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British Industrial History

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Jabez Carter Hornblower

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Jabez Carter Hornblower (1744–1814) was an English pioneer of steam power.

1744 May 21st. Born in Broseley, Staffordshire, the eldest child of Jonathan Hornblower and his wife Ann Carter and brother of Jonathan Hornblower

He gained his engineering skills working for his father building Newcomen steam engines in Cornwall. He later worked for Boulton and Watt building the new Watt steam engines designed and patented by James Watt.

'Jabez was so ill-tempered and uncouth that Boulton refused to keep him in his employ'[1]

1786 Listed as bankrupt. '...a Commission of Bankrupt is awarded and issued forth against Jabez Carter Hornblower, of the Parish of St. Philip and Jacob, in the County of Gloucester, adjoining to the City of Bristol, Iron-manufacturer, Dealer and Chapman, and he being declared a Bankrupt...'[2]

By 1790 he had set up in business in London with financial backing from well-to-do currier John Maberly, where he designed a new steam engine based on the patented designs of Isaac Mainwaring.

In 1796 Hornblower and Maberly were sued by Boulton and Watt, who claimed one of Watt's patents – concerning the condenser had been infringed. [3] After a long trial, judgement in 1799 was in favour of Boulton and Watt and brought about the collapse of Hornblower and Maberly's business.

In 1803 Hornblower was imprisoned in the King's Bench debtors prison but on his release in 1805 he managed to secure some work in mainland Europe building engines until his return to England in 1813.

1814 July 14th. Died and was buried in the Bunhill Fields burial ground in London.

He had married twice, once in Cornwall to Mary John, with whom he had four children and, on her death, to Ann Hanbury of Bridgnorth, Shropshire in 1787 with whom he had a further four children.

Ann died in 1853 aged 95 years [4]


See Also


Sources of Information

  1. * Joseph Bramah by Ian McNeil. 1968.
  2. [1] Gazette Issue 12811 published on the 9 December 1786. Page 3 of 4
  3. Hereford Journal - Wednesday 21 December 1796
  4. The Times, Friday, Oct 21, 1853