Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Robert Mansell

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Sir Robert Mansell (1570/71–1652), naval officer, administrator and owner of glass works.

His naval career progressed rapidly such that by 1601 he was admiral of a squadron in the western Channel. He also entered parliament.

1604 After other such prominent position at sea he moved to a job onshore as treasurer of the navy, as well as other positions.

Mansell amassed a fortune that enabled him to invest in various enterprises.

1608–9 A commission investigating corruption in the navy exposed his fraudulent activities but he escaped punishment.

1615 Mansell expanded his commercial interests by obtaining the monopoly on glass production, buying out the other members of a syndicate to which he belonged. To cut production costs he reorganized the works but his search for a suitable site for a new furnace outside London proved ruinously expensive. Eventually he found an ideal location at Newcastle upon Tyne.

However his glass monopoly was condemned by parliament.

1623 His grant of patent was revoked in May but the privy council immediately awarded him a fresh patent on terms almost identical to the first.

1640 His Newcastle glassworks were disrupted after the English defeat at Newburn - many of his workmen fled south in fear of the victorious Scots.

1642 Mansell was forced to surrender his glass patent after a London merchant complained that some of his chests of imported glass had been seized by Mansell, though this did not prevent him from continuing to manufacture glass.

1652 Buried in East Greenwich where he lived.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Sir Robert Mansell, ODNB