Momma (Mumma), Jacob

SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
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b. early seventeenth century Germany
d. 1679 England
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German (naturalized English) immigrant skilled in the manufacture and production of brass, who also mined and smelted copper.
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The protestant Momma family were well known in Aachen, the seventeenth-century centre of German brass production. Subjected to religious pressures, some members of the family moved to nearby Stolberg, while others migrated to Sweden, starting brass manufacture there. Jacob travelled to England, establishing brassworks with two German partners at Esher in Surrey in 1649; theirs was the only such works in England to survive for more than a few years during the seventeenth century.
Jacob, naturalized English by 1660, is often referred to in England as Mummer or another variant of his name. He became respected, serving as a juror, and was appointed a constable in 1661. During the 1660s Momma was engaged in mining copper at Ecton Hill, Staffordshire, where he was credited with introducing gunpowder to English mining technology. He smelted his ore at works nearby in an effort to secure copper supplies, but the whole project was brief and unprofitable.
The alternative imported copper required for his brass came mainly from Sweden, its high cost proving a barrier to viable English brass production. In 1662 Momma petitioned Parliament for some form of assistance. A year later he pleaded further for higher tariffs against brass-wire imports as protection from the price manipulation of Swedish exporters. He sought support from the Society of Mineral and Battery Works, the Elizabethan monopoly (see Dockwra, William) claiming jurisdiction over the country's working of brass, but neither petition succeeded. Despite these problems with the high cost of copper supplies in England, Momma continued his business and is recorded as still paying hearth tax on his twenty brass furnaces up to 1664. Although these were abandoned before his death and he claimed to have lost £6,000 on his brassworks, his wire mills survived him for a few years under the management of his son.
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Further Reading
J.Morton, 1985, The rise of the modern copper and brass industry: 1690 to 1750, unpublished thesis: University of Birmingham, 16–25.
J.Day, 1984, "The continental origins of Bristol Brass", Industrial Archaeology Review 8/1: 32–56.
John Robey, 1969, "Ecton copper mines in the seventeenth century", Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historic Society 4(2):145–55 (the most comprehensive published account).
JD

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

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