Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 134,026 pages of information and 213,092 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
1858 Born, son of James Roots
Educated at Tunbridge Wells
Apprenticed to a nut and bolt works in Hunslet, Leeds
Then was apprenticed to a "medical man" in Leeds
1881 Living at Lower Crofton, Orpington, Kent: James Roots (age 55 born Deal), a Retired Publican. With his wife Eliza Roots (age 49 born Windsor) and their children James Roots (age 22 born Paddington), a Medical Assistant; Mary Roots (age 19 born Penshurst); William H. Roots (age 17 born Orpington); Jane C. Roots (age 14 born Orpington); and Louisa Roots (age 10 born Orpington).
1883 Left medicine and worked in a small workshop in Tottenham and then in Chelsea, experimenting with combustion engines using gas and oil.
1885 Patent for a motor-propelled vehicle.
1885 Married Rosa Skinner in Bromley
1886 Made his first oil engine
1889 First known patent on construction of a blue flame oil lamp - before the days of the thorium and zirconium mantles, this had a fine wire platinum hood.
1890 Applied an internal combustion engine to make a motor boat
1891 Living at 61 Marylebone Road, London: James Roots (age 32 born London), Engineer Designer - Internal Combustion. With his wife Rosa Roots (age 29 born Werburgh, Kent). Two visitors.
1891 Exhibited internal combustion engine at the Stanley Show
1892 J. D. Roots of London built a strange two-stroke tricycle which also ran on "heavy oil":
1893 Made (he claimed) the first internal combustion engined vehicle in the UK
1895 Formed Roots and Venables; they made the first oil engined vehicle in the winter of that year.
1896-7 Flew several models of aeroplane and helicopter (he claimed)
1897 Ran internal combustion engined vehicle in public competition
1898 December. Published 'The Cycles of Gas and Oil Engines'.
1898 Made first commercial internal combustion engined vehicle (he claimed)
1898 Oil motor and oil motor vehicle maker, became an Associate of the Inst of Mech Engineers.
1899 Upgraded to Member of I Mech E
1901 Living at 51 Baston Street, Fulham: James Roots (age 42 born Paddington), a Mechanical Engineer and Employer. Married (but no family listed). With one servant and her daughter. Also a boarder.
1903 Petitioned for divorce.
1904 'ROOTS, James D., M.I.Mech.E., Chicheley Street, York Road, Westminster Bridge, London, S.W. Has driven many thousands of miles. Hobby: Bacteriology. Is an expert in internal combustion engines, to which he commenced to apply himself so far back as 1884. Made the first successful oil-engine in 1887. In 1889 and 1890 made and fitted on a launch the first oil-engine used for launch or boat propulsion. Stationary and launch oil-engines to his designs were in use in 1893 in most parts of the world. In 1895 made the first petroleum driven carriage produced in England, being assisted by his partner, Mr. C. E. Venables, B.A. Is the author of "The Cycles of Gas and Oil-Engines." The first paper before the A.C.G.B. & I. was read by Mr. Roots. Club: A.C.G.B. & I. (Founder Member).' 
1908 Patent applied for on an improved rotary motor, pump, blower or meter
1928 September 24th. Died at Villa Noel, Cimiez, Nice, France