Dudley, Dud

SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
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b. 1599
d. 25 October 1684 Worcester, England
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English ironmaster who drew attention to the need to change from charcoal to coal as a fuel for iron smelting.
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Dudley was the fourth natural son of Edward Sutton, fifth Baron Dudley. In 1619 he was summoned from Balliol College, Oxford, to superintend his father's ironworks at Pensnet in Worcestershire. There had long been concern at the destruction of the forests in order to make charcoal for the smelting of iron ore, and unsuccessful attempts had been made to substitute coal as a fuel. Finding that charcoal was in short supply and coal plentiful near Pensnet, Dudley was stimulated by these attempts to try the process for himself. He claimed to have made good, marketable iron and in 1621 his father obtained a patent from the King to protect his process for thirty-one years. After a serious flood, Dudley moved to Staffordshire and continued his efforts there. In 1639 he was granted a further patent for making iron with coal. Although he probably made some samples of good iron, more by luck than judgement, it is hardly possible that he achieved consistent success. He blamed this on the machinations of other ironmasters. The day that King Charles II landed in England to assume his throne', Dudley petitioned him to renew his patents, but he was refused and he ceased to promote his invention. In 1665, however, he published his celebrated book Metallum Martis, Iron Made with Pit-Coaky Sea-Coale…. In this he described his efforts in general terms, but neither there nor in his patents does he give any technical details of his methods. He implied the use of slack or small coal from the Staffordshire Thick or Ten Yard coal, but this has a sulphur content that would have rendered the iron unusable; in addition, this coal would not have been suitable for converting to coke in order to remove the sulphur. Nevertheless, Dudley recognized the need to change from charcoal to coal as a fuel for iron smelting and drew attention to it, even though he himself achieved little success.
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Further Reading
H.R.Schubert, 1957, History of the British Iron and Steel Industry AD 430 to AD 1775, London: Routledge \& Kegan Paul.
W.K.V.Gale, 1967, The British Iron and Steel Industry: A Technical History, London (provides brief details of Dudley's life in relation to the history of ironmaking).
LRD

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

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