Home > 013966. Henry Withington > Ancient Iron Works of Taunton

Ancient Iron Works of Taunton

Source: Capt. John W.D. Hall, “Ancient Iron Works of Taunton,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 41[1887]:281.

[page 281]

The REGISTER for January last contains the following remarks introducing a genealogical record and deed (see page 83), viz.:

“In the article by John W.D. Hall in the REGISTER for July, 1884, on the Ancient Works of Taunton, the commencement of the manufacture of iron in that town is assigned (page 269) to the year 1656.  The following paper shows that the works were erected and begun in the year 1653; but whether the proprietors succeeded so early as that in the manufacture of iron is not definitely stated, though it is probable that they did.”

The paper referred to is a deed of James BATTE, Jr., of a share and a quarter in said works to Henry WITHINGTON, of Dorchester, in 1655 – which states that “in the year of our lord, 1653, the inhabitants of tanton did erect and begin certayn iron works, and did rayse a stock at that present for the furtherance of Sayd Works of about £600 or upwards,” &c.  See the article on page 85 of the January REGISTER.  The paper of the writer in the REGISTER for July, 1884, stated clearly on the authority and record of Oliver PURCHIS, town clerk and scribe, that “certain inhabitants of Taunton put themselves in to be proprietors in the bloomerie, in 1653-’4,” by raising a stock at that time – giving their names.  That BATTE deed corroborates the record of Oliver PURCHIS, then made.  Irrefutable facts and records show that it required three years to complete the works for the manufacture of iron.

Three years ago the writer examined the BATTE deed, but not one line or sentence could be seen in it to justify the opinion that iron was manufactured there in 1653, nor before the date assigned (1656) by Capt. LEONARD.  The reader will observe the date of the deed, 1655!

On the authority of the record of Capt. Thomas LEONARD, who was there during the years of building and preparing the iron works, also as forgeman, clerk and manager over sixty years (from 1653 to 1713), the writer stated in the July REGISTER, 1884, that “the manufacture of iron began anno 1656.”  He now submits the case to the judgment of the readers of the REGISTER.

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