Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,502 pages of information and 233,941 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Jacob Brett

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The younger, mechanically-minded brother of John Watkins Brett

1809 Baptised in Bristol, son of William Brett and his wife Elizabeth[1]

1832 Arrived in USA[2]

1845 Following a conversation with Jacob, John began to consider whether, if telegraph cables could be laid underground, they could also be put under water, and if so, across the ocean floor. Jacob Brett registered a company, the General Oceanic Telegraph Co, for a telegraph link between Europe and America, but the project failed to attract public support as it was considered too risky.

The brothers then made an offer to the British government to link Dublin Castle with Downing Street, but this was also declined.

1847 Jacob patented an Electric Printing Telegraph which was demonstrated at Buckingham Palace on the command of Prince Albert[3]

1847 The application to the French government for a concession to lay a cable between Dover and Calais was granted.

1848 Jacob was living with his brother at 2 Hannover Sq, London[4]

1850 Jacob assigned the concession for a submarine telegraph connecting England and France to Charles James Wollaston. Wollaston raised the funds from Charles Fox, Francis Edwards, John Watkins Brett and contributed a similar sum himself.[5]

1850 The Submarine Telegraph Co was established by John Watkins Brett and other investors. The company would acquire Jacob's patent for the electric printing telegraph.

1851 Jacob proposed a route for an Atlantic Telegraph[6]

1853 He became an Associate of the Inst of Civil Engineers[7]

1853 Patent to Jacob Brett, of Hanover-square, in the county of Middlesex, Gentleman, for the invention of "improvements in electric telegraph apparatus."[8]

1856 Living with his brother at 2 Hannover Sq, London[9]

1858 His brother published a book on the origin and progress of the oceanic telegraph, with a few brief facts and opinions of the press. He also contributed several papers on the same subject to the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was sure that Britain and the United States would one day be connected by telegraph.

1858 Was staying in Paris.

1882 Jacob Brett was living in Powis Gardens, Kensington[10]

1891 In receipt of government pension, lodging in Paddington[11]

1897 died in Paddington[12]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists
  3. Illustrated London News, Jan-Jul 1847
  4. UK Directories
  5. A Collection of Biographical Sketches of Leading Men of London, 1895
  6. Illustrated London News Jul-Dec 1858
  7. Civil Engineer Lists
  8. London Gazette, 27 May 1953
  9. UK Directories
  10. 1882 Electoral register
  11. 1891 census
  12. BMD