Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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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.

Cornelius Whitehouse

From Graces Guide

Cornelius Whitehouse of Horseley Fields, Wolverhampton, and 8, St Mary's Row, Birmingham, inventor of an improved method of making tubes.

1795 Born in Dudley, son of Edward and Mary Whitehouse[1]

Started work for James Russell

1821 Married Mary Peters in Walsall[2]

1822 Birth of son Cornelius in Wednesbury[3]

1825 Whitehouse took out a patent for the manufacture of tubes[4] for gas and other purposes which was assigned by indenture, dated the 9th day of April 1825, to James Russell, of Bescott-hall, Walsall.[5]

1826 Married Lucy Aston, widow, in Birmingham[6]

1831 Married Charlotte Power in Wednesbury[7]


Before Lord Lyndhurst and a Special Jury.
RUSSELL v. COWLEY AND Co.-This was an issue out of Chancery, to try whether the defendants, iron manufacturers at Walsal, had infringed on a patent granted to Cornelius Whitehouse, of Wednesbury, "for his invention of certain improvements in manufacturing tubes for gas and other purposes."

Sir J. Scarlett, for the plaintiff, described the invention as one of the greatest importance, and making almost a revolution in the manufacture of iron tubes. The improvement consisted in passing the iron of which the tubes were to be made through swages, or other such instruments, which was done by preparing a piece of flat iron for welding, by being bent upon the sides, the edges nearly meeting, so as to make the piece in form of a cylindrical tube, which is put into a hollow fire, heated by a blast, and when the iron was on the point of fusion it is drawn out of the furnace by means of a chain attached to a draw bench, and passed through a pair of dies of the size required, which welds the edges of the iron together. One of the plaintiff's workmen quitted his service and entered that of the defendants, who shortly afterwards made an instrument copied from the plaintiff's, with the addition only of certain rollers, which, were of no use. This was the infraction complained of.

Several witnesses, among whom was Mr. Brunel, were examined, and the plaintiff's case occupied the whole of the day; his lordship adjourned the cause till to-morrow, when the Solicitor-General is to begin the defence.

FEB. 15.— In this case, after a powerful defence by the Solicitor General, Lord Lyndhurst said "There must be a verdict for the plaintiff, with nominal damages, with liberty for the defendant to move." [8]

1836 James Russell petitioned for extension of Cornelius Whitehouse's 1825 patent[9]

1841 Whitesmith, lived in Wednesbury with Charlotte Whitehouse 35, Emma Whitehouse 7, Charlotte Whitehouse 5, Elizabeth Whitehouse 3, Denham Whitehouse 1[10]

1845 Set up in business on his own account at Globe Tube Works, Wednesbury

1847 Makers of gun barrels and tubes for gas, etc.

1849 Directory: Listed as makers of lathe and press tools

1849 Directory: Listed as Tool Makers

1851 Iron tube manufacturer, lived in Wolverhampton with Charlotte Whitehouse 49, Emma Whitehouse 16, Charlotte Whitehouse 14, Elizabeth Whitehouse 12, Cornelius Whitehouse 11, Miriam Whitehouse 8, Emily Whitehouse 6[11]

1860 Patent to Charles Henry Adames, of Birmingham, Frying Pan Manufacturer, and Cornelius Whitehouse, of Wolverhampton, Engineer, have given the like notice in respect of the invention of "a new or improved mode of manufacturing frying pans and other articles produced from sheet iron or other metals."[12]

1861 Engineer, lived in Wolverhampton, with Charlotte Whitehouse 55, Emma Power Whitehouse 26, Charlott A Whitehouse 24, Elizabeth M Whitehouse 22, Denham P Whitehouse 21, Miriam P Whitehouse 18, Emily A Whitehouse 16, Florence B Whitehouse 8[13]

1881 Tube maker, lived with 2 of his daughters in Wolverhampton[14]

1883 Cornelius Whitehouse died

* Obituary 1883[15]

Those who remember the great patent case of Russell v. Ledsam, which for many years dragged its slow length through the various courts up to the House of Lords, where it was finally decided in the year 1848, will regret to learn that Mr. Cornelius Whitehouse, one of the inventors whose patent was in dispute, died on the 7th inst. in the eighty ninth year of his age. The invention was of the greatest importance, and may be said to have laid the foundation of the welded tube trade. Whitehouse was originally a workman in the employ of James Russell, tube manufacturer, of Wednesbury. As far back as the year 1825 he took out a patent for making tubes, according to which the wkelp, previously bent up, was heated in a furnace, and was welded by being drawn, without a mandril, through a pair of semicircular dies; or through pincers, each jaw of which had a semicircular groove or aperture. It created quite a revolution in the trade, the price of tubes being reduced to one-half and for some sorts to two-thirds, and much longer lengths could be made. The tubes were of greater uniformity, both internally and externally, and the trade came very soon almost entirely into the hands of Russell, to whom the patent had been assigned, the inventor receiving an annuity sum of £300, together with a house and certain other advantages. Ledsam, the defendant in the action, was the assignee of a patent taken out by the late Richard Prosser, of Birmingham, according to which tubes were welded by drawing them through grooved rollers. This was decided by the court to be an infringement of Whitehouse's patent, the grooved rollers being regarded as the mechanical equivalent of Whitehouse's die, but the litigation which was commenced in 1830 was not finally set at rest until 1848, long after the patent and its extension had expired. It was extended for six years in 1839, on condition that an annuity of £500 should be secured to the inventor. The defendants contended that the Crown had no power to insert such a proviso, and they further alleged that the application for extension had not been made in time, and that the annuity had not been duly paid. Amongst the testimony to the great value of the invention given before the Privy Council was that of Perkins, the patentee of a well known system of warming buildings, who stated that no other tubes would have enabled him to carry out his invention. They would bear bending cold, and would stand a pressure of 5000 lb. on the inch. Francis Bramah, son of the great inventor, also stated that the introduction of the improved pipe enabled him to dispense with the very expensive copper tubing formerly used in connection with hydraulic presses, which cost 10s. per foot, whilst Russell's pipe could be obtained of sufficient strength at 1s. 3d. per foot. Mr. Whitehouse commenced business on his own account at the Globe Tube Works, Wednesbury, in 1845, which, however, he relinquished to Mr. John Spencer last year, as we reported at the time. He also took out several other patents in connection with the manufacture of lap-welded tubes, but none of such importance as his original invention. No one will be surprised, though it is much to be regretted, that in common with many other patentees, the benefits Mr. Whitehouse conferred upon all countries through his invention did not leave his latter days with such substantial means as the importance of the industry he created ought to have afforded him.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. BMD
  3. BMD
  4. [1] Letter to The Engineer, by R. B. Prosser, p.447, 17 Nov 1916
  5. London Gazette 5 January 1836
  6. BMD
  7. BMD
  8. Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon Gazette - Saturday 22 February 1834
  9. London Gazette 5 January 1836
  10. 1841 census
  11. 1851 census
  12. London Gazette 12 Feb 1861
  13. 1861 census
  14. 1881 census
  15. The Engineer 1883/08/24