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British Industrial History

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John O'Kelly

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Colonel John O'Kelly was responsible for erecting the first Newcomen Engine on the Continent, in 1721.

Born in Galway, Ireland, in December 1672

Died in Brussels in 1753

He became a Captain in the army, took part in the War of Spanish Succession, and travelled widely in Europe. In 1720, he obtained from the prince-bishop of Liège, Joseph-Clément of Bavaria, permission to operate "a machine of his invention" intended to drain the mines. Installed in the hamlet of Mabotte, it operated from the beginning of 1721. He erected several other pumps at coal mines in Liège. He married there, had two children and died in Brussels at the age of 80.

A monument to John O'Kelly was erected at Jemeppe-lez-Liège in 1957.

The above information is condensed from the Connaître la Wallonie website.

O'Kelly hoped to construct the first Newcomen engine in Sweden. In January 1728 his plans were submitted to someone who turned out to be his competitor, Marten Triewald. Triewald on the cotract, but his 'Dannemora' engine proved to be inferior to O'Kelly's first machine at Liège.[1]

Kelly had two sons: Jean-Charles and Philippe-Hean-Baptiste (1730-1799).

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'Royal Supplications of the Swedish Boards of Trade and Mines on Behalf of Denis O'Brien (1723-26) and John O'Kelly (1725-28)' by Steve Murdoch and Alexia Grosjean: Archivium Hibernicum, Vol. 60 (2006/2007), pp. 436-459. Published by: Catholic Historical Society of Ireland