Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Benjamin Huntsman

From Graces Guide

Benjamin Huntsman (1704–1776) was an English inventor and manufacturer of crucible steel.

1704 June 4th. He was born the third son of a Quaker farmer in Epworth, Lincolnshire. His parents were German

He started business as a clock, lock and tool maker at Doncaster, and attained a considerable local reputation for scientific knowledge and skilled workmanship. He also practiced surgery in an experimental fashion, and was frequently consulted as an oculist.

1726 Benjamin Huntsman, of Doncaster, accepted Davey Harrison as an apprentice

1740 Finding that the bad quality of the steel then available for his products seriously hampered him, he began to experiment in steel manufacture, first at Doncaster, and subsequently at Handsworth, near Sheffield, where he removed in 1740 to secure cheaper fuel for his furnaces. This cheaper fuel was coke which was more efficient than charcoal.

1743 Benje Huntsman, of Doncaster, accepted John Hodgson as an apprentice

After several years trials Huntsman at last produced a satisfactory cast steel, purer and harder than any steel then in use. The Sheffield cutlery manufacturers, however, refused to buy it, on the ground that it was too hard, and for a long time Huntsman exported his whole output to France. The English parliament prohibited the refining of pig iron or the casting of iron in the American colonies, contributing to the American Revolution.

The growing competition of imported French cutlery made from Huntsman's cast-steel at length alarmed the Sheffield cutlers, who, after vainly endeavouring to get the exportation of the steel prohibited by the British government, were compelled in self-defence to use it. Huntsman had not patented his process, and its secret was discovered by a Sheffield iron-founder called Walker, who, according to a popular story, obtained admission to Huntsman's works in the disguise of a starving beggar asking to sleep by a fire for the night.

1776 June 20th. Benjamin Huntsman died and his business B. Huntsman being subsequently greatly developed by his son, William Huntsman (1733-1809).


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