|Type||joint stock company|
|Founded||September 17, 1565|
|Products||"battery ware" (items of beaten metal), cast work, and wire of latten, iron and steel|
The Company of Mineral and Battery Works was, (with the Society of the Mines Royal), one of two mining monopolies created by Elizabeth I. The Company's rights were based on a patent granted to William Humfrey on 17 September 1565. This was replaced on 28 May 1568 by a patent of incorporation, making it an early joint stock company. The Society of the Mines Royal was incorporated on the same day.
The original shareholders were:
The Company of Mineral and Battery Works had the monopoly right:
Determined to make England less dependent on foreign goods, Elizabeth I in 1568 granted a patent of incorporation to William Humfrey, (a former Assay master of the Royal Mint), who had worked closely with William Cecil in setting up the first British wireworks at Tintern, Monmouthshire in 1567-8.
Humfrey hired and brought to England a German copper maker, Christopher Schutz, along with his entire workshop. Initial goals included the production of brass in addition to the iron wire which was necessary for producing the cards required by the British wool industry, which had previously been imported. Due in part to difficulties with local materials however, the production of brass at the wireworks went poorly, and the more profitable production of iron wire became paramount.
The works were eventually let to 'farmers,' the first being Sir Richard Martyn, and Andrew Palmer, in 1570. Wheler died in 1575 and his widow sold her interest to Richard Hanbury. In the late 1570s, there were conflicts over wood for charcoal for ironworks. In 1583, the wireworks was leased to Martyn and Humfrey Mitchell (surveyor to Windsor Castle) for 15 years and Hanbury agreed to supply osmund iron to them. Conflicts followed over the price to be paid for osmund iron. This ended with Hanbury and his son-in-law Edmond Wheler being imprisoned in February 1598 in the Fleet and their property being sequestrated that July. The latter quickly led them to submit.The farmers were sometimes accused of poor management, and although the import of foreign cards was affirmed to be illegal in 1597, wire was at that time permitted to be imported from abroad, perhaps affirming the complaints of manufacturers of wire goods, who maintained that English wire was often of poor quality and in insufficient supply.
Thomas Hackett became farmer in 1597. The Company built a further wireworks at Whitebrook, (north of Tintern), in 1607.Subsequently, Sir Basil Brooke of Madeley (from 1627) and George Mynne were associated with him. Brooke was a Catholic and his estate was sequestrated during the Civil War.
In 1646, the Company accepted the offer of Thomas Foley of Stourbridge and later of Great Witley, Worcestershire to take over the wireworks,probably buying out the existing farmers. However wire made at Tintern was suffering competition from imported wire, and the company was unable to enforce the prohibition on its import. Foley died in 1677, leaving the wireworks to his son another Thomas, for whom they were managed by Henry Glover. With the competition from the import of foreign cards (which was supposed to be illegal), Foley was able to persuade the company that its privileges were of little value, and that his rent to them for Whitebrook should only be £5. The Tintern works reverted to the Duke of Beaufort as landlord in 1689, but Foley continued the Whitebrook works. Thomas Foley continued the Whitebook works until at least 1702, with Obadiah Lane as manager. However, the company's interest in wiremaking ceased in 1689. The Tintern wireworks operated successfully until about 1895.
The company licensed its right to use calamine to make brass in 1587 to a group of company members led by John Brode. They set up brass works at Isleworth, but a decade later the company obstructed them from mining calamine.
The company also engaged in litigation over lead mining in Derbyshire, which it alleged to be infringing its monopoly.
In the 17th century the company was not particularly active, but periodically granted licences for mining or industrial activities that would infringe its rights. It probably informally amalgamated with the Society of the Mines Royal in about 1669. Ultimately in 1689, the passing of the Mines Royal Act effectively removed the monopoly mining rights of both companies, and the joint company became moribund.
In 1693, Moses Stringer was admitted to shares in both companies, being esteemed a person 'ingenious and propence to chemistry and mineral studies'.However nothing much happened until Stringer recovered the minute books in 1709 and called a meeting at his 'elaboratory' and foundry in Blackfriars, which delegated complete power to him as 'Mineral Master General'. Some effort was made to exploit the companies' monopoly, by licensing mining, but probably with little success.
The companies' shares were bought in 1718 by a syndicate known as Onslow's Insurance, who wished to operate through a joint stock company. This was founded in 1717 and invited subscriptions for shares between August 1717 and January 1718 as the 'Mercer's Hall Marine Company' or the 'Undertaking kept at the Royal Exchange for insuring ships and merchandise at sea'. They petitioned the Attorney-General for incorporation, but this was refused. They then bought the shares in the united Mines Royal and Mineral and Battery Works companies for £2904. 14 shillings and operated through this. However the House of Commons concluded that this was illegal (and similar insurance schemes) were illegal. Ultimately, by agreeing to pay £300,000 off George I's Civil List debts, they were able to obtain a charter of incorporation as the Royal Exchange Assurance.
The incorporation of the Royal Exchange Assurance rendered the patent of the united companies redundant. Very shortly after it opened its subscriptions, subscriptions were sought for the Grand Lessees of ... Mines Royal and Mineral and Battery Works.A pamphlet entitled, The present state of Mr Wood's partnership, refers to it having a lease of mines in 39 counties, which may be those of the two companies. The promoter of this was William Wood.
Wood patented a new process for making iron (which proved not to be economically effective). They raised money to finance this by agreeing to sell thousands of tons of iron to the united companies. Wood and his associates would receive £60,000 and a block of shares. However Wood was unable to deliver anything like the quantity agreed. He sought the incorporation of the "Company of Ironmasters of Great Britain", but this was not granted. The affair was the subject of an enquiry by the Privy Council, but Wood died in 1730 and two of his sons were ultimately made bankrupt. £18,000 of the £40,000 actually advanced by the company was from Sir John Meres in the form of shares in the Charitable Corporation, another company soon to collapse. The company's advances were probably largely lost.
Subsequent references to the two companies are to them separately.
The Mineral and Battery Company is recorded as mining in Ireland in 1741.It may also have had a copper battery work at (or near) Rogerstone near Newport.
A company called Mines Royal, which may (or may not) have been the same, had a copper works at Neath Abbey in Glamorgan from 1757.
A wire is a single usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads or electricity and telecommunications signals. Wire is commonly formed by drawing the metal through a hole in a die or draw plate. Wire gauges come in various standard sizes, as expressed in terms of a gauge number. The term 'wire' is also used more loosely to refer to a bundle of such strands, as in "multistranded wire", which is more correctly termed a wire rope in mechanics, or a cable in electricity.
Calamine is a historic name for an ore of zinc. The name calamine was derived from lapis calaminaris, a Latin corruption of Greek cadmia (καδμία), the old name for zinc ores in general. The name of the Belgian town of Kelmis, La Calamine in French, which was home to a zinc mine, comes from this. In the 18th and 19th centuries large ore mines could be found near the German village of Breinigerberg.
William Humfrey (c.1515–1579) was an English goldsmith, mining promoter, and Assay Master at the Royal Mint during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Tintern is a village and community on the west bank of the River Wye in Monmouthshire, Wales, close to the border with England, about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Chepstow. It is popular with tourists, in particular for the scenery and the ruined Tintern Abbey.
The cementation process is an obsolete technology for making steel by carburization of iron. Unlike modern steelmaking, it increased the amount of carbon in the iron. It was apparently developed before the 17th century. Derwentcote Steel Furnace, built in 1720, is the earliest surviving example of a cementation furnace. Another example in the UK is the cementation furnace in Doncaster Street, Sheffield.
Calamine brass is brass produced by a particular alloying technique using the zinc ore calamine directly, rather than first refining it to metallic zinc. Direct zinc smelting appears to have been unknown in Europe until the mid-18th century, even though the alloyed calamine brass was in use for centuries, and metallic zinc was produced directly via reducing-atmosphere smelting in India and China from the 12th century CE onwards.
Abraham Darby, in his later life called Abraham Darby the Elder, now sometimes known for convenience as Abraham Darby I, was the first and best known of several men of that name. Born into an English Quaker family that played an important role in the Industrial Revolution, Darby developed a method of producing pig iron in a blast furnace fuelled by coke rather than charcoal. This was a major step forward in the production of iron as a raw material for the Industrial Revolution.
Chilworth is a village in the Guildford borough of Surrey, England. It is located in the Tillingbourne valley, southeast of Guildford.
William Champion (1709–1789) is credited with patenting a process in Great Britain to distill zinc metal from calamine using charcoal in a smelter.
Sir Basil Brooke, English metallurgist and recusant, inherited the manor of Madeley from his father. This contained iron and steel works and coal mines. The coal mines had been worked in his father's time, coal being transported on the River Severn to cities and towns from Shrewsbury to Gloucester.
Osmond iron was wrought iron made by a particular process. This is associated with the first European production of cast iron in furnaces such as Lapphyttan in Sweden.
The Society of the Mines Royal was one of two English mining monopoly companies incorporated by royal charter in 1568, the other being the Company of Mineral and Battery Works.
William Wood (1671–1730) was a hardware manufacturer, ironmaster, and mintmaster, notorious for receiving a contract to strike an issue of Irish coinage from 1722 to 1724. He also struck the 'Rosa Americana' coins of British America during the same period. Wood's coinage was extremely unpopular in Ireland, occasioning controversy as to its constitutionality and economic sense, notably in Jonathan Swift's Drapier's Letters. The coinage was recalled and exported to the colonies of British America. Subsequently, Wood developed a novel but ineffective means of producing iron, which he exploited as part of a fraudulent investment scheme.
Coslett is an uncommon surname with origins in 16th Century Wales. Main spelling variants are Cosslett and Coslet, though Corslet, Coslette and other spellings have been recorded.
Whitebrook is a small village in Monmouthshire, south-east Wales, United Kingdom. It is located four miles south east of Monmouth in the Wye Valley.
The Wye Valley Railway was a standard gauge railway that ran for nearly 15 miles (24 km) along the Lower Wye Valley between the towns of Chepstow and Monmouth, crossing several times between Wales and England. Opened on 1 November 1876, it was leased to, and worked by, the Great Western Railway (GWR), before being fully absorbed by the GWR in 1905.
A mine railway, sometimes pit railway, is a railway constructed to carry materials and workers in and out of a mine. Materials transported typically include ore, coal and overburden. It is little remembered, but the mix of heavy and bulky materials which had to be hauled into and out of mines gave rise to the first several generations of railways, at first made of wooden rails, but eventually adding protective iron, steam locomotion by fixed engines and the earliest commercial steam locomotives, all in and around the works around mines.
Sir Bevis Bulmer (1536–1615) was an English mining engineer during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. He has been called "one of the great speculators of that era". Many of the events in his career were recorded by Stephen Atkinson in The Discoveries and Historie of the Gold Mynes in Scotland, compiled in part from a lost manuscript by Bulmer entitled Bulmer's Skill.
Christopher Schutz (1521–1592) also commonly known in England as Jonas Schutz, was a German-born metallurgist who worked in England for several decades. He built England's first blast furnace at Tintern, and was one of the principal assayers of the worthless ore brought from Baffin Island by Sir Martin Frobisher.
The Goldney family were a wealthy English merchant trading family, most associated with Wiltshire and latterly Bristol. Later branches of the family became the Goldney baronets.