Dockwra, William

SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
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d. 1716
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English merchant; manufacturer of copper, brass, wire and pins.
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William Dockwra established a penny postal system in London in 1683. He was appointed Comptroller of the Penny Post in 1697, but following enquiries into his activities he was dismissed on charges of maladministration. In the early 1690s he was heading a partnership with premises at Esher, formerly the brassworks of Jacob Momma. Brass was made there and both brass and copper sheet was manufactured by water-powered rolling mills, at a time when such techniques were new to England. Wire was drawn and used for pinmaking on the premises, making this the first comprehensive works of its kind. Dockwra was involved in a further partnership based at Redbrook on the Wye in Gloucestershire, where copper was smelted by John Coster using new coal-fired reverberatory furnaces. It was from there that the Esher works received its copper for brassmaking and other manufacturing processes. Following his dismissal as Comptroller of the Penny Post, Dockwra's fortunes declined. By the early years of the eighteenth century he had withdrawn from his involvement in manufacturing, no longer being included in either of his former partnerships, although their work continued.
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Further Reading
J.Day, 1973, Bristol Brass: A History of the Industry (puts Dockwra's manufacturing activities in context).
J.Houghton, 1697, Husbandry and Trade Improv'd (a contemporary account of Dockwra's industrial activities).
JD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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