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Francis Maceroni

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Colonel Francis Maceroni (1787–1846) of Squire and Maceroni

Sometimes known as "Count Maceroni", born Francis Macirone, was a soldier, balloonist (as recorded by Sophie Blanchard), author, and inventor. Maceroni was the original version of his family name, the variant spelling of Macirone having been adopted by his grandfather to distance himself from an unsavoury relation. Francis opted to resume the original spelling, but is sometimes listed with the variant spelling.

1787/8 April 1st. Born the son of Peter Augustus Macirone, an Italian merchant and former school teacher living in England, Maceroni became a Colonel of Cavalry and served as aide de camp to Joachim Murat, the King of Naples during the Napoleonic Wars (later writing his biography) and fought with the Spanish insurgents in 1822-23 during the civil war.

1821 Married Elizabeth Ann Willimas-Wynne on board a ship of the coast of Spain and had two children

In 1825 while living in Manchester, he became interested in the work of Goldsworthy Gurney and attached himself to Gurney's Regent's Park workshop on the recommendation of Sir Anthony Carlisle, ostensibly to work on his own inventions. He stayed six months and became involved enough in Gurney's work - he witnessed one of the early carriage contracts - that he persuaded several friends to invest in the enterprise.

1828 Married Bethena Charlotte Williams-Wynne and had three children

1831 After a time in Constantinople, helping the Turks fight the Russians, he returned to London and joined forces with Gurney's former employee, carpenter John Squire.

In 1833 the two had constructed their own steam carriage. It was a straightforward vehicle that carried up to fourteen passengers, developed 30 horsepower at 14 mph and ascended hills with ease. See Squire and Maceroni

1833 Patent. 'John Squire, of Paddington Basin, engineer, and Francis Macerone, of Upper George-street, Bryanstone square, both in Middlesex, for certain improvements on boilers for generating steam. Dated July 18, 1833. Six months'[1]

The carriage ran for hire for some weeks between Paddington and Edgware with no serious mechanical problems and in 1834 after a new toll relief bill was passed by the House of Commons, Maceroni built a new and larger carriage. But the bill failed in the House of Lords and Maceroni fell into financial difficulties.

To meet the terms of the Belgian and French patents he had negotiated earlier, he shipped his two remaining carriages to Brussels and Paris in the care of the Italian speculator Colonel d'Asda. D'Asda drove the carriages around to great publicity for several months then sold them and disappeared with the money.

In 1835 Maceroni published a book on road steam power and tried to raise new capital, but a railway investment panic in 1837 doomed his chances and in 1841 the disclosure of serious mismanagement ended with the seizure of all his assets.

1838 Published his memoirs

1839 Formed the Steam Conveyance Co. Engineer is Alexander Gordon.[2]

1839 Patent. For improvement in steam generators and boilers. Of St. James Square.[3]

1840 'On Thursday se'nnight an experimental trip of a steam-carriage, constructed under the patent of Colonel Maceroni, was made from East Greenwich to Footscray. The carriage is a double-bodied one, capable of carrying 24 passengers in addition to luggage, and the entire weight of the machine, including fuel and water, is under five tons. The carriage was perfectly under the control of the steersman, and turned every corner with the greatest nicety. There were 23 passengers, principally shareholders. They proceeded up Blackheath-hill, to the great astonishment of the admirers of steam-locomotion, at the rate of twelve miles an hour. The party then proceeded over the heath and up Shooters-hill, and, having increased their power, although that hill had been newly gravelled, they ascended it at the rate of fourteen miles an hour. The boiler is only four cubic feet, and yet is of 50 horse power. There was no appearance of steam, smoke, or fire; in fact, there is no chimney, and the noise produced is scarcely equal to that of a common omnibus. The horses on the road did not shy as the vehicle passed. On the level road a mile was completed in three minutes, and on ascending hills in from four to five minutes. Twenty miles an hour was the maximum, and twelve the minimum rate.'[4]

1841 Living at Pratt Street, Lambeth: Francis Macerone (age c50), an Engineer. With his wife Bethyrica Macerone (age c35) and their children Lucy Macerone (age c14), Laura Macerone (age c13) and Cecilia Macerone (age c6).[5]

Maceroni lived in England for much of his life

1846 July 25th. Died in Kensington and buried in All Souls Cemetery, Kensal Green. Cousin to J. A. Robinson.[6]


Extracted from Steam Locomotion on Common Roads by William Fletcher. Published 1891.

Colonel Maceroni was one of Hancock's successful contemporaries, and among steam carriage promoters he occupies a very prominent position.

Maceroni's father was an Italian merchant, residing in England, and for several years he occupied a quasi country house in the suburbs of Manchester, where in 1788 Francis Maceroni was born. We cannot afford the space to give any particulars of his early days or his many adventures.

In 1814 he was living in Italy, and became aide-de-camp to the King of Naples. From 1825 to 1828 we find Maceroni helping Gurney, in London, to overcome the monetary difficulties associated with his early and somewhat faulty steam carriages; but, feeling convinced that Gurney's efforts would never succeed, in 1829 Maceroni abandoned the steam carriage business and went to Constantinople.

Having returned to England in 1831, "Mr. J. Squire came to me," says Maceroni, "and informed me that he had built a steam carriage, which performed very well, and asked me to join him in the undertaking. Finding the little carriage much superior to any that Gurney had made, but unfortunately fitted with a somewhat defective boiler, I undertook to join in the construction of another on my plan, for which a valid patent could be obtained, but I was without much money, having, through the fortunes of war returned from Turkey with even less than I went out with. However, I mentioned my dilemma to a gentleman, the like of whom there are too few in this world, who provided me with the funds for taking convenient premises, purchasing lathes, tools, and establishing a factory on the Paddington Wharf. I placed Mr. Squire in the house on the works as foreman, and we set to work on an enlarged scale."

In 1833 Colonel Maceroni and Mr. Squire jointly patented an efficient multi-tubular boiler, which was composed of eighty-one upright cylindrical tubes, disposed in nine rows, in the middle of which was the fire place. The tubes were all connected by horizontal tubes at the bottom and the top, the lower being a water communication, and the upper a steam communication.

To prevent the formation of clinkers, and to preserve the fire bars from being rapidly burnt out, they were formed of hollow tubes, through which water circulated to the upright tubes of the boiler. The steam was conducted from the top of the tubes to a steam dome, from which the engine was supplied. The flame and heated matters were diffused around the whole series of tubes, and produced rapid generation of steam. The working pressure was 150lb. After completing this admirable boiler. Colonel Maceroni constructed a steam carriage, of which Fig. 47 is a representation.

Mr. Gordon describes the carriage as "a fine specimen of indomitable perseverance," and he states that it not uncommonly travelled at the rate of from eighteen to twenty miles an hour. The engines were placed horizontally underneath the carriage body, the boiler was arranged at the back, and a fan was used to urge the combustion of the fuel, the supply of which was regulated by the engine man, who had a special seat behind. The passengers were placed in the open carriage body, and their seats were formed upon the tops of the water tanks. There were two cylinders 7.5in. in diameter, the stroke being 1.75in. The diameter of the steam pipe was 2.25in., and that of the exhaust pipe was 2.75in.

Colonel Maceroni's first steam carriage attracted much attention. From the commencement of his trials, he invited public investigation and publicity, and at a later date he writes: "My workshop doors, at 19, Wharf, Paddington, were open to every visitor; and even from our very first experimental movements, I invited the editors of newspapers, engineers, and other authoritative and scientific persons to inspect our progress, and ride on the carriage any day, every day, and as often as would suit their pleasure or convenience." He asked the representatives of the Press to note the mile stones with watch in hand, and state the facts and make such observations as they thought proper; and from these voluminous reports we will mention a few particulars of these interesting trials. "On October 4th, 1833, Colonel Maceroni and Mr. Squire, accompanied by eight other persons, took a trip in their new patent steam carriage, from Paddington Green to Edgware. The average speed was sixteen miles an hour. The return journey, a distance of 7.5 miles, was performed in a little over thirty minutes. The carriage has gone to Windsor in two hours." "It appears to be the simplest and most compact steam carriage that has yet been tried in public."

"It is capable of carrying twelve or fourteen persons fourteen miles an hour, with perfect safety, on a turnpike road. It has been guided with ease and perfect security through Fleet Street and Cheapside at the most crowded time of the day."

We also quote the following particulars, which were published in the Morning Chronicle 14th October, 1833: "This steam carriage has plied daily for some weeks between Paddington and Edgware, without meeting with any accident. Since it was started, it has travelled a distance of upwards of seventeen hundred miles; yet, in the whole of that time, it has not needed any repairs."

Colonel Maceroni once took a trip to Harrow-on-the-Hill, the distance of nine miles being completed in fifty-eight minutes. The hill was ascended with ease at the rate of seven miles an hour, and during no part of the journey was the full power of steam put on. For several weeks in the early part of 1834 the carriage was running daily from Oxford Street to Edgware. Afterwards several trips were made to Uxbridge, when the roads were in the worst possible condition, and nevertheless the journey from the Regent's Circus, Oxford Street, to Uxbridge, a distance of sixteen miles, was often performed in a little over an hour.

The following account of a trip to Watford appeared in "Turner's Annual Tour," in 1834: "Drawn out of a hut on Bushy Heath by the appearance of an unusual commotion amongst the inhabitants of the village, we saw a steam coach which stopped there. The apparition of a vehicle of this kind, in such a place, was unaccountable. Bushy Heath forms the plateau of a mountain, which is the highest point of land in Middlesex, and, although so far inland, serves as a landmark for vessels at sea. The access to it, from the London side, is by a difficult and steep road. Being accosted by Colonel Maceroni, in whom we were glad to recognise an old acquaintance, he informed us that the journey had been performed with ease, adding that it was his intention to proceed to Watford.

Now, if the road from Edgware to Bushy Heath was steep and difficult, the descent from Bushy Heath to Watford was much worse. We told our friend that he might go by steam to Watford, but that we were quite certain that he would not return by the same means of locomotion. Nevertheless, at his pressing instance, we consented to hazard our own person in the adventure. We set off, amidst the cheers of the villagers. The motion was so steady that we could have read with ease, and the noise was no worse than that produced by a common vehicle. On arriving at the summit of Clay Hill, the local and inexperienced attendant neglected to clog the wheel until it became impossible. We went thundering down the hill at the rate of thirty miles an hour. Mr. Squire was steersman, and never lost his presence of mind. It may be conceived what amazement a thing of this kind, flashing through the village of Bushy, occasioned among the in- habitants. The people seemed petrified on seeing a carriage without horses. In the busy and populous town of Watford the sensation was similar — the men gazed in speechless wonder; the women clapped their hands. We turned round at the end of the street in magnificent style, and ascended Clay Hill at the same rate as the stage coaches drawn by five horses, and at length regained our starting place."

Maceroni had made two steam carriages, the first was intended to carry eleven persons, see fig. 47, and the excellent boiler worked at 150lbs. pressure per square inch. The second carriage was larger, and designed for carrying sixteen persons and ample room had been provided in this carriage for passengers' luggage.

In 1834 Maceroni and Squire dissolved partnership in the steam carriage business, after which Maceroni became very short of money, and allowed Asda, an Italian Jew, to take both the carriages to the Continent, he having promised to pay Maceroni £1,500 for a share in the patents taken out in France and Belgium. Asda solemnly stipulated that one of the carriages should be returned to England in six weeks. One carriage was running well in Brussels, long reports having appeared in the Belgian journals, stating that the performances justified all the expectations which had been formed respecting it.

Another carriage was doing equally well in Paris. The following account appeared in the Journal de Paris in February, 1835: "The steam carriage brought to perfection in England by Colonel Maceroni, ran along the Boulevards as far as the Rue Fauburg du Temple. It turned with the greatest facility, ran the whole length of the Boulevards back again, and along the Rue Royale, to the Place Louis XV. This carriage is very elegant, much lighter, and by no means so noisy as the one (Mr. Deitz's) we saw here some months ago, and it excited along its way the surprise and applause of the astonished spectators. All the hills on the paved Boulevard were ascended with astonishing rapidity. One of our colleagues was in this carriage the whole of its running above described, and he declares that there is not the least heat felt inside from the fire, and' that conversation can be kept up so as to be heard at a much lower tone than in most ordinary carriages. The king took a ride in this carriage, and gave Asda a valuable present, who falsely styled himself the inventor, constructor, and sole proprietor of the carriages.

A rich party of capitalists paid Asda £16,000 for the patent, of which poor Maceroni never received a shilling. All his tools and effects at the factory were taken by his creditors, and Maceroni was on the verge of starvation.

In 1837 he attempted to form a company to construct and run steam carriages built under his directions, but the matter fell through, because he had no carriage to exhibit to those who had never seen either of those of which he had been so cruelly robbed. A year later another attempt was made to float a company, but without success. He made the following appeal, which, however, did not apparently meet with a practical response from the public: "If any party will provide the necessary funds to construct a couple of steam carriages according to my patent, I will engage, under any penalty or conditions that can reasonably be proposed, to run one of the same carriages from London to Birmingham and back to London within the time that it shall take any other steam carriage at present in existence simply to arrive at the same place. Both carriages to start at the same time. Ample guarantee will be given for the due and immediate construction of the carriages, which shall remain the property of the money provider, under fair and understood conditions."

However, in 1841, "The General Steam Carriage Company" had commenced to construct carriages in accordance with Maceroni's patents. Mr. Beale, of Greenwich, made the first carriage. The following report of the trip is given: "Having been accustomed to drive some of the best appointed fast coaches, I was invited to accompany a party of gentlemen on an experimental trip with Colonel Maceroni's steam locomotive. It started from Beale's Works, East Greenwich, and proceeded through Lewisham to Bromley, a distance of eight miles, performing the journey in half an hour; we returned at the same rate. So confident was Beale in the performance of the engine that he determined to try Blackheath Hill, which was ascended in gallant style with a load of 17 passengers. We proceeded over Blackheath to the top of Shooter's Hill at the speed of 14 miles an hour, descending the hill, and reached the factory at a quick rate. Several shareholders were delighted."

Maceroni had agreed to supply the carriages at £800 each to the Company. Mr. Beale's bill was £1,100 for his first locomotive, having charged over £200 for alterations and running some hundreds of miles on experimental trips. The Committee refused to pay this unreasonable amount, and Beale would not let the carriage go out any more. The quarrel was between the Board of Directors and the manufacturing engineer, but Colonel Maceroni was the greatest sufferer, because everything he had was seized by his creditors, his furniture, books, models, and he was now in great distress. Beale, in one of his letters, said: — "I believe Colonel Maceroni has done more than any other man in the kingdom towards steam locomotion on common roads, and if his scheme were properly supported it would succeed, and be of vast utility to the community."

Towards the end of 1841 Maceroni offered for sale the patent rights of his steam boiler, which had been proved, by daily journeys on the most hilly roads. It had, during 18 consecutive months, propelled a steam carriage at the rate of 12 miles an hour, making little noise, and emitting no smoke. The patent had seven years to run, but in that time the advertisement went on to say, a great fortune might be made on common roads."

Maceroni was a constant contributor to the Mechanics' Magazine from 1830 to 1840, but we fail to find a single line from his pen after his patent boiler advertisement had appeared, except a letter to the Editor in 1843, shewing that Squire's steam boiler, just then patented, was really an infringement of his patent boiler. Colonel Maceroni was most unfortunate in every transaction connected with steam locomotion. He built two of the best road carriages ever made, and his labours have been entirely ignored by many writers on this subject.

A correspondent residing at Luton in 1840 said: "There has been so little written respecting steam road locomotion that I feared the matter was likely to fall through altogether. But I came across a gentleman whom I knew to have made experiments with a small steam carriage, who showed me two handsome and powerful carriages in his factory. One was complete, and had been out several times ; the other was very nearly finished. The large one, with two cylinders, each 8 inches in diameter and 18 inches stroke, was intended to carry twenty passengers. The smaller one was built for conveying fifteen passengers. No expense had been spared to render them in every way a success." In addition to these engines, a large omnibus ready to attach to either of them had been constructed. We are unable to give the name of the maker of these carriages.

Colonel Maceroni about this time refers to some newly-designed road locomotives as follows: "There are three or four productions now being tried upon the Vauxhall Bridge and Finchley roads, but in mercy to the inventors I will not mention names, having seen their performances, which, like so many others, bring common road steam carriages into utter contempt.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Leicester Chronicle - Saturday 10 August 1833
  2. ngdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette - Saturday 13 April 1839
  3. Leicester Journal - Friday 15 November 1839
  4. Worcestershire Chronicle - Wednesday 19 August 1840
  5. 1841 Census
  6. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 08 August 1846