originally Yarhampton), situated in the parish of Astley. The Yarrantons frequently filled local offices in that parish, and we find several of them officiating at different periods as bailiffs of Bewdley.

[3] Journals of the House of Commons, 1st July, 1648.

[4] YARRANTON'S England's Improvement by Sea and Land. Part I. London, 1677.

[5] There seems a foundation of truth in the old English distich—

The North for Greatness, the East for Health, The South for Neatness, the West for Wealth.

[6] State Paper Office. Dom. Charles II. 1660-1. Yarranton afterwards succeeded in making a friend of Lord Windsor, as would appear from his dedication of England's Improvement to his Lordship, whom he thanks for the encouragement he had given to him in his survey of several rivers with a view to their being rendered navigable.

[7] The following is a copy of the document from the State Papers:—"John Bramfield, Geo. Moore, and Thos. Lee, Esqrs. and Justices of Surrey, to Sir Edw. Nicholas.—There being this day brought before us one Andrew Yarranton, and he accused to have broken prison, or at least made his escape out of the Marshalsea at Worcester, being there committed by the Deputy-Lieuts. upon suspicion of a plot in November last; we having thereupon examined him, he allegeth that his Majesty hath been sought unto on his behalf, and hath given order to yourself for his discharge, and a supersedeas against all persons and warrants, and thereupon hath desired to appeal unto you. The which we conceiving to be convenient and reasonable (there being no positive charge against him before us), have accordingly herewith conveyed him unto you by a safe hand, to be further examined or disposed of as you shall find meet."—S. P. O. Dom. Chas. II. 23rd June, 1662.

[8] We have been unable to refer to this tract, there being no copy of it in the British Museum.

[9] NASH'S Worcestershire, i. 306.

[10] JOHN CHAMBERS, Biographical Illustrations of Worcestershire. London, 1820.

[11] The Act for making the Stour and Salwarp navigable originated in the Lords and was passed in the year 1661.

[12] Nash, in his Hist. of Worc., intimates that Lord Windsor subsequently renewed the attempt to make the Salwarp navigable. He constructed five out of the six locks, and then abandoned the scheme. Gough, in his edition of Camden's Brit. ii. 357, Lond. 1789, says, "It is not long since some of the boats made use of in Yarranton's navigation were found. Neither tradition nor our projector's account of the matter perfectly satisfy us why this navigation was neglected..... We must therefore conclude that the numerous works and glass-houses upon the Stour, and in the neighbourhood of Stourbridge, did not then exist, A.D. 1666. ....The navigable communication which now connects Trent and Severn, and which runs in the course of Yarranton's project, is already of general use.... The canal since executed under the inspection of Mr. Brindley, running parallel with the river.... cost the proprietors 105,000L."

[13] In the dedication of his book, entitled Englands Improvement by Sea and Land, Part I., Yarranton gives the names of the "noble patriots" who sent him on his journey of inquiry. They were Sir Waiter Kirtham Blount, Bart., Sir Samuel Baldwin and Sir Timothy Baldwin, Knights, Thomas Foley and Philip Foley, Esquires, and six other gentlemen. The father of the Foleys was himself supposed to have introduced the art of iron-splitting into England by an expedient similar to that adopted by Yarranton in obtaining a knowledge of the tin-plate manufacture (Self-Help, p.145). The secret of the silk-throwing machinery of Piedmont was in like manner introduced into England by Mr. Lombe of Derby, who shortly succeeded in founding a flourishing branch of manufacture. These were indeed the days of romance and adventure in manufactures.

[14] The district is known as the Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains, and the Riesengebirge or Giant Mountains, MacCulloch says that upwards of 500 mines are wrought in the former district, and that one-thirtieth of the entire population of Saxony to this day derive their subsistence from mining industry and the manufacture of metallic products.— Geographical Dict. ii. 643, edit. 1854.

[15] Chamberlaine and Dudley's first licence was granted in 1661 for plating steel and tinning the said plates; and Chamberlaine's sole patent for "plating and tinning iron, copper, &c.," was granted in 1673, probably the patent in question.

[16] JOHN CHAMBERS, Biographical Illustrations of Worcestershire. London, 1820.

[17] Yarranton's Land Bank was actually projected in 1695, and received the sanction of Parliament; though the Bank of England (founded in the preceding year) petitioned against it, and the scheme was dropped.

[18] It is interesting to note in passing, that part of Yarranton's scheme has recently been carried into effect by the Act (25 and 26 Vict. c. 53) passed in 1862 for the Registration of Real Estate.

[19] One of these is entitled 'A Coffee-house Dialogue, or a Discourse between Captain Y—— and a Young Barrister of the Middle Temple; with some Reflections upon the Bill against the D. of Y.' In this broadside, of 3 1/2 pages folio, published about 1679, Yarranton is made to favour the Duke of York's exclusion from the throne, not only because he was a papist, but for graver reasons than he dare express. Another scurrilous pamphlet, entitled 'A Word Without Doors,' was also aimed at him. Yarranton, or his friends, replied to the first attack in a folio of two pages, entitled 'The Coffee-house Dialogue Examined and Refuted, by some Neighbours in the Country, well-wishers to the Kingdom's interest.' The controversy was followed up by 'A Continuation of the Coffee-house Dialogue,' in which the chief interlocutor hits Yarranton rather hard for the miscarriage of his "improvements." "I know," says he, "when and where you undertook for a small charge to make a river navigable, and it has cost the proprietors about six times as much, and is not yet effective; nor can any man rationally predict when it will be. I know since you left it your son undertook it, and this winter shamefully left his undertaking." Yarranton's friends immediately replied in a four-page folio, entitled 'England's Improvements Justified; and the Author thereof, Captain Y., vindicated from the Scandals in a paper called a Coffee-house Dialogue; with some Animadversions upon the Popish Designs therein contained.' The writer says he writes without the privity or sanction of Yarranton, but declares the dialogue to be a forgery, and that the alleged conference never took place. "His innocence, when he heard of it, only provoked a smile, with this answer, Spreta vilescunt, falsehoods mu st perish, and are soonest destroyed by contempt; so that he needs no further vindication. The writer then proceeds at some length to vindicate the Captain's famous work and the propositions contained in it.

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