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Navigia atque agri culturas moenia leges 
arma vias vestes et cetera de genere horum, 
praemia, delicias quoque vitae funditus omnis, 
carmina picturas, et daedala signa polire, 
usus et impigrae simul experientia mentis 
paulatim docuit pedetemtim progredientis. 
sic unumquicquid paulatim protrahit aetas 
in medium ratioque in luminis erigit oras. 
namque alid ex alio clarescere et ordine debet 
artibus, ad sum mum donee venere cacumen. 

LUCRETIUS, De Rerum Natura, v. 1448. 





Ail rights reserved 


(By LORD SANDERSON, G.C.B., K.C.M.G., Chairman of 
the Council of the Society for the years 191113) 

IT is perhaps at first sight rather remarkable that the 
Royal Society of Arts should have been approaching the 
i6oth year of its existence before any attempt was made 
to write its history. One reason may be assigned for the 
omission which is of a re-assuring character. Retro- 
spection is the proverbial consolation of old age and 
declining strength. We may take it as no unhealthy 
symptom, but rather as an indication that a Society is 
still in the prime of life, when it is so much absorbed in its 
actual work as to be content with a very misty knowledge 
of its origin and early history. 

Such certainly was the mental condition of a large 
proportion of the Members of the Royal Society of Arts 
(not excepting the Council) before the appearance in the 
Journal of the series of articles which are now presented 
in a collected shape. We were fully occupied with the 
various activities of the Society its meetings and papers, 
its examinations, and the distribution of its medals. As 
regards the past, most of us were conscious that the 
Society had done much good work under the beneficent 
presidency of the Prince Consort, and could claim to have 
taken a leading part in the promotion of the great Inter- 
national Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862. But it came upon 
us as a revelation that the names of the elder Pitt, Lord 
North, Lord Rockingham, Lord Bute, and other historic 
Ministers of the time of George in., were enrolled among 
its earliest members in somewhat uncongenial company 
with John Wilkes and Woodfall, the printer of the Letters 
of Junius ; that Dr. Johnson is believed to have made, at 


one of its meetings, the only speech which he is known to 
have delivered on his legs ; that Oliver Goldsmith was 
anxious to offer himself as a candidate for the post of 
Secretary, but was deterred by the refusal of Garrick to 
support him ; and that the Society's efforts to introduce 
the bread-fruit tree into the West Indies led to Captain 
Bligh's expedition, which terminated in the mutiny of the 
Bounty and the colonisation of Pitcairn Island. 

An illustrious past may, however, be reckoned in the 
balance-sheet of a Society as an asset of no inconsiderable 
value, whether it be regarded as establishing a prima facie 
claim to continued support, or as an incitement to further 
achievements. In both these respects it may fairly be 
claimed that the Society's records afford material for 
stimulating thought, and it was a happy inspiration 
which prompted its present Secretary to add the prepara- 
tion of this volume to the many services which he has 
rendered during more than thirty years of office. It 
has been a somewhat laborious undertaking, for which the 
Society owes him a deep debt of gratitude. 

From the short note appended to this Preface it will 
be seen that although materials were not lacking, much 
research was required to fill up gaps and put the whole into 
complete shape. 

The Society's origin is an instance of evolution, very 
typical of British methods. Nothing can have been less 
ostentatious than its entry into the world. The scheme 
was devised by a drawing-master of no great eminence, 
and was put into concrete shape at a meeting of eleven 
persons, of whom the most important in social position 
were two peers, Viscount Folkestone and Lord Romney, 
and three members of the Royal Society, Dr. Hales and Mr. 
Baker, both naturalists, and Mr. Brander, an antiquary 
and a Director of the Bank of England. Once started, the 
Society was found to conform to the needs of the time. 
It waxed and prospered, affording one among many illus- 
trations of the proposition that the permanence of in- 
stitutions is best assured by a process of steady growth. 
The doctrine described some years ago in the graphic 
words that " there is nothing like beginning with a bang " 


may be excellent from a party point of view, but finds little 
confirmation in history. 

The first impression, on a survey of the Society's work, 
is one of some bewilderment at the multiplicity and diver- 
sity of the subjects with which it has dealt in rapid 
succession or even simultaneously. Nothing seems to 
have been regarded as too homely for its attention. Side 
by side with the account of efforts to encourage improved 
systems of industrial hygiene, of saving life at sea, of the 
ventilation of mines, of producing coal gas, we find the 
notice of a gold medal awarded for the invention of the 
transparent slate which was the delight or torment of our 
childhood. In 1851, unexhausted by its efforts in connec- 
tion with the First International Exhibition, the Society 
was offering a medal for the production of a shilling box 
of colours. The box which carried off the prize had an 
unexampled success, and I well remember being myself 
the happy possessor of one of the eleven millions which 
were sold. At one moment the Society is endeavouring 
to further the improvement of labourers' cottages, at 
another it is proposing a reform in the standard pitch of 
musical instruments. It encourages with equal energy 
the planting of osiers for basket-making, the development 
of the fish supply of London and the introduction of the 
Dutch system of curing herrings, the use of machines for 
sweeping chimneys in substitution for boy chimney- 
sweeps, the introduction of artistic designs in household 
crockery, and the placing of memorial tablets on London 
houses connected in the past with eminent men. 

Such ubiquitous energy presents obvious difficulties 
to the historian, who finds himself confronted with the 
task of arranging a patchwork quilt into some kind of 
ordered pattern. The author has dealt with it by a system 
partly chronological, but in the main of classification 
into subjects. This has necessitated some repetitions and 
numerous cross-references, but it was the only practicable 
method of making the story clear and consecutive in its 
various portions. 

Another notable feature of the Society's work is the 
frequency with which it originated, or led the way in, 


movements which were taken up with general favour and 
gave occasion for the formation of independent associa- 
tions. Thus in the first half-century or more of its 
existence it devoted itself largely to endeavours for the 
development of various branches of agriculture and in- 
dustry in the Colonies a work which the Colonial and 
Imperial Institutes would now regard as their peculiar 
province. Up to the time of the formation of the Royal 
Agricultural Society in 1838, the Society of Arts was the 
prime mover in the development of agriculture in this 
country also, receiving in this respect much assistance 
from the advice of the well-known agriculturist, Arthur 
Young. It seems to have done a good deal towards the 
adoption of improved methods of cultivation, and we are 
largely indebted to it for the introduction of the swede 
turnip and the mangel-wurzel. It offered many prizes 
for the invention and improvement of agricultural 
machines, and can claim to have been instrumental in the 
planting of some fifty millions of forest trees. In 1760 
it made the first attempt at a public exhibition of the works 
of artists, and the success of this experiment led to the 
foundation of the Royal Academy of Arts. By drawing 
attention to the need for changes in the Patent Laws, it 
contributed to the passing of the great Patent Law 
Reform Act of 1852. In 1852 it held the first exhibition of 
photographic pictures. In 1858 it took a prominent part 
in the demand for legislation to protect copyright in 
works of art. From 1857 onwards it was busy in advo- 
cating various Postal reforms, including the purchase 
of the telegraphs by the State. Between 1867 and 1873 
it took a leading part in promoting the establishment 
of the National Training School for Music. It worked 
strenuously in aid of the formation of Mechanics' Institutes 
throughout the country, and in 1867 it organised a con- 
ference on the means of promoting technical education ; 
at the end of 1886, it started a movement for encouraging 
drill in schools. Among various other subjects which it 
took up at different times may be mentioned the production 
of county maps, the question of our food supplies, sanita- 
tion and water supply, economy in the consumption of 



coal, increased comfort in the passage across the Channel, 
improvement of London cabs, and the development of 
mechanical road traction. The organisation and promo- 
tion of the scheme for the International Exhibition of 
1851, with all the results that flowed from it, including the 
creation of a Government Department of Science and 
Art, must, however, no doubt be considered the Society's 
greatest achievement in this field of starting enterprises 
which have had an independent development. 

As regards the efforts of the Society for the advance- 
ment of Art pure and simple and their success, ample 
evidence is given by the distinguished names which will 
be found in the list of Medallists. It is interesting to 
notice how many eminent painters, engravers, and sculp- 
tors, including several Presidents of the Royal Academy, 
received in early youth perhaps their first encouragement 
to persevere in an artistic career by the award of one of the 
Society's Medals. 

Among a host of less well-known names, we find those 
of Bewick, Hablot Browne, C. W. Cope, Cosway, Cousins, 
Sir C. Eastlake, Flaxman, Frith, Goodall, Hook, Sir E. 
Landseer, Sir T. Lawrence, Sir J. Millais, Mulready, 
Nollekens, Romney, Sir W. Ross, some of whom obtained 
their first medal at the age of ten or eleven. 

The development of Industrial Art and Commercial 
Industry has, however, naturally been the principal 
object of the Society's attention, and in this field of labour 
it has shown such a catholicity of interest that the present 
volume has become a sketch of the whole industrial pro- 
gress of the country, incomplete, no doubt (for complete- 
ness could only have been attained by a work of encyclopae- 
dic dimensions), but still eminently suggestive and useful 
as a starting-point for further research in regard to any 
particular branch of industry. In this respect Sir Henry 
Wood has rendered an important service not merely to 
those who are interested in the Society, but to the much 
larger class who may wish to study the subjects with which 
it has dealt. 

There is a saying often quoted, though not always 
with assent, that history repeats itself. Those who 


contest it ignore the qualification added by some sagacious 
observer, that history repeats itself, but always with a 
difference. The work of the Society follows the general 
rule. Like many other British institutions, the Society 
owes its permanence to the power which it has shown of 
adapting itself to altered conditions and circumstances, 
it repeats its history with a difference ; its objects and 
principles are in the main the same, though in many 
respects it has altered its methods. It leaves to other 
Associations, more recently formed, various branches of 
work which it was itself the first to undertake ; it has 
changed in character from an Institution offering premiums 
for specified inventions and improvements, to one having 
for its main object the dissemination of information on 
all branches of Art and Industry, affording facilities for 
the publication of particulars as to the most recent in- 
ventions, and thus making publicity the substitute for 
encouragement by the award of prizes. For this purpose 
it has adopted in recent times the practice of holding weekly 
meetings during a considerable portion of the year for the 
reading and discussion of papers, and it is provided with 
the means of arranging for courses of lectures. The 
proceedings at all these meetings, with much other in- 
formation, are published in its weekly Journal. But the 
Society's medals are still awarded for the more remarkable 
papers contributed, and occasionally for some special 
invention in regard to which competition has been invited. 
Since 1863 it has annually awarded the gold medal in- 
stituted in commemoration of the Prince Consort, to some 
person selected for eminent merit in the promotion of 
arts, manufactures, and commerce. In another field of 
work it has during the last half-century instituted a system 
of examinations, which are now held not only in London, 
but in all the more important commercial and manu- 
facturing centres in the provinces, and in which the 
candidates have increased from an initial figure of 62 to a 
yearly average of 28,000. 

It may be claimed for the Society that it is a striking 
example of the useful work which may be done by a 
voluntary association, formed for the advancement of 



public objects, dependent on public support, but free to 
enter upon new fields of work and inquiry, and to make 
experiments, unhampered by the trammels which beset 
a Department of State, the restrictions of hard-and-fast 
rules, and the constant ordeal of Parliamentary questions 
and criticisms. The Empress Catherine's compassion for 
the unfortunate savants who might not say, " I don't 
know," might be extended to those who must not embark 
on fresh ventures because under a system of party Govern- 
ment they may not confess to a failure. 

The increased share now taken by the State in the 
active promotion of social progress does not diminish 
the need for such voluntary associations, though it may 
in some degree affect the nature of their work. They 
are still required as the cavalry of intellectual advance, 
scouting in front, extending its flanks, procuring supplies 
and information, and performing various indispensable 
services for which the infantry and heavy artillery of 
Public Departments are little adapted. 

The present volume is a record of change and adaptation 
from the foundation of the Society in 1754 to 1880, the 
year when the Author commenced his duties as Secretary. 
At that point, for obvious reasons, he has preferred to lay 
down his pen. Since that date there have been further 
changes, and we may no doubt look forward to others in 
the future. But of the spirit which led to the Society's 
formation, and maintains it in unabated vigour after a 
century and a half of existence the spirit which underlies 
so many British institutions the desire to give voluntary 
and unremunerated service for the advancement of the 
community, to work strenuously for the general increase 
of knowledge, refined taste, and useful industry there is 
no one who will not say Esto perpetua. 


Nothing like a history of the Society has ever been written. A 
great deal of information is contained in a lengthy paper read 
in 1868 (see Journal, vol. xvii. p. 10, et seq.^by S. T. Davenport, 
who was Financial Officer of the Society from 1853 till his 
death in 1876. The best account of the Society is to be found 
in a series of articles contributed to Engineering in July and 
August 1891, by H. B. Wheatley (Assistant Secretary, 1879 to 
1909). A short but brightly written sketch of the Society is 
given in Scientific London (B. H. Becker), 1874. The Micro- 
cosm of London, published by R. Ackermann in 1811, gives a 
good account of the Society as it existed at that date, and 
contains an interesting picture of the Great Room, showing 
the arrangement of the room before the modern alterations. 
Charles Knight's London, vol. v. (1843), a ^ so contains an 
illustrated chapter on the Society. The Penny Cyclopaedia 
(1842), under the heading " Society of Arts," gives an excellent 
short history of the Society up to that date. Some other 
accounts might be mentioned, but on the whole, outside of its 
own publications, the history of the Society must be sought 
in the magazines and newspapers of the last two centuries, 
from the Gentleman's Magazine and the Public Advertiser 
down to the periodicals and journals of our own time. 

H. T. W. 






V. THE SOCIETY AND AGRICULTURE (1754-1830) . .114 

VI. THE SOCIETY AND FORESTRY (1758-1835) . . 143 
VIII. THE FINE ART PRIZE-WINNERS (1755-1849) . . 162 
tinued ....... 213 


XI. THE PREMIUMS (1754-1851) .... 235 

XII. THE PREMIUMS (1754-1851) Continued. . . 257 

XIII. THE PREMIUMS (1754-1851) Concluded. . . 286 


THE CHARTER (1761-1847) . . . .321 


XVII. THE 1851 EXHIBITION ..... 401 

XVIII. THE 1862 EXHIBITION . . . . .416 




Continued CONCLUSION .... 474 


APPENDIX II. THE ALBERT MEDAL (1864-1913) . .512 


INDEX . . . . . . . .521 





(Original Copper-plate) .... Frontispiece 


Copper-plate) . . . . . .10 


Copper-plate) . . . . . .12 


Copper-plate) . . . . . .16 

plate ........ 22 





Photograph from a Medallion by TASSIE. 

THE SOCIETY'S HOUSE IN 1911 . . \ _. . 60 


THE ADELPHI ...... 64 

THE COUNCIL-ROOM IN 1911 . . . . . 66 










From SHARP'S Engraving after the Portrait by WEST. 


From a Daguerreotype 



plate) . . . -354 


From a Photograph by Mrs. CAMEROK. 


Copper-plate) . . . . . 396 



AND PRESIDENT ...... 474 

From a Photograph. 

A MEETING OF THE COUNCIL IN 1900 . . .. . 500 

From a Picture in The Graphic. 




COFFEE-HOUSE . . . . . .13 




THE BREAD-FRUIT . . . . . .113 

EARLY CHAFF-CUTTER . . . . .142 




ALMOND'S LOOM ....... 256 


SIGNALLING BY HAND (1809) . . . . .313 



THE 1851 EXHIBITION . . . . . .415 

THE 1862 EXHIBITION ...... 424 

THE SWINEY CUP ...... 441 





Early Technical Societies : Royal Dublin Society American Philo- 
sophical Society Select Society of Edinburgh Anti-Gallican 
Society Economical Society of St. Petersburg, etc. Early 
proposal for a " Chamber of Arts " for London Shipley publishes 
proposals for Premiums to promote Arts and Manufactures Some 
account of Shipley and his Academy Meeting at Rawthmell's 
Coffee-House and Foundation of Society Names of the Founders 
Determination of Site of Rawthmell's House Decision to offer 
Premiums Further Meetings First Annual Meeting- Lord 
Folkestone elected the first President Four Vice-Presidents 
Shipley first Secretary Title, Constitution, and Character of the 
Society Finance Shipley becomes Registrar and Box Secretary 
Decision to appoint new Secretary Templeman elected Duties 
of the Officials. 

AMONG the results of the revival of learning in Italy 
in the fourteenth century was the establishment of 
Academies associations of men interested in the cultiva- 
tion of the humanities or the advancement of natural 
knowledge, with the purpose of mutual improvement, 
or the promotion of common objects. 

These Institutions, most numerous and most successful 
in Italy, were soon imitated in other countries. In 
England the attempts under the earlier Stuart Kings to 
establish an Academy came to nothing. But after the 
Restoration, the Royal Society, which had a somewhat 
precarious existence during the later and troublous days 
of the Commonwealth, was definitely established under 


the patronage of the second Charles. The Royal Society, 
though it enjoyed court favour, was, unlike the French 
Academy, independent of court influence, and this position 
it has maintained until the present day. Instituted for the 
general promotion of natural knowledge, it included within 
its scope all branches of science, both pure and applied, 
and among its earlier Transactions are many papers dealing 
with purely technical and industrial subjects. 

For more than half a century it had the field to itself, 
and for more than a century its control of purely scientific 
matters was undisputed. Towards the end of the 
eighteenth century the advance of Science led to the 
establishment of subsidiary Societies devoted to particular 
branches of knowledge. Their establishment, at first 
strenuously opposed by the members of the Royal Society, 
was before long accepted as inevitable, and the Royal 
Society became the parent of numerous daughter Societies, 
each devoted to a special branch of natural knowledge, 
while the main supervision and control of scientific re- 

. search was still retained in her own hands. 

At an earlier date however a date which we might 
fix as a little before the middle of the century the growth 
of Trade and Industry, and the progress which the in- 
dustrial arts were already beginning to make, had led to 
the institution of various technical Societies, the object 

r of which was the promotion of the Arts, Industries, and 
Commerce of the kingdom. The oldest of these is 
the Royal Society of Dublin. This was founded in 1731, 
under the title of the Dublin Society for Improving 
Husbandry, Manufactures, and other Useful Arts. Previous 
to this, in 1683, a Philosophical Society, on the model of 

I the Royal Society of London, had been formed. This had 
rather a chequered existence, and seems to have come 
to an end before the close of the seventeenth century. 
The second Dublin Society was established mainly by 
Dr. S. Madden, who himself provided prizes for useful 
inventions and for proficiency in the Fine Arts. 

In 1 749 this Society was incorporated under the name 
of the Royal Dublin Society, in which name it has ever 
since carried on much valuable work. It had the advantage 


of Government aid, and between 1761 and 1767 it distri- 
buted Government grants to the amount of 42,000 in 
the promotion of agriculture and manufactures. 

The London Society of Arts, therefore, dating as it does 
from 1754, though the oldest association of the sort in 
Great Britain, is younger by some twenty-three years than 
the sister society in Ireland. j 

Two other technical societies founded in the eighteenth 
century still survive, the Highland and Agricultural 
Society of Scotland (1784) and the Bath and West of 
England Agricultural Society (1774). 

In America, before the foundation of the Society of Arts, 
Benjamin Franklin had already published ( 1 743) a Proposal 
for Promoting Useful Knowledge among the British Planta- 
tions, and this led to the formation of the American Philo- 
sophical Society, which still flourishes, but devotes itself 
exclusively to pure science. In 1765, after the establish- 
ment of the London Society of Arts, a similar society was 
formed in New York, and a number of prizes were offered 
for industrial advances in the Province of New York. The 
first list of such prizes, which varied in amounts from 30 
to 2, was sent to the London Society, and is still in exist- 
ence. Many other societies, some of an industrial character, 
were started in America later, after the independence of 
the United States. 

All the other technical societies established about this 
time had but a brief existence, and few of them have left 
any records behind them. A Society of Improvers in 
the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland was established 
in 1723. Twenty years later, in 1743, the Select Trans- 
actions of this Society were collected and published by 
Maxwell. 1 In 1754 there was founded the Select Society 
of Edinburgh for encouraging the Arts and Manufactures 
of Scotland . The principal promoter of this was Elizabeth, 
Duchess of Hamilton one of the beautiful Miss Gunnings. 
Mrs. Palliser refers to this society in her history of lace, 
and mentions the award of prizes for Scottish lace for 
some few years. At one time this institution was in 

1 Lecky, England in the Eighteenth Century, vol. ii. p. 318 (Edition 
1909); Encycl. Brit., s.v. " Agriculture." 


correspondence with the Society of Arts in London. It 
appears to have continued for about eight years, for Sir 
A. Dick, writing in 1774, says that " for these twelve 
years past " there has been no Society of the sort in Scot- 
land. This would give about 1762 as the date when the 
^ Scottish Society came to an end. 1 

In 1743 there seems to have existed in Edinburgh a 
Society for the Promotion of Natural Knowledge, but 
the only evidence of such existence of which I am aware 
is to be found in an advertisement in the Caledonian 
Mercury, 23rd August 1743. This advertisement asks 
for information about the discovery of new minerals, and 
offers to analyse samples of such minerals if they are 
sent to the offices of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society. 
We may therefore conclude that it was associated with 
but distinct from this last-named Society, which was 
founded in 1731, and afterwards developed into the 
Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

Perhaps the most curious of these institutions was the 
Anti-Gallican Society, which was established in London in 
1 750 or 1751, for the protection of native industries and the 
discouragement of French imports. This Society seems, 
by reports which appeared from time to time in the Gentle- 
man's Magazine, to have held quarterly meetings up to 
1754 or thereabouts, at which meetings small prizes were 
awarded for English lace, needlework, etc. In 1753 a 
medal was presented to one Captain John Mead, " for 
having caught the greatest number of whales last season, " 
and another medal to Captain Cockburne " for his gallant 
behaviour to the commander of the French squadron at 
Annamobar , on the coast of Guinea ." On another occasion 
the Society made a grant of five guineas to "an honest, 
industrious old couple," whose cow had died from " the dis- 
temper." For some time there is no further available in- 
formation about their proceedings ; but in 1759 they appear 

1 Dossie, Memoirs of Agriculture and other (Economical Arts , vol. iii. p. 
208. This book really constitutes the earliest Transactions of the Society, 
and numerous references to it will be found in the following pages. 
An account of the book and its connection with the Society, together 
with such information as I have been able to collect about Dossie 
himself, will be found in Chapter XV, p. 330. 


to have taken more strenuous action by starting the " Anti- 
Gallican " privateer. This ship captured a French India- 
man in Spanish waters, whence arose considerable difficulty; 
eventually the prize was declared illegal, and had to be 
given up. It looks as if this last effort for the promotion 
of British industries brought this Society to an end, for no 
further record of their proceedings appears. 

There may have been other precursors of the Society 
of Arts, but research has failed to find evidence of their 
existence. After the Society was founded it had a certain 
number of imitators. The Gentleman's Magazine for 1755, 
p. 505, contains an account of a society established that 
year in Breconshire on the model of the Society of Arts, 
for the encouragement of local agriculture and manufactures 
by the offer of prizes, and the suggestion is put forward 
that other like societies might usefully be established in all 
the counties. After 1768, when, as hereafter mentioned, 
Shipley, the Society's founder, had retired to Maidstone, 
he founded a local society there which for some years did 
useful work. 

A Society for the Promotion of Industry in the 
Southern District of the parts of Lindsey in the county of 
Lincoln, was established in 1783, and was carried on for at 
least six years. It is mentioned by Archdeacon Cunning- 
ham in his well-known work, 1 but he gives no further 
information about it. From an account of the proceedings 
of this Institution, published in or after 1790, it appears 
that it was intended to encourage industry among the 
poor. For several years it gave small prizes, consisting 
generally of garments, to women and young people for 
spinning wool and for knitting. It also made small grants 
of money to young people on their apprenticeship. It 
thus appears that there was little in common between this 
Society and the Society of Arts, except a certain similarity 
in the titles. 2 It was really a charitable Society, and its 
object was rather the reduction of the Rates than the 

1 English Industry and Commerce, vol. ii. p. 993 (Edition 1907). 

2 There is a copy of the book in the London Library. It contains 
a good deal of curious information about the conditions under which 
the spinning industry was carried on in the east of England at the time. 


promotion of Industry. Arthur Young mentions an 
attempt to found a similar Society in Rutlandshire 
about ten years later. 1 

In the Society's minutes before 1775 there are references 
to Societies for the promotion of Agriculture in Norfolk, 
Pembroke, Carmarthen, and Cardigan. Other similar 
county associations were formed a little later. In 1791 a 
Society for the Improvement of British Wool was started 
in Edinburgh. 2 Sir John Sinclair, afterwards President of 
the Board of Agriculture, was associated with this Society, 
and delivered an address at its first meeting. A Society 
of Arts was established in Barbados in 1781, and con- 
tinued to publish proceedings till 1784. Its publications 
are mentioned in Cundall's Supplement to Biographia 

On the Continent the Society had at least one direct 
imitator, for it is recorded that the Empress Catharine n. 
of Russia was so much pleased with the account of the 
premiums offered by the Society of Arts, that in 1766 she 
established in her own dominions the Free Economical 
Society of St. Petersburg, with objects similar to those 
of the English Society. Arthur Young was elected a 
member of this Society about I78o. 3 

Later on there were many societies founded, both at 
home and abroad, with similar objects to those of the 
Society of Arts, but all these were started after 1800. 
The closing years of the eighteenth century saw many 
more scientific, philosophical, and literary institutions 
founded, but none of these were of the same character 
as, or had similar aims or objects with, the Society of Arts. 
The earliest proposal of which any record exists for 
the foundation of a Society of Arts in London goes as 
far back as 1721, when it is said that a pamphlet was 
published, entitled, Three Letters concerning the forming 
of a Society to be called the Chamber of Arts, for the pre- 
serving of Operative Knowledge, Mechanical Arts, Inven- 

1 Annals of Agriculture, vol. xxii. p. 421, 1794. 

8 An account of this Society and of its objects is given in The Bee, 
a weekly magazine started in Edinburgh in 1791 by Dr. James 
Anderson, vol. i. pp. 116 and 266. 

3 Autobiography (Edition 1898, by M. Betham Edwards), p. 85. 


tions q,nd Manufactures. 1 Probably the time of the South 
Sea Bubble was not a fortunate one for the exploitation 
of such schemes ; certainly nothing came of the proposal. 

In 1753, William Shipley 2 published in Northampton, 
where it is said he was established as a drawing-master, 
certain " proposals for raising by subscription a fund to be 
distributed in premiums for the promoting of improve- 
ments in the liberal arts and sciences, manufactures, etc." 
This was followed a little later in the same year by " a 
scheme for putting the proposals into execution," published 
in London. 

Shipley was a portrait and landscape painter of no 
great merit. According to Redgrave 3 he was " better 
known as the founder of the St. Martin's Lane Academy, 
known as Shipley's School, where the best artists of a 
whole generation studied." Where Redgrave got his in- 
formation from is unknown, and he is certainly mistaken. 

1 Short Account of . . . the Society, etc., by a member (Edward 
Bridgen), 1765. A scarce pamphlet, giving an account of the Society 
of Arts' origin. 

Another rather similar pamphlet, A Concise Account . . . of the 
Society, was published two years earlier, in 1763. It also was anony- 
mous, but was written by Thomas Mortimer. The information it 
contains is rather fuller. 

2 The materials for a life of Shipley are scanty. A certain amount 
of information is to be found in the Society's minute books and ac- 
count books. The writer of the Concise Account of the Society, above 
referred to, states that an account of Shipley's proceedings in connec- 
tion with the foundation of the Society was drawn up, and a copy pre- 
sented to " the Antiquarian Society," by James Theobald, one of the 
Society's first Vice-Presidents. No such document, however, either 
in print or MS., is now to be found in the library of the Society of 
Antiquaries. The author of the Concise Account, however, extracted 
a good deal from Theobald's narrative, and it is from this source that 
most of what we know about Shipley and his efforts to start a society 
is derived. A short life of Shipley is given in Russell's History of 
Maidstone (1881), and this gives some particulars of his later years. 
This information was reproduced in a short article in the Journal (vol. 
xxx. p. 933), written by H. B. Wheatley. The account in the Dictionary 
of National Biography is based on this article, though other references 
are given. One or two mistakes appear in this account. Shipley 
was in all probability born in London, not in Maidstone, and he 
certainly died in Maidstone, and not in Manchester. 

3 Dictionary of A rtists of the English School. 


No evidence can be found to prove that Shipley's Academy 
was in St. Martin's Lane, though the Academy founded by 
Sir William Thornhill in the Piazza, Covent Garden, was 
transferred there after his death by his son-in-law, 
Hogarth. 1 Later on, in 1763, we find that special prizes 
were awarded by the Society to the pupils in this school, 
and also to the pupils of the school 2 established by the 
Duke of Richmond in Whitehall. 

There really does not appear to be any satisfactory 
evidence that Shipley had any Academy in London before 
1754, or indeed that he lived in London before that date. 
At the time of the foundation of the Society he was staying 
with his friend Messiter the surgeon in Great Pulteney 
Street, and Messiter 's house was given as his address till 
he moved into Craig's Court. The earliest reference to 
the Academy that I have been able to find locates it in 
Castle Court, 3 whither the Society's offices were moved 

1 The St. Martin's Lane Academy was in Peter's Court, between no 
and in St. Martin's Lane. Hogarth, "thinking that an academy 
conducted on proper and moderate principles had some use, proposed 
that a number of artists should enter into a subscription for the hire 
of a place large enough to admit thirty or forty people to draw after 
a naked figure " (William Hogarth, by Austin Dobson, 1907, p. 48). 
The room was originally a dancing-school, afterwards the studio of 
Roubiliac. Later still, the place was rebuilt and turned into a Friend's 
Meeting-House. Messrs. Chatto & Windus's premises now occupy the 
site. The school was extremely successful and nourished for some 
thirty-four years, till the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768, 
when its " anatomical figures, busts, statues, etc." were handed over to 
it. Hogarth's painting of the Life School was purchased by the Royal 
Academy and is now in their possession. 

2 A note in the Gentleman's Magazine, March 1758, p. 141, records the 
opening of this school. A room was supplied with busts and pictures 
for the use of art students. Wilton and Cipriani were engaged to attend 
at certain times and examine the students' work. Robert Drummond, 
Archbishop of York (1761-76), was a patron and supporter of the school. 

3 " My late father, Nathaniel Smith, and Joseph Nollekens were 
playfellows, and both learned drawing together at Shipley's School, 
then kept in the Strand, at the eastern corner of Castle Court ; the 
house, now No. 229, is at present occupied by Mr. Helps. What 
renders the building the more interesting is that it was not only in this 
house that the Society of Arts had its first meetings, but it was subse- 
quently inhabited by Rawle, the antiquary, and friend of Captain 
Grose " (J. T. Smith, Nollekens and His Times, 1828, vol. i. p. 3). 


in 1756. It may have been started in the house taken 
by Shipley for the Society in Craig's Court in 1755, and 
it is possible that when, as hereafter described, the Society 
moved to the house opposite Beaufort Buildings, Shipley's 
Academy may have been accommodated in part of the 

After this, when Shipley's official connection with the 
Society had ceased, it appears to be certain that his 
Academy was moved to the house at the corner of Beaufort 
Buildings (afterwards No. 96 Strand), which later on be- 
came Ackerman's Fine Art Repository, and later still 
Rimmel's well-known perfumery shop. After Shipley left 
London, the School was carried on for some time by Henry 
Pars, the brother of William Pars, A.R.A., and its pupils 
took many of the Society 's prizes - 1 Beaufort Buildings dis- 
appeared about 1902-4, when the new Savoy Hotel build- 
ings were erected, and the Strand frontage was set back. 

Not very much is really known about Shipley's life. 
He is said to have been born in London in 1714? His 
father was Jonathan Shipley, " Citizen and Stationer " of 
London. He was a native of Leeds, who afterwards 
lived in Walbrook. William's mother was Martha Davies. 
Her family owned Twyford House, near Winchester, 
and the property was inherited by Shipley's brother 
Jonathan, the Bishop of St. Asaph. He was a liberal- 
minded divine, and a friend of Franklin. It was said, 
probably without truth, that he might have been appointed 

1 Shipley " erected the Academy in the Strand, opposite Exeter 
'Change, where, by his zealous assiduity, and the diligent attention of 
Mr. Henry Pars, his successor and the present conductor of the School, 
the greatest number of Contendants for the Rewards of this Institution 
were formed " (Dossie, Memoirs of Agriculture, vol. iii. p. 394). 

2 This is the date given in all the biographical dictionaries. The 
same year is given as the date of the birth of his brother Jonathan, 
and in his case correctly, as is shown by his monument in the church- 
yard at Twyford, near Winchester. On William's tombstone in All 
Saints' Churchyard, Maidstone, which was renovated at the Society's 
cost in 191 1, it is stated that he died on the 28th December 1803, set. 89. 
This is so far vague that it might equally well mean that Shipley was 
over eighty-nine, or in his eighty-ninth year. It looks as if the correct 
date of his birth might be 1715. Probably Jonathan was the elder 
brother. He inherited his mother's property at Twyford. 


Archbishop of Canterbury but for his strongly-expressed 
opposition to the American War. 

William Shipley appears to have been an active- 
minded man, full of ideas, and with some capacity 
for organisation, but perhaps devoid of ambition, for 
he never seems to have troubled himself to obtain 
either credit or profit out of the successful realisation of 
his ideas. According to a Maidstone tradition he was an 
absent-minded man, so much so, that on his way to church 
to be married he was led away by the sight of a rare 
butterfly to start on its pursuit, and consequently he 
arrived late for the ceremony. At all events, as soon as 
the Society he suggested was successfully established 
and flourishing, he retired from its concerns, though for 
some four years he seems to have devoted himself ener- 
getically and without much pecuniary reward to its estab- 
lishment. For the first year after the Society was formed 
he acted as secretary without pay. When the Society 
was formally constituted in 1755 he was appointed secre- 
tary, and this post was afterwards, in 1757, changed to 
that of registrar. 

In October 1760, at a regular meeting of the Society, 
a letter from Shipley was read " acquainting the Society 
of his having lately engaged in business of such importance 
as to render him incapable of discharging his duty to the 
Society as their register without very much injuring 
his own affairs." What this business was does not appear. 
It may have been the development of his Academy. At 
all events, his resignation was accepted with thanks for 
his past services. That his retirement was not due to 
lack of appreciation of those services may be assumed 
from the fact that he was made a " perpetual member " 
of the Society in 1755, was presented with its gold medal 
in 1756, and had his portrait painted for the Society by 
Cosway, his former pupil. The portrait of Shipley which 
faces this page is not from Cosway 's painting, but from a 
miniature by W. Hincks. It is printed from the original 
copper plate engraved by Hincks for the frontispiece of 
Volume vi. of the Transactions. The miniature itself is 
now in the Maidstone Museum, having been presented to 

M R ~W SHI P L E Y, 

"/^,- J^//,;- ^;,/,/ ,,^v yv/,-^ 
Society Inftituted at London, 

-/f / sty /' ////'/// 0r'*^rt& ^/sTsf // ////s c//s ;'t 



the Museum by the person into whose hands it passed 
after Shipley's death. How it came into Shipley's posses- 
sion is not known. 1 

It may be that Shipley's capacity lay rather in the 
direction of origination than of administration. At 
all events, we hear little more of him in connection 
with the Society after 1760. He occasionally attended 
meetings of the Society, and of its committees, and in 
1776 he was awarded a silver medal for a life-saving 
appliance of no great merit. 2 When the date of the 
Society's jubilee (1804) was approaching, some sugges- 
tions were made that this would be a fitting occasion for 
doing honour to its founder, but his death in 1803 put a 
stop to all proposals of the sort. In 1768 he went to live 
at Maidstone, where he was married, and remained until 
his death in 1803. He was buried in the churchyard 
of All Saints' Church. All that is known of his life at 
Maidstone is that he established a local Society on the 
same lines as the Society of Arts, and busied himself in 
philanthropic work. 

Shipley, having published his scheme, set to work to 
secure the help of influential people, and succeeded in 
interesting, amongst others, Lord Folkestone and Lord 
Romney, to whom, with Shipley himself, must be given 
the credit of founding the Society of Arts. Indeed, it 
appears that if Shipley originated the idea, Lord Folkestone 
carried it into execution ; and, in all probability, without 
his practical help and his influence there never would have 
been a Society of Arts. 

On 22nd March 1754 there was held at Rawthmell's 
Coffee- House, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, " a 
meeting of some Noblemen, Clergy, Gentlemen, and 

1 "The picture from which this print is taken was painted from the 
life by Mr. Wm. Hincks, who also engraved the copper-plate, and 
presented them both to the Society for the purpose of perpetuating 
the memory, and recording the likeness of Mr. William Shipley" 
(Transactions, vol. iv. p. xviii, Preface). According to Redgrave, 
Hincks was an engraver and painter of moderate merit, who exhibited 
occasionally at the Royal Academy from 1781 to 1797. 

2 See Chapter XIII, p. 298. 


Merchants in order to form a Society for the Encourage- 
ment of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in Great 
Britain." Eleven in all attended : Viscount Folkestone ; J 
Lord Romney ; 2 Dr. Stephen Hales, F.R.S. (the eminent 
physiologist, botanist, and inventor, a friend of Pope) ; 
Henry Baker, F.R.S. 3 (naturalist and author; he married 
Defoe's youngest daughter) ; Gustavus Brander, F.R.S. 
(merchant and antiquary, a director of the Bank of 
England) ; James Short, F.R.S. (optician and astronomer) ; 
John Goodchild (afterwards treasurer to the Society) ; 
Nicholas Crisp (watchmaker, of Bow Churchyard) ; 
Charles Lawrence ; Husband Messiter (a surgeon, then 
resident in Great Pulteney Street, with whom Shipley 
was living at the time) ; William Shipley. 

The exact position of the house where the meeting 
was held was for long a matter of doubt. It was known 
to have been Rawthmell's Coffee-House in Henrietta Street, 
Covent Garden ; but the precise position in Henrietta 
Street of the house had never been accurately ascertained, 
until, at the request of the writer, Sir Laurence Gomme, 
the Clerk of the London County Council, very kindly caused 
an inquiry to be made among the records of the Council, 
and by means of the old sewer-rate books he was able to 
identify the house as the fourth on the north side of the 
street, at the western, or Bedford Street, end. 

Armed with this information, the writer applied to the 

1 Sir Jacob des Bouveries (afterwards Bouverie) was created Vis- 
count Folkestone in 1747. His father and grandfather were well- 
known Turkey merchants in London. His ancestor, Laurence des 
Bouveries, a native of Flanders, and a silk-weaver, settled in Canter- 
bury in 1568, about the time when so many Flemish immigrants came 
to England to escape the persecutions of Alva. The title was merged 
in that of Radnor when the second Viscount Folkestone was created 
Earl of Radnor in 1765. 

2 Robert, Lord Romney, was the second Baron. He was a brother- 
in-law of Lord Folkestone, who had married his sister, the Hon. Eliza- 
beth Marsham. 

3 He was the founder of the Royal Society's Bakerian Lecture. 
He took a very active part in the formation of the Society and in its 
early work. In Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, vol. v. p. 275, it is stated 
that he "all along took the minutes, though Mr. Shipley's name ap- 
peared as the nominal Secretary of the Society." 




Duke of Bedford's office, 1 and he was at once supplied with 
a full history of the premises. It appears that in March 
1729 a building lease was granted by the then Duke of 
Bedford to " John Rawthmell, of the Parish of St. Paul, 
Covent Garden, in the County of Middlesex, Coffeeman," of 
a house on the north side of Henrietta Street, the third 
(or the fourth counting the corner house, which is reckoned 
in Bedford Street) from the western end of the street. 
The lease was for sixty-one years from Lady Day 1729, and 

Il"u e 4 dy : : ;skin Peter's Hospital 

3 ,,24 ; 25 26 . 

31 32 33 



Scale 81 feet = i inch 
1050 ID 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 go 100 

%$$!$&The hatched portion represents the old Site of No.2& 
Plan of Henrietta Street, showing site of Rawthmell's Coffee-House. 

the rent was 12 a year. On the expiration of that lease, 
leases for varying periods, mostly for twenty-one years each, 
were granted up to 1880. In that year the whole block of 
houses on the north side of Henrietta Street, except the 
westernmost one at the corner of Bedford Street, was pulled 
down in connection with a local improvement scheme. The 
original houses had abutted directly on the churchyard of 

1 He has to express his thanks for the trouble which Mr. Rowland 
E. Prothero, M.V.O., Mr. Alfred R. O. Stutfield, and Mr. f James W. 
Marchant all took in hunting up detailed particulars about the history 
of the old house. 


St. Paul's, Covent Garden, with the result that the drainage 
of the churchyard passed into the basements, and the 
whole block was in a somewhat insanitary condition. 

The new houses constructed on the site do not coincide 
with the old buildings. The space to the west of the site 
of the old coffee-house is now occupied by Macready House, 
the ground floor being in the occupation of The Family 
Herald newspaper. The actual site of Rawthmell's Coffee- 
House is now occupied by No. 25, the ground floor of which 
is in the occupation of Messrs. Stuart & Company, seed 
merchants, the present house extending some six feet 
farther east than the old one. This is clearly shown in the 
accompanying map, the materials for which were supplied 
by the Duke of Bedford's office. The upper part of No. 25 
forms part of St. Peter's Hospital. The block of buildings 
was erected for the hospital, the ground floors being let 
off as shops. It will therefore be seen that the site of the 
old coffee-house has been identified with perfect certainty. 
Before 1743 the original John Rawthmell must have died, 
as in that year the house was in the occupation of Sarah 
Rawthmell, widow. 

The coffee-house was one of the favourite resorts of 
the well-known Dr. Richard Mead, 1 and amongst the dis- 
tinguished frequenters of the place were many Fellows of 
the Royal Society. Daniel Wray, F.R.S., addressed an 
amusing poem to his friend, Mr. Wollaston, of Charterhouse 
Square ( 1 738), in which he refers to his literary and scientific 
friends, and specially mentions Rawthmell's. John Nichols, 
who published extracts from this poem in his Literary 
Illustrations (vol. i., 1817, p. 31), specially notes that there 
exists a very scarce satirical portrait of Rawthmell " in 
the character of Pan, by Vertue, engraved at the expense 
of some of the members of the Royal Society who frequented 
the coffee-house." 

At the meeting above mentionedaverymodest beginning 
was made by considering a suggestion by Shipley that two 
prizes should be offered, one for the discovery of cobalt, and 

1 Dr. Mead was physician to King George n. and to St. Thomas's 
Hospital. He was the author of ' ' Suggestions for the Prevention of the 
Plague," and successfully inoculated seven condemned criminals. 


the other for the growth of madder, 1 in the kingdom. It 
was determined to make further inquiries and a decision 
was postponed. The meeting also resolved " to bestow 
premiums on a certain number of boys or girls under the 
age of sixteen who shall produce the best piece of drawing, 
and show themselves most capable when properly ex- 
amined," " it being the opinion of all present that the Art 
of Drawing is absolutely necessary in many employments, 
trades, and manufactures." This early anticipation of 
views which in our own time were put forward as novel by 
the advocates of technical education is interesting. That 
they were really Shipley's ideas, and that his intention in 
proposing the formation of the Society was not merely to 
extend or improve his own " drawing academy " is shown 
by a letter written a couple of years later by him in the 
Gentleman 's Magazine? in which he combats vigorously 
the suggestion that the Society was merely occupied in 
training young people to become artists, and announces 
as one of the chief objects of the Society the training of both 
boys and girls in the industrial arts. Thus it can be truth- 
fully said that from its first foundation the Society has taken 
an active part in the promotion of technical education, j 

A fortnight after the inaugural meeting a second 
meeting was held (29th March), and at this further progress 
was made. A definite decision was arrived at to offer the 
cobalt and madder premiums, and a subscription list was 
opened. Lords Folkestone and Romney headed the list with 
a donation of ten guineas apiece, and also promised to 
guarantee whatever further sums might be required, so 
that an announcement might be made of the offer of prizes. 
The Earl of Shaftesbury also sent ten guineas, and four 
others gave two guineas each. Funds being thus available, 

1 Few better selections than madder could have been made. The 
plant was not grown in England on a commercial scale, though a 
great deal was imported from the East and from the Low Countries, 
where its cultivation had been established. The fact that it was 
grown in large quantities in Flanders was one of the reasons why 
cloth, made in England, was still sent over there to be dyed. Until 
the introduction of the coal-tar colours, more than a century later, 
madder was of course the principal source of all red dyes. 

8 z8th January 1756, p. 61. 


an advertisement was inserted in the Daily Advertiser, 
offering prizes of 30 each for specified amounts of cobalt 
and madder, and two sets of prizes amounting each to 
15 for drawings by boys and girls below fourteen and 
between fourteen and seventeen. The competitive drawings 
were to be sent in on isth January 1755, and the prizes 
were to be awarded a fortnight later. Thus the practical 
work of the Society was begun. 

Six more meetings were held during the year in a 
circulating library in Crane Court, Fleet Street, in which 
court was the house then occupied (from 1710 to 1780) by 
the Royal Society. These were all small meetings, of the 
nature really of committees, and at them the organisation 
of the Society was worked out, subjects for premiums 
discussed, and a general plan of action decided upon. 
Amongst other things it was decided to have a regular 
meeting on the second Wednesday in each month, and a 
committee on each fourth Wednesday. 

By the end of the } r ear all preliminaries seem to have 
been arranged, and it was decided to organise the Society 
on a more regular basis with a .president and officers. 
This decision was arrived at at a meeting held in January 
1755, at Peele's Coffee- House at the corner of Fetter Lane 
and Fleet Street. 

At the same meeting the prizes offered for drawings 
were adjudged. The only name amongst those of the prize- 
winners which is still generally known is that of Richard 
Cosway, who took the first of the five prizes offered for 
drawings by young people under the age of fourteen. 
J. T. Smith, in his Life of Nollekens, tells us that Cosway 
was then employed as a waiting lad at Shipley's Academy, 
but as the fact is recorded in the Society's minutes that 
he was brought up to London from Tiverton at the 
instance of the Society, it must have been at a later 
date that he was taken into service by Shipley. 1 He 

1 Minutes of the meeting of 2/th November 1754. " Specimens of 
Drawings done by Richard Cosway of Tiverton were produced, it was 
thought proper his Parents be writ to to know what will be the expence 
of his coming to Town." At the next meeting (i8th December) Shipley 
reported " that he had wrote about the boy, and he is coming up to 



was afterwards a Royal Academician and an eminent 
portrait painter and miniaturist. John Smart, who took 
the second prize in the same class as Cosway, afterwards 
obtained considerable success as a painter of miniatures, 
and exhibited miniatures and oil portraits at the Royal 
Academy up to the time of his death in 1 8 1 1 . The third 
prize went to John Alexander Gresse, afterwards a painter 
of reputation ; and the fourth to Barbara Marsden, who 
became a flower painter, and married Jeremiah Meyer, 
R.A. None of the candidates in the senior class appear 
to have achieved any artistic success in after life. 1 

In the following month (5th February) Viscount Folke- 
stone 2 was elected the first president, with Lord Romney. 
Charles Whitworth, James Theobald, and Stephen Hales, 
vice-presidents. John Goodchild was made treasurer, and 
William Shipley secretary. At the same meeting Shipley 
and Henry Baker were elected " perpetual members." 
The Society was thus formally constituted, and from that 
date forward meetings were regularly held for the election 
of new members and the transaction of business. 

The title of the Society has always remained that which 
Shipley suggested in his original scheme, " The Society 
for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Com- 
merce," but this soon proved too long and cumbrous, and 
very soon after its foundation the shorter name, " Society 
of Arts," was adopted. In the Gentleman's Magazine of j 
July 1755, it is so called, and this soon became the name 
by which it was popularly known. Sometimes it is referred 

town." Smith's version of the story (vol. ii. 1829, p. 401) is as follows : 
" The students, among whom were Nollekens and my father, good- 
temperedly gave Dick, for so he was called, instructions in drawing, 
and also advised him, finding him to have some talent, to try for a prize 
in the Society of Arts ; and in 1755 he obtained a premium of 5!. 55. 
for a drawing." It is quite clear that our gossipy chronicler's memory 
was in this case untrustworthy. 

1 The names of all the prize-winners, and such information as has 
been discovered about their after-careers will be found in the list of the 
Fine Art Awards, Chapter VIII, p. 162, et seq. 

2 The portrait of Lord Folkestone which faces p. 12 was engraved 
by Sherwin from the full-length portrait by Gainsborough. It served 
as the frontispiece for Volume n. of the Transactions, and is from the 
original copper-plate. 



to as the " Society of Arts and Sciences," l and in its 
own early books of accounts it is called " The Premium 
Society/' though this title does not appear to have been 
used elsewhere. The earliest known official use of the 
shorter name appears in the minutes in February 1811, 
and from that time onwards it is constantly found. The 
full title was rather unfortunately adopted in the Charter 
in 1847, an d the two names have always been used. In 
1908 King Edward vn. granted the Society permission to 
add the word " Royal " to its title. 

/ The constitution of the Society, at first and for very 
many years, was on a purely democratic basis. 2 It had 
no governing body. There were certain standing com- 
mittees and others appointed from time to time for special 
purposes, but their duty was merely to prepare the work 
for the general body of members, by whom all the business 
^was transacted. The " ordinary meetings " were held 
first on alternate Wednesdays, and afterwards on every 
Wednesday from November to May, with less frequent 
meetings from May to November. The ordinary meetings 
were not competent to alter the " rules and orders." This 
could only be done at " general meetings," the number of 
which seems to have varied from time to time. At the 
ordinary meetings all the regular business of the Society 

1 Boswell sometimes refers to the Society by this name, and Horace 
Walpole in one of his letters uses the same title. There was at one 
time some correspondence in the Gentleman's Magazine on the subject. 

2 Curiously enough, this characteristic of the Society was commented 
on by Smollett, who, though never a member, had a great admiration 
for it, as is shown by the passage from his history quoted on p. 5 1 . In 
Humphrey Clinker (published 1771, the year of Smollett's death) he 
makes Melford, the nephew of old Squire Bramble, write as follows to 
his friend and constant correspondent, Sir Watkin Phillips. Melford 
is by way of describing his adventures on his visit to London with his 
uncle, his aunt Miss Tabitha, and his sister Lydia. His letter bears 
the date 5th June (Collected Works, 1872, vol. vii. p. 161) : " We are 
become members of the Society for the encouragement of the Arts, 
and have assisted at some of their deliberations, which were conducted 
with equal spirit and sagacity. My uncle is extremely fond of the 
Institution, which will certainly be productive of great advantages 
to the public, if from its democratical form, it does not degenerate 
into cabal and corruption." As will be seen later on, Smollett's fears 
were not without justification. 


was transacted, members were proposed, balloted for, and 
elected, bills were ordered for payment, and expenditure 
was discussed. Above all, subjects for the award of 
prizes were considered and voted upon. 

It must be borne in mind that the sole object of the 
Society was to award premiums for meritorious discoveries 
and inventions, and for advances of any kind in arts, manu- 
factures, and commerce. The meetings had before them j 
descriptions of such advances, reports upon them, sug- 
gestions for new premiums, applications from inventors, 
but all these were merely intended to assist in the selection 
of suitable subjects for awards. The Society of Arts did^ 
not, like the Royal Society, welcome the description of new 
branches of knowledge (even of practical or applied 
knowledge) ; it did not invite its members to contri- 
bute essays or read memoirs or give lectures all that came 
later. It simply hoped to encourage industry and art 
by rewarding those who helped in the promotion of art 
and industry, and to give them either substantial money 
gifts, or honorary rewards in the nature of medals. Later, | 
when the Society came to publish transactions, it received 
suitable information readily enough, gave the author a 
medal, and printed his communication. Eventually the 
publication became more important than the award ; but 
this was not so at first, or for very many years after the 
Society's foundation. 

It will therefore be seen that the one idea of the founders 
of the Society was to encourage arts and industries by the 
offer of prizes. It appeared possible to them that a com- 
mittee of gentleman, sitting in London, would be able to 
ascertain what the pressing needs of the public were, to 
foresee the course \vhich industrial development could 
most wisely take, to select those inventions which could 
most usefully be encouraged, and generally to direct, by 
the judicious apportionment of medals and money prizes, 
the development of industry and the progress of art. To 
us, nowadays, the whole scheme seems impracticable, and 
at the best, Utopian, but at the time it was perfectly 
reasonable, and it commended itself to the shrewdest 
economists. As a matter of fact, it obtained a very con- 


siderable measure of success, and that it was extremely 
popular is shown by the support it received from the most 
influential people of the time. 

An attempt has been made by the writer in a previous 
volume x to indicate the industrial conditions of the era. 
Here it may suffice to remind the reader that the time was 
essentially one of industrial change. The old conditions 
of regulance and support had long since disappeared. The 
new conditions of competition and the absence of restriction 
were not yet conceived, let alone formulated. The various 
young industries, textile, metallurgical, chemical, ceramic, 
and the rest, all wanted patronage and help. They wanted, 
too, advertisement and notoriety. All this they got from 
the newly-formed Society, and it may fairly be said that, 
having due regard to the then existing conditions, and to 
the state of public knowledge, it would be very difficult 
indeed to suggest any scheme better adapted for its 
purpose than that of Shipley and his patrons. 

The annual subscription to the Society was fixed at 
11 not less than " two guineas, and for a long time it 
was the practice of the more wealthy or more liberal 
members to pay three guineas. This excellent custom, 
however, has for many years been abandoned, though 
the wording of the old rule has been preserved. Peers 
were expected to pay five guineas, and for the most part 
did so. In a single instance this practice survived into 
our own time. The late Marquis of Ripon (who was 
elected in 1856 and died in 1909) always subscribed five 
guineas annually. The composition for life membership 
was settled at twenty guineas, and has never been altered, 
though occasionally larger contributions were made. The 
great Earl of Bute, Prime Minister to George in., not by 
reputation a liberal or extravagant donor, gave forty 
pounds for his " perpetual membership." 

/ The Society has never received any official aid. Less 
fortunate than the sister institution in Dublin, or than many 

>>f the great London societies which have taken over much 
1 Industrial England in the Middle of the Eighteenth Century. Murray, 


of its original work, it has never been supported or helped / 
in any way by Government. Lecky, in his History of \ 
the Eighteenth Century, 1 says that it received a grant of 
500 from the Corporation of London, but a careful search 
through the early account books has produced no con- 
firmation of this statement. 2 In 1765 the Society received 
a donation of 100 from the Corporation of Liverpool, and 
this appears to have been the only contribution of the sort. 

The Society was soon in a very satisfactory financial 
position. In 1755, the first year after its formal con- 
stitution, its income was 360. In the following year it 
was 632, and in 1757 it was 1203. In the next six years 
it mounted steadily, 1731 in 1758, 2001 in 1759, 3482 
in 1760, 3656 in 1761, 4533 in 1762, 4614 in 1763. 
Then in 1764 there was a drop to 4131. 

At first all the Society's cash was in the hands of the 
treasurer, who was subject only to the control of a finance 
committee, which audited and reported on his accounts 
at intervals. The first treasurer was John Goodchild, one 
of the founders. He was elected in 1755, and held office 
until his death at the end of 1756, when he was succeeded 
by his son, also John. A year later we find a committee 
reporting on the treasurer's accounts " that the receipts and 
disbursements are right, but kept in rather a perplexed 
method." Probably the younger Goodchild was a bad 
accountant, for in 1759 he was in difficulties, and had to 
compound with his creditors, the Society in consequence 
suffering some small loss. The office of treasurer was 
thereupon declared vacant, and subsequently abolished. 
Careful regulations were then laid down as to finance, and 
it was ordered that all the Society's funds were to be kept 
in an account at the Bank of England in the names of the 
President and Vice-Presidents. 

In an appendix to the premium list issued by the 
Society in 1764, there is a tabular statement of the 

1 Vol. vii. p. 207 (Edition 1907). 

2 The books commence with 1755, the first entry being dated April 
of that year. If such a grant had been made in 1754, it could hardly 
have escaped notice in the minutes which record all the meetings, from 
the first at Rawthmell's onward. 


" Receipts and Disbursements " for the nine years 1755 to 
1763. The total receipts were 22,295, an d the total 
expenditure was 18,756. Of this, 8496 was spent in 
money prizes and medals, 3507 on a special grant for a 
system of land carriage for fish, 291 on the Society's 
exhibitions, and the balance of 6462 on general ad- 
ministration, including rent, salaries, advertising, printing, 
etc. It is clear from this that the affairs of the Society 
were carefully and economically managed, for the cost of 
management as compared with the amount of the funds 
expended is quite reasonable. 

A later statement, issued in 1778 in the form of a 
" Register of the Premiums and Bounties given by the 
Society " up to the end of 1776, showed that the total 
amount given away by the Society was then 24,616, of 
which 23,552 had been money prizes, and 1064 the 
value of the medals awarded. It may be noted that 
" premiums " were awards to " candidates who claim under 
the terms of the annual advertisements of the Society," 
and that " bounties " were " bestowed on merits that have 
not been previously called for by the Society, or that do 
not precisely come within the terms of the annual ad- 
vertisements." It is added that " these amounts have been 
distributed all over Great Britain, Europe, and America " 
a good general statement, which perhaps was not intended 
to be taken as minutely accurate. 

As previously mentioned, during the first year of the 
Society's existence, Shipley acted as secretary, at first 
unpaid. When the Society was formally organised in 
February 1755, Shipley was appointed secretary. He 
appears to have had some clerical assistance provided for 
him, and in January 1756, George Box was appointed 
assistant secretary. In March 1757, Shipley was elected 
registrar, and Box was made secretary. The registrar 
was apparently the more important officer of the two, but 
the secretary did most of the work. It looks as if it had 
been desired to make his duties a little easier for Shipley, 
and to find somebody who was more methodical and 
businesslike to carry on all the routine business. Not 
very much is recorded of George Box, though it is evident 



that he was a most efficient and competent official. He 
served the Society faithfully for twenty-five years, and such 
records of him as appear from time to time in the minutes 
show that he was entirely trustworthy and possessed the 
regard and confidence of the members. 

In 1760, soon after the Society, as will be hereafter re- 
lated, had established itself in the house opposite Beaufort 
Buildings in the Strand, where it remained until it moved 
to the Adelphi, it was decided that a more competent and 
better-qualified secretary was required. A committee 
reported in February 1760, that the proper conduct of 
the Society's work required a man of " general and 
technical knowledge," able to deal with scientific questions 
and conversant with foreign languages. " He ought to be 
a man of character and a man of learning," and such a man 
the committee thought might well deserve a salary of 200 
a year. The general body of members approved the 
qualifications, but set a lower estimate on their value, and 
considered that the required person might be obtained for 
150. The committee went on to recommend the appoint- 
ment of an assistant secretary with a salary of 50, and a 
commission of 6d. in the pound on subscriptions, which at 
the time must have meant another 75 a year, so that the 
pay of the two officials was not very different. It is 
evident that the committee wished to do the best they 
could for Box, though they felt that he was not quite quali- 
fied for the more important post, since they add that they 
" take the liberty from the long experience of the diligence 
and integrity of your present secretary to recommend 
him to the office of assistant secretary and receiver." 
Later resolutions decided that the names of both officials 
were to appear in the Society's lists and other publications. 

It was finally decided to appoint Box assistant, and to 
advertise for a secretary. As regards the office of registrar, 
the committee considered " the present register a very 
proper person to be continued in that office, and that he 
should do the business as usual " ; that he should " have 
the salary and appartments now allowed him," and that 
he should be " allowed 10 a year more for taking care of 
the rooms, cleaning them and the furniture^ and keeping 


all things in proper order for the reception of the Society." 
This looks as if the Society desired to provide a home 
and an easy post for Shipley without expecting from 
him very much useful work. 

In response to the advertisement four candidates ap- 
plied Dr. Peter Templeman, Dr. Maty, Dr. Mitchell, and 
Mr. Robert Dossie. It has often been said that Oliver Gold- 
smith was a candidate, but, as a matter of fact, though 
he thought of sending in his name, and applied to Garrick 
for a testimonial, he never actually went so far as to make 
formal application. The authority for the statement is 
Thomas Davies, who, in his Life of Garrick, * tells us 
that Goldsmith asked Garrick to recommend him, but 
that Garrick had been annoyed by Goldsmith's criticisms, 
and rather curtly refused. Forster, in his Life of Golds- 
smith, adopted Davies 's story : 

" Thomas Davies tells us that when, somewhere about 
the time of his connection with the Bee, Goldsmith sought 
to obtain, what a struggling man of letters was thought 
to have some claim to, the vacant secretaryship of the 
Society of Arts, Garrick made answer to a personal ap- 
plication for his vote, that Mr. Goldsmith, having ' taken 
pains to deprive himself of his assistance by an unprovoked 
attack upon his management of the theatre in his " Present 
State of Learning," ' it was ' impossible he could lay claim 
to any recommendation from him.' ' 

The compiler of this chronicle would like to think 
that Oliver Goldsmith had been an occupant of the post 
he now holds, though he realises that the talents of that 
charming writer were better employed in producing the 
Vicar of Wakefield, She Stoops to Conquer, and The Deserted 
Village, than in discharging the routine duties of an office 
which no doubt was better filled by the successful com- 
petitor, Dr. Templeman. Still, the name of Goldsmith on 
the list of the Society's officials would have added not a 
little distinction to that list, even if, as would probably 
have been the case, he had not held an uncongenial office 
for very long. 

Of the four candidates who actually did enter, Temple- 

* Vol. ii. p. 149. 2 Forster's Life of Goldsmith , vol. i. p. 239, 


man was elected by a considerable majority. Box was 
appointed assistant secretary, in accordance with the 
recommendation of the committee. Later in the year 
Shipley, as previously mentioned, resigned his office of 
registrar, perhaps not liking the new conditions, or perhaps, 
as he said, on account of his other occupations. 

Templeman was a man thoroughly well qualified for 
the post of secretary to a young and growing society. He 
had had a distinguished career at Cambridge, where he 
graduated from Trinity in 1731. He studied medicine in 
Germany, and in 1737 he obtained the degree of M.D. at 
the University of Leyden. After this he started practice 
in London, but being fairly well off he devoted himself to 
literature rather than to the duties of his profession. In 
1758 he was appointed Keeper of the Reading-Room at 
the newly-established British Museum, and he gave up 
this post for the secretaryship of the Society. He was the 
author of numerous medical books, and in 1762 he was 
elected a Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy 
of Science of Paris. He was a fine scholar, a good linguist, 
and an accomplished man, well fitted for the post to which 
he was elected, and which he held until his death in I769- 1 
The portrait of Templeman which faces page 22 is from the 
original plate engraved by Evans after Cosway's portrait, 
which was published as a frontispiece to Volume xvn. 
of the Transactions. 

The duties of the three principal officers were laid 
down with great precision in the Society's " Rules and 
Orders." The secretary was generally responsible for the 
proper conduct of the Society's business and the due 
keeping of its records. The assistant secretary had to do 
all the clerical work, and the registrar had charge of the 
Society's property, and was required to look after the 
premises. In addition, there was a collector, who had to 
collect subscriptions and to pay them into the bank. He 
was paid by commission and had to give security. 

1 There is a good account of Templeman in the Dictionary of 
National Biography. It was written by Thompson Cooper, who also 
contributed a note about him to Notes and Queries, 9th S. i, i2th 
February 1898. I have been able to find little further about him, and 
nothing of any importance. 


The Society's original Signature- Book First List of Members and 
other Early Lists Selection from these Lists: (i.) Peers, (ii.) 

IT was some little time before the ideas started by Shipley 
and his patrons really got hold of the public. At first no 
special efforts seem to have been made to obtain subscrip- 
tions and attract public support. From the date of the 
first meeting till the constitution of the Society, nearly a 
year later, only seventeen members were enlisted. In the 
first two months after the election of officers in February 
1755, the number was raised to eighty-one, and after that 
the increase was fairly rapid. 

The most interesting record of these early days is an 
ancient signature-book, which, according to its title-page, 
was a " List of the Nobility, Clergy, Gentry, Merchants, 
etc., who have subscribed towards raising a Fund for the 
Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, 
1754." The signatories of the book bound themselves by 
the undertaking : " We promise to pay annually during 
pleasure the several sums to which our names are respect- 
ively prefixed." 

This seems to have been the original form of the list of 
members, and as it contains the autographs of a very large 
proportion of the distinguished persons who from the first 
supported the young Society, it is really a document of 
very great value, even though a considerable proportion 
of the members never signed it at all. Some of the more 
interesting signatures have been reproduced in facsimile, 
and a selection from these is given on pages 47-50. The 

book remained in use as a signature-book for about ten 



years, but in 1775 a regular register was started, with the 
names and addresses of members, the amounts of their 
subscriptions, the .dates when they became due, and the 
dates of their deaths or resignations. The first volume of 
this register contains the elections from 1755 to 1767, and 
it has been continued, almost in the same form, up to the 
present date. Then, as now, the book lasted for about 
ten years, and at the end of that time a fresh book had to be 
opened, the names of surviving members being transferred, 
and space provided for the receipt of new entries. 

The first printed list of members was issued in October 
1755. It is a mere broadside, and contains no names. 
The next list which has been preserved is dated 1758, in 
which year the numbers had increased to 708, and in the 
next following to 1760. From that date the lists were 
produced regularly at short intervals, until their regular 
annual publication. A careful examination of these lists 
affords very remarkable evidence of the popularity of the 
Society, of the way in which it rapidly attracted public 
support, and of the esteem in which it was held. A very 
large proportion of the peerage supported the Society with 
contributions and patronage. Men of distinction in every 
class of life subscribed, and there is hardly any class or 
rank without eminent representatives. When it is borne 
in mind that the whole object of the Society was the pro- 
motion of public welfare, and that not the slightest advan- 
tage or benefit was offered to individual members, the 
character of the list seems still more remarkable. 

" As the condition of England in the middle of the 
seventeenth century brought about the foundation of the 
Royal Society and the popular and widely-spread interest" 
in the investigation of science, so the condition of the 
country in the middle of the eighteenth century brought 
about the formation of the Society of Arts for the en- 
couragement of the applications of science for the general 
good. As Dry den, Waller, Evelyn, and the literary^ 
coterie of the Restoration period largely supported the 
Royal Society, so the circle that surrounded Dr. Johnson 
took a lively interest in the success of the Society of Arts. 
The lines upon which the Royal Society was founded were 


not followed by the founders of the Society of Arts. The 
latter made an entirely new departure and were strictly 
original in their scheme. Their objects were national, and 
the members gave their money and their time not for their 
own private advantage, nor for the increase of their 
personal knowledge, but in an attempt to raise the produc- 
tive powers of the nation itself." * 

To justify these statements it seems worth while to give 
a selection of the most eminent names which are to be 
found in the lists of the Society's members for the first ten 
years of its existence. The latest list examined is that 
dated March 1764. 

The following may be taken to be a fairly complete list 
of the Peers whose names are given in one or other of the 
lists above mentioned. Many of the Peerages are extinct 
or have passed to the holders of other titles, and no doubt 
some may have been overlooked. The holders of courtesy 
titles have not been included, and it would be too much to 
hope that some mistakes have not been made in identifying 
individuals : 

Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster. Raised a regi- 
ment of foot in the 1745 rebellion. Lord Great 
Chamberlain of England. The Dukedom became 
extinct on the death of his brother, the 5th Duke. 

John, 4th Duke of Argyll. He married the beautiful and 
witty Mary Bellenden. 

John, 4th Duke of Bedford. English Minister-Pleni- 
potentiary at negotiations for Peace of Paris, 1763. 

William, 4th Duke of Devonshire. First Lord of the 
Treasury, 1756-7. 

Augustus, 3rd Duke of Grafton. He held various offices, 
and was the nominal head of the Chatham Adminis- 
tration, 1766. 

Evelyn, 2nd Duke of Kingston. He married the notorious 
Elizabeth Chudleigh, Countess of Bristol, who was 
afterwards convicted of bigamy. 

1 H. B. Wheatley's account of the Society of Arts, Engineering, 
24th July 1891, 


George, 4th Duke of Manchester. He was elected in 1 761 , 
when he was Viscount Mandeville. He became Duke 
in 1762. 

George, 4th Duke of Marlborough. 

William, 2nd Duke of Portland. When he died in 1762 
his successor, William (the 3rd Duke), became a 
member. The latter was twice Prime Minister in the 
reign of George in. 

Charles, 3rd Duke of Queensberry. This was the cousin 
and predecessor of " Old Q." 

Charles, 3rd Duke of Richmond. Ambassador at Paris, 
and subsequently Secretary of State in the Cabinet 
of the younger Pitt. Vice-President of the Society. 
His portrait appears in Barry's Picture. 

James, Marquis of Carnarvon. Eldest son of the 2nd Duke 

of Chandos. He afterwards became the 3rd Duke, 

and the title died with him in 1 789. 
Charles, 2nd Marquis of Rockingham. Prime Minister, 

and head of the Rockingham Administration, of which 

Fox and Burke formed part. 

James, 8th Earl of Abercorn. 

Arthur, 7th Earl of Anglesey. His title to the English 

Peerage was pronounced invalid. 
John, 2nd Earl of Ashburnham. 
William, 2nd Earl of Bessborough. Postmaster-General, 

John, 3rd Earl of Bute. Prime Minister. He paid 40 

as a " perpetual member." 
George, 4th Earl of Cardigan, afterwards (1766) created 

Duke of Montagu. 
Robert, ist Earl of Catherlough. 
Philip, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. The celebrated Lord 


Smith, i ith Earl of Clanricarde. 
William, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth. 
John, 2nd Earl of Egmont. 


Charles, 2nd Earl of Egremont. 

Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter. 

Robert, Earl of Farnham. He was the 2nd Baron Farn- 
ham, and was created Earl of Farnham in 1763, but 
died without male issue, so the earldom lapsed. 

Washington, 5th Earl Ferrers, younger brother of the 
notorious Earl Ferrers, who was executed in 1 760. 

John, 7th Earl of Galloway. Elected in 1761 as Lord 

Charles, ist Earl Grey. General. Commander-in-Chief 
in America and the West Indies. 

George Montagu, 3rd and last Earl of Halifax, First 
Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 

Simon, ist Earl Harcourt. Ambassador at Paris, and 
Viceroy of Ireland. His eldest son, George Simon 
Viscount Nuneham, was also a member. He suc- 
ceeded his father as 2nd Earl Harcourt in 1777. 

Philip, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke. Elected when he was 
Viscount Royston. Vice-President of the Society. 

Wills Hill, ist Earl of Hillsborough, afterwards (1789) 
Marquis of Downshire. Statesman. 

Robert, 4th Earl of Holdernesse. Ambassador and 
Secretary of State. 

Francis, loth Earl of Huntingdon. 

George, 3rd Earl Lichfield. Chancellor of the University 
of Oxford , 1762. Vice-President of the Society . 

John, ist Earl Ligonier. Field-Marshal. He served 
under Marlborough in Flanders, and received several 
steps in the Peerage, becoming Earl in 1766. He 
died in 1770 at the great age of ninety-one and was 
buried in Westminster Abbey. 

Henry, 9th Earl of Lincoln, afterwards 2nd Duke of 

George Parker, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield, P.R.S. He took 
an active part in the introduction of the New Style 
in 1751. Thomas, the 3rd Earl, was also a member. 
He was elected in 1 75 7 as Viscount Parker. 

Charles Henry, 7th Earl of Montrath. 

James, 8th Earl of Moray. 


Charles, 7th Earl of Northampton. 

Spencer, 8th Earl of Northampton. 

Hugh, Earl of Northumberland. Elected under that title 
in 1757. He was in 1766 created the ist Duke of 
Northumberland . 

Henry Herbert, loth Earl of Pembroke. 

Other, 4th Earl of Plymouth. 

George, 2nd Earl of Pomfret. 

Henry Arthur, Earl of Powis (Lord Herbert of Cherbury). 
The Extinct earldom, after the death of his son, was 
conferred on the eldest son of Lord Clive. 

Neil, 3rd Earl of Rosebery. 

John, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The famous First Lord 
of the Admiralty, the inventor of the sandwich, which 
he ate when too busy for a meal. Known as " Jemmy 
Twitcher," from the character in the Beggar's Opera, 
in consequence of his attack upon Wilkes, his former 
friend and associate at Medmenham Abbey. 

Antony, 4th Earl of Shaftesbury. He married a daughter 
of Lord Folkestone, and was one of the first sub- 
scribers, having given ten guineas to the original fund 
started in 1754 to provide prizes. 

William, 2nd Earl of Shelburne. Prime Minister in 
George m.'s reign, afterwards ist Marquis of Lans- 

Harry, 4th Earl of Stamford. 

Philip, 2nd Earl Stanhope, the father of the Earl Stanhope 
who improved the printing-press. 

William Alexander, Earl of Stirling. This was the " Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the American forces," who claimed 
and bore the title after the death of the 5th Earl in 
1739. He died in 1795. 

William, i8th Earl of Sutherland. His daughter married 
Earl Gower, afterwards Duke of Sutherland. 

Richard, ist Earl Temple, brother of the Prime Minister, 
George Grenville. 

Percy, ist Earl of Thomond. 

John, 2nd Earl Tylney . He was the grandson of Sir Josiah 
Child, the great merchant and economist, chairman 
and for long absolute ruler of the East India Company. 


Ralph, 2nd Earl Verney, F.R.S. At his death, in 1791, 

the title became extinct. 

James, 2nd Earl Waldegrave. First Lord of the Treasury. 
Francis Greville, ist Earl of Warwick. He was the 8th 

Baron, and first Earl Brooke. 
Thomas, 8th Earl of Westmorland. His eldest son, John, 

Lord Burghersh, was also a member. He succeeded 

his father in 1771 as 9th Earl of Westmorland. 

William, 2nd Viscount Barrington. Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, etc. 

John, 2nd Viscount Bateman. 

Frederick, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke. 

James, 3rd Viscount Charlemont, afterwards Earl of 

Henry, ist Viscount Conyngham. 

William, 2nd Viscount Courtenay. The title became 
extinct with his son, who, however, had established 
his title to the Earldom of Devon. 

John, 4th Viscount Downe. 

John, ist Viscount Dudley. 

Lucius, 7th Viscount Falkland. 

Richard, 6th Viscount Fitzwilliam. 

Jacob, ist Viscount Folkestone. Founder and First 
President of the Society. His portrait by Gains- 
borough is in the possession of the Society, and 
Barry also included his portrait in his painting of 
" The Society." 

Richard, 4th Viscount Howe. The celebrated Admiral 
Howe, afterwards Earl Howe. 

Charles, 9th Viscount Irvine. 

Thomas, 4th Viscount Kenmare. 

George, 3rd Viscount Midleton. 

Henry, 2nd Viscount Palmerston, father of the well- 
known statesman. 

Edward, 2nd Viscount Powerscourt. 

John, ist Viscount Spencer, afterwards (1765) Earl 
Spencer. His son was the founder of " the finest 


private library in Europe," and the well-known 

George, Viscount Townshend, the 4th Viscount and ist 

Marquis. Field-Marshal, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, 

Brigadier-General under Wolfe in Quebec Expedition. 

He was elected in 1757 as General Townshend, before 

his accession to the Peerage. 
Thomas, 2nd Viscount Wentworth. His father, the ist 

Viscount, was elected a member before his promotion, 

and his name appears in the list as Baron Wentworth. 
Thomas, 3rd Viscount Weymouth, afterwards (1789) 

created Marquis of Bath. Secretary of State and 

Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. 

George, ist Baron Anson. The great Admiral, First 
Lord of the Admiralty. Celebrated for his voyage 
round the world. He had no children, so his title 
died with him. 

Frederick, 7th Baron Baltimore. At his death the title 
became extinct. The first Lord Baltimore was the 
coloniser of Maryland in the reign of James i., and it 
was from him that the city of Baltimore took its 
name. Barry heard of Baltimore's charter to the 
Indians after he had finished the picture in the 
meeting-room. So in his etching he made Baltimore a 
prominent figure, and thrust William Penn into the 

Charles, 3rd Baron Cadogan, afterwards (1800) created 
Earl Cadogan. 

John, ist Baron Carysfort. Lord of the Admiralty. 

Robert, ist Baron Clive of Plassy. The great Indian 
statesman and General. 

Gabriel, ist Baron Coleraine. 

Richard, 2nd Baron Edgcumbe. He died in the year 
following his election, 1761, when his brother and 
successor became a member. 

George, 3rd Baron Edgcumbe, created Earl of Mount- 
Edgcumbe in 1789. 

Thomas, ist Baron Foley. 



George, ist Baron Lyttelton, scholar and author. 

Thomas, 2nd Baron Montfort. 

Frederick, Lord North, afterwards (1790) 2nd Earl of 

Guilford. The eminent statesman ; Prime Minister, 

1770 to 1782. 
Francis, ist Baron Orwell, afterwards (1776) Viscount 

Orwell and (1777) Earl of Shipbrook. 
John, ist Baron Pollington, afterwards Earl of Mex- 

George, ist Baron Rodney, the great Admiral. He was 

elected in 1757 as Admiral Rodney, and was made a 

peer in 1782. 

Robert, 2nd Baron Romney. Founder, first Vice- Presi- 
dent, and second President of the Society. His 

portrait by Reynolds is in the possession of the 


John, i ith Baron St. John of Bletsoe. 
Nathaniel, ist Baron Scarsdale. 
Thomas, 3rd Baron Southwell, created Viscount Southwell 

in 1776. 

John, ist Baron Waltham. 
John, 6th Baron Ward, afterwards (1763) Viscount Dudley 

and Ward. 
Edward, Baron Wentworth, afterwards (1762) ist Viscount 

Wentworth. His son was also a member, and his 

name is included among the Viscounts. 
John, 6th Baron Willoughby de Broke. 
Hugh, 1 5th Baron Willoughby de Parham. P.S.A., F.R S., 

Vice-President of the Society. 
Edward, ist Baron Winterton, afterwards (1766) Earl 


We may now leave the Peerage, and attempt a selection 
from the general body of members, dealing as before with 
the lists previous to, and including that of, 1764. The 
task of picking out the names of persons eminent at the 
time or afterwards distinguished has proved rather difficult . 
Without the help of that admirable work, the Dictionary 
of National Biography, it would have been hopeless . Wider 


historical knowledge, and a greater familiarity with the 
records of the time would no doubt have rendered the 
task easier and the results more complete. In many 
cases, also, the information given is too slight to render 
identification certain. The list, therefore, must be taken 
as representative rather than exhaustive, though probably 
there are not many names of real eminence that have been 
overlooked. At all events, the following list is so long 
that perhaps no apology is needed for not making it 
longer : 

Robert Adam (elected in 1758), William Adam (elected 
in 1762), and James Adam (elected in 1764), the 
architects of the Adelphi. 

Anthony Addington, M.D., physician to the great Lord 
Chatham and father of the Prime Minister, who was 
nicknamed " The Doctor," in allusion to his parentage. 

Ralph Allen, philanthropist, improver of the Post Office, 
friend of Pope, Fielding, and others. 

William Almack, founder of Almack's Assembly Rooms 
and of the gaming club in Pall Mall which afterwards 
changed hands and developed into Brooks 's Club. 

John Julius Angerstein, whose fine collection of pictures 
formed the nucleus of the National Gallery. 

Thomas Arne, the well-known musician ; composer of 
" Rule Britannia." 

Robert Arthur, St. James's Street, proprietor of Arthur's 
and White's Clubs. 

Thomas Astle, antiquary, Keeper of the Records, author 
of Origin of Writing. 

John Astley, portrait painter, and friend of Horace 

David Erskine Baker, author of Companion to the Play- 
house, enlarged to Biographia Dramatica. 

Henry Baker, F.R.S., naturalist and author. Defoe's 
son-in-law. Founder of the Bakerian Lecture of the 
Royal Society. He took a very active part in the 
foundation and early organisation of the Society. 
He was elected a " perpetual member " in 1755 for 
his services. 


Samuel Baker, founder of Sotheby's Auction Rooms. 

Sir Joseph Banks, for forty-one years the autocratic 
President of the Royal Society. 

Sir Francis Baring, founder of Baring Brothers and Chair- 
man of the East India Company. 

Robert Barker, the reputed inventor of panoramas. 

Sir Edward Barry, physician, medical writer. 

John Baskerville, the eminent printer. 

Topham Beauclerk, the fashionable friend of Dr. Johnson. 

William Beckford, Lord Mayor 1762 and 1769, the staunch 
supporter of Wilkes. 

Jeremiah Bentham, the father of Jeremy Bentham, 
the great utilitarian philosopher. He was elected in 
1755, when his son Jeremy was sixteen. 

James Boswell, elected in 1760 when he was twenty, on his 
first visit to London and before he knew Dr. Johnson. 

Alderman John Boydell, the reviver of English engraving 
by his munificent patronage. 

Gustavus Brander, F.R.S., antiquary, director of Bank of 
England, benefactor to British Museum. One of the 
Society's founders. 

Owen Salusbury Brereton, antiquary, Recorder of Liver- 
pool, Bencher of Lincoln's Inn. Vice- President of 
the Society. His portrait is in Barry's picture. 

Jacob Bryant, classical scholar. 

Charles Burney, the well-known author of the History of 
Music, and the father of Fanny Burney the authoress. 
He was elected in 1 764, when he was living in Poland 
Street, and before he took the degree of Mus. 
Doc. His portrait appears in Barry's picture, "The 
Thames," amongst the sea-nymphs. 
William Cadogan, M.D., physician to the Foundling 


William Caslon, the famous typefounder. 
The Hon. Henry Cavendish, the great philosopher and 

Sir Robert Chambers, one of the judges in the trial of 


Sir William Chambers, the architect of Somerset House. 
He acted as architect to the Society when it 


moved into new premises in Little Denmark Court, 


Samuel Chandler, D.D., Nonconformist minister and 

Charles Chauncey, physician and collector. 

Sir Henry Cheere, statuary, patron of Roubiliac. 

Thomas Chippendale, the famous furniture maker. 

Giovanni Cipriani, R.A., historical painter and engraver. 

George Colman the elder, dramatist. 

Sir Eyre Coote, the famous Indian General and conqueror 
of Hyder Ali. At the time of his election he was 
Colonel Coote. 

Richard Cosway, R.A., the celebrated miniature and 
portrait painter. One of the first of the Society's 

James, Thomas, and Patrick Coutts. James at the time of 
his election was already a partner in the great banking 
firm, then in the " New Exchange," and carrying on 
business as " Campbell & Coutts." Thomas was 
elected in 1762, the year after he had been taken into 
partnership, after the death of Campbell. Patrick 
was at the time of his election (1767) a partner in 
the bank in St. Mary Axe, first started by the Coutts 

Sir John Cust, Speaker of the House of Commons, 1761 
and 1768-70. 

George Dance, the elder of the two architects, father and 
son. He designed the Mansion House. 

Sir Francis Dashwood (Baron le Despencer), Chancellor 
of the Exchequer, and leading member of the Dilettanti 
Society ; founder of the " Hell Fire Club " at Med- 

Captain (afterwards Colonel) Thomas Desaguliers, F.R.S., 
son of J. T. Desaguliers, author of various books on 
mechanical and experimental philosophy. 

Sir Alexander Dick, president of the Edinburgh College of 
Physicians and friend of Dr. Johnson. 

Robert and James Dodsley, the well-known book- 

John Dollond, the eminent optician, Copley Medallist. 


Robert Dossie, the editor of the Memoirs of Agriculture, 
etc., in which the Society's early Proceedings were re- 
corded. Some record of him will be found in Chapter 
XV, p. 331. His Memoirs are constantly referred to 
in these pages. 

Robert and John Drummond, the bankers, whose bank 
was then, as now, at Charing Cross, were both members. 
The former was elected in 1757 and the latter in 1762. 
Robert was the son of Viscount Strathallan, who 
was killed at Culloden and was attainted, as was also 
his eldest son. John married a granddaughter of the 
first Duke of St. Albans (Nell Gwynne's son), and it 
was through this connection that the Adelphi estate, 
acquired by the second Duke of St. Albans on his 
marriage with the daughter of Sir John Werden, 
whose trustees had purchased it, came into the 
possession of the Drummond family. The Drum- 
monds have ever since been connected with the 
Society ; and Mr. George James Drummond, the 
owner of the Adelphi, is now (1913) the Society's 
landlord. The bank was founded in 1707 by Andrew 
Drummond, the father of John, above-mentioned. 

Sir John Fielding, the magistrate, half-brother to the 

Sir Samuel Fludyer, Lord Mayor in 1761. Fludyer 
Street, Westminster, was called after him. 

John Fothergill, M.D., F.R.S., botanist and physician, 
associated with Franklin. 

Benjamin Franklin, the great American philosopher and 
politician. He was elected a corresponding member 
in 1756, but paid the amount of a Life Subscription, 
and his name afterwards appears among the ordinary 
members. He kept up a correspondence with the 
Society, and in 1761, while in England, he accepted 
the office of chairman of the Committee of British 
Colonies and Trade. 

David Garrick, the great actor. 

Edward Gibbon, the historian. 

Thomas Gisborne, M.D., President of the College of 



Oliver Goldsmith, whose address when he was elected in 
1763 was the Chapter Coffee- House. 

Major-General Sir John Griffin, afterwards Field-Marshal, 
and (1784) 9th Baron Howard de Walden. 

Admiral Thomas Griffin, served in the West Indies and 
elsewhere, but left an unfortunate reputation for lack 
of intrepidity and for unpopularity. 

Thomas Grignion, the clockmaker, who presented to the 
Society the clock in the meeting-room. 

Francis Grose, antiquary and author. 

Stephen Hales, D.D., F.R.S., Copley Medallist, physio- 
logist, botanist, and inventor. One of the Society's 
founders. His portrait is in Barry's picture of " The 

Jonas Hanway, the historian of commerce and the intro- 
ducer of umbrellas. 

Sir Charles Hardy, Admiral, Governor of New T York ; 
served in command under Hawke at Brest and 
Quiberon Bay, M.P. for Portsmouth 

The Hon. Thomas Harley, afterwards Lord Mayor (1767), 
opponent of Wilkes. 

Sir Edward Hawke, the distinguished Admiral, after- 
wards (1776) ist Baron Hawke. 

John Hawkesworth, LL.D., friend of Dr. Johnson, and his 
successor as compiler of the Parliamentary reports 
in the Gentleman 1 s Magazine. 

Sir Caesar Hawkins, the eminent surgeon. 

Sir George Hay, lawyer and politician. 

Francis Hayman, original R.A. ; friend of Hogarth and 

William Heberden (the elder), physician and scholar ; 
attended Johnson, Cowper, and Warburton. He, like 
Caesar, wrote his Commentaries, and a bookseller is 
said to have recommended one as a substitute for the 

William Hoare, of Bath, original R.A.; distinguished 
portrait-painter . 

William Hogarth. His signature is crossed out in the 
signature-book ; why, there is no saying. He was 
duly elected in December 1755, and subscribed for 


two years. His name appears on committees in 1757. 
He died in 1764. 

Thomas Hollis, republican and author. Presented por- 
trait of Newton to Trinity College, Cambridge, and 
portrait of Cromwell to Sidney Sussex College. 

John Howard, the philanthropist. 

Richard Huck, army surgeon and physician of reputation. 
In 1 777 he took the additional name of Saunders. 

Dr. William Hunter, the physician, who was as well known 
in his day as his younger brother John. 

Dr. Robert James, the inventor of James's Powder. 

Richard Jebb, M.D., afterwards (1778) baronet. Friend 
of Wilkes and Churchill. 

Soame Jenyns, a great man in his day, but now best 
known as having had his Nature and Origin of Evil 
unfavourably reviewed by Dr. Johnson. 

Samuel Johnson, LL.D. He took a great deal of interest 
in the Society, attended its meetings, and took part 
in its deliberations, though by his own account he 
was no orator. He told Boswell that he had " several 
times tried to speak at the Society of Arts and 
Sciences, but had found that he could not get on." 
Also he " acknowledged that he rose in that Society 
to deliver a speech which he had prepared ; ' but 
(said he) all my flowers of oratory forsook me.' ' 
Boswell (Edit. G. Birkbeck Hill, 1887), vol. ii. page 

Hugh Kelly, a playwright who considered himself a rival 

of Goldsmith. 
Admiral Augustus Keppel, afterwards (1782) created 

Viscount Keppel. 
Gowin Knight, M.D., F.R.S., Principal Librarian of the 

British Museum. 
Sir Charles Knowles, Admiral, Governor of Louisburg and 

of Jamaica. 

Abraham Langford, auctioneer and playwright. 
Colonel Stringer Lawrence, called the " father of the 

Indian Army/' He left India in 1 759. 
Thomas Lawrence, friend and physician of Dr. Johnson. 
Sir Wilfrid Lawson, the 8th Baronet. 


Henry Bilson-Legge, financier, Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, etc. 

James M'Ardel,one of the best English mezzotint engravers. 

Robert Mackreth, the well-known waiter at Arthur's 
Chocolate- House, known as " Bob," afterwards M.P., 
and knighted. 

Sir Richard Manningham, known as a great " man-mid- 
wife/ 1 

William Markham, D.D., headmaster of Westminster 
School ; afterwards (1777) Archbishop of York. 

Matthew Maty, M.D., F.R.S., secretary R.S., Principal 
Librarian of the British Museum. He was a candidate 
for the secretaryship of the Society in 1760, when Dr. 
Templeman was elected. 

Israel Mauduit, F.R.S., political pamphleteer and preacher, 
Agent in England for Massachusetts. 

John Mitchell, F.R.S., botanist, made a map of the British 
and French Dominions in North America. 

Sir Henry Moore, Bart., Governor of Jamaica and of 
New York. 

Robert More, F.R.S., botanist. 

Charles Morton, M.D., Principal Librarian of the British 

George Michael Moser, chaser and enameller, first keeper 
R.A. Engraved George m.'s first Great Seal. Father 
of Mary Moser, R.A. 

Lieut .-General Lord John Murray, M.P. for Perth. 

Robert Mylne, F.R.S., constructed Blackfriars Bridge, 
engineer to the New River Company. 

John Newbery, publisher and bookseller. He employed 
Johnson and Goldsmith. 

Frank Nicholls, F.R.S., physician. 

Lieut .-General Oglethorpe, M.P., founder of Georgia. 
Dr. Johnson offered to write his life. Austin Dobson 
calls him a " Paladin of Philanthropy." 

James Paine, a successful and industrious architect. He 
built numerous country houses and several in London. 
He was President of the Society of Artists, 1771. He 
rebuilt Salisbury Street in 1783. There is a good 
account of him in Chancellor's British Architects, 1909. 


Sir Robert Palk, Bart., Governor of Madras. Palk Strait, 
between Ceylon and India, is called after him. 

James Parsons, M.D., F.R.S., physician and antiquary. 

Sir Lucas Pepys, Bart., M.D., President of the Royal College 
of Physicians, physician to George in. Attended the 
King in his insanity. He was elected in 1764, when 
twenty- two years of age. 

John Lewis Petit, M.D., F.R.S., physician. 

Constantine John Phipps, commanded the Racehorse in 
expedition of 1773 to discover a north-eastern route 
to India, and attained a high latitude to north 
of Spitzbergen. Afterwards 2nd Baron Mulgave, 
M.P., and Lord of the Admiralty, etc. 

Christopher Pinchbeck, son of the inventor of copper 
and zinc alloy named after him. 

Charles Pinfold, Governor of Barbados, 

Thomas Pingo, medallist, assistant engraver to the Mint. 

William Pitcairn, M.D., President of the College of Phy- 
sicians, 1775-85. A ward in St. Bartholomew's 
Hospital is named after him. 

George Pitt, afterwards Baron Rivers, author of Letters 
to a Young Nobleman, etc. 

William Pitt, the great statesman, afterwards Earl of 

Admiral Sir George Pocock. He took Havana in 1762. 

Sir James Porter, F.R.S., Ambassador at Constantinople. 

Governor Pownall, politician. His work on The Ad- 
ministration of the Colonies went through several 
editions. He was elected in 1760, and his name in 
the List is altered from " Governor " to " Thos., Esq." 

Sir Charles Pratt, afterwards created Earl Camden, Lord 
Chancellor and Chief Justice ; decided in the case of 
John Wilkes that general warrants were illegal, and 
thereby gained immense popularity. 

William, Viscount Pulteney, the son of the well-known poli- 
tician who was made Earl of Bath by Walpole. He 
died before his father, and the earldom became extinct. 

Sir Thomas Pye, Admiral. " A man of slender ability, 
thrust into office by the Bathurst influence " 
(Diet. Nat. Biog.). 


Allan Ramsay, portrait painter to George in., acquaintance 

of Dr. Johnson. 

Sir Joshua Reynolds, first President of the Royal Academy. 
Elected in 1756 before he was knighted. 

General Robert Rich (afterwards 5th Baronet), wounded 
at Culloden. 

Samuel Richardson, the novelist. 

Sir Thomas Robinson, Governor of Barbados and Com- 
missioner of Excise. 

John Robison, went to Jamaica for the test of Harrison's 

Francis Louis Roubiliac, the sculptor. 

Sir John St. Aubyn, 5th Baronet, M.P., F.R.S. 

Lord George Sackville, afterwards Viscount Sackville, of 
unhappy reputation for his behaviour at the battle of 
Minden in 1759. 

Paul Sandby, R.A., water-colour painter and engraver. 

Sir Charles Saunders, Admiral, served on Newfoundland 
station, and First Lord of the Admiralty. 

Sir George Savile, Bart., M.P., F.R.S. , well-known 
independent politician, and Vice-President of the 

Gregory Sharpe, D.D., F.R.S., Master of the Temple. 

Peter Shaw, physician and author. 

Thomas Sheridan, author and actor (father of Richard 
Brinsley). Proposed by Garrick. 

The Rev. Laurence Sterne, author of Tristram Shandy. 

John Stock, painter to His Majesty's dockyards. He died 
in 1781, leaving the bulk of his property, upwards of 
60,000, to the Painters' Company, with instructions 
that the interest should be distributed to the aged 
blind, the poor of the Company, and others. He left 
i oo to the Society, with the condition that the interest 
should be applied for the promotion of drawing, 
sculpture, and architecture. 

Sir Robert Strange, the eminent English engraver. 

General William Strode. It was he who erected the statue 
of Queen Charlotte in the centre of Queen's Square, 
and that of William, Duke of Cumberland, in Cavendish 



James Stuart, author, member of the Dilettanti Society, 
generally known as " Athenian " Stuart. Designed 
the Society's first medal (see Chapter XIV, p. 316). 

George Stubbs, the well-known animal painter. 

Robert Taylor, M.D., F.R.S., a well-known physician. 

James Theobald, F.R.S., F.S.A. One of the first Vice- 
Presidents of the Society. He took an active part in 
the movement for obtaining a charter for the Society 
of Antiquaries, of which Society he became the 
Secretary in January 1727-8. Afterwards he became 
a member of its Council and one of its Vice-Presidents, 
He made many communications to that Society, and 
there are frequent references to him in its minutes. 
He died in 1759. He is mentioned several times in 
Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, but is ignored by the 
Diet. Nat. Biog. 

Sir Noah Thomas, M.D., F.R.S., physician. 

Bonnell Thornton, well-known wit and writer, member of 
the " Nonsense Club," which organised an " Exhibition 
of the Society of Sign- Painters," in ridicule of the 
Society of Arts Exhibition (see Diet. Nat. Biog.). 
He only subscribed for one year, so perhaps the 
Society's methods did not commend themselves 
to him. 

John Thornton, one of the first of the well-known Clapham 
family, the great evangelicals. 

Henry Thrale, the brewer, Dr. Johnson's friend. 

Jacob Tonson, great- nephew of Jacob Tonson, Dry den's 
first publisher, employed Warburton and Johnson 
among others. 

Rev. James Townley, headmaster of Merchant Taylors' 
School, author of High Life below Stairs ; friend of 

Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, etc., 
and brilliant wit. 

Jonathan Tyers, proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens. 

Robert Vansittart, Regius Professor of Civil Law, Oxford. 

Horace Walpole, the great connoisseur and well-known 
author and collector. Afterwards (1791) 4th Earl of 


Joshua Ward, " Spot " Ward, the well-known quack and 
nostrum-monger, whose statue by Agostino Carlini 
decorates the Society's Hall. He acquired a fortune 
by the sale of pills and potions, and a reputation by 
his introduction of improved methods of making 
sulphuric acid. 

Richard Warren, M.D., a well-known physician. 

Sir William Watson, M.D., F.R.S., physician and man of 
science. Physician to Foundling Hospital. 

Philip Carteret Webb, F.R.S., M.P. He was joint solicitor 
to the Treasury and a leading official in prosecution of 
John Wilkes. 

Alexander Wedderburn, Lincoln's Inn, afterwards Lord 
Loughborough and Earl of Rosslyn. 

Saunders Welch, a magistrate of Westminster, friend of 
Fielding and Dr. Johnson. 

Benjamin West, R.A., the painter. President of the 
Royal Academy. 

Samuel Whitbread, brewer, father of the better-known 

Caleb Whitefoord , wit and diplomatist . Friend of Franklin, 
Johnson, Goldsmith, and Horace Walpole. He was a 
Vice- President of the Society, and a very active member 
of it. He was instrumental in obtaining the portraits 
of Shipley and Templeman. The Society possesses 
his portrait by an unknown painter. 

Charles Whitworth, M.P., Chairman of Ways and Means, 
1774-78. Knighted in 1768. One of the first Vice- 
Presidents of the Society. 

John Wilkes, the notorious politician, elected 1758, when 
thirty-one years of age. He was proposed by his 
brother, Israel Wilkes, who joined the Society in 
1757, and was a very active member, constantly 
taking the chair at committee meetings. 

Sir Edward Wilmot, Bart, M.D., F.R.S., Physician- 
General to the Army. 

Sir John Eardley- Wilmot, Chief Justice, Common Pleas. 
Educated with Johnson at Lichfield. 

Joseph Wilton, sculptor, foundation member of R.A., 
associated with Sir William Chambers, the architect. 


Henry Sampson Woodfall, the printer of the Letters of 
Junius y and conductor of the Public Advertiser. 

Sir George Yonge, Bart., Governor of the Cape. 

Christian Friedrich Zincke, enamel painter ; produced 
many portraits in enamel. 

In addition to the subscribing members, the Society 
had also a number of corresponding members, men dis- 
tinguished in various capacities, or who had rendered ser- 
vices to the Society. They were for the most part foreigners 
or resident abroad. The greatest name on the earlier 
lists is that of Linnaeus, which appears for the first time 
in the list of 1770. 

/ Amongst the names which came up for election there 
were very few rejected, as would naturally be the case 
when the object of the Society was to collect subscriptions 
for a certain purpose. However, one was that notorious 
free-lance, Dr. John Hill, or Sir John Hill, as he called 
himself after he had been made a knight of the Order of 
Vasa by the King of Sweden. He was proposed for election, 
but was unsuccessful, as he also was when he tried to get 
into the Royal Society, so that he might put F.R.S. after 
his name in the title-page of one of his books . TheDictionary 
of National Biography describes Hill as " a versatile man 
of unscrupulous character, with considerable abilities, great 
perseverance, and unlimited impudence." He appears 
to have been at loggerheads with all his contemporaries. 
He paid out the Royal Society for not admitting him by 
an attack upon them which certainly found out some of 
the weak joints in the armour of that distinguished body. 
He tackled Fielding and got rather the worst of it. When 
Garrick spoke slightingly of a play written by him, he 
attacked him also. Garrick retaliated by the well-known 
epigram : 

" For physic and farces his equal there scarce is, 
His farces are physic, his physic a farce is." 

He does not appear to have been much affected by his 

i t//a 



rejection by the Society of Arts, though he wrote what was 
for him a temperate letter of protest. 

From the first foundation of the Society ladies 
been eligible for membership, and the Lists of Members 
have always contained a certain number of women's names./ 
The first list of October 1755 contains the names of Miss 
Elizabeth Vaughan and Lady Betty Germain, daughter 
of the Earl of Berkeley, and wife of Sir John Germain, who 
came with William the Third to England and served under 
him. She inherited a large fortune from her husband, 
and bequeathed it, in accordance with his desire, to Lord 
George Sackville, who took the name of Germain. She 
was a friend of Swift and other literary men. Miss Mary 
Cook who, like Miss Vaughan, is now but an unknown 
name to us was elected a little later in the same year 
( I 7$$)t an d Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu whose name is 
spelt Mountague in the list the earliest " blue stocking " 
and the well-known authoress and leader of intellectual 
society, became a member in 1758. Her portrait appears 
in Barry's picture of the Society. Later lists include the 
names of the Countess of Denbigh, the Countess of Maccles- 
field, the Countess of Northumberland, and Viscountess 

There can be no doubt that the list from which the 
above names have been selected was a very remarkable 
one, and one which may challenge comparison with that 
of any other society, however distinguished. Statesmen, 
philosophers, philanthropists, painters, lawyers, divines, 
physicians, authors, dramatists, actors, musicians, bankers, 
soldiers, sailors, architects, historians, mechanicians, mer- 
chants, all are to be found, and many of them are the 
most eminent of the time. Besides these, there is a crowd 
of peers and wealthy men who seem to have been quite 
ready to support, with their purses and their influence, 
a scheme which commended itself as likely to promote 
the growing industrial and commercial interests of the 

Other evidence as to the early popularity of the Society, 


and of the public esteem in which it was held, is to be found 
in contemporary literature. Smollett, in his History? 
gives a full and laudatory account of the institution and 
proceedings of the Society : " The protection, countenance, 
and gratification secured in other countries by the in- 
stitution of academies, and the liberalities of Princes, the 
ingenious in England derived from the generosity of a 
publick, endued with taste and sensibility, eager for 
improvement, and proud of patronizing extraordinary 
merit. ... In a word, the Society is so numerous, the 
contributions so considerable, the plan so judiciously laid, 
and executed with such discretion and spirit, as to promise 
much more effectual and extensive advantage to the publick 
than ever accrued from all the boasted academies of 

Anderson, in his History of Commerce? speaks of the 
Society as " One of the noblest designs for the improve- 
ment of the Commerce of Great Britain which could possibly 
have been devised." Perhaps in both cases the laudation 
is a little exaggerated, but the quotations may serve to 
show the estimation in which the early efforts of the 
Society were held. 

1 Book iii. chap. x. iv. * Vol. iii. p. 298. 



First Offices of Society in Craig's Court Moved to Castle Court 
Proposal to rent Exeter Change House taken in Little Denmark 
Court, opposite Beaufort Buildings Exhibition Room built 
Agreement with the Brothers Adam for Premises in the Adelphi 
The Adams and the Adelphi The Society's House in the Adelphi 
The Meeting-Room Its Decoration Changes in the Building 
Lighting and Warming Barry's Pictures Barry and his Aspira- 
tions His History Devotion to his Ideas Description of the 
Pictures Portraits of Lords Folkestone and Romney Barry 
wishes to substitute Portraits of George in. and Queen Charlotte 
Portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. 

THE first permanent offices of the Society were in Craig's 
Court, Charing Cross. At a meeting held on iQth February 
1755, at Peele's Coffee- House, arrangements were finally 
made with Shipley that he should take a house in Craig's 
Court, and sublet a portion to the Society. Whether the 
rest of the house was used by Shipley for his Academy or 
not, there is nothing in the Minutes to indicate. The 
rent paid was 20 a year, including coals and candles. 
The first meeting at Craig's Court was held on ist March 
1755. Here the Society remained for a year, but the rooms 
were too small, so they moved to a house at the corner of 
Castle Court on the east side, " opposite the New Ex- 
change," on 2nd June 1756. For this they paid to John 
Fielding a rent of thirty-five guineas for the first floor 
and some other part of the house. Castle Court was a 
narrow alley leading from the Strand to Chandos Street. 
It disappeared when the district was rebuilt in the reign 
of William iv., the date being commemorated by the 
names of King William Street and Adelaide Street. The 
ground on which the house containing the Society's offices 



stood now forms part of the site of the British Medical 
Journal office . 

The accommodation, however, soon proved insufficient 
for the growing needs of the Society. It was increasing 
rapidly in numbers and in wealth, and it soon seems to 
have felt the need of more spacious quarters. Two years 
after it was established in Castle Court we find in the 
Minutes that inquiries were being made for new premises. 
Several localities were suggested and rejected. In May 
1758 a committee reported favourably on a proposal to 
acquire Exeter Change. It appeared that a total outlay 
of 2500 would have been required for necessary repairs 
and alterations, and that Lord Exeter was willing to grant 
a lease for about sixty years at a rent of 200 a year. As a 
set-off against this, there was the rent of certain shops 
forming part of the building, and to be sub-let by the 
Society. The outlay, however, was considered too great, 
and the proposal was declined. 

Eventually the Society came to terms with Messrs. 
Williams & Woodin, who carried on the business of up- 
holsterers and carpenters in premises opposite Beaufort 
Buildings in the Strand. These premises included the 
house afterwards No. 380 and 381 Strand, and a ware- 
house and yard behind. Messrs. Williams & Woodin 
agreed to build a Great Room for the Society on the site 
of their warehouse, and to let this room, with another good- 
sized room on the ground floor, together with a certain 
part of the house, for a payment of 200 and a rent of 120 
a year for three years, and 100 afterwards, for a term of 
fifteen years from Midsummer 1759. The first meeting 
in the new rooms was held on i8th July in that year. 
The various alterations in, and additions to, the buildings 
were made under the superintendence of Mr. (afterwards 
Sir William) Chambers, who acted as the Society's 
architect. He later achieved a great reputation, his best- 
known work being Somerset House. 

The house stood on ground which was then part of the 
property of the Duke of Bedford, and the plan on page 
56 has been prepared from records still preserved in the 
office of the Bedford estate. The area, which, so far as 


can be made out, was occupied by the Society's premises, 
is indicated by dark shading. A is the Great Room, B is 
the smaller room on the ground level, used for the Society's 
collection of models, and C shows the offices with an 
entrance to the Strand. D is the house taken a year and 
a half later, in January 1761, for a residence for Dr. 
Templeman, the newly appointed secretary. The descrip- 
tion in the lease is rather vague, and it is doubtful whether 
the whole, or only a portion of the shaded part, was in- 
cluded. This house was leased from Woodin, Williams 
having died in 1 760, and his interest having been acquired 
by Woodin. The position of the present Exeter Street 
is shown in dotted lines on the plan, and it will be seen 
that nearly the whole of the area occupied by the Society's 
area is now covered by the modern extension of that 
street, the rest of it being now occupied by the recently 
erected building of the Strand Hotel. Exeter Street 
originally extended only from Catherine Street to Burleigh 
Street. The L-shaped extension leading southwards into 
the Strand was a later enlargement of Denmark Court 
(which, as shown in Horwood's map, circa 1800, was an 
extension of Exeter Street) and of Little Denmark Court, 
which led from the end of Denmark Court, at right angles, 
down to the Strand. Little Denmark Court was a narrow 
alley for foot-passengers only, and probably its entrance 
to the Strand was an arcrrway under the first-floors of 
the adjacent houses. 

It has not been found possible to make out precisely 
how much of the Strand frontage was occupied by the 
Society. It certainly had an entrance on the Strand, 
and perhaps it had the whole or part of the first floor. 
Or the original house may have been divided into two, 
and this idea is suggested by a comparison of the entries 
in the sewer-rate book for 1763 and subsequent years. 
The earliest entry shows one house, in the occupation of 
Thos. Wooden [sic] ; the entry for 1765 shows the same 
house as occupied by Geo. Box (in whose name the lease 
to the Society had been taken out) and formerly by Price, 
while subsequent entries show two houses. It was cer- 
tainly for long in the joint occupation of the Society and 


the landlords, for both Williams and Woodin, who were 
members, have their addresses recorded in the lists as 
" Society's Offices." 

The original house and buildings had been leased by 
the Duke of Bedford in 1753 to John Price, by whom it 

The present course of Exeter Street la 
shown by thich dotted lines 

Emery Walker sc. 

Plan showing position of the Society's Offices, opposite Beaufort Buildings. 

was demised to Williams & Woodin. It was, when let to 
Price, the Greyhound Tavern, but presumably Price or his 
successors gave up the tavern and used the premises for 
other purposes. The district extending a certain way 
eastwards from Southampton Street is designated in the 
rent-books of the Bedford estate " Fryers' Pyes," but up to 


the present it has not been found possible to ascertain 
the meaning of this curious title or to find any explana- 
tion of it. 1 

For the information which has enabled the site of the 
Society's old offices to be identified the writer is entirely 
indebted to Sir Laurence Gomme, the accomplished Clerk 
of the London County Council, and to Mr. A. R. O. Stut- 
field, the steward of the Bedford estate. The writer 
has much pleasure in acknowledging the valuable and 
ready help they have given. It has always been 
known that the Society occupied offices " opposite 
Beaufort Buildings" from 1759 to 1774, but it had 
been assumed that these offices were at the north-east 
corner of Beaufort Buildings, in the house afterwards 
No. 96 Strand, long well known as Rimmers, the per- 
fumer's. The fact that Shipley's Academy was, as 
previously mentioned, established in this house, probably 
led to the mistake. The solution of the problem, and the 
identification of the Society's old premises, had been the 
cause of considerable gratification to the present writer, 
because it completes the history of the Society's migra- 
tions before it found a permanent home in its present 
buildings in the Adelphi. 

The position of the Society's house is also indicated in 
the old map of this part of London, a portion of which is 
reproduced in the plate facing page 54. In the narrow 
street opposite Beaufort Buildings, which is not named, but 
is really Little Denmark Court, the square block with the 
reference letter " c " is, as stated in the margin of the map, 
' The Society of Arts and Sciences, Strand." The map was 
published by Thomas Jeiferys, and the date on it is 1766. 
The copy from which the reproduction was made is in the 
possession of the Athenaeum Club. Jefferys was a well- 
known cartographer, and would probably have received a 
prize from the Society for his map of Yorkshire but for 
his death in 1771. 2 It is clear that the building shown 
on the map is merely the " Great Room " where the 

1 Hare in his Walks in London (vol. i. p. 31, 2nd edition, 1894) says 
that Covent Garden was in 1222 known as Frere Pye Garden. 

2 See Chapter XIII, p. 299. 


exhibitions were held, the Society's offices being, as above 
stated, between this building and the Strand. 

All this district was altered under the Act (7 Geo. iv. 
cap. 77) passed in 1826 for the widening of the Strand, 1 
and in the various improvements carried out Exeter 
Change itself disappeared. The principal building erected 
on its site was Exeter Hall, long a well-known concert 
room, opened in 1831. Now it too has followed its prede- 
cessor, and its place is occupied by a big hotel. Beaufort 
Buildings remained until 1902, when the extension of the 
Savoy Hotel swallowed it up, and all the old buildings on 
this part of the south side of the Strand were demolished. 
The courtyard of the hotel now occupies the ground which 
was formerly the roadway of Beaufort Buildings. 

If the conclusions drawn from an examination of 
the plans and documents in the Bedford estate offices 
are correct, the " Great Room " was worthy of its name, 
being an apartment 80 ft. long by 40 ft. broad, almost 
identical in dimensions with the large Gallery of the 
Royal Academy in Burlington House, which is 82 ft. by 
42. It was here that the first exhibition of pictures by 
British artists was held in 1760. The smaller room on 
the ground level was 40 ft. by 20 ft. In this the first 
exhibition of models and machines was held in 1761. 

A considerable amount was expended in fitting and 
furnishing the rooms and offices, besides the cost of struc- 
tural alterations. Among other improvements it was 
found necessary to make a " crossing " in the Strand, 
at a cost of three and a half guineas, to facilitate the 
access to the Society's entrance door. 

In 1770 the lease of the Society's premises having 
nearly expired, and the accommodation being again 
found insufficient, it was decided to advertise for new 
premises, and accordingly an announcement was inserted 
in some of the daily papers inviting any person who had 

1 The Act authorised the widening of the Strand " on the north 
side thereof opposite Cecil Street in an easterly direction to the East 
end of Exeter Change." The sewer-rate book for 1830 shows that 
the demolition had then began. A note in a subsequent rate book 
states that sixteen houses had been pulled down. Among these were 
Nos. 380 and 381, 


From a Medallion by Tassie. 

To face page 58. 


proposals to make for the accommodation of the Society 
to communicate with the secretary. 

The result of this advertisement was that the Brothers 
Adam, 1 who were then occupied with their scheme for the 
construction of the Adelphi, offered to include in that 
scheme a suitable house for the Society's purposes. 

The history of the Adelphi has often been written. 1 
The site was long occupied by the historic buildings of 
Durham House, the residence of the Prince-Bishops of 
the northern See. The house and grounds originally 
occupied the area between Adam Street and Buckingham 
Street, from the Strand to the river. The New Exchange 
was built in 1608 by Lord Salisbury on the site of the 
Durham House stables, and extended from George Court 
to what used to be Durham Yard, but is now Durham 
House Street. It thus included the site of Coutts's 
Bank. 3 It was pulled down in 1737, when shops and 
houses were erected along the present line of the Strand. 
In the space between these buildings and the river, where 
old Durham House once stood, fronting the river, with 
its gardens reaching to the Strand, were " a number of 
small low-lying houses, coal-sheds, and lay-stalls, washed 
by the muddy waters of the Thames." The ground sloped 
down from the Strand level to the brink of the river, 
which must have been, at high water, somewhere about 
the inner edge of the Embankment Gardens. 

On this slope the Brothers Adam (Robert, William, 
James, and John) proposed to build a great terrace, 
level with the Strand, the idea being taken from the 
arched terrace or gallery in the Palace of Diocletian at 

1 The head of Robert Adam, facing page 58, is a reproduction from 
a fine medallion by Tassie, now in the collection of the Edinburgh 
Board of Manufactures. 

2 The fullest history of the Adelphi is contained in three articles 
by Mr. H. B. Wheatley in the Antiquary magazine for June, July, and 
September 1884. In these a great deal of information will be found 
which it has not been thought needful to include here, as it has no 
special connection with the Society of Arts. Mr. Austin Brereton's 
Literary History of the Adelphi (1907) is the most recent book on the 
subject. Mr. Percy Fitzgerald devotes the best part of a chapter of 
his Picturesque London (1890) to the Adelphi. 

3 The bank was moved in 1904 to the opposite side of the Strand. 


Spalatro, 1 which Robert Adam studied with great care, and 
described in a monumental folio. 2 The ground was in the 
possession of the spendthrift Duke of St. Albans, or rather 
of his trustees. By the year 1642 the estate had finally 
passed out of the possession of the Bishops of Durham, and 
under the provisions of an Act of Parliament it became 
the property of the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, 
a rent-charge only of 200 a year being reserved to the 
See of Durham. This rent-charge, it may be interesting 
to mention, is still paid by the present owner to the 
Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In 1677 the estate was 
sold by the Earl of Pembroke to Sir Thomas Monpesson, 
and in 1716 it was again sold by the representatives of 
Sir Thomas Monpesson to the trustees of the will of Sir 
John Werden, whose daughter Lucy married Charles, 
the second Duke of St. Albans. Their son George, the 
third Duke, brought the estate into settlement, and in 
1767 a private Act of Parliament was passed for vesting 
part of his estates in trustees for the purpose of raising 
money to pay his debts. 

These trustees, Lord Charles Spencer and Sir Philip 
Musgrove, in 1768 granted a lease to the Brothers Adam 
for ninety-nine years at a rent of 1200 a year. It has 
seemed worth while to record these details because they 
have never been accurately stated in previous accounts of 
the Adelphi, and it is only by the obliging assistance of 
Mr. George Drummond, the owner of the Adelphi, and of 
Messrs. Fladgate, the solicitors to the estate, that it has been 
possible to trace out the manner in which this historic bit of 
London passed into the possession of its present owner. 

The design proposed by the Brothers Adam was duly 
carried into effect, the requisite height on the river side 
being obtained by the construction of tiers of super- 
imposed arches. 3 Some of these arches formed public 

1 Fitzgerald, Picturesque London, p. 39. 

* Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in 
Dalmatia, by R. Adam, F.R.S., F.S.A., 1764. 

3 The view of the Adelphi (facing page 64) shows the terrace with the 
houses as originally built, and justifies Horace Walpole's criticism 
(quoted by Mr. Wheatley) that the Adelphi buildings resembled " ware- 
houses laced down the seams, like a soldier's trull in a regimental old 

The Society's House in 1911. 


thoroughfares, and later gained an unenviable reputation 
on account of their nocturnal frequenters. Others were 
let as storehouses ; at one time a number of cows were 
stabled in some of the arches, and supplied milk to a large 
part of the West End. Others, again, served as cellars 
for the houses built on the substructure. The Society's 
house has two stories of cellars below the south-western 
part of the building, while the foundations of the north- 
east corner are in the original ground. The house has 
undergone a certain amount of repair, but it seems now 
as sound as when it was first built. 1 

When the Thames Embankment was made, 2 the build- 
ings on the south side of the estate, near the river, were 
affected, and some reconstruction work had to be carried 
out on the arches, but the ground on which the Society's 
house stands does not seem to have been at all disturbed. 

The work, commenced in July 1768, was practically 
completed in about six years, but before it was finished 
the Adams were in financial difficulties. In the course of 
their operations they encroached on the foreshore of the 
Thames, and thereby involved themselves in a dispute 
with the Corporation, their difficulties being increased by 
the political circumstances of the time, as the Corporation 
were strongly Wilkesite, while the Adams enjoyed Court 
favour. Eventually they succeeded in obtaining an Act 
of Parliament to authorise their proceedings. In this 
they were assisted by their patron, the Earl of Bute. 
Their pecuniary difficulties were set right by means of a 
second Act, which empowered them to organise a lottery, 
the chief prizes in which were the houses then in course 
of building on the estate. In many cases the prize- 
winners sold their rights, and thus the sub-leases became 
the property of various owners. Their tenures expired 

coat." There are still two or three houses in the Adelphi which 
preserve this old form of decoration long vertical mouldings extending 
from the ground to the uppermost story. The illustration is from a 
contemporary print. 

1 The view of the front of the building opposite page 60 is from a 
drawing by Mr. Howard Penton. It shows no changes since the house 
was built. 

*The Embankment was commenced in 1862 and opened in 1870. 


at the termination of the principal lease in 1867, long 
before which time (in 1787) the property had come into 
the possession of the Drummond family. George, the 
third Duke of St. Albans, had no son, and was succeeded 
as fourth Duke by George Beauclerk, the grandson of 
Lord William Beauclerk, the second son of the first Duke, 
who had married (in 1744) Charlotte, the other daughter 
of Sir John Werden above mentioned. Lord William 
Beauclerk 's daughter Charlotte married John Drummond, 
the son and successor of the Hon. Andrew Drummond, 
the founder of Drummond's Bank, and to her the Adelphi 
estate was devised by her nephew, the fourth Duke. From 
her son George the estate passed to his son, his grandson, 
and his great-grandson, George James Drummond, the 
present owner of the estate and the Society's landlord. 

John Drummond and his cousin Robert were among 
the earliest members of the Society, 1 and the connection 
of the family with the Society has since continued. 

Negotiations, the progress of which is described, 
though not very fully, in the old Minute-books of the 
Society, went on for some time, and eventually the Adams 
undertook to build a house such as was required for a 
premium of i 170, and a rent which was finally settled at 
200 a year. The plans, after much discussion, were 
finally approved, the foundation-stone was laid by Lord 
Romney in 1772, and the Society entered into possession 
in 1774, though the lease only dates from 1775. It was 
for 91 1 years, from Midsummer 1775, ending at Christmas 
1866 a quarter before the end of the landlord's lease. 

Such was the origin of the historic building in which the 
Society has carried on its work for 139 years. It really 
consists of two houses, one of which was intended for the 
private residence of the secretary. There has always been 
a communication between the nouses on the ground and 
first floors (as well as in the basement), and a few years ago 
a third one was constructed on the second floor. Other- 
wise the two houses are separate and distinct. The last 
secretary to live on the premises was Sir George Grove. 

No structural alterations of any importance seem 

1 See Chapter II, p. 38. 



From an old Print. 

To face page 64. 


ever to have been made in it. Such changes as have 
been made were for the most part in the meeting-room 
and in the " Model Room," now the Library. In 
1815 the old skylight in the meeting-room was altered, 
the existing lantern being substituted for the original 
oval light. In 1846 the room was re-decorated by 
D. R. Hay of Edinburgh. A full account of his scheme 
of decoration is given by Hay in a paper he read after the 
work was completed. 1 Originally the treatment of the 
room had been extremely simple, and indeed there had 
been little attempt at decoration. According to the short 
description given by Hay in his paper : " The wall termin- 
ates in a narrow and lightly enriched cornice surrounded by 
a plain cove of 8 ft. 4 in. wide ; this cove is terminated by 
a narrow border of stucco work, between which and the 
aperture for the cupola light there is a flat space, also 
quite plain. The aperture towards the cupola light is 
thrown into eight panels by a plain narrow moulding, and 
this completes the architectural decoration." The lower 
part of the ceiling with the cornice is shown in the picture 
facing page 70, and the whole upper part of the room is to 
be seen in a coloured print in the Microcosm of London. 2 

In place of this Hay introduced a somewhat elaborate 
scheme of colour. The walls above and below the pictures 
were covered with purple cloth, in order to set off the effect 
of the pictures. The cornice was coloured " Etruscan 
brown or deep terra cotta hue," and the cove and span 
above it enriched with coloured mosaic. For further 
details, the reader may be referred to Hay's paper. 

When the original lease of the premises had to be 
renewed, a new lease for thirty years from Lady Day 
1867 was obtained. In additional to the renewal fine, 
which together with other charges amounted to 2361, the 
Society had to incur an expenditure of 2800 for repairs. 
A good deal of work was done in 1863, and considerable 
changes were made in the arrangements of the Great Room. 

The position of the platform and the chairman's seat 
in the meeting-room was altered. Originally they were 

1 Transactions, vol. Ivi. (Supplemental volume, 1852), p. 13. 
z Vol. iii. p. 67. 


on the north side of the room, facing the entrance. They 
are now on the east side. The object of the change was 
to give greater facility of access from the offices to the 
officials' seats. The old arrangement was inconvenient in 
this respect, but in all other respects it was certainly 
better. 1 The present decorations of the ceiling, which 
were designed and executed by Messrs. Crace, are of the 
same date. At the same time the existing glass cases in 
the lo\ver room which was originally designed for the 
" Repository " of the Society's collection of mechanical 
inventions were substituted for the pillars which previ- 
ously gave apparent support to the ceiling and to the floor 
of the room above. This change had nothing to recom- 
mend it, and should never have been made. The appear- 
ance of the room as it was originally designed was much 
better, and the present cases are at once ugly and useless. 2 

In 1 847 the mosaic pavement in the entrance hall was 
presented by Messrs. Minton (then Minton & Blashfield) ; 
it is interesting as being one of the earliest examples of the 
application of mechanically produced tesserae under 
Prosser's patent, afterwards the foundation of an extensive 
industry. The glass mosaic on the staircase was laid down 
in 1874 by Messrs. Powell. This, again, was one of the 
first uses of a novel and ingenious method of manufacture, 
though it had previously been utilised in one of the stair- 
cases of the South Kensington Museum. 

When the house was first built, the meeting-room was 
warmed by two large fireplaces, one at each end of the 

1 The illustration opposite page 70 shows the arrangement of the 
room in 1 804. It is copied from a print in the Crace Collection, now 
in the British Museum. 

2 The picture of the " Model Room " or " Repository " (facing page 64) 
is copied from a print in Knight's London (1843), an ^ shows very well 
the difference between the room as it now is and as it was originally 
built. The Act for the establishment of the British Museum (26 Geo. n. 
cap. 22, 1753) i s entituled " An Act for the Purchase of the Museum 
or Collection of Sir Hans Sloane, and of the Harleian Collection of 
Manuscripts, and for providing one general Repository for the better 
reception and more convenient use of the said Collections," etc. So it 
would appear that what is now called a Museum was then termed a 
Repository, while the word Museum was applied to its contents, 


room. Later a furnace was fitted in the basement, and 
the heated air from it passed up through gratings into the 
present library, and thence by other gratings into the Great 
Room. This arrangement was naturally very inefficient. 
The existing system of heating by hot-water pipes was 
introduced in 1877. 

At first the Great Room seems to have been lighted 
by candles, though I have never been quite able to satisfy 
myself whether the six chandeliers or " branches " brought 
from the old house, and placed in the corners and the 
middle of the room, were for candles or oil. At all events 
oil lamps were not long afterw r ards employed, and their 
use was continued up to the middle of the last century. 
There were five chandeliers, one in the centre of the 
room, and one at each corner of the skylight. These 
were suspended by chains, and were pulled up and 
down for cleaning and lighting. They seem to have 
given a great deal of trouble and to have caused a 
great deal of complaint. The Society had in 1796 a 
contract with a lamplighter, one George, who was paid 
4|-d. per lamp per night, and on one occasion when fault 
was found with the badness of the light, George attri- 
buted it to " the villainy of his servant, who defrauded 
him of the oil." Seven years later the contract price was 
raised to 6d. on the ground of the increased cost of oil, 
and nine years later still, in 1 8 1 2, it was raised to 7d. The 
annual charge for lighting in the last few years of the 
eighteenth century, and the first few of the nineteenth, was 
about 33 . In 1 8 19 the lamplighter having again failed in 
his duties, Miss Cockings, the energetic housekeeper, volun- 
teered to undertake them, and from that time forward the 
lighting appears to have been both better and cheaper. 

The first use of gas by the Society seems to have been 
about 1815, when a proposal to have a gas-light over the 
entrance was approved and apparently carried out. The 
imperfectly purified gas of that date was not considered 
fit for indoor lighting, and it was not for some time later 
that gas was introduced inside the house. In 1835 a pro- 
posal to light the meeting-room with gas was considered, 
but rejected as " inexpedient." In 1847 the stairs were 


lighted by gas at a cost for installation of 7, 55. In the 
following year it was introduced into the model-room, and 
a single central light was fitted in the Great Room. In 
1 849 it was brought into the Hall and the committee-room. 
In 1853 the four hanging chandeliers in the meeting-room 
were ordered to be altered to gas, and in 1854 a central 
sunlight was fitted in the room. 

In 1882 electric light was first installed, the installation 
being one of the first in London. The current was obtained 
from a Siemens dynamo driven by a gas-engine, both being 
placed in one of the cellars. Later a storage battery 
(E.P.S.) was added. The cost of the installation was met 
by a subscription from past and present members of the 
Council. In 1899 this private installation was given up, 
and the current was taken from the then newly-established 
street mains. 

In 1774, when the Society was about to move into its 
new house in the Adelphi, the question of the decoration 
of the Great Room naturally gave rise to a good deal of 
discussion. It was determined that it would be desirable 
to procure " proper historical or allegorical pictures," to 
be painted by the most eminent artists. Further, it was 
decided that there ought to be eight historical and two 
allegorical pictures ; that the subjects of the historical 
pictures should be taken from English history, and that 
the allegorical pictures should be " emblematick designs 
relative to the Institution and views of the Society." 
A proposal was accordingly made to eight artists, that they 
should paint each a historical picture, and to two others 
that they should paint allegorical pictures, the conditions 
being that they should not be paid, but should receive the 
profits arising from an exhibition of the pictures, to be held 
for four months. The historical painters were Angelica 
Kauffmann, Sir Joshua Reynolds, West, Cipriani, Dance, 
Mortimer, Barry, and Wright ; the allegorical painters, 
Romney and Penny. Valentine Green, the engraver, 
was requested to communicate with the selected artists, 
and to report their answer. Unfortunately, the answer 
mainly, it appears, owing to Sir Joshua Reynolds was a 


refusal. The portraits of the first two presidents of the 
Society, Lord Folkestone and Lord Romney the first by 
Gainsborough and the second by Sir Joshua were placed 
over the two chimney-pieces, and there the matter rested 
for a while. 

Three years afterwards, viz. in 1777, Barry authorised 
the same Mr. Green a member of the Society who took 
a very active interest in its welfare, and who afterwards 
received a gold medal on that account to inform the 
members that one of the Royal Academicians they had 
applied to was willing to take the whole work upon himself, 
and to decorate the Great Room " with a series of pictures 
analogous to the views of the Institution." It was esti- 
mated that the canvas, frames, and colours would cost 
100, and there was a further expense of 30 for models, 
which the artist offered to discharge, but which was eventu- 
ally paid by the Society. The proposal, made at an 
ordinary meeting of the Society, was referred to the 
committee of " Polite Arts." The committee considered 
and accepted it before it was known who the artist was to 
be, and thereupon the chairman produced a letter from 
Barry, stating that the offer was his. Barry was then 
young and little known, full of confidence in his own powers, 
and assured that nothing but opportunity was wanting 
for him to make a reputation. Nor were his objects wholly 
personal. He was impressed as well he might be with 
the degraded condition of English Art, " fitted for nothing 
greater than portraits, and other low matters, from whence 
no honour could be derived either to the artist or the 
country," x and he believed that the production of " some 
great work of historical painting " would refute the 
assertions of those foreign critics who declared English 
painters to be incapable of any permanent work, and would 
also serve as an example to his countrymen. Feeling at 
once the necessity of the work, and the capacity within 
himself for executing it, he set himself to do it, without, 

1 An Account of a Series of Pictures in the Great Room of the Society 
of Arts ... By James Barry, R.A., Professor of Painting to the 
Royal Academy. London : Printed for the Author, by William 
Adlard, Printer to the Society. . . ." 1783 (Introd.). 


as it seems, considering or caring even how he was to live 
during the years so long a task must occupy. 

On the whole, his hopes of fame were realised, for such 
reputation as Barry now possesses rests entirely on the 
great pictures he painted for the Society. The man 
himself was of a strange character, his life was by no means 
happy. An artist of considerable power, his talents were 
yet not equal to his own estimation of them ; and his life, 
like that of Haydon, a few years later, was embittered by 
what he considered a lack of appreciation of his deserts. 

He was born at Cork in 1741. The ability he showed 
in various early pictures gained him the notice of Burke, 
who assisted him in various ways, and gave him an allow- 
ance of 50 a year to visit Rome. In 1770 he returned to 
London, and in 1771 he exhibited his first picture at the 
Royal Academy the " Adam and Eve " now belonging to 
the Society. It was in 1 777 that he began his great work, 
the pictures in the Society's meeting-room. In 1 782, after 
they were completed, he was appointed Professor of Paint- 
ing to the Royal Academy. His career in this office was 
by no means happy. He seems to have been afflicted with 
an irritable, cross-grained temper, and this led him into 
disputes with everybody with whom he came in contact. 
He quarrelled with the artists at Rome ; with anybody 
who criticised his pictures ; with his pupils ; and with 
many influential friends who tried to assist him. Finally, 
he quarrelled with the Royal Academy itself, so that he was 
expelled from it in 1799. He grumbled at the Society, 
which seems to have treated him with sufficient liberality, 
for it had either given him, or assisted him to procure by 
exhibitions, a sum amounting altogether to 700, while 
the members of the Society raised 1000 for him, and 
purchased an annuity of 120 ; but, unfortunately, only a 
month before his death. 

He died under very miserable conditions. After his 
expulsion from the Academy he seems to have supported 
himself mainly by the sale of his etchings from his own 
works. He was taken ill in an eating-house near his 
home in Castle Street, Oxford Street ; and, his own house 
being locked up, he w r as carried to that of a neighbour, 


where he expired on 22nd February 1806. Even in his 
death his morose nature was shown, for he locked himself 
in for forty-eight hours, refusing medical aid ; and this, 
when it did come, came too late. When his works were 
sold at Christie's in 1807, they fetched very fair prices, the 
" Adam and Eve" being purchased for 100 guineas. One 
of them, however, the " Pandora/' which brought, though 
unfinished, 230 guineas, when resold in 1846, to pay the 
expense of warehouse room, only fetched nj guineas. 
His body was placed in the Society's Great Room for a day 
before it was carried to St. Paul's, to be laid beside that of 
Reynolds. 1 

When Barry began his task he had, it is said, only 
sixteen shillings in his pocket, and he supported himself 
while it was in progress by etching. He applied to patrons, 
principally members of the Society, for a loan to assist 
him while he was at work, but it does not appear whether 
his applications were successful or not. The exact date at 
which the work was commenced is not stated in the Society's 
Minutes, but the pictures were well advanced by the recess 
of 1778, when the key of the Great Room was entrusted 
to Barry in order that he might work without interrup- 
tion ; and the work was continued until October 1781. 
During its progress the Society's meetings were at first 
held in the Great Room, the pictures being covered up 
with canvas ; but in 1781 the meetings were held in the 
committee-room i.e. the present council-room the 
Great Room being given up entirely to the artist. In 
the same year, frames, designed by Barry himself, were 
procured from Mr. Adrian Maskens, of Compton Street, 
Soho, at the expense of 100, 175. These frames are 
those in which the pictures now are, though they have, of 
course, been regilt since they were first put up. Not 
much information as to the progress of the pictures is 

1 Further information about Barry's life is given in S. Redgrave's 
Dictionary of Artists of the English School. A longer life, written by the 
late S. T. Davenport, for a Dictionary of Painters, was printed in the 
Society's Journal, vol. xviii. p. 803. There is also a life in the Dictionary 
of National Biography. In 1 880, Mr. J. Comyns Carr read a paper before 
the Society on " The Influence of Barry upon English Art " (Journal, 
vol. xxix. p. 20). 


given in the Society's Minutes. There are occasional 
references to the work, and payments on account of 
expenses incurred are authorised from time to time. 

A suggestion made by the painter, that some portraits 
of members of the Society should be introduced, gave rise 
to considerable discussion, and seems to have exercised 
the minds of the committee of " Polite Arts " for some 
time, but eventually a selection was made. As soon as 
the work was finished, a public exhibition of the pictures 
was held for the painter's benefit. They were shown for 
two months during 1783, and for the same time during 
1784. The cost of these two exhibitions was defrayed 
by the Society, and amounted to 174. About 6500 
persons attended the first exhibition, and about 3500 
the second, among them being Jonas Hanway the 
introducer of umbrellas who was so pleased with the 
pictures that he showed his gratification by the very 
practical step of changing the shilling he had paid for 
a guinea as he left. The exhibitions produced 503, 125. 
Congratulations poured in upon the artist, accompanied 
in some few cases at least by subscriptions or orders for 
paintings. But the measure of praise his pictures received 
was by no means equal to the artist's estimate of their 
deserts. In a letter, dated October 1784, to the president 
and members of the Society, we find him complaining 
bitterly of this want of taste on the part of the public. 
Sixteen or eighteen thousand pounds had, he says, been 
squandered that year at Westminster upon a " Jubilee of 
hackney'd German musick," " an empty hubbub of 
hundreds of fiddles and drums, which was dissipated in 
the air as soon as performed." This, too, had been 
attended by " well-dressed people of the first rank and 
condition, great Lords and Ladies with white wands, blue 
ribbans, and medals." Meanwhile his pictures, which 
were to have revolutionised English art, were being 
neglected in the Adelphi. 

A full account of the pictures is given in Barry's own 
work, above referred to. A shorter account was printed 
in the third volume of the Society's Transactions (1785), 
and this has been since republished in the Journal, with 


alterations (vol. xvi. p. 604). Various other descriptions 
have been printed at different times, but they all seem 
to be derived, either directly or at second hand, from 
Barry's book. The whole series of pictures was intended 
" to illustrate this great maxim or moral truth, viz. 
that the obtaining happiness, as well individual as public, 
depends on cultivating the human faculties. To prove 
the truth of this doctrine, the first picture exhibits man- 
kind in a savage state, full of imperfection, inconvenience, 
and misery. The second represents a Harvest Home, or 
Thanksgiving to Ceres and Bacchus. The third, The 
Victors at Olympia. The fourth, Navigation, or the 
Triumph of the Thames. The fifth, the Distribution of 
Rewards by the Society. And the sixth, Elysium, or the 
State of Final Retribution. Three of these subjects are 
truly poetical, the others historical." l 

The height of all the pictures is the same, 1 1 ft. 10 ins. 
The first, second, fourth and fifth, being those at the 
ends of the room, are each 15 ft. 2 ins. long ; the third 
and sixth, which occupy the north and south sides of the 
room, are each 42 ft. long. They take up all the upper 
portion of the wall, leaving a space beneath them of 10 ft. 
6 ins. down to the ground. 

The description of the pictures is too long for repetition, 
though its quaintly serious style makes it worth consulta- 
tion. It may, however, be desirable to try to give a very 
brief explanation of the meaning of the pictures, for the 
use of those who care to follow out the story they are 
meant to tell. The first picture, the " Orpheus," is on 
the left-hand side of a person entering the room, and 
occupies the southern half of the west wall. It is intended 
to represent a savage people, living in a wild and desert 
country, while Orpheus is explaining to them the advan- 
tages of culture. 

In the second picture, " A Grecian Harvest Home," 
we have the second, or agricultural, stage of civilisa- 

The third picture, " The Victors at Olympia," which 
faces the visitor as he enters, is typical of the most advanced 
1 Transactions, vol. iii. p. no. 


culture. At the right l of the picture the conquerors 
in the games are receiving the prizes at the hands of the 
judges. Two of the athletes are carrying their father, 
Diagoras, a former victor. Near this group is another, 
the chief person in which is Pericles, who has borrowed 
the face of the Earl of Chatham. The personage in the 
chariot is Hiero of Syracuse ; the leader of the chorus is 
supposed to be Pindar ; the statue at the right end of the 
picture is Minerva ; that at the other end is Hercules. 
The figure seated at the base of the statue of Hercules 
represents Barry himself. 

The fourth picture, " The Thames," is emblematical 
of the triumphs of modern commerce. The central 
figure represents Father Thames sitting in a triumphal 
car, steering with one hand, and holding in the other the 
mariner's compass. The car is borne along by Sir Francis 
Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sebastian Cabot, and " the 
late Captain Cook, of amiable memory." In the front 
of the car are four figures, representing Europe, Asia, 
Africa, and America. Mercury, " the emblem of com- 
merce," is represented at the top of the picture as sum- 
moning the nations, and the Nereids following the car 
carry several articles of the principal manufactures of 
Great Britain. " The sportive appearance of some of 
these Nereids gives a variety to the picture, and is intended 
to show that an extensive commerce is sometimes found 
subversive of the foundation of virtue." In order to intro- 
duce the personification of music into " this scene of 
triumph and joy," the artist has placed amongst the sea- 
nymphs " his friend Dr. Burney, whose abilities in that 
line are universally acknowledged." ' This," remarks 
a writer in the Microcosm of London (1809), was " a 
whim equally absurd and incomprehensible which no 
raillery or good counsel could induce him to dismiss from 
his canvas." 

The fifth picture, " The Society," 2 represents a dis- 

1 In every case right and left mean right and left of the spectator. 

2 The illustration is taken from Barry's etching, not from the 
painting, and the two vary considerably. The description in the text 
corresponds with the painting. 


tribution of the rewards in the Society. The figure near 
the left in nobleman's robes is Lord Romney, who was 
president when the picture was painted ; near him is 
the Prince of Wales (George iv.) ; sitting at the corner of 
the picture, with a manuscript in his hand, is William 
Shipley, the originator of the Society ; one of the farmers 
carrying specimens of grain is Arthur Young ; the figure 
near him, holding a pen, is Mr. More, the then secretary. 
On the right of Lord Romney is the Hon. Charles Marsham, 
one of the Society's vice-presidents ; on the left is another 
vice-president, Mr. Owen Salusbury Brereton. About the 
centre of the picture is " that distinguished example of 
female excellence, Mrs. Montague, who long honoured 
the Society with her name and subscription." Near 
her are the Duchess of Northumberland, Earl Percy, 
Joshua Steele, Sir George Savile, Dr. Hurd, Bishop of 
Worcester, Soame Jenyns, James Harris, and the two 
Duchesses of Rutland and Devonshire. Between these 
ladies " the late Dr. Samuel Johnson seems pointing out 
this example of Mrs. Montague to their graces' attention 
and imitation." Further to the left is the Duke of Rich- 
mond, and near him Edmund Burke ; still nearer the right 
side of the picture are Edward Hooper and Keane Fitz- 
gerald. The Duke of Northumberland, the Earl of Radnor 
(the second Earl), William Locke, and Dr. Hunter are 
examining some drawings by a youth. Near the right side 
of the picture are Lord Folkestone, first president of the 
Society, his son, the first Earl of Radnor, and Dr. Stephen 
Hales. The introduction of Somerset House and St. 
Paul's Cathedral is intended to show that the Society is in 
London ; the picture (Barry's " Fall of Satan ") and the 
medallion represent the arts of Painting and Sculpture. 

The sixth picture represents " Elysium, or the State of 
Final Retribution." In it are " brought together those 
great and good men of all ages and nations, who have 
acted as the cultivators of mankind." 

According to the account in the Transactions, the first 
group on the left consists of Roger Bacon, Archimedes, 
Descartes, and Thales ; behind them stand Sir Francis 
Bacon, Copernicus, Galileo, and Sir Isaac Newton ; near 


these is Columbus with a chart of his voyage ; and close 
to him, Epaminondas with his shield, Socrates, Cato the 
younger, the elder Brutus, and Sir Thomas More. Behind 
Brutus is William Molyneux, holding " his book of the 
Case of Ireland " ; near Columbus are Lord Shaftesbury, 
John Locke, Zeno, Aristotle, and Plato ; and in the open- 
ing between this group and the next are Dr. William 
Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, and 
Robert Boyle. King Alfred is leaning on the shoulder of 
William Penn, who is showing his code of laws to Lycurgus ; 
standing round them are Minos, Trajan, Antoninus, Peter 
the Great of Russia, Edward the Black Prince, Henry the 
Fourth of France, and Andrea Doria of Genoa. Then 
come patrons of genius, Lorenzo de Medici, Louis the 
Fourteenth, Alexander the Great, Charles the First, 
Colbert, Leo the Tenth, Francis the First, the Earl of 
Arundel, and " the illustrious Monk Cassiodorus " ; behind 
the archangel are Pascal and Bishop Butler, behind 
whom again is Bossuet, his hand resting on the shoulder 
of Origen. Behind Francis the First and Lord Arundel 
are Hugo Grotius, Father Paul, and Pope Adrian. 

" Near the centre, towards the top of the picture, 
sits Homer, on his right hand Milton, next him Shakespeare, 
Spenser, Chaucer, and Sappho ; behind her sits Alcaeus, 
who is talking with Ossian ; near him are Menander, 
Moliere, Congreve, Brahma, Confucius, Mango Capac, etc. 
Next Homer, on the other side, is the Arch Bishop of 
Cambray, with Virgil leaning on his shoulder ; and near 
them Tasso, Ariosto, and Dante. Behind Dante, Petrarch, 
Laura, Giovanni, and Boccaccio. In the second range of 
figures, over Edward the Black Prince and Peter the Great, 
are Swift, Erasmus, and Cervantes ; near them Pope, 
Dryden, Addison, and Richardson. Behind Dryden and 
Pope are Sterne, Gray, Goldsmith, Thompson, and Field- 
ing ; and near Richardson, Inigo Jones, Sir Christopher 
Wren, and Vandyck. Next Vandyck is Rubens, with his 
hand on the shoulder of Le Sueur ; behind him is Le 
Brun ; next are Giulio Romano, Domenichino, and Anni- 
bale Carracci, who are in conversation with Phidias, 


behind whom is Giles Hussey. Nicolas Poussin and the 
Sicyonian maid are near them, with Callimachus and 
Pamphilus ; near Apelles is Correggio ; behind Raphael 
stand Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci ; and behind 
them Ghiberti, Donatello, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Albert 
Durer, Giotto, Cimabue, and Hogarth. In the other corner 
of the picture the artist has represented Tartarus, where, 
among cataracts of fire and clouds of smoke, two large 
hands are seen ; one of them holding a fire-fork, the other 
pulling down a number of figures bound together by 
serpents, representing War, Gluttony, Extravagance, 
Detraction, Parsimony, and Ambition ; and floating down 
the fiery gulph are Tyranny, Hypocrisy, and Cruelty, 
with their proper attributes." x 

It is stated in the Transactions, vol. xxiii. p. 18, that 
on the death of Lord Nelson in 1 805 " the Society proposed 
to commemorate that hero by introducing his portrait 
in one of the pictures which decorate the Great Room," 
and Barry undertook to execute the work, but his death 
prevented the design from being carried into execution. 

The six pictures did not occupy the whole wall of the 
room, the spaces over the chimney-pieces at either end 
being filled by the portraits of Lords Folkestone and 
Romney, before referred to. It does not appear that 
Barry's original design included pictures for these spaces, 
but we find him, in 1801, expressing a wish that these two 
portraits should be placed in some other room of the 
Society, and that he should be allowed to execute pictures 
which might fill the vacant places. This he was willing 
to do without charge, and without interruption to the 
business of the Society. The cost of them would not, he 
said, exceed 10 for canvas and stretchers. It may be 
supposed, and indeed it appears from the style of the 
letter, that he was at that time perfectly well satisfied 
with the treatment he had received from the Society, for 

1 Transactions, vol. iii. p. 128. I have ventured to rectify the 
spelling of some of the names. Brahma appears in the Transactions 
as Bruma, which I take to be a misprint for Brama, the name given in 
pne edition of Barry's boolv 


he expresses himself as being " both gratified and flattered 
with the publick reputation of the pictures." Permission 
was given to Barry to carry out his scheme, and it may 
be presumed that it was upon the receipt of such permis- 
sion that he prepared the two designs which are still pre- 
served amongst his etchings, representing George in. and 
Queen Charlotte. But, although the proposal was at first 
readily accepted, it seems to have given rise to some 
difference of opinion, for the then president, the Duke of 
Norfolk, notified his intention of moving to rescind the 
resolution of the Society for the removal of the portraits. 
Under these circumstances Barry at once withdrew his 
offer, at the same time disclaiming any intention to show 
disrespect to the memory of the first two presidents of the 
Society. He urges very fairly that another position might 
be found for the pictures, which would be in no way 
injured, and that his design could then be harmoniously 
completed. Coming from a man of his temper, it must be 
allowed that his second letter is most dignified, and in 
excellent taste. The portraits consequently remained in 
their places until 1864, when they were removed to make 
way for the portraits of the Prince Consort and Queen 
Victoria, by J. C. Horsley, R.A., and C. W. Cope, R.A. 
These, with the bust of Prince Albert now standing in the 
ante-room, form the memorial which was provided in 
1863 by subscriptions from members of the Society in 
memory of their President. 1 

It is needless to say that Barry's celebrated pictures have 
always been an object of great care to the Society. Look- 
ing through the Minutes since the commencement of the 
last century, we find constant references to the attention 
bestowed upon them. In one place, instructions are given 
to the housekeeper that they should be carefully wiped 
down every year ; in another we find West, and later on 
Mulready, reporting on their condition. The frames were 
regilt several times, and so on. The pictures have been 
cleaned at various times ; about 1834 it is said that a 
thick coat of olive oil, which had been applied to them 
under some mistaken notion of preserving them, was 
1 Chapter XVI, p. 400, and Appendix III, 


removed. In 1846, when the room was redecorated by 
Hay, of Edinburgh, the way in which the pictures had 
been treated called forth a good deal of adverse criticism, 
and it was then that Mulready was called in to report upon 
them. His report was that they were in excellent condi- 
tion,* and that nothing appeared to have been done to them 
which had inflicted the slightest injury. This opinion was 
confirmed by the opinion of Seguier, the picture restorer. 
" The Orpheus " had, either then or at some previous time, 
been badly varnished, and stains from this treatment are 
still perceptible. In 1861 (Sir) John Robinson l was asked 
to report upon them, and this he did at some length. 2 
In accordance with his advice they were relined and 
stretched upon new frames by Merritt, a well-known 
picture cleaner, at a cost of 220. This work was com- 
pleted in 1863. In 1880 they had got to be extremely 
dirty, and they again underwent a thorough cleaning. 
Since that date they have been cleaned every year. 

Besides the pictures in the Great Room, the Society 
possesses the plates of a number of etchings by Barry, 
most of which were presented to the Society in 1851 by 
Miss Barnett. Some of these may have been done while 
he was at work upon the pictures, but most of them prob- 
ably during his later years. Six of them represent the 
six pictures. They were etched after the completion of 
the pictures, and were copied from the originals by the 
artist himself, yet, curiously enough, they differ in many 
of the details from the paintings. It is true that some 
slight alterations were made by Barry in the pictures 
after they were first painted, but this does not seem 
sufficient to account for all the variations. The other 
etchings are nearly all from pictures of the artist, most of 
which are no longer extant. The Society also possesses 
Barry's " Adam and Eve," one of his more important 
works, which, as above mentioned, was sold after Barry's 
death at Christie's. It was presented to them by Mr. 

1 Sir J. C. Robinson was superintendent of the Art Collections of 
South Kensington Museum, and surveyor of Pictures to Queen Victoria. 
He died in April of the present year (1913). 

2 Council Minutes, 27 th November 1861. 




R. H. Solly. This picture has been for some years on loan 
at the Victoria and Albert Museum. There is also a 
portrait of Barry, painted by himself, which is hung up in 
the ante-room, and an oil painting which is said, it is not 
known on what authority, to be a portrait by him of his 
mother. The former was presented to the Society by Mr. 
W. Moffat. There seems to be no record in the Society's 
Minutes of the way in which the latter picture came into 
the Society's possession, and there is some doubt as to its 

Design by Barry for a Medal. 




The Colonies in 1754 The NORTH AMERICAN COLONIES Silk in 
Georgia Ben j amin Franklin Wine Potash Saltpetre Iron 
Hemp Sturgeon Isinglass Myrtle Wax Pipe-Staves Saw- 
mills The WEST INDIES Introduction of Economic Plants from 
the East Cochineal Bread-Fruit Mango Cinnamon Indigo 
Cotton Logwood Botanic Gardens in St. Vincent and Jamaica 
Results of Society's Work in the West Indies INDIA and the 
EAST The East India Company Tin, Cotton, Cinnamon, etc. 
Roxburgh and the Calcutta Botanic Gardens Caoutchouc Ramie 
Gutta Percha Tea Dr. Wallich and his Collection of Woods 
Similar Collection by Captain Baker CEYLON Machine for 
Decorticating Rice CANADA Hemp Mackenzie and his Ex- 
plorations Survey of Canada AUSTRALIA Wool Wine 
Tanning Materials Other Australian Products NEW ZEALAND 
Phormiumtenax MINORCA Silk MAURITIUS Silk CAPE Wine. 

IT is proposed in this chapter to deal with the efforts 
which, during the first century of its existence from 
its foundation in 1754 to the grant of its Royal Charter 
in 1847 the Society made to encourage and develop 
the resources of the British colonies. 

During that long period our colonial empire underwent 
many and great changes, both of restriction and of expan- 
sion. At its commencement " His Majesty's Colonies 
and Plantations abroad " meant, with some insignificant 
exceptions, only the North American colonies l and the 
West Indies. Before its close the American colonies had 

1 The original from which the map facing page 84 is reproduced is 
contained in Jefferys' American Atlas, London, 1776. It is in the 
possession of the Royal Geographical Society. In the original the 
Mississippi is marked as indicating the western limit of the British 



developed into the United States, Canada had become 
British, Australia had been partly explored and settled, 
the Cape and Ceylon had been taken from the Dutch, 
and many other additions, in many parts of the world, 
had been made to the British possessions. India also 
for the earlier associations of the Society with India must 
be included in our review had during this period definitely 
become a part of the Empire, which it assuredly was not 
in 1754. 

It was in America, and before the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, that during the first twenty years of its exist- 
ence the most important part of the Society's colonial work 
was done. The only reference to the West African settle- 
ments that has been noticed in the Society's Minutes or 
Transactions about this time relates to the offer of a 
gold medal for the importation of cotton from Africa, 
and though the Society was ready to extend its efforts 
to the East Indies, and occasionally did so, its proposals 
do not appear to have been welcomed by the East India 
Company, which had distinctly monopolistic views as 
regarded its possessions. For example, in 1758 it was 
proposed that a prize should be offered for the production 
of cinnamon in " our own Territories in the Island of 
Sumatra," but the court of directors of the Company 
were " under apprehensions that if so valuable an article 
should be produced in the island, the Dutch will use their 
best endeavours to get possession of it." So the proposal 
was dropped, as was also a similar one for the encourage- 
ment of the production of cochineal. 

At one of the first meetings of the Society after it had 
moved into its rooms in Craig's Court, in April 1755, Lord 
Romney informed the members that 300 Ibs. weight of 
raw silk had lately been brought to England from Georgia, 
and that the silk was of very excellent quality, equal to 
the best Piedmont. He therefore suggested that the 
Society, by way of encouraging the production of silk in 
the colony, should offer a prize for planting mulberry 
trees, and it was thereupon resolved that a premium " of 
10 sterling money " should be offered to the person 
" who shall plant, and properly fence, the greatest number 


To face page 84. 


of white mulberry trees on his own plantation in the 
province of Georgia before the first day of March 1756." 
Prizes of 5 and 3 were added for the second and third 
largest number. An announcement of this prize appears 
in the earliest list of premiums, dated April 1756, the date 
being extended to March 1757. 

In 1758 the nature of the offer was modified, and a 
payment of threepence a pound was offered for cocoons 
raised in Georgia, and two shillings and sixpence a pound 
for merchantable raw silk produced in Connecticut, 
Pennsylvania or North Carolina, with another shilling 
per pound for silk imported into England. Franklin was 
interested in the development of the silk industry, and 
acted as one of the Society's referees for distributing the 
awards. Certain of the colonial governors also helped 
by their influence and interest. The British Government 
gave encouragement and a bounty, and a public filature 
was established in Georgia. The offer of premiums was 
continued up to 1763, by which time a sum of over i 100 
had been expended. Although at one time the promoters 
of the scheme seem to have been sanguine about success, 
the industry was never established. The absence of 
cheap and abundant labour may have been one reason 
for this, but the outbreak of the War of Independence 
put an end to this attempt to nurse into existence what 
was really not a very suitable industry. 1 

Much the same fate attended the efforts made to start 
wine-making in some of the colonies, though it, too, 
promised well for a time, and vineyards stocked from 
European sources were actually established in -Virginia 
and elsewhere. The first offer of a prize for wine appears 
in the 1758 list, in which the amount of 100 is promised 
for five tuns of good wine made at a plantation in any 
colony, provided that one tun was imported to London. 
In 1763, Mr. Charles Carter sent a dozen bottles of two 

1 James i. had long before endeavoured to introduce the silkworm 
into his American Colonies, and had urged the colonists to devote 
their attention to the mulberry tree instead of to " that pernicious 
and offensive weed," tobacco. Much information about his Majesty's 
proposals will be found in Porter's Treatise on the Silk Manufacture 
, p. 32. 


kinds of wine from grapes which grew in vineyards of his 
own planting in Virginia. One of these samples was the 
product of vines brought from Europe, and the other of 
American wild vines. The gold medal was awarded to 
Mr. Carter " as the first who had made a spirited attempt 
towards the accomplishment of their views respecting 
wine in America." l Amongst other awards for wine 
produced in the North American colonies, 200 was 
given to Mr. Edward Antill in 1768, for vines planted 
for making wine near Brunswick, North America ; the 
Earl of Stirling 2 received a gold medal in 1769, for 
planting 2100 sets for wine ; and Mr. Christopher Sherb 
got 50 in 1771, for planting and cultivating vines in 
South Carolina, and producing wine from them. 

Much greater success attended the Society's efforts to 
encourage the production of potash and pearlash (a rather 
less impure form of potassium carbonate than the crude 
form of the salt then sold as potash). By the prizes 
offered, and still more by the information supplied as to 
the best means of manufacture, an important industry 
was set up, and one very suitable for a country abounding 
in forests. This prize was offered in 1758, the amount 
being 100 for fifty tons of potash. 

There was a large and growing industrial demand for 
alkali, especially for use in glass-making, soap-making, 
and dyeing. Until the great discovery by which carbonate 
of soda was manufactured from common salt, the founda- 
tion of modern chemical industry (it is interesting to note 
that the Society's premium list for 1783 includes an offer 
of a gold medal for the production of " Fixt Alkaline 
Salts' 1 from common salt), this demand could only be 
supplied by alkali procured from the ashes of plants, 
and to a smaller extent by imported natural saltpetre. 
When such ashes are treated with water the salts of potash 
are dissolved, and on the evaporation of the solution they 
are recovered . Certain plants give much larger proportions 

1 Dossie, Memoirs of Agriculture, vol. i. p. 242. 

2 This was William Alexander, " Commander-in-Chief of the 
American forces," who claimed and bore the title after the death of the 
5th Earl in 1739. He was a member of the Society, and died in 1795. 


of alkaline salts than others. Plants of the genus Salicornia, 
or glasswort (the Eastern name of which, " kali/' was the 
origin of the term " alkali "),give the best material, and it 
was known as barilla. In England large amounts of alkali 
were obtained by burning kelp, and this was an important 
industry on the Scotch and Irish coasts. All plants, how- 
ever, contain more or less potash, and therefore the raw 
material for the manufacture was abundant in America. 
There were some difficulties at first in the production and 
purification of the salts, but these were eventually over- 
come by the full and detailed instructions sent out by the 
Society at the request of the colonial authorities. 

It is interesting to note that in 1766, Robert Dossie, 
the able and accomplished editor of what was practically 
the first series of the Society's Transactions, was presented 
with a gold medal for " effectually aiding to establish the 
manufacture of potash in North America.'' 

The result of the attempt to encourage the production 
of saltpetre in America was less satisfactory. It seems 
that the prize was really offered (in 1 764) in the hope that 
it might lead to the discovery of natural sources of supply 
of nitrate of potash or soda, though Dossie tells us that 
the Society was also encouraged by reports of some new 
method of manufacturing the salt having been discovered 
in America. The old system of obtaining nitre from 
" nitre-heaps," mixtures of animal excreta with wood- 
ashes and lime, was obviously not well suited for a sparsely 
populated country like America, and it was not to be 
expected that there would be any artificial nitre produced 
in excess of the requirements for home consumption. 

But the hope of discovering natural sources of supply of 
natron, 1 the neutral carbonate of soda (Na 2 O.CO 2 .io Aq.), 

1 The word natron, never common, is now practically obsolete, 
though Murray's Dictionary gives an authority as late as 1876. It is, 
perhaps, derived from the Arabic natrun, the Greek equivalent being 
virpov, the Latin nitrum. Our words nitre is now only used as the 
equivalent of saltpetre (potassium carbonate), but it was originally 
employed as identical with natron. Skeat suggests that the sense of 
the word has been changed, but it is probable that it is merely a case of a 
word, originally used in a general sense, having its application reduced, 
as chemical technology became more accurate, to a specific substance. 


was perfectly reasonable. The salt existed in various 
forms, sometimes as an efflorescence on ground or rocks, 
sometimes in mineral springs or lakes, and sometimes as 
solid deposits in " pits," in many countries. The " soda 
lakes " in the Libyan desert and in Upper Egypt were 
known from remote antiquity. Herodotus (ii. 86) describes 
the use of the nitron obtained from them in embalming. 
The natron pits of Khaipur in Sind have long been a 
source of revenue to their owners, and there were numerous 
other places in the Old World whence the material was 
brought to England before the secret of making " artificial 
saltpetre " was purchased from the German Honrick by 
Queen Elizabeth. There was, therefore, every reason to 
believe that similar deposits might be found in the New 
World. Indeed, in our own days, the anticipations of the 
Society have been justified by the discovery of the vast 
nitrate fields of Chile, from which nearly all the world's 
supplies of nitrate of soda are now derived. 

However, the hopes were not realised at the time, and 
as no response was made to the offer, it was withdrawn 
after a few years, though at a later date it was renewed, and 
in 1786 a silver medal was actually awarded to H. Scott, a 
surgeon in the East India Company's service in Bombay, 
for a sample of "native Indian fossil alkali." This was "a 
brown earth brought from Sindy." It was stated that large 
amounts of the earth were available, and on analysis it 
proved very rich in alkali. Very probably this was the first 
introduction to England of soda carbonate from the natron 
pits of Sind above mentioned, though it may indeed have 
been imported without its source of origin being known. 

The only connection between the Society and the 
manufacture of iron in America seems to have been that 
a prize was offered for making iron from " black sand " 
(magnetic oxide of iron). The offer was a reasonable one, 
but the solution of the problem was far beyond the metal- 
lurgical knowledge of the time, and indeed, until lately, 
it has never been possible to treat this ore successfully. 
Still a certain amount of success was attained, for a gold 
medal was given in 1763 to Jared Eliott for malleable iron 


from American black sand. According to Scrivenor, 1 
iron was first made in America in 1715, and the amount 
made steadily increased, until about 1776 some 4000 
tons were exported. Ten years later the amount pro- 
duced in England and Wales was only 13,000 tons, the 
production having fallen off in consequence of the 
diminished supply of wood, the only fuel by the aid of 
which iron could at that time be produced. 

With its enormous forests, America might well have 
supplied the English market for iron, and from time to 
time provisions were grudgingly introduced into Acts of 
Parliament with the view of encouraging the industry, 
but when any encouragement was given it was either so 
set round with limitations as to be useless, or was soon 
taken away at the appeal of the English iron-makers, in 
spite of the demands urged by those who wanted iron but 
were not makers. An account of the legislation from 1719 
to 1769 is given by Scrivenor, and it is as little creditable 
to the British Government as were most of the dealings 
of this country with its American colonies. 

The Colonial Manufactures Prohibition Act, 1750, 
so far encouraged the production of raw iron that it 
removed the duties on bar or pig iron, but it not only 
forbade the working up of such iron, but prohibited the 
establishment in America of furnaces, tilt-hammers, or 
slitting-mills for the purpose. England at this time was 
always ready to help the colonies, provided only they did 
not compete with her own manufacturers. Raw materials 
to any extent they were encouraged to provide, but 
manufactured articles of any sort they were not permitted 
to export, or even, in most cases, to produce. 

A considerable amount of hemp has always been 
grown in England, but large quantities were imported 
from abroad, especially from the Baltic ports. It was 
thought that the North American colonies might become 
sources of supply, and a prize was therefore offered for 
American imported hemp. Soon, however, it was realised 
that, as there was a great local demand for hemp for rope- 

1 History of the Iron Trade (1854), p. 69* 


making, and the price was consequently higher in America 
than in England, it was not likely that the fibre would be 
sent over here, and the conditions of the offer were changed, 
so that it might serve to encourage the actual production 
of the fibre without calling for its export. The scarcity of 
labour, however, again proved an obstacle, and though 
some hemp was grown, there were difficulties in obtaining 
labour to treat the stalks for the production of the fibre. 

As regards one important application of hemp at the 
time, the manufacture of sail-cloth, it soon found a rival 
in the native American fibre, cotton, which was exten- 
sively applied to sail-making in America, before its use was 
ever adopted for the purpose on this side of the Atlantic. 
Later on, as will be seen, when Canada became a British 
possession, the cultivation of hemp in that country was 
successfully established by the Society's efforts. 

The Society expended a good deal of money in the 
attempt to organise a supply of pickled sturgeon from the 
North American colonies. It appears that there was a 
considerable import of this fish from Russia, and that which 
was brought over from the colonies was nearly as good. 
The attempt seems to have been moderately successful, 
but the demand was not very large, and no doubt the trade 
was a small one. The premium was first offered in 1760, 
and was continued for some time, various sums of 50 
and less having been paid for importations on a commercial 
scale of the preserved fish. 

The offer, made in 1768, of a reward for American 
isinglass, might seem more likely to have had good results, 
but it was dropped on an appeal from the owner of a 
patent l for making isinglass in England, who hoped to 
obtain abundant material for the manufacture from the 
Newfoundland cod fisheries. Dossie 2 tells us that these 
hopes were not realised, though the Society was led to 
abandon its offer. 

The sturgeon of the American Great Lakes and rivers 
(Acipenser rubicundus) is a different species from the 

1 An examination of the lists of patent grants about this date has 
not afforded any clue to this patent. 2 Vol. i. p. 276. 


Russian sturgeon (A. stellatus), and is less abundant. 
Economically, however, it is equally valuable, and it is 
now the subject of a considerable industry. The flesh is 
pickled, while caviar and oil are also obtained from the fish. 
The offer, therefore, of the Society, though fruitless at the 
time, was reasonable enough, for it only anticipated by a 
century or so the establishment of an important industry. 

Another object on which a good deal of trouble and 
some money was spent, was an attempt to import myrtle 
wax, or, as it is now commonly called, myrtleberry wax, 
from North America. This is a well-known vegetable 
wax, the produce of Myrica cerifera and other species of 
Myrica, which are found in North and South America, 
Africa, and elsewhere. The plant is not a myrtle at all, 
but is allied to the willow tribe. 1 The British representa- 
tive of the genus is Myrica gale, gale, or Scotch or Dutch 
myrtle, also " bayberry tallow," common in moist heathy 
grounds. A kind of wax can be obtained from this plant 
when it is boiled. Some foreign species supply wax in 
greater abundance, the succulent fruit being covered 
with a waxy secretion. The product of the American 
species, known as bay myrtle, or candleberry bush, had 
long been used, in combination with beeswax, for the manu- 
facture of wax candles, and at the time when there was 
a great demand for materials for candle-making, it was 
thought that the importation of such a material would be 
valuable, if on a sufficiently large scale. Accordingly, a 
prize of 20 was offered in 1759 for the importation of the 
material in commercial quantities. Prizes were awarded 
in 1760, but after that they were dropped, as it was not 
considered that a sufficient amount of the wax was likely 
to be imported ; in fact, as Dossie said, the only applica- 

1 The myrica of Virgil (and Pliny) is not the same plant at all, 
but a tamarisk. When in his Eclogues (viii. 54) Virgil includes in his 
list of portents the production of amber by the tamarisk 

" Pinguia corticibus sudent electra myricae," 

he was perhaps influenced by the knowledge that the tamarisk really 
does produce a secretion, so-called manna, the result of the action of 
a coccus inhabiting the tree. Hence the botanical name of one species, 
Tamavix mannifera. 


tion of the material was the " sophistication of plasters 
in the manufacture of them by some wholesale dealers in 
medicinal preparations." 

In 1776 an application was made to the Society by 
certain coopers to give assistance in promoting the im- 
portation of pipe staves from America in place of those 
brought from Germany. 1 The committee which was 
appointed to consider this matter, found that at least 
100,000 was annually paid for staves imported from 
Germany, and that Quebec oak made into staves would 
answer all the purposes of the German ; but whether any 
practical result came of the suggestion does not appear. 

Such were the more important or interesting colonial 
products, the growth or importation of which the Society 
strove to promote. Amongst others of minor value may be 
mentioned olives, raisins, logwood, cochineal, scammony, 
opium, safflower, persimmon, aloes, and sarsaparilla. 

Besides encouraging the production of new com- 
modities in the colonies, the Society rendered valuable 
service on occasion by sending out machinery. As will be 
mentioned in a future chapter, 2 the Society succeeded in 
establishing a saw-mill in England, and the result of this 
was an inquiry from America, where there would be much 
greater scope for the use of such machinery. 

Accordingly the Society paid Stansfield, the original 
constructor (he cannot well be called the inventor, for the 
machinery had long been in use in Holland and Germany), 
60 for a model of his apparatus, and sent it out to America. 
It appears to have been useful, for " the good effects of it 
have been acknowledged in the strongest terms by the 
governor of one of the colonies and some other principal 
persons." 3 As Dossie remarks that from this model the 
colonists were able to make great improvements in their 
saw-mills, it is evident that such mills were in use in 
America before they had been established in England. 

1 Pipe stave, a "stave used for making pipes or casks." Murray, 
Engl. Did. 

* Chapter XI, p. 247. 3 Dossie, vol. i. p. 126. 


A gold medal was awarded in 1766 to Sam Brown, of 
Georgia, " For his useful observations in China, and 
industrious application of them in Georgia." No record 
has yet been found of these observations, so it is not known 
what they were. 1 

The Declaration of Independence in 1774, and the 
resulting separation of the United States from the Mother 
Country, of course put an end to the attempts of the 
Society to develop the resources of the North American 
colonies, and from that date till the end of the century 
the attention of the Society was practically confined to the 
West Indies. Here a considerable amount of useful work 
was done. Sometimes the offer of prizes produced immedi- 
ate practical results, sometimes the suggestions originated 
experiments and inquiry, so that ultimately useful in- 
dustries were started, and valuable imports obtained. 

Among the vegetable products, for the growth of which 
in the West Indies prizes were specially offered, may be 
mentioned mango, bread-fruit, olive, opium, cinnamon, 
nutmeg, sarsaparilla, aloe, safflower, indigo, cotton, 
anatta, vanilla, clove, pepper, mace, camphor, quinine, 
various tinctorial plants, and ornamental woods. For 
several of these rewards were claimed and awarded, but 
in other cases the offers produced no practical result. 

The main idea which directed the efforts of those who 
were trying to develop the West Indies was the introduc- 
tion of the known and tested products of the ancient civilisa- 
tion of the East into the new lands of the West. Those 
who in the eighteenth century were working with this 
object were only following the lead of the earliest colonisers 
of America. The Spaniards introduced the sugar-cane into 
San Domingo before the end of the fifteenth century, and 
it flourished as it had never done in the Eastern lands 
where it was indigenous. It is said to have been first 

1 According to a letter in the Museum Rusticum, vol. i. p. 442 
(1764), tea was introduced into South Carolina by a Dutchman who 
had lived in China. It is said that this man died before there was 
any practical result from his work, except that the tea tree was culti- 
vated as a garden plant. The letter is signed " Americanus." 


cultivated in Jamaica by Sir Thomas Modyford in 1660. , 1 
Coffee was introduced by the French into either Cayenne 
or Martinique about 1722, and it soon spread to the other 
islands. 2 By 1770 or thereabouts it was a staple product 
of Jamaica. The insurrection of the blacks in Haiti at 
the close of the eighteenth century drove a number of 
coffee- planters and their loyal slaves from Haiti to Jamaica 
and Cuba, and this gave an impulse to coffee- growing in 
both those islands. The Oriental bamboo is believed 
to have been artificially planted in Hispaniola, whence it 
spread to Jamaica and the other islands. Cotton was 
indigenous in the Western Hemisphere, though the species 
was different from the cotton of the East known to Hero- 
dotus, Theophrastus, and Pliny, the wild tree bearing 
fleeces from which the Indians made cloth. The cotton 
grown in the islands was no doubt brought from the 
mainland. The orange is believed to have been introduced 
by the Spaniards into the West Indies, and to have been 
transplanted thence to Florida. Long, in his History of 
Jamaica (i 774), speaks of it as growing wild in that island, 
but not being properly cultivated, as it was in South 
Carolina. The mango is said to have been first introduced 
from the East Indies into Brazil by the Portuguese, and 
to have been transplanted thence to the islands, but of this 
more hereafter. 

In continuation of these importations, the English 
colonists and their associates at home hoped to transplant 
to the tropical western islands the economic flora of India 
and the spice islands, especially the latter, while they were 
also not unmindful of the resources placed at their disposal 
by the recent discovery of the islands of the South Seas. 

1 Hortus Jamaicensis, vol. ii. p. 205, quoted in an article in the 
Jamaica Handbook for 1899 on " Public Gardens and Plantations/' 
which contains a great deal of information about the introduction of 
numerous economic plants into the West Indies. 

2 In a little History of Coffee, by W. Law, of Edinburgh, " coffee 
merchant to the Queen "(1850), it is stated that the coffee plant was 
introduced by the French into Cayenne from Surinam in 1722, and 
five years later into Martinique. According to another account it was 
sent to Martinique direct from France, a coffee tree having been pre- 
sented to Louis xiv. by the magistrates of Amsterdam. 



The first mention of the West Indies occurs in the 
Premium List for 1760, which contains a special offer of 
100 for cochineal from Jamaica, though in the previous 
lists various prizes were included which were open to the 
West Indian in common with the other colonies. 

The story of the introduction of the bread-fruit (Arto- 
carpus incisus], with its incidents of the mutiny of the 
Bounty in 1789, the abandonment of Captain Bligh, 
and the colonisation of Pitcairn Island by the mutineers, 
is well known. 

The first suggestion that the bread-fruit might be 
introduced into the West Indies is said 1 to have come from 
Valentine Morris, the Captain-General of St. Vincent, who 
wrote in 1772 on the subject to Sir Joseph Banks, and it 
was no doubt as the result of this letter that a prize was 
offered in 1777 by the Society. In 1786, Sir Joseph, urged 
by Mr. Hinton East, of Kingston, Jamaica, 2 who was then 
in London, brought the matter before George in., and the 
result was that the expedition of which Captain Bligh was 
the commander, was sent to the South Seas in the Bounty 
to collect bread-fruit trees and to transport them to the 
West Indies. The fullest instructions were drawn up by 
Banks, the ship reached Otaheite, and a number of plants 
were collected. All went well until the return voyage from 
Otaheite, when the mutiny took place, and Bligh was 
sent adrift in the ship's launch. A second expedition was 
more successful, and in 1793 a cargo of bread-fruit trees 
was safely conveyed to the West Indies by Captain Bligh 
in H.M.S. Providence. On his return, Captain Bligh sent 
in a full report to the Society, 3 from which it appeared that 
over 300 bread-fruit plants had been successfully landed in 
St. Vincent, and a like number in Jamaica, besides a large 
number of other plants from the Pacific Islands. Most 
of these are only described by their native names, but the 

1 E. Smith, Life of Sir Joseph Banks (191 1), p. 123. 

2 Hinton East was Receiver-General of the Colony and member of 
the Assembly for Kingston. His botanical garden is referred to 
later on. 

3 Transactions, vol. xii. p. 305. 


list includes mango, pomegranate, coco-nut, coffee, almond, 
and plaintain. The gold medal was, on this report, 
awarded to Captain Bligh. 

From reports made to the Society in 1795 by General 
Melville (St. Vincent) and by Dr. Dancer (Jamaica) in 
I796, 1 it appears that the trees grew and flourished in the 
islands, and a little later further information was received 
from St. Vincent. Dr. Alexander Anderson, the superin- 
tendent of the Botanic Gardens in that island, reported 
fully in 1798 on the condition of the trees there, and stated 
that they were well established and were producing an 
ample supply of the fruit. 2 Later reports in 1802 and 
1803 were equally satisfactory, and in 1807 he writes that 
though it is one of the most valuable productions sent to 
the West Indies, it is not appreciated at its proper value. 
He adds that it was said that the negroes did not like it, but 
that he did not believe this. Its want of popularity he 
attributes to the apathy of the planters. It may be added 
that in 1799 a gold medal was awarded to S. Mure for a 
plantation of bread-fruit trees in Jamaica, and two gold 
medals were given in 1802 and in 1803 to the Hon. Joseph 
Robley, the Governor of Tobago, for his plantation of 
bread-fruit trees in that island. 

In 1760 a gold medal was offered for the introduction of 
the mango into the West Indies, but after three years the 
offer was dropped. Twenty years after this, in 1784, 
Walter Maynard, of Nevis, wrote to the Society that in 
1770 he had brought some young mango plants from the 
Island of Bourbon to St. Vincent, that they had fruited 
there, " and are now propagated in almost all the West 
India islands." The statement was supported by evidence, 
and it was said that one of the plants had been given to 
Dr. Young, the superintendent of the Botanic Gardens at 
St. Vincent. 3 It appeared, however, that this was not the 

1 Transactions, vol. xii. p. xviii., and vol. xiv. p. xv. 

2 Ibid., vol. xvi. pp. xii. and 327. 

3 In his report on the Botanic Gardens, referred to on p. 99, 
Young mentions the " East India mangoe " as having been introduced 
into St. Vincent. This was in 1773. 


first introduction of the mango, for on inquiry being made 
of Mr. Joshua Steele, a member of the Society, and the 
President of the Barbados Society of Arts, that gentleman 
sent the Secretary an account of an ancient mango tree 
then existing in a plantation in Barbados, called " The 
Guinea." 1 This tree had, it was believed, been imported 
and planted by Edwin Lascelles in 1742 or 1743, but it 
bore no fruit till 1761. It is very likely that this was the 
tree mentioned by Dossie 2 as having been brought from 
the Brazils, where the mango was said to have been intro- 
duced from the East Indies by the Portuguese missionaries. 
From this tree others had been propagated, and were 
growing in different parts of the island. It is clear, there- 
fore, that the mango was well established in the West 
Indies in 1784. It has been said that Lord Rodney intro- 
duced the fruit in 1782, but this is not quite correct. One 
of Lord Rodney's captains (Captain Marshall, of the^Flora 
frigate) certainly captured a French ship carrying some 
economic plants from Bourbon to Hispaniola, and these 
plants were sent to Jamaica. According to Bryan 
Edwards, 3 some mangoes included in the cargo were 
planted in Hinton East's Botanic Garden. The mango is 
now one of the commonest trees in the island. It is also 
possible, and by no means unlikely, that the French may 
have introduced the mango into Martinique, with other 
plants they sent there, before it was established in any of 
the British islands. 

Among the plants whose destination was thus altered, 
were some young cinnamon trees, and this appears to have 
been the first introduction of the Eastern cinnamon to 
Jamaica, for which the Society had offered a prize as far 
back as 1760, though the Guadaloupe cinnamon is men- 
tioned by Dr. Young. Dr. Dancer, the superintendent of 
the Jamaica Botanic Gardens, writing in 1789 to the 
Society, gives an account of the condition of the cinnamon 
trees then growing in the island, and describes them as 
flourishing, but not very numerous. 4 

1 Transactions, vol. iv. p. 219. 2 Vol. i. p. 286. 

3 History of the British West Indies, 4th ed. (1807) vol. i. p. 257. 

* Transactions, vol. viii. pp. viii. and 207. See also vol. iv. p. 229. 


Indigo was at one time largely cultivated in Jamaica, 
but heavy import duties imposed by Parliament l de- 
stroyed the industry, the revival of which seems to have 
been stimulated by the Society, not only in Jamaica, but in 
the other islands ; for in 1778 a gold medal was awarded 
to John Robley for growing and manufacturing indigo in 
Tobago. The account given in the Transactions 2 states 
that in one year as much as 10,000 Ibs. of good indigo was 
raised on a plantation formerly devoted to sugar-planting. 
The indigo was presumably the indigenous Mexican and 
Guatemalan variety, /. disperma, not the East Indian 
sort, I. tinctoria. Four years previously, in 1774, a gold 
medal had been awarded for the production of indigo in 
East Florida. 

A gold medal was offered in 1768, and the offer was 
continued till 1777, for the best specimen of cotton equal 
to " the best Brazilian," produced in any of the American 
colonies, but it appears not to have attracted any claimants 
till 1778, when it was awarded to Andrew Bennet, of 
Tobago, for cotton grown in that island. 

A prize offered for logwood from British colonies was 
abandoned, because it was found that the wood produced 
in Jamaica was inferior to native Honduras and Cam- 
peachy logwood, and besides that the cultivation of log- 
wood in the sugar islands was unnecessary and undesir- 
able, since its luxuriant growth sometimes interfered with 
the cultivation of the sugar-cane. Perhaps this conclusion 
was reached on insufficient evidence. Certainly logwood 
was for long a valuable product of Jamaica. 

A great deal of valuable work was done in the West 
Indies by the establishment of Botanic Gardens, and they 
were aided in various ways by the Society. In one of 
the earliest Premium Lists, that for 1760, it is suggested 
that land should be allotted in the colonies for " gardens 
or nurseries for the making experiments in raising such 
rare and useful plants as are not the spontaneous growth 
of the kingdom or of the said colonies," and it is added 
1 Long, History of Jamaica (1774), vol. iii. p. 680. 2 Vol. ii. p. 233. 


that if the colonial legislatures, or " other incorporate 
bodies," would help to establish such gardens, the Society 
would provide " proper premiums " for plants raised 
in them. This undertaking was liberally and fully carried 
out. The suggestion soon bore fruit. The first of these 
gardens was started in St. Vincent in 1765 by General 
Melville, the Governor-General of the " Southern Caribbee " 
or Windward Islands, a member of the Society whose 
attention was attracted by the notice. 1 

Dr. George Young, an army surgeon in the island, 
took charge of the gardens. He was acting as super- 
intendent of them in 1774, and in that year sent the 
Society a full report 2 on the gardens, for which he received 
a gold medal. For a time the island was in possession of 
the French, but the garden was kept up. In 1784, St. 
Vincent was restored to Great Britain, and Dr. Alex- 
ander Anderson took charge of the garden. In 1798 he 
received a silver medal from the Society for an account 
of the plants cultivated in it, and in 1 802 he was awarded 
a gold medal for the " culture of cloves and cinnamon." 
He was a corresponding member of the Society, and a 
constant contributor to the Transactions. He died in 
i8u. 3 

The first Botanic Garden in Jamaica was, according to 
a letter written by Dr. Hope (the Professor of Botany at 
Edinburgh) to Sir Joseph Banks, 4 founded in 1775. This 
may have been the garden of Hinton East at Liguanea 5 
(Gordon's Town) which was purchased in 1792-3 by the 
Government. James Wiles, who had sailed with Captain 
Bligh, was made superintendent about twenty years later. 
In 1 8 10 the garden was sold, and the site is now private 

1 Dossie, vol. iii. p. 460. 2 Dossie, vol. iii. p. 196. 

3 In 1825 the Rev. Lansdown Guilding published at Glasgow an 
account of the St. Vincent Garden from its establishment to 1825. The 
book contains a good deal of information about Anderson and his 
work. A copy is in the Society's library. 

4 E. Smith, Life of Sir Joseph Banks (191 1), p. 122. 

6 Bryan Edwards' History, before quoted, gives as an appendix a 
catalogue, " Hortus Eastensis," of the plants in the garden at the time 
of East's death. 


In 1777, Dr. Thomas Clarke, " Practitioner in Physic 
and Surgery/' went to the island at the request of Sir 
Basil Keith, and became superintendent of a second 
garden established at Bath. Both the gardens were of 
the greatest service to the island. Clarke introduced the 
camphor tree, and the sago palm. 

Later, Dr. Dancer had charge of this garden. He 
received the Society's silver medal in 1790 for his account 
of the cinnamon tree in Jamaica above referred to. He 
was a valued corresponding member, and, like Anderson, 
a frequent contributor to the Transactions. 

In the year 1793 the Society offered ioo guineas for the 
establishment of a Botanic Garden in the Bahamas. This 
offer was repeated annually up to 1802, but no response 
having been made, it was then withdrawn. 

The Society does not seem to have had any association 
with the Botanic Garden in Trinidad, but in 1831, David 
Lockhart, " Botanical Gardener to the Government of 
Trinidad," received a gold medal for the successful culture 
of nutmegs and mace in that island. 

In the case of the West Indies, as with the North 
American colonies, useful service was rendered by the 
transmission of seeds, samples, etc., the provision of 
machinery and models, and the supply of information. 

A good deal of correspondence has been preserved in 
the old guard-books of the Societ}^ showing the anxiety 
of the colonial officials and others to obtain information, 
and the readiness of the Society to collect and supply it. 
It appears quite certain that the aid thus rendered was 
fully appreciated. That the Society was so successful in 
this branch of its work was due to the fact that it was 
in constant communication with the officials on the spot, 
and with those colonial residents who took an interest 
in the economic progress of the islands, and could supply 
information as to local requirements. On the other hand, 
it had the command of the best advice from scientific 
men at home who could provide the requisite botanical 
and chemical knowledge (so far as such knowledge existed 
at the time), and from manufacturers and traders who 
knew what products would best find a market in Europe. 


The staple products of the islands were not considered 
to need encouragement or help, and so we read little in 
the Society's colonial records about sugar or tobacco. 
The object was to discover new sources of revenue, to 
introduce fresh industries and new economic plants, and 
there is no great reason for surprise if we find that many 
of the suggestions bore little or no fruit. On the whole, 
the efforts of the Society to aid colonial progress during 
the first fifty years or so of its existence were well applied, 
and had very considerable practical results. 1 

In the early years of the new century the interest 
which had been taken in the West Indies, so far as relates 
to the introduction of new economic plants, grew less. 
This may have been partly due to the death of those men 
in the islands who had devoted themselves to the work ; 
for when Young, Dancer, and Anderson had all passed 
away, the Society lost its most important correspondents, 
and there were none to take their place. But beyond 
much doubt the real cause was the dislike of the planters 
to anything which interfered with the cultivation of the 
sugar-cane. Sugar was firmly established as the staple 
industry of the islands ; it was successful and profitable, 
and the planters not only did not desire, but were inclined 
to oppose, the introduction of any other crop which 
might interfere with its cultivation. In one of the letters 
which Anderson wrote to the Society in 1807, he refers 
to this feeling. The result was that the efforts of those on 
this side who had tried to encourage the introduction of 
new economic plants were relaxed, and though the special 
offers of prizes for the growth of West Indian products 
remained in the Society's lists, the awards became fewer, 
though some were occasionally claimed. For instance, 
in 1824 a sum of fifty guineas was presented to Francis 
Le Cadre for his plantation of clove trees in Trinidad. 

1 From the account published in 1783 of the amounts awarded in 
premiums up to that date, it appears that 2785, 133. 8d. had been 
expended, and fourteen gold medals awarded by the Society as rewards 
in the colonies. Of this amount, 17$ was spent for importing earth nuts, 
myrtle wax, sturgeon, and zebra wood ; ^50 for making indigo, iron, and 
saltpetre ; 1666 for planting vines and mulberry trees, and producing 
silk and cotton ; and ^895 for the manufacture of potash and pearlash 


As before stated, the Society in its early years had 
but little connection with India and the East, though on 
occasion it was consulted by the East India Company, and 
information w r as supplied to it by the Company. A few, 
but not many, prizes were offered for the productions of 
the British possessions in the East Indies, and only a small 
proportion of these were claimed. The award of a gold 
medal in 1792 to George Unwin " for reviving the trade of 
tin from this country to India and China," was intended 
as an encouragement to British rather than to colonial or 
Indian industry, but it is curious, because it was after the 
importation of Eastern tin to Europe had begun. It was 
about 1787 that the first samples of tin from Banca, in 
Sumatra, were brought over, and a source of supply of the 
metal made known which soon interfered with the mono- 
poly possessed by the Cornish mines. Before many more 
years the course of trade was in the other direction, and 
large amounts of tin were being brought from Banca to 

From 1800 to 1821 a prize was open for the importation 
of" Bhaugulpore cotton " " from which clothes are made 
in imitation of nankeen, without dyeing " but without 
any effect. This offer was at first confined to the " British 
Settlements in the East Indies," but it was afterwards 
extended to the other colonies. In 1 792 a silver medal was 
presented to Mrs. Anstey, of Madras, for the introduction 
of cinnamon in 1781. In 1801, Andrew Stephens, of 
Calcutta, had a silver medal for " Lake from stick lack." 
The award of a prize for Sind natron in 1786 has been 
mentioned previously on page 88. About the end of 
the century, however, a greater interest seems to have been 
aroused in Indian matters on the part of the Society, and 
perhaps the Company were more ready to avail themselves 
of such advantages in the way of technical advice and 
publicity as the Society was able to supply. 

It is probable, too, that the new interest in East Indian 
matters was to a large extent due to Dr. William Rox- 
burgh, the great Indian botanist, who was superintendent 
of the Calcutta Botanic Gardens from 1 793 to 1813. Rox- 
burgh became a corresponding member of the Society 


in 1797, and from that date until the time of his death in 
1815 he was constantly forwarding communications, 
most of them of considerable interest and value, to the 
Society. In 1798 he sent the first specimen of Malayan 
rubber to the Society, having discovered the source of 
the rubber in the tree which he described and named 
Ficus elastica. Caoutchouc had been known since the 
middle of the eighteenth century, but only as a curiosity, 
and as useful for rubbing out pencil marks. Priestley, in 
his book on Perspective (1770), refers to this use, and 
mentions that the price of a block half a cubic inch in size 
was three shillings. The sources of rubber in Para, and 
the method of collecting it, were well known ; samples 
frequently reached Europe, and the gum was described 
to the Paris Academy of Sciences by La Condamine, who 
had been sent out by the Academy in 1736 to make 
certain observations near Quito, with a view to the deter- 
mination of the figure of the earth. Its properties were 
afterwards investigated by Fresnau, who submitted 
a memoir on the subject to the French Academy in 1751. 
It may be added that at a later period rewards were offered 
by the Society for caoutchouc from Africa, the West Indies, 
and elsewhere, but without any result. 

Roxburgh was also the first to introduce to Europe 
the important fibre ramie (now classified as Boehmeria 
Nivea, var. tenacissima, but named by him Urtica tena- 
cissima). He reports d that he had plants growing in 1804 
in the Botanic Gardens, Calcutta, from Malay seed. Nine 
years later, in 1815, a silver medal was awarded to Captain 
Cotton for growing ramie (which is termed " calooee 
hemp ") in Bengal, apparently from plants or seed obtained 
from Sumatra by Dr. Roxburgh. Captain Cotton's 
communication to the Society is probably the first account 
of the plant and its treatment. 2 From that date up to the 
present the development of ramie has formed a constant 
topic of discussion at the Society of Arts. In 1860, Dr. 
Forbes Watson prophesied that the fibre from this and 
other plants of the nettle species would occupy a place 
second only to that of Flax. Dr. Watson's prophecy has 

1 Transactions, vol. xxiv. p. 148. 2 Ibid. vol. xxxiii. p. 182. 


perhaps not yet been quite realised, but it is certainly on 
the way to realisation, as the various difficulties of manu- 
facture are being overcome. 

Various other communications were made by Dr. 
Roxburgh to the Society, but none of them have quite the 
same present interest as the two above referred to. He 
received a gold medal in 1805, and another in 1814 for his 
communications on East Indian products, and on many 
other occasions he was formally thanked by the Society 
for the valuable information he supplied to its Transactions. 
A portrait of Dr. Roxburgh forms the frontispiece to Vol. 
xxxiii. of the Transactions, and the same volume contains 
a memoir of him. 

In the year 1843, Dr. William Montgomerie, of Singa- 
pore, sent to the Society some samples of gutta-percha, 
and in the same year Dr. Jose D' Almeida presented some 
specimens to the Royal Asiatic Society. Nothing was 
done with D' Almeida's specimens, but those of Mont- 
gomerie were examined by the Joint Committee of 
Chemistry, Colonies, and Trade, which resolved " that this 
substance appears to be a very valuable article, and might 
be employed with great advantage in many of the arts and 
manufactures of the country." This resolution was 
passed at a meeting on 23rd January 1845. At the 
ordinary weekly meeting on I9th March, the Secretary, 
Francis Whishaw, described the specimens and showed 
a piece of pipe and a lathe-band made by him, which were 
afterwards exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1 85 1 . He 
also produced some good impressions of medals. It was 
at this meeting that (Sir) William Siemens became 
acquainted with the new material, and obtained a 
sample which was subsequently sent to his brother 
Werner in Berlin, to try whether it was suitable for 
insulating telegraph wires. In June of the same year 
the gold medal was awarded to Dr. Montgomerie for 
his discovery. He had previously (in 1842) received a 
gold medal from the Society for the cultivation of nut- 
megs in Singapore. 

Nothing was said or apparently known about D 'Almeida, 
on whose behalf a claim was made many years later, in 


1 858, by his son, whose letter will be found in the Journal. 1 
Such evidence as there is appears to show that in point of 
time Montgomerie was the first to realise the value of the 
gum, because in March 1843 he had already submitted 
samples of gutta-percha to the Bengal Medical Board 
before sending the samples to London. But whichever 
of the two claimants may have been first to suggest the 
practical value of gutta-percha, there is no doubt that it 
was Montgomerie's action which first introduced it to 
public knowledge, and rendered its practical applications 

The subject had been very thoroughly worked out by 
the late Dr. Eugene Obach in his Cantor Lectures on 
" Gutta-percha." Many further details will be found in 
the report of his first lecture, 2 and there is much other 
information about the early history of the gum in the 
appendixes which were added by Dr. Obach when the 
lectures were republished. 

As far back as 1788, Sir Joseph Banks suggested to the 
court of directors of the East India Company the practic- 
ability of cultivating the tea plant in British India ; but 
nothing came of the suggestion, probably because the 
H.E.I.C. then had the monopoly of the China tea trade, 
and saw no advantage in starting a competition. In the 
year 1822 a gold medal was offered by the Society to the 
person who should communicate, from information ob- 
tained in China, the best and most authentic account of 
the culture of the plant or plants, the leaves of which 
furnish the different kinds of tea, together with the method 
of gathering, drying, and otherwise preparing the leaves. 
This offer was supplemented in the following year by one 
of a gold medal or fifty guineas to the person who should 
grow and prepare the greatest quantity of China tea of 
good quality, not being less than 20 Ibs. weight, in the 
island of Jamaica, or in any other British West Indian 
colony, and should import the same into Great Britain. 
The same premium was offered for the colonies of the Cape 
of Good Hope, Mauritius, and New South Wales. These 
1 Vol. vii. p. 20. 2 Journal, vol. xlvi. p. 98. 


offers, opportune as they certainly were, seem to have been 
in advance of their time, for they produced no response. 

Twelve years later, in 1834, when the East India Com- 
pany's monopoly had expired, and there was no longer any 
objection to a rival to the China trade, it was realised that 
it was not safe or desirable that England should be depend- 
ent on China for its supplies of tea, and steps were taken 
to ascertain the possibilities of raising tea in India. A 
committee was appointed by the Governor-General, Lord 
William Bentinck, with Dr. N. Wallich, the successor to 
Dr. Roxburgh as superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic 
Gardens, as its secretary. The existence of wild tea in 
Assam had been discovered " perhaps originally by Major 
Bruce, subsequently in Manipur by Mr. Scott " (Watt) 
between 1821 and 1826, but no attention had been paid 
to the discovery, and China plants were imported. In the 
meantime the Assam tea tree had been rediscovered by 
Captain Charlton and Captain Jenkins. The general 
belief is that the introduction of the Chinese plant was a 
mistake, and that the hybrids which were produced were 
inferior to the native Indian shrub. Eventually tea plan- 
tations were established in Assam, and in 1836 Mr. C. A. 
Bruce was appointed superintendent. Samples of the tea 
were sent to England in 1838, and were presented by the 
H.E.I.C. to the Society. In 1839 a Committee of the 
House of Commons on the subject reported favourably 
on Mr. Bruce's work, and in consequence of this the gold 
medal offered seventeen years before was awarded to him 
in the session 1839-40, " for his meritorious services in 
discovering the indigenous tea tracts and cultivating and 
preparing tea in Assam." There seems no doubt that 
Mr. Bruce's work was well deserving recognition, but it 
seems equally certain that he was in no sense the discoverer 
of the tea plant or " the indigenous tea tracts." 1 

In 1831, Dr. Wallich, the superintendent of the Calcutta 
Botanic Gardens, presented through the court of directors 

1 Watt, Commercial Products of India, s.v. Camellia Thea ; Berry 
White, " Indian Tea Industry," Journal, vol. xxxv. p. 734 ; Transactions, 
vol. lii. p. 200 ; vol. liii. p. 30. 


of the East India Company a very fine collection of Indian 
woods, containing 456 specimens, 1 and for this in the 
following year he was presented with a gold medal. Dr. 
Wallich, who was a corresponding member of the Society, 
had previously sent some valuable communications on 
Indian economic plants, which appeared in the Society's 
Transactions. In 1834 another collection of Indian and 
other woods (comprising 452 specimens) was presented by 
Captain H. C. Baker of the Bengal Artillery. 2 

Ceylon was not a British colony till 1802, when it was 
ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Amiens. It seems 
to have received but a small share of the Society's atten- 
tion. In 1815 a silver medal was awarded to Thomas 
Hoblyn for the introduction of coco-nut oil from the 
island, and in the following year he received a gold medal 
for inventing and introducing into Ceylon a machine for 
decorticating rice. This machine, as well as a press for the 
production of the coco-nut oil, is described in the Trans- 
actions? The decorticating machine appears to be the first 
of its kind, at least the earliest patent for such apparatus 
is dated 1819 ; it anticipates in many of its details the 
principles on which later machines for the purpose were 
based, especially the application of adjustable mill-stones 
for husking the rice. Before this invention the operation 
was carried out with a pestle and mortar, the result being 
that the grains were, to a large extent, broken and rendered 

For Canada it cannot be said that very much was done 
by the Society. When the Society began its colonial work, 
Canada was still French ; it was only partly explored and 
quite undeveloped, and for some time after it passed under 
the British flag there were few industries of value except 
the exportation of furs. Yet, as time went on, and the 
country was settled, the Society endeavoured to do its 
duty to what was then the greatest colony, or group of 

1 A catalogue is printed in the Transactions, vol. xlviii. p. 441. 

2 Transactions, vol. 1. part ii. p. 173. 

3 Ibid. vol. xxxiii. p. 60 ; vol. xxxiv. p. 250. The press was 
constructed by Bramah, and the decorticating apparatus by Maudsley. 


colonies, belonging to Great Britain, and much of interest 
about Canada is to be found in the Transactions. In the 
early part of the nineteenth century a strong effort was 
made, and with a good deal of success, to encourage the 
growth of hemp, a fibre then in great demand for naval 
purposes, as it was practically the only material available, 
not only for ropes, but also for sails. In 1801 various 
medals and prizes were offered for the growth of hemp in 
the two Canadas, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and 
these were continued for thirty years. Many of these were 
awarded. In 1804 a gold medal was awarded to J. W. 
Clarke, a similar medal and 100 guineas to Jacob Schneider, 
and a silver medal to Daniel Mosher. In 1806 silver 
medals were awarded to Philemon Wright, Frederick 
Arnold, and Joshua Cornwall, also a prize of twenty dollars 
to G. Ward. In 1809 a silver medal " set in a broad gold 
border " was given to C. F. Grece, and a silver medal to Mr. 
Durand. All the above were Canadians. It is stated in 
the Transactions that, as a result of the attention which 
had been drawn to the subject by the Society's announce- 
ments, a considerable trade in hemp had been set up, and a 
large amount of fibre imported. 

The offer of a prize for the growth of hemp was a little 
later extended to the other colonies, and there was added a 
reward for the discovery of a good substitute. In announc- 
ing this award in 1823 a note was added, drawing special 
attention to the Phormium tenax, or New Zealand flax, of 
which specimens had lately been brought to England. 
The importation of the fibre rapidly extended, and 
between 1828 and 1832 no less than 50,000 worth was 
shipped to Sydney alone. 1 The present annual value of 
the export from New Zealand is 307,000. 

It does not appear what prompted the offer in 1792 
of a gold medal for the discovery of a " North- West Passage 
by land from Canada to the South Sea." It is possible 
that the disputes between Spain and England about 
Nootka (now St. George's) Sound (on the west coast of 
Vancouver) and the adjacent regions, which nearly led 

1 Morris's Cantor Lectures on Commercial Fibres (1895). Journal, 
vol. xliii. p. 923. 


to war but were settled by the Treaty of the Escurial in 
1790, may have directed public attention to those little- 
known lands. More probably it was reported that 
attempts were being made to explore the north-west of 
Canada, and the Society wished to encourage them, and 
to identify itself with them. However, soon after the 
offer was made, Alexander Mackenzie completed the 
adventurous journey which brought him to the shores 
of the Pacific near the present boundary between Alaska 
and British Columbia. After exploring much of the 
north-west, and discovering the great river which now 
bears his name, he started in 1789 from Lake Athabasca 
to make a passage to the coast, which he reached in June 
J793- 1 The richly-deserved gold medal was awarded to 
him in 1800, a rare, if not a unique, instance of a reward 
made by the Society for exploration alone. About this time 
Mackenzie came to England, and in 1802 he was knighted 
by George in. He died in 1820. 

In 1807 a silver medal was awarded to William Bond 
for a communication printed in the Transactions 2 contain- 
ing information about Canadian industries and resources. 

In 1816, Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Bouchette, Govern- 
ment Surveyor to the Commission for settling the boun- 
daries between the British colonies in North America and 
the United States, presented an extensive survey or map 
of Canada to the Society, for which he received the gold 

Mr. William Green, secretary of the Literary and His- 
torical Society of Quebec, communicated to that society 
in 1827 a paper on colouring materials produced in Canada. 
The paper and a box of colours prepared from these 
materials were sent to the Society of Arts at the instance 
of the Earl of Dalhousie, Governor of Canada, and the 
Society in 1828 awarded a gold medal to Mr. Green for 
the pigments, which consisted of certain ochres and lakes, 
with some colours of vegetable origin. They were pro- 
nounced by the authorities to whom they were referred 

1 A brief and singularly modest report of his journey by Mackenzie 
himself appears in the Transactions, vol. xviii. p. 289. 

2 Vol. xxv. p. 147. 


for examination to be good, though perhaps the influence 
of the Governor-General had as much to do with the award 
as the importance of the products. 

The first reference which has been discovered in the 
Transactions to the Australian colonies occurs in the 
volume containing the list of premiums for 1820, when 
two gold medals were offered, one for the greatest quantity 
of fine wool imported from New South Wales, and one 
for the finest sample of wool from the same colony. It is 
probable that the offer was prompted by the knowledge 
that Australian wool was being shipped to England, for 
in 1822 both medals were claimed by John M' Arthur, 
the " Father of New South Wales," and the founder of 
the Australian wool trade. M* Arthur had imported 
merino sheep from the Cape in 1795, and from that time 
he had devoted himself to the growth of wool on land 
near Sydney, which had been granted to him for the 
purpose by the Government. Whether this was his first 
consignment to London does not appear from the account 
of his labours given in the Transactions, but it amounted 
to over 15,000 Ibs., and so complied with the conditions 
of the Society's offer. It is clear that the importation 
was in no sense the result of the offer, but the award of 
the medals, the report made by the Society on the high 
character of the wool, and the publicity gained by the 
account contained in the Transactions, appear to have 
helped considerably in making known the new and im- 
portant source of supply thus opened up. At the instance 
of the Society, some cloth was made from the wool, and a 
silver medal was given to the manufacturers, Starkey, 
Buckley & Co., of Huddersfield. 1 

In the same year, 1821, a silver medal was given to 
John Raine for the importation of wool from Van Diemen's 

In 1824 a second gold medal was awarded to John 

M' Arthur, and also a silver medal to Hannibal M' Arthur, a 

nephew of John, for the importation of the next greatest 

quantity of fine wool . Besides these, there were some prizes 

1 Transactions, vol. xl. pp. xxxix. and 230. 


to manufacturers for cloth made from the wool, and after 
this the offer of rewards was dropped, the trade in 
Australian wool being established on a firm basis. 

In 1822 a gold medal was offered for the importation 
of " the finest wine, not less than twenty gallons, of good 
marketable quality, made from the produce of vineyards 
in New South Wales." For some years this produced 
no response, but in 1833 a silver medal was presented to 
Mr. Gregory Blaxland for wine the produce of his vine- 
yard at Paramatta. " On examination by the Com- 
mittee, it appeared to be a light but sound wine, with 
much of the odour and flavour of ordinary claret, . . . 
though the present sample, from the inexpertness of 
the manufacture and the youth of the vine, is by no 
means of a superior quality, yet it affords a reasonable 
ground of expectation that by care and time it may 
become a valuable article of export." 

From a memorial to Governor Macquarrie from 
Mr. Blaxland, in October 1818, printed in the Trans- 
actions, 1 it appears that he was preparing his land for a 
vineyard in September 1816. He had really been antici- 
pated by M' Arthur, who had started a vineyard, and 
had also planted olive-trees some years before. 

In 1828 a second medal, this time a gold one, was 
presented to Mr. Blaxland for a pipe of wine the produce 
of his vineyard in 1827. " On tasting the samples, it 
was the general opinion that both of them are decidedly 
better than the wine for which, in 1823, Mr. Blaxland 
obtained the large silver medal of the Society, and that 
they were wholly free from the earthy flavour which 
unhappily characterises most of the Cape wines." 

Many years after this, in 1856, a silver medal was 
awarded to James King for wine from New South Wales. 

In 1824 the sum of thirty guineas was given to Mr. 
T. Kent, for preparing and importing from New South 
Wales extract of mimosa bark for the use of tanners, 
and in the following year (1825) a gold medal was awarded 
to Messrs. Petchey & Wood for similar material from 
Van Diemen's Land. In 1824 the thanks of the Society 

1 Vol. xli. p. 286. 


were accorded to Mr. R. W. Horton, M.P., Under- 
secretary for the Colonies and Vice-President of the 
Society, for sundry articles from New South Wales which 
he had presented. 

There were a few, but not very many, other prizes to 
Australia. In 1830 a gold medal was voted to Sir John 
Jamison, President of the Agricultural Society of New 
South Wales, for his method of extirpating the stumps 
of trees in order to clear forest land for cultivation ; 
in 1834 a silver medal was awarded to James King, of 
Sydney, for his discovery of a sand in New South Wales, 
which was reported upon by Apsley Pellatt as being 
eminently fitted for the manufacture of the finer kinds of 
glass ; and in 1845 a silver medal was given to Mrs. Allom 
for the " Introduction of Bees to New Zealand." 

The award in 1775 of a small prize (first offered in 1773) 
to a resident in Minorca for growing silk in that island 
is of interest, as reminding us that at various times, 
including a period from 1769 to 1782^ Minorca was 
subject to this country, and was therefore included 
in the list of British colonies. After Malta was taken 
in 1800, it also became eligible] for the Society's awards, 
and so in 1 8 1 1 a prize of a gold medal or fifty guineas 
was offered for Maltese silk. The offer was extended 
in 1819 to the "Isle of France "(Mauritius), which 
had been taken in 1810, possession being confirmed 
to England by the Treaty of Paris in 1814. The medal 
for Mauritius was taken in 1824 by M. de Chayal, who 
had been entrusted in 1815 with some silkworms' eggs ob- 
tained from Bengal by the Governor of the island, Sir 
R. T. Farquhar. The silk sent to London was reported 
on as being of good quality, but not first-class. In the 
Session of 1825-6 a gold medal was awarded to M. Barbe, 
of Mauritius, for the importation of coco-nut oil. 

In 1822 an attempt was made to foster the growth of 
the vine at the Cape, which had then been definitely 
British about eight years, and a gold medal was offered 

1 Minorca was assigned to England by the Peace of Utrecht, 1713 ; 
after changing hands more than once, it was finally ceded to Spain by 
the Peace of Amiens in 1803. 


to the person who should import the finest wine made from 
the produce of vineyards at the Cape of Good Hope, or the 
parts adjacent. It was announced that this premium was 
not offered for the sweet or Constantia wine, but to en- 
courage the improvement of the vineyards more recently 
established. Viticulture had been introduced by the 
Dutch settlers in 1653, and developed by the Huguenot 
refugees in 1688. The premium was awarded in 1827 to 
Francis Collison, who stated that about three hundred 
pipes of the same quality had been sent by him for sale in 
the London market. " The wine was examined at the 
Committee by dealers and other competent judges, and 
was considered by them to be far superior to the Cape 
wines in general. It is free from the unpleasant, earthy 
flavour by which such wines are usually characterised, 
and was considered to bear a near resemblance to that 
made at Teneriffe." l 

1 For an account of the later colonial work of the Society, and the 
formation of the Colonial Section, reference may be made to Chapter 

XX, p. 453- 

The Bread-fruit (see p. 95). 


Condition of Agriculture in 1754 Work of the Society's Committee 
on Agriculture Value of the Society's operations Arthur Young's 
Opinion of them Publication of Agricultural Information Food 
for Stock Winter Fodder Introduction of the Turnip Kohl-rabi 
Swede Mangel-wurzel Agricultural Implements, Ploughs, 
Drills, Horse-hoes Reaping Machines, The Origin of the Reaping 
Machine, Common's Early Machine, Bell's Reaper Threshing 
Machines Chaff-Cu t ters Roo t-Cu t ters Manures Raising and 
Fattening Stock Land Reclamation The Board of Agriculture 
The Royal Agricultural Society. 

WHEN the Society of Arts first included agriculture among 
its objects, but little real advance had been made on 
mediaeval methods. Yet new ideas were in the air, and as 
far back as the very beginning of the eighteenth century 
the commencement of the change can be discerned which 
was soon to abolish the old order of things, and to modify 
in the course of a comparatively short period the ancient 
system which had sufficed for so many generations. The 
time was favourable for improvement, and some central 
authority was badly needed to co-ordinate and direct the 
scattered efforts which were being made in England, 
Scotland, and Ireland to bring about an improved system 
of husbandry. As a matter of fact, side by side with the 
industrial revolution, an agricultural revolution was in 
progress, and the two great movements had their reciprocal 
influences upon each other. The development of the 
factory system was at once drawing the agricultural popula- 
tion into the towns, and was depriving them of their ancient 
means of livelihood by the destruction of domestic industry, 


while the growth of the urban population demanded more 
abundant food supplies and thus necessitated improved 
systems of cultivation, by which alone those supplies could 
be provided. The old open-field system had by no means 
come to an end by the middle of the century, but the 
system of enclosure and the division of previously common 
land had made sufficient progress to render possible the 
existence of those large farms on which alone any attempt 
at scientific agriculture could be made. While the arable 
land of a village was divided up afresh every year among 
the commoners to whom it belonged, none of its temporary 
owners could do much, if anything, for its permanent 
improvement, or even for its systematic cultivation 
to the best advantage. Again, it was only on farms 
of considerable size that experiments in new methods of 
cultivation could be made, and there were many ready to 
try such experiments, for scientific agriculture had already 
made some advance. The system of a proper rotation 
of crops had been invented, and was being rapidly ex- 
tended. New crops had been introduced, which alone 
made rotation possible. Of these, the most important 
was the turnip, but clover and lucerne had also not long 
before been added to the list. The new ideas promulgated 
by Jethro Tull, of the highest practical value, if based on 
erroneous theory, were attracting attention. Bakewell 
had just commenced his experiments in stock-breeding 
by the help of careful and judicious selection. Such were 
some of the main elements of the agrarian revolution 
in the successful development of which the Society of Arts 
was certainly one of the main factors . 

In the original scheme of the Society agriculture 
was not included, and when the suggestion was made to 
Shipley that it should be so included, he met it with the 
not very conclusive objection that all the awards would 
be taken in those districts of the country in which the 
greatest progress had been made. Indeed, in the first 
list of premiums, that of 1756, there is no prize offered for 
any agricultural subject, unless, indeed, madder be 
considered as such. But this was soon altered. In the 
next list (1758) there are a number of prizes offered for 


agricultural improvements, and from that date onwards 
for the next fifty years agriculture occupied an important, 
indeed the most important, part in the lists of premiums. 

In fact, the Society was for long mainly an agricultural 
society, and by far the most important one in the kingdom. 
There were some provincial societies in existence when it 
was founded, and others were soon formed, but it was in 
communication with all of them, and it was the centre to 
which information was sent, and from which it was dis 
tributed to the various parts of the country. 

In agriculture, as in the other divisions of its work, 
the fundamental idea which directed the Society's efforts 
was the offering of rewards, either pecuniary or honorary, 
for the successful carrying out of its objects. These 
rewards varied greatly in value, and they were carried 
on from year to year until the end sought for appeared to 
have been attained, and the new industry or method of 
tillage, or crop, or whatever it might be, was so firmly 
established as not to require further assistance or pro- 
tection. The scope of the prizes offered under the direc- 
tion of the Committee on Agriculture was very wide. It 
included the successful rearing of all sorts of crops, even of 
such well-known crops as wheat, barley, oats, and rye ; the 
introduction of new forage plants and of roots for cattle- 
feeding ; the suggestion of new methods of husbandry, 
their discussion and the supply of information about them ; 
the invention of new implements or appliances and the 
improvement of old ones ; information on the use and 
value of manures ; suggestions on soil analysis ; the 
treatment of cattle and sheep, and in fact any advance or 
improvement calculated to aid the progress of agricultural 
knowledge and practice. An annual list of suggested 
subjects was published, but the rewards were by no means 
confined to these lists, and the Society was quite as ready 
to consider and reward any useful proposal submitted to 
it from outside, as it was to award the prizes enumerated 
in its own catalogues. 

The lists were prepared with great care, and modified 
from year to year, though we find the same offer repeated 
time after time, sometimes over a long period, even though 


large amounts had already been paid away among success- 
ful competitors, for it is to be remembered that the pre- 
miums were not, as a rule, in the nature of prizes to be 
taken once for all, but rather as grants-in-aid, to be re- 
peated as long as there seemed to be any need for such 

The value of the help thus rendered to agricultural 
progress is made evident by much contemporary testi- 
mony. In such a matter there is no higher authority than 
Arthur Young, and he, in his Farmers' Letters? speaks in 
terms of high commendation of the Society's work, and 
comments on the premiums offered for 1766. Arthur 
Young was a member of the Society from 1769 till his 
death in 1820, and in 1774 he became Chairman of the 
Committee on Agriculture. He was therefore thoroughly 
well acquainted with the Society's work, and he was also 
a very outspoken person, and very candid in the expression 
of his opinions, so that any laudatory expressions from him 
are likely to be well justified. But, while on the whole he 
appreciated the Society's action, he thought that it might 
be improved upon, if, instead of merely offering prizes for 
successful agricultural experiments, it would undertake the 
direction of such experiments by selecting a number 
of intelligent farmers who could be trusted to carry out 
the work, and itself would subsidise them, giving them also 
additional premiums in proportion to the manner in which 
the work was carried out. 

There cannot be much doubt that a great deal of useful 
information might have been accumulated by following 
out Young's suggestions, though it might have been diffi- 
cult to carry them into effect without more expense in the 
way of supervision than he contemplated. If the Society 
could have secured Young's services and got him to under- 
take the supervision of a scheme such as he suggested, the 

1 Letter VI. vol. i. p. 214. The edition to which reference is made is 
the third, published in 1771. The first edition was published in 1768, 
the second in 1769. Some sixteen years later, in his Annals of Agri- 
culture, vol. i. (1784) p. 65, Young comments in extremely laudatory 
terms on the work of the Society of Arts and its members. " It is 
probable," he says, " that the kingdom has been benefited a thousand 
pounds for every guinea these men have expended." 


difficulties might have been overcome, but in the absence 
of a thoroughly competent expert to control the whole 
working of such experiments, it is difficult to see how they 
could have succeeded. In Mr. Wynn Baker the Dublin 
Society had such an expert, and they wisely placed con- 
siderable funds at his disposal, with very satisfactory 
results. It may, however, be observed that during the 
many years while Young was Secretary to the Board of 
Agriculture after 1793, he never seems to have made any 
attempt to carry out the excellent suggestions he prof- 
fered for the benefit of the Society of Arts. 

But while the distribution of rewards for successful 
experiment or invention was the principal device by which 
the Society endeavoured to attain its objects, it must not 
be thought that it was the only one. The diffusion of 
information by means of its publications was one almost 
equally important method, though its value was not 
recognised for some time. At first in the publications in 
which its proceedings were reported, to begin with in the 
Museum Rusticum, afterwards in Dossie's Memoirs of 
Agriculture , x and eventually in its regular Transactions, 
it recorded and disseminated a vast deal of agricultural 
information, and in this way aided most effectually the 
progress of agricultural science and practice. Another 
important agency was its " Repository of Inventions," 
which, during the first half century of its existence, con- 
tained an excellent collection of models of agricultural 
implements. This was opened freely to the public, and by 
its means an opportunity of examining the latest imple- 
ments and appliances was afforded to all who cared to profit 
by it. On occasion also the Society purchased machines 
and models in foreign countries, and obtained from abroad 
plants and seeds, which were distributed to the members. 

When the Society began its agricultural operations one 
of the greatest difficulties which pressed upon the farmer 
was the need for a supply of winter fodder. He was then 
entirely dependent upon a meagre provision of hay, and 

1 Museum Rusticum et Commercials (6 vols. 8vo, 1764-66); Memoirs 
of Agriculture and other (Economical Arts, by Robert Dossie (3 vols. 
8vo, 1768-82). 


that not of the best quality. The use of turnips for cattle 
food was only gradually making way, for although Arthur 
Young, 1 writing about 1769, speaks of " vast fields " of 
turnips in Norfolk, it is probable that the epithet was 
only used in comparison with the scanty crops grown in 
other counties, and, indeed, the remark was made by way 
of drawing attention to the small amount of the root 
which was actually being cultivated. The use of oil-cake 
for cattle food was hardly thought of. The editor of the 
Museum Rusticum? in a note on a correspondent's article 
on feeding cattle, says that in Flanders the refuse from oil- 
mills had been given to cattle of all kinds, and in another 
similar note in the same volume, 3 he adds that oil-cake 
from which the oil has been expressed, had been tried 
with success in England as well as in Flanders. It had 
not really come into use, however, by that time, for in the 
first volume of the Society's Transactions (1783), in con- 
nection with the offer of a prize for oil from cotton-seed, it 
was suggested that the seed, after the extraction of the oil, 
might form a useful food for cattle. Ten years later its use 
must have become fairly general, for in 1794 we find 
Arthur Young in his Annals of Agriculture referring to 
cattle being fed on oil-cake as an ordinary thing. 4 

One of the first things taken up by the Society was 
the production of grass seed, and Arthur Young thought 
this a matter of the highest importance. Previously the 
only grass seed used was the sweepings of the hay-lofts, 
in which all sorts of seeds were mixed together, with a 
large proportion of seeds of undesirable weeds. The 
Society offered in 1 762 several prizes for clean grass seed, 
giving instructions as to the way in which grass should 
be specially cultivated for seed, and promising also to 
find a market in London for any parcels of seed of a 
suitable character . Prizes were also offered for hand-picked 
grass seed, provided the seed was all of the same species. 

*Tour through the Southern Counties (2nd edition, 1769), p. 25. 

2 Vol. iv. (1765), p. 378. 3 Vol. iv. (1765), p. 398. 

4 Mr. R. E. Prothero in his Pioneers of British Farming (1888) attributes 
the introduction of oil-cake as cattle-food to Coke of Holkham (p. 80), 
but does not suggest any precise date. 


Awards were also offered and conferred for the 
growth of crops considered to be suitable for winter 
or early spring food, including burnet, borecole, sainfoin, 
lucerne, winter clover, buck-wheat, cabbages, beans, 
vetches, etc. These crops were then little known and 
sparsely cultivated. 

The ordinary field turnip had been known for less than 
a century ; it had been introduced some time it is not 
really known by whom near the end of the seventeenth 
century. Arthur Young gives the credit of its intro- 
duction to Jethro Tull (1674-1741), the father of scientific 
agriculture in England, but in this he was certainly mis- 
taken. Both sheep and cattle were folded upon turnips, 
which were used to a very limited extent for winter food. 
Carrots and also parsnips were grown for cattle food, but 
their growth had hardly got beyond the experimental 
stage. Potatoes were only to be found in gardens, and 
were not used for cattle l until some time in the early 
part of the century. In 1779, Arthur Young received a 
gold medal for an account of the " Clustered Potatoe." 
This was one of the two medals 2 he had from the Society. 
For the cultivation of all these roots and for information 
as to the best methods of cultivating them, the Society 
offered many rewards, extending over a long series of 
years. The list also, at a later date (1805), included 
beet, on account of its use for cattle food, not for its 
sugar - producing qualities, which were a much later 

All agricultural authorities are agreed as to the great 

1 Although the potato was introduced into Ireland by John Hawkins 
in 1565, and into England by Sir Francis Drake in 1585, it had attracted 
so little attention that in 1663 the Royal Society urged such of its 
Fellows as possessed land to plant potatoes, and to persuade their 
friends to do the same, in order to alleviate the distress that would 
accompany a scarcity of food. Nothing, however, seems to have 
come of this recommendation, and so little was thought of the potato 
for some years after that Bradley (Historia Plantarum Succulentarum , 
1716-27) speaks of it as of little note, and in the Complete Gardener 
of London and Wise (1719) it is not mentioned at all. 

2 He also received two small prizes in 1765 and 1767 for growing 


part played by the introduction of the turnip into British 
agriculture. Without it any proper rotation of crops 
would have been impossible, and, until it was available 
for the purpose of feeding stock through the winter, farmers 
and graziers were in bad seasons forced to kill their stock 
cattle and salt the .meat down for winter use. Hence for 
centuries the only meat generally available in the winter 
was salt meat. The extended cultivation of the turnip 
rendered possible the supply of butchers' meat in winter 
time to the rapidly increasing population, and so this 
modest vegetable was not only a prime factor in the 
agrarian revolution, but a valuable if overlooked agent 
in the progress of industrial development, and, indeed, of 

In encouraging the cultivation of the turnip the Society 
did its full share. Many pages in many volumes of the 
Transactions are devoted to the discussion of the best 
methods of growing it, and to dissertations upon the com- 
parative advantages of drill and broadcast husbandry. 

But besides encouraging the growth of crops already 
known, if not extensively cultivated, the Society was 
directly the means of introducing into England two roots 
which are now as important as the turnip itself the swede 
and the mangel-wurzel. 

Among the forage plants which had been introduced 
into England about this time was the turnip-cabbage 
(Brassica oleracea caulorapa], or chou-rave, now known 
under its German name of Kohl-rabi. This plant, accord- 
ing to Young, was brought into England from Carniola 
in 1749 by the Rev. Mr. Haste, Canon of Windsor, well 
known at the time as the author of Essays on Husbandry. 
It had attracted a good deal of attention, and was to some 
extent being cultivated. It was the subject of two long 
articles in the Museum Rusticum in 1 766, * which gives two 
good illustrations of the plant. It appeared to the Society 
that this little-known plant was well worth further atten- 
tion, and amongst the premiums for 1867 was one for its 
cultivation. The offer attracted the notice of John 
Reynolds, a farmer of Kent, and he, being unable to obtain 
1 Vol. vi. pp. 46, 220. 


a supply of the seed in England, sent to Holland for some. 
The plants grown from this seed proved to be quite differ- 
ent from what he expected, and turned out to have large 
roots resembling that of the turnip, instead of the succulent 
stem of the Kohl-rabi. 

As a matter of fact he had been supplied with seeds 
of the Swedish turnip (Brassica campestris rutabaga) ; 
and this was the first introduction of the now well-known 
swede, then cultivated to some extent in Sweden, Russia, 
and Northern Germany, but absolutely unknown in 
England. This unknown plant he christened " the turnip- 
rooted cabbage," a not very suitable title, for though both 
it and the field turnip (Brassica rapa) are members of the 
cabbage family (Brassicacece) the swede is not a bit more 
like a cabbage than is the ordinary turnip. He grew 
a small crop of it and sent specimens to the Society. The 
value of the introduction was at once recognised, and a 
grant was made to Reynolds of 50. Seed from his plants 
was also distributed among the members for trial, and 
the new crop was recommended for its hardy nature and 
its capacity for withstanding frost. 

A full account of his experiments is given by Dossie, 1 
and this is supplemented by some further observations 
on the nature and character of the plant, apparently 
written by Dossie himself. The full information on the 
subject first published by the Society attracted a good deal 
of attention, and for many years the Society continued 
to offer and present rewards for persons growing the 
" turnip-rooted cabbage " and for those who supplied 
information as to the best methods of securing large crops 
of it. The similarity of the two names evidently caused 
confusion, for appended to the offer of one of the prizes 
in 1769 is a note : " The plant here called the Turnep- 
rooted cabbage is not the same with the Turnep Cabbage, 
but that kind newly introduced into this country." For 
a long time it is only mentioned under this name in the 
Premium lists and Transactions (though it is said also to 
have been known as " Reynolds 's Turnip "), but eventually 
the title seems to have been dropped, and the now well* 

1 Vol. i. p. 421. 


known name of swede, 1 applied to the plant from the 
country of its origin, came into use. 

The introduction of the mangel-wurzel came a little 
later. In 1 786 some seeds of the Racine de disette, or " root 
of scarcity," were given by Sir Richard Jebb 2 a very 
well-known physician at the time, who died in the following 
year to the Secretary of the Society, Dr. More, by whom 
they were distributed to some of the members. This 
" root of scarcity " soon better known by its German 
name " mangold-wurzel " 3 according to a statement 
made by Jebb's executor, Granville Sharpe, had been 
discovered by a French cultivator in search of a new 
forage plant. It was suggested that both the leaves 
and the roots might serve as a table vegetable. 

Amongst the members who received samples of the 
seed was J. C. Lettsom. He grew the seeds, and tried the 
leaves cooked like a cabbage and also the root, but does 
not seem to have greatly appreciated their flavour, though 
he thought that, as its name implied, the vegetable might 
be useful in times of scarcity. He was much interested 
in the new plant, which he considered much more suitable 

1 In Les Plantes Potageres (Vilmorin-Andrieux et Cie, Paris, 1883, 
p. 141) the authors, tinder the heading of " Choux-Navets," give as 
synonyms : Chou-rave en terre, chou turnep. Noms etrangers : 
Anglais : Turnip-rooted cabbage, swede, Swedish turnip ; Allemand : 
Kohlrabe, etc. 

The Vegetable Garden a translation (1905) by W. Robinson of the 
above (p. 166), under the heading " Turnip-rooted cabbage (Swedish 
turnip) ; French, chou-navet ; German, Kohlrabi," etc., says : " The 
varieties of turnip-rooted cabbages differ from the Kohlrabi (chou-rave) 
in that, instead of having the stem swollen overground, they produce 
partially buried in the soil, a thick root which is about as long as it is 
broad, resembling a huge turnip, and of which the flesh is yellow in the 
Swedish turnips and white in the other kinds. The characters of the 
leaves and flowers of these plants indicate plainly that they are true 
cabbages. . . . The Swedish or turnip-rooted cabbage is an excellent 

In vol. xv. of the Transactions (1797) it is mentioned that Lord 
Romney had presented the Society with " a quantity of Swedish 

2 The seeds were sent to Jebb from Metz by T. B. Parkyns. See 
his letter in the Transactions, vol. v. p. 52. 

2 Mangel-wurzel is a beet, its botanical name being Beta hybrida. 
On its introduction it was known as Beta vulgaris macrorhiza. 


as a food for cattle than for human beings, and translated 
a treatise on it by the Abbe Commerell, which was pub- 
lished in London in 1787 under the name of An Account of 
Mdngel-wurzel. The particulars here stated are taken 
from the preface to that book. The value of the plant 
does not seem to have been recognised at first, and it was 
some time before it received the attention it deserved. 
In 1814 a gold medal was awarded to Leonard Phillips, 
*' Portsmouth Road, beyond Vauxhall Turnpike," for 
" the growth of mangel-wurzel." 

The implements then available for the farmer's use 
were very few and of a very inferior sort. For tillage 
there was the plough, varying in character in different 
districts of England, and the harrow. The horse-hoe l 
had not long been introduced, and the drill was known but 
rarely used. The crops were all got in by hand, the 
scythe, the sickle, and the reaping-hook being the only 
known implements, as for centuries before. When the 
corn was harvested the only means for separating the grain 
from the straw was by the use of the flail. 

This state of things, however, was very soon to be 
altered. In all industrial processes the substitution of 
mechanical power for hand labour was making rapid 
progress, and the change was beginning to be felt in agri- 
culture as well as in manufactures. As the writer of the 
article on "Agriculture" in the Encyclopedia Britannica 
puts it : " The quarter of a century immediately following 
1 760 is memorable in our agricultural annals for the intro- 
duction of various important improvements." And the 
introduction of these improvements was mainly due to 
the eiforts of the Society of Arts. As evidence of this 
another similar authority may be quoted, for in Rees' 
Cyclopaedia (edition of 1819) the writer of the correspond- 
ing article, referring to the work of the Society, tells us 
that " a vast variety of different machines for facilitating 

1 The date of the introduction of the horse-hoe into this country 
does not seem to be known. It was probably first employed in the 
vineyards of Italy and France, and that long before it was known 


the practice of agriculture have been invented and pre- 
sented to the public, in consequence of the large premiums 
and bounties which have been offered " by it. 

To trace in detail the history of all the improvements 
in agricultural implements and machinery which were 
due, in whole or in part, to the rewards paid by the Society, 
to the suggestions it put forward or to the information it 
collected, would be a long and difficult task and the result 
would not be either interesting or valuable, but it may 
safely be asserted that of all the implements new and old 
used by the farmer during the fifty or sixty years from 
1760 onwards (not including, of course, ordinary hand 
tools), there was not one which was not either introduced 
or improved in consequence of the Society's exertions and 

Even the ordinary plough underwent a larger amount 
of development during this period than in the century 
or more preceding, not so much in consequence of any 
direct offer of premiums for improvements, as because the 
Society was always ready to take up and reward any 
ingenious advance in this or any other implement. Such 
changes as were effected were mainly in detail. The frame 
was made lighter and better balanced ; iron was sub- 
stituted for wood in many parts of the frame, etc. ; the 
shape of the share, coulter, mould-board, and other details 
were improved ; the draught was lessened, and a very 
important matter the price was lowered, so that, as a 
general result, many of the ploughs commended and re- 
warded by the Society became popular, and are said to 
have sold well. All these improvements, however, were 
the result of rule-of-thumb experiment, and it was not 
until 1839, when the question was taken up by the Royal 
Agricultural Society, that any scientific investigation was 
really made into the principles which should govern the 
construction of ploughs. In that year Mr. Philip Pusey 
published, in the first volume of the R.A.S. Journal 
(p. 219), the results of an experimental inquiry on draught 
in ploughing made by him, and the dynamometrical tests 
which he conducted upon the different sorts of ploughs had 
an immediate effect in improving plough construction. 


The Society also, besides improving the character of 
the ordinary plough, did much to introduce ploughs of 
special types, applicable for trenching, draining and sub- 
soiling, paring and scarifying, etc. 

The drill had been invented by the enthusiastic and 
eccentric Jethro Tull in 1707, and its use advocated in 
his remarkable book, Horse hoeing Husbandry, in 1731, 
but it had not really come into use except to a very limited 
extent. Dossie 1 is responsible for the statement that 
Tull " only started the notion. The practice was very 
little pursued till the Society awakened the public atten- 
tion to it by their premiums." That this statement was 
correct seems indisputable. The offer of a gold medal in 
1762 for the best set of experiments and observations on 
the comparative merits of drill and broadcast husbandry 
produced a series of communications from Sir Digby 
Legard, extending from 1763 to 1768, and giving the result 
of a very careful series of tests carried on during those 
and previous years in Yorkshire, and also one from the 
Rev. Mr. Lowther, giving an account of similar experiments 
in Cumberland in or before 1 763 . Both these gentlemen 
received a gold medal, and their papers were the first of a 
long series of communications on the subject, which event- 
ually established the value of the then novel system. 

Tull himself, in the various editions of his well-known 
book, 2 describes his drill in full detail and with abundant 
illustration. It must have been an excellent piece of 
apparatus, well suited for its work, and in its mechanical 
details considerably in advance of most contemporary 
machinery. Very probably its actual construction may 
have been deficient, and it was less effective in operation 
than appears on paper, for in those days the means of 
accurate machine construction were sadly lacking. But 

1 Vol. i. p. 73. 

8 The book was first issued in an incomplete form in 1731. The 
first complete edition appeared in 1733. A further edition, with 
additions, was published in 1739. After Tull's death in 1740, other 
editions were issued, 1751, etc. Cobbett published an edition, with 
much of the original omitted, in 1822. An interesting account of 
Tull and his work, by the late Earl Cathcart, appears in the Journal of 
the Royal Agricultural Society, 1891, 3rd series, vol. ii. p. i. 


by all accounts it was a good practical implement, and 
quite effective in operation. 

Sir Digby Legard speaks favourably of the original 
machine, though he suggests certain additions and seems 
to have made some. Still it was not considered satisfactory, 
and prizes were therefore offered in 1761 for " drill 
ploughs which should cut several furrows, deposit the 
seed, and cover the seed with earth at one operation." 
The earliest award under this head was to the Rev. H. 
Gainsborough, a brother of the great painter, in 1766. 
He received 30 for a " drill plough." Other prizes 
followed in 1770, 1771, 1775, and for many years later. 1 
The earliest patents for drills are those granted to Proud 
(in 1781) and to Cooke (in 1783). After this date the 
patents are numerous ; there were about ten others in 
the next eight years. 

Cooke 's patent drill was submitted to the Society in 
1787, and was commended, not as the subject of a 
patent being eligible for reward. Two reports, speaking 
well of the apparatus, were printed in the Transactions. 2 

Still, though the advantages of the drill were recognised, 
and the machine itself became well known, it was very 
many years before its use became general. As late as 
1 839, Mr. Pusey, in his inaugural address to the then newly- 
founded Royal Agricultural Society, addressing an assembly 
of farmers, thought it necessary to describe the drill as a 
machine " by which the seed is laid in regular rows," and 
mentioned that " it was not very much used, although 
it had lately become frequent." 

Another implement which, though not invented by 
Jethro Tull, was the subject of his earnest advocacy, 
was the horse-hoe. A clumsy-looking implement is 
figured and described in the Museum Rusticum? and 
various prizes for horse-hoes were awarded at different 

1 The best, among the early inventions, seem to have been those 
of Gale and Craik, both Scotchmen, to whom gold medals were awarded 
in 1771. 

2 Vol. v.'p. 71 et seq. A description, with a drawing, will be found 
in the patent specification. 

3 Vol. vi. (1766), p. 402, 


times by the Society. The earliest of these was a gold 
medal to the Rev. Mr. Hewett in 1771. 

Numerous awards were also made for harrows and for 
rollers, including a " spiky roller " in i?66. 1 In 1801 a 
silver medal was awarded to W. Lester for an implement 
" named by him a cultivator." The implement, as de- 
scribed and figured in the Transactions, is typical of the 
older form of cultivator before its modern improvements 
and alterations. It has vertical tines, slightly curved at 
the points. As is well known, the modern cultivator has 
various forms, is applied to many purposes, and is called 
by several names. It had, as originally designed, vertical 
coulters or tines, and was used for breaking up unre- 
claimed or fallow land. Probably the first description of 
it is that contained in Lester's communication to the 
Transactions. 2 

In its efforts to encourage the invention of a reaping 
machine, the Society was certainly much less successful, 
and this chapter of the Society's history is decidedly less 
satisfactory to its historian than those which deal with 
other agricultural implements. 

In the premium list for 1774 appears the first offer 
of a reward for a machine capable of reaping corn, and 
this offer was continued with certain variations up to 
1820, a period of forty-six years. During all this long 
period not a single award appears to have been made, 
and this is really inexplicable, because a number of inven- 
tions were brought out during this period, and several 
were at different times submitted to the Society. Most 
of these were impracticable and useless, but there was 
certainly one which was beyond much question the origin 
of the modern reaper. In the year 1812, Earl Percy sent 
to the Society a model of a machine made by John Common 
of Denwick, Northumberland, together with a certificate 
from John Thew and Thomas Appleby that the machine 

1 Museum Rusticum, vol. vi. p. 371. 

2 Vol. xix. p. 142. This, however, is not the first use of the term, 
for in the list of implements in the Society's Repertory in 1783, a 
" cultivator " is mentioned. Murray's Dictionary gives a still earlier use 
in a translation of Puhamel's Husbandry, 1762, 


had successfully cut a patch of ripe oats. The apparatus 
is described, not very fully, in the committee minutes of 
1 5th April ; but the description is sufficient to show that 
the principal feature of the machine was a set of angular 
knives mounted on a horizontal bar, to which reciprocating 
motion was given by a crank, the corn being guided to 
the cutters by means of spikes or " fingers." This is pre- 
cisely the mechanism of all existing reapers. Previous 
inventions, and some of a later date, used reciprocating 
blades or revolving scythes, but none of these gave the 
shearing or drawing cut which alone answers for cutting 
corn. The verdict of the committee was that the inven- 
tion was incomplete, and they did not recommend it for 
an award a verdict which simply shows that the com- 
mittee as then constituted was unfortunately incapable of 
appreciating a most important invention, the very novelty 
of which was probably too great for them to realise its 

The history of the invention is given in full detail in 
an article and some letters contained in the Journal of 
the Society for 1 878. * From these it appears that Common 
co-operated with Ogle, who was the inventor of an unsuc- 
cessful reaping machine of the rotating scythe class, and 
that he employed one Brown to make certain castings 
for him, the patterns for which Brown in 1830 took to 
America. There he either constructed a machine, and 
disposed of it to McCormick, or gave the patterns to 
McCormick, and provided him with information from 
which McCormick was able to construct a machine. At 
all events there seems no doubt whatever that Common's 
reaper was the original of the machine brought out by 
McCormick, and exhibited by him in the American section 
of the 1851 Exhibition as his own. In consequence 
McCormick had for long the credit of being the inventor 
of the modern harvester until the true facts were brought 
out, and the invention attributed to its real author, John 
Common. At the same time it should not be forgotten 

1 Vol. xxvi. pp. 369, 419, and 479. The information contained in 
these papers, with some further additions, was republished in a little 
book in 1907 by R. F. J. Common, the grandson of the inventor. 


that while the evidence seems to disprove McCormick's 
claim to be an original inventor, it does not in any way 
diminish the value of his public services in the intro- 
duction of the reaping machine. It often needs two men 
to make a success of an invention, one to invent and 
one to publish. Generally the second man gets the 
profit, and it is not always certain that he may not 
deserve it ; he does not generally get the credit, though 
there seems no reason why he should not fairly claim a 
share of it. John Common's first machine appears to 
have been made about the year 1803, and to have 
grown out of a suggestion made by Ogle. Two other 
machines were made by him one about 1 8 1 1 , and the 
third in 1812. 

It makes it the more remarkable that Common's 
reaping machine was never rewarded by the Society, that 
later, in 1818, he received a gold medal for a turnip drill, 
and later still, in 1844, a silver medal for a plan of putting 
new roots to old trees, neither of them comparable with 
his really great invention of the reaping machine. John 
Common was living in 1860, and a letter of his of that 
date is published in one of the Journals above quoted. 
John Thew, one of the witnesses of the trial above men- 
tioned, was living in 1878, and was able at that date to 
confirm his former statements. 

Nor was the Society more successful with another 
inventdr of an original reaper, the Rev. Patrick Bell, 
whose machine was submitted to the Society in 1830, 
but was not rewarded on the ground that the description 
of the machine, which was an excellent one, had brought 
it sufficiently before the public, and that it did not there- 
fore require the Society's aid to bring it into notice. Bell, 
who was then a young man studying for the ministry 
at the University of St. Andrews, invented his reaper in 
1827, and it was tried the following year on a farm in 
Perthshire belonging to his brother, George Bell. He 
appears only to have constructed one machine, which 
worked regularly from about 1828 to 1868, when it was 
purchased for the Museum of the Patent Office. It is 
now in the Mechanical Engineering collection of the 


Victoria and Albert Museum. 1 A full account of his 
invention was given by Dr. Bell at the meeting of the 
British Association at Dundee in 1867, but unfortunately 
only a brief report of the paper appears in the Pro- 
ceedings of the Association. Bell's machine was never 
patented, but later on, after attention had been drawn 
to McCormick's machine in the 1851 Exhibition, many 
machines were made after his model, and came into 
extensive use. 2 

Unlike most of the new agricultural implements, the 
reaping machine, when once attention had been drawn 
to it, came rapidly into use. Morton, in his Cyclopedia 
of Agriculture, writing in 1851, refers briefly in his article 
on <( Harvesting Machines," to Bell and McCormick, and 
says : " Notwithstanding all the ingenuity, however, that 
has hitherto been applied to the subject, reaping has been, 
and no doubt for many years, as we have said, will 
continue to be, a manual operation." In the same work, 
in a later article on " Reaping Machines," which must 
have been written in or before 1855, he recants his views 
of four years before and describes at considerable length, 
with illustrations, an improved form of Bell's machine, 
and also those made by Hussey and by McCormick. 

The earliest reference to a threshing machine must cer- 
tainly be contained in the grant of Letters Patent in 1636 
to Sir John Christopher Berg, for an " invencion to be 
agitated by winde, water or horses for the cleane threshing 
of corne," but about this no further information exists, 
and the first machine which is known to have been used for 

1 The excellent catalogue of this collection contains (Part ii. p. 227, 
edition 1908) a brief historical note on harvesting machines and (p. 232, 
Nos. 1515 and 1516) a description of Bell's machine (No. 1515 is the 
original machine somewhat altered, and No. 1516 is a model of the 
original). There are also models and descriptions (pp. 232 and 233, Nos. 
1517, 1 518, and 1519) of McCormick's reaper. No reference is made to 
Common, and it is to be hoped that the omission may be rectified in 
any future reprints. 

2 Much information about the earliest attempts to make reaping 
machines will be found in the Appendix to the Specifications of English 
Patents for Reaping Machines, by B. Woodcroft, published by the 
Patent Office. This work is now seldom to be met with. 


the purpose of threshing corn was that patented by Michael 
Menzies in 1734. No specification was filed, and the 
only information afforded by the terms of the grant is 
that the machine " threshes with common swipples." l 
A description, however, is given by Maxwell in the Trans- 
actions of the old Scottish Society of Improvers in the 
Knowledge of Agriculture, which he published in 1743. 
This machine appears to have consisted of a number of 
flails, probably mounted on a central shaft or drum, 
which was either operated by hand or " by means of a 
great water-wheel and triddles." Though Maxwell recom- 
mends it, it does not appear that Menzies' machine was 
ever much used, and the first practical threshing machine 
was that of Andrew Meikle, patented in 1788, and stated 
to have been working in 1 798 in Clackmannanshire. From 
the description in the patent specification it is evident that 
this machine may be regarded as the precursor of the 
modern threshing machines, since the principle on which 
it was constructed is really that which has been elaborated 
in the modern machine a revolving drum with what he 
called " scutchers " working under a curved shield. This 
apparatus soon came into practical use, and it was later 
largely improved upon, until it developed into the 
apparatus now in common use. 2 

The first award made by the Society for a threshing 
machine was in 1761, when 15 was given to John Lloyd. 
No description of this appears to be extant. A machine 
" for threshing and winnowing corn," for which fifty 
guineas was awarded in 1769 to John Evers, is highly 
commended by Dossie, 3 but it appears to have been 
rather a clumsy apparatus, and must have absorbed a 

1 Swipple is a north-country name for a flail, or the head of a flail. 

2 Young, in his Annals of Agriculture, vol. xxii. p. 426, states 
that Meikle's (or Mickle's) machine was an adaptation of one which 
F. Kinlock had brought to Meikle's father's mill that its capacity for 
being driven by water power might be tested. Young gives a few 
details about the apparatus, and says that in 1794 the use of threshing 
machines was becoming general in Northumberland, where they had 
been introduced twenty years before (i.e. about 1774) from Scotland 
by Edward Gregson. 

8 Vol. i. p. 86. 


great deal of power. The corn was spread on a revolving 
floor, and thus brought under the action of " a row of 
a kind of flails." This anticipated Meikle's by some 
twenty years, but was certainly inferior and worked on 
a very different principle. 

Four years before this, in 1765, a bounty of 15 had 
been awarded to a Mr. Harvey for a threshing machine 
" used in Connecticut." From the note upon it in the 
manuscript minutes of the Committee on Agriculture, 
it consisted of a cone with longitudinal ribs revolving from 
a fixed centre over a floor on which the corn was laid. 
Nothing more is known of the apparatus. 

After this the subject was neglected till 1801, when 
a gold medal was offered for a threshing machine which 
should be an improvement on any then used. This was 
awarded in 1810 to H. P. Lee. His machine consisted 
of four vanes or beaters on a central shaft working in a 
concave. Motion was given by a horse-gear through spur 
gearing to the shaft, A special merit of the apparatus seems 
to have been the high speed at which it could be driven. 

The earliest suggestion of the use of apparatus for 
cutting or chopping straw for fodder is probably contained 
in the first volume of the Museum Rusticum (1761), p. 258, 
and further details are given in the volumes for 1765 and 
I766. 1 In the first of these a " cutting-box " for fodder 
is described as a novelty, and in the second a fuller account 
with illustrations is given of a machine devised by Thomas 
Comber. It is simply the old form of chaff-cutter, common 
enough fifty years ago, in which the straw or straw and 
hay is pushed along a trough by hand, and cut by a hinged 
blade working across the end of the trough, the straw, 
etc., being held down, while the cut is being made, by a 
presser worked by the foot or otherwise. The machine is 
spoken of as something quite new and useful, and from the 
description it appears that the idea of using chopped straw 
for the food of cattle and horses was previously unknown . 

This machine does not seem to have been submitted 
to the Society. The first award for a chaff-cutter was 
one of twenty guineas in 1768 made to J. Edgill. This 
1 Vol. v. p. 208, and vol. vi. p. 8. 


is interesting because the machine, which is described in 
Bailey's Mechanical Machines (vol. i. p. 42 J, 1 contains in 
principle all the elements of the modern chaff-cutter. 
A single blade, curved so as to give a slicing cut, is mounted 
on a horizontal axle fitted by the side of a trough. A 
winch handle, also on the end of the axle, gives a rotary 
motion to the knife, which works across the mouth of 
the trough, in which the straw to be cut is placed. The 
straw is fed through the trough by means of a block carry- 
ing prongs, which is mounted to slide to and fro in the 
upper part of the trough. An intermittent motion is given 
to this block by means of a tappet on the axle, which 
engages with a pin rack sliding by a wheel at the side of 
the trough, and connected with the block. When the 
block had reached the front of the trough it was lifted 
and moved back by hand. There is also a weight to keep 
the straw down. It will be seen that this machine there- 
fore anticipates all the movements of a modern chaff-cutter. 

Two years later, in 1770, a William Bailey received 
twenty guineas for an improved straw-cutter, but of 
this no description seems to be extant. In 1774 Stephen 
Smith received twenty guineas and a gold medal for 
a machine rather resembling Edgill's, but having a 
double-bladed knife, so that there were two cuts in each 
revolution. The feed mechanism, as figured and described 
by Bailey, seems to be of a somewhat complicated 
character ; but an intermittent motion appears to be 
given to a sliding board on the bottom of the trough by 
worm gearing on a shaft mounted on the side of the 
trough. Bailey's drawings are all in perspective, and 
therefore, though they are extremely good, it is sometimes 
difficult to follow the action of the mechanism. 

The next award was in 1786, when twenty guineas 
were given to James Pike, a watchmaker of Newton Abbot, 
for a machine in which the chief improvement appears to 
be that the feed was effected by means of rollers operated 
by a worm and spur wheels from the main axle. So far 

1 W. Bailey was registrar to the Society. Some information 
about him and his book will be found in Chapter XI, p. 239, and in 
Chapter XV. p. 329. 


as can be judged from the illustration in the Transactions l 
the feed in this way was continuous, the rollers being 
simply driven by spur wheels gearing with a worm on the 
main shaft. He also mounted his knife (he only used 
a single blade) on a fly-wheel, instead of using one or two 
blades fitted radially on a shaft, and this was an obvious 
economy of power. 

In 1797 the final improvement was introduced by 
Robert Salmon, 2 the ingenious land agent of the Duke of 
Bedford, who made the feed intermittent by driving the 
feed rollers through the intervention of a ratchet wheel oper- 
ated by a connecting rod from the main shaft. Salmon's 
machine, however, was in other respects inferior. His 
cutters were carried by two wheels mounted on an axle 
which was at right angles to the trough and some little 
distance in front of it, so that as the wheels revolved the 
cutters were brought successively across the mouth of the 
trough. It is evident that in this machine the power was 
employed at much less advantage than in those in which, 
as in the modern machine, the wheel and cutters revolved 
across the line of the trough. 

It will thus be seen that the whole evolution of the 
modern chaff-cutter may be traced in these early im- 
plements to which prizes were awarded by the Society. 

A little later on great improvements in the mechanism 
were effected. The first patent for a chaff-cutter, taken 
out by James Cook in 1794, was of the same character as 
Edgill's and Pike's, but he fitted three knives on his fly- 

1 Vol. v. p. 62. 

2 Robert Salmon was a most ingenious inventor. He received 
numerous medals and prizes from the Society for the most diverse 
machines and appliances, including surgical apparatus, a man trap, 
a canal lock, and a method of transferring pictures from the surfaces 
on which they were painted. He took out eleven patents, the first 
in 1796 and the last in 1821, three of which were for surgical appliances. 
He invented one of the earliest reaping machines (1807), but, so far 
as I have been able to ascertain, he did not submit it to the Society. A 
short account of him is given in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural 
Society, vol. ii. (3rd series), p. 132. He was a member of the Society, 
and his name appears on the lists from 1816 to 1820. He died in 1821, 
at the age of eighty-nine. 


wheel, a great but obvious improvement. He also added 
a fixed blade, against which the revolving blades acted. 
Later inventors made the feed intermittent by means 
of a worm of varying pitch, or by driving the gearing 
through a wheel with only one tooth on each side, and 
improved the construction generally, but the chaff-cutter 
now universally known is only an improved version of 
those of Edgill and Pike. 

The offer of a prize in 1766 for a machine for slicing 
turnips was condemned by Arthur Young l as rather 
trivial, but the apparatus sent in in answer to the offer 
was the first of a long series of inventions upon which a 
vast amount of ingenuity has been spent. The turnip- 
cutter of the present day is the result of the best part of 
a century's work, and it is not very long since the apparatus 
has been brought to perfection, so that it will not only 
slice the roots but will cut them into " fingers " of a 
convenient size and shape for the food of cattle. In the 
following year, 1767, two rewards were given, 20 to 
James Edgill, and ten guineas to William Bailey. Dossie, 
who speaks well of Edgill 's machine, does not describe 
its action, but Bailey gives some figures of it. A circular 
tub is mounted to revolve on a central vertical spindle. 
The tub has no bottom, but it has four cutting blades 
mounted radially in place of its bottom. The tub is 
supported by friction rollers on a base which is perforated 
at intervals to allow the cut roots to pass through. Rotary 
motion is given to the tub by cross handles. The tub 
being filled with roots, and motion being given to it, the 
roots are sliced by the knives the size of the slices being 
determined by the space between the knives and the 
base, which is adjustable. 

The implement would no doubt work perfectly well, 
as Dossie said it did. But it would certainly require a 
good deal of power, and the whole idea, though ingenious, 
is a little clumsy. Bailey states that tw r o men could work 
the machine with ease and facility, and that it would slice 
twelve bushels of turnips in five minutes. The award to 
Bailey was for improvements on Edgill's machine. 

1 Farmers' Letters, vol. i. (2nd edition, 1771), p. 234. , * 


According to a statement made by Lovell Edgeworth in 
his autobiography, a machine of his was tested in com- 
petition with Edgill's. From his own account it appears 
to have been inferior to the apparatus above described, 
though he himself did not think so. In view of the fact 
that nothing seems to be known of these early attempts 
to construct what eventually proved to be a very valuable 
agricultural implement, it is worth while to quote Edge- 
worth's own account. 1 

11 I sent also to the Society of Arts a machine for 
cutting turnips, which consisted simply of a circular 
trough with a dropping knife moving on a pin in the 
centre, so that the person who worked it had nothing to 
do but walk round the circle, and to lift the cutter up and 
down, as a turner works his paring knife. This was put 
in competition with the machine for cutting turnips which 
is now in common use, and for which the Society adjudged 
to Mr. Edgehill the premium. Very little difference was 
perceived in the performance of our machines, and I still 
employ my own because it can be made anywhere, of any 
coarse timber, has but one knife, which can be easily 
kept from rust and readily sharpened ; in short, it performs 
nearly as much work as Mr. Edgehill's turnip-cutter, and 
does not cost one- fourth part as much. The machine 
which I use is a trough on three legs, about five feet long, 
a foot wide, and a segment of a circle of six feet diameter." 

In succeeding years other machines were commended 
or rewarded by the Society, but to judge by the records 
of the Patent Office it was very long before attention 
was really directed to this class of apparatus. The 
earliest patent for a turnip-cutter was granted in 1 803, and 
it was not till 1834 that Gardner's machine, which after- 
wards came largely into use, was invented. After this there 
were numerous improvements, but Gardner's machine in 
its modified and modern form is still considered the best. 2 

The use of manures was very limited, and, indeed, 

1 Memoirs of R. L. Edgeworth (Edition 1821), vol. i. p. 167. 

2 R. P. Wright's Cyclopedia of Agriculture, 1910, s.v. " Root-cutter," 
vol. x. p. 139. The writer of the note says that "it has practically 
been unimproved since its introduction," seventy years ago. 


manure could hardly be applied with much effect so long 
as the open-field system endured. The practice of apply- 
ing marl had been lately revived in Norfolk, 1 and a writer 
in the Museum Rusticum (vol. ii. p. 132) states that the 
Suffolk farmers were in the habit of using " cragg " contain- 
ing " remains of marine shells." Farmyard manure was, of 
course, available, and the manuring of fields by folding 
sheep and cattle upon them was also practised. Lime was 
used to a very limited extent, and so were ashes. On 
the sea-coast, seaweed seems to have been utilised. Town 
nightsoil was employed in some localities where it was avail- 
able, and the system of paring the surface and burning it 
was also found serviceable. Young, writing about 1769, 
mentions that oil-cake was imported from Holland for 
use as a manure at a cost of 155. an acre. Its value as a 
cattle food was not then generally known, though, as 
previously mentioned, such application had been pro- 
posed, and indeed tried. 

In 1758 a prize was offered for a dissertation on " The 
Nature and Operation of Manures," the following being 
specified : " Soot, coal-ashes, wood-ashes, lime, and night- 
soil." The offer was continued in the same terms for very 
many years, " bones " being added to the list in 1817, and 
" salt " in 1 825 . After this date the prize was discontinued. 
During its continuance a good many awards were made, 
and various papers, none, perhaps, of very great value, 
were published in the Transactions. 

1 Elton, in his Origins of English History, p. 116, edit. 1890, tells 
us that the Gaulish immigrants into Britain before Caesar's invasion 
were familiar with the agricultural applications of marl and chalk. 
They were good farmers and had large fields. There were among 
them no traces of the co-operative system of farming. Elton doubtless 
got his information on this point from Pliny, who (Hist. Nat., xvii. 4) 
treats at some length on the employment of marl (marga) and refers 
to its use in Gallia and Britannia. A writer in the Museum Rusticum 
(vol. ii. p. 376), who signs his letter " X. Y. Z.," a Member of the Society 
of Arts, and who was very likely Arthur Young, relates his own ex- 
perience, and gives instructions for the use of marl. Young, in his 
Annals of Agriculture, gives a good deal of information about marl, 
and (vol. xxii. p. 547) refers to the above-cited passage of Pliny. A 
Charter of Henry in. of 1225 gave every man a right to sink a marl-pit 
on his own ground. 


The same list (that of 1758) which contains the first 
reference to manures, includes also a premium for a 
dissertation on " Soils and their Natures." This was 
afterwards developed into an offer of a gold medal for 
" ascertaining the component parts of arable land/' by a 
series of experiments. Detailed instructions were laid 
down as to the nature of the analysis of the soil, and 
practical proof was demanded of the improvement of 
sterile soil, by the addition of such " components " as 
appeared to be lacking, and the absence of which might 
be assumed to be the cause of the sterility. A good deal 
of information was supplied to the Society from time to 
time, and published in the Transactions, but it does not 
appear that the exhaustive series of experiments laid down 
by the Society were ever carried out in their entirety. 
The proposal, however, is not without interest, as marking 
the commencement of agricultural chemistry, which may 
be said to have first taken definite form in England when 
Sir Humphry Davy, after delivering a course of lectures 
in 1803 on the " Connection of Chemistry with Vegetable 
Physiology " for the Board of Agriculture, was ap- 
pointed by the Board Professor of Chemical Agriculture, 
with the duty besides that of delivering annual courses of 
lectures of analysing soils and manures at fixed fees for 
those who required such work. Davy had been preceded 
by Duhamel in France, where science especially chemical 
science was ahead of English knowledge ; but the work 
of Davy soon surpassed that of his foreign rivals. 1 

The question of stock-raising never seems to have 
received any attention at all from the Society, and this is 
rather remarkable, because the successful experiments 
of Bakewell commenced just about the time the Society 
was established had attracted a great deal of attention, 
and had been followed up by numerous breeders of stock, 
cattle as well as sheep, all over the country. He was the 
first to indicate and to emphasise the necessity for proper 
selection in breeding, and the principles he laid down had 

1 See a "Life of Davy/' by H. B. Wheatley, Journal of the Royal 
Agricultural Society, vol. Ixv. 1904, p. i ; also Humphry Davy, by Sir 
Edward Thorpe, 1 896, pp. 94-99. 


the greatest possible effect in improving the character of 
British stock. George in. was an enthusiastic farmer and 
breeder, and many of the great landowners were devoting 
themselves to what was really the scientific raising of new 
breeds of sheep and cattle. All this, however, seems to 
have been regarded as outside the Society's province. 
There are occasional papers in the Transactions on feeding 
cattle, horses, and sheep, on treating their various illnesses, 
etc. Arthur Young had a gold medal in 1769 (his first 
medal from the Society) for his system of fattening hogs, 
and from time to time a few unimportant premiums of a 
like nature were offered and bestowed ; but, on the whole, 
the Society appears to have left this important subject 
severely alone. 

Very many other objects were suggested in the Society's 
lists, or received premiums when submitted to the Society's 
notice. One of the most important of these was the 
reclamation of land from the sea, and there is a long list of 
those who received medals for such additions to the 
cultivable area in many places on the coast. The cultiva- 
tion and improvement of waste land, the proper rotation 
of crops on different soils, irrigation, the destruction of 
insect pests, methods of marking sheep so as to avoid the 
use of tar, harvesting crops in wet weather, the draining 
of land, were all matters to which attention was directed, 
and on which, from 1760 till about 1830, considerable 
amounts of money were expended. Bee culture was at 
one time (from 1760 to 1770) one of the minor industries 
that was warmly supported, and a large number of small 
prizes were given for keeping bees, and for producing wax 
and honey. Beeswax was then a more important article 
than it is now, as it was practically the only material 
available for the best candles. 

By the end of the second decade of the nineteenth 
century the value and importance of the Society's agri- 
cultural work had greatly fallen off. In the Preface to the 
volume of Transactions for 1819 (Vol. xxxvu.) we find a 
suggestion that " The object of the Society in the early 
and enlightened liberality with which they fostered the 
most important of the practical arts, agriculture, has for 


the most part been accomplished." 'The fact probably 
was that while the prosperity of the Society was at this 
time waning, the attention of its most active supporters 
was directed to other subjects than agriculture, and it did 
not appeal specially to them. At all events, from this 
time forward the Society was content for the most part to 
leave to other agencies the direction of agricultural pro- 
gress. After this date, though occasional rewards were 
given for agricultural implements, they were neither 
numerous nor important. A few years later (in 1827), 
in place of the various detailed descriptions of apparatus 
which were required, the premium list contains only a 
general offer of rewards for " machines for performing any 
agricultural operations," and eventually the prizes seem to 
lapse altogether. The work had indeed been taken up by 
another agency. The " Board of Agriculture " had been 
established in 1 793, and had carried on a not very valuable 
life till 1 822. It was not really a Government department, 
but a sort of independent commission, enjoying a subsidy 
of 3000 a year from the State. It had the good fortune 
to secure Arthur Young as its secretary, and if he had had 
a free hand it might have effected more useful work ; but 
for the first part of his tenure of office he was hampered 
by the proceedings of the chairman, Sir John Sinclair, 
whose influence had obtained from Pitt the Treasury grant 
by which the Board was established, and after 1 808 Young 
was incapacitated by blindness and old age. The Board 
produced one valuable piece of work in the Statistical 
Surveys of the counties of England, and it did good service 
when, as above mentioned, it appointed Davy its professor. 
It followed the example of the Society by offering premiums, 
when the time for such offers had passed away, and beyond 
this it really did very little. It is probable that the fact 
of the Board's existence diminished the Society's interest in 
agriculture, and made its agricultural work less necessary. 1 
Soon after the Board was abolished, a very different 
institution for the promotion of agricultural science came 

1 An account of the Board of Agriculture, by Sir Ernest Clarke, will 
be found in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, vol. ix, 
(3rd series), p. i. 


into being, for the Royal Agricultural Society was founded 
in 1838. From its first start it secured the support of 
all interested in the subject, and was at once recognised 
as the fit representative of British agriculture. From that 
date there was nothing more for the Society of Arts to do. 
But until the interests of this great industry passed into 
its competent hands it can be truly said that they were 
well looked after by the older Society. Amongst all its 
multifarious objects there were none more zealously 
pursued than those associated with agriculture. " Nor," 
in the words of the writer of the above-quoted preface 
probably Arthur Aikin " is it unjust to suppose that the 
unexampled rapidity with which the art of cultivation 
has advanced to its present state is in no small degree 
owing to the protection originally conferred by this in- 

Early Chaff -Cutter (see p, 133). 




Need of Timber for Fuel and Shipbuilding Evelyn's Sylva Proposal 
to Encourage Tree-planting First Offer of Prizes Names of 
some of the Recipients Summary of the Results of the Awards. 

FROM a very early date in English History we find re- 
current complaints of the lack of timber. Wood was almost 
the only fuel. It was one of the principal materials for 
construction on land, and the only one available for naval 
purposes. The forests which once covered the country had 
been cut down, and the timber used for a thousand pur- 
poses, of which the most important were shipbuilding and 
ironfounding. The places where the iron manufacture 
was located were decided, not as now by the existence 
of coal, but by the neighbourhood of forests. Sussex and 
the Forest of Dean were the chief centres of the iron 
trade, not so much because of the abundance of iron ore, 
as because of the abundance of wood. Sheffield became 
the chief seat of the cutlery business because it was sur- 
rounded by forests ; and as the wood was used or burnt 
no efforts were made to replace it. 

Even in Tudor times we find attempts by legislation 
to provide a remedy by limiting the destruction of woods 
and coppices, and by preventing waste of timber. The 
demand for fuel in London and the need of timber for 
shipbuilding led to a statute of Henry vm. for the 
preservation of woods, and there were several Acts of 
Elizabeth to the same effect. 1 At the time of the 

1 35 Henry vni. c. 17 ; I Elizabeth c. 15 ; 23 Elizabeth c. 5 ; 27 
Elizabeth c. 19. Cunningham, in his English Industry, vol. i. (edit. 
1907), pp. 64, 525, and elsewhere, refers to these and other Acts, and 
discusses the subject fully. 


Restoration the need of timber for shipbuilding had 
grown urgent. 

In or about 1662 the Navy Office, alarmed at the 
increasing lack of timber for naval purposes, applied for 
advice to the Royal Society, who passed on to John 
Evelyn the questions they had been asked. The result 
of his investigations was the well-known book, Sylva, 
or a Discourse of Forest Trees and the Propagation of 
Timber in His Majesty's Dominions. 1 In it Evelyn 
appealed to the landowners to improve their forests and 
woods, and provided them with the fullest information 
as to how they should set about the work. " To you 
princes, dukes, earls, lords, knights, and gentlemen, noble 
patriots (as most concerned), I speak to encourage and 
animate a work so glorious, so necessary." It is, however, 
doubtful whether this remarkable book, which has become 
an English classic, had any very great practical or permanent 
effect, though the author was able to boast that " many 
millions of timber trees have been propagated and planted 
at the instigation and by the sole direction of this work." 

At all events, things were no better a century after 
Evelyn's time, though the use of " sea-coal " for fuel 
had increased, and it was applied for various manufactur- 
ing purposes. Iron, however, still had to be made with 
charcoal, since it was only about 1 730 or 1 735 that Abraham 
Darby first succeeded in employing coke for the purpose, 
and about 1750 that he had established the manufacture 
on a commercial basis. For many other manufacturing 
purposes, coal, with its sulphurous fumes, was not con- 
sidered suitable, and nearly all over the country wood 
was still the only domestic fuel. Not only were the 
trees cut down, but they were either pollarded or stripped 
of their branches. Arthur Young, in his Farmers' Letters, 
says that in many parts of the country the result of this 
practice had been to convert the trees into " May-poles." 

Attempts had been made by legislation to limit the 
use of wood for fuel, but apparently there had been no 
serious efforts to replace the stock of timber by acting 

1 The " discourse " was " delivered " to the Royal Society on i5th 
October 1662, and the complete book was first published in 1664. 


on the principles laid down by Evelyn, until the Society 
of Arts took up the question. 

The first suggestion came from Mr. Henry Baker, who, 
according to the minutes of the meeting of 26th March 
I 75S> presented to the Society from the author, Mr. 
Edward Wade, " a quarto pamphlet published by him 
to promote the planting of timber trees in the common 
and waste ground all over the kingdom for the supply 
of the Navy, the employment and advantage of the poor 
as well as the ornamenting the nation." This led to the 
inclusion in the 1758 prize-list of three premiums for tree- 
planting. A gold medal and two silver medals were 
offered for sowing the greatest quantity of land with 
acorns (five acres at least), four bushels to the acre. 
Similar premiums were also offered for planting Spanish 
chestnuts, elm, and Scotch fir. In 1759 the same prizes 
were offered, with the addition of similar awards for 
Weymouth pine, 1 " being the properest sort for masts." 
As time went on various additions were made to the list, 
and the conditions were varied, but not very widely. 
Eventually the list included besides oaks, which were to 
be planted as well as raised from acorns, and the trees 
above mentioned, red Virginia cedar, spruce fir, silver 
fir, larch, Norfolk willow, alder, red willow, ash, Lombardy 
poplar, elm, and walnut. At one time, about 1795, a 
special prize was offered for oak trees in " compass forms " 
for shipbuilding, but this elicited no response, and the 
offer was dropped. 

The first award was in 1758, when a gold medal was 
given to the Duke of Beaufort for sowing twenty-three 
acres in Hawksbury, Gloucestershire, with acorns. 2 In 
1761 the Duke of Bedford received a silver medal for 
sowing eleven acres with acorns at Woburn, and in 1763 

1 The "white pine of the United States, Pinus strobus, first brought 
from the St. Lawrence in 1705, and planted in Wiltshire by Lord 
Weymouth " (Lankester). 

2 The entries up to 1783 are taken from four sources: The Register 
of Premiums, 1778 ; Dossie's Memoirs of Agriculture, etc., vol. iii. 1782 ; 
the list in Vol. n. of the Transactions, 1784 ; and a list in Vol. XLIX. of the 
Transactions, part ii. p. i. These lists do not always agree. From 
1784 on we have the annual prize-lists in each volume of the Transactions. 



a second similar medal for 16,000 Scotch firs planted at 
Millbrook, Bedfordshire. In 1761, Earl Winterton had 
a gold medal for sowing twenty acres near Plaistow with 
acorns. Lord Winterton also received another gold medal 
in 1767 for planting 2000 elms in Ash Park, Sussex, and 
two more in 1776 one for sowing acorns and the other 
for planting Lombardy poplars. In 1763 the Earl of 
Portsmouth had a gold medal for planting 6100 small- 
leaved or English elms. After this date the prizes become 
more numerous, and the following awards were made to 
various noblemen for plantations on their estates ; 1766, 
silver medal to Lord Scarsdale for planting Scotch firs ; 
1776, gold medal to Viscount Tumour for Spanish chest- 
nuts, gold medal to the Earl of Moray for planting 7,646,000 
oaks, firs, and other trees ; 1779, gold medal to Lord 
Paget for sowing acorns, silver medal to the Earl of 
Donegal for planting oaks ; 1784, gold medal to the 
Earl of Upper Ossory for his plantations (not specified) ; 
1788, gold medal to the Earl of Fife for his plantations 
in Scotland. The same nobleman got a second gold 
medal in 1803 for planting forest trees. In 1797 a gold 
medal was given to Lord Brownlow for planting osiers, 
but this was a special offer, quite apart from the prizes 
for raising timber. 1 Two years before, Lord Brownlow 
had a grant of 20 for the same thing, which was a very 
unusual thing in the case of noblemen, since members of 
the peerage were only considered entitled to honorary 
rewards. In 1800 the Marquis of Titchfield had a gold 
medal for sowing acorns ; in 1803 Viscount Newark 
received a gold medal for planting oaks ; in 1805 the Earl 
of Breadalbane had a silver medal for firs. In 1808 the 
Earl of Mansfield had a gold medal for oaks. A gold 
medal was presented to the Duchess of Rutland in 1816, 
but this was for ascertaining the best method of raising 
oaks, and was not a prize for planting. In 1820 the 
Duke of Devonshire received a gold medal for planting 
forest trees . The last award for plantations to a nobleman 
was the gold medal given to Lord Newborough in 1828 
for planting forest trees. 

1 See Chapter XIII, p. 306. 


Richard Watson, who was Bishop of Llandaff from 
1782 to 1816, received three gold medals from the Society ; 
in 1 788 for larch, in 1 789 for ash, and in 1 808 for larch. All 
his plantations were on an estate which he inherited in 1 789. 

The awards to other landowners are too numerous to 
set out in detail, but some may be mentioned, on account 
of their comparative importance, or because of the person- 
ality of the recipient. 

In 1759 a gold medal was awarded to Dennis Rolle, of 
Hudscot, Southmolton, for sowing about twenty-five 
acres with acorns, and three silver medals were given to 
Philip Carteret Webb, John Berney, and T. Drew, for sowing 
smaller areas. Dennis Rolle received a second gold medal 
in 1761 for planting over 100,000 Scotch firs. In 1763, 
four gold medals in all and two silver were awarded for 
elms, chestnuts, and fir. 

In 1764, Robert Fenwick, of Lemington, Northumber- 
land, had a gold medal for 104,000 Scotch firs. In 1765 
he had a second for another 102,000, and in 1766 a third 
for yet another 100,000 306,000 in all. 

William Beckford, the author of Vathek, in 1769 
received a gold medal for planting 61,800 Scotch firs at 
Fonthill, the celebrated estate where he ruined himself 
by his lavish expenditure on fantastic decoration. 

Richard Muilman Trench Chiswell, of Debden Hall, 
Essex, had a gold medal in 1776 for planting Lombardy 
poplars, and two gold medals, in 1777 and 1778, for plant- 
ing elms. His name was originally Muilman, and he 
changed it on succeeding to the Debden Hall estate. He 
was an antiquary, and wrote on the history of Essex. 

Thomas White, of West Retford, Notts, received six 
gold medals in 1778 for his plantation of poplar, larch, 
Scotch fir, occidental plane tree, spruce fir, and silver fir. 
He also received two gold medals in 1779 for Norfolk 
willow and ash, one in 1785 for elm, one in 1786 for alders, 
and a silver medal in 1788 for oaks, making in all ten gold 
medals and one silver medal. 

In 1778 a gold medal was awarded to William Mellish, 
of Blythe, Notts, for planting 101,600 spruce firs, and in 
1780 a second medal for 475,000 larches. 


Richard Slater Milnes of Fryston Hall, Yorks, the 
grandfather of Richard Monkton Milnes, the first Lord 
Houghton, had three gold medals, one in 1789 for planting 
200,000 larch, a second in 1700 for 20,000 elms, and a 
third, also in 1790, for 38,400 timber trees. 

Lewis Majendie, of Hedingham Castle, Essex, received 
four gold medals for planting oaks, chestnuts, and ash 
(two) in 1792, 1 794, and 1797. 

The most extensive plantations were those made by 
Colonel Thomas Johnes, of Hafod, Cardiganshire, a man 
of considerable reputation in his time. He was Lord- 
Lieutenant of Cardiganshire, and from 1774 to 1816 he 
represented a Welsh constituency. He was well known 
as a book collector and as the translator of Froissart, 
Monstrelet, and other chroniclers. Between 1 795 and 1801 
he planted 2,065,000 trees, of which number i ,200,000 were 
larches. Besides this, fifty-five acres of land were sown 
with acorns or planted with oaks, and it was subsequently 
stated that he had raised 922,000 oaks. He received 
altogether six gold medals from the Society, in 1800, 1801, 
1802, 1805, 1 8 io, and 1813. A special account of his 
plantations is given in the Preface to Vol. xiv. of the 
Transactions (p. x). 

John Christian Curwen, M.P., of Workington Hall, 
Cumberland, received four gold medals, in 1797, 1802, 1804, 
and 1809, for sowing acorns and for planting larch (two) 
and timber trees. In 1801 and 1802 he planted 814,000 
trees. He was a member of the Society from 1798 to 
1827, and a Vice- President from 1809. Besides these 
awards for planting, he received seven gold medals and 
one silver for cultivating wheat, beans, carrots, cabbages, 
and potatoes, for draining and improving land, and for 
feeding cattle. In all he received eleven gold medals 
from the Society, which must certainly be the largest 
number presented to any single individual. He contri- 
buted numerous papers to the Transactions, and also 
published a good deal on agricultural matters, and on the 
condition of the labouring classes. According to a state- 
ment made by himself, it was due to the Society that he 
first took up farming. 


An award of a silver medal in 1 806 to Robert Salmon 
may be mentioned, though it was not for planting, but for a 
paper on pruning fir trees. 1 

Dr. William Makepeace Thackeray, of Chester, received 
a gold medal in 1809 for extensive plantations of ash, 
beech, chestnut, elm, and other forest trees, and another 
one in 1819 for planting 188 acres with forest trees. He 
was a first cousin of Richmond Thackeray, the father 
of the novelist. The plantations, according to the account 
he gave of his work in the Transactions, were made on 
property in Denbigh and Merioneth, belonging to his 
stepson, J. M. Jones, for whom he was trustee. 

Dr. Henry Ainslie received a silver medal in 1803 
for planting timber trees, and a gold medal in 1812 for the 
same. He was a distinguished physician, Senior Wrangler, 
and a Fellow of Pembroke. 

Charles Fyshe Palmer, M.P., of Oakingham, Berks, 
received two gold medals for forest trees (893,000) and 
oaks, and a silver one for sowing acorns all in 1821. 
Before this, in 1819, he had a silver medal for planting 
1 1 5 acres with forest trees. 

The last award for tree-planting was in 1835, when a 
gold medal was given to Edward Rogers of Stanage Park, 
Radnor, for plantations carried on from 1799 to 1831 by 
Mr. Rogers and his father. The number of trees planted 
was about 700 ,000. 2 

In all, 127 gold medals and forty silver medals, besides 
certain pecuniary grants amounting to about 200, were 
given by the Society for arboriculture. Nearly all these 
were awarded in the period from 1758 to 1821. After 
1821 there were very few awards, only seven in all. The 
offer of prizes was continued down to 1846, but was not 
renewed after that year. 

It is impossible to state with exactitude the number of 
trees planted which these awards represent, for although 
in some cases the particulars are given in the records of 

1 Transactions, vol. xxiv. p. 68. In the previous chapter, p. 135, 
reference has been made to this ingenious inventor, and to the awards 
he received from the Society. 

2 Transactions, vol. 1. part ii. p. i. 


the Society with extraordinary precision, in others such 
phrases as " extensive plantations " are used ; but at 
the very lowest estimate this number must have consider- 
ably exceeded fifty millions, of which some twenty millions 
were firs and larches, and some fifteen million oaks. 

On the whole, it may certainly be said that the attempt 
was extremely successful, thousands of acres were planted, 
and, as a practical result, the supply of timber was, to a 
certain extent, renewed. Many of the woods throughout 
the country owe their present existence to the initiative 
of the Society of Arts. 1 

1 Dr. Alexander Hunter, F.R.S. (1729-1809), who produced 
several additions of the Sylva, in one of his notes (Introduction to the 
1812 Edition, p. 2) says, " The Society of Arts, etc., established in 
London in the year 1754, have greatly contributed, by their honorary 
and pecuniary premiums, to restore the spirit for Planting." 



The First Fine Art Prizes Early encouragement of Industrial Art 
Change of system and establishment of Prizes for Artists 
Development of the system The Fine Art Premiums gradually 
become the most popular part of the Society's work Their value 
and the results they produced The Prize-winners The specific 
Prizes offered. 

IT has sometimes been suggested that the early offer of 
prizes to young artists was due to the fact that Shipley 
was a drawing-master, and that his principal object was 
to establish a society for the encouragement of painting 
and drawing, thereby serving his own professional interests. 
There is, however, no vestige of evidence of this in any 
of the Society's records. As before mentioned, 1 it was 
quite clearly stated that the reason for the offer was the 
belief of the founders of the Society that " the Art of 
Drawing is absolutely necessary in many employments, 
trades, and manufactures." It will also be remembered 
that Shipley himself controverted in the Gentleman's 
Magazine, in 1756, the idea that the intention of the 
Society was to train young people as artists, and declared 
that its main object was to fit them for the pursuit of the 
Industrial Arts. 

The history of the origin of the Society's Fine Art 
prizes has already been told in the first chapter. 2 It 
was there recorded how, out of the limited funds sub- 
scribed for the purpose of offering prizes, a certain portion 
was devoted to rewards for young people of both sexes in 
drawing, and how the first prizes were taken by Cosway 
1 See Chapter I, p. 15. 2 See Chapter I, p. 16. 


the painter, Smart the engraver, Gresse the painter, and 
Barbara Marsden, the clever girl who afterwards married 
Meyer, one of the original members of the Royal Academy. 

From this modest beginning there soon developed a 
well-organised system for the encouragement of Pictorial 
Art, which lasted for nearly a hundred years, and had 
very real influence on the growth of English Art. 

The prizes were at first intended to encourage Industrial 
Art, Art applied to manufactures, but it is not difficult to 
trace the changes in the Society's plans, which ended in 
the development of a scheme for encouraging young 
artists pure and simple. 

In the first list of premiums, a list published as an 
advertisement in the newspapers, but only preserved by 
the Society in MS., prizes are offered to boys and girls 
under the age of seventeen, for " the most ingenious and 
best fancied designs, composed of Flowers, Fruit, Foliage, 
and Birds, proper for Weavers, Embroiderers, or Callico 

In the oldest printed list of premiums, that issued in 
1758, the objects of the Society in including " Premiums 
for improving Art s , etc . , ' ' are very clearly set out . " Fancy, 
Design, and Taste being greatly assisted by the Art of 
Drawing, and absolutely necessary to all persons concerned 
in Building, Furniture, Dress, Toys, 1 or any other Matters 
where Elegance and Ornament are required," it is " judged 
proper " to offer certain prizes to young persons, according 
to a schedule carefully drawn out, for drawings of the 
Human Figure, Landscapes, Casts, etc. Some of these 
are confined to students in " The Academy for Painting, 
etc., in St. Martin's Lane " ; * others are open to candi- 
dates who had studied in the Duke of Richmond's gallery, 3 
and others were quite open. 

In the same list, besides these prizes for drawing, etc., 

1 Toys, trinkets, wares made of polished steel or iron, buckles, 
brooches, braces, watch-chains, sword hilts, purse mounts, chatelaines, 
etc. (Timmins, Birmingham and the Midland Hardware District, p. 216). 
The term is still used in the trade. It was with this meaning of the 
word in his mind that Burke called Birmingham the " Toy-shop of 

2 See Chapter I, p. 8. 3 See Chapter I, p. 8. 


we find special offers for designs for weavers and calico- 
printers, cabinetmakers and coachmakers, as well as 
for manufacturers of iron, brass, china, earthenware, or 
" any other Mechanic Trade that requires Taste." All 
these were for young people. There was also a prize for 
a copper medal, open to candidates a little older, but still 
under twenty-five. 1 All this goes to show that the founders 
of the Society were anxious to encourage the application 
of Art to industry, and were fully conscious of the need 
existing at the time for such encouragement. 

During the next few years the list was extended by 
the addition of engraving, mezzotint, etching, wood- 
engraving (with which is included engraving on type-metal), 
gem - engraving, cameo - cutting, modelling in pastes 
(cameos), bronze- casting, mechanical drawing, architectural 
design, furniture design, etc. Many prizes were awarded 
under these various heads (Bewick got a prize of seven 
guineas in 1775), but, on the whole, the response was 
hardly satisfactory. The number of entries in the purely 
artistic classes was far more numerous, and the result 
was that by 1778 all the technical subjects had been 
practically dropped out, and the list confined to the 
artistic classes alone including, of course, all the methods 
of reproduction engraving, modelling, carving, casting, 
etc., but omitting the industrial applications. No doubt 
the Society moved in the direction of least resistance, 
and endeavoured to supply what the public demanded ; 
but it is impossible to suppress a feeling of regret that the 
work so w r ell begun was not continued, and that a further 
effort was not made to improve the artistic quality of the 
various industrial products then being manufactured in 
rapidly increasing amounts in England. 

However, the Committee of Polite Arts evidently 
took greater interest in Art pure and simple than in its 
industrial applications, though some of them must have 
seen the importance of encouraging the " Lower branches 
of the Polite Arts, such as drawings for Patterns for Silk- 
weavers and Callico-printers," for in the observations 
appended in the list of Fine Art awards in the " Register 
1 See Chapter IX, p. 219. 


of Premiums," etc., published in 1778, credit is claimed 
for the work done by the Society in the promotion of the 
application of Art to textile manufactures. 

" The elegance of pattern adopted by them [weavers 
and calico-printers] may with justice be attributed in a 
great degree to the rewards and attention bestowed upon 
them by the Society." 

Nevertheless, the Society stopped its rewards and 
turned its attention elsewhere, practically abandoning 
the whole field of industrial Art. Now and again prizes 
were offered for designs. In 1801 " chints " patterns 
were asked for, and copper-plate patterns for calico- 
printers, but both offers were dropped after a few years, 
and it may be said with truth that very little was done to 
advance industrial Art until Prince Albert told a deputa- 
tion from the then newly-formed Council of the Society, 
that " The department most likely to prove immediately 
beneficial to the public would be that which encourages 
most efficiently the application of the Fine Arts to our 
Manufactures." The result of this advice was that the 
Council arranged a special list of prizes for artistic manu- 
factures ; among which was one for " A plain and cheap 
Earthenware Tea Service in one colour, consisting of 
Teapot, Basin, Milk-jug, Cup and Saucer, and Plate." 
This prize was taken by " Felix Summerly, of 12 Old 
Bond Street," the pseudonym or trade-name adopted by 
Henry Cole ; and as will be hereafter related this particular 
award had really a close association with the origination 
of the 1851 Exhibition. 1 Of this more will be said here- 
after, for Cole's connection with and services to the 
Society belong to a much later chapter of its history. 

The foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768 might 
seem to have left nothing for the Society of Arts to do, 
so far as the Fine Arts were concerned, and it is evident 
that those who were responsible for the direction of the 
Society's work were anxious to avoid any rivalry with the 
new Academy. They did not carry out the intention, 
which at one time appears to have been favoured, of 
confining the Society's work to the encouragement of 

1 See Chapter XVII, p. 406. 


industrial Art, and in all probability the suggestion was 
not very popular, and doubtless at the time appeared 
impracticable ; but they did definitely restrict the artistic 
awards to young students either young people who " are 
intended hereafter to become artists," as the Transactions 
rather quaintly put it, or to young folk of the upper class 
who were studying Art as amateurs. 

It appears to have been thought that the Society's 
work in encouraging Art might gradually be dropped, and 
that it would be taken over by the Royal Academy ; 
but things worked out differently. The Academy wisely 
confined itself to the instruction of the best class of Art 
students, and insisted on a high standard in those whom 
it admitted to its instruction, while the Society continued 
to offer rewards to all who cared to enter for its competi- 
tions. The value of its work was soon realised. The 
rewards of the Society were evidently highly appreciated, 
and it became clear that there was a keen competition 
among the younger Art students for the Society's prizes, 
and that they provided a valuable incentive to such 
students, both professional and amateur. 

At first only boys and girls were allowed to compete ; 
then classes of prizes for rather older candidates were formed, 
and there were some special classes without limitation of 
age. But the general idea evidently was that the Society 
would be wise to confine its competitions to young people, 
so this was for the most part done ; and at all events so 
far as drawing, painting, and sculpture were concerned, 
the prizes were restricted to youthful candidates of both 
sexes. There were various classes, with various limita- 
tions of age, and from time to time the rules were modified. 
Sometimes special subjects were set ; sometimes the young 
artists were allowed to choose their own. When they 
were permitted to send in works of their own choice they 
had to execute sketches of a similar character in the 
presence of examiners, to prove their capacity. The tests 
seem to have been quite fair, and the correctness of the 
adjudicators' judgment is sufficiently proved by the long 
list of distinguished artists who won their earliest successes 
in the Society's competitions. 


At first nearly all the prizes were in money, but " In 
order to encourage a love of the Polite Arts, and excite an 
Emulation among Persons of Rank and Condition," there 
was included in the 1758 list an offer of a gold and a silver 
medal for drawings by " Young Gentlemen or Ladies under 
the age of Twenty," and a similar offer to those under six- 
teen. The same prizes were offered in the following year, 

Austin's design used as a Frontispiece for the 
Premium List of 1803 (see p. 163). 

but were not continued after that. In 1762, however, 
a still more exclusive class was introduced perhaps the 
definition of " rank and condition " was found difficult 
for gold and silver medals were offered for drawings by sons 
and daughters of peers or peeresses. This queer distinc- 
tion was carried on almost, but not quite, continuously for 
many years, with the addition of another generation, grand- 
childrenof the nobility being included. A good many awards 
were made under this regulation to youthful aristocrats. 


In or before 1783 a class was added for " young 
gentlemen " or " young ladies/' and it was added that it 
was intended for those who " ma}^ hereafter become 
Patrons or Patronesses of the Arts." It was not, 
therefore, open to professional artists or their children. 
The rules were varied from time to time, but the 
distinction of rank was kept up till 1839, after 
which the privileges of the nobility disappeared, and 
the only distinction drawn was between amateurs and 

In the closing years of the eighteenth century the 
interest in this department of the Society's work evidently 
flagged. The number of premiums offered was not very 
large, and the list of awards was a short one. It seems 
likely that this was mainly due to the feeling before 
referred to, that the Ro}^al Academy was the proper 
authority for controlling all Art education, and that the 
Society ought to relinquish to it the work it had initiated. 
However, it was soon found that there was a public 
demand for artistic education of a more elementary 
character than was provided by the Academy, and that 
the Society's prizes indirectly supplied this demand. The 
result was that the Society was influenced to provide what 
was demanded, and that the natural popularity of the 
Society's prizes led to a great increase in the number of 
the awards. Whatever the cause, it is certain that by 
the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century the 
section of " Polite Arts " had evidently grown to be the 
most popular part of the Society's work. As before 
mentioned, industrial Art, the application of Art to 
industry, received but scant attention. No doubt the 
Society was influenced by the general state of public 
opinion ; but all branches of artistic industry were en- 
couraged, so far as the award of prizes could encourage 
them. As regards drawing, painting, and sculpture, the 
prizes were still confined to young people only ; but in 
the case of such Arts as die-sinking, gem-engraving, 
cameo-cutting, casting in metals, wood-engraving, and 
even line or mezzotint engraving and etching, there were, 
as a rule, no limitations of age, and many of the best 


workers of the time looked for their recognition to the 
medals or premiums of the Society. 

In the classes for drawing and painting, the limitations 
of age (with a few rare exceptions in earlier years) were 
always preserved, the limit being generally twenty-five, 
though in some of the classes it was lower. By far the 
largest proportion of the prizes was taken by these 
young candidates, and contemporary press descriptions 
of the Society's prize distributions refer almost exclusively 
(when speaking of the Art awards) to the young people 
who came up to receive them from the President. So 
long as the system of premiums was continued, the award 
of prizes to young artists was an essential part of it. Even 
when it was being revised in the years before the 1851 
Exhibition, with the avowed object of substituting the 
application of Art to industry for the cultivation of 
pictorial Art, the prizes for painting and drawing were 
not discontinued, and the names of numerous recipients 
of such prizes are to be found in the lists down to that of 
1 849. There was no prize distribution of any sort in 1 8$ i ; 
at the last distribution in 1853 only one solitary medal was 
given in the class of Fine Arts. 1 

On the whole, the result of the Society's efforts for the 
promotion of Art during the first century of its existence 
must be regarded as distinctly valuable. The same 
causes which gradually rendered less and less effective 
the general offer of prizes for inventions and discoveries, 
by no means applied in the case of Art. If the medals 
and money prizes of the Society had obviously no direct 
educational influence, they had without any question a 
very genuine value as a means of discovering hidden 
talent, as an incentive and stimulant to youthful effort, 
and as a much-appreciated reward for success. Hundreds 
of young artists received from the Society the first recogni- 
tion of their powers, and were thus encouraged to per- 
severe in careers which in many cases led to reputation 
and success in some to fame and fortune. And the 
prizes given were often of large amount, so as to afford 
substantial assistance to young artists. Prizes of ten, 
1 Journal, vol. i. p. 365. 


fifteen, and twenty guineas were common, and when 
they recognised cases of unusual merit the Committee 
did not hesitate to grant sums of fifty or a hundred 

The best evidence of the value of the Society's 
Fine Art awards is to be found in the list given in the 
following chapter, a list selected from the very much 
longer catalogues of prize-winners. In it an attempt 
has been made to pick out those who afterwards 
became professional artists, and attained some amount 
of success in their profession. Some other names of 
persons who attained eminence or reputation have also 
been included. It will be seen that the list contains a 
great number of Royal Academicians and Associates, 
amongst them three Presidents Sir Thomas Lawrence, 
Sir Charles Eastlake, and Sir John Millais ; many of the 
best-known English engravers ; several celebrated sculptors; 
numerous architects of eminence ; a large proportion of 
our best-known medallists and gem-engravers ; and besides 
these a very large number of artists of distinction in all 
classes. There are also many of reputation in their day, 
but now forgotten, and some who showed promise in their 
youth not fulfilled in after years. The 450 or so names 
printed have been collected out of a list of about 3000 
awards, extending over a period of ninety-five years, 
1755 to 1849. In the mass this represents a very 
considerable amount of volunteer labour, carried out 
by a committee of artists and amateurs, and it may 
certainly be regarded as reflecting very great credit 
on the institution by whose members it was faithfully 

The task of selection has been one of some difficulty, 
and has involved a certain amount of labour. Though 
pains have been taken to ensure accuracy, it is certain 
that there must be many errors and inaccuracies in the 
list. Completeness was not to be expected, and it can 
only be hoped that not many names of importance have 
been overlooked. In many cases identification was not 
found to be possible, and no doubt in others awards may 
have been attributed to the wrong persons. 


The accounts of the subsequent careers of the prize- 
winners are mainly based on Redgrave's and Bryan's 
well-known dictionaries. The notes about some of the 
medallists and gem-engravers are taken from Ferrer's 
Dictionary of Medallists. 1 The Dictionary of National 
Biography has, of course, been invaluable, though only a 
small proportion of the candidates attained its standard 
of distinction. Graves 's Dictionary of Exhibitors has 
supplied numerous references . Dossie 's list of the Society 's 
awards down to 1775 contains a certain amount of bio- 
graphical information, but the notes are unfortunately 
very brief. 

The Society's rewards in the class of " Polite Arts," 
as in all the other classes, were at first always pecuniary. 
In 1756 it was determined to provide also " Honorary 
Premiums " in the form of gold and silver medals, but 
this decision was not carried into effect until 1758, by 
which time, after a good deal of discussion, a design 
for the medal had been approved and a die cut. The 
first medals were awarded in December of that year, 
and amongst them was a gold medal to Lady Louisa 
Augusta Greville for a landscape drawing in Indian 
ink. This was the only medal awarded in the Art 
class in 1758, but after that year the awards of 
medals became numerous, at first only to amateurs, 
but later to professional artists also. The " Honorary 
Palette " was devised in 1766. An illustration of the 
Palette is given on the opposite page. A description of 
it will be found in Chapter XIV, p. 318. It was in two 
sizes, in gold and silver, sometimes in silver-gilt. 

The awards (other than money prizes) given by the 
Society in the class of Fine Arts were : The Society's Medal 
(often called the "Large Medal"), in gold and silver; 
the Isis Medal (sometimes called the " Small Medal "), 
in gold and silver ; the Palette, in two sizes and in both 
metals, also rarely in silver gilt. On a very few occasions 
the silver medal was " set in a gold border." There was 

1 When the list was drawn up this Dictionary had not yet reached 
letter R, but Mr. Forrer very kindly supplied some information collected 
for the later volumes. 

, Si 

; > m f 
* 1 

t *X v -. A' 

,v> s -<-. ,X" 

\ % ^X 



also the Stock Medallion, 1 nearly always given for Archi- 
tecture, but occasionally for Sculpture. 2 

The " Premiums " mentioned in the list are all money 
prizes. They vary in amount from 150 to a few 
pounds, when a given amount had to be divided in 
shares amongst a number of candidates. It has not been 
considered necessary, except in some special cases, to 
state in the list the value of the prizes. Sometimes a 
medal and a money prize were both given. 

1 This was awarded under the bequest of John Stock, " Painter to 
His Majesty's Dockyards," who in 1781 left 100 to the Society, with 
the condition that the interest should be applied for the promotion of 
Drawing, Sculpture, and Architecture. See also Chapter XIV, p. 319. 

2 A fuller account of the Society's various medals will be found in 
Chapter XIV, p. 314. 

The Society's Original Book-Plate. 




Artists and others who received the Society's Medals and Prizes 
A Selection from the Premium Lists. 

ABSOLON, JOHN. Silver Palette in 1832 for a Portrait 
in Chalk. Water-colour painter. Treasurer N.W.C.S. 
Died 1895. 

Adams, Francis. Premium in 1760 for a Drawing. 
Portrait painter and engraver. " Did not attain any 
excellence " (Redgrave). 

Agar, John Samuel. Silver Palette in 1793 for Historical 
Drawing. Portrait painter and engraver. 

Aglio, Augustine. Silver Medal in 1831 for a Bust. An 
Italian artist, who came to England in 1803 to assist 
William Wilkins, R.A., the architect of the National 
Gallery. Died 1857. 

Alcock, J. Rutherford. Gold Medals in 1825 and 1826 
for Anatomical Models in Wax (coloured). Sir 
Rutherford Alcock, K.C.B., Consul in China; the 
first British Envoy and Consul-General in Japan ; 
afterwards British Envoy at Pekin. He gave up 
medicine for diplomacy in 1837. He was for long a 
member of the Society, and from 1880 to 1883 one 
of its Vice-Presidents. In 1882 he read an important 
paper on the Opium Trade. Died 1897. 

Aliamet, Francis Germain. Premiums in 1764 and 1765 
for Engravings. Engraver. Brother of the cele- 
brated French engraver. Worked for Boydell and 
others. Died 1790. 


Allason, Thomas. Gold Medallion in 1810 for a Design 
for an Academy of Arts. Architect. Alliance Fire 
Office in Bartholomew Lane said to be his chief 
work (Redgrave). 

Andras, Catherine. Silver Palette in 1801 for Models 
of Princess Charlotte and of Lord Nelson. Medallist. 
Modeller in wax to Queen Charlotte. Produced 
Portrait Medallions in the enamelled paste of Tassie 
(q.v.), under whom she probably studied. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy 1799-1824. 

Artaud, William. Silver Palette in 1776, 1777, and 1782 
for Drawings. Painter of portraits and historical 
pictures. Exhibited at Royal Academy up to 1822. 

Austin, Richard. Silver Medal in 1802, Silver Medal 
(and 10 guineas) in 1803, and Silver Palette in 1804 
for Wood Engraving. The 1803 medal was for a 
wood-cut (reproduced on page 156), " England, 
Scotland, and Ireland receiving the offerings of 
Genius, alluding to the rewards of this Society/' 
used as a frontispiece to the Premium List for the 
year (1803), and printed in Vol. xxi. of the Trans- 
actions (facing page i). Wood engraver. Pupil of 
Bewick. " He was a clever artist, and much em- 
ployed by the booksellers, but he did nothing to 
promote the art " (Redgrave). Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1803 and 1806. 

Bacon, John. Premium in 1759 (aged eighteen) for a 
figure of Peace ; subsequent awards were made to 
him in 1760, 1761, 1764 (two), 1765, 1772, 1774, 1776, 
1777, and 1778, all for Casts or Models. In 1778 
he was also presented with a Gold Medal in recogni- 
tion of his gift to the Society of the statues of Mars 
and Venus. An engraving of his Mars, by Bartolozzi, 
is prefixed to Vol. v. of the Transactions, and one 
of his Venus to Vol. vn. Sculptor. R.A. Eminent 
and popular in his own day. Carried out many 
important works and monuments. The Mars and 
Venus are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. 
Died 1799. 


Baillie, Edward. Silver Medals in 1833 and 1837 

Enamel Painting. Glass painter. Exhibited in 1851 
Exhibition. Died 1856. 

Daily, E. Hodges. Silver Medal in 1808 for a Plaster 
Cast of the Laocoon. A pupil of Flaxman. Sculptor. 
R.A. Retired 1863 and died 1867. 

Ballantyne, John. Silver Medal in 1833 for a Drawing 
from an Antique Statue. Copyist and portrait 
painter. R.S.A. Died 1897. 

Banks, Charles. Premiums in 1764, 1765, 1767, and 1768 
(two) for Bas-reliefs. Sculptor. Brother of Thomas 
Banks, R.A. Gold Medallist R.A. 1774. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy 1775-1792. 

Banks, Thomas. Premiums in 1 763, 1 765, and 1 766 for Bas- 
reliefs ; Premiums in 1 769 for a Cast and for a Design 
for Furniture. Sculptor. R.A. Monuments in St. 
Paul's and in Westminster Abbey. " Takes high rank 
among England's sculptors " (Redgrave). Died 1805. 

Barney, Joseph. Silver Palette in 1774 for a Drawing of 
Flowers ; Gold Palette in 1781 for Historical Draw- 
ings. Fruit and flower painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1786-1827. Drawing Master at Royal 
Military Academy. 

Barralet, John James. Gold Palette in 1774 for a Land- 
scape. Water-colour painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy from 1770. Died in America about 1812. 

Barret, George. Premium in 1764 (50) for a Landscape 
Painting. Landscape painter. R.A. One of the 
founders of the English school of water-colour painting. 
A painter who " enjoyed great reputation in his 
lifetime, which his works have not since maintained " 
(Redgrave). Died 1784. 

Barret, Joseph. Gold Palette in 1775 for an Ornamental 
Design. Gold Palette in 1 777 for Landscape Drawing. 
Landscape painter. Son of George Barret, R.A. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1785-1800. 

Barron, Hugh. Premiums in 1759, 1761, 1765, and 1766 
for Drawings. Portrait painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1782-1786. "The first amateur violinist 
of his day " (Redgrave). Died 1791. 


Barren, William Augustus. Premium in 1766 for a Chalk 
Drawing ; Silver Palette in 1774 and Gold Palette in 
1775 for Landscapes. Landscape painter. Brother 
of Hugh Barren, and like him a musician. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy 1774-1777. 

Barry, James, R.A. Gold Medal and 200 guineas in 1798, 
" In testimony of his public zeal and eminent abilities, 
manifested in the series of Pictures in the Great Room 
of the Society." 

Bassett, Henry. Gold Medal in 1823 for a Design for 
British Museum ; Gold Medallion in 1825 for a Design 
for a Church . Architect. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
down to 1844. 

Beauvais, John. Premium in 1765 for a Drawing. 
Miniature painter. A native of France. " Practised 
with success as a miniature painter at Bath " (Red- 

Behnes, William. Silver Medal in 1814 for an Outline of 
the Gladiator Repellens ; Gold Medal in 1819 for the 
invention of an Instrument for Transferring Points 
to Marble. Sculptor. He was originally a portrait 
painter, but afterwards obtained considerable fame 
as a sculptor, and was specially successful with his 
busts. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1815-1863. 
Died 1864. 

Bellingham, John. Premiums in 1758 and 1759 for 
Ornamental Designs; in 1760, 1761, and 1763 for 
Drawings. Draughtsman and drawing-master . 

Bentley, Charles. Silver Medal in 1826 for Landscape in 
Water-colour. Water-colour painter. Member Wat er- 
Colour Society and constant exhibitor. Died 1854. 

Benwell, Sarah. Silver Palette in 1806 for a Drawing. 
Mentioned by Peter Pindar. Redgrave thinks the 
poet really referred to her sister, Mary Benwell, a 
better-known artist. 

Berridge, John. Premiums in 1 766 and 1 767 for Drawings. 
Portrait painter. Pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1785. 

Bewick, Thomas. Premium in 1775 (seven guineas) for 
an allegorical Vignette on Wood. The great wood- 


engraver must have been just out of his apprentice- 
ship, as he was born in 1753. Died 1828. 

Biffin, Sarah. Silver Medal in 1821 for an Historical 
Miniature. Miss Biffin, although born without hands 
or feet, succeeded in making a name for herself as a 

Billings, Robert William. Silver Medal in 1833 for a Draw- 
ing ; Silver Medal in 1835 for an Engraving; Silver 
Medal in 1836 for a Water-colour Drawing; Silver 
Medal in 1838 for an Oil Painting ; Gold Medal in 
1837 for an Etching; Gold Medallion in 1839 for 
" an Analysis of the great east window of Carlisle 
Cathedral." Architect. Writer on architecture and 
archaeology. Died 1874. 

Birch, William. Silver Palette in 1784 for Pictures in 
Enamel. Enamel painter and engraver. Went to 
America and died in Philadelphia. Painted miniature 
of Washington. 

Blackmore, John. Silver Palette in 1772 for a Drawing. 
Mezzotint engraver. Engraved some of Sir Joshua 
Reynolds's portraits. Died about 1780. 

Blore, Edward. Silver Medal in 1809 for a Drawing of 
Fotheringham Church. Architect. F.R.S. Built 
Sir Walter Scott's house at Abbotsford. Architect 
to King William iv. and to Queen Victoria. Designed 
the front of Buckingham Palace. Died 1879. 

Bond, John Daniel. Premiums in 1764 and 1765 for 
Landscapes. Landscape painter. " Resided chiefly 
at Birmingham, where he conducted the decorative 
branch of some large manufactory " (Redgrave). 
Died 1803. 

Bonner, Thomas. Premium in 1763 for an Etching of a 
Landscape. Topographical draughtsman and engraver. 
Illustrated several topographical works. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy in 1807. 

Bonomi, Joseph. Silver Medal in 1815 for a Bas-relief. 
Sculptor. Son of Joseph Bonomi, A.R.A. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy 1809-1838. The well-known 
Egyptologist. Curator of Sir John Soane's Museum. 
Died 1878. 


Bouvier, Augustus Jules. Silver Medal in 1841 for a 
Chalk Drawing. Water-colour painter. Died 1 88 1. 

Boydell, John. Gold Medal in 1773 for Encouraging the 
Art of Engraving. Engraver and publisher . Published 
celebrated ' ' Shakespeare Gallery . ' ' Lord Mayor 1 790 . 
Died 1804. 

Brandenburgh, Anspach, and Bareith, etc., The Margravine 
of (previously Lady Craven). Silver Medal in 1806 
for a Model in Bas-relief of the late Margrave. 

Branston, Allen Robert. Silver Palette in 1806 and 
Silver Medal in 1807, both for Wood-engraving. 
Wood-engraver. Died 1827. 

Branwhite, Charles. Silver Medal in 1837 for a Figure 
in Bas-relief. Landscape painter. Died 1880. 

Brigstocke, Thomas. Silver Medal in 1826 for a Chalk 
Drawing ; Silver Medal in 1827 for an Oil Painting. 
Portrait painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy from 
1842. Died 1881. 

Brockedon, William. Silver Medal in 1823 for a Rest for 
painters engaged in minute work. Subject and history 
painter. He was an F.R.S. and made various in- 
ventions, some of which were patented. He received 
another Medal for a Surgical Apparatus in 1825. He 
was Chairman of the Committee of Polite Arts from 
1824 to 1831. " He displayed no ordinary talent in 
the various departments of painting historical, 
landscape, and portrait " (Bryan). His portrait by 
himself is in the Uffizzi Gallery at Florence. Died 

Bromley, James. Silver Palette in 1821 for an Etching. 
Mezzotint engraver. Engraved many well-known 
portraits. Died 1838. 

Bromley, John Charles. Two Silver Palettes and a Silver 
Medal in 1808, 1809, and 1810 for Etchings. Mezzo- 
tint engraver. He was born in 1 795, so that he cannot 
have been more than fourteen when he took his first 
prize. Died 1839. 

Bromley, William, A.R.A. Gold Medal 1821 for an 
Historical Engraving. This was not an award to a 
student, for Bromley had been an Associate Engraver 


of the Royal Academy since 1819. He was the father 
of J. C. Bromley and of James Bromley. Died 1842. 

Browne, Hablot Knight. Silver Medal in 1832 for a Group 
of Figures in Pencil ; Silver Medal in 1833 for a " Free 
Etching of historical composition." Two years before 
he gained his first medal (at the age of seventeen) 
he began the association with Dickens on which his 
reputation was founded. Under the well-known 
signature of " Phiz " he illustrated the latter part 
of Pickwick, Nicholas Nickleby, Martin Chupzlewit, 
Dombey, Copper field, Bleak House, Little Dorr it, and 
A Tale of Two Cities (Bryan). Died 1882. 

Browne, John. Premium in 1763 for a Drawing. En- 
graver. A.R.A. Apprenticed to Tinney the print- 
seller, and to Woollett. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1771-1783. Died 1801. 

Bryer, Henry. Premium in 1762 for an Etching. Pre- 
miums in 1763 and 1764 for Engravings. Engraver. 
Engraved some of Angelica Kauffmann's pictures. 
Pupil and partner of W. W. Ryland. Died 1799 
according to Redgrave and Bryan, but Dossie in the 
list published in 1783 speaks of him as dead. 

Bunning, James Bunstone. Silver Medal in 1822 for a 
Drawing of Bow Church. Architect. Surveyor to 
Foundling Hospital, architect to Corporation of 
London. Amongst his chief works were Billingsgate 
Market, Coal Exchange, Islington Cattle Market. 
Died 1863. 

Burch, Edward. Premiums in 1762, 1763, and 1765 for 
Gem Engraving. Sculptor and medallist. R.A. "As 
a gem engraver he was unrivalled in his day " (Red- 
grave). Died 1814. 

Burgess, Thomas. Silver Palette in 1771 and 1773 for 
Drawings. Portrait painter and teacher. "Mr. Bur- 
gess's Academy in Maiden Lane produced many able 
claimants for the Society's awards " (Dossie). Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy 1778-1786. 

Burgess, William. Premium in 1761 for a Drawing. 
Portrait painter and teacher. He was connected with 
Thomas Burgess's Academy in Maiden Lane, and 


was probably related to him. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1774-1799. Died 1812. 

Burt, Albin R. Silver Medal in 1830 for a Portable Easel. 
Engraver and portrait painter. Produced a print 
of Emma, Lady Hamilton. Died 1842. 

Buss, Robert William. Silver Medal in 1 826 for a Portrait 
in Oil. Portrait and subject painter. Illustrated 
numerous books. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1826-1859. He was employed to make illustrations 
for Pickwick after the death of Seymour, and before 
Hablot K. Browne (" Phiz") took up the work, but 
his engravings were not used. Died 1874. 

Byrne, William. Premium in 1765 for an Engraving. 
Landscape engraver. Engraved Hearne's (q.v.) draw- 
ings for the Antiquities of Great Britain. "May 
be justly ranked among our eminent engravers of 
landscape " (Bryan). Died 1805. 

Calvert, Frederick. Silver Medal in 1833 for an Oil Paint- 
ing. Topographic draughtsman. Published various 
series of views, etc. 

Carr, Johnson. Premiums in 1757, 1758, 1759, and 1764 
for Drawings of Figures; Premiums in 1760, 1761 
(two), 1762, and 1763 for Landscape Drawings. Pupil 
of Richard Wilson, R.A. He died young, at the 
age of twenty-two. " This promising young man, 
at the early period of twenty-one years, executed 
drawings equal to those of the ablest masters then 
in this country. He died, much regretted, in 1764 " 

Carter, James. Silver Medal in 1819 for Architectural 
Drawing. Engraver. Engraved for the Annuals and 
for the Art Union. Died 1855. 

Casali, Andrea. Premiums (100 and 50 guineas) in 1760, 
1761, 1762, and 1766 for Historical Oil Paintings. 
Historical painter. Casali was an Italian who came 
to England before 1748, and returned to Italy about 
1766. He painted an altar-piece for the Foundling 
Chapel, some pictures for St. Margaret's, Westminster, 
some ceilings at Fonthill, etc. 


Chalon, Maria Ann. Silver Palette in 1 8 1 3 for a Drawing ; 
Silver Medal in 1818 for a Painting. Miniature 
painter. Daughter of H. B. Chalon, the animal 
painter. She was miniature painter to the Duke of 
York. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1819-1866. 
Married H. Mosetey. Died 1867. 

Chamberlin, Mason. Premium (50 guineas) in 1764 for 
an Historical Oil Painting. Portrait painter. R.A. 
His portrait of Dr. Hunter is in the Royal Academy, 
and his portrait of Dr. Chandler at the Royal Society. 
Died 1787. 

Cheesman, Thomas. Silver Palette in 1781 for a Draw- 
ing ; Gold Medal in 1814 for an Engraving. En- 
graver and draughtsman. One of Bartolozzi's best 
pupils. Exhibited drawings and portraits at Royal 
Academy 1802-1820. Engraved Hogarth's " Lady's 
Last Stake." 

Clack, Richard Augustus. Silver Medal in 1825 for a 
Landscape; Silver Medal in 1826 for a Portrait. 
Portrait painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1830- 

Clennell, Luke. Gold Palette in 1806, and Gold Medal in 
1809, both for Wood Engraving. Wood engraver 
and subject painter. He was apprenticed to Bewick, 
and succeeded as a wood-engraver, but abandoned 
that art for painting. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1812-1816. Became insane in 1817. Died 1840. 

Clevely, John, Premium in 1765 for a Sea Painting in 
Oil. Silver Palette in 1774 for a view of a Castle 
in the Isle of Wight. Marine painter. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy 1770-1786. Draughtsman to 
Captain Phipp's Arctic Expedition, and illustrated 
the Journal of the voyage. Died 1786. 

Clint, George. Gold Medal in 1819 for an Historical En- 
graving. Portrait painter and engraver . A. R.A. Died 

Clint, Raphael. Gold Medal in 1825 for an Intaglio of a 
Head. Gem engraver. Son of George Clint, A.R.A. 
" Possessed considerable talent " (Bryan). 

Clint, Scipio. Gold Medals in 1824 and 1826 for Medal 


Dies. Medallist. Son of George Clint, A.R.A. 
Medallist to the King. Died 1839 at the age of 

Coleman, William. Premiums in 1775, 1776, and 1777 
for Engraving on Wood. Wood engraver. Died 

Collyer, Joseph. Premium in 1761 for a Drawing. En- 
graver. A.R.A. Engraved some of Sir Joshua Rey- 
nold's portraits, also for Boydell. He was about 
thirteen when he took the prize. Died 1 827. 

Cook, Richard. Gold Palette in 1802 for a Drawing of 
Mucius Scaevola. History painter. R.A. Died 

Cook, Thomas. Premium in 1761 for a Drawing; Silver 
Palette in 1770 for a Drawing. Engraver. " Rose 
to the very top of his profession " (Redgrave). 
Worked for Boydell. Died 1818. 

Cooley, Thomas. Premiums in 1763, 1764, and 1765 for 
Architectural Designs. Architect. Built the Royal 
Exchange in Dublin, and other buildings in Ireland. 
Died 1784. 

Cope, Charles West. Silver Medal in 1828 for a Finished 
Drawing from a Statue ; Silver Medal in 1829 for an 
Oil Painting. Historical painter. R.A. The por- 
trait of Prince Albert in the Society's meeting-room 
was painted by Cope. Died 1890. 

Corbaux, Fanny. Silver Medal in 1827, and Gold Medal 
in 1830 for Miniatures ; Silver Medal in 1829 for 
a Water-colour. Water-colour painter. Exhibited 
numerous pictures at Royal Academy, and also at 
the New Water-Colour Society. Writer on Oriental 
subjects and Biblical exegesis. Died 1883. 

Corbaux, Louisa. Silver Medal in 1828 fora Drawing; 
Silver Medal in 1829 for a Water-colour. Water- 
colour painter. Sister of Fanny Corbaux. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy, but more frequently at New 
Water-Colour Society. 

Corbould, George. Silver Palette in 1806 for a Drawing. 
Engraver. Brother of H. Corbould. Died 1846. 

Corbould, Henry. Gold Palettes in 1804 and 1805, both 


for Historical Drawings. Historical painter and 
draughtsman. He prepared the drawings of the 
Elgin Marbles. Died 1844. 

Cosway, Richard. Premium in 1755 for a Drawing in 
Chalk, the First Prize in the Society's first competi- 
tion ; Premium in 1757 for an Ornamental Design; 
Premiums in 1758, 1759, and 1760 for Drawings. 
Miniature and portrait painter. R.A. A pupil of 
Shipley. The Society possesses two portraits by 
him, Shipley and Templeman. Died 1821. 

Cotman, John Sell. Silver Palette in 1800 for a Drawing. 
Landscape and marine painter. Worked both in oil 
and water-colour. Exhibited at Royal Academy. 
Lived some time in Norfolk, and much of his work 
was done in that county. Died 1842. 

Cousins, Samuel. Silver Palette in 1813, and Silver 
Medal in 1814, both for drawings. His first award 
was obtained when he was eleven years old. En- 
graver. R.A. " His ceuvre consists in all of about 
200 plates " (Bryan). An apprentice and assistant 
of S. W. Reynolds, the engraver, he lived to engrave 
Millais's " Cherry Ripe." Died 1887. 

Crellin, Henry Pickersgill. Premium in 1820 for a Draw- 
ing. Nephew of H. W. Pickersgill, R.A. Did not 
follow artistic pursuits, but practised as a medical 
man. Brother of H. N. Crellin. Died about 1843. 

Crellin, Horatio Nelson. Premium in 1819 for a Drawing. 
Engraver. Gave up the pursuit of Art and became 
a medical man. Died about 1881. 

Cross, Richard. Premium in 1758 for a Drawing. Minia- 
ture painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1770- 
1795. Died 1810. 

Dall, Nicholas Thomas. Premium in 1768 for a Land- 
scape. Landscape painter . A.R.A. He was a Dane, 
and settled in London about 1760. Was a scene 
painter at Covent Garden Theatre before his election 
into the Royal Academy. Died 1777. 

Daniell, Thomas. Premium in 1780 for Landscape Paint- 
ing. Landscape painter, R.A. Painted in India 


for ten years, and made his reputation by Indian 
views. Died 1840. 

Davis, John Scarlett. Silver Palettes in 1816 for an 
Engraving, and in 1821 for a Head in Pen-and-ink. 
Subject painter. Successful as a painter of interiors. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1825-1841. Died 1841. 

Dean, Hugh Primrose. Premium in 1765 for a Land- 
scape. Landscape painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1779-1780. Died about 1784. 

Deare, Joseph. Silver Medal in 1823 for a Plaster Model. 
Two Silver Medals in 1824 for a Bas-relief and for 
a Copy of a Group. Sculptor. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1825-1832. 

De la Motte, William. Silver Medal in 1 82 1 for an Etching. 
Water-colour painter. Pupil of West. Exhibited at 
Royal Academy 1 796-1 848 . Drawing-master at Royal 
Military Academy. Died 1863. 

Denman, J. Flaxman. Silver Palette in 1822 for a 
Drawing in Indian Ink. Subject painter. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy in 1839. Presumably a relation 
of Mrs. Flaxman. 

Denman, Maria. Silver Medal in 1807 for her Drawing 
of Flaxman's Design for the Society's Medal, printed 
as the Frontispiece to Vol. xxv. of the Transactions ; 
Silver Medal, also in 1807, for " a Beautiful Plaster 
Model of a Cupid's Head." She was the sister of 
Flaxman's wife, and his adopted daughter. She 
founded the Flaxman Gallery at University College, 

Denman, Thomas. Silver Palette in 1807 for a Plaster 
Model. Sculptor. Exhibited at Royal Academy and 
elsewhere 1815-1837. Possibly Mrs . Flaxman 's brother . 

Derby, Louisa. Silver Medal in 1828 for a Pencil Drawing 
of a Landscape by Claude. She afterwards married 
Henry Room, a portrait painter of some reputation. 
Their eldest son, Howard Henry Room, was a valued 
official of the Society from 1861-1900. 

Devis, Antony. Premium in 1763 for a Landscape. 
Landscape painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1772 and 1781, Died 1817, 


Dickinson, William. Premium in 1767 for a Mezzotint 
of R. E. Pine's Portrait of King George n. Engraver. 
Engraved after West, Morland, Stubbs, Reynolds, 
etc. Died 1823. 

Dighton, Denis. Silver Medals and Palettes in 1807, 
1808, 1810, and 181 1 for Drawings and an Oil Painting 
(Battle of Agincourt). Battle painter. Exhibited at 
Royal Academy 1811-1825. Son of Robert Dighton. 
Died 1827. 

Dighton, Robert. Silver Palette in 1768 for a Fancy 
Head in Pen-and-ink after Worledge. Portrait 
painter and drawing master. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1775-1777. Died 1814. 

Dobson, William Charles Thomas. Silver Medal in 1841 
for an Oil Painting, " The Prodigal Son." Painter 
in oil and water-colour . R.A. Died 1898. 

Donaldson, John. Premium in 1764 for an Historical 
Painting; two Premiums in 1768 for Enamels. 
Miniature painter. Apparently a man of varied 
accomplishments, but unsettled and wanting in 
application. He seems to have failed in life, and died 
in poverty 1801. 

Donaldson, Thomas Leverton. Silver Medal in 1815 for an 
Original Architectural Design. Architect. P. R. I.E. A. 
Author of works on architecture. Died 1885. 

Downman, John. Premium in 1779 for an Historical 
Painting. Portrait and subject painter. A.R.A. Died 

Drummond, Eliza Anne. Gold Medal in 1822 for " an 
original portrait/' no doubt the portrait of Ann 
Cockings, the Society's Housekeeper, now in the 
Society's possession (see page 343 and Appendix 
III.). Silver Medal in 1823 for an " Historical com- 
position." Exhibited at Royal Academy and else- 

Dubourg, Richard. Premium in 1755, at the first of the 
Society's competitions, at the age of fourteen, for a 
Drawing. Dossie says that he devoted himself to 
the reproduction of examples of ancient Italian 
architecture, and had some sort of exhibition of 


reproductions in cork of " Venerable Remains of 
Antiquity." His name does not appear in Redgrave 
or Bryan. 

Dunkarton, Robert. Premiums in 1761, 1762, 1763, 
1764, 1765, and 1766 for Drawings of various sorts ; 
Premium in 1767 for an Engraving of Chamberlin's 
Portrait of Dr. Chandler, the antiquary and traveller 
(now in the possession of the Royal Society). Mez- 
zotint engraver. Exhibited portraits at Royal Academy 
1774-1779. " As a mezzotintist ... he was rarely 
surpassed " (Redgrave). Engraved portraits by Rey- 
nolds, West, and others. After 1811 "there is no 
trace of him " (Bryan). 

Durant, Susan. Silver Medal in 1847 for an Original 
Plaster Bust. Sculptor. Exhibited at Royal Acad- 
emy 18471873. The Princess Louise was her pupil. 
Died 1873. 

Durnford, Elias. Premium in 1755 for a Drawing of 
Flowers (third prize in the class between fourteen 
and seventeen) ; Premium in 175 7 for an Orna- 
mental Design. Went to America, and became 
Lieut .-Governor of Pensacola (Dossie). 

Durno, James. Premiums in 1762 and 1765 for Draw- 
ings ; Premiums in 1766, 1770, and 1773 (100 guineas) 
for Oil Paintings. Historical painter. Died in 1795 
in Rome, where he lived from 1774. 

Earlom, Richard. Premiums in 1757 (under fourteen 
years of age), 1758, 1759, 1760, 1761, 1762, 1763, 
1764, and 1765 for Drawings in various classes ; 
Premium in 1766 for an Etching. Engraver. A 
pupil of Cipriani, and afterwards one of the most 
distinguished of English engravers. " His ' Liber 
Veritatis/ comprising mezzotint engravings after 
200 drawings by Claude, published in 1777, is well 
known " (Redgrave). Died 1822. 

Eastlake, Charles Locke. Silver Medal in 1810 for a 
drawing of Cupid and Psyche. Historical painter. 
Sir Charles Eastlake, P.R.A. Director of the National 
Gallery. He acted as Chairman of the Society's 


Committee which procured the passing of the Art 
Copyright Act, 1862. Died 1865. 

Eckstein, John. Premiums in 1761 and 1764 (50 guineas) 
for Bas-reliefs. Modeller and portrait painter. Ex- 
hibited wax models and portraits at Royal Academy 

Eddis, Eden Upton. Silver Medal in 1828 for a Drawing. 
Portrait painter. Gold Medallist R.A. 1837. Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy 1834-1881. Popular and 
successful artist. His portrait of Theodore Hook is 
in the National Portrait Gallery. Died 1901. 

Edwards, Edward. Premium in 1762 for a Drawing; 
Premiums in 1764 and 1765 for Historical Pictures ; 
Gold Medal in 1770 for an Historical Painting; 
Premium in 1781 for a Landscape. Portrait and 
subject painter. A.R.A. Teacher of perspective at 
Royal Academy. Published Anecdotes of Painters, 
a supplement to Walpole's work. Died 1806. 

Edwards, John. Premiums in 1757 for a Drawing ; in 
1 760 for an Ornamental Design ; in 1 760 for a Land- 
scape Drawing; in 1761, 1762, 1763, and 1767 for 
Drawings of Flowers ; in 1764 for an Historical 
Drawing ; Gold Palettes in 1 769 for a Figure Draw- 
ing, and in 1771 for a Drawing of Flowers. Historical 
and flower painter. Pupil of Maberley. Exhibited at 
Society of Artists, etc., up to 1812. 

Eggbrecht, John E. Silver Medal in 1821 for a Chalk 
Drawing ; Silver Medal in 1824 for an Oil Painting. 
Painter of still life. Exhibited at Society of British 
Artists 1826-1828. 

Engleheart, Thomas. Premium in 1777 for a Model 
of a Human Figure. Sculptor and modeller in wax. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1773-1786. Gold 
Medallist R.A. 1772. 

Engleheart, Timothy Stansfeld. Silver Palette in 1821 
for a Chalk Drawing. Line engraver. Engraved for 
the Annuals. Son of William Francis. Died 1879. 

Engleheart, William Francis. Silver Palette in 1798 for 
an Outline Drawing. Engraver. Engraved after 
Stothard, Cook, and Smirke. Died 1849. 


Ensom, William. Silver Medals in 1815 and 1816 for 
Pen-and-ink Drawings. Engraver. Died 1832. 

Fairland, Thomas. Silver Medals in 1822 and 1823 for 

Drawings. Engraver, lithographer, and portrait painter . 

Died 1852. 
Falconet, Peter. Premium in 1766 for an Historical 

Painting; Premium in 1768 for an Oil Painting. 

Portrait painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy in 


Farey, Joseph. Silver Palette in 1809 for an " Original 
Drawing of a Steam Engine " ; Silver Palette in 
1809 for a " Perspective Drawing of London Bridge 
Water- Works." Engineer and draughtsman. He was 
the son of John Farey, geologist and consulting 
surveyor, and the brother of John Farey, jun., a civil 
engineer of eminence, who received a Gold Medal from 
the Society for his ellipsograph. As a young man, 
John Farey supplied mechanical drawings to various 
works, and some of the illustrations in Vols. xxvi. to 
xxxi. of the Transactions are by him. It is possible 
that some may also be by Joseph, as the initials of 
the brothers are the same. Joseph Farey later on 
took over part of his brother's work. He died about 

Farington, George. Silver Palette in 1770 and 1771 for 
Landscapes; Silver Palette in 1771 for a Drawing. 
History painter. Brother of Joseph Farington, R.A. 
Pupil of West. Gold Medallist R.A. 1780. Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy in 1773 and 1783. Died 

Farington, Joseph. Premiums in 1764, 1765, and 1766 
for Landscape Drawings. Landscape painter. R.A. 
Illustrated Boy dell's great work on the History of the 
Thames. Died 1821. 

Faulkner, B. Premiums in 1819, 1820, and 1822 for 
Die Engraving. Medallist. Forrer mentions several 
of his medals, all produced in or before 1826. He 
suggests that he may have been identical with 
B. R. Faulkner, a portrait painter of reputation who 



exhibited at the Royal Academy 1821-1849, but this 
is improbable, for the Faulkner (or Faulkener) who 
took the prizes lived in Birmingham, whereas B. R. 
Faulkner was at the time living in Newman Street, 

Feary, John. Premiums in 1766 for a Drawing and 
in 1776 for a Landscape. Landscape painter. Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy 1772-1788. Painted 
views of gentlemen's seats and parks. 

Fennell, John G. Silver Medal in 1827 for a Chalk Draw- 
ing. Engraver. Pupil of Henry Sass. Super- 
intended the Findens's establishment. 
Finden, Edward. Silver Palette in 1810 for an Outline 
of the Laocoon. Engraver. Younger brother of 
William Finden. Died 1857. 

Finden, William. Silver Palette in 1807 and Silver 
Medal in 1808 for Drawings ; Gold Medal in 1813 
for an Engraving. Engraver. The two Findens, 
Edward and William, worked together. They en- 
graved some of Landseer's and Wilkie's works, and 
produced many illustrations for books. Died 1852. 
Finlayson, John. Premium in 1764 for an Enamel 
Painting; Gold Palette (and 30 guineas) in 1773 
for his Mezzotint of Sir Joshua Reynolds 's Portrait 
of Lord Romney. Mezzotint engraver. Engraved 
portraits after Hone, Coates, Zoffany, and Reynolds. 
Died about 1776. 

Flaxman, John. Premium in 1766 (at the age of eleven) 
for Modelling in Clay ; Premiums (two) in 1769 for 
the same; Gold Palette in 1770 for Modelling a 
Statue of Garrick ; Gold Medal in 1 807 for Designing 
the Society's Medal and presenting it to the Society. 
In the latter year a Silver Medal was awarded to his 
sister-in-law, Miss Maria Denman (q.v.), for a Drawing 
of the Medal, which forms the Frontispiece to Vol. 
xxv. of the Transactions (1807). Sculptor. R.A. 
Died 1826. 

Fox, Charles. Silver Medal in 1847 f r an original Com- 
position in Plaster. Modeller. Died 1854. 
Freebairn, Alfred Robert. Silver Palette in 1810 for a 


Drawing. Engraver. " Chiefly known by his en- 
graving of Flaxman's ' Shield of Achilles ' " (Bryan). 
Died 1846. 

Frith, William Powell. Silver Medal in 1836 for Drawing 
in Chalk from a Bust ; Silver Medal in 1837 for a 
finished Drawing from a Cast . Subject painter. R.A. 
Painter of the celebrated and popular pictures, " The 
Derby Day," " The Railway Station/' " Margate 
Sands," etc. Frith was born in 1819, so he must 
have been about seventeen when he received his first 
award. Died 1909. 

Frost, William Edward. Silver Medals in 1829, 1830, and 
1831 for Drawings ; Silver Medal in 1832 for Com- 
position in Oil in Still Life ; Gold Medal in 1834 for 
a Portrait in Oil. Subject painter. R.A. Died 1877. 

Gahagan, Sebastian. Premium in 1777 for a Model. 
ScUlptor. Assistant to Nollekens. Exhibited at 
Royal Academy 1802-1835. The Duke of Kent's 
statue at the top of Portland Place is by him. 

Gandon, James. Premiums in 1757 for a Drawing; 
in 1758 for a Design for Weaving; in 1759 for a 
Landscape; in 1762, 1763, and 1 764 for Architectural 
Designs. Architect. Gold Medallist R.A. 1769. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1774-1780. Carried 
out important works in Dublin. Died 1823. 

Gardner, Rev. John. Premium in 1767 for a Landscape 
in Oils. Amateur. Vicar of Battersea. Died 1808. 

Garvey, Edmund. Premiums in 1769 and 1771 for Land- 
scapes. Landscape painter . R.A. Died 1813. 

Geddes, Margaret. Silver Medal in 1812 ; Gold Medals in 
1813 and 1814 for Oil Paintings. Portrait painter, 
" who secured great reputation " (Bryan). She 
married W. H. Carpenter, Keeper of Prints and 
Drawings in the British Museum. Three of her 
portraits are in the National Portrait Gallery. Died 

Godby, James". Silver Palette in 1787 for an Outline 
Drawing. Engraver. Illustrated Fine Arts of the 
English School, 1812, etc . 


Goldicutt, John. Silver Medallion in 1815 for an Archi- 
tectural Design. Architect. Secretary R.I.B.A. 
Published an account of the Pompeian paintings, 
etc. Died 1842. 

Gooch, Thomas. Silver Palette in 1778 for Drawings 
of Animals. Animal painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1781-1802, principally portraits of horses 
and dogs. 

Goodall, Edward. Silver Medal in 1837 for a Water- 
colour Painting. Water-colour painter. Brother of 
F. Goodall, R.A. 

Goodall, Frederick. Silver Medal in 1837 for Water- 
colour Drawing ; Silver Medal in 1838 for Oil Paint- 
ing, " Interior of Thames Tunnel." He was not 
sixteen when this, his first oil painting, was produced. 
It led to a friendship with Sir Isambard Brunei and 
to a visit to Normandy, where he found the materials 
for his first Royal Academy picture," French Soldiers 
Playing at Cards," exhibited 1839. From that 
date his career was one of successful and deserved 
popularity. Subject painter . R.A. Died 1904. 

Gott, Joseph. Silver Palette in 1808 for Original Plaster 
Cast. Sculptor. Gold Medallist R.A. 1819. Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy 1820-1848. 

Graham, George. Silver Palette in 1780 for a Drawing. 
Engraver. Produced book illustrations, etc. 

Grant, William. Silver Palette in 1837 for a Pencil 
Drawing. Historical painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1847-1866. Died 1866. 

Green, Benjamin Robert. Silver Palette in 1824 for a 
Chalk Drawing ; Silver Medal in 1825 for an Out- 
line Drawing ; Silver Medal in 1827 for a Portrait in 
Oil. Water-colour painter. Died 1876. 

Gresse, John Alexander. Premium in 1755 (aged twelve) 
for a Drawing ; Premiums in 1756, 1757, 1758, 1759 
(three), 1761, and 1762 for Drawings; Premium in 
1769 for a Landscape in Oils. Water-colour painter. 
Fashionable drawing-master. Taught the daughters 
of George in . Died 1 794. 

Greville, Lady Louisa Augusta. Gold Medals in 1758, 


1759, and 1760 for Drawings. She was the first to 
take one of the honorary awards offered to amateurs. 
Gold Medal in 1759 for an Etching. She was a 
daughter of the eighth Earl of Warwick, and an 
amateur of considerable skill who produced some 
good etchings. 

Grignion, Charles. Premium in 1765 for a Drawing; 
Silver Palette in 1768 for a Drawing. Portrait and 
history painter. Son of Thomas Grignion, the clock- 
maker. Gold Medallist R. A. 1776. Painted Nelson's 
portrait. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1770-1784. 
Died 1804. 

Grignion, Thomas. Premium in 1761 for a Drawing. 
This w r as the son and successor of Thomas Grignion, 
one of the earliest members of the Society, an eminent 
clock-maker, and the donor of the clock now in the 
meeting-room. Thomas Grignion the younger was 
also a well-known clock-maker. 

Gwilt, George. Silver Palette in 1818 for a Drawing. 
Architect. Best known by his restoration of St. 
Saviour's Church, Southwark (1822-25). Died 1856. 

Habershon, Matthew. Silver Medallion in 1813 for a 
Design for a Palace. Architect. Built several churches, 
public buildings, and country houses in Derbyshire, 
Yorkshire, Worcestershire, etc. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 18071827. Published Ancient Half-Tim- 
bered Houses of England, 1836. Died 1852. 

Hakewill, John. Premiums in 1759, 1760, 1761, 1762, 
1763, and 1764 for Drawings in Various Classes ; 
Silver Palette in 1772 for a Landscape. Landscape 
and portrait painter . Died 1791. 

Hall, John. Premium in 1756 for a Drawing ; Premium 
in 1761 for an Engraving. Engraver. Engraved after 
West, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Hoare, and Dance. 
11 Ranks among our best historical engravers " (Red- 
grave). Died 1797. 

Hamilton, Hugh Douglas. Premiums in 1764, 1765, and 
1 769 for Historical Picture and Oil Paintings. Portrait 
painter. R.H.A. Died 1806. 


Handasyde, Charles. Premiums in 1765 and 1768 for 
Enamel Paintings. Miniature and enamel painter. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy in 1776. 

Harding, James Duffield. Silver Medal in 1815 for a 
Drawing ; Silver Medal in 1 8 1 8 for an Original 
Landscape. Water-colour painter. Died 1863. 

Hardwick, Philip. Gold Medallion in 1809 for Original 
Drawing of an Academy of Arts. Architect. R.A. 
Amongst his principal works were Euston Square 
Station, the Goldsmiths' Company's Hall, and Lincoln's 
Inn Hall and Library. Died 1870. 

Hart, Solomon Alexander. Silver Medal in 1826 for a 
Finished Drawing from a Statue. Subject painter. 
R.A. Exhibited from 18261880. Librarian of 
the Royal Academy for some years. He was about 
twenty when he gained the medal. Died 1881. 

Hassell, Edward. Silver Medal in 1828 for an Oil Painting 
of the Altar-piece of St. Margaret's ; Silver Medal in 
1829 for Painting of Interior of Edward the Con- 
fessor's Chapel. Landscape painter. Secretary to 
Society of British Artists. Most of his exhibits were 
interiors of Gothic cathedrals. Died about 1852. 

Hassell, John. Silver Medal in 1810 for Improvements 
in Aquatint. Draughtsman and engraver. Worked 
in aquatint. Published Illustrated Guide to Bath, 
and some other works. 

Hayter, George. Silver Medal in 1821 for an Etching 
from a picture by Titian. Sir George Hayter. Portrait 
and historical painter. He was appointed portrait 
and history painter to Queen Victoria on her 
accession. Died 1871. 

Head, Guy. Silver Palettes in 1 781 and 1 782 for Historical 
and Landscape Drawings. Portrait painter. Resided 
many years in Rome. " Best known as a copyist " 
(Redgrave). Died 1800. 

Hearne, Thomas. Premiums in 1763 for a Drawing, in 
1 764 for a Drawing of a Horse, in 1 765 for an Etching, 
in 1767 for a Landscape ; Gold Palette in 1776 for 
a Landscape in Oils. Water-colour painter. Worked 
first as an engraver. Exhibited at Royal Academy 


up to 1802. His drawings for the Antiquities of Great 
Britain were engraved by W. Byrne (q.v.). Died 

Hebert, William. Premium in 1760 for a Flower Picture. 
Engraver. Published some landscapes. 

Henderson, John. Premium in 1762 for a Drawing. 
Engraver. Pupil of Shipley. Abandoned his art and 
became a successful actor. Died 1785. 

Henning, John. Silver Medal in 1816 for a Plaster Cast. 
Modeller. Copied some of the Elgin Marbles. Died 

Hilditch, George. Gold Medal in 1823 for an Original 
Landscape in Oil ; Silver Medal in 1824 for a Copy 
in Oil ; Silver Medal in 1825 for an Original Picture 
(still life) in Oil. Landscape painter. Exhibited at 
Royal Academy 1823-1856. Died 1857. 

Hoare, Prince. Premium in 1772 for a Flower Picture. 
Portrait and historical painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1781-1815. Son of William Hoare, R.A. 
Wrote several books on Art. Foreign Corresponding 
Secretary to Royal Academy. Died 1834. 

Hodges, William. Premium in 1759 for Modelling in 
Clay; Premiums in 1762, 1763, and 1764 for River 
Views. Landscape painter. R.A. Errand-boy in 
Shipley's School. Appointed in 1772 draughtsman 
to Captain Cook's second expedition. Died 1797. 

Hodgson, Thomas. Premium in 1775 for Wood Engraving. 
Wood engraver. Employed by Bewick, and practised 
on his own account. 

Hole, Henry. Gold Palette in 1804 for Wood Engraving. 
Wood engraver. Pupil of Bewick. 

Hollis, Thomas. Gold Medal in 1837 for a Water-colour. 
Draughtsman. Son of George Hollis, engraver, and 
worked with him. Died 1843. 

Hook, James Clark. Silver Medals in 1837 and 1838 for 
Drawings in Chalk ; Silver Medal in 1 840 for Two 
Portraits in Oil. Marine painter. R.A. Died 1907. 

Hop wood, James. Silver Palette in 1803 for an Outline 
Drawing. Engraver. " Designed and engraved some 
clever book illustrations " (Redgrave), 


Horsley, John Callcott. Silver Medal in 1830 for a Chalk 
Drawing from a Bust ; Silver Medal in 1831 for a 
Finished Drawing from a Statue. Subject painter. 
R.A. He painted the portrait of " Queen Victoria and 
her Children " in the Society's meeting-room. As 
Horsley was born in 1817 his first award was taken 
when he was thirteen. Died 1903. 

Horwell, Charles. Silver Palette in 1787 for a Figure 
of Psyche. Sculptor. Gold Medallist R.A. 1788. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1787-1807. 
Howard, Frank. Silver Palette in 1822 for a Chalk 
Drawing. Designer and draughtsman. Son of Henry 
Howard, R.A. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1825- 
1846. Published various works, mostly manuals 
of instruction in Art. Died 1866. 

Hughes, Edward. Silver Palette in 1846 and Silver 
Medal in 1847 for Drawings. Portrait painter. Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy 1855-1884. Painted 
portraits of Queen Mary, Queen Alexandra, and 
other members of the Royal family. Died 1908. 
Hullmandel, Charles Joseph. Silver Medal in 1819 for 
Specimens of Lithography. This same year a Gold 
Medal was awarded to Senefelder for the invention 
of lithography. Hullmandel, who was an artist, took 
up lithography in 1818. From that time he devoted 
himself to it, and with great success. He introduced 
many improvements, and was associated with the 
production of many important works. Died 1850. 
Humphreys, William. Premium in 1764 for a Drawing ; 
Premiums in 1 765 and 1 766 for Mezzotints . Engraver. 
" His mezzotints . . . possess very high merit, and 
were esteemed among the best of the time " (Red- 

Hurlstone, Frederick Yeates. Silver Palette in 1812 for 
a Drawing ; Silver Medals in 1813 and 1814 for Draw- 
ings ; Silver Medals in 1816 and 1821 for Oil Paintings. 
Portrait and history painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1821-1845. Took Gold Medal at Paris 
Exhibition 1855. President of the Society of British 
Artists, Died 1869, 


Hurlstone, Richard. Premiums in 1763 and 1764 for 
Drawings. Portrait painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1771-1773. Died about 1774. 

Inwood, Henry William. Silver Medal in 1 816 for Original 
Architectural Drawing. Architect. Joint architect 
with his father of St. Pancras' Church. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy 1809-1838. Died 1843. 

Ireland, Samuel. Premium in 1760 for a Drawing. 
Engraver. Exhibited at Royal Academy in 1782. 
Published several works. His son, William Henry 
Ireland, was the author of the famous Shakespearean 
forgeries. Died 1800. 

Jeffereys, James. Gold Palette in 1774 for an Historical 
Drawing. Marine painter. Gold Medallist R.A. 
1773. Exhibited at Royal Academy in 1783. Died 

Jones, George. Silver Palettes in 1802, 1804, and 1805 
for Drawings. Battle and subject painter. R.A. He 
was supposed to resemble the great Duke of Welling- 
ton, and acted the part. Died 1869. 

Jones, Thomas. Premiums in 1764 and 1765 for Draw- 
ings ; Premiums in 1767 and 1768 for Landscapes. 
Landscape painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 

Jukes, Francis. Premium in 1778 for a " Map of Boston 
in Aqua Tint a." Painter and engraver. " Successful 
in aquatint, principally sea-pieces and landscapes " 
(Redgrave). Died 1812. 

Keith, Elizabeth. Premium in 1755 for a Drawing. 
She obtained the second prize in the class between 
fourteen and seventeen in the Society's first competi- 
tion. According to Dossie, she died young. 

Kelsey, Charles Samuel. Silver Medal in 1846 for a 
" design for a ticket of admission to the Society's 
Rooms " ; Silver Medal in 1 847 for a figure. Sculptor. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1840-1877. 

Kelsey, Richard. Silver Medal in 1819 for a Design for 
a Mansion ; Silver Medallion in 1820 for a Design 


for a National Museum. Architect. Gold Medallist 
R.A. 1821. 

Kendrick, Emma Eleonora. Silver Palette in 1811 for a 
Drawing ; Silver Medal in 1812 for a Miniature ; 
Gold Medals in 1814, 1815, 1816, and 1817 for Minia- 
tures. Miniature painter. Daughter of Josephus 
Kendrick. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1811-1840. 
Miniature painter to William iv. Died 1871 . 

Kendrick, Josephus. Silver Medal in 1811 for a Plaster 
Cast. Sculptor. Gold Medallist R.A. 1813. Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy 1813-1829. 

Keyse, Thomas. Premium in 1764 for a Method of Fixing 
Crayon Drawings. Painter of still life. Keeper of 
Bermondsey Spa. Died 1800. 

Kirby, Sarah. Premiums in 1757 and 1758 for Orna- 
mental Designs. Daughter of Joshua Kirby, F.R.S., 
architect and writer on perspective. Afterwards 
Mrs. Trimmer, the once popular educational writer. 

Kirby, William. Premiums in 1760 for an Etching, and 
in 1761 for a Landscape Drawing. Son of Joshua 
Kirby, F.R.S. Died 1771. 

Kirk, John. Premiums in 1759, 1762, and 1763 for 
Die Engraving. The 1762 premium (30 guineas) 
was for " the Seal for the Society's letters, after a 
design of Cipriani." Medallist. Died 1776. 

Kirk, Thomas. Silver Palette in 1785 for Historical 
Drawing. Painter and engraver. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1785-1794. " An eminent artist," who 
" passed like a meteor through the region of art " 
(Dayes, quoted by Redgrave). Died 1797. 

Kitchingman, John. Premiums in 1762, 1763, 1764, 1765, 
and 1766, and Gold Palette in 1770 for Drawings in 
various classes. Miniature painter. Pupil of Shipley. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1770-1781. Died 1781. 

Lambert, James. Premium in 1770 for a Landscape. 
Landscape painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
17741778. A well-known scene-painter and a friend 
of Hogarth. He was the first President of the 
Incorporated Society of Artists . Died 1 779 . 


Landseer, Charles. Silver Palette in 1815 for a Drawing 
of the Laocoon. Subject painter. R.A. Brother 
of Sir Edwin Landseer. Died 1879. 

Landseer, Edwin. Silver Palette in 1813 for Drawing 
of Animals from Life ; Silver Medal in 1814 for a 
Drawing of a Horse ; Silver Medal in 1815 for a 
Painting of a Dog ; Silver Medal in 1 8 1 6 for an 
original Painting, " The Stable Guardian." As he 
was born in March 1802 he was only eleven when he 
received his first award. The eminent and popular 
Animal painter, Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A. Died 


Landseer, George. Silver Medal in 1841 for " Water- 
colour Drawings of Birds and Beasts from Nature " ; 
Silver Palette in 1842 for an " Oil Painting of a Lion 
from Nature." Portrait and landscape painter. Only 
son of Thomas Landseer, A.R.A. Was in India from 
about 1844 to 1870. Died 1878. 

Landseer, Miss. Silver Palette in 1813 for an Original 
Landscape. This was probably Jessica, daughter 
of John Landseer, R.A. (and sister of Edwin), who 
" used the painter's brush and the etching-needle," 
and " etched a few designs after her brother Edwin " 
(Bryan). Exhibited at Royal Academy 1816 and 
afterwards. Her younger sister Emma (Mrs. Mac- 
kenzie) did not begin to exhibit until 1838. 

Landseer, Thomas. Silver Palette in 1810 for an " Etch- 
ing of Sheep and Goats " ; Silver Medal in 1813 for 
an " Etching of Animals"; Silver Medal in 1814 
for a Painting of a Horse. Engraver. A.R.A. 
Eldest brother of Sir Edwin Landseer, many of whose 
pictures he engraved. Died 1880. 

Lane, John Bryant. Silver Palette in 1806 and Gold 
Medal in 1807 for Historical Drawings. Historical 
painter. Exhibited sacred and classical subjects at 
Royal Academy 1808-1813. Then went to Rome 
and devoted fourteen years to the production of what 
he hoped would be a masterpiece, but proved a failure, 
" The Vision of Joseph." Afterwards he showed 
some portraits at the Royal Academy 1831-1834. 


Lawranson, William. Premiums in 1760, 1761, 1762, 
1763, 1764, 1765, and 1766 for Drawings. Portrait 
painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1774- 

Lawrence, Thomas . Silver Gilt Palette and Five Guineas in 
1784 for a Copy of the" Transfiguration " of Raphael. 
The committee found that the drawing had not been 
executed within the limit of time specified, and 
therefore that it was disqualified, and they conse- 
quently withheld the Gold Medal offered. Subse- 
quently they decided to make the above-named 
award, " as a token of the Society's approbation of 
his abilities." The award, therefore, does not appear 
in the printed list. The only record of it is in the 
Society's minutes and the committee minutes (Com- 
mittee of Polite Arts, 9th and 3Oth March 1784). 
The candidate was afterward Sir Thomas Lawrence, 
P.R.A. He was not fourteen years of age when the 
award was made, as he was born in May 1769. Died 

Lawrie (or Laurie), Robert. Premium in 1770 for a 
Drawing ; Premiums in 1773, 177 5, and 17 76 for Orna- 
mental Designs ; Silver Palette in 1773 for a Study 
of Flowers ; Bounty of 30 guineas in 1 776 for Improve- 
ment in Mezzotint Colour Printing. Engraver. 
Besides producing a large number of engravings, 
he carried on the business of a publisher of prints, 
maps, etc. Died 1836. 

Leake, Henry. Premium in 1 760 for a Drawing. Portrait 
painter. Pupil of W. Hoare, R.A. 

Legrew, James. Silver Palette in 1822 for a Plaster 
Model. Sculptor. Pupil of Chantrey. Gold Medallist 
R.A. 1829. Produced many groups of merit. Died 

Le Jeune, Henry. Silver Palette in 1834 for a Copy 
of a Figure in Indian Ink. Historical painter . A.R A. 
Gold Medallist R.A. 1841. Died 1904. 

Liart, Matthew. Premiums in 1764 and 1765 for Draw- 
ings. Premium in 1766 for an Engraving. Engraver. 
Died about 1782. 


Lines, Samuel. Silver Medal in 1825 for Pencil Draw- 
ing. Painter and drawing-master. One of the 
founders of the Birmingham School of Art. Died 

Linwood, Mary. Silver Medal in 1786 " for submitting 
to the inspection of the Society, as examples 
of works of art, and of useful and elegant employ- 
ment, three pieces of needlework, representing a 
hare, still life, and a head of King Lear." Miss 
Linwood opened her celebrated exhibition of em- 
broidered pictures at the Hanover Square Rooms 
in 1798, and afterwards removed to Leicester Square, 
where her exhibition was considered one of the chief 
sights of London. Died 1 845 . 

Loat, Samuel. Silver Medal in 1825 and Gold Medal in 
1827 for Architectural Designs. Architect. Gold 
Medallist R.A. 1827. Exhibited a design in 1831, 
" after which there are no traces of his art " (Red- 

Lochee, John Charles. Premium in 1775 (30 guineas) 
for a Statue; Premium in 1776 (50 guineas) for a 
Statue ; Silver Medallion in 1 790 for a Bust of 
the Prince of Wales (afterwards George iv.). An 
engraving of this bust forms the Frontispiece to 
Vol. x. of the Transactions. Sculptor. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy 1776-1790. Some portrait 
medallions by him were reproduced by Wedgwood 
and by Tassie. 

Long, J. St. John. Silver Medal in 1825 for a Land- 
scape. Brought up as engraver, but did not follow 
the profession. Not successful as an artist he set up 
as a quack doctor. Died 1834. 

Lucy, Charles. Silver Medal in 1834 for an Oil Painting. 
Historical painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1838-1873. Most of his works related to the history 
of England, and were meritorious but not very 

Lupton, Thomas Goff. Gold Medal in 1822 for a Mez- 
zotint on Soft Steel. He introduced the use of soft 
steel for mezzotint (see his paper, Transactions , Vol. xi. 


p. 4I). 1 He worked both on steel and on copper, and 
produced many fine plates after Turner. Died 1873. 

Malton, Thomas. Premium in 1774 for a Drawing of a 
Tide-Mill. Architectural draughtsman. Gold Medal- 
list R.A. 1782. Published several topographical 
works and views. Died 1804. 

Malt on, William. Premiums in 1775 and 1777 for Draw- 
ings of Machines . Architectural draughtsman . Brother 
of Thomas Malt on. 

Manning, Samuel. Silver Medals in 1831, 1832, and 1838 
for Busts ; Gold Medal in 1833 for a Model of a 
Figure ; Silver Medal in 1840 for a Group. Sculptor. 
Son of Samuel Manning, also a sculptor. There is 
some confusion in the books between father and son. 
According to the account in the Dictionary of National 
Biography, which seems the most correct, the " Pro- 
metheus," for which the 1833 award was made, was 
shown in marble at the Royal Academy in 1845. 
Died 1865. 

Marchant, Nathaniel. Premiums in 1761, 1762, 1763, 
1764 (two), and 1765 for Engraved Gems. Gem 
engraver and medallist. R.A. Pupil of E. Burch, 
R.A. Engraver to the Mint. Designed some coins 
and medals. " Chief of English gem engravers of 
the eighteenth century " (King, quoted by Forrer). 
Died 1816. 

Marsden, Barbara. Premiums in 1755 and 1756 for 
Drawings; Premiums in 1757 and 1758 for Orna- 
mental Designs. She married Jeremiah Meyer, R.A. 
(q.v.). The 1758 award was in a class limited to 
candidates under fourteen, so she cannot have 
been twelve years old when she took the prize in 

1 The credit of having produced the first mezzotint on steel has 
always been given to William Say, the mezzotint engraver, and it would 
appear with justice, since there is a mezzotint print by him, dated 
1817, which is said to be from a steel plate. See Chapter IX, p. 216. 
The two inventors were probably working independently. There is 
nothing in Lupton's paper to suggest that his work was not original, 
and probably it was. 


Martin, David. Premiums in 1759, 1760, and 1761 for 
Chalk Drawings. Portrait painter and engraver. Died 

Martin, William. Gold Palette in 1776 for an Historical 
Drawing ; Premium in 1 780 for a Landscape. History 
painter. Pupil of Cipriani. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1775-1816. History painter to George in. 

Mason, William. Silver Medal in 1776 for a Drawing of 
a Horse. Animal painter . 

Masquerier, John James. Silver Palettes in 1794, 1795, 
and 1796; Silver Medal in 1799, all for Drawings. 
Portrait painter. Born at Chelsea of French parents. 
Studied in Paris. Pupil of Vernet. Exhibited at 
Royal Academy 1796-1838. Painted Napoleon's 
portrait. Died 1855. 

Mayor, Barnaby. Premium in 1765 for a Landscape 
Etching. Engraver and painter . Died 1774. 

Medland, Thomas. Silver Palettes in 1777, 1779, and 
1780 for Drawings. Engraver. Illustrated numerous 
books. Exhibited at Royal Academy 17771822. 

Metz, Conrad Martin. Gold Palette in 1783 for an 
Historical Drawing. A German artist who came to 

Meyer, Jeremiah. Gold Medal in 1761 for Profile Like- 
ness of George in. from memory, intended to be, 
but not actually, used in cutting a die for the coinage. 
Miniature painter to the king. Miniature painter. 
R.A. Enameller to King George in. and miniature 
painter to Queen Charlotte. Married Barbara 
Marsden (q.v.), who took several of the Society's 
prizes. Died 1789. 

Milbourn, John. Premiums in 1763, 1764, and 1765 for 
Drawings. Portrait painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1773 and 1774. 

Millais, John Everett. Silver medals in 1839 for Drawing 
in Chalk from a Bust ; in 1 840 for an Historical 
Composition in Pencil ; in 1841 for an Historical 
Composition in Sepia ; Gold Medal in 1846 for an 
Original Historical Painting ; Gold Medallion in 1 847 
for an Original Composition in Oil. Subject, landscape, 


and portrait painter. Sir John Everett Millais, Bart., 
P.R.A. As Sir John Millais was born in 1829, his 
first award was obtained when he was only ten. 
Died 1896. 

Miller, John. Premiums in 1764 for a Flower Picture ; 
and in 1766 for an Engraving. Flower painter and 
engraver. Published an illustrated botanical work, 

Mills, George. Gold Medals in 1817 and 1818 for Medal 
Dies, and in 1823 for presenting the Society with a 
new Die for the Vulcan Medal. Medallist. Produced 
medals of General Moore, Watt, West, George iv., 
and Sir F. Chantrey. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1816-1823. Died 1824. 

Mitchell, Thomas. Premium in 1766 for a Sea-piece. 
Marine painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1774- 
1789. Had appointments in the dockyards, and 
worked as an amateur. 

Moore, Francis John. Premium in 1766 for an Alle- 
gorical Bas-relief ; Silver Palette in 1769 for a Statue. 
Sculptor. Died 1809. 

More, Samuel. Premiums in 1763 and 1764 for two sets 
of Impressions of Pastes resembling Antique Cameos 
and Intaglios. Afterwards Secretary of the Society. 

Moring, Thomas. Gold Medal in 1845 f r " an Engraving 
on White Cornelian." Seal engraver. Practised as 
a professional seal engraver and medallist. Died 

Mortimer, John Hamilton. Premiums in 1759 (two), 
1760, 1761, and 1762 ; Premium in 1763 (50 guineas) 
for an Oil Painting " Edward the Confessor taking 
his Mother's Treasures"; Premium in 1764 (100 
guineas) for " St. Paul Preaching to the Britons." The 
last picture was placed as an altar-piece in the church 
of High Wycombe, Bucks, where the painter is buried. 
History painter. A.R.A. Died 1779. 

Moser, George Michael. Premium in 1758 for " A Model, 
chased in gold, of an Honorary Medal proposed by 
him to the Society . . . afterwards engraved by 
John Kirk " (Dossie). Enameller and modeller. R.A. 


One of the founders of the Royal Academy, and its 
first Keeper. " Had high merits as an artist, excelling 
not only as a chaser, but as a medallist, and he 
painted in enamel with great beauty and taste " 

Moser, Joseph. Premiums in 1762, 1763, and 1765 for 
Modelling in Wax. Enameller. Nephew of G. M. 
Moser, R.A. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1774 
1787. Afterwards a London Police Magistrate. 

Moser, Mary. Premium in 1758 for an Ornamental 
Design; Premium and Silver Medal in 1759 for a 
Flower Picture. The Silver Medal was a special and 
additional award " presented to her as a further 
Reward for her extraordinary merit . ' ' Flower painter . 
R.A. Daughter of G. M. Moser, R.A. Original 
member of Royal Academy, and one of the two 
woman Academicians (the other being Angelica 
Kauffmann). Married Captain Hugh Lloyd. Died 

Moses, Henry. Silver Palettes in 1800 and 1801 for 
Drawings. Engraver. Produced plates after Barry, 
Northcote, Opie, and others. Died 1870. 

Mulready, William. Silver Palette in 1801 for a Drawing. 
Subject painter. R.A. Mulready was born in 1786, 
so he was only fourteen at the date of the award. 
In 1848 a collection of Mulready 's works was ex- 
hibited in the Society's house. Died 1863. 

Nesbitt, Charlton. Silver Palette in 1798, and Silver 
Medal in 1802, for Wood Engraving. Wood engraver. 
A pupil of Bewick. Successful illustrator of numer- 
ous books. Died 1838. 

Netherclift, Joseph. Premium in 1829 for Lithographic 
Transfer Paper. Lithographer and printer. This was 
the first practical transfer paper, for though the 
earliest lithographs made were transfers, the diffi- 
culties attending the process were so great that the 
work was all executed direct on the stone until a 
suitable paper was produced. Died 1863. 

Nollekens, Joseph. Premium in 1759, at the age of 


eighteen, for a Drawing ; Premiums in 1759, 1760, 
1761 (two), and 1762 for Bas-reliefs. Sculptor. R.A. 
One of Shipley's pupils. This celebrated sculptor 
amassed a large fortune by his work. His peculiarities 
are well known from the Life by Smith, Nollekens and 
His Times. Died 1823. 

Norton, Christopher. Premium in 1760 for a Drawing. 

Okey, Samuel. Premiums in 1 765 and 1 767 for Mezzotints . 
Engraver. Engraved after Sir J. Reynolds, Pine, and 

Pain, George Richard. Gold Medal in 1812 for a Design 
for a Church ; Silver Medal in 1813 for a Design for 
a Palace. Architect. Apprenticed to Nash. Went 
to Ireland about 1817, and practised there. Died 

Papworth, Edgar George. Silver Medal hi 1825 for a 
Pencil Drawing; Silver Palette in 1827 for a Bas- 
relief. Sculptor. Died 1866. 

Papworth, John Woody. Silver Medal in 1838, Gold 
Medal in 1840, and Gold Medallion in 1845 f r Archi- 
tectural Designs. Architect and heraldic painter. De- 
signed for glass, pottery, and textiles. Brother of 
Wyatt Papworth. Died 1870. 

Papworth, Wyatt. Silver Medal in 1 836, and Silver Palette 
in 1 838 for Architectural Drawings. Architect. Editor 
of the Dictionary of Architecture. Curator of Soane 
Museum. Died 1894. 

Parke, Henry. Silver Medals in 1807, 1808, 1810, 1811, 
1812 ; and Gold Medal in 1814 for Sea-pieces. Archi- 
tect. Pupil of Sir John Soane. Made many drawings 
of monuments of Italy and Egypt, and, according to 
Redgrave, " Some naval drawings of much ability." 
A collection of his drawings is preserved by the 
R.I.BA. Died 1835. 

Parker, John. Premiums in 1762 and 1763 (two in each 
year) for Drawings in different classes. Landscape 
painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1770-1778, 


Parry, William. Premiums in 1760, 1761, 1762, 1763, 
1 764, and 1766 for Drawings in various classes. Par- 
trait painter. A.R .A. Died 1 791 . 

Pars, Albert. Premiums in 1759, 1764, and 1765 for 
Modelling in Wax : Premium in 1767 for a Bronze 
Cast. Modeller. Brother of William Pars, A.RA. 
" Successful modeller in wax " (RedgraTe). 

Pars, Anne. Premiums in 1764, 1765, and 1766 for Draw- 
ings. Sister of William Pars, A.RJV. Exhibited at 
Royal Academy in 1 786. 

Pars, William. Thirteen Premiums from 1756 to 1764 in 
various classes, including Drawings of Landscapes, 
Animals, Still Life, and Ornamental Design, Wax 
Modelling, and an Oil Painting. In 1757 he was ad- 
mitted to the class under fourteen, so he cannot have 
been thirteen when he took his first award. Portrait 
painter. A.R.A. Produced also views of temples 
in Greece and in Asia Minor, and some Swiss views. 
Brother of Henry Pars, Shipley's successor as the 
Master of the Academy in the Strand. Died 1782. 

Parsons, William. Premiums in 1757, 1758, and 1760 for 
Drawings. Portrait painter (amateur). Died 1795. 

Patmore, Coventry. Silver Palette in 1838 for a Pencil 
Drawing. The well-known poet. He contributed to 
the Germ, and was a friend of the first pre-Raphaelites, 
but does not appear to have continued his artistic 
studies or work . Died 1 896 . 

Patten, George. Silver Palette in 1816 for a Miniature. 
Portrait and history painter. AJtA. Exhibited at 
Royal Academy 1819 to about 1865. Portrait painter 
in ordinary to Prince Albert. Died 1865. 

Pearson, Mrs. C. Silver Palette in 1816, Silver Medal 
in 1817, Gold Medal in 1819 for Oil Paintings. 
Portrait painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1821-1842. Her maiden name was Dutton, and 
the first two awards were gained before her marriage. 
Died 1871. 

Peart, Charles. Silver Medallion in 1783 for Modelling 
from the Life. Sculptor. Gold Medallist RA. 1782, 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1778-1798, 


Peters, Matthew William. Two Premiums in 1759 for 
Drawings. Portrait and history painter. R.A. Be- 
came a clergyman and abandoned painting, except as 
an amateur. Died 1814. 

Pether, William. Premiums in 1756 for a Drawing and 
for an Ornamental Design ; in 1760 and 1767 for 
Mezzotints. Mezzotint engraver. Exhibited minia- 
tures at Royal Academy 1781 to 1794, but " his true 
art was mezzotint," in which he " gained great dis- 
tinction " (Redgrave). Died about 1794. 

Physick, Edward Gustavus. Silver Medals in 1823 and 
1824 ; Gold Medal in 1826 for Plaster Models. Sculptor. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy and elsewhere 1822- 

Physick, E. J. Silver Medal in 1846 for a Plaster Cast; 
Silver Medal in 1847 for a Modelled Figure. Sculptor. 

Pinches, Thomas R. Silver Medals in 1836 and 1837 f T 
Medal Dies . Medallist . One of the well-known family 
of London die-sinkers and medallists. " Cut many 
military, academical, and private medals " (Forrer). 
Amongst them was a memorial medal of the Duke of 
Wellington, 1852. 

Pine, Robert Edge. Premium in 1760 (100 guineas) for 
an Oil Painting, " The Surrender of Calais " ; Pre- 
mium (100 guineas) in 1763 for " Canute Rebuking his 
Courtiers." History and portrait painter. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy and elsewhere 1760-1784. Went 
to America. Died at Philadelphia 1790. 

Pingo, Benjamin. Premiums in 1765, 1766, and 1769 for 
Drawings. Youngest son of Thomas Pingo. 

Pingo, Henry. Premiums in 1756, 1758, 1759, 1760, and 
1 761 for Ornamental Designs. Second son of Thomas 
Pingo. Exhibited flower pictures at Free Society of 
Artists, 1772 and 1773. 

Pingo, John. Premiums in 1759, 1760, 1762, 1763, and 
1765 for Die Engraving. Medallist. Assistant En- 
graver to the Mint. Eldest son of Thomas Pingo. 

Pingo, Lewis. Premiums in 1756 and 1759 for Drawings ; 
Premiums in 1759 and 1 760 for Medallions ; Premiums 
in 1757, 1758, 1760, and 1761 for Ornamental Designs ; 


Premiums in 1761, 1763, and 1764 for Die Engraving ; 
Premium in 1 763 for Gem Engraving ; Gilt Palette 
in 1770, Gold Palettes in 1771 and 1772 for Medallions. 
Medallist. Third son of Thomas Pingo. Engraver 
to the Mint. Died 1830. 

Pingo, Mary. Premiums in 1 758 and 1759 for Ornamental 
Designs ; in 1761 and 1762 for Drawings of Flowers. 
Daughter of Thomas Pingo. 

Pingo, Thomas. Paid 80 guineas in 1758 for making the 
dies for the Society's First Medal from a design by 
James Stuart, the Architect, " Athenian Stuart." 
Medallist. Engraver to the Mint. Died 1776. 

Pitts, William. Gold Medal in 1812 for a Wax Model. 
Sculptor. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1823-1839. 
Produced much successful work. Died 1840. 

Pocock, William Fuller. Silver Medallion in 1807 for an 
Architectural Design. Architect. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1799-1841. 

Porter, John Ashwood. Premium in 1755 for a Pen-and- 
ink Drawing. He was the last of the five candidates 
who took the first prizes offered by the Society for 
young people under fourteen. " He was the son of a 
drawing-master in Wapping " (Dossie), but nothing 
more seems to be known about him. 

Porter, Robert Ker. Silver Palette in 1 793 for an Historical 
Drawing. History painter. Sir Robert Porter, 
brother of Anne and Jane Porter, the novelists. " He 
was by turns, during his adventurous career, artist, 
soldier, author, and diplomatist " (Redgrave). Died 

Poynter, Ambrose. Silver Medallion in 1818 for an 
Architectural Design. Architect. Father of Sir Ed- 
ward Poynter, P.R.A. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1817-1852. Foundation Member of R.I.B.A., and 
its vSecretary 1840, etc. Took important part in 
establishment of Schools of Design. " Had con- 
siderable practice as an architect " (Dictionary of 
National Biography}. Died 1886. 

Proctor, Thomas. Gold Palette in 1787 for an Historical 
Drawing. Sculptor and history painter. A brilliant 


but unfortunate genius. Gold Medallist R.A. 1784. 

Exhibited at Royal Academy 1785-1794. Died in 

misery and want 1794. 
Pugh, Hubert. Premium in 1765 for a Landscape in Oil. 

Landscape painter. ' There is a work of his in the 

Lock Hospital " (Redgrave). Died after 1788. 
Pye, Charles. Silver Palette in 1791 for a Drawing. 


Radclyffe, George Edward. Silver Medal in 1824 for an 
Etching. Silver Palette in 1826 for an Engraving. 
Engraver. Worked for the Annuals and Art Journal. 
Died 1863. 

Raimbach, Abraham. Gold Palette in 1806 for Wood 
Engraving. Engraver. Exhibited miniatures at 
Royal Academy 1797-1805, but afterwards devoted 
himself to engraving. Engraved many of Wilkie's 
pictures. Died 1843. 

Ranson, Thomas Frazer. Silver Medal in 1814 ; Gold 
Medals in 1821 and 1822 for Engraving. Engraver. 
He was interested in the question of preventing the 
forgery of bank-notes, and barely escaped conviction 
for having a forged note in his possession. 

Ravenet, Franois Simon. Premiums in 1761, 1762, and 
1764 for Engravings. Engraver. A.RA. Native of 
France. Came to England about 1750. Worked for 
Hogarth and Boy dell. Engraved the " Mariage a la 
Mode. 1 ' Died 1 774. 

Read, Nicholas. Premiums in 1762 (100 guineas) and in 
1764 (140 guineas) for Statues. Sculptor. Pupil of 
Roubttiac, and his successor. Some monuments by 
him are in Westminster Abbey. Died 1787. 

Read, Richard. Silver Palette in 1771 for a Drawing. 
Engraver. Worked chiefly in mezzotint. 

Reinagle, Philip. Premium in 1767 for a Drawing. 
Animal and landscape painter. RA. " His hunting 
pieces, sporting dogs, and dead game were excellent " 
(Redgrave). Died 1833. 

Revel, Richard. Premium in 1755 for a Chalk Drawing 
of a Horse. This was the fifth prize in the class 


between fourteen and seventeen in the Society's first 
competition. " Nothing seems to be known of his 
after career" (Dossie). 

Richardson, George. Premium in 1765 for an Archi- 
tectural Drawing. Architect. Author of the New 
Vitruvins Britannicus and other works on architecture . 

Rigaud, Stephen Francis. Silver Palette in 1794 ; Gold 
Palette in 1799 for Drawings. Water-colour painter. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1797-1815. 

Roberts, James. Premium in 1766 for a Drawing. 
Portrait painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 


Robertson, George. Premiums in 1760 and 1761 (three) 
for Drawings. Landscape painter. Pupil of Shipley. 
Went to Jamaica and painted views of the island, 
which were exhibited in London and engraved. Died 

Rochard, Frederick. Silver Medal in 1823 for a Water- 
colour Portrait. Miniature painter. Exhibited at 
Royal Academy from 1819. Died 1858. 

Rogers, Philip Hutchins. Silver Medal in 1808 and Gold 
Medal in 1 8 1 1 f or Oil Paintings . Marine and landscape 
painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy and elsewhere 
1808-1851. Died 1853. 

Rolls, Charles. Silver Medal in 1818 for a Drawing. 
Engraver and draughtsman. Assisted the Findens in 
their Gallery of British Art. 

Romney, George. Premium in 1763 (20 guineas) for an 
Oil Painting of the Death of General Wolfe ; Premium 
in 1765 (50 guineas) for Oil Painting of the Death of 
Edward the First. The celebrated Portrait painter. 
Died 1802. 

Romney, John. Silver Palette in 1806 for Outline Draw- 
ing. Engraver and draughtsman. Engraved some of 
Smirke's illustrations to Shakespeare, etc. Died 

Rooker, Michael Angelo. Premiums in 1 759 for a Drawing 
(age under fourteen), and in 1760 for a Landscape. 
Water-colour painter and engraver. A.R.A. Died 


Ross, William. Silver Palette in 1807 for a Drawing (at 
the age of twelve) ; Silver Medal in 1 808 for a Draw- 
ing ; Silver Palette in 1809 for a Miniature ; Silver 
Medals in 1 8 1 o and 1 8 1 1 for Drawings ; Silver Palette in 
1 8 1 3 for a Drawing ; Gold Medal in 1 8 16 for a Portrait 
of the Duke of Norfolk ; Gold Medal in 1817 for an 
Historical Painting. Sir William Ross, R.A., the 
well-known Miniature painter. He was Chairman of 
the Committee of Fine Arts 1845-6, and a Member 
of the first Council 1845 an d 1846. An exhibition of 
his works was held by the Society in 1860. Died 

Rossi, Charles. Premium in 1794 (50 guineas) for a Group 
of Statuary. Sculptor. R.A. Sculptor to George iv. 
and to William iv. Executed several monuments in 
St. Paul's Cathedral. Died 1839. 

Rossi, Henry. Silver Medal in 1815 for Copy of Plaster 
Cast. Sculptor. Designed terra-cotta ornaments for 
interior of St. Pancras' Church. 

Russell, John. Premiums in 1759 and 1760 for Drawings. 
Portrait painter . R . A . H is best work was in crayons , 
and he published a book on Painting with Crayons. 
Died 1806. 

Ryder, Thomas. Premium in 1766 for a Drawing ; Gold 
Medal in 1803 for a Line Engraving. Engraver and 
draughtsman. " One of the best engravers of his 
time " (Redgrave). Executed eight plates for 
Boy dell's Shakespeare Gallery. Died 1810. 

Ryley, Charles Reuben. Premium in 1770 for a Drawing. 
History painter. Gold Medallist R.A. 1778. Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy 1780-1798. Died 1798. 

Samuel, George. Silver Medallion in 1784 for a View of 
the Front of the Society's House. Landscape painter. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy 1786-1823. 

Samuel, Richard. Premium in 1773 for a Tool for Laying 
Mezzotint Grounds ; Gold Palettes in 1777 and 1779 
for Drawings. Portrait and historical painter. Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy 1772-1779. 

Sass, Henry. Silver Medal in 1807 for an Outline of the 


Laocoon, Portrait painter and teacher. According 
to Redgrave he was more successful in the latter 
capacity than in the first. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1808-1838. Died 1844. 

Savage, William. Silver Medal in 1 825 for " Block Printing 
in Colours in Imitation of Drawings." Painter and 
engraver. Experimented in printing in colour from 
wood blocks, and published a book on the subject in 
1822. Died 1843. 

Say, Frederick Richard. Silver Palette in 1817 for a 
Drawing ; Silver Medal in 1819 for a Chalk Drawing ; 
Silver Medal in 1820 for Crayon Drawings. Portrait 
painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy from 1825. 
Died probably about 1860. 

Scharf, George. Silver Palette in 1835 and Silver Medal 
in 1836 for Drawings. Sir George Scharf, K.C.B., 
Keeper of the National Portrait Gallery. Died 1895. 

Scheemakers, Thomas. Premiums in 1765 for Modelling 
in Clay, and in 1766 for a Bas-relief. Sculptor. Son 
of Peter Scheemakers, a Belgian sculptor who settled 
in London. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1765- 
1804. Died 1808. 

Schiavonetti, Lewis. Silver Medal in 1807 for Engraving 
of the British Troops in the Bay of Aboukir . Engraver. 
Pupil of Bartolozzi. Died 1810. 

Scott, John. Gold Medal in 181 1 for two Original Engrav- 
ings of Fox- Hunting. Engraver. Successful as an 
engraver of animals. Died 1828. 

Scoular, James. Premium in 1755 for a Drawing (at age 
of fourteen). Miniature painter . Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1761-1787. 

Scoular, William. Silver Medals in 1816 and 1819 ; Gold 
Medal in 1820; all for Models. Sculptor. Gold 
Medallist R.A. 1817. Exhibited at Royal Academy 

Scriven, Edward. Gold Medal in 1813 for an Engraving 
after Gerard Douw ; Gold Medal in 1 8 1 5 for Engravings 
after West . Engraver. Worked for Dilettani Society, 
Shakespeare Gallery, etc., and was much employed 
by publishers. Died 1841. 


Seddon, Thomas. Silver Medal in 1848 for Drawings 
of an Original Design for an Ornamental Carved 
Sideboard. He was the son of a cabinetmaker. 
Landscape painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1852-1856. A collection of his works was shown at 
the Society in 1857, when an address was delivered 
by John Ruskin (Journal, vol. v. p. 360). Died 1856. 

Senefelder, Aloys. Gold Medal in 1819 for the Invention 
of Lithography. The process had been perfected 
in 1798, and lithographs had been published in 
England in 1801, but in 1818 Senefelder published 
his book on the subject. 

Setchel, Sarah. Silver Palette in 1829 for a Pencil Draw- 
ing. Water - colour painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy and elsewhere 18311867. Gained great 
popularity by her picture, " The Momentous Ques- 
tion." Died 1894. 

Sharp, William. Premium in 1760 for a Drawing; 
Premiums in 1761, 1763, and 1764 for Designs. En- 
graver. " One of the most celebrated of English 
line engravers " (Bryan). Engraved West's portrait 
of Samuel More, the Society's Secretary. Died 1824. 

Shelley, Samuel. Silver Palette in 1770 for a Figure 
Drawing. Miniature painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1773-1808. Died 1808. 

Shenton, Henry Chawner. Silver Medal in 1844 for a 
Clay Model of Sabina. Sculptor. Son of the engraver 
of the same name. Died 1 846. 

Sherlock, William. Premium in 1759 for a Figure Draw- 
ing ; Premium in 1760 for an Engraving. Portrait 
painter and engraver. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1802-1806. Engraved portrait heads for Smollett's 
History of England. 

Sherwin, John Keyse. Silver Palette in 1769 for a Draw- 
ing ; Premium in 1772 (50 guineas) for a Drawing ; 
Premium in 1774 for an Engraving; Premium in 
1775 for an Engraving; Gold Medal in 1778 for 
" Excellence in Engraving." The engraving (repro- 
duced in the plate facing page 157) for which the 
1774 Premium was awarded was used for a vignette 


on the title-page of the Register of Premiums and 
Bounties issued in 1778, and was reprinted as a 
frontispiece to the first volume of the Transactions. 
Engraved the portraits of Lord Folkestone (p. 12) 
and Lord Romney (p. 16). Engraver and history 
painter. Worked under Bartolozzi. Gold Medallist 
R.A. 1772 (for a Painting). " It is as an engraver 
that he will rank high among our artists " (Redgrave). 
Engraver to George in. Died 1790. 

Sievier, Robert William. Silver Medal in 1812 for a 
Pen-and-ink Drawing. Engraver and sculptor . After 
practising as an engraver for some years he devoted 
himself to sculpture. A man of varied accomplish- 
ments and of scientific tastes, he became an F.R.S. 
Died 1865. 

Simmons, William Henry. Silver Medal in 1833 f r an 
Engraving. Engraver. " For many years perhaps 
the chief of English workers in his own line " (Bryan). 
Engraved after Landseer, Millais, Faed, Holman 
Hunt, Frith, Rosa Bonheur, and Hook. Died 1882. 

Simpson, Philip. Silver Medal in 1822 for a Copy of a 
Portrait ; Gold Medal in 1823 for a Portrait. Portrait 
and subject painter. Exhibited at the Royal Academy 
up to 1836. 

Skelton, William. Silver Palettes in 1778 and 1779 for 
Drawings. Engraver. Published series of portraits 
of the family of George in. Died 1848. 

Smart, John. Premiums in 1755 and 1756 (aged twelve) 
for Drawings ; Premium in 1757 for a Portrait 
in Chalks of Shipley ; Premium in 1758 for a Draw- 
ing. Miniaturist. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1770-1811. Spent some years in India. Died 1811. 

Smirke, Robert. Silver Medallion in 1797 for Drawing 
of the Water-Gate at York Buildings. Sir Robert 
Smirke. Architect. R.A. Died 1867. 

Smith, Emma. Silver Palette in 1803 for an Historical 
Drawing. Water-colour painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy in 1805. She was a granddaughter of 
"Smith of Derby." 

Smith, George. Premiums in 1760, 1761, and 1763 (50 


guineas each) for Landscapes in Oil. Landscape 
painter. Known as " Smith of Chichester." " In 
his day they [his works] were lauded beyond their 
merits " (Redgrave), and he acquired considerable 
reputation and popularity. Died 1776. 

Smith, Joachim. Premium in 1758 for a Medallion Model 
in Wax; Premium in 1761 for a Composition for 
Modelling Portraits in Miniature. Modeller. Dossie 
says that he practised his invention successfully 
for some years. Some of his models were reproduced 
by Wedgwood and by Tassie. 

Smith, John. Premiums in 1760 and 1761 (25 guineas 
each) ; Premium in 1762 (50 guineas) for Landscapes 
in Oil. Landscape painter. Younger brother of 
George Smith, and not so good a painter. Died 1 764. 

Smith, J. Catterson. Silver Medal in 1825 for an Oil 
Painting. Portrait painter. President of the Royal 
Hibernian Academy. Died 1872. 

Smith, Nathaniel. Premiums in 1758, 1761, and 1762 
for Modelling Figures in Clay; Premiums in 1759 
(two) for Drawings ; Premium in 1760 for a Bas- 
relief. Modeller. Pupil of Roubiliac. Assistant to 

Smith, Thomas. Premium in 1760 for an Engraved 
Gem. Seal engraver. No record of any later work 
of his has been found. 

Solomon, Abraham. Silver Medal in 1838 for a Chalk 
Drawing from a Statue. Subject painter. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy 1843-1862. Died 1862. 

Spang, Michael Henry. Premium in 1758 (30 guineas) 
for Modelling the " Seal of the Society used for 
Letters " designed by Cipriani and engraved by 
Kirk. Modeller. Carved the decorations on the 
Admiralty Screen, and the figures on the pediment of 
Spencer House. Died about 1 767. 

Spicer, Nehemiah. Premiums in 1762, 1763, and 1764, 
and a Gilt Palette in 1768 for Gem Engraving. No 
further record of his work has been found. 

Spiller, John. Silver Palettes in 1778 and 1780 for 
Outline Drawings. Sculptor. Exhibited at Royal 


Academy 1778-1792. " The statue of King Charles, 
which stood in the centre of the piazza of the Royal 
Exchange, before the fire in 1838, was his work " 
(Redgrave). Died in 1794. 

Spilsbury, John. Premiums in 1761, 1762, and 1763 for 
Mezzotints. Mezzotint engraver. Engraved some 
of Reynolds 's portraits. Drawing-master at Harrow 
about 1782. 

Stannard, Mrs. Joseph. Gold Medal in 1828 for an 
Oil Painting. Wife of Joseph Stannard, a well- 
known landscape and marine painter of Norwich. 
Some members of the Stannard family designed for 
the Lowestoft Pottery Works. 

Staples, Robert. Premiums in 1763, 1764, 1765, and 
1766 for Gem Engraving. He was a jeweller in Harp 
Court, Fleet Street. Nothing more seems to be 
known of his work. 

Stevens, Edward. Premiums in 1762 and 1763 for Archi- 
tectural Designs. Architect. A.R.A. Pupil of Sir 
William Chambers. Died 1775. 

Strange, Mary Bruce. Premiums in 1764 and 1765 for 
Drawings. Daughter of Sir Robert Strange, the 
eminent engraver. 

Stubbs, James Henry Phillipson. Silver Medal in 1826 
for an Etching ; Silver Palette in 1828 for a Pen-and- 
ink Drawing. Engraver. Pupil of the Findens. 
Produced book illustrations and some sporting plates. 
Died 1864. 

Swaine, Francis. Premium in 1764 for a Sea-piece. 
Marine painter. " Two small paintings by him are at 
Hampton Court " (Redgrave). Died 1782. 

Swaine, John Barak. Silver Palette in 1831 for a Chalk 
Drawing ; Silver Medal in 1833 for an Etching. 
Redgrave, under John Swaine, the father of J. B. 
Swaine, says he died in 1828, and Bryan follows 
him, but this seems to be a mistake. A John Barak 
Swaine exhibited in 1837 at the B. I. 

Tallmache, William. Silver Medal in 1813 for a Bronze 
Cast. Sculptor. Gold Medallist R.A, 1805. " He 


does not appear to have followed up this success " 

Tassie, James. Premium in 1767 for " Figures, Heads, 
and Portraits of his composition resembling antique 
onyx." Gem engraver. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1769-1791. Successful in reproduction of ancient 
engraved gems, and produced many fine originals. 
Died 1799. 

Taylor, Isaac. Gold Palette (and 25 guineas) in 1791 for 
an Engraving of Opie's " Death of Rizzio." Engraver. 
Pupil of Bartolozzi. " Known chiefly by his works 
for Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery " (Redgrave). Died 

Taylor, John. Premiums in 1761 and 1762 (two) for 
Drawings. Portrait and subject painter. Exhibited 
at Royal Academy 1 7 79- 1 800 . Died 1 8 3 8 . 

Taylor, John. Premiums in 1763 and 1764 for Designs for 
Medals. Jeweller at Bath (Dossie). 

Taylor, Simon. Premiums for Drawings in 1756, 1757, 
1758, and 1759; Premiums in 1759 and 1761 for 
Pictures of Flowers ; Premium in 1759 for an Etching. 
Botanical draughtsman. Pupil of Shipley. Employed 
by Lord Bute and by Dr. Fothergill. Died about 1 798. 

Theed, William. Silver Palette in 1820 and Silver Medal 
in 1822 for Copies of Statues. Sculptor. Son of W. 
Theed, R.A. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1825- 
1885. Produced many statues and busts. His most 
important work is the group of " Africa " in the Prince 
Consort's memorial. The bust of the Prince Consort 
in the possession of the Society is his work . Died 1891. 

Tomkins, Charles. Silver Palette in 1776 for a View of 
Millbank. Painter and engraver. Son of William 
Tomkins, A.R.A. Exhibited at Royal Academy 


Tomkins, Peltro William. Silver Palette in 1780 for Land- 
scape Drawing ; Gold Medal in 1813 for Method of 
refining Ox-Gall for artistic purposes. Engraver. Son 
of William Tomkins, A.R.A. Published various works, 
original and after other artists. Engraver to Queen 
Charlotte, Died 1840. 


Tomkins, William. Premium in 1762 for a Landscape. 
Landscape painter. A.R.A. Also painted some pic- 
tures of dead game . Died 1 792 . 

Toussaint, Auguste. Premium in 1766 and Silver Palette 
in 1768 for Drawings. Miniature painter. Ex- 
hibited at Royal Academy 1775-1788. 

Towne, Francis. Premium in 1759 for a Design. Land- 
scape painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1775- 
1810. Died 1816. 

Towne, Joseph. Silver Medal in 1826 for a Model of a 
Skeleton ; Gold Medal in 1827 for a Wax Model of the 
Brain. The skeleton is now in the museum of Guy's 
Hospital. He was seventeen when he constructed 
it, and it served as an introduction to Sir Astley 
Cooper, who at once put Towne in the way of obtaining 
employment. Anatomical modeller. Though self- 
taught, he was soon " engaged continuously in the 
practice of the art which he originated and brought 
to perfection, though it died with him " (D'Arcy 
Power, in the Dictionary of National Biography). 
He made over a thousand wax models of anatomical 
preparations, remarkable both for their verisimilitude 
and for their artistic qualities. Towne was also a 
capable sculptor. Died 1879. 

Turner, William. Silver Palette in 1793 for a Landscape 
Drawing. This may have been " Turner of Oxford,' 1 
who exhibited as a water-colour landscape painter 
at Royal Academy, etc., for fifty-four years (Bryan), 
and died 1862. 

Turnerelli, Edward Tracy. Silver Medal in 1833 for a 
Drawing. Son of Peter Turnerelli, a sculptor of 
reputation. Studied at Royal Academy. Achieved 
notoriety by collecting money for a gold laurel wreath 
for the Earl of Beaconsfield, which Lord Beaconsfield 
refused. Died 1890. 

Twining, Elizabeth. Silver Medal in 1824 for a Water- 
colour Painting of Flowers. Amateur painter. Phil- 
anthropist and botanist. Daughter of Richard Twin- 
ing. One of the founders of Bedford College. Died 


Tytler, George. Silver Medal in 1825 for a Lithographic 
Drawing. Lithographer. Published some views of 
Italian scenery. Died 1859. 

Underwood, Thomas. Silver Palette in 1828 for a Pencil 
Drawing of a Landscape. Engraver and writer on art 
and archaeology. Lived in Birmingham. Died 1882. 

Vacher, Charles. Silver Medal in 1837 f r a Lithograph. 
Water-colour painter. Died 1883. 

Van Rymsdyk, Andries. Premiums in 1765 (at the age 
of eleven), 1766, and 1767 for Drawings ; Premium in 
1767 for a Mezzotint. Son of John van Rymsdyk, 
history painter. 

Vendramini, Caroline. Silver Medal in 1821 for a Drawing. 
Daughter of Giovanni Vendramini. 

Vendramini, Giovanni. Gold Medals in 1819 and 1829 for 
Engravings. Engraver. His reputation rested chiefly 
on his reproductions of the Old Masters. Died 1839. 

Vendramini, R. Silver Palette in 1829 ; Silver Medals 
in 1 830 and 1 833 for Drawings. Daughter of Giovanni 
Vendramini . It is uncertain to which of the two sisters 
the 1829 and 1830 awards were made. 

Vickers, Alfred Gomersal. Gold Medal in 1828 for a 
Marine Painting. Marine, subject, and landscape 
painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy and else- 
where 1827-1837. Died 1837. 

Vivares, Mary. Premiums in 1759 and 1761 for Drawings ; 
Premium in 1763 for an Engraving. Daughter of 
Francis Vivares, the engraver. 

Vivares, Thomas. Premiums in 1758 for an Ornamental 
Design ; in 1 760 for an Etching ; in 1 76 1 for a 
Drawing; in 1762 for an Etching; in 1763 for a 
Landscape ; in 1764 and 1765 for Engravings ; in 
1766 for an Etching. Engraver. Son of Francis 
Vivares, the well-known engraver. Exhibited at 
Royal Academy 1783-1787. 

Vulliamy, Benjamin. Premium in I758*for a Drawing. 
He was a son of Justin Vulliamy ani the father of 
Benjamin (the second) and Lewis Vulliamy. Justin 


and the two Benjamins were eminent clock-makers. 
Benjamin the elder was favoured and consulted by 
George in. in connection with Kew Observatory, 
which was a hobby of the King . Died 1 8 1 o . 
Vulliamy, Lewis. Silver Medal in 1813 for an Archi- 
tectural Design. Architect. Gold Medallist R.A. 
1813. Exhibited at Royal Academy 1822-1838. 
Son of Benjamin Vulliamy the elder. Architect of 
many public buildings in London, and of numerous 
mansions, including Dorchester House, Park Lane. 
Died 1871. 

Ward, Edward Matthew. Silver Palette in 1831 for 
" a copy in Indian ink of figures." Historical painter . 
R.A. From 1839, when he first exhibited at Royal 
Academy, his work was popular and successful. 
Painted several of the pictures in the corridor of the 
House of Commons. Died 1879. 

Ward, Francis Swaine. Premium in 1765 for a Sea-piece. 
Landscape painter . Entered the service of the H.E.I.C. 
and went to Calcutta. Made numerous drawings of 
Indian temples, etc. Died about 1805. 

Ward, John Raphael. Silver Medal in 1823 for a Water- 
colour Portrait (copy). Engraver and copyist. Pro- 
duced miniature copies of some of Sir Thomas Law- 
rence's portraits. Son of James Ward, R.A. His 
daughter married E. M. Ward, R.A. Died 1879. 

Ward, William. Silver Palette in 1805 f r a Drawing of 
Ewell Church. Mezzotint engraver. A.R.A. En- 
graved many of the pictures of George Morland, whose 
sister he married. Died 1826. 

Ward, William James. Silver Medals in 1813, 1814, and 
1815 for Drawings. Mezzotint engraver. Son of 
William Ward, A.R.A. Engraver to the Duke of 
Clarence, afterwards William iv. Died 1840. 

Waring, John B. Silver Medal in 1843 f r an Architec- 
tural Design. Architect. Superintendent at 1862 
Exhibition. Author of the three volumes on the 
Industrial Art and Sculpture of the Exhibition, and 
of other works on Art. Died 1875. 



Warner, William. Gold Medal in 1827 for an Intaglio. 
Seal engraver. Started a business in London, which 
is still carried on by his son. Engraved seals for 
Queen Victoria. Died 1872. 

Warren, Charles. Gold Medal in 1823 for Improvements 
in the Art of Engraving on Steel. Engraver. He 
had been employed in engraving for calico printing. 
Came to London in 1802 and was successful in book 
illustration. Chairman of Committee of Polite Arts, 
1822. Died 1823. 

Watson, John Burgess. Gold Medal in 1824 for a Design 
for a House ; Silver Medal same year for a Drawing 
of a Crane. Architect. Died 1847. 

Webber, Henry. Silver Palette in 1783 for an Historical 
Drawing. Gold Medallist R.A. in 1779 for a Group. 
As his address was " Etruria," he was presumably em- 
ployed by Wedgwood. 

Westall, William. Silver Palettes in 1798 for a Drawing ; 
and in 1800 fora Landscape. Landscape painter. He 
was draughtsman to Captain Flinders 's voyage of 
Australian discovery, was wrecked, and had many 
adventures. Died 1850. 

Wheatley, Francis. Premiums in 1762 and 1763 for 
Drawings ; and in 1767 for a Landscape. Landscape 
and subject painter. R.A. Pupil of Shipley. Died 

Wickstead, Philip. Premiums in 1763, 1764, and 1765 for 
Drawings. Portrait painter. Pupil of Zoffany. Went 
to Jamaica. Died before 1790. 

Wilkins, Robert. Premiums in 1765 and 1766 for Sea- 
pieces. Marine painter. Exhibited at Royal Academy 
1772-1788. Died about 1790. 

Williams, Penry. Silver Medal in 1820 for a Landscape in 
Water-colour; Silver Medal in 1821 for a Chalk 
Drawing. Landscape painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1827-1869. Died 1885. 

Williams, William. Premium in 1758 for a Drawing. 
Subject and portrait painter. Exhibited at Royal 
Academy 1770-1792. 
Wilson, Andrew. Gold Medal in 1810 for Stereotype 


Printing. Some examples of his work are given in 
Vol. xxvin. of the Transactions, p. 317. 

Winkles, H. Silver Medal in 1820 for Pen-and-ink Draw- 
ing of St. Mary's Abbey, York. Architect. Joint 
author (with B. Winkles) of works on the English 
and French Cathedrals. 

Woollett, William. Premium in 1759 for a Drawing. En- 
graver. His " were the first English engravings that 
gained notice on the Continent." " His works gave a 
high character to the English school " (Redgrave). 
Died 1785. 

Woolner, Thomas. Silver Medal in 1845 f r " original 
modelled design, entitled ' Affection.' " Sculptor. 
R.A. Died 1892. 

Wright, Richard. Premiums in 1766 and 1768 for Sea- 
pieces. Marine painter. His best-known work is 
his " British Fishery," engraved by Woollett. Died 
about 1775. 

Wyatt, Henry. Silver Medal in 1812, and Silver Palette 
in 1813 for Drawings. Portrait and subject painter. 
Exhibited at Royal Academy after 1825. Died 

Wyon, Anne. Silver Medal in 1821 for Modelling Wax 
Flowers. She was the wife of Thomas Wyon the 
elder, and the mother of Benjamin. 

Wyon, Benjamin. Gold Medals in 1819 and 1821 for 
Medal Dies. Seal engraver. Chief engraver of seals. 
Son of Thomas Wyon the elder. Died 1858. 

Wyon, James. Silver Medal in 1820 for a " Head in 
Miniature." Die engraver. Engraver at the Mint. 
Son of George Wyon, brother of Thomas Wyon the 

Wyon, Thomas, junr. Gold Medals in 1810 and 1811 for 
Die Engraving. The award in 1810 was for a head 
of Isis, adopted for the Society's Isis Medal. Medal- 
list. Son of Thomas Wyon the elder. Chief en- 
graver to the Mint. Died 1817. 

Wyon, William. Gold Medals in 1813, 1814, and 1820 
for Medal Dies. Medallist , R.A. Chief engraver 
to the Mint. Nephew of Thomas Wyon the elder. 


The Medal in 1813 was for engraving the head of 
Ceres for the Society's Medal ; that of 1820 was for 
designing and executing the dies for the " new large 
Medal of the Society/' which he presented (see Trans- 
actions, Vol. xxxvin. p. xxxiii). Died 1851. 

" Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce." 
From an old Die in the Society's 



Prizes for Artists' Instruments and Materials, Crayons, Colours, Pencils, 
Paper, Etching Fluids, etc. The Society's Shilling Colour-Box 
Steel Engraving Acierage Aquatint Colour Printing Die- 
Sinking, Medals, and Medallists Gem-engraving Pastes for 
Cameos Tassie and his Medallions. 

BESIDES the prizes given to artists as encouragement for 
technical skill or in appreciation of genius, there were 
also a certain number for inventions and improvements 
connected with the Arts. A good many of these are 
trivial, but there are others of interest and some of im- 
portance in the history of the technics of Art. 

A few prizes were at various times offered and awarded 
for artists' instruments and materials. In 1 764 a premium 
of thirty guineas was given to Thomas Keyse for a method 
of fixing crayon drawings. Keyse was a still-life painter 
of some repute. He was also the keeper of Bermondsey 
Spa, where he had a gallery of his own works. The 
masterpiece was the interior of a butcher's shop, and over 
it certain of the wits of the time made merry. 

In 1772 twenty guineas were given to Joseph Pache 
for preparing crayons, and " establishing a manufactory 
thereof in England." In 1781 the greater silver palette 
was awarded to Thomas and William Reeves for improved 
water-colours. In 1794 the palette and twenty guineas 
were awarded to George Blackman for his method of 
making oil-colour cakes. These were reported on favour- 
ably by Cosway and by Stothard, and the method of their 
preparation is described in the Transactions. 1 In 1803 a 

1 Transactions, vol. xii. p. 271. 


silver medal and ten guineas were given to James Harris 
for a syringe for preserving oil-colours. The syringe was 
of the ordinary sort, when it was filled with colour the 
piston was inserted and secured by screwing on the head. 
It was certainly an improvement on the then existing 
method of supplying artists* oil-colours in bladders, and 
received the approval of Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. 

An award to William Brockedon in 1823 for a rest for 
painters engaged in minute work, may be noticed on 
account of the inventor's personality, rather than because 
of its intrinsic importance. Brockedon was a versatile 
genius, an excellent painter, a man of science (he was an 
F.R.S.), and an ingenious inventor. He was Chairman 
of the Committee of Polite Arts 1824-1831. 

Besides these there were rewards for various drawing 
instruments and appliances, sculptors' instruments, etching 
fluids, drawing tablets, pencils, paper for copper-plate 
printing, etc. Reference to some of these will be found 
in Chapter XIII, which also records the award to 
Senef elder for the invention of lithography. 1 

One of the most popular things the Society ever did 
was its offer of a medal for a shilling colour-box, and 
mention may be made of it here, though we are antici- 
pating by some half a century at least the proper course 
of the Society's history. This offer was made in 1851, 
and in the following year the medal was awarded to J. 
Rogers, of 133 Bunhill Row, E.C. The box has long since 
been obsolete, or rather has been superseded by better 
appliances of the same sort ; but it was a very great 
advance on anything which existed at the time, and 
its enormous popularity was sufficient evidence of its 

The proposal was put forward by Henry Cole, and was 
carried out with the promptitude that characterised all 
that remarkable man's ideas. The offer was advertised 
in September 1851. The competing boxes were received 
on ist December, and the award was published on i4th 
January 1852. The medal was presented at the distribution 
of awards held by Prince Albert in 1853. According to 
1 See Chapter XIII, p. 305. 


a statement made by Sir Henry Cole, 1 the maker reported 
to him in 1870 that eleven millions of these boxes had 
then been sold. 

At the same time a medal was offered for a cheap set 
of drawing instruments, to contain a pair of compasses, 
a drawing square, and a graduated ruler. This was 
awarded to J. & H. Cronmire, of Cottage Lane, Com- 
mercial Road, for two sets of instruments, one to be sold 
at 2S. 6d., and one of a superior character at 6s. A good 
many of these were sold, but the drawing instruments 
never attained the popularity of the shilling colour-box. 

Two prizes awarded in 1822 and 1823 mark an im- 
portant though temporary modification in the technique 
of the engraver, the substitution of steel for copper plates. 
Although steel had been employed for etched plates by 
Albert Durer in 1510, it had never really come into use, 
and until the middle of the nineteenth century copper was 
in practice always used by engravers. It had the advan- 
tage of being easily worked upon, and the disadvantage of 
only giving a small number of impressions. The precise 
date of the invention of the modern steel plate seems 
uncertain, and the name of the inventor (if any single 
person can claim the credit) is also doubtful. S. T. 
Davenport 2 attributes the invention to Jacob Perkins, 
whose " siderographic " process for printing bank-notes 
will be described later. 3 In the volume of the Trans- 
actions for 1820, in which the process is fully described, 
Perkins states that his method had been " in successful 
operation many years in America," and it certainly 
involved the use of engraved steel plates, but he makes no 
claim to having been the first to engrave on steel. He 
merely refers to such plates as if they were in ordinary 
use. 4 In the specification of his patent, taken out in 
October 1819, Perkins describes a method of " decarbonat- 

1 Fifty Years of Public Work, vol. i. p. 385. 

2 " Engraving and other Reproductive Art Processes," Journal, 
vol. xiii. p. 134. 

3 See Chapter XIII, p. 303. 

4 E. Turrell, in a communication (Transactions, vol. xlii. p. 43), 
says that Perkins first used steel plates " in his bank-note manufactory 
in the United States." 


ing " and " reconverting " steel plates for engraving, and 
refers to the use of steel plates as a thing commonly 

Early in the century Abraham Raimbach, the engraver, 
made some unsuccessful experiments with steel, but it 
seems to have been considered that the difficulties of 
engraving on the metal, even in a soft state, and of after- 
wards hardening it, were practically insuperable. 

Raimbach, in his Memoirs* does not refer to his 
experiments, and he only alludes to steel-plate engraving 
as a cause of the deterioration of the art from the numbers 
of plates produced to comply with the popular demand, 
and the consequent inferiority of the work. 

In 1822, T. G. Lupton was awarded a gold medal for 
introducing the use of soft steel for mezzotint. In a 
communication on the subject, 2 he says that the method 
of working is precisely the same as for copper plates, 
except that greater strength has to be used in laying the 
ground, and the plate has to be gone over with the tool 
a greater number of times. 

The medal was evidently given to Lupton under the 
idea that he was the first to employ steel, at all events for 
mezzotint, and in his paper he appears to claim this credit 
for himself. As a matter of fact, however, he seems to 
have been anticipated by William Say, since there is in 
the collection of the British Museum a mezzotint by the 
latter engraver, which is dated 1817, and this is said to 
have been printed from a steel plate. It is from a portrait 
by G. Dawe, R.A., of the Princess Charlotte, the daughter 
of George iv., who died in 1817. This has always been 
believed to be the first mezzotint on steel, and inasmuch 
as Lupton 's plate, submitted to the Society in 1822, 
appears from his paper to have been his first success, 
there is no reason to question Say's claim to priority. 3 

In 1823 a gold medal was given to Charles Warren for 
" Improvements in the art of engraving on steel." These 
improvements consisted in substituting a plate of soft 
steel for the ordinary copper plate. His process is described 

1 Memoirs of Abraham Raimbach, 1843. 2 Transactions, vol. xl. p. 41 . 
3 See also Chapter VIII, p. 190 n. 


in the Transactions, 1 and it appears that he was led to 
experiment in the use of steel from early training in 
engraving for calico printers, and from observation of 
methods used in ornamenting articles of cast steel. He 
began by decarbonising steel plates, and, after engraving 
on the softened steel (or iron), re-hardening it, but he 
found that plates of sufficient thinness for the purpose were 
apt to warp in the hardening, while there were other 
difficulties in using thicker plates. He was then led to try 
printing from the plates in their soft state, and found no 
difficulty in producing large numbers of impressions. 
The details of the method of softening the plates were 
improved, and it was found that editions of 4000 and 5000 
prints could be produced without the plates showing 
signs of deterioration. Warren died suddenly, after the 
award of the medal, and before its presentation, so the 
account of his process in the Transactions is contained in a 
report by the committee, not in a communication from 
himself. So far as can be judged, the method is princi- 
pally intended for etching, though available also for line 

Probably the truth about the invention of steel-plate 
engraving is that many engravers tried to employ steel. 
Perkins was successful with the small plates that served 
his purpose, and probably those who tried to use larger 
lates found difficulties in the processes of softening and 
hardening the steel. Very likely, therefore, it was not till 
Say (possibly) and Lupton and Warren (certainly) found 
that steel plates could be employed without the necessity 
for hardening them, that such plates came into extensive 
use. That they did come into such use, and very rapidly, 
is, of course, well known. The facilities they afforded for 
printing large editions enabled publishers to produce the 
flood of " Annuals " which were popular in the thirties and 
forties of the last century, and served to popularise Art, 
if they did little to elevate it. 

The copper plate came to its own again when it was 
found possible to deposit upon its surface a thin film of 
steel, or rather iron, and thus to give it a hard " face " 
1 Transactions, vol. xli. p. 88. 


which would stand the wear of printing. The process was 
termed " acierage," and was, as all the evidence goes to 
show, the invention, about 1858 or a little earlier, of 
Henry Gamier, a Paris engraver, with whom F. Joubert, 
also an engraver, co-operated. Joubert brought the 
process over to London, and in November 1858 he read 
a very full description of it before a meeting of the Society. 1 
The process was patented in England, 29th March 1858, 
by E. A. Jacquin, as a " communication " from Henry 
Gamier. The process, which was merely a method of 
electro-deposition, came rapidly into use, and for a time 
was associated with Joubert 's name. It proved to be of 
the utmost value, and has ever since been extensively 
applied to copper plates of every description, including 
those produced by photographic methods. 2 

When steel was first used for etching, a difficulty was 
found in discovering a suitable etching fluid. Nitric acid 
acted too violently, and Warren recommended a solution 
of copper nitrate, acidified with nitric acid. In the 
following year (1824) Edmund Turrell 3 received a gold 
medal for his etching fluid, composed of pyroligneous acid, 
nitric acid, and alcohol, and this fluid, with some modifica- 
tions and the omission of the spirit, seems to have been 
largely used for some years for etching steel. 

A few other awards in connection with plate-printing 
may be mentioned. In 1773, Richard Samuel received 
fifteen guineas for a tool for laying mezzotint grounds. 
Samuel was a portrait painter of no great merit, according 
to Redgrave. In 1776, Robert Lawrie (or Laurie), an 
engraver, who took several of the Society's prizes, received 
a " Bounty " of thirty guineas for an invention which 
facilitated the printing of mezzotint plates in colours. 

In 1810 a silver medal and thirty guineas were given 
to John Hassell for improvements in the aquatint process. 4 
His invention consisted in drawing direct on the plate 

1 Journal, vol. vii. p. 15. 

2 S. T. Davenport, in his paper above mentioned, quotes a letter 
from Joubert, in which it is stated that the process was patented in 
in 1848 by M. Jacquin ; but this is merely an unfortunate misprint. 

3 See his paper in Vol. XLII. of the Transactions above referred to. 

4 Transactions, vol. xxviii. p. 97. 


with a specially prepared ink, which, when removed from 
the varnished plate, left the lines clear for etching. Such 
devices were at a later date known to and employed by 
aquatint workers, but the method may have been new at 
the date of the award. 

The idea of producing prints from wood blocks in 
various colours is very old, and the method of colour 
printing for which William Savage obtained a silver medal 
and fifteen guineas in 1825 really involved no novel 
principle. He used different blocks for the different 
colours, and employed various devices for ensuring accurate 
register. Savage produced some excellent work, and devoted 
much attention to the subject, on which he wrote a book. 1 

The work done by the Society in encouraging the art 
of die-sinking during the latter part of the eighteenth 
century deserves special note. In the 1758 prize- list is an 
announcement that " The Medallic Art being capable of 
great Improvement in this Nation," a prize of twenty 
guineas will be given for a copper medal, " after a model 
first produced by the candidate, and approved by the 
Society," the competition being limited to persons under 
the age of twenty-five. The offer was continued for 
several years, the terms being slightly varied. The age 
limit was raised to forty, and a second prize was offered 
for younger candidates. 

The effort to improve the character of British medals 
was successful, for the result was that a number of admir- 
able medals were produced. In some cases the candidates 
were allowed to choose their own subjects, in others the 
subjects were specified by the Society. Most of the 
selected subjects were British victories, of which there 
were, fortunately, about that time a sufficient number to 
provide ample choice. Several of the prizes were taken 
by members of the Pingo family, and, according to a 
statement by Dossie, 2 the designs from which the dies were 
cut were prepared by their father, Thomas Pingo, the 
engraver to the Mint. 

1 Practical Thoughts on Decorative Printing, 1822. 
3 Vol. iii. p. 428, 


Thomas Pingo himself did not enter for any of the 
competitions, but he was paid eighty guineas for cutting 
the dies for the Society's first medal. His two sons, John 
and Lewis, carried off a number of the awards for medals, 
and his other children, Benjamin, Henry, and Mary, took 
numerous prizes in other classes. Thomas Pingo was an 
Italian who came to England, and was appointed Engraver 
to the Mint, an office afterwards filled in succession by 
his sons, John and Lewis. In October 1758, John Pingo 
produced a model for a medal with a head of Britannia 
on the obverse, with the legend, " O fair Britannia, hail ! " 
taken from Akenside's " Ode on leaving Holland.'' On 
the reverse was the figure of Victory standing on the prow 
of a ship, with the inscription, " Louisburg taken, 
MDCCLVIII." This referred to the taking of Louisburg 
and Cape Breton by the English, under Amherst and 
Boscawen, in July 1758. The model was accepted, but 
before the year was out the small island of Goree, on the 
west coast of Africa, was captured from the French by 
Admiral Keppel, and the glory of this achievement was 
supposed to eclipse that of the taking of Louisburg. 
Pingo was therefore directed to make a new die for the 
reverse of his medal, and to cause the words " Goree 
taken " to replace " Louisburg taken." Hawkins in his 
book on Medals l tells us that this and other medals re- 
warded by the Society were produced under the direction 
of Thomas Hollis, the republican writer, and that he 
presented copies of the Goree medal to Pitt, Keppel, and 

Three other medals were produced in connection with 
the conquest of Canada, one by John Pingo (1759) with 
the inscription " Quebec taken " ; a second by Lewis 
Pingo (1761), "Canada subdued " ; and a third by 
John Kirk (1763), " Conquest of Canada completed." 
In 1762 a prize was given to John Kirk for a medal 
in commemoration of the brilliant exploit of Admiral 
Hawke off Belleisle, on 2Oth November 1759, usually 
called the " Battle of Quiberon." Hawkins did not know 

1 Medallic Illustrations of the History of Great Britain and Ireland. 
Edward Hawkins. 1885. 


d- ^ 
g H 

^ U 





the real name of the artist, and says that the medal was 
"probably by Thomas Pingo." Kirk had been a pupil 
of J. A. Dassier, who had been engraver to the Mint 
about 1750. He died young in 1776. In 1763, John 
Pingo received a prize for a medal, the subject of which 
was the Battle of Minden, fought in August 1759, and 
in 1765 one for a medal commemorating the Battle of 
Plassy, 23rd June 1759. 

Lewis Pingo also received, in 1764, 1771, and 1772, 
three other premiums for medals commemorating victories, 
the capture of Guadaloupe in 1759 ; the naval victory at 
Lagos in 1759 ; the capture of Havana in I762. 1 

Besides these, John Pingo received an award in 1762 
for an allegorical group of the Arts " Painting, Sculpture, 
and Architecture " ; and Lewis Pingo two awards, one 
in 1759 for a medal representing the granting of Magna 
Charta, and a second for a portrait medal of King George in. 
John Kirk also received a premium in 1762 for engraving 
a seal for the Society from a design by Cipriani, modelled 
by Spang, and Spang was rewarded for his model. 2 This seal 
was used for many years, and when the Society was in- 
corporated it was adopted as the corporate seal until it 
was abandoned for the vastly inferior design now em- 
ployed. It also served as a book-plate for the books 
purchased under the bequest left in 1797 by W. B. Earle. 

There were also a few other awards for medals about 
this time. One was to G. M. Moser (the first Keeper of the 
Royal Academy) for a medal for the Society, which does 
not seem to have ever been adopted ; two to his nephew, 
Joseph Moser, in 1 762 and 1 763 ; and two to John Taylor, 
afterwards a jeweller at Bath, for allegorical designs. 

After the date when these prizes were awarded, the 
subject of die-engraving dropped out of the Society's 
lists. Indeed, the last offer of a prize for medals appears 
in the list for 1765 ; though prizes for wax models for 
medallions were continued to 1770. It was one of these 

1 The four medals for Belleisle, Minden, Guadaloupe, and Plassy 
are in the possession of the Society. Illustrations of them are given 
in the plate facing p. 220. 

2 See the plate facing p. 398. 


that Lewis Pingo obtained in 1772, and it was many 
years before attention was again given to the art of the 
medallist. Indeed, it is not until 1807 that an offer of a 
premium for medal die-engraving again appears, and then 
it does not seem to have attracted much attention. In 
1817, George Mills, a medallist of repute at the time, 
received a gold medal for a medal die, and he followed 
up this success by obtaining similar awards in 1818 and 
in 1828, the last prize being for a new die for the Society's 
Vulcan medal. From 1813 to 1820 a number of gold 
medals were taken by members of the Wyon family, 
several of them were for medals for the Society. Of these a 
fuller account will be given later on. 1 The name of Pinches 
appears in the list for the years 1836 and 1837, when silver 
medals were awarded to T. R. Pinches for medal dies, and 
Scipio Clint, the son of George Clint, A.R.A., the engraver, 
received gold medals for dies in 1824 and 1825. 

It seems not unreasonable to assume that the revival 
of gem-engraving, which occurred in the latter part of 
the eighteenth century, was due to a large extent, and 
perhaps entirely, to the Society of Arts. In 1759 a prize 
of ten guineas was offered for an intaglio on red cornelian, 
and it is stated that the prize was offered because, although 
" the Art of Engraving in Gems is a very ancient, useful, 
and curious Art, and has always been esteemed, yet [it] 
is but little practised in this nation. " The age of the 
candidates was limited to twenty-six. The prize was 
taken in 1760 by Thomas Smith, jun., for an engraving 
of the statue of Meleager in the Vatican Gallery. In 
the following year the age of the candidates was reduced 
to twenty-four, and the prize was taken (1761) by 
Nathaniel Marchant, then a young man of twenty-one. 

In the list of prizes offered in 1761 the age was again 
raised to twenty-six. This prize was taken by Edward 
Burch. Both Marchant and Burch became Royal 
Academicians, and were undoubtedly the finest gem- 
engravers of their day. Mr. Cecil Thomas, a most com- 
petent authority, expresses a preference for the work of 

1 See Chapter XIV, pp. 319 and 320; also Chapter VIII, p. 211. 


the younger artist. " Marchant was easily the foremost, 
many of his figure-subjects being admirable and delicate 
examples of intaglio engraving." l 

The offer of prizes was continued down to about 1770, 
the conditions being varied from time to time, and separate 
prizes being added for cameo-cutting. In the 1762 list 
there is no age limit. During the ten years or so for which 
prizes were offered Marchant took six, Burch three, 
Nehemiah Spicer four, Robert Staples four, John Fruin 
two, and Lewis Pingo one. 

Cordial testimony to the value of the help given by 
the Society in the encouragement of gem-engraving is 
borne by Burch himself, who says in his catalogue of 
engraved gems : 

" The first step of lifting the arts from obscurity may 
justly be ascribed to that truly laudable and patriotic 
Society for the Promotion and Encouragement of Arts, 
Manufactures, and Commerce ; the Duke of Richmond's 
Gallery ; with a valuable collection of gesses from the 
most admired figures and busts of the antique ; and the 
Artists Subscription Academy for studying after Nature : 
if we take these collectively, we shall there find an ample 
field for encouragement and improvement. First, the 
above honourable society who gave (with a liberal hand) 
premiums for history paintings, large and small models 
for sculpture likewise, and engravings on gems ; and it 
is with thankfulness that I acknowledge the share I had 
in these honors and emoluments. Premiums were also 
given for engravings on copper plate, drawings in various 
branches : in short, what was most for the fame and 
opulence of their native country was generously under- 
taken by them, and carried on with a spirit which must 
do honor to any institution." 2 

In the same year (1759) in which the prize for gem- 
engraving was first offered, a prize was also proposed for 

1 " Gem Engraving/' Journal, vol. Ix. p. 366. 

2 From the Introduction to A Catalogue of One Hundred Proofs from 
Gems Engraved in England, by E. Burch, R.A., Engraver to His Majesty, 
for Medals and Gems ; and to His Royal Highness the Duke of York. 
London: 1795. Printed for the author. (Pp. ix, x.) 


" casts or impressions in glass, commonly called pastes," 
" nearest in excellence to antique pastes, as well cameos 
as intaglios." The offer was continued in successive lists 
up to 1764, and after this occasionally prizes were offered 
for cameos and intaglios. It did not produce very much 
result. Two awards of twenty guineas each were made 
to Samuel More, afterwards Secretary to the Society and 
then a member, in 1763 and 1764 for two collections of 
such impressions, and in 1765 premiums of ten and five 
guineas were given to Edward Carter, a jeweller, and to 
Robert Fruin, a gem-engraver. No information about 
More's imitation cameos seems to be available. 

Of more interest and importance is the award of ten 
guineas in 1767 to James Tassie for " Figures, heads, and 
portraits of his composition resembling antique onyx." 
Tassie soon acquired a considerable reputation, both for 
his copies of ancient gems and for portrait cameos modelled 
by himself. The paste was, according to an analysis by 
Professor Crum-Brown, " a very easily fusible glass, 
essentially a lead potash glass," and as it was reduced by 
a very moderate heat to a pasty consistency, it was admir- 
ably suited for taking casts from moulds of plaster or other 
material. 1 Tassie was not only a competent chemist, but 
a skilful modeller, and he eventually established a con- 
siderable business, which, after his death in 1799, was 
carried on by his nephew William. His portrait medallions 
and reproductions were highly appreciated, and Mr. Gray, 
in his memoir, quotes a letter from Shelley to Thomas 
Love Peacock in 1822, asking Peacock " to get me two 
pounds* worth of Tassie's gems, in Leicester Square, the 
prettiest, according to your taste." At the present time 
his works are of value. There is a collection of them in 
the possession of the Edinburgh Board of Manufactures. 
Miss Catherine Andras, who received a silver palette in 
1 80 1 for her portrait-models in wax of the Princess 
Charlotte and Lord Nelson, is thought by Mr. Gray to 
have been connected with the Tassies, as some of her 
models were cast in their paste by them. 

1 James and William Tassie, by John M. Gray. 1894. Mr. Gray 
died in the year in which his book was published. 



During a long interval the subject of gem-engraving was 
quite neglected by the Society, so far as the offer of prizes 
was concerned. The subject reappears in the premium 
list for 1823, and from that date on prizes were occasionally 
given. In 1828 a gold medal was presented to C. Durham 
for an intaglio, and a silver medal to J. S. Phillips for a 
cameo. F. F. Cuisset took silver medals for intaglios in 
1830 and 1832. Nothing more has been discovered about 
these artists' work, and their names do not appear in 
Ferrer's Dictionary. 

A gold medal was awarded in 1827 to William Warner 
for an intaglio of a group (Mare and Foal) which has been 
preserved, and is a nice piece of work. He was a seal 
engraver established in London, who afterwards cut some 
seals for Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort, as well as 
some medallion portraits of Napoleon in. and the Duke 
of Wellington. The last award which requires mention 
is a gold medal in 1845 to T. Moring, for an engraving on 
white cornelian. This is still in existence, and the 
writer has an impression of it. 

Abraham Staghold's Gun-Harpoon (see p. 249). 


The Society originates Exhibitions of Artists' Works The French Salon 
The Foundling Collection The first Picture Exhibition in 
London Its Successors, the Free Society of Artists and the 
Incorporated Society of Artists First Suggestions for an Academy 
of Arts The Royal Academy. 

A VERY important service rendered by the Society to the 
promotion of the Fine Arts in England was the establish- 
ment of periodical exhibitions of the works of contemporary 
artists, since it was directly as a consequence of those 
exhibitions that the Royal Academy was founded. The 
Society, therefore, may legitimately claim to have been 
not only the precursor of the Academy, but the original 
source from which that great institution was developed. 

That English artists should never before have adopted 
this method of making their works known to the public 
is the more extraordinary, because it had long been 
well known and popular in Paris. Exhibitions of con- 
temporary pictures had been held regularly in France a 
century before the idea was started in this country. As 
a French writer on the subject says : " C'est a la France 
que revient 1'honneur d 'avoir institue les expositions 
periodiques des artists vivants." On the advice of Colbert, 
Louis xiv. suggested to his Academy of Painting and 
Sculpture that its members should hold an annual ex- 
hibition of their works. The proposal was accepted in 
1663, though it was not till 1667 that the first Salon des 
Beaux Arts was opened. By the advice of Colbert the 
exhibition was made biennial instead of annual, and 
from that time it has been continued, with certain short 

intervals and occasional irregularities, at first biennially 



and afterwards annually, down to the present day. There 
is no need to follow the history of these exhibitions. Those 
who wish to do so will find an excellent account, succinct, 
but with full detail, in Larousse's well-known Dictionary, 1 
from which source the above particulars are taken. Mention 
may, however, be made of Diderot's studies on the Salons, 
from 1759 to 1781, collected and published in 1796, and 
afterwards included in a more complete form in the edition 
of Diderot's works, edited by Mons. Assezat. 2 It does 
not look as if many English artists contributed to any 
of these Salons. The only English name mentioned by 
Diderot is that of Strange, the engraver. 

There seems reason to believe that the idea of holding 
an exhibition of pictures in London was suggested by the 
popularity attained by the collection of pictures at the 
Foundling Hospital. This collection was formed by the 
liberality of various artists, who contributed pictures for 
the decoration of the walls of the new building of the 
hospital, Hogarth being a principal donor, and the most 
eminent among the contributors. According to the 
statement in Austin Dobson's Life of Hogarth, which is 
corroborated by information in Brownlow's account of 
the Foundling, the collection was formed about 1746. It 
soon became a popular resort, and the artists who had 
given the pictures found a good deal of benefit from the 
advertisement, though there was no actual profit, as nothing 
was charged for admission. 

The very moderate publicity thus given to the pictures 
of a few artists seems to have suggested the idea that 
an exhibition on a larger scale would be highly profitable, 
by attracting the attention of the public and giving 
artists generally an opportunity of making their works 
known. At any rate, it is certain that, whether in con- 
sequence of the Foundling collection or not, a committee 
of artists was formed in 1759 or 1760, at the " St. Martin's 
Lane Academy " the well-known painting school pre- 
viously referred to 3 with the object of promoting the 

1 Grand Dictionnaire Universel du XI X e Sticle, art. " Salon," vol. xiv. 
p. 136(1875). 

2 (Euvres completes de Diderot. Par J. Assezat, 1876. 

3 See Chapter I, p. 8. 


formation of a regular exhibition of paintings. Of this 
committee, Mr. Francis Hayman, an active member of 
the Society of Arts, and afterwards an original Royal 
Academician, was chairman. 

The Society had moved into its new premises opposite 
Beaufort Buildings in 1759,* and one of the reasons for 
its move was the acquisition of a " Great Room," in which 
could be exhibited the pictures and other works of Art to 
which its premiums had been awarded. It had, therefore, 
facilities for holding an exhibition on a large scale (the 
Great Room was 80 ft. by 40 ft.), and had already held 
exhibitions of a less important character. Hayman, 
therefore, very naturally appealed to the Society for its 

This he did by making a formal application, since it 
appears from the minutes of the Society of Arts that on 
2 /th February 1760, " A letter from Mr. Francis Hayman, 
Chairman of the Committee of Artists, was read, desiring 
the use of the Society's room for exhibiting paintings, 
etc." The letter was referred to a large and important 
committee, including among its members, Israel Wilkes, 
R. E. Pine, Sir George Savile, Lord Ward, P. Carteret 
Webb, Mr. Chambers, Lord Midleton, Sir Thomas 
Robinson, Thomas Hollis, Dr. Knight, and Henry Baker. 
The committee reported on 5th March that " they are of 
opinion that the Society may allow a Public Exhibition 
of Productions in the Polite Arts for one fortnight this 
year under such regulations and restrictions as the Society 
shall hereafter prescribe." 2 

Regulations were accordingly prepared, under which 
all pictures sent in by the committee of artists were to 
be accepted, all other pictures being selected by a com- 
mittee of the Society. The Society's committee was to 
be the hanging committee, and to " appoint the places 
where all the productions may be hung or exhibited, in 
case any dispute shall arise among the artists about 

1 See Chapter III, p. 54. 

2 Much of this account of the Society's early Exhibitions of pictures 
has been taken from the article by Mr. H. B. Wheatley in the Journal, 
6th September 1895. 


placing them." No charge was to be made for 

It is quite clear that, although the Society accepted 
the proposition of the artists for an exhibition, its com- 
mittee took care to reserve to themselves all the arrange- 
ments so that it was, in fact, the Society's exhibition. 
All the costs and charges were borne by the Society, and 
it appears from the account books that though they paid 
all the expenses, they received nothing whatever in return. 
More than this, the Society's committee were responsible 
for all the details of the arrangements, the printing of the 
tickets, the preparation of the catalogue, etc. Pictures 
sent in by the committee of artists were accepted, but 
that was all they had to do with the management of the 

In the exhibition there were 130 pictures by sixty- 
nine painters. The best artists were well represented. 
Reynolds had four portraits, Richard Wilson three 
landscapes, Hayman his well-known picture of Garrick 
as Richard in., and Cosway the portrait of Shipley. 
Among other important exhibitors may be mentioned 
Highmore, Morland, Pine, Sandby, Carlini, Moser, 
Pingo, Roubiliac, Wilton, MacArdell, Gwynn, Rooker, 
Strange, and Woollett. 

The exhibition was a success, but, unfortunately, a 
success which led to disaster, for a disagreement arose 
among the exhibitors as to the use to be made of the money 
received at the door in payment for catalogues. This 
amounted to one hundred pounds, and the money was, 
apparently, left to the disposal of the contributors. The 
Society certainly never had or asked for any of it. It 
appears to have been invested, and was probably added to 
the fund devoted, as is mentioned later, to charitable 
purposes. In consequence of the dispute there were two 
rival exhibitions in 1761. The chief artists seceded, and 
formed themselves into the Society of Artists of Great 
Britain, which exhibited in Spring Gardens, and the 
Society of Arts continued its patronage to the others, 
who subsequently styled themselves the Free Society of 
Artists. Each body took credit for the exhibition of 


1760, and counted its own exhibition of 1761 as the 
second. 1 

The Society's exhibitions were continued for four 
more years 1761 to 1764 and they were principally 
supported by those artists who eventually became the 
Free Society of Artists. These exhibitions all seem to 
have been well supported . But the artists who contributed, 
although distinguished, were neither so numerous nor so 
important as those who contributed to the rival exhibi- 
tion of the Society of Artists of Great Britain. 

It was definitely decided, and notices were printed on 
the catalogues, that the money arising from the sale of the 
catalogues, which formed the only profits of the exhibition, 
was to be given " by the artists immediately after the ex- 
hibition to some public charity." There seems to have 
been a certain amount of trouble in consequence of the 
numbers of visitors, as no admission fee was charged, and 
it was found necessary to employ a number of constables 
to control the crowd. 

After 1764 the Society decided to discontinue the ex- 
hibitions, but the artists held exhibitions in 1765 and 1766 
in " Mr. Moreing's Great Room in Maiden Lane, Covent 
Garden." In 1767 the Free Society of Artists was de- 
finitely formed, and they held annual exhibitions up to 
1783 first in " the two new Great Exhibition Rooms in 
the Pall Mall, near the bottom of Hay Market," then in 
"Mr. Christie's new Great Room, next Cumberland 
House, Pall Mall," 2 and after this, in rooms in or near 
the Haymarket. 

" The Society of Artists of Great Britain," on leaving 

1 Dr. Johnson, writing in June 1761 to Baretti, who was then in 
Milan, speaks of this second exhibition : " The artists have instituted a 
yearly exhibition of pictures and statues, in imitation, as I am told, of 
foreign academies. . . . They please themselves much with the multi- 
tude of spectators, and imagine that the English School will rise in 
reputation. . . . Surely life, if it be not long, is tedious, since we are 
forced to call in the assistance of so many trifles to rid us of our time, 
of that time which never can return." Boswell's Life, edited by 
G. Birkbeck Hill, vol. i. p. 363. 

2 Cumberland House was afterwards part of the War Office, and was 
pulled down when the Automobile Club was built in 1910. 


the Society of Arts, went to " the Great Room in Spring 
Garden, Charing Cross." It is not quite certain where 
this room was situated, but it is supposed to be now 
incorporated in the offices of the London County Council. 
As previously stated, the chief cause of the split among 
the artists was a dispute as to the use to be made of the 
money obtained from the sale of the catalogues ; but it 
is evident that the ruling of the Society of Arts, that no 
charge should be made for admission, had much to do 
with the decision of the chief artists to go elsewhere, for 
in the preface of the catalogue of the Society of Artists 
for 1762, which was written by Dr. Johnson, we read : 

" Of the price put upon this exhibition some account 
may be demanded. Whosoever sets his work to be shown 
naturally desires a multitude of spectators, but his desire 
defeats its own end when spectators assemble in such 
numbers as to obstruct one another. Though we are far 
from wishing to diminish the pleasures or depreciate the 
sentiments of any class of the community, we know, 
however, what every one knows, that all cannot be judges 
or purchasers of works of art, yet we have already found by 
experience that all are desirous to see an exhibition. When 
the terms of admission were low, our room was throng 'd 
with such multitudes as made access dangerous, and fright- 
ened away those whose approbation was most desired." 

The exhibition of the Society of Artists of Great 
Britain for 1761 is styled on the catalogue " the second 
year," but no explanation of the secession from the 
exhibition of the Society of Arts is given. This catalogue 
contains a frontispiece by Hogarth, representing Britannia 
as watering the roots of three trees, labelled respectively 
painting, sculpture, and architecture, from a fountain 
surmounted by a bust of George in. Hogarth himself 
exhibited no less than seven pictures, among which 
were his celebrated " Sigismunda," the " Gate of Calais," 
" Picquet, or Virtue in Danger," and " The Election." 
Gainsborough sent a portrait, Reynolds five portraits, 
Richard Wilson six landscapes, and Francis Hayman a 
picture of " Sir John Falstaff." The receipts from this 
exhibition were 650. 


The Society of Artists of Great Britain obtained a 
charter and a coat of arms in 1765, and became known 
as the Incorporated Society of Artists. George Lambert 
was appointed the first president, Francis Hayman the 
first vice-president, and F. M. Newton the first secretary. 
The Incorporated Society seemed to be on the high road 
to prosperity, but, in spite of complaints, it did nothing 
for teaching, and formed no school, so that many of the 
leading artists became disgusted, and again there was a 
secession. The seceders applied for a charter for an 
academy, which was granted, and the Royal Academy was 
founded in 1 768. From that date the Incorporated Society 
steadily declined, although for a time some of the 
Royal Academicians continued to send to its exhibitions. 
The exhibitions of the Incorporated Society continued 
to be held in Spring Gardens until 1771 . In the following 
year the Society removed to their " new room near 
Exeter Exchange," which was on the site of the 
present Lyceum Theatre. In 1777 the Society went to 
Piccadilly, near Air Street ; in 1780 to Spring Gardens, 
and in 1783 to Exeter Change again. No exhibition 
was held between 1783 and 1790, when a final exhibition 
was held, and after this the Incorporated Society came 
to an end. 

For at least fourteen years previously various proposals 
had been made in different quarters for the formation of 
an Academy of Arts. Soon after the Society of Arts had 
been established, a suggestion was considered that the 
Society itself should apply for a charter for an Academy 
of Painting, Sculpture, etc. The principal advocate 
of the scheme was Henry Cheere (afterwards Sir Henry 
Cheere), and he was warmly supported by Dr. Madden. 
The full text of his proposal, with the draft of a charter 
for a Royal Academy, is preserved in Dr. Templeman's 
MS. volume of Transactions hereinafter referred to. 1 The 
proposal, however, was not approved, and the Society 
even refused to offer one of its prizes for a scheme for 
such an Academy. 

Even before the establishment of the Society a definite 

1 See Chapter XV, p. 328. 


proposal for an Academy of Fine Arts had been put 
forward. In 1753, a number of artists, under the chair- 
manship of Francis Hayman, actually held a meeting to 
discuss the project. The official notification of the 
meeting, held on i3th November, is as follows : 

" There is a scheme on foot for creating a public 
Academy for the improvement of painting, sculpture, and 
architecture, and it is thought necessary to have a certain 
number of professors with proper authority in order to 
making regulations, taking subscriptions, etc., erecting 
a building, instructing the students, and concerting all 
such measures as shall be afterwards thought necessary. 
Your company is desired at the Turk's Head, in Gerard 
Street, Soho, on the i3th November, at five in the evening, 
to proceed to the election of thirteen painters, three 
sculptors, one chaser, two engravers, and two architects, 
in all twenty-four, for the purpose aforesaid. 

(Signed) Francis Milner Newton, Secretary ." l 

No agreement was come to at the meeting, and the 
projectors were satirised by their fellow-artists, and became 
the objects of several caricatures. 

The reason why those proposals all failed, and why the 
Royal Academy succeeded, was, as has been pointed out 
by Messrs. Hodgson and Eaton in their History of the 
Royal Academy, that its projectors had realised that 
there was a source of revenue in the holding of exhibitions 
of pictures. The hundred pounds taken at the Society's 
first exhibition proved that, and further confirmation was 
provided by the larger receipts at those exhibitions when 
a charge was made for admission. The founders of the 
Royal Academy made good use of their experience, and 
from their day to our own the Academy has earned much 
money by its exhibitions, and has applied that money 
wisely and well to the education of artists. 

It is interesting to note that while the constitution of 
the Academy, as defined in the " Instrument " or charter, 
granted by George in., is entirely different from that 

1 Rimbault's Soho (1895), pp. 194, 195, quoted by Mr. H. B. 


proposed in the scheme for an Academy of Painting 
submitted to the Society in 1755 by Sir Henry Cheere, its 
objects, and the methods of attaining them, are identical 
with those set forth in the original proposal. Those who 
drafted the older scheme evidently had in their minds 
the establishment of an institution similar to the Royal 
Society, and consisting of an unlimited number of Fellows 
with a president and a council, whereas the founders of the 
Royal Academy took for their model the French Academy 
of Louis xiv. with its forty members, the governing body 
being a council of eight, on which all Academicians served 
in rotation. When, however, they came to details, they 
practically adopted the scheme set out in Cheere 's draft 
charter, which proposed an annual exhibition, the appoint- 
of professors (anatomy, geometry, perspective, architecture, 
antiquity, and " other studies "), and a drawing-master, 
the establishment of a school with models, the provision 
of medals, etc. Practically the same establishment is 
provided in the " Instrument/' which, though obsolete 
in some particulars and modified in others, is still the 
fundamental charter of the Academy. 

Had the original proposal been carried out, there can 
be little doubt that the Society of Arts would have been 
merged in the Academy, which would almost certainly 
have developed on its present lines. It is therefore 
probable that much of the useful work carried out by the 
Society in the first half century of its existence would never 
have been accomplished, and it is highly unlikely that 
any improvement would have been effected in the methods 
of the Academy. Probably the net result would have 
been that Art would not have benefited, while agriculture, 
invention, industry, and commerce would, for a time at 
least, have suffered. So while the Society of Arts may 
take a legitimate pride in the share it had in preparing 
the way for the establishment of the Royal Academy, it 
may also congratulate itself on the fact that the attempt to 
concentrate in the hands of a single institution the work of 
supervising and promoting all the arts and industries of the 
country did not succeed. 



Object of the Premiums Committees of Award Method of Adjudi- 
cation The Premium Lists Character of the Premiums offered 
General Results of the System of Prize-giving, its Good and 
Bad Points Exclusion of Patented Inventions Motive Power 
before the Steam Engine Its Applications, Weaving, Sawmills, 
etc. Lovell Edgeworth's Inventions The Screw-jack The Gun- 
harpoon Mechanical Telegraphs Mining, Pumps, Ventilation, 
Safety Lamps Civil Engineering, the first Iron Bridge Naval 
Construction Various Mechanical Appliances. 

As previously mentioned, the sole original object of the 
Society was to promote art, industry, commerce, and 
invention, by granting rewards and premiums for meri- 
torious discoveries and inventions, for success in the 
various branches of the fine arts, for increasing the 
economic resources of the kingdom by the import of new 
or little known materials of industry, or for developing 
those resources by novel or improved methods. 

We have seen what the Society did to aid the progress 
of the fine arts, by the award of prizes and in other 
ways. We have also considered what it did for agri- 
culture before the foundation of the Royal Agricultural 
Society, and for forestry, which may be looked upon 
almost as a branch of agriculture. An account has also 
been given of its early relations with the Colonies, and of 
its share in the development of Colonial resources. It 
now remains to consider the manifold and miscellaneous 
work it did in the promotion of invention, and to give 

some account of the objects for which it offered and 



awarded prizes in every branch of industry and every 
class of technical science. 

The Society took infinite pains to prepare a list of 
suitable objects for its premiums. Each year the list was 
carefully revised. Some items were omitted, either 
because the offered award had been made, or because it 
had elicited no response. Fresh entries were constantly 
added, and changes made in the terms of those which 
were not dropped. And besides the specified articles in 
the list, the Society was ever ready to consider any suitable 
application, so that it constantly made grants for things 
entirely outside its own proposals, so long only as the 
object was deemed worthy. 

The classes under which the awards were arranged 
varied from time to time, but eventually they were distri- 
buted among six committees : 

i. Polite Arts. 2. Agriculture. 3. Manufactures. 

4. Mechanics. 5. Chemistry. 6. Colonies and Trade. 

The subject-matter with which the different committees 
dealt is sufficiently indicated by their titles. " Polite 
Arts " included painting, drawing, sculpture, die-sinking, 
designs for manufactures, and also, to a certain extent, 
literature. Agriculture included forestry. Mechanics and 
Manufactures were at one time dealt with by one committee, 
but were afterwards divided. Chemistry was industrial 
chemistry only, but comprehended also other branches 
of applied science. The work of the committee on Colonies 
and Trade was practically restricted to colonial matters. 
There were at various times other committees, such as those 
on Correspondence, on Miscellaneous Matters, etc., but these 
were not concerned in the adjudication of the premiums. 1 

At first a number of members were appointed on each 
of these committees. At a later period this practice was 
abandoned, two chairmen were elected at the annual 
meeting for each committee, and it was left to those 
members who thought fit to attend. 

1 As in the case of the classes already dealt with, the awards con- 
sisted of money prizes and medals. A full account of the Society's 
medals and their history will be found in Chapter XIV, p. 314. 


The practice seems to have been that a general notice 
was sent round to those who were in the habit of attending 
the committees, and also to other persons, who were not 
necessarily members of the Society, known to be interested 
in, or conversant with, the subjects which were to come 
before the meeting. The whole proceedings were conducted 
with a good deal of formality. Any communication which 
was received was referred by the Secretary to the com- 
mittee to which it seemed appropriate the committee 
consisting, as above shown, of a certain number of persons 
who might be considered as more or less experts, and of 
any members of the Society who liked to attend. The 
candidate for the premium was also invited to be present 
to give such an account of his invention as he thought 
proper. After he had given his own version, and had 
replied to any questions which were addressed to him, the 
subject was discussed, first in his presence, and then after 
his withdrawal. Formal resolutions were then put as to 
the award to be made, and these recommendations were 
submitted to the next ordinary Wednesday meeting of the 
Society, when they were generally confirmed, but in some 
cases disapproved. If any award was made, the paper 
was generally referred to the Committee on Papers, with 
a view to its being inserted in the next volume of Transac- 
tions, if suitable. 

It is thus evident that a great deal of trouble was taken 
to ensure a fair adjudication of the premiums. But it 
must often have happened and, indeed, from the records 
it is evident that it did, at all events, sometimes happen 
that the committee were by no means competent to deal 
with the invention, especially if it was of a new and original 
character. The committee must also, in the nature of 
things, have generally been composed of amateurs, who, 
however well-meaning and hard-working they might be, 
were sometimes incapable, and, in all cases, naturally 
biased by their own opinions. On the whole, however, 
it may be said that no one who makes a careful investiga- 
tion of the awards made and probably there are not very 
many who would care to undertake such a task can fail 
to be of opinion that a genuine effort was made to do 


justice, and that in a great majority of cases fair justice was 
done. As a matter of fact, it is quite certain that most 
of the awards leaned to the side of generosity. But while 
a great many undeserving inventions were rewarded, 
there are not a great many which were rejected and after- 
wards proved themselves of any value. 1 

The first actual premium list issued was that of 1756, 
and this only exists in manuscript. The first printed 
list is the second issued, and that is dated 1758. From 
that date the lists were issued annually. Till the publica- 
tion of the first volume of Transactions, in 1783, the lists 
were issued separately; from 1783 they were included 
in each volume of the Transactions, besides being printed 
separately. The Society's set of lists before 1782 is, un- 
fortunately, not complete, a volume in which the lists from 
1763 to 1767 inclusive were bound up, having apparently 
at some time been lost. A separate copy, however, of the 
list for 1764 has been preserved. A partial list for 1765 
and the complete list for 1766 are printed in the Museum 
Rusticum? The British Museum set is complete from 
1758 to 1781 inclusive. 

After 1829 many changes were introduced in the lists. 
The importance of the Society's prizes was much dimin- 
ished, and the character of its work was changing. The 
lists were shortened. Sometimes the offers of prizes were 
in general terms instead of being made for specific objects. 
From 1 843 to 1 847 the list was onlyissued in alternate years. 
With the grant of the Charter in 1847 the Society's system 
of prize-giving practically came to an end. Special prizes 
were offered and awarded from time to time, but the 
practice of issuing a general list of subjects for awards, 
though it was not formally abandoned, was really obsolete. 
A sort of attempt to renew it was made in i863, 3 when a 
list of the old character was published in the Journal. 

1 A full and detailed account of the method adopted in making the 
awards will be found in the address delivered by Arthur Aikin, at the 
distribution of awards by the Duke of Sussex, as President, in 1817. 
Transactions, vol. xxxv. p. 209. 

2 Vol. v. p. 90 ; vol. vi. p. 339. 

3 Journal, vol. xii. p. 9, 


The last such list appeared in 1 873, 1 but hardly any awards 
were made upon it, and in practice the whole system had 
been defunct for at least a quarter of a century. 

The first lists of awards made by the Society are con- 
tained in Dossie's Memoirs of Agriculture, in which they 
were published by the Society's authority. The list 
down to the end of 1767 (exclusive of " Polite Arts lf )is 
given in the first (1768) of Dossie's three volumes (page 3). 
The complete list of the awards in " Polite Arts," to the 
end of 1776, and the other awards, from 1768 to 1776 
inclusive, appear in his third ( 1 782) volume (page 447). 

The same list was also published by the Society in 1 778, 2 
and in a few cases where the two lists differ it may be 
assumed that the Society's list is accurate. There are 
very few discrepancies. There is yet another list, down 
to 1770, given in the Descriptions of the . . . Machines 
. . . in the Repository of the Society, etc., published 
by William Bailey, the Registrar of the Society, in I772. 3 

In the second volume of the Transactions (1784) a list 
is given of the awards from 1775 to 1782 inclusive. This 
list is by way of being a continuation of Dossie's lists, 
though, as a matter of fact, the two overlap as regards 
the years 1775 and 1776. From this date onwards the 
awards are given year by year in the annual volumes of 
the Transactions, down to what is really the last volume 
of the series, that for the session 1843-4, Vol. LV. In 
the interval between the cessation of the regular Transac- 
tions and the commencement of the Journal, lists for the 
years 1845 to 1850 were issued, and all of these are 
extant, that for 1847 being in MS. only. In 1851, the 
year of the Great Exhibition, there was no distribution 
of prizes, on account of the exhibition, and consequently 
no list. In 1853 there was a meeting for the distribution 
of prizes, and a list was printed in the Journal* 

1 It was issued as the "Premium List for the Sessions 1873-4-5." 

2 Register of Premiums and Bounties, 1754-1776. 

3 This is a quarto volume with a collection of fine illustrations in 
folio. In 1782 another edition was issued by A. M. Bailey, who 
succeeded his father as Registrar in 1773. It is in two volumes, folio. 
See also Chapter XV, p. 329. 

* Vol. i. p. 365. 


The premium lists were advertised and circulated as 
widely as possible. At one time the Society received 
a little official help in obtaining publicity for its work, for 
in 1775 the Postmaster-General sent a copy of the list to 
the local post offices, with instructions to the postmasters 
to let all persons coming to their offices have an oppor- 
tunity of reading it. 

An examination of the old prize-lists, especially those 
between 1760 and 1800, affords an interesting indication 
of the state of scientific and industrial knowledge at the 
time. Naturally, we now possess a great number of the 
things for which the Society then offered prizes. Some 
of these offers produced good results, some were abandoned 
as Utopian, though the machines or articles asked for are 
now commonplaces of industry and manufacture. Some 
of the proposals show what our modern conceit may 
regard as lamentable ignorance, others afford evidence 
of considerable shrewdness ; others, again, indicate a 
quite natural incapacity to realise the direction of future 
progress . 

That in the lists so many familiar names are missing 
is certainly disappointing. One would like to have found 
the names of Watt, Hargreaves, Crompton, Roebuck, 
Arkwright, and Cort, amongst those whose inventions 
were recognised and rewarded by the Society of Arts. 
But in the early records none of these names appear. 
Why is this ? The best reason that can be suggested is 
that all these men were in advance of their time. Like 
all great inventors, they had to wait for recognition until 
they had overborne the opposition of ignorance and of 
rival interests. When recognition came, it was too late 
for the prize or contribution which would have eased the 
early struggles. A committee which could anticipate 
the direction in which industry or science would progress 
would have to be composed of men with prescience be- 
yond their fellows, and they would not have received 
the acquiescence or approval of their contemporaries. 

It has always been so throughout the history of inven- 
tion. The great inventor must, of necessity, be a man with 
ideas ahead of his contemporaries. He has never had 


their sympathy or their appreciation. On the contrary, he 
has always had to struggle against their active opposition. 
If his invention, as has generally been the case, has for its 
prime object the substitution of mechanism for human 
labour, he incurs the violent hatred of those who can 
only realise that their livelihood is being taken away 
from them. 

The history of the introduction of textile machinery, 
by which millions of operatives now make their living, 
is a record of the attempts of the progenitors of these 
operatives to wreck the new machinery, and, if possible, 
to murder the man who designed it. As long ago as 1710 
the Spitalfields weavers rose in riot and smashed their 
frames in protest against the introduction of improvements . 
A hundred years later, in 1816, the Luddite riots after 
the wholesale destruction of factories and machinery in 
the Nottingham district were only suppressed by the 
stern expedient of hanging a number of the ringleaders. 

In the first half of the nineteenth century the hatred 
of new machinery was combined with strikes, often justi- 
fiable enough, for better pay, but certainly for nearly three 
centuries since James Lee invented his stocking frame 
in 1589 the workers of the textile trades have done their 
very best to prevent any improvement in the tools of 
those trades. If the spinners and weavers had had their 
own way, all yarn would now be spun by the spinning-wheel 
and woven on the hand-loom. The artisan fought for the 
ancient system of economic organisation, for domestic in- 
dustry and handiwork. Forces were too strong for him. 
The growth of capital and its systematic industrial 
application conquered in the end, but only after a long 
struggle against excusable ignorance and natural incapacity 
to appreciate the inevitable. 

And the opposition did not come from workmen alone. 
Manufacturers a hundred and fifty or two hundred years 
ago were no more anxious to change all their methods 
and scrap all their machines than they are now. When 
an invention had proved its value, and had been taken up 
by the more enterprising manufacturers, the rest had 
perforce to follow suit, but in the meantime the original 



inventor had had but a poor time of it, and in all probability 
had died a pauper. 

Nor did the inventor as a rule get much sympathy from 
the general public, or even from those members of the 
public who might have been expected to know better. 
After some centuries of mechanical and scientific progress 
we have perhaps learnt the lesson. Nowadays we are 
so accustomed to the rapid multiplication of scientific 
inventions that we readily accept any marvel, however 
marvellous. Yet there can be hardly any great invention 
which has not been condemned or depreciated by a com- 
petent and well-qualified authority. The working of the 
same spirit may be traced from the beginning of the 
industrial revolution down to our own day. When Dr. 
Lardner demonstrated beyond cavil that no steamship 
could carry coal sufficient to take her under her own 
steam to America, the statement was accepted as the 
opinion of one of the best authorities of the time. The 
heads of the Admiralty declined to consider the use of 
the electric telegraph because the excellent and efficient 
semaphore arrangement fulfilled all their needs. We 
might have had mechanical transport on roads fifty years 
before it was accomplished, but for the opposition 
partly interested and partly ignorant to the early con- 
structors of road locomotives. A year or two before the 
incandescent filament lamp was perfected the best 
authorities were agreed that the " subdivision of the 
electric light " was impossible. The internal-combustion 
engine found but small favour amongst the older mechanical 
engineers (there was one brilliant exception). The idea 
of a " rotary steam-engine " was regarded with derision 
before the steam-turbine was perfected. The members 
of the old Aeronautical Society were for years 
looked upon as harmless visionaries. When the first 
paper on the basic process of steel-making was offered to 
the Iron and Steel Institute, the council of that body, a 
competent tribunal if ever there was one, declined to 
accept it. 

Other instances might be cited, but these may serve 
to show the value of contemporary opinion on new dis- 


coveries, and the extreme difficulty of forming a sound 
judgment as to the direction which future progress in the 
application of science to industry is likely to take. 

What can we expect if we go back a hundred and more 
years into a non-scientific age, when men were beginning 
dimly to realise the value of machines, and to recognise 
that processes which had for centuries been wrought 
by human hands alone might possibly be aided by inani- 
mate mechanism if it were only possible to devise it ? 
What wonder, then, if those who were most anxious to 
improve the manufactures and industries of their country, 
could imagine no better means than to reward small im- 
provements in the crude existing appliances, if they 
could not imagine a development which astonished their 
successors, or foresee an advance which we, a century 
later, regard with wonder and admiration ? 

Another reason which prevented the Society from 
taking cognisance of many important inventions was the 
regulation which excluded patented articles. In one of 
the earliest lists of Rules and Orders that for 1765 it 
was expressly laid down that " No person will be admitted 
a candidate for any premium offered by the Society who 
has obtained a patent for the exclusive right of making 
or performing anything for which such premium is offered." 
This rule continued in force until 1844 or 1845, when it 
was finally abolished. The first suggestion for its abolition 
appears to have been made in a report of a Committee 
of which Thomas Webster was chairman, presented in 
1841. Several resolutions were passed in 1843, 1844, and 
1845, all apparently rescinding the old rule. In Vol. LIV. 
of the Transactions (1841-3), the disqualification is for 
the first time omitted in the Regulations, and in the 
Preface to Vol. LV. attention is drawn to the fact that 
Patented Inventions are no longer disqualified from 
competition. At all events, from 1845 onwards they were 
eligible for awards. 

So strong was this feeling of opposition to patents 
that it was at one time proposed to require every prize- 
winner to agree not to take out a patent, but this 
proposal was negatived. In later years, when patents 


became more numerous, the restrictive effect of this rule 
became much more injurious than in 1765 (in which year 
only fourteen patents were granted), but even at that 
time it shut out many valuable improvements. However, 
the motion that the grant of a patent was an injurious 
restriction on industry, only to be condoned if the public 
could not get the benefit of a useful invention unless 
it bribed the inventor with a monopoly, survived long 
after the end of the eighteenth century. Indeed, it was 
only in our own generation that the value of protection 
by patent was fully realised, and that to quote once more 
an often-quoted saying of the late Sir William Siemens 
if an invention were found lying in the gutter, it would be 
worth while to assign it to an owner who would have an 
interest in looking after it. Of course, this general state- 
ment, like all such statements, has its exceptions. Some 
inventions do not need a foster-mother. A case in point 
is that of the safety-lamp, for which Sir Humphry Davy 
refused to take out a patent. The need was so urgent, its 
fulfilment so complete, that no advocacy or advertisement 
was wanted. But the invention of the safety-lamp was 
exceptional, not only in this respect. 

On the whole, we should admire the amount of useful 
work done by the Society's premiums rather than cavil 
because it did not accomplish more. What it really did 
effect may be judged from the following selection of the 
more interesting or more important of the subjects to 
which its energies were devoted. The task of selection 
has been by no means easy. Its successful accomplish- 
ment would demand an amount of technical and expert 
knowledge to which the present writer can make no claim. 
The examples chosen out of a century's work may, how- 
ever, show how much was really accomplished, and how 
much those earnest industrial pioneers effected who 
worked in the name and on behalf of the Society of Arts. 

The period covered is just a hundred years, from the 
foundation of the Society to the 1851 Exhibition. Of this 
period the first half was by far the more fruitful, and it is 
really to this half that our attention must principally 
be directed. By the expiration of the eighteenth century 


the system of prize-giving had practically fulfilled its work. 
It gradually became less and less effective till at last it 
died out. The work of the Society tended in other 
directions. For some years the Society languished ; 
indeed, it nearly collapsed, to be revived again in the 
middle of the nineteenth century. The record of these 
changes is, however, a matter for future consideration. 
For the present we are concerned only with the history of 
the useful work effected by the Society during that first 
prosperous portion of its career, when its sole aim and 
object was the awarding of premiums for the promotion 
of Art and Industry, and the discovery of suitable objects 
for its awards. 

Of all the inventions upon which, at the time when the 
Society commenced its work, the advance of industrial 
progress principally depended, the most important were 
certainly those dealing with the generation and application 
of motive power, and yet it was not to these inventions 
that most attention was directed. If those who devoted 
themselves to this department of the Society's work were 
unconscious of the change shortly about to be effected 
by the substitution of mechanical for animal power 
in every branch of industry, it is not to be wondered 
at. The modern steam-engine and the Society of Arts 
were almost absolutely contemporaneous. James Watt 
began his scientific career in the year in which the Society 
was founded, though it was eleven years later that he 
conceived the idea of the separate condenser, and four 
years later still (in 1769) that he took out his first patent. 

In 1754 the need for some agency which could drive 
heavier machinery than could be worked by a man or a 
team of horses was hardly existent, and almost wholly 
unrealised. Yet it must, to some small extent, have been 
in men's minds, and we may find evidence for this in the 
desire to improve those elementary methods for utilising 
the known natural forces, wind and water, which showed 
itself in the work of the earliest engineers millwrights, 
as they were called and in the technical literature, such 
as it was, of the time. Amongst other places, we find it 
in the Society's premium list. The list for 1759 contains 


two offers of 50 each, one for a tide-mill, and one for an 
improved wind-mill which should more effectively utilise 
the force of the wind than previously existing forms, and 
should also, with varying wind-velocity, communicate a 
uniform motion to the mill-shaft. As a result of these 
offers, several rewards were paid, one for a tide-mill going 
to the Rev. Humphry Gainsborough, 1 a brother of the 
painter, who seems to have been an inventor of considerable 
ingenuity. These and similar offers were repeated from 
time to time during the next fifty years, and various 
sums of money were paid for improvements in wind- 
mills and also in water-wheels. Dr. Erasmus Darwin 
corresponded with the Society at one time about his 
idea of a horizontal windmill, but no award was made 
to him. 

It is some time before the steam-engine makes its 
appearance in the list. In 1780 we find a gold medal 
offered for an engine for " working at one time, the 
greatest number of looms, not fewer than three." The 
offer was continued for some time, but there is no record 
of a prize ever being awarded. As a matter of fact, 
the first recorded use of the steam-engine in a factory 
is in 1786. Cartwright's power-loom was brought out 
in 1785, and was driven by steam in 1790. John Austin, 
of Glasgow, also claims, in a communication to the 
Society, 2 to have constructed a power-loom in 1789, and 
to have had one running in 1798 at Pollokshaws, near 
Glasgow. He adds that, after this, a building was con- 
structed to hold two hundred of his looms at the same 
mills. He received a gold medal from the Society in 
1806. It is probable that the first to invent a power-loom 
was John Kay, whose patent of 1745, taken out jointly 
with Joseph Stell, included, as Kay himself says, " tape 
lomes to weave by water." 3 No description, however, 
of Kay's loom is extant. Kay was, at all events, indirectly 

1 He was a friend of R. L. Edgeworth's, who says that he had 
never known " a man of a more inventive genius " (Edgeworth's 
Memoirs, 1821, 2nd ed. vol. i. p. 153). 

2 Transactions, vol. xxiv. p. 93. See also Chapter XII, p. 263. 

3 Journal, 8th December 1911, p. 81, 


the inventor of the power-loom, because it was his fly- 
shuttle that enabled a mechanical movement to be sub- 
stituted for the action of the human hand. 

Up to the end of the century references to the steam- 
engine are rare. A vague offer of a reward for " increasing 
the force or quantity of steam " in steam-engines was 
published in 1783, and long kept its place on the list, but 
it elicited no response. Would a modern triple-expansion 
engine or a turbine be eligible for the prize ? They utilise 
the energy, but cannot be said to increase it. 

The first substitution of mechanical power for handwork 
in the timber trade in England is certainly due to the 
Society. A premium for a saw-mill was awarded to James 
Stansfield in 1761, and sums amounting in all to over 
300 were given to him to help him in improving and 
working his mill. By the instrumentality of the Society 
Stansfield was also introduced to one Charles Dingley, 
who found the capital for setting up a mill at Limehouse 
which was driven by wind-power. This mill, after work- 
ing a short time, suffered the usual fate of all mechanical 
improvements, and was destroyed by a mob, but the 
owner was compensated, the rioters punished, and the 
mill reinstated. 1 For his services in the matter, a gold 
medal was awarded to Dingley. The backward state 
of English industry is shown by the fact that saw-mills 
worked by water and by wind had previously been in 
existence on the Continent, and even in America, though 
there seems reason to believe that Stansfield *s was an 
improvement on the older types. 

That eccentric mechanical genius, Richard Lovell Edge- 
worth, received several rewards. The most important 
of these was a gold medal awarded in 1769 for various 
inventions communicated to the Society. What these 
were, it is not very easy to say. It is just possible that 
one of them was a proposal for a steam carriage, which 
seems to have arisen out of a suggestion by Dr. Erasmus 
Darwin, who was a friend of Edgeworth. 2 

This, however, is not mentioned by Edgeworth himself, 

1 Dossie, vol. i. p. 123. Transactions, vol. i. p. 41. 

2 Thurston, History of the Steam Engine (1879), p. 150, 


who, in his Memoirs, 1 enumerates only a carriage with 
springs and a new form of frame, a waggon " divided 
into two parts," 2 a cover for haystacks, and a turnip-cutter. 
He also says that he afterwards submitted a dynamometer, 
and from a letter of his it appears that he suggested a new 
form of camera-obscura. 

For his " Perambulator, or instrument for easily measur- 
ing land," he had a separate silver medal in 1767. The 
idea of using a wheel for the purpose was not novel. Such 
an apparatus was known in the seventeenth century, and 
was called by the same name. Edgeworth's machine 
consisted of a wheel, or rather a framework of spokes 
without a tyre, to the axle of which was fitted a long 
screw projecting horizontally. A nut loosely fitted on 
this screw was prevented from revolving with it, when the 
wheel was run over the ground, by a suspended weight, 
so that the motion of the wheel caused the nut to travel 
along the screw, one thread for each revolution, and the 
distance traversed was thus indicated. The apparatus 
would, no doubt, be effective, but it must have been 
clumsy, and rather inconvenient to work. The circum- 
ference of the wheel was to be one pole (5^ yards). 3 In 

1 Vol. i. p. 167. 

* This was the invention for which Edgeworth took out a patent 
in 1770, his only patent. It was really a " portable railway." Neither 
the specification of the patent (there is no drawing) nor Edgeworth's 
own account of the invention is very clear. It is possible that the 
railway was an endless or continuous one, but I am inclined to think 
that it consisted of a number of separate platforms, laid down before 
the carriage wheels, and picked up after they had passed, by some 
sort of lever arrangement. It is the first of a long series of patented 
inventions of a similar kind, none of which have come into general 
use, though I believe supporting rails cr platforms carried on endless 
chains travelling over wheels have been successfully applied to traction 
engines and other implements for use in heavy soil, where even wide 
wheels are liable to sink in. Edgeworth's idea was, as he himself 
says, anticipated by the carriage with wheels travelling on an endless 
chain of rollers described in vol. iii. p. 7 of the Machines Approuvees 
par I'Academie Royale des Sciences (1713). There is a note on this in 
the abridgments of specifications relating to Aids to Locomotion, 
published by the Patent Office in 1858. 

8 There is an illustration of the apparatus in Bailey's Machines, 
etc,, vol, i. p. 59 (edition of 1782). 


the Memoirs he states (vol. i. p. 171) that the instrument 
worked with great accuracy, having run over a measured 
mile twice with a difference of only one inch between the 
two results. Edgeworth's eldest son Richard also received 
a silver medal in 1 778, " for early mechanical genius shown 
in the constructing several models and machines." As 
he was born in 1765, he must have been about thirteen 
years old at the time. This reward seems to have re- 
mained unique. 

The award of a gold medal in 1770 to Abraham Stag- 
hold for a screw-jack is of peculiar interest, because the 
jack, which is figured and described by Bailey, 1 is identical 
with the well-known modern implement, which, many 
years after Staghold's invention, was the subject of a 
patent. The vertical screw is operated by a worm-wheel 
working thereon as a nut, which worm-wheel gears with a 
horizontal worm driven by a winch-handle. The screw- 
jack, however, was known before this date. Murray in 
his English Dictionary gives a reference to it in 1703, and 
readers of Robinson Crusoe (the first edition of which 
was published in 1719) may remember that " a great 
screw jack " was one of the things that Crusoe brought 
ashore from the wreck. Without placing too implicit 
reliance on the accuracy of Defoe's narrative, we may 
accept his statement as proof that he was aware of the 
existence of the implement. Abraham Staghold was a 
blacksmith of Maldon, in Essex, and appears to have been a 
man of considerable inventive ingenuity, for he was also 
the inventor of the gun-harpoon, for which he received a 
grant of twenty guineas in 1 770. His inventions, however, 
do not appear to have brought him a fortune, for in 1 774 
he sent in a petition to the Society, " desiring relief in his 
state of distress." The Committee on Correspondence 
were unable to recommend the Society to devote its funds 
to a charitable purpose, so the unlucky inventor got nothing 
by his application. 

This first award for a gun-harpoon was followed by 
several others. For many years the Society continued 
1 Bailey's Machines, etc., vol. i. p. 168 (edition of 1782). 


to offer prizes for improved forms of the apparatus, 
and they also spent over 100 in experiments and 
tests. 1 

As soon as a satisfactory weapon had been obtained 
and this involved the improvement of many details both 
in the gun and in the harpoon they continued to offer 
rewards for whales taken by its use. One of the recipients 
of these grants, Captain Humphrey Foord, of Hull, wrote 
an interesting account of his experiences with the new 
weapon, and made several pertinent suggestions for 
its improvement. He concludes his letter with a quite 
unnecessary apology for " the blunders of an illiterate 
tar, who is unacquainted with writing to the great." 

Up to 1792 something like 400 had been expended, 
but after this the number of claimants diminished, and 
though the offer was not discontinued till 1821, the 
awards made in later years were few and the amounts 
paid inconsiderable. 

Scoresby, in his history of the northern whale fishery, 2 
gives an account of the Society's efforts to introduce the 
use of the gun-harpoon. He says that the weapon was 
invented in 1731, and was used with some success . ' ' Being, 
however, difficult and somewhat dangerous in its appli- 
cation, it was laid aside for many years. In 1771 or 1772 
a new one was produced to the Society of Arts, which 
differed so materially from the instrument before in use 
that it was received as an original invention." On the 
whole, Scoresby says, in spite of the great improvements 
resulting from the Society's premiums, " on account of 
the difficulty and address requisite in the management 
of it, and the loss of fish which, in unskilful hands, it has 
been the means of occasioning, together with some accid- 
ents which have resulted from its use, it has not been so 
generally adopted as might have been expected." Later 
on, still further improvements mere made, and at the 
date of Scoresby 's writing (1820) it was coming to a 
certain extent into use. At the present date, under 
the different conditions of the whale fishery, the gun 

1 A picture of Staghold's harpoon is given on p. 225. 

* The Arctic Regions, by W. Scoresby (1820), vol. ii. p. 227. 


is always employed to the practical exclusion of the old 
hand weapon. 1 

Just about the end of the eighteenth century a great 
deal of attention was paid to the subject of mechanical 
telegraphs. 2 The first suggestion for such a method of 
conveying intelligence was made by Robert Hooke, who 
described, in a paper before the Royal Society in 1684, a 
method of exhibiting signals to be observed through a 
telescope, which, though rather complicated, might have 
been perfectly efficient had it ever been put into practice. 
The credit of making the first practical telegraph may be 
assigned to R. L. Edgeworth, who, as has been already 
mentioned, received several prizes from the Society. 
There is, however, no evidence to show that he submitted 
his telegraphic system to the Society. He says in his 
Memoirs that his attention was first drawn to the sub- 
ject by a bet that he could report in London the result 
of a race at Newmarket before it could be brought by 
mounted messengers. Later on he described his method 
in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy (Vol. vi. 
1 795). In his system it was proposed to use four triangular 
pointers, each pivoted to the top of a mast, and represent- 
ing units, tens, hundreds, and thousands, the precise figure 
being indicated by the position of the pointer. These 
numbers corresponded with words or sentences in a vocab- 

The mechanical telegraph, however, was first intro- 
duced by a Frenchman Monsieur Chappe about 1794* 
Several lines of his telegraph were set up, and it was 
regularly used for military purposes. According to his 
system, six discs were mounted side by side in a frame in 
such a way that either or all of them could be turned 
edgeways, so as to be practically invisible, or vertical, so 

1 The latest information on the subject will be found in a paper 
read before the Society by T. E. Salvesen in March 1912. Journal, 
vol. Ix. p. 515. 

2 Rees's Cyclopedia, vol. xxxv. 1819, has a very full and excellent 
account of mechanical telegraphs. Most of the Society's awards are 


as to be seen. By various combinations of these discs a 
great number of signals could be sent. For use at night, 
lamps were substituted for discs. A practically similar 
arrangement was submitted in 1805 to the Society by 
J. Davis, and he received a silver medal for it. Two 
other awards were made by the Society in 1808 a silver 
medal to Major Le Hardy for a rather ingenious device 
for indicating numbers by means of index discs capable 
of being set in different positions on a polygonal frame, 
and a silver medal to Chevalier Edelcrantz, a Swede, for 
a telegraph composed of vanes or shutters capable of being 
turned edgeways. 

Two awards made in 1809 are also worthy of notice, 
because they refer to methods of hand-signalling. In 
one of the communications Lieutenant James Spratt, 
who was wounded at Trafalgar, describes a method of 
signalling by a handkerchief held in different positions ; 
and in the second, Knight Spencer submitted what he 
termed an " anthropo telegraph " a method of signalling 
by different positions of the arms. This idea has been 
developed, and is now in common use in the Navy and 
the Army. 

The device, however, which superseded all of these 
was that invented by Admiral Sir Home Popham, which 
received a gold medal from the Society in 1816. This was 
a semaphore arrangement, in which two masts were 
employed, each with an arm capable of being set at any 
desired angle to the vertical. It was by this apparatus 
that information was transmitted from Portsmouth and 
elsewhere to the Admiralty, until it was at length superseded 
by the electric telegraph. This was the apparatus with 
which Barrow (not yet Sir John) was so well satisfied, 
that when Ronalds in 1816 offered to the Admiralty his 
pith-ball telegraph, which was really the first practical 
electric telegraph, Barrow, then Secretary to the Admiralty, 
wrote, with his compliments to the inventor, " that 
telegraphs of any kind are wholly unnecessary, and that 
no other than the one now in use would be adopted." 
This historic communication is dated 5th August I8I6. 1 
1 History of Electric Telegraphy, J. J. Fahie (1884), p. 136. 


Popham applied his apparatus to ships, and it was for 
long used in the Navy, chiefly from the bridges of ships 
and from positions comparatively low down in the vessels. 
Within quite recent years the practice arose of fitting 
masthead semaphores so as to signal over longer distances 
during the day. Difficulties, however, arose in carrying 
the heavy weights of the semaphores at the mastheads, 
and the practice was abandoned. The introduction of 
wireless telegraphy has of course rendered such apparatus 

The list of awards connected with mining is not a 
very long one. There were a few inventions for raising 
water from mines, the most important of these being 
William Westgarth's hydraulic engine, for which a gold 
medal was awarded in 1769. Nearly twenty years later, 
in 1787, a silver medal was presented to Smeaton, the 
great engineer, for a description of the apparatus which 
he communicated (after the inventor's death) to the 
Society. 1 Smeaton had a very high opinion of the value 
of the apparatus, which, he said, was much appreciated 
in the Cornish tin-mines. Various methods of raising 
minerals were also rewarded by the Society, and described 
in the Transactions. All of these became obsolete when 
the steam-engine was applied to that purpose. 

In 1816 a gold medal and 100 guineas were presented 
to James Ryan for his system of mine ventilation. Gallo- 
way 2 speaks in terms of high commendation of Ryan's 
system, which was to drain off the gas by " passages or 
gas drifts so arranged as to collect and draw off the gas 
at the highest level." It was largely introduced into 
Staffordshire, where it suited the character of the coal 
measures, but in the northern districts, where it was not 
so useful, it met with less approval and was not adopted. 

The first person to provide miners with a fairly good 
and safe light was Dr. Clanny, of Bishop Wearmouth. He 
devised various forms of lamps into which air was forced 
by a bellows, its exit being controlled by valves of various 

1 Transactions, vol. v. (1787), p. 181. 
8 History of Coal Mining (1882), p. 135. 


device. After working for some time at the subject, he 
described one form of his lamp to the Royal Society in 
1813. In 1815 he submitted an improved form to the 
Society of Arts, and received a silver medal, while in 1816 
he was awarded a gold medal for a steam safety-lamp. 
These various devices were undoubtedly valuable and of 
practical utility, but they never came into general use. 
They were soon quite superseded by the safety-lamps of 
Davy and Stephenson, both of which were invented 
independently in 1815. 

Civil engineering also hardly received its due meed of 
attention from the Society. The Duke of Bridgewater 
in 1800 received a gold medal in recognition of the great 
system of canals which he constructed, a well-deserved 
award, though perhaps it might have been more fittingly 
bestowed upon Brindley, the great engineer, whose genius 
was so wisely utilised by the Duke. 

In 1788 a gold medal was given to Abraham Darby 
for the iron bridge he built over the Severn, near Coal- 
brookdale. This was the first iron bridge ever constructed. 
The beautiful model which Darby presented to the Society 
is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

The award in 1762 of fifty guineas to G. Weldon for a 
machine for planing cast-iron is of interest, because it 
seems likely that this is the earliest true planer of which 
there is any record. No picture or description of the 
machine has been discovered in the Society's records, but 
Dossie l says that " it planed large iron plates as effectually 
as a common plane does boards ; making curled shavings, 
and completely smoothing the surface of the plates." 

As might naturally be expected, a good deal of attention 
was paid by the Society at the end of the eighteenth and 
the beginning of the nineteenth century to questions of 
naval construction. The old records of the Society show 
that it was frequently consulted by the naval authorities 
on questions of timber for use in building the King's 

1 Vol. i. p. 161. A note on early planing machines, and some 
references to authorities, will be found in Industrial England in the 
Middle of the Eighteenth Century, p. 27. 


ships, and such information as the Society could furnish 
was readily supplied. Some important awards were made 
by the Society in the class of naval architecture. In 
1759 a prize offered for " Ships' Blocks," that is to say, 
models of ships of new construction, was awarded to 
Joseph Aldridge, and in 1804 a gold medal was voted to 
Robert Seppings (afterwards Sir Robert, and Surveyor of 
the Navy), for his invention of suspending instead of 
lifting ships in dock. 1 For this Seppings was granted 
1000 by the Admiralty. It was the first of many im- 
portant inventions which gained him the reputation of 
being the greatest naval architect of his time. It was 
he who first introduced the extensive use of iron in the 
construction of ships, which, by the additional strength 
provided by his diagonal braces and trusses, prevented 
the arching of their keels, technically called " hogging," 
which always occurred when ships were laid by. Although 
in the use of iron for shipbuilding he had been partly 
anticipated by T. Roberts (Assistant Surveyor to the 
Navy) who in 1808 received the Society's silver medal 
for " attaching the end of the beams of ships to their sides 
by iron instead of wooden knees " it was Seppings who 
really revolutionised the art of shipbuilding by the 
extended use of iron framing. The Howe, launched in 
1815, was the first ship built entirely on Seppings's method, 
although the system had been partially applied before 
that date. 

As may be supposed, a great variety of mechanical 
and engineering inventions besides the few mentioned 
above received awards from the Society. In the first 
half-century of its existence these included corn and other 
mills, canal locks, dredgers, cranes, pile-driving machines, 
carriages of many sorts, a packing press, tools of many 
descriptions, mechanical movements, locks, clocks and 
watches, etc. 

Later on, in the early years of the nineteenth century, 
most of the mechanical inventions submitted to, and 
rewarded by, the Society, were of a minor character, 

1 Transactions, vol. xxii. (1804), p. 275. See also Seppings's Life in 
the Dictionary of National Biography. 


though many of them were valuable. The offer of a prize 
for an original screw brought out several methods for 
obtaining one, but not of the accuracy required for 
astronomical and other scientific purposes. There were 
many awards for improvements in clocks and watches, 
devices for cutting wheels for watches, watch-springs, etc. 
The prizes connected with lathes and turning were also 
numerous, including chucks, self-centring and other. 
Various mechanical appliances and devices now well 
known and familiar were brought out by the Society's 
awards, and descriptions of them will be found in the 
pages of the Transactions. 

Almond's Loom, 1771 (see p. 263). 


THE PREMIUMS (Continued) 

Textile Machinery Invention of Spinning Machinery Spinning- 
Wheels John Kay and his Relations with the Society, his Carding 
Engine and the Drop-box of Robert Kay Looms and Stocking- 
frames The Drawboy Silk Manufacture, and the Production of 
Silk in England Lace "Quilting in the Loom" Carpets 
Brocade- weaving Manufacture of Fishing-nets by Machinery 
Industrial Hygiene Fire-gilding Apparatus for Protection from 
Noxious Vapours and Dust Leadless Glazes Chimney Sweeping 
and Climbing Boys Industrial Chemistry, Saltpetre, Natron, 
Verdigris, Cobalt, Ultramarine, etc. Dyes and Dye-stuffs 
Madder, Orchil, etc. Substitute for White Lead Pigments and 
Varnishes Marsh's Test for Arsenic Illuminating Oils Medicinal 
Plants, Rhubarb, Opium. 

IN the first twenty years or so of its existence, down to 
1776, the Society expended a little over i 500 in premiums 
connected with the manufacture of textiles part in 
establishing, or attempting to establish, new branches 
of the industry, part in endeavouring to improve textile 
machinery. With regard to the latter part of the work, 
it is easy to see, after a century's experience, that they 
were working on wrong lines ; but that is merely to say 
that the members of the Society who directed its pro- 
ceedings were no wiser (or not much wiser) than their 
contemporaries. They took immense pains to improve 
existing apparatus, instead of as, if they had been gifted 
with sufficient prophetic insight, they might have done 
anticipating the slow course of inventive progress, by 
encouraging the production of new methods. It is reason- 
able to wish they had been more enterprising ; it is un- 


reasonable to blame them for their lack of non-existent 
knowledge. Ex post facto criticism of the sort is as foolish 
as it is easy. 

The Society's treatment of the important question of 
spinning mechanism is a good case in point, and it is very 
clearly stated by Dossie. 1 At the time when he was writing 
(1768) a certain amount of progress had been made in the 
construction of spinning machinery. Just thirty years 
before (1738) Paul and Wyatt's machine for " spinning by 
rollers " had been patented, and soon after the patent 
was granted the apparatus was in successful operation. 2 
Yet Dossie, with full knowledge of the facts, gives his 
deliberate and reasoned opinion in favour of improving 
the ordinary spinning-wheel. 

" I am authorised," he says, " to give this judgment 
on the principle of spinning by mechanism instead of the 
hand, from my own observations, as well as those of two 
other very judicious members of the Society, who were 
best acquainted with that matter, in the spinning machine 
invented by the late Mr. Paul, which carried this applica- 
tion of mechanics to the greatest extent it is perhaps 
capable of. By a very great expense, and the assistance 
of the most ingenious theoretic, as well as practical, 
mechanicians of our time, he attained to the construction 
of a machine that, being moved by water, horses, or any 
other power, would spin, in the most perfect manner, any 
number of threads, without other assistance of the hand, 
than to supply the carded cotton, take away the finished 
roll of thread, and rectify any accidental disorders of 
the operation. But the delicacy of the work of the 
machine, equal almost to that of clocks, which subjected 
it to be easily disordered, and at the same time so expensive 
to be repaired, and the peculiar manner of carding, which 
was likewise very expensive, have occasioned this machine 
to be wholly laid aside as unprofitable, after sixty or 
seventy thousand pounds have been spent in various 
attempts to establish its use." 

Now these remarks are perfectly sensible, and it was in 

1 Vol. i. p. 93. 

8 Industrial England in the Middle of the Eighteenth Century, p. 53, 


consequence of the ideas and opinions that they embody 
that the attention of the Society was devoted to the im- 
provement of the spinning-wheel. Various prizes were 
offered, and certain small improvements were duly re- 
warded. None of them, however, were of any great value, 
and, as we fully recognise now, the efforts of the Society 
were quite futile, and its energy was entirely misdirected. 
Hargreaves had already (1764) invented his " Jenny," and 
Arkwright had patented (1769) his " water-frame," while a 
little later (1780 or thereabouts) Crompton brought out his 
" mule." One wishes that those three names were to be 
found in the Society's lists, instead of three of the improvers 
of the venerable spinning-wheel, who were duly rewarded. 

The name of a greater inventor than any of these, if, 
as must surely be the case, the value of a man's discovery 
is to be estimated by the effect it has upon an industry, 
does appear in the Society's records, that of John Kay, who, 
though he lived neglected and died a pauper, revolutionised 
the whole textile industry by his invention of the fly-shuttle. 

Kay was a prolific inventor. He began by devising 
wire " reeds " for looms, and by the sale of these he made 
his living. 1 His greatest invention was the fly-shuttle, 
which doubled the output of the hand-loom, while improv- 
ing the quality of its product, and rendered possible the 
construction of the power-loom. He has a fair claim, as 
previously mentioned, to be considered the inventor of the 
power-loom, but this claim can now never be substantiated. 

Also he constructed a machine, or rather a pair of 
machines, for making wire cards for carding wool. 2 These 

1 Thin strips of cane or reed (whence the name). They may be 
regarded as the teeth of the comb or grating, in the interstices of which 
the threads of the warp pass, so that by the swinging of the frame in 
which the reeds are set, each successive thread of the weft is pressed 
into its place between the warp threads, and the whole fabric rendered 
close and compact. 

2 The preparation of wool for spinning was at the time all done 
by hand, as it is even now to a very limited extent in the domestic 
production of genuine homespun goods. 

The hand cards used may be described as stiff wire brushes. The 
wires are fixed in a tough leather backing, which is supported by a 
further backing of wood. Two of them are employed in the process of 


are his more important inventions ; none of his others 
appear to have been of much practical value. 

The story of Kay's relations with the Society is rather 
curious and interesting. It has long been known that 
Kay had applied to the Society, but it was not known 
which of his inventions he submitted. It was generally 
believed that he exhibited his fly-shuttle to a committee 
of the Society, and the Society has been blamed for not 
recognising the value of so important an invention. This, 
however, is very far from the truth. The facts have only 
recently been discovered ; they show that the invention 
submitted was not his fly- shuttle, and that Kay was quite 
fairly treated by the Society's committee, but also that 
the committee had no true idea of the merits of the man 
or of the value of his ideas. They give us a rather pathetic 
picture of the inventor in his old age, poor, unknown, 
and rather hopeless, yet still full of faith in the value of 
his earlier inventions, and confident also as to the merits of 
certain newer ideas which he puts forward though with 
the fuller knowledge now available, it is easy to see that 
these later notions are of no particular value, the sort of 
ideas which are always the output of an active and in- 
ventive mind. It is the weakness of the born inventor 
that he must be always inventing, and a large proportion 
of his inventions are worthless. Very often he himself 
is not the best judge of the value of his own work. 1 

carding, the lock of wool being laid upon one and combed out with 
the other. The result is to straighten out the fibres a process required 
in all materials used for the manufacture of textiles, except silk, which 
is produced as a natural thread. The sliver produced by the action 
of carding is ready for the spinner, who spins it into a thread. 

1 In 1911 I was fortunate enough to find in one of the Society's old 
guard-books several original letters of Kay and some other papers 
relating to his inventions, and as these seemed to me of very great 
interest, both from the fresh information they gave about this great 
but unfortunate inventor, and because no specimen of his handwriting 
was known to be in existence, I published in the Society's Journal 
(vol. Ix. p. 73) a long article, in which all the letters and papers were 
reprinted with extracts from the Committee Minutes and facsimiles of 
some of Kay's signatures. To this, all who are interested in the subject 
may be referred. Kay was born in 1 704, and it is clear from the evidence 
in these documents that he died somewhere about 1770. 


It was his apparatus for making wire cards that 
brought Kay to the Society. 

In November 1765 he wrote that he had devised 
t( two engines " for making wire cards, and in January 
of the following year he attended a committee and demon- 
strated the working of his machines. The committee 
reported favourably, and advanced Kay two guineas 
that he might get six pairs of cards made from " wires 
crooked and leaves pricked J> by his machines, but there 
is no record of his having done so and no further minute 
on the subject. Of course, the committee missed an 
opportunity of doing credit to the Society, but there is 
no fault to be found with them for that. The apparatus 
was not of the highest order of importance, and it is quite 
clear that it received full attention. If Kay had done what 
he was asked to do, he would certainly have got a reward. 
It may seem remarkable that the name of a man who is 
now recognised as one of our greatest industrial pioneers 
should have been quite unknown to his contemporaries, 
but so it was. It is evident that the name of the inventor 
of the fly-shuttle meant nothing at all to a committee 
of mechanical experts just thirty years after the invention 
was patented, though we know that it came largely into 
use in the wool-working districts soon after it was first 
invented. Probably the committee did not know that 
the John Kay who showed them his " engines " for making 
cards had ever invented a shuttle. 

Nine years later, November 1774, William Kay, John's 
youngest son, attended a committee which had before them 
another wire-card making machine, and he told the com- 
mittee that he had " used a machine upwards of ten years 
for this purpose invented by his father." At a later 
meeting of the committee William Kay stated that he 
had improved his father's apparatus and had made cards 
for sale by his improved machine, which his father had 
never done. Eventually a bounty of 50 guineas was 
awarded to William Kay. The award was recorded in 
the Register of Premiums issued in 1778. Unluckily, 
Dossie l printed the name Ray in his list of awards, and 
1 Memoirs of Agriculture, vol. iii. p. 458. 


this is probably the reason that no mention, so far as I can 
find, has ever been made of an award being given by the 
Society for Kay's machine for making wire cards. 

A few years before William Kay brought before the 
Society his improved form of his father's card-making 
machine, his brother Robert, the eldest son of John Kay, 
submitted his own improvements on the " wheel-shuttle " 
(the name by which the fly-shuttle, as it is now called, was 
then generally known). 

This application was made in 1 764 (the original patent 
for the fly-shuttle is dated 1733) and was considered at 
two meetings of the Committees of Mechanics and Manu- 
facturers. Nobody familiar with the working of the 
apparatus could be found in London, and Robert Kay 
suggested that it might be tested in Bolton or Manchester 
and a report made to the Society. This, however, was 
apparently not done, and there is no further record of any 
proceedings in the matter. 1 

In the article in the Journal of the Society mentioned 
above, I discussed at some length the question as to 
what the invention really was which Robert Kay brought 
under the Society's notice, and I believe I succeeded in 
showing that it was in all probability his own invention 
of the " drop-box," a device by which a weaver could 
bring into use any one of three different shuttles, each 
containing a different coloured weft. This drop-box of 
Robert's (first brought out about 1760) is always stated 
to be the first device for weaving cross-striped fabrics con- 
veniently, without stopping the loom to change the shuttle, 
or to re-charge it with different coloured weft. On the 
whole it appears fairly certain that Robert Kay's" Improve- 
ments on the Wheel-Shuttle " consisted of the addition of 
his own drop-box to his father's fly-shuttle, and that this 
is the only theory which satisfies all the statements made 
in the papers brought before the Society's Committee, and 
published in the Journal of the Society in 1911. 

1 Along with Robert Kay's papers are two letters from John Kay 
referring to various inventions of his, and probably of the same date as 
Robert's application, 1764. The letters were reprinted in full in the 
number of the Journal above referred to. 


A good many rewards for improvements in the loom 
were made at different times by the Society. In 1764 a 
prize of 100 was offered for improvements in the stocking- 
frame, and in the minutes of 1 765 is an interesting descrip- 
tion of the competition, for which a large number of 
frames were entered. These were set up in the " machine 
room," and a number of expert workmen were employed 
to test them. After a careful examination a prize of 80 
was awarded to Samuel Unwin ; but in the following year 
(1766) a still better frame was submitted by John Why- 
man, and to this the full prize of 100 was given. The 
grant was also supplemented by an amount subscribed by 
a number of manufacturers . This encouragement to British 
stocking weavers was of special value, because the manu- 
facture was in a depressed condition at the time, and 
suffering severely from competition with the better pro- 
ductions of French looms. 

In 1771 a prize of 50 was awarded to John Almond 
for a hand-loom, which is interesting because it resembles 
in many respects the form eventually adopted for the 
power-loom. 1 In 1798, according to a statement by him 
in the Transactions? John Austin erected a number of 
power-looms for a Mr. Monteith, a Glasgow manufacturer, 
and these, according to Mr. Hooper (Cantor lecture above 
quoted), were extremely like Almond's hand-loom. A 
model of one of Austin's looms was for some time in the 
possession of the Society. He received a Gold Medal in 
1806, as well as a Silver Medal in the previous year for 
his improvements in the loom. 

The premium lists contain mention of occasional 
awards down to the year 1830, and amongst these were 
some for improvements of considerable value. Porter, 
writing in 1 83 1, 8 refers to the improvements in silk weaving 
rewarded by the Society, which he says, " has done more 
for the encouragement of ingenious artisans in this branch 
of industry than has been, or than could be, effected by 

1 Luther Hooper, "Cantor Lectures on Hand-loom Weaving, " 
Journal (1912), vol. Ix. p. 995. 

2 Vol. xxiv. (1806) p. 93. 

3 Silk Manufacture (Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia), p. 35. 


the patent laws under the present system." Amongst 
these may be noted the improvements in the " drawboy," 
for which a prize was awarded in 1807 to A. Duff. The 
mechanical drawboy was invented by Joseph Mason, to 
whom, in 1687, a patent was granted for " weaveing such 
stuffes as the greatest trade in Norwich now doth depend 
upon, without the helpe of a draught-boy." Before his 
invention the cords of the loom, which had to be drawn 
in a prearranged succession in order to produce the pattern, 
had to be pulled down by a boy who stood at the side of 
the loom and used a large fork and lever for the purpose. 
When a mechanical device was substituted for the boy 
who acted as the weaver's assistant, the apparatus took 
its name from the original worker whom it replaced. 

The actual invention of the drawboy has erroneously 
been attributed to Duff, but what he did was to introduce 
very considerable improvements. He himself, in his 
paper in the Transactions, disclaims novelty for his 
invention, which he describes as an improvement on 
methods previously known. Three years later, in 1810, 
J . Sholl was rewarded for further improvements on Duff's 
apparatus. 1 A little later still came the great invention 
of Jacquard, on which various improvements in details 
were made by English inventors. Some of these were 
rewarded by the Society, the most important being 
the invention of W. Jennings, a weaver or loom-maker 
of Bethnal Green, who reduced the great height of the 
Jacquard apparatus, and thereby rendered it available 
for use in the rooms in which the silk weavers then 
generally worked. 2 

The manufacture of silk in England had been firmly 
established by the two great immigrations of Flemish 
weavers in the sixteenth century and of Huguenots in 
the seventeenth. Mills for " throwing " silk had also 
been set up in the eighteenth century. But the various 
attempts which had been made to produce silk in this 
country had all failed. The success of Louis xiv.'s great 
minister, Colbert, in establishing the production of silk 

1 Transactions, vol. xxv. p. 51 (1807), and xxviii. p. 123 (1810). 

2 Porter, Silk Manufacture,^. 253. Transactions, vol. xlviii. p. 175. 


in France aroused emulation over here, but without 
practical result. James i., whose efforts to encourage 
English manufactures perhaps deserve more credit than 
they have received, tried to acclimatise the silkworm, 
and for this purpose he had mulberry trees planted in 
St. James's Park on the site of the present Buckingham 
Palace. The experiment was continued for some time, 
since it is recorded that in 1628, Charles i. appointed 
Lord Aston keeper of " His Majesty's mulberry garden 
at St. James's, and of the silkworms and houses thereunto 
appertaining " ; but the garden, as far as its original object 
was concerned, proved a failure, and was eventually turned 
into a place of public entertainment. 

A scheme started in 1718 had no better success. Large 
plantations were laid out in Chelsea, but after a short 
trial the project collapsed. Dossie, in two letters which 
he wrote (under the signature of " Agricola ") to the 
Museum Rusticum in I/66, 1 relates how a person, whose 
name is not given, sent some specimens of English-grown 
silk to the Society in that year, and how the Society, not 
considering his silk deserving any serious reward, yet 
encouraged him by the gift of a reel and basin such as 
were used by the silk-growers of Piedmont. 2 This seems 
to have been one of several attempts to grow silk in this 
country at the time, for some small prizes were awarded 
in 1763 and in 1778 for raising and winding silk. 

The Society seems to have held the view that the 
production of silk in England was not practicable, and 
while, as previously recorded, 3 it took a good deal of trouble 
to promote silk-growing in the American colonies, it did 
nothing at first to encourage it in Great Britain. The speci- 
mens, however, above-mentioned drew fresh attention to 
the matter, and Dossie rather vigorously combated the re- 
ceived opinion, urging that further experiments should be 
made. Accordingly, in 1768, a prize for English-raised silk 

1 Museum Rusticum, vol. vi. pp. 89 and 241. 

2 It appears from the minutes that the correspondent wrote under 
an assumed name, " Rusticus," but it seems, from a note by Dr. 
Templeman on one of his letters, that he was really John Delamare, 
a member of the Society and a silk manufacturer of Spitalfields. 

3 See Chapter IV, p. 84. 


was offered, and from time to time after this date efforts 
were made to encourage the planting of mulberry trees 
and the raising of silkworms. The Hon. Daines Barring- 
ton contributed a paper to the second volume of the 
Transactions on the subject, and in it he also urged the 
advantage of silk-growing in England, and gave some 
information as to the practice in the East and on the 
Continent. The Society continued to offer rewards for 
the plantation of mulberry trees, and for the production 
of silk, with the result that from time to time small 
quantities of cocoons were produced, but the matter never 
got beyond the experimental stage, where indeed it now 

Many years later, in 1825, a vigorous attempt was 
made to raise silk here on a commercial scale, and a 
company with a large capital was started. It, however, 
was unsuccessful, and though even later proposals have 
been put forward for the plantation of mulberry trees and 
the raising of silkworms, they have never led to any 
practical result. In 1840, W. Felkin, of Nottingham, sent 
the Society some samples of British-grown silk, and was 
formally thanked for them, and in 1873, Sir Daniel Cooper 
produced some similar experimental specimens. 

The latest communication on the subject to the Society 
is a paper read in 1877 by Mr. Francis Cobb, in which the 
writer recommended the raising in England of silkworm 
" grain," or eggs, for exportation abroad. The reason 
generally put forward for the failure has been the lack of 
cheap labour, but whatever the cause, the fact remains 
that while it has been shown that perfectly good silk can 
be produced in this country, nobody has ever succeeded in 
obtaining it in profitable quantities. 

At various times attempts were made to encourage 
the production of lace in England. The first award was 
taken in 1762 by Dorothy Holt, who made the ruffles 
worn by George in. at his coronation. Several other small 
prizes were given about the same time, but the matter 
dropped, and though some years later the offer of prizes 
was renewed, nothing very much came of it. Lace-making 
was one of the very few domestic industries which survived, 


and perhaps it neither needed nor profited by artificial 

Between the years 1761 and 1765 the amount of 410 
was expended in rewards for what was known as " quilting 
in the loom " that is to say, weaving fabrics having a 
diagonal pattern like a quilt. Such fabrics were imported 
from the East, and " Indian quilting " was much admired, 
as appears from occasional references in contemporary 
literature. Some, perhaps all, of the material was hand- 
made. It was not, however, produced in England till 
the Society, in 1761, offered a prize for " a quantity of 
quilting, made in a loom in imitation of, and nearest in 
goodness to, the Marseilles or India quilting." In success- 
ive years samples of a gradually improving character 
were produced in silk, cotton, linen, and wool, until in 
1765 the Committee on Manufactures reported that " the 
manufacture appears to be sufficiently established," and 
the prizes were discontinued. 

The writer of the " Observations on the Effects of Re- 
wards " in the class of manufactures, appended to the list of 
awards published in 1778, writes in a very jubilant strain 
about the result of these particular prizes, for he says : 

1 The manufacture is now so thoroughly established 
and so extensive, being wrought in all the different 
materials of Linen, Woollen, Cotton and Silk, that there 
are few persons of any rank, condition, or sex in the kingdom 
(and we may add within the extent of British commerce, 
so greatly is it exported) who do not use it in some part 
of their clothing ; so that we may safely say, if the whole 
fund and revenue of the Society had been given to obtain 
this one article of trade, the national gain in return should 
be considered as very cheaply purchased." 

In the first half of the eighteenth century a number 
of factories had been started in England by Walloon, 
Flemish, and French weavers for the manufacture of 
tapestry and pile carpets, apparently with but moderate 
success. 1 The subject was one to which a good deal of 

1 A good summary account of these is given in the latest (eleventh) edi- 
tion of the Encyclopedia Britannica, in the article on "Carpets," by Mr. 
Alan Cole. The history in the earlier editions is neither full nor accurate. 


attention was paid by the Society, and premiums were 
given in 1757 to Moore, of Chiswell Street, and to Whitty, 
of Axminster ; in 1758 to Passavent, of Exeter; and in 
1759 to Jeffer, of Frome. It seems probable that Passa- 
vent 's factory was the one founded about three years 
earlier, and mentioned by Johnson's friend, Baretti, two 
years later (1760). 

By these awards, it is stated, 1 the manufacture of 
carpets " is now established in different parts of the 
kingdom, and brought to a degree of elegance and beauty 
which the Turkey carpets never attained." 

The drugget, for the manufacture of which a prize 
was offered in 1758, was not the floorcloth now known 
by that name, but a " sort of stuff very thin and narrow, 
usually all wool and sometimes half- wool and half-silk." 2 
It was used as a material for clothing, and as late as 1832 
Bulwer Lytton describes one of the characters in his 
Eugene Aram as wearing a " spencer of light brown 
drugget." There was a great demand for it in the Lisbon 
market, and this market was mainly supplied from France, 
so it was thought that there was a good opening for British 
trade. Various awards were made during the next four 
years, and satisfactory samples were produced, but 
" owing to exterior circumstances attending the course 
of our trade with Portugal," the importation to Lisbon 
was never established. Dossie, who reports the matter, 
comforts himself with the philosophical reflection that if 
such a branch of the woollen manufacture had been 
established it would only have come into competition with 
branches already existing. 

In 1809 the Society awarded a " silver medal set in a 
broad gold border " to " The Patrons and Committee of 
the Flag Association, for a matchless specimen of double 
brocade-weaving in a flag now executing in Spital-fields." 

A full account of this flag is given in a curious and 
rather interesting pamphlet which has been preserved in 
the Guildhall Library. 3 It appears that one Samuel Sholl 

1 Transactions, vol. i. (1783), p. 28. * Chambers' s Cyclopedia, 1751. 
3 Short Historical Account of the Silk Manufacture in England. By 
Samuel Sholl (1811). 


and some other journeymen weavers formed a committee 
to produce a piece of work which would afford proof of the 
capacity of British workmen to manufacture something 
as good as any foreign production. With this object they 
collected subscriptions to defray the cost of weaving a 
very elaborate flag. They collected over 570, but when 
the flag was finished they found themselves in debt for 
380 more. The flag was exhibited at the Society's 
distribution of prizes in 1811, when the medal was pre- 
sented, the flag being then finished. It seems by the 
description to have been a very remarkable piece of work, 
and from the terms of the award it was evidently highly 
approved by the committee. Its after history is not 
known, Shell's work having been published in 181 1 . 

About the end of the eighteenth century the idea 
of making fishing-nets by machinery seems to have 
attracted some attention both in France and in England. 
The Societe pour 1 'Encouragement de ITndustrie Nationale 
(founded in 1801) offered a prize of 10,000 francs, a part 
of which (according to the Encyclopedia Britannica) 
was awarded to Jacquard. In 1771 the Society of Arts 
offered a prize of twenty guineas for a similar object. 
Awards were made in 1776, 1796, and 1806, and the two 
machines (by Boswell, of Barnstable, and Robertson, of 
Edinburgh), for which the last two awards were made, look 
from the descriptions as if they would have worked well 
enough, but the above-quoted authority states that the 
first efficient machine was by Paterson, of Musselburgh 
(the date of which was about 1820). The devices of some 
of these net-making machines were afterwards embodied 
in some of the later lace-making machines. 1 

Amongst the first subjects to which attention was given 
was what is now termed " Industrial Hygiene " that is 
to say, methods of preventing injury to workmen engaged 
in dangerous or unhealthy occupations, or proposals for 
the substitution of innocuous substances for those in the 

1 Felkin's History of the Machine-Wrought Hosiery and Lace Manu- 
facture (1867), p. 156. 


preparation or use of which there was risk of injury to life 
or health. 

The late Mr. Benjamin Shaw, therefore, when in 1876 
he founded a prize for inventions devised to minimise 
the risks incidental to industrial occupations, w r as only 
carrying out a very old tradition of the Society. 

The first prize of the sort was offered in 1771, for any 
means of lessening the injurious effects of the process of 
fire-gilding or water-gilding, as it was sometimes called. 
In this process a coating of an amalgam of gold and 
mercury is applied to the metallic surface to be gilt. The 
mercury is volatilised by heat, and the gold is left as a thin 
adherent film. The process has now been to a large extent 
superseded by electro-plating ; but it is still used for fine 
work, as it gives a very good solid deposit. The mercurial 
vapours given off are, however, extremely injurious to the 
operator, and before proper appliances were devised to 
carry them away, the early workers suffered severely 
from them. The offer produced an apparatus intended 
to remedy the objections, and in 1774 a prize of twenty 
guineas was awarded to its inventor (J. Hills), who kept 
a curiosity shop in Berwick Street. According to the 
description of Dossie, 1 who (like the present writer) found 
Hill's own description unintelligible, the apparatus con- 
sisted of a funnel fixed in front of the furnace and over the 
article under treatment. This funnel was connected by a 
pipe to the furnace chimney, and a draught produced by a 
bellows drew up the fumes and discharged them into the 
flue. If necessary, glass screens could be added, with 
openings through which the workman could pass his hands, 
enclosed in leather gauntlets. After inspecting a model, 
the Society's committee ordered a full-sized apparatus 
to be constructed and set up. A " Mr. Platts, a workman 
in the water-gilding way," was engaged to work it. "A 
day being fixed, several members of the Society went to 
see its effect, and reported that they had not felt any of the 
so-called sweet vapour during the operation." Having 
thus assured themselves, by personal immunity from 
mercury poisoning, of the value of the apparatus, they 
1 Dossie, vol. iii. p. 370. 


decided to award Mr. Hills the offered prize. A little later 
Platts wrote that he had made use of the apparatus 
" ever since the trial." He added, "I ... wish I had 
been so happy as to have had the use of such an invention 
twenty years ago ; I make no doubt but that I should have 
been free from the disorder I have so long laboured under." 

The actual process of fire-gilding is practically identical 
now with that seen by the Society's committee in 1774, 
and a certain amount of risk is still run by the workman. 
But he works under very much better sanitary conditions, 
and he has the advantage of various appliances, such as 
india-rubber gloves, unknown to his predecessors of a 
hundred and fifty years ago. 

Forty years later we find the same grievances existing, 
and a fresh attempt made to remedy them. In 1811 a 
prize of twenty guineas was awarded to Richard Bridgen 
for " a method to prevent the inhalation of noxious \*apours 
in gilding metals." This time it was a mask to be fitted 
over the workman's nose and mouth, and connected to a 
tube, which was led to the back of the head, so that the 
air breathed was not charged with the fumes immediately 
proceeding from the heated metal. If preferred, the tube 
might be lengthened and led to a window, so as to provide 
communication with the external air. That the device 
was quite practical and effective, though decidedly incon- 
venient, may be admitted as certain. That it is still 
regarded in some quarters as a novelty is shown by the 
fact that when, ten years ago, in 1903, a special prize 
was offered by the Society for a dust-arresting respirator, 
several masks, identical in principle with Bridgen 's, were 
submitted in competition. 

A considerable further advance was made by John 
Roberts, who in 1825 received a silver medal and fifty 
guineas for " apparatus to enable persons to breathe in 
thick smoke, or in air loaded with suffocating vapours." 
This apparatus would appear to be the original of the 
various modern devices, firemen's helmets, respirators, 
and the like, used or proposed for enabling persons to 
breathe in smoke or noxious atmospheres. It consisted 
of a leather helmet, padded so as to fit airtight to the 


wearer's neck and shoulders, and fitted with glass or mica 
eye-pieces. From the front of the helmet was suspended a 
flexible leather tube, with a helical wire inside, and ter- 
minating in a trumpet-shaped mouth. The object of this 
was to draw the air for respiration from near the floor 
level, where there was less smoke. The trumpet was filled 
with moist sponge covered with coarse cloth. For con- 
venience, the pipe w r as strapped to the wearer's thigh. If 
the cloth was sufficiently porous, this must have been a 
very efficient and practical appliance. It is evident that 
the pipe was an unnecessary detail, and might have been 
dispensed with. Roberts 's apparatus was carefully tested 
by the Society's committee, and was found to work very 
well, according to the account given in the Transactions - 1 
He himself was a working collier of St. Helens. 

Considerable public attention was drawn a little later 
still (in 1830) to the Chevalier Aldini's * wire-gauze mask 3 
or screen for the use of firemen, and the Society gave him 
a gold medal, with the remark : " Something is still 
wanting to give to his ingenuity all the practical utility 
of which it is capable ; and it is in the hope of this being 
effected that the Society again call it to the public atten- 
tion." 4 

The dangers to health from any dusty trades, in which 
the harm is done by mechanical particles breathed by the 
workman, was not overlooked, and in 1805 a gold medal 
was offered for " obviating the prejudicial effects that 
attend the operation of pointing needles by grinding them 
dry, during which the particles of grindstone dust and 
steel, being thrown into the air, and received with it into 
the lungs, occasion asthma, consumption, and other pain- 
ful disorders." The offer was afterwards extended to 
include other processes of dry grinding, and was con- 

1 Transactions, vol. xliii. p. 25. 

2 Giovanni Aldini (1762-1834) was an Italian physicist of some 
distinction, and Professor of Physics at Bologna. 

5 In 1827 a reward of five guineas had been paid to J. Callaghan 
for a wire-gauze " face-guard for smelters." This was intended merely 
to protect the face from heat, but it might have been applied to other 
purposes (Transactions, vol. xlv. p. 152). 

* Transactions, vol, xlviii. p. 141, 


tinued for twenty years. In ordinary grinding work 
with a wet stone, the stone cuts more quickly, because 
the water washes away the metallic particles and 
fine dust, so that the grain of the stone is not, as 
the grinders say, "choked," but the dry stone, though 
it cuts more slowly, leaves a finer surface, and there- 
fore has always been used for needle-pointing and for 
similar work. 1 

Of the various appliances submitted, some of which 
received rewards, the best was that of J. H. Abraham, 
of Sheffield, to whom, in 1822, the Society awarded its 
gold medal for a magnetic guard to protect persons em- 
ployed in dry grinding. The apparatus is described in 
the Transactions. 2 The stone is enclosed in a wooden 
casing, so that only a portion is exposed, and the current 
of air generated by its revolution carries the dust into a 
tube, by which it is led away. The invention also includes 
a respirator to cover the mouth and nose. This respirator 
was fitted with magnets, for the purpose of arresting 
the fine particles of steel thrown off in the process of point- 
ing needles, and in other processes of dry grinding. Al- 
though the invention was greatly appreciated at the time, 
and was actually brought into practical use, it never 
became popular, the main objection to it having been 
raised by the workpeople themselves, who feared that 
the lessened risk attached to their employment would 
lower their wages. Similar considerations have always 
stood in the way of the introduction of various appliances 
intended to limit the risks associated with all trades in 
which the workpeople breathe a dusty atmosphere. 

The question of producing a leadless glaze for pottery, 
which would be effective without injuring the health of 
those employed in the manufacture, is a very old and a 
very important one, and one that has not yet been solved. 
At a very early date it came before the Society, and in 
1793 a prize of a gold medal was offered for " glazing 
earthenware without lead." 

As is well known, the glaze on earthenware is merely 

1 Holtzapffel, Mechanical Manipulation, vol. iii. (1850), p. in i. 
'Vol. XL. (1822), p. 135. 



a thin coating of glass, or silicate of soda. On many of 
the coarser forms of pottery the glaze may consist of 
pure silicate of soda, and may be obtained by the use of 
common salt. But such a glaze is only applicable to 
clay bodies, which will stand a very high temperature 
a class which includes a very large number of the roughest 
sorts of pottery, and also what is known as stone- 
ware. By the use of lead a very much more fusible 
glaze is obtained, and this is available for all the more 
delicate kinds of porcelain and other more easily fusible 

The offer, in 1793, induced an application from one 
Law, who submitted specimens of an " East Indian 
material called by him ' She Kaw.' ' Samples were sub- 
mitted to Thomas Wedgwood for report, and he reported 
adversely on the material, which proved to be some sort 
of selenite. 

For many years the offer was continued without any 
result, until 1820, when a claim was made by John Rose, 
of Coalport. " The principal ingredient of my glaze/' 
he wrote, " is felspar of a somewhat compact texture, 
and a pale flesh-red colour, which forms veins in a slaty 
rock adjoining to the town of Welsh Pool, in Montgomery- 
shire. This material, being freed from all adhering pieces 
of slate and of quartz, is ground to a fine powder, and 
being thus prepared, I mix with 27 parts of felspar, 18 
of borax, 4 of Lynn sand, 3 of nitre, 3 of soda, and 3 
of Cornwall china clay. This mixture is to be melted 
to a frit, and is then to be ground to a fine powder, 
3 parts of calcined borax being added previously to 
the grinding." This was perhaps the first of the many 
felspathic glazes which have been suggested as sub- 
stitutes for lead glaze. It was no doubt an excellent 
glaze, and probably well deserved the gold medal 
which was awarded to Mr. Rose for his invention. Two 
years later, in 1822, another premium was awarded to 
J. Meigh, of Shelton, Staffordshire, for another felspathic 

The offer of the prize was continued for another two 
years, and in the meantime arsenic had been added to 


the prohibited ingredients. But after 1823 the premium 
was discontinued. 

As is well known, the problem has not yet been 
satisfactorily solved. As late as 1910 a Departmental 
Committee reported on the dangers attendant on the 
use of lead in the manufacture of earthenware and 
china, and this report contains the fullest and latest in- 
formation on the subject of leadless glazes. Many such 
glazes have been added to that of John Rose, but 
none of them are so effective as, and all of them are 
more expensive than, a glaze in which lead forms a part. 
Very great improvements have naturally been made 
in the manufacture, and to a very large extent the 
desired end has been attained by the method of pre- 
paring the lead glaze, which is now made of a much 
less soluble character than of old, so that the pro- 
cesses of manufacture are much less dangerous to the 
workmen. By such means, and by insisting upon 
proper sanitary precautions, the death-rate has been so 
largely reduced that practically the object sought for 
is believed to have been attained without the necessity 
for prohibiting certain methods of earthenware-making. 
It is to be hoped that this belief is well-founded, since 
the proposed legislation, whatever might be its result upon 
the health of the workers, would only, in the opinion of 
those best qualified to judge, have the result of driving 
the manufacture of high-class ware out of this country, 
and placing it in the hands of foreigners. 

Until quite the end of the eighteenth century, chimneys 
were always swept by climbing- boys, and nobody seemed 
to see any hardship in this occupation for children. Even 
so kindly a soul as Charles Lamb, in his essay on chimney- 
sweeps, ignores the enormous amount of brutality and 
cruelty which fell to the lot of " those tender novices, 
blooming through their first nigritude." Mrs. Montagu, 
the celebrated " blue-stocking," gave the climbing-boys 
an annual dinner, and so, if Elia is to be believed, did his 
old school-fellow, James White. But the first to make 
a serious effort to improve their condition appears to 


have been Jonas Hanway, who was instrumental in intro- 
ducing into Parliament the Bill which was passed in 1788. 
This Act (28 George in. c. 48) imposed certain restric- 
tions on the business, but, on the whole, was ineffective. 

In 1796 the Society offered a prize for an apparatus 
for " obviating the necessity of children being employed 
within flues." A note to this announcement refers to 
the great hardships endured by, and to the frequent fatal 
accidents occurring to, the children employed. The 
prize offered was a gold medal or forty guineas, and 
the offer was renewed at intervals up to 1803. Various 
proposals were submitted, including a machine by G. M. 
Smart, but no awards were made before 1805, when 
Smart sent in an improved machine, and to this the prize 
was awarded. This apparatus was practically the same 
as that which is now used namely, a number of rods 
connected together, and carrying a brush at the top. In 
Smart's apparatus the rods were hollow ; they fitted one 
into the other by means of sockets or screws, and were all 
held together by a cord running through them. This 
machine was afterwards known as the " scandiscope," and 
soon came into general use. 1 According to a note in the 
Transactions, Smart had given up his own profitable 
business from philanthropic motives, and devoted himself 
to the invention and popularisation of chimney-sweeping 

In the year 1800 the Society for Improving the Con- 
dition of the Poor took up the subject, and in 1 803 a special 
society was formed for superseding climbing-boys. The 
treasurer of this society at one time was William Tooke, 
a vice-president of the Society of Arts, who many years 
later, on the death of the Prince Consort in 1862, held 
the presidency of the Society for a year until the 
election of the then Prince of Wales (King Edward 

1 A great deal of information about the climbing-boys and the 
reform which led to their suppression will be found in Mayhew's 
London Labour and the London Poor (edition of 1861), vol. ii. p. 399. 
Hone, in his Everyday Book, vol. ii. p. 518, also gives many curious 
and interesting details, including a quaint advertisement of the 


vii.). 1 It was due to the exertions of Mr. Tooke, and to the 
appeal of Mr. J. J. Angerstein, the well-known philanthro- 
pist, that the Society of Arts associated itself with the newly 
formed society, and renewed its offer of prizes for machines 
for sweeping chimneys. In 1817 a Parliamentary inquiry 
was held, at which Tooke, Smart, and others gave evi- 
dence, and this led to the passing of a second Act in 1834 
(4 & 5 Will. iv. c. 35). Eventually a third Act (3 & 4 
Viet. c. 85) was passed in 1840. This came into force 
in 1842, and at last put an end to the use of climbing-boys. 
After the award to Smart various other prizes were 
given for other chimney-sweeping machines, including 
some in which the brush was dragged through the flues 
by means of a rope. But none of these seem to have 
come into general use in this country, although the rope 
machine is extensively employed in France, and the flues 
in the high buildings erected of recent years are usually 
swept by means of what is known as a " ball and line," 
the ordinary sweep's broom not being capable of the 
necessary extension. 

Considering that the foundations on which the science 
of chemistry was eventually built were only laid in the 
last years of the eighteenth century, it is obvious that 
such industries of a chemical nature as existed could only 
be of a purely empirical character, and were not really 
conducted on scientific principles at all. Some progress, 
it is true, had been made in technical chemistry abroad, 2 
but in England there had been but little advance. In- 
deed, it was the discovery by Leblanc, in 1792, of the 
method of making carbonate of soda from common salt 
that really formed the basis of modern industrial chemistry, 
since it provided a cheap source of alkali, previously only 
obtainable from vegetable ashes as an impure carbonate 
of potash and soda, or in the form of saltpetre (nitrate of 
potash), either native or artificial. In an early premium 

1 See Chapter XX, p. 444. 

2 Sir Edward Thorpe, in his History of Chemistry (1909), gives the 
names of Gahn, Marggraf, Duhamel, Reaumur, Macquer, Kunkel, and 
Hellot as the pioneer technical chemists of the eighteenth century. 


list (1770) is included a prize for barilla, 1 " made from 
Spanish kali raised in Great Britain." The offer was 
continued for thirty years, but produced no results, nor 
was a similar offer for barilla grown in any British pos- 
session more effective, though the barilla industry was an 
important one in India, and Dr. Roxburgh, the great Indian 
botanist, who died in 1815, reported that one species of 
Salicornia, abundant on the Coromandel coast, might yield 
barilla sufficient to make soap and glass for the whole world. 
No better result was obtained by a similar prize offered for 
British-grown kelp richer in alkali than the ordinary sort. 

Later on (1783) the true way of supplying the demand 
for alkali was suggested in the offer of a prize for obtaining 
soda from sea-salt, a problem which, after exercising the 
minds of many chemists and inventors (among the most 
notable of these was Roebuck, the friend of Watt and 
Priestley, who ruined himself in the attempt), was 
eventually solved by Leblanc, in response to a prize offered, 
not by the Society of Arts or any other society, but by 
the Emperor Napoleon. 

The Society's efforts to increase the supplies of salt- 
petre, or " fossil fixt alkali," have already been referred 
to in the chapter dealing with the Colonies. 2 An attempt 
was also made to establish works for the production of 
saltpetre in England, but the only result of these efforts 
was to demonstrate the impracticability of- manufacturing 
it on a commercial scale at a price which would compete 
with that of imported saltpetre, and, after a few years, 
the attempt was abandoned. 

Rewards were also offered for the production in Great 
Britain of borax, sal-ammoniac, bismuth, and some other 
materials, but naturally without result. Somewhat better 
fortune attended an effort to establish in England the 
manufacture of verdigris (basic acetate of copper), used as a 
pigment and a dye, and then imported from France, where 
it was made by treating copper plates with wine-lees. 3 

1 Barilla was the ash of plants of the genus Salicornia or glasswort. 
It contained only about a fourth of its weight of carbonate of soda. 
a See Chapter IV, p. 87. 
3 The chief seat of the manufacture is still Montpellier, in France. 


In this country the necessary vegetable acid was obtained 
by using the pulp of apples from cider-presses, and other 
fruit-juice. By the offer of liberal and continued grants, 
the industry was actually started, and a considerable 
amount of the material was produced, but no regular 
manufacture was established. 

One of the first two prizes offered by the Society was 
for English cobalt, the object being the production of 
smalt and zaffre, both silicates of cobalt associated with 
silicate of potash, and made by melting the oxide of cobalt 
with sand and potassium carbonate. The glasses thus 
obtained form useful blue colouring matters. The first 
offer (1754) produced some samples, and an award of 50 
was paid for cobalt from a Cornish mine in 1755. Nine 
years later, a similar sum was granted to Nicholas Crisp, 
the watchmaker, one of the founders of the Society, for 
making zaffre and smalt. Again, in 1810, the attempt 
was renewed, but without practical result. 

In 1 80 1 a gold medal was offered for the production of 
artificial ultramarine. The offer was continued for a good 
many years, and in the list for 1812 a note was added that 
" it appears from the analysis of lapis lazuli by Klaproth, 
and the experiments of Guyton (related in the Annales de 
Chimie), that ultramarine is a blue sulphuret of iron, and 
that a blue substance much resembling it is constantly 
found amongst the scoriae of blast furnaces where iron is 
reduced." Nobody was found, however, to act on the 
suggestion. Foreign chemists were more enterprising, for 
after Tassaer in 1814 observed the spontaneous formation 
of a blue compound in the soda furnaces at St. Gobain, 
the Societe pour I'Encouragement offered a prize for 
an artificial ultramarine. Ultimately the problem was 
solved by Guimet and by Gmelin, the latter of whom was 
then at Tubingen, and an industry was started which 
still flourishes in Germany. The material is a silicate of 
alumina and iron, together with iron sulphide. The manu- 
facture has never been established in this country. 

Among the earliest objects to which attention was 
directed was the improvement of methods of dyeing textiles, 


wool, silk, and cotton, and the encouragement of the 
domestic production of the materials (mainly vegetable) 
which were then employed. England was much behind 
other countries in its methods of dyeing and calico- 
printing (as it was in most other industrial processes) 
when the Society was founded, and much of the cloth 
woven here had to be sent abroad to be dyed, as much of 
the linen had to be sent abroad to be bleached. The very 
first prize offered by the Society was for a dyeing material, 
madder, and this was followed by others for dyeing 
cloth, silk, linen, and cotton, sometimes of specified colours, 
and sometimes by improved or cheaper methods, or by 
materials not previously used. The Society worked hard 
for twenty years to establish the cultivation of madder 
in England, and by 1775 it had expended a sum of 1516 
in the effort. After the first two or three years it paid a 
definite amount of 5 per acre of madder grown annually, 
and these payments varied from 5 for a single acre up 
to, in one exceptional case, 145. After 1775 the rewards 
were discontinued, the Society's object having so far been 
attained that the price of imported madder was reduced, 
and its quality improved, by the competition of the 
home-grown product. It is also recorded that the Society 
was instrumental in obtaining an Act of Parliament, 
which modified the amount of tithe levied on land used for 
the growth of madder. 1 

Numerous rewards were offered for the importation 
of new or little known dye-stuffs from the colonies, and 
some rather unavailing efforts were made to start in 
England the growth of tinctorial plants better suited for 
other climates. Such, for instance, were the orchella 
weed (Rocella tinctoria), a lichen native to many parts of 
the world and producing the colouring matter archil, or 
orchil, long used for dyeing red and purple ; and, even a 
less reasonable proposal, indigo. A premium for growing 

1 Dossie, vol. i. p. 42. The Act was 31 Geo. n. 1755, c. 12, " An 
Act to encourage the growth and cultivation of madder in that part 
of Great Britain called England by ascertaining the Tithe thereof 
there." The Act was for fourteen years, and was continued for a 
second fourteen by 5 Geo. in. c. 18 (Gents, Mag. vol. Ixvi. pt. i. 
February 1796, p. 115). 


the former in Great Britain was offered in 1763, and a 
similar offer was published in 1817 with reference to indigo. 
A suggestion in 1763 as to the employment of Prussian 
blue (sesqui-ferrocyanide of iron) may be noted. The 
material was known at the time, but appears not to have 
been used as a dye. 

Besides thus endeavouring to add to the list of materials 
available for the dyer, the Society included in its premium 
list the production of new or improved colouring matters 
for use as pigments. Amongst these perhaps the most 
important was a substitute for white lead. For over 
fifty years from 1788, when it was first offered, a prize 
for a " substance for the basis of paint " " equally proper 
for the purpose as the white lead now employed," appeared 
in the premium list . The value of the prize was at first 30, 
but it was afterwards raised to 100 guineas. That the 
prize was never awarded is not perhaps very remarkable, 
since it is only of quite recent years that even a partial 
substitute for white lead (a basic carbonate of lead) has 
been found in zinc-white (zinc oxide), and even this, 
though it is non-poisonous and is unaffected by atmo- 
spheric influences, does not combine with the oil of the paint 
as effectively as the lead, while the paint has less " covering 
power," and is more costly. 1 

In the first printed list of premiums is a prize for 
improved varnish, and from time to time prizes were 
offered for varnishes, materials for varnish- making, methods 
of bleaching lac, etc. Although some small rewards were 
given, the offers appear to have had no practical result 
until 1833, when a gold medal was presented to J. Wilson 
Neil for a paper on the art of making copal and spirit 
varnishes. Until the publication of this memoir, varnish- 
making had always been professedly a trade secret, and 
the methods of its manufacture were jealously concealed. 
Mr. Neil, however, who was a varnish-maker of great 
experience and of considerable reputation, put an end to 
this state of things by giving full and copious details of 

1 The subject of white lead substitutes has recently been discussed 
with much ability in a paper read before the Society in March 1913 by 
Mr. Noel Heaton (Journal, vol. Ixi. p. 458), 


all the methods and materials employed. His paper 1 was 
for long the principal, if not the sole, source of information 
on the subject, and though its contents have often been 
republished, it remains to the present day a valuable 
treatise on the manufacture, and may still be consulted 
with advantage. 

In 1821 a gold medal was offered for a test for arsenic, 
and the offer was continued for six years without result. 
Fifteen years later, however, it produced a communication 
from James Marsh, the well-known chemist of Woolwich 
Arsenal, and to him the medal was awarded in 1836, for 
the test since known by his name. Marsh's test for arsenic 
is described in all chemical text-books, and is familiar to 
all chemists. It is only necessary to say that the descrip- 
tion given in the Transactions 2 holds good to-day. The 
test is one of extraordinary delicacy, and the cautions 
given by the inventor as to the need for special care in 
securing the purity of the reagents employed are as 
necessary now as when they were written. 

At a time when oil was the chief source of illumination, 
and vegetable oils were scarce and expensive, many at- 
tempts were made to get rid of the foetid smell of the train 
oil, which was for many purposes, on account of its cheap- 
ness, the only sort available. A very early prize was 
offered by the Society (in 1757) for the " edulcoration " 
of oil. According to Dossie, 3 the result can hardly be 
considered to have been satisfactory, for when samples 
of the " edulcorated " oil were compared with some 
of the same oil before treatment, " it was difficult to 
say which was the worst. For the operation had 
added an empyreumatic smell to the putrid feet or, 
which was very little diminished." Dossie, however, 
can hardly be considered an impartial critic, for he 
afterwards (1761) produced a process of his own, for 
which the Society gave him 100. His process con- 
sisted in treating the oil with chalk or lime, and adding 

1 It occupies fifty-five pages in Vol. XLIX. of the Transitions (183^-3) . 

PP. 33-87. 

2 Transactions, vol. li. p. 67 . 

3 Vol. i. p. 1 88. 


either common salt or potash. It was said to have been 
very successful. 1 

A good example of the results of the efforts of the 
Society to introduce new medicinal plants is afforded by 
the introduction of rhubarb (Rheum palmatum) into Great 
Britain. In 1763 the Society appointed a committee 
" to pursue the requisite measures for introducing the 
culture of the true rhubarb/' and eventually a gold medal 
was offered. 

The committee obtained specimens of the plants and 
roots from various sources, but were doubtful if they had 
got hold of the genuine rhubarb, until they found that Dr. 
Mounsey, an English physician settled in Russia, had, at 
the suggestion of Sir Alexander Dick, President of the 
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, sent over some 
seeds of the plant, which had been planted by various 
persons in England and Scotland. Dr. Hope, the Pro- 
fessor of Botany at Edinburgh, had raised some plants, 
and others, it is stated, had been " raised in the garden 
of the Museum in London." 2 Accordingly, in 1769, gold 
medals were awarded to Dr. Mounsey for " having intro- 
duced the seed of the true rhubarb some years before/' and 
to James Inglish 3 for raising plants from it. 4 Seven 
years later (1776) Sir A. Dick was awarded a gold medal, 

1 Dossie's paper was published in full, some time after the author's 
death, in the Transactions, vol. xx. (1802), p. 209. 

2 There cannot, I think, be any doubt that by this is meant the 
Chelsea Physic Garden, since some of the first rhubarb seeds (R. 
Rhabarbarum, not the true medicinal rhubarb) were sown in that 
garden by the curator, Isaac Rand, about 1732 (Rees's Cyclopedia, 
edit. 1819, s.v. Rhubarb). Rhabarbarum was first named by Linnaeus, 
who afterwards found that Palmatum was a different species, and 
named it also (Species Plantarum, 2nd edit. 1762). Hope described the 
plants he had raised in a communication to the Royal Society, 24th 
Sept. 1765 (Phil. Trans., vol. Iv. No. xxxii.). In that paper he gives the 
date of his receiving the seeds from Mounsey as 1763. 

2 The name is thus given in the prize-lists, and in the MS. Committee 
Minutes, but Dossie spells it " English." 

4 A full account of the history of the introduction of rhubarb is 
given in Dossie, vol. ii. p. 258 ; and in vol. iii. p. 208, there is a very 
interesting letter from Sir A. Dick. 


and Mr. Callendar, of Newcastle, a silver one. The Society 
still continued its rewards in order to secure the growth of 
the plant on a commercial scale, and during the following 
twenty years various medals were given, amongst others 
a silver medal, in 1789, and a gold one, in 1794, to William 
Hayward, of Banbury, which town became, and still 
remains, the principal seat of the industry in England. 

Another medicinal plant, the growth of which it was 
attempted to encourage, was opium. In 1796, John 
Ball, of Williton, Somerset, sent to the Society some 
samples of home-grown opium, and, as on examination 
the drug proved to be of good character, a " bounty " of 
fifty guineas was presented to him. Full details of his 
method of growing the poppies and of obtaining the extract 
were supplied by Mr. Ball, 1 who wrote enthusiastically 
about the prospects of his crop, and said that he expected 
to be able to dispose of all that he could grow to a London 
druggist at the price which foreign opium then fetched, 
viz. twenty-two shillings a pound. 

In the premium list for the following year, 1797, gold 
and silver medals were offered for specified amounts of 
British-grown opium, and this offer was continued for some 
time, though without much response. In 1800 the larger 
prize was awarded to Thomas Jones, who for some years 
had grown opium at Enfield and elsewhere. 2 Though he 
says he found more difficulties than Mr. Ball had reported, 
and had suffered in some years from unfavourable weather, 
he had produced considerable amounts of saleable opium, 
which was reported upon as equal to the best Turkey. It 
was concluded that the possibility of producing the drug 
commercially in England had been demonstrated. 

After an interval of nearly twenty years, yet another 
gold medal was awarded, in 1819, to John Young, an 
Edinburgh surgeon, who had successfully grown opium in 
Scotland. He, like his two predecessors, contributed a 
very full and interesting paper to the Transactions? and he 
writes as if he had had some experience of Indian opium- 
growing. He states that he had obtained 56 Ib. of opium 

1 Transactions, vol. xiv. p. 253. 2 Ibid. vol. xviii. p. 161. 

8 Ibid. vol. xxxvii. p. 23. 

OPIUM 285 

from an acre of ground, which, at 363. per pound (the 
London price at that time), would bring in a little over 
100. The total net profits per acre are estimated at 
110, 73. 6d. It was therefore demonstrated that opium, 
as rich in morphia as the Eastern product, could be grown 
in Great Britain, but it is one of those crops which requires 
an abundance of cheap labour, and probably for that 
reason its cultivation has never been permanently estab- 
lished here. 

Sturgeon's Electro-Magnet, 
1825 (see p. 292). 


THE PREMIUMS (Concluded) 


Optical Glass Microscopes Standards of Weights and Measures 
Saccharometer Hydrometers Tachometer Counters Stur- 
geon's Electro-magnet Smee's Battery Plumbago for Electro- 
deposition Drawing Instruments, Surveying Instruments, 
Surgical Apparatus, and Philosophical Instruments Gas-making 
Residual Products Gas-holders and other Apparatus The Life- 
boat Life-saving Apparatus County Maps William Smith's 
Geological Map Horwood's Map of London Steel Engraving 
Paper-making Printing Lithography Basket-making and the 
Supply of Osiers Straw-plaiting William Cobbett Leather 
Manufacture Saving Life from Fire Uninflammable Fabrics 
Fish Supply Curing Herrings Miscellaneous Awards. 

DOLLOND'S invention of the achromatic telescope in 1758 
(for even if he was anticipated by Moor Hall, Dollond 
was an original inventor) rendered necessary the production 
of glass, especially flint glass, of great purity, perfectly 
homogeneous and free from striae. Not only was improve- 
ment in the quality of the glass required, but large discs 
were wanted for astronomical refractors. With this object 
the Society offered prizes for optical glass in 1768. Two 
such prizes were proposed one of 60 for a sample of 
optical glass not less than 20 Ib. in weight, " fit for those 
purposes for which flint glass is used in achromatic tele- 
scopes," and a second of 20, for glass " suitable for the 
general purposes of opticians." The minutes of the com- 
mittee at which the proposal was discussed do not give 
any further particulars, nor has any record been found 
to show with whom the proposal originated. It is possible 
that the committee hoped to obtain glasses which in com- 

2 S6 


bination would prove achromatic for all the colours in 
different parts of the spectrum, and so to get rid of the 
" secondary spectrum " or " residual dispersion," which 
can never be entirely abolished by the use of two kinds of 
glass only, though the Jena factory has recently produced 
glasses which go near the attainment of this end. It is 
also evident, from the stipulated weight of the specimen, 
that the committee had in view the production of larger 
discs than could at the time be manufactured. At all 
events, the committee wisely drafted their proposal in very 
general terms, so as to cover any possible improvements 
in the manufacture. 

Two prizes were awarded 30 to Abraham Pelling in 
1770, and 40 to Richard Russell in 1771 but no practical 
result followed, and the offer of prizes was not continued 
after 1779. 

It was indeed many years before the need was supplied. 
The French Academy also offered prizes for perfect discs 
of optical glass, but without any better success than the 
Society of Arts. The first to produce such discs was 
Pierre Louis Guimand, a Swiss watchmaker, about 1790. 
He was afterwards (1805) associated with Fraunhofer, 
and on his discoveries are based all the great modern 
improvements in the production of large discs for refract- 
ing telescopes. For any serious improvement in the 
character of the glass itself we have had to wait till our 
own times, since it is only within the last twenty years 
that the Jena laboratory has furnished the makers of 
optical instruments with glasses in which high refractive 
power is combined with low dispersion, and high dispersive 
power with lower refractivity. 

Henry Baker, the microscopist, was one of the founders 
of the Society, but this does not seem to have led him to 
propose any premiums for improvements in the microscope. 
Nor, indeed, had any such offers been made, could they 
have had much practical result, since it was not until 
the achromatic object-glass had been perfected that the 
modern microscope came into existence. Fraunhofer 
seems to have been the first to make an achromatic 


objective of any practical use (about 1816), and this was 
very imperfect, for five years later ( 1 82 1 ) M. Biot expressed 
the opinion that " opticians regarded as impossible the 
construction of a good achromatic microscope." l Dr. 
Wollaston also thought that " the compound microscope 
would never rival the single." However, in 1824 satis- 
factory objectives were independently produced by 
Chevalier, in Paris, and by Tulley, in London, and the 
development of the microscope went on apace. The use 
of high powers necessitated the provision of rigid stands, 
and gradually led to the invention of the various mechanical 
devices for accurate focussing, and for imparting minute 
movements to the object, as well as all the other details 
of construction, which have brought the instrument 
to its present perfection. In the third and fourth 
decades of the nineteenth century, prizes for various 
improvements in the microscope were awarded to Varley 
(1831), Powell (1835 and 1841), Goadby (1835), and Ross 
(i837). 2 The Transactions about the same time contain 
other communications on the subject. Hogg, in his 
book above referred to, attributes the Society's action 
to the influence of Edward Solly, 3 who, he says, " has 
been the means of making its Transactions, since 1831, 
the vehicle through which nearly all the improvements 
in the construction of telescopes and microscopes have 
been made known to the world." 

In 1782 a gold medal was offered for " a cheap and 
portable transit instrument which may easily be converted 
into a zenith sector, capable of being accurately and 
expeditiously adjusted for the purpose of finding the 
latitudes and longitudes of places." This prize was 
continued till 1819, but without any result. The transit 
instrument was invented in 1690 by Olaus Romer, the 
great Danish astronomer, who was the first to measure 

1 The Microscope, Jabez Hogg (1855), p. 8. 

2 For the prize ofiered later for a cheap microscope, see Chapter 
XVI, p. 390. 

3 It was really R. H. Solly, F.R.S., not Edward Solly, to whom this 
credit was due. See Cornelius Varley's paper on the Microscope, 
Transactions, vol. xlviii. p. 400. 


the velocity of light by observing the eclipses of Jupiter's 
satellites. The first transit instrument was set up at 
Greenwich in 1721 . It is not very obvious why this prize 
should have been offered, except that the great improve- 
ments in accurate timekeepers, resulting from the work of 
Harrison, Arnold, and the other skilful chronometer- 
makers of the time, rendered possible the use of more 
accurate astronomical instruments, and thus created a 
demand for them. 

In 1774 a gold medal was offered for an invariable 
standard of weights and measures, and it was pointed out 
in the notice of the offer that previous suggestions for the 
determination of a standard by means of the pendulum 
had not been successful. The first of these suggestions 
was made by Picard in 1671 , who proposed that a pendulum 
beating seconds should be employed, and that one-third 
of its length should be adopted as the standard foot. 
Nevertheless, the only two candidates who received any 
awards both proposed to use the pendulum, and both 
submitted devices which could only give results of 
moderately approximate accuracy. One of them, Hatton, 
a watchmaker, who received thirty guineas in 1779, speaks 
of his apparatus as correct to the twentieth of an inch, 
though he proposes to employ an adjusting screw to ensure 
even greater accuracy ! Fifteen years later, in 1794, 
Dr. More, the secretary, submitted a communication to 
the Society, 1 in which he very sensibly deprecates a 
reference to natural constants for the construction of a 
standard, and proposes the accurate copying of the then 
existing pound, preserved at the Exchequer. It seems 
likely that More was led to publish his paper by the 
attempts then being made by the French National Assembly 
to fix on a theoretical standard. In 1790 they passed a 
decree adopting a system of measures based on the seconds 
pendulum, but in the following year they abandoned the 
pendulum, and decided to base their standards on a 
quadrant of the meridian. When the Republic was pro- 
claimed this proposal was confirmed, and the one ten- 

1 Transactions, vol. xii. p. 292. 


millionth part of the arc of the meridian from the Pole 
to the Equator, was, as is well known, declared to be the 
metre or standard of length for France. 

Dr. More really anticipated the course of our own 
legislation on weights and measures, which has simply 
ordained the accurate copying of certain ancient examples, 
and has declared that these copies are the actual standard 
weights and measures of the country. Practically the 
French Government have had to do the same thing, for 
the metre is not a fractional part of the earth's meridian, 
but the length of a certain platinum bar, preserved in 
Paris, just as our yard is the length of a certain bar (or 
rather the distance between certain marks on that bar) 
preserved in London. 

The premium was only continued for a very few 
years. It is exceptional, inasmuch as it was open to 
" persons residing in any country whatever." Had the 
prize been continued for another 120 years or so, it would 
therefore have been available for the very beautiful 
suggestion, made about twenty years ago by Professor 
A. A. Michelsen, that the length of the metre might be 
stated in terms of the wave-lengths of red light. 1 

In 1777 a gold medal was offered for a method of 
measuring " the degrees of sweetness in saccharine sub- 
stances." This does not seem to have meant a saccharo- 
meter, but some means of establishing a standard of 
sweetness. Nothing came of this offer, which was con- 
tinued for some time, and then abandoned, nor is it con- 
ceivable that such a standard could be set up. It was 
soon after this, in 1784, that the brewer's saccharometer 
was first introduced by Richardson, of Hull. It was a 
form of Martin's hydrometer, which indeed had been 
used in brewing in 1768. It had a scale adapted for the 
use of brewers, and was indeed merely a hydrometer 
which indicated the difference between water and wort, 
water containing a percentage of saccharine matter. 

1 Valeur du metre en longueurs d'ondes lumineuses. Paris (1894). 
Chaney's Weights and Measures (1897), p. 23. 


Richardson's calculations are said not to have been quite 
correct, but sufficiently so for practical purposes. 

The hydrometer in its modern form was described by 
Robert Boyle in the Phil. Trans. 1675. It remains the 
same in principle, but has been improved in details, and 
has been fitted with weights and various scales to adapt 
it to liquids of different specific gravities. In 1771 a 
prize was offered for an instrument to measure the strength 
of spirit, and in 1781 a silver medal was awarded to Matthew 
Quin for his hydrometer. In 1790 a second silver medal 
and twenty guineas were given him for an improved instru- 
ment, the principal feature of which was a sliding scale to 
adapt it to different temperatures. Other awards were 
made, the latest in 1820, but Quin's appears to have been 
the most important instrument recognised by the Society. 

Two gold medals were at different times awarded to 
the eminent mechanical engineer, Bryan Donkin ; one, in 
1 8 10, for his tachometer, and one, in 1819, for his counting 
machine. Mr. Donkin was for long a Vice- President of the 
Society and Chairman of its Committee on Mechanics. 
He was the leading mechanician of his time, and was best 
known for his share in the completion and construction of 
Fourdrinier's paper-making machine. It can hardly be 
doubted that he would have received some recognition 
for this also from the Society, if the machine had not 
been the subject of a patent. 

The tachometer was so named by himself, and was 
intended, in his own words, " for indicating the velocity 
of machines." According to the description in the 
Transactions, 1 it was meant to indicate the varying velocity 
of machines rather than to measure their speed. This it 
did by means of a rotating cup filled with mercury, to 
which motion was given from some part of the machine. 
The spinning of the cup caused the level of the mercury 
to sink at the centre and to rise at the rim. The variations 
of level were indicated by the rise and fall of a column of 
spirit in a glass tube, the lower end of which was immersed 
in the mercury. 

1 Transactions , vol. xxviii. p. 185. 


The counter would appear to be the original form of the 
now well-known device in which a train of wheelwork 
indicates on a series of dials for units, tens, etc., the 
revolutions of any spindle. Two arrangements are shown, 
both working by ratchet-gear, and indicating by clock- 
hands on a single dial. 1 

The award in 1825 of a silver medal and thirty guineas 
to W. Sturgeon, for " Improved Electro-Magnetic 
Apparatus," is of extreme interest, because the account of 
his apparatus contributed by Sturgeon to the Trans- 
actions, 2 proves him to have been the inventor of the 
electro-magnet. The whole subject has been very care- 
fully worked out by Professor Silvanus Thompson, 3 who 
quotes a letter from Dr. Joule to Mr. Angus Smith, in 
which that great philosopher says : "I have sifted Mr. 
Sturgeon's claims to the utmost. I have examined all 
the periodicals likely to throw light on the history of 
electro-magnetism, and find that Mr. Sturgeon is, without 
doubt, the originator of the electro-magnet, as well as the 
author of the improved electro-magnetic machine. The 
electro-magnet described by Mr. Sturgeon in the ' Trans- 
actions of the Society of Arts for 1825 ' is the first piece of 
apparatus to which the name could with propriety be 
applied. . . . To Mr. Sturgeon belongs the merit of pro- 
ducing the first electro-magnet constructed of soft iron." 

Dr. Joule also states that Sturgeon was " without 
doubt the constructor of the first rotary electro-magnetic 
machine," the inventor of the commutator, and the first 
to use amalgamated zinc plates in batteries. 

Professor Thompson reproduces the pictures of 
Sturgeon's electro-magnets from the Transactions, and 
expresses the regret, which all interested in the subject 
must share, that the actual instruments given by the 
inventor to the Society's museum have not been pre- 
served. He also, in an appendix, gives a very full account 
of Sturgeon's life and researches. Like so many other 

1 Transactions, vol. xxxvii. p. 116. 2 Vol. xliii. p. 37. 

3 The Electromagnet, by Silvanus Thompson, F.R.S. (2nd Edition, 
1892), pp. 2-9, and Appendix A, p. 412. 


inventors, Sturgeon never received in his lifetime either 
the recognition or the reward he deserved. After his 
death his discoveries were utilised and developed by his 
successors, whose increased knowledge enabled them to 
realise the value of researches which his contemporaries 
were not sufficiently well informed to appreciate. 

Two years previously, in 1823, a similar award had 
been made to James Marsh, the chemist, whose discovery 
of the well-known test for arsenic has been noticed in the 
preceding chapter, 1 and with whom Sturgeon had been 
for some time associated. In the note appended to 
Sturgeon's communication to the Transactions, attention 
is drawn to several points in which Sturgeon's apparatus 
is considered superior to that of Marsh. 

The award of a gold medal in 1840 to Alfred Smee 
for his galvanic battery was certainly well deserved. A 
convenient source of electrical energy was then much 
wanted, and Smee's cell was a great advance on all its 
predecessors. It was fairly constant, moderately cheap, 
of high electro-motive force, free from fumes, and readily 
put in and out of action without loss or waste. 

The negative element was a thin sheet of platinised 
silver, the platinum being deposited as a fine adherent 
powder on the surface of the silver, which had previously 
been slightly roughened. This plate was supported 
in a light wooden frame between two zinc plates which 
formed the positive element. The exciting fluid was 
diluted sulphuric acid. 

Smee's battery came into very general use for experi- 
mental work, and was for long used and greatly appreci- 
ated. A well-known and popular writer on electrical 
matters said, in 1875, after the battery had been in use for 
over thirty years, that it was " one of the most valuable 
gifts ever made to electrical science." 2 

The now universally used method of obtaining a 
conducting surface for electro-deposition by means of 
plumbago was the discovery of Robert Murray, and for it 
he received a silver medal and ten pounds in 1841 . In his 

1 Chapter XII, p. 282. 

* ].T. Sprague, Electricity (1875), p. 91. 


paper in the Transactions, 1 he says that Edward Solly was 
the first to obtain a conducting surface on a non-conducting 
material by the use of nitrate of silver, and he goes on to 
describe his own process, which is identical with that now 
used. In fact, the instructions he gives describe in every 
detail the present method. 

In the later volumes of the Transactions are to be 
found descriptions of a great variety of instruments which 
received rewards of different value from the Society. 
Many of these are obsolete, many contain the germs of 
appliances since improved and perfected, some are now 
familiar. Drawing instruments, " perspectographs," etc., 
are numerous. Amongst these may be mentioned the 
ordinary child's " transparent slate," which now common 
toy received a gold medal in 1814, as a valuable means 
of teaching writing. There are several ellipsographs 
(including those devised by Farey, Cubitt, Clement, and 
Hicks), Ross's first spherometer (1841), with a central 
axial sliding rod, mounted in a truly-turned supporting 
ring, afterwards perfected by the substitution for the ring 
of a frame with three supporting points. Surveying 
instruments, sextants, and their predecessors, quadrants 
and octants, appear in the lists. Surgical and dental 
instruments are also fairly numerous. The list is a very 
long one. As to the value of its contents, only an expert 
in each class could speak with confidence, but its immense 
variety, at all events, bears testimony to the catholicity 
of the Society's objects and operations in the first half of 
the nineteenth century. 

After the application of gas for illuminating purposes 
by Murdock in 1792, we find a few prizes offered and 
awarded for improvements connected with gas-lighting. 

In 1797 a prize was offered for a " substitute for tar," 
but though the offer remained open for many years, it 
does not seem to have attracted any competitors. This 
is remarkable, because the production of tar from coal 
had been known and practised for a considerable period. 
1 Vol. liii. part ii. p. 10. 


In 1 68 1 letters patent had been granted to John Joachin 
Becher and Henry Serle for " a new way of makeing 
pitch and tarre out of pit coale." These inventors were 
followed by several others, amongst them the Earl of 
Dundonald, who had a patent for obtaining tar and other 
products from coal. 

In 1810, B. Cook, of Birmingham, described a process 
for the distillation and utilisation of gas-tar, which he 
said was at the time a waste product, though consider- 
able amounts were made in the production of gas, and 
the coking of coal. 1 The tar, Cook stated, was superior 
to the " common tar " for paying ships' timbers. The 
more important part of the communication related to a 
method of distilling the tar, from which a " liquor or 
volatile oil " (light oil) was obtained, and a " residuum " 
(pitch) " equal to the best asphaltum." He had varnish 
made from the pitch and the light oil, and sent in a sample 
of work treated with the varnish. For this paper, which 
was certainly among the early practical proposals for the 
utilisation of the by-products of gas-manufacture, Cook 
received the very inadequate reward of a silver medal. 

Cook, however, had been anticipated by Winsor, 
whose patent specification of 1 804 refers to the production 
and utilisation of various by-products from gas-making. 
Still, Cook's paper is full of interest, as he appears to 
have been an original worker and to have achieved a 
considerable measure of practical success. 

In 1808 a silver medal was given to Samuel Clegg 
" for his apparatus for making carbonated hydrogen gas 
from pit coal, and lighting factories therewith." The 
apparatus included a gasholder of the form now generally 
employed, of which Clegg was apparently the inventor. 
He was apprenticed to Boulton and Watt, and was in 
business in Manchester as a builder of steam-engines. 
He was the inventor of the gas-meter, which he patented 
in 1815, but (probably because it was the subject of a 
patent) he did not submit it to the Society. In 1819 a 
gold medal was given to John Malam for improvements 
on Clegg 's original meter. 

1 Transactions, vol. xxviii. (1810), p. 73. 


It is worth mention that the well-known telescopic 
gas-lamp, or chandelier, which is in common use up to 
the present date, was invented by William Caslon, who 
received a silver medal for it in 1817. Caslon was one of 
the well-known family of type-founders, being the grand- 
son of the original William Caslon who started the business. 
He sold his share of the type-founding business and started 
another in Sheffield in 1819. The drawings in the Trans- 
actions 1 show a chandelier identical with the most modern 
form, with sliding tubes, water-slide and counter-balance 

In the year 1802 a gold medal and a grant of fifty 
guineas were given to Henry Greathead, of South Shields, 
for the invention of the lifeboat. There seems very little 
doubt that Greathead was the builder of the first practical 
lifeboat, but it is uncertain how far the actual invention 
was due to him. The subject has been very carefully 
and exhaustively worked out by Sir John Lamb in a 
paper on the lifeboat, which he read before the Society 
in ipio. 2 Sir John Lamb considers that Lionel Lukin, 
of Long Acre, not Greathead, should have the credit of 
having made the first lifeboat, and that the prizes and 
rewards should have been given to him. In 1785, Lukin 
took out a patent for an " unimmergible boat." Nothing 
very much seems to have come of Lukin 's invention, 
though in the year that he took out his patent he converted 
a coble into a safety-boat, which was afterwards employed 
at Bamburgh, Northumberland, in saving life from ship- 
wreck. Lukin 's boat was fitted with a cork gunwale 
and airtight cases at the end. Another inventor was 
William Wouldhave, of South Shields. 

In April 1789, the Brethren of the Newcastle Trinity 
House had before them a proposal to station a boat per- 
manently at the mouth of the Tyne for the saving of ship- 
wrecked persons. A committee was appointed to con- 

1 Vol. xxxv. p. 162. 

2 Journal, vol. Iviii. p. 354. The paper, with some additions and 
many fresh illustrations, was republished in 1911 under the title of 
The Lifeboat and its Work. 


sider suggestions for the construction of a suitable boat, 
and to this committee both Wouldhave and Greathead 
submitted models. Neither was adopted, but Greathead 
who was a skilled boatbuilder, was instructed to build 
a boat, which he seems to have done, partly carrying 
out his own ideas and partly those of some of the members 
of the committee. 

The various claims of the three inventors have long 
been the subject of discussion, and are never likely to be 
settled. But it is clear that Greathead 's was the first 
practical lifeboat, and the credit of its construction has 
generally been allotted to him. Besides the awards from 
the Society, Greathead received a grant of 1200 from 
Parliament, and 100 guineas each from the Trinity House 
and from Lloyd's, besides various other rewards. 

A little earlier than this, attention had been directed 
to means of saving life from shipwreck by methods for 
effecting a communication between stranded ships and 
the shore. In 1792 the Society had given a " bounty " 
of fifty guineas to John Bell (then a sergeant, but after- 
wards a lieutenant in the Artillery), for a method of throw- 
ing a rope from the ship to the shore. 1 But a great 
improvement upon this was brought before the Society 
sixteen years later, when Captain Manby received a gold 
medal 2 for his device for establishing communication 
from the shore to a stranded ship by the use of a mortar 
by which a line was thrown. The apparatus itself was 
devised in 1807, and was successfully used in the follow- 
ing year at the wreck of the brig Elizabeth. It was 
reported upon favourably by the Board of Ordnance, 
and before many years were over it was in extensive use 

1 Transactions, vol. x. p. 203 ; vol. xxv. p. 135. It is interesting to 
note that among the most recent improvements in devices of this sort 
is a proposal for sending a line from the ship to the shore by the usual 
rocket apparatus. As ships are usually wrecked on a lee shore there 
are obvious advantages in starting the communication down-wind from 
the vessel, instead of from the shore in the teeth of the gale. Bell's 
mortar apparatus was too heavy and clumsy to be carried on board 
ship, but this objection would not seem to apply to modern rocket 

2 Ibid. vol. xxvi. p. 209. 


all round the coast. After some twelve years' experi- 
ence, the invention had been used so successfully, and 
had saved so many lives, that a Committee of the House 
of Commons recommended a payment to Manby of 2000. 
The invention is still widely used in this and in other 
countries, but for many years past rockets have been 
substituted for the original mortar. 

Other inventions of the same character were also 
rewarded by the Society about the same time, but none 
of them have stood the test of experience in the same 
way as Manby 's well-known apparatus. 

In 1776 a silver medal was given to Shipley, the 
originator of the Society, for a lighted buoy for saving 
life at sea. As the invention does not seem to be either 
specially valuable or remarkably original, it may, perhaps, 
be assumed that a certain friendliness of feeling dictated 
the award, as respect for his memory may have led to the 
publication of a description of the apparatus in the Trans- 
actions 1 a few years after the inventor's death. A similar 
feeling may justify its mention now. 

In the last half of the eighteenth century a great 
number of county maps were published. Their issue 
may without much doubt be traced to the offer by the 
Society of a prize of 100 for the map of any county on the 
scale of an inch to the mile. In justification of this state- 
ment it may be said that, of the county maps mentioned 
by Gough in his great work on " British Topography," 
published in 1780, as being issued or in hand at that 
date, nearly all appear to be of a later date than 1762 ; 
and the same may be said of a list of such maps, which 
has been most obligingly placed at the disposal of the 
writer by Sir H. George Fordham, the great authority on 
this subject. Speaking of the survey of Yorkshire, which 

1 Vol. xxv. (1807), p. 94. This life-saving device was evidently an 
old hobby of Shipley's, for in the minutes of one of the earliest 
meetings, 2/th November 1754, it is recorded that "A model of a 
Float was produced by Mr. Shipley, contrived by himself, to preserve 
the Lives of them that fall overboard at Sea, it was ordered that 
Enquiries be made of Persons skilled in Sea Affairs." 


was carried out by Thomas Jefferys, the well-known 
cartographer, Gough says : " Jefferys undertook this, 
and other such surveys, in consequence of a premium 
of 100 offered by the Society of Arts for a county 
map." Jefferys died in 1771 ; and this may account 
for his never having received a premium. After his 
decease the map was purchased and published by Robert 

This prize of 100 l was first offered in I7S9, though 
it was not included in the regular premium list before 
1762. To avoid needless competition, a special announce- 
ment was made that the Society would accept an offer 
for the production of each map, and would afterwards 
pay the premium when the map was completed to its 
satisfaction. The first offer accepted was for a map of 
Dorset by Isaac Taylor. This was published in 1765, 
and is described by Gough as a capital survey of the 
county, but he adds : " This, though the most particular, 
is very faulty in the place names." Whether on this 
account or for other reasons, no award was made to 
Taylor. There was some correspondence with him, and 
the last entry is in December 1765, when the con- 
sideration of his map was " postponed." The first 
actual award was to Benjamin Donn, who in 1765 
received 100 for his map of Devonshire. This was 
engraved by Jefferys. 

The offer of prizes was continued in various terms up 
to 1 80 1, after which it does not appear in the premium 
list, though awards were made as late as 1809. Smaller 
amounts than the original sum of 100 were sometimes 
paid, and in some cases medals were given instead of 
money prizes. In all, an amount of 460 was expended, 
besides four gold medals, three silver medals, and a 

1 It was, however, but a small contribution to the actual expenditure 
on the production of such maps, if we are to rely upon the statement 
contained in Gough's notes on Sussex, in which a projected map of 
that county on a scale of two inches to a mile, in eight large sheets, 
is referred to as estimated to have cost more than ^2400 for surveying, 
drawing, and engraving, and to have taken six years in execution, 
four hundred subscribers at six guineas for the whole map being asked 


silver palette. Maps were obtained of the following 
counties and districts : 

Devonshire (1765). Lancashire (1787). 

Dorsetshire (1765). Hampshire (1793). 

Derbyshire ( 1 767) . Sussex ( 1 796) . 

Northumberland (1773). Oxfordshire (1797). 

Leicestershire (1778). North Wales (1802). 

Somersetshire (1783). Cardiganshire ( 1 804) . 

Suffolk (1784). Shropshire (1809). 

Many of these are mentioned by Gough. 

For the map of Derbyshire P. P. Burdett received 100. 
This map was said to have been produced under the 
direction of the Rev. John Prior, of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 
who himself received a silver medal and twenty guineas in 
1778 for a map of Leicestershire, which was really made 
by J. Whyman, an assistant of Burdett, and was published 
in 1777. Burdett also produced maps of Cheshire and 

William Faden, who received 50 for a map of Hamp- 
shire in 1793, and a gold medal for one of Sussex in 1796, 
was a well-known map-maker. He afterwards presented 
to the Society a number of county maps which he had 

John Cary (whose name is given as Carey in the list) 
received a gold medal in 1804 for his map of Cardiganshire. 
This engraver and map-seller is best known as the publisher 
of the New Itinerary, a road-book which ran through 
eleven editions, 1798 to 1828, but he and his successors, 
G. and J. Cary, engraved and published between 1769 
and 1850 a very large number of maps, atlases, and 
topographical works. 1 

The map of Northumberland, for which, in 1773, Lieu- 
tenant Armstrong received fifty guineas, is said to have 
been a capital map. It was engraved by Kitchin in 
1769. Lieutenant (afterwards Captain) Armstrong was 

1 See John Cary, Engraver and Map-seller, a paper by Sir H. G. 
Fordhara, read in 1909 (6th December) to a meeting of the Cambridge 
Antiquarian Society, and published in pamphlet form. Cambridge, 
1910, 8vo. 


a son of an earlier map-maker of repute, also Captain 

Besides the Society's prize maps, a good many other 
county maps were issued. The Transactions for 1801 l 
give a list of twenty-six such maps of English counties 
in the possession of the Society, and some were afterwards 
added. In all, about fifty seem to have been produced, 
besides the great series issued by the Greenwoods ( 1 829-34). 

In 1802 the Society offered three gold medals for 
mineralogical maps of England, Ireland, and Scotland. 
Each map was to be on a scale of not less than ten miles 
to the inch, " containing an account of the situation of 
the different mines therein, and describing the kinds of 
minerals thence produced." 

It is not reported that any of these medals were 
awarded ; but the offer had the important result of assist- 
ing William Smith to publish his great geological map of 
England and Wales. 2 

William Smith is known as the father of British geology. 
As Canon Bonney says of him, in his life in the Dictionary 
of National Biography, " he found the key to stratigraphy 
viz., the identification of strata by their fossil contents." 
Though a well-known and successful canal engineer (he 
received a medal from the Society in 1805 for draining 
Prisley Bog), he was a poor man, and had great difficulties 
in publishing his map. He was assisted by the Society 
with 50, and his map of England and Wales and part of 
Scotland in fifteen sheets, measuring 8 ft. 9 in. high by 
6 ft. 2 in. wide, and on a scale of five miles to the inch, 
with geological colouring was engraved and published 
by John Cary on ist August 1815, with a dedication to 
Sir Joseph Banks, P.R.S. It was accompanied by a 
memoir to the map (London, 1815, 4to), also published by 
Cary, who, in addition to stratigraphical tables issued in 
1816 and 1817, published a series of six detailed geological 
sections across various parts of England (1817-19), and also , 

1 Vol. xix. p. 43. 

2 An " explanation " of the map and some most interesting " ob- 
servations "by Smith, are given in the Transactions,, vol. xxxiii. (1815), 
p. 51. 


between 1819 and 1824, twenty-one out of the full number 
of the county maps in his large folio atlas (Gary's New 
English Atlas, 1809), with Smith's geological colouring 
and marginal notes on the strata. 

In the same year (1802) as that in which the prizes for 
mineralogical maps were offered, the Society also offered 
a gold medal for a Natural History of any English or 
Welsh county. This was to be really an account of the 
natural resources of the county, " so that the public may 
be enabled to judge what arts or manufactures are most 
likely to succeed in such county." This information was 
more effectively provided by the " Statistical Surveys " of 
the counties, published by the Board of Agriculture. The 
first of these is dated 1 793, so the offer of the Society seems 
rather superfluous. 

In 1803 the Society gave fifty guineas to R. Horwood 
for his map of London. Some sheets of the map had 
previously been submitted, in 1791, but the Society 
declined to make any award to the work in its incomplete 
state, though it passed a vote of thanks to the author. 
There had been a number of maps of London published 
since Ralph Aggas issued what is believed to be the first 
map of the sort somewhere about 1560. Horwood's map 
was certainly a considerable advance on those of his pre- 
decessors, and more elaborate than any of them. It was 
one of the few maps of London made from an actual 
survey, carried out, as he says, by Horwood himself. All 
the houses are numbered, and it is stated that the publica- 
tion of Horwood's map led to the general adoption of 
numbering, which had previously only been applied to a 
few streets. This statement, however, does not seem to 
rest on any very good authority. Not a great deal is known 
about Horwood. He was surveyor to the Phoenix Fire 
Office. It is said he produced his map for the use of that 
office, but he makes no reference to this in the letter from 
him printed in the Transactions. 1 

Although no actual award, beyond the thanks of the 
Society, was made to Messrs. Perkins & Co. for their 

1 Vol. xxi. (1803), p. 311. 


description in the Transactions 1 of their process of steel- 
engraving for bank-notes, it is too interesting to be passed 
over. This absence of any award is doubtless due to the 
fact that the process was in use in America and by private 
English banks. 2 It was afterwards applied to the pro- 
duction of postage stamps, when the introduction of the 
Penny Post in 1840 caused a demand for a large number 
of identical stamps. 3 Jacob Perkins, the principal of the 
firm, was a very ingenious inventor, and received several 
gold and silver medals from the Society. An American 
by birth, he passed much of his life in England. He was 
a pioneer in the use of high-pressure steam, and in this he 
was followed by his son, Angier March Perkins, and his 
grandson, Loftus Perkins, the last-named of whom built 
several of the first high-pressure steam-engines, and 
suffered the usual fate of those who are in advance of 
contemporary ideas. 

In the " siderographic process," as it was termed, a 
soft steel roller was rolled to and fro over the surface of an 
engraved steel plate, until the design was transferred to 
the roller, which was then hardened, and used to produce 
other steel or copper plates. From these, impressions 
could be taken on paper in the usual way. As any number 
of these duplicate plates could be obtained, it was possible 
to produce as many identical paper prints as might be 
required. In the case of bank-notes, it was proposed that 
several artists of repute should be employed, each to 
produce a small vignette. All these vignettes were to be 
transferred to a single plate, on which also engine-turned 
patterns might be engraved. Thus prints, both artistic 
and complicated, would be produced, which certainly it 
would be beyond the power of any forger to copy, before 
the invention of photography. 

From the commencement of the eighteenth century 
the paper industry had been developing, but it was chiefly 
concerned with the production of low-class papers. In 

1 Vol. xxxviii. (1820), p. 47. 2 See also Chapter IX, p. 215. 

3 Sir Rowland Hill and the History of Penny Postage, by G, Birkbeck; 
Hill (1880), vol. i. p. 407. 


the finer qualities English manufacturers could not compete 
with the productions of French and Italian mills, until 
about 1775 Whatman succeeded in manufacturing paper 
not only equal but superior to that made abroad. As 
Mr. Rhys Jenkins puts it, the " export of paper in 1775 
by Whatman seems to mark a turning-point in English 
papermaking." The same writer goes on to remark : 
" Between 1 754 and 1 782 the Society of Arts was endeavour- 
ing to promote the manufacture of high-class paper in 
this country by the award of premiums and medals for 
the production of paper for copper-plate printing. 
The manufacture of silk-rag paper and of embossed 
and marbled paper also engaged its attention." l 

As Mr. Rhys Jenkins says, many prizes were offered 
at different times for paper and paper-making materials, 
and these were continued for many years after the date 
he mentions. The first was the prize offered in 1757 for 
paper for copper-plate printing, and one of the latest 
that proposed, in 1830, for methods for manufacturing 
paper equal to China paper. At an early date an earnest 
attempt was made to obtain materials for paper other 
than rags, and a prize was offered in 1790 for paper from 
raw vegetable substances. In the announcement of 
this it was stated that the Society already possessed 
specimens of paper made from " thistles, potatoe haum, 
poplar, hop binds, etc." This offer was continued for 
thirty years without any addition being made to the list 
of materials, but it possesses a good deal of interest, 
because it was an intelligent anticipation of the course 
of future progress. Now, of course, practically all paper 
is made from " raw vegetable substances," that is to say, 
from cellulose which has not already been made up into 
some textile material. The volume of Transactions for 
1823-4 (Vol. XLII.) was printed upon paper which, it is 
stated in a note, was made from " pure flax." The paper 
is good and is in excellent condition now, which is more 
than can be said for the paper of many of the volumes. 

It was really not until about 1 860 that paper materials 

1 See article on " Paper-making in England (1714-1788)," by Rhys 
Jenkins ; Lib. Assoc. Record t vol. iv. pt. i. (1902) pp. 135 and 136. 


other than rags were generally used. About that time 
esparto began to be employed to a considerable extent. 
In 1856 fifty tons of esparto were imported, and perhaps 
this may be taken as the beginning of its application to 
the extensive manufacture of paper. 1 

It is rather remarkable that so little was done by the 
Society for printing, in connection with which there are 
practically no awards of any importance. Perhaps the 
most interesting entry in this class is that of the gold 
medal awarded in 1819 to Aloys Senefelder as the inventor 
of lithography. The Society was a little behindhand in 
this award, for the process had been perfected by the 
inventor in i/pS. 2 

The justification for the medal being given at this 
time was no doubt the fact that in the year 1 8 1 8 , Senefelder 
published his Lehrbuch der Steindruckerey , and that it was 
this book that really drew attention to the new art, though 
before that date lithography had been applied to artistic 
purposes. The first dated English lithograph is a repro- 
duction of a pen drawing by Benjamin West, P.R.A. It 
bears the date 1801, and was published with other similar 
plates by Fuseli, Barry, and others in i8o3. 3 

Senefelder was much gratified with the award, and 
he sent to the Society, through Mr. Ackerman, one of his 
lithographic presses. In the same year that Senefelder 
was thus honoured, a silver medal was awarded to C. 
Hullmandel " for a lithographic drawing," and in 1829 
Joseph Netherclift received 20 " for his improved methods 
of making lithographic transfers." 4 

In 1793 an application was made to the Society by 
some of the principal London basket-makers, who stated 

1 See paper by Robert Johnston. Journal, vol. xx. (1871), p. 96. 

2 See the introduction (by E. F. Strange) to the catalogue of the 
collection of lithographs exhibited at the South Kensington Museum, 
1 898-9. This collection was organised and shown by the Science and 
Art Department, in response to an application from the Society of 
Arts, suggesting the commemoration of the centenary of Senefelder's 
invention by an exhibition of lithographs. 

3 See Chapter VIII, p. 202, and Chapter IX, p. 214. 

4 See Chapter VIII, p. 193. 



that their business was almost at a standstill for want 
of osiers, because " great quantities of these twigs had 
annually been imported from France, and all intercourse 
with that country being stopped, a sufficient quantity, 
the growth of England, could not be obtained." As a 
consequence of this a great number of the workmen had 
been thrown out of employment. A number of prizes 
for planting osiers were offered, and the result was very 
satisfactory. Many landowners started osier plantations, 
and numerous prizes were awarded, including a gold 
medal in 1797 to Lord Brownlow, so that in 1806 the 
Society was able to announce that its object had been 
accomplished, and a sufficient supply of English osiers 
provided. The offer of prizes was consequently dis- 
continued. 1 

It does not appear to be known with any certainty 
when the straw-plaiting industry was first introduced into 
England ; but it was certainly established at Luton and 
Dunstable by the middle of the eighteenth century. A 
little later the Society did a good deal to encourage it. 
In 1762 and the three following years a number of small 
premiums were given for " chip hats like the Italian," 
and at the same time prizes were offered for straw hats like 
those made at Leghorn ; but without any result. 2 In 
1805 a gold medal was awarded to William Corston for 
making straw-plait similar to the Leghorn plait from 
rye straw grown in Norfolk. 3 Again, in 1822, a silver 
medal was given to John Parry for the manufacture of 

1 Transactions, vol. xi. (1793) P- 2 & 2 > v l- xu ^ ( J 794) P- xn * '> v l- 
xiii. (1795) p. x; vol. xv. (1797) p. 131 ; vol. xxiv. (1806) p. vii. 
In one place there is a mistake in the date, 1774 being printed for 1773. 

2 The superiority of the foreign production is shown by a curious 
illustration. In 1810, Capt. Thomas Borrow, the father of George 
Borrow, was in charge of the large prison at Norman Cross, Huntingdon- 
shire, where 6000 French prisoners were confined. These prisoners used 
to make and sell straw-plait, but as the quality was superior to that 
made in England, the practice was forbidden, and the soldiers were 
ordered to destroy all the straw-plait they found (A. Jenkins, Life of 
George Borrow, 1912, p. 13). 

3 Transactions, vol. xxiii. p. 223 ; vol. xxviii. p. 130, 



Leghorn plait from straw imported from Italy. In the 
same year a silver medal was given to Miss Sophia Wood- 
house, of Connecticut, U.S.A., for a new material for 
straw-plait, which turned out to be the Poa pratensis. 
Through the agency of the Society seeds of the grass were 
imported, and grown here. 

William Cobbett thought he saw an opportunity of 
encouraging a useful industry in England, and printed an 
account of what had been done in his Register. An 
importer of Italian straw then applied to Cobbett to know 
whether he could not get some of the American straw. The 
result of this was that Cobbett set to work in his usual 
energetic manner * to see if English grasses might not be 
used for the same purpose, and he was successful in 
utilising various native straws and grasses. In apprecia- 
tion of his efforts, the Society gave him a silver medal. 
Cobbett not being by any means a popular character at the 
time, the award did not meet with general approval. 
Edward Smith, Cobbett 's biographer, says that the news- 
papers announced the award with the heading, " The 
Society of Arts humbugged at last." The award was of 
course perfectly well deserved, and apparently the real 
objection was to Cobbett 's political views, not to the 
useful work he had promoted. However, the Society 
continued to encourage the industry, which it hoped might 
occupy numbers of the unemployed, and for three or four 
years it continued to give a number of small rewards, 
varying in value from fifteen to two guineas for the 
manufacture of hats and bonnets made of English 
straw. 2 

1 Cobbett, than whom " no sturdier cudgel player had stepped into 
the literary ring, since his master had published The Drafter's Letters" 
(Leslie Stephen). " No man ever fought in a nobler cause, or with more 
sincerity, with more persuasiveness, with more courage " (Lewis 
Melville in the Fortnightly Review, April 1912). 

2 A very full account of the development of the straw-plait trade 
is to be found in a paper read by Mr. A. J. Tansley on ipth December 
1860, and printed in the Journal of the 2ist of that month (vol. ix. 
p. 69). In the discussion, the secretary (Peter Le Neve Foster) 
gave a full list of the awards made by the Society from 1805 down 
to 1825. 


The manufacture of leather received less encourage- 
ment from the Society than might have been expected, 
considering that the industry had one of its most important 
seats close to London, in Bermondsey. In the year after 
the Society's formation (1755) a prize was offered for buff 
leather, then principally imported. The prize was duly 
awarded, and the manufacture started, with a certain 
amount of success. " The Kentish Militia and some 
other corps had their accoutrements made of it." 1 It 
does not, however, appear that the production of such 
leather was continued. 

The story of the introduction of the method of " Dying 
leather red and yellow as practised in the East for that kind 
called Turkey Leather " is rather a curious one. Dossie 2 
tells us that one Phillippo, " an Asiatic " who was in 
England, was induced by two members of the Society to 
" try, on his return to the East, to make himself master 
of this and some other arts not known here, in order to 
communicate them, by means of the Society, in case he 
should come again to England." The Society agreed to 
pay him 100 if he succeeded, and on his return to this 
country with the secrets of the process, the money was 
paid him, with the additional complimentary gift of a gold 

The tanning industry was a long-established and 
flourishing one in this country, but it was hampered by 
protective legislation. Only certain materials, of which 
oak-bark was the principal, were allowed to be used. This 
provision was not apparently for the benefit of the tanners, 
but to secure the use of proper materials, and, perhaps, to 
encourage the growth of timber. As a matter of fact, 
not only was the bark of timber trees used, but oaks were 
grown in coppices, which were cut for the sake of the 
bark alone. The Act in which this provision was included 
was held to prevent the use of oak saw-dust, and therefore 
a method, said to be successful, of utilising this material 
could not be employed. The Society gave the inventor 
100, and protested against the clause in the Act with 
what effect is not recorded. Prizes were offered, and a few 
* Dossie, vol. i. p. 170. * Vol. i. p. 230, 


awarded, for new tanning materials and methods, but the 
list is not a long one. 

A great many inventions for saving life from fire and 
for extinguishing fires were rewarded by the Society. 
Among the latter was an invention of Ambrose Godfrey 
for extinguishing fires, which was brought under the notice 
of the Society in 1760 by the inventor's son. To test 
the device, a building was erected in Marylebone Fields. 
On 2 ist May 1 761 , the building was set on fire, and when it 
was in full blaze Godfrey's shells were thrown into the 
house. According to a contemporary description, " their 
explosion immediately extinguished the fire, and even the 
smoke soon disappeared." This demonstration was 
carried out in the presence of the Duke of York, Prince 
William, afterwards William iv., Prince Henry, afterwards 
Duke of Gloucester, and a numerous crowd, which was kept 
in order by a guard of two hundred men. 

There were also a good many fire-escapes. One of 
these, for which fifty guineas were voted in 1810 to John 
Davis, is practically identical with the modern fire-escape 
with its telescopic ladder and carriage. In his descrip- 
tion of his apparatus, the inventor says that his attention 
was drawn to the subject by the death of a woman at 
Chelmsford, who had fallen off a " parish ladder " when 
trying to escape from a burning house. 

In 1805 a prize was offered for a method of rendering 
muslin uninflammable without injuring the quality or 
appearance of the fabric, but though the offer was con- 
tinued for many years, it met with no response. 

The proposal was a very old one. As early as 1735 a 
patent was granted to Obadiah Wilde, who added a mixture 
of alum, borax, and vitriol to paper pulp, with the view of 
producing incombustible paper. In the early part of the 
nineteenth century the subject attracted the attention of 
many chemists, amongst others of Gay-Lussac, who in 
1830 proposed the treatment of fabrics with the carbonates 
of potash and soda. Fuchs suggested water-glass. In 
1 859 an elaborate paper was read to the British Association 
by Versmann and Oppenheim, who gave a full account of 


their own researches. An abstract of this paper, and an 
account of the valuable investigations by Sir Frederick 
Abel carried on from 1855 to 1 88 1 , will be found in a report 
of a committee of the Society on fire prevention, published 
in 1 883 - 1 This gives a fairly complete history of the various 
attempts to render fabrics and other materials uninflam- 
mable, down to the date of its issue. 

The supply of fish to London had always been a diffi- 
culty, and though many attempts had been made to 
bring fish by land, none of them had succeeded. 2 In 1761 
a scheme for the supply of the markets of London and 
Westminster a new fish-market had been started in 
Broadway, Westminster, in 1752 with fish brought up 
from the coast by land was laid before the Society by 
John Blake. The Society took up the proposal very 
warmly, and agreed to give Blake 1500 for the purpose 
of carrying it out. Eventually no less than 3500 was 
spent on this scheme. The proposal was taken up with 
a great deal of enthusiasm. According to a statement 
in the first volume of the Transactions, Parliament also 
made Blake a grant of 2000, and by the energy of the 
Society an Act of Parliament was obtained by which the 
tolls on fish carriage were reduced, and other facilities 
granted for breaking down the monopoly in the London 
fish supply which then existed. 

At first the Society were very much gratified with 
the result of their efforts, and they awarded Blake a gold 
medal with the inscription, " Fish Monopoly Restrained." 
But the practical results of the procedure do not seem 
to have been very satisfactory, for in the article above 
mentioned 3 it is stated that the " plan has not in every 
degree answered the sanguine expectations of the Society ." 
Still, it is stated that a good deal of fish had been brought 
up by land, and the fish-supply of London increased. 
It also appears that the Society were not quite satisfied 

1 Journal) vol. xxxi. (11883) P- 687. 

2 Some information about this subject will be found in Industrial 
England in the Middle of the Eighteenth Century, p. 165. 

8 Transactions, vol. i. p. 57. 


with Blake himself, because there is evidence in the 
minutes of disputes having arisen about his accounts. 

A later attempt to develop British fisheries was more 
successful. In 1805 a reward was offered for " curing 
herrings by the Dutch method." For some years this 
does not seem to have had much result, but in 1819 and 
1820 two rewards of fifty guineas and 50 respectively 
were paid to J. F. Denovan, of Leith, for his success in 
the " curing of British herrings," and for introducing 
them into the market. Two communications in the 
Transactions l give an interesting account of the way in 
which, after many unsuccessful attempts to get hold of 
the secrets of the business in Holland, he secured the assist- 
ance of six experienced Dutch fish-curers, and with their 
help started to. catch and cure herrings on the west coast 
of Scotland. After a good deal of trouble and various 
misadventures, he was quite successful in his enterprise, 
and succeeded in sending to Edinburgh and London 
cargoes of herrings equal to the best Dutch. The method 
employed, then as now, is merely, after gutting and clean- 
ing the fish, to pack them in barrels with salt or brine. 
Many other awards followed, and this was the beginning 
of the Scotch cured herring trade, which developed into 
an important business, and has, of quite recent years, 
spread to the East Anglian fishing ports. At the present 
time it is a thriving industry at Lowestoft. 

In 1783 the Society proposed to deal with the ques- 
tion of general education, and the following announce- 
ment was made in the first volume of the Transactions : 2 
" The Society, desirous to improve the present mode of 
education, hereby offer the gold medal to the master of 
any academy or school for boys situated within or not 
more than thirty miles distant from London, who shall 
within three years from the date of this advertisement 
teach the greatest number of scholars, not less than four, 
to write and to speak Latin in common conversation 
correctly and fluently. Also the gold medal for teaching 

1 Vol. xxxvii. (1819) p. 183 ; vol. xxxviii. (1820) p. 186. 

2 Vol. i. (1783) p. 194. 


in like manner each of the following languages, viz. 
the German, the Spanish, and the Italian, being com- 
mercial languages, not usually taught at schools in 

In December 1786, Dr. Egan, the master of the Royal 
Park Academy, Greenwich, brought up five of his pupils, 
whose ages were between eleven and fifteen, and they, 
after being duly examined by the committee, were each 
awarded a silver medal, the gold medal being given to 
Dr. Egan. 1 

In its earlier years the Society offered various prizes 
of a miscellaneous sort, prizes which may be taken as 
evidence of the catholic nature of its objects from its 
very foundation. Such, for instance, was the gold 
medal for a treatise on the " Arts of Peace " offered in 
1759, a time when the arts of peace must have been 
less in men's minds than those of war, since the 
country was engaged in fighting in Europe, Asia, and 

Among social and economical questions the question 
of female employment crops up again and again from 
1768 onwards. Sometimes a reward is offered to those 
who employ the greatest number of women and girls in 
specified industries. Then more general offers are made 
requests for suggestions, and so on. The general question 
of want of employment also comes up, and proposals are 
requested for providing employment for the poor, and for 
workhouse paupers especially. 

It might be thought that the question of housing the 
agricultural labourer is a fairly modern one. It is certainly 
an object of discussion at the present moment. In 1799 
the Society offered a gold medal to the landowner who 
should build in that year the greatest number of cottages 
with an allotment of two acres apiece, and another gold 
medal to the landlord who should apportion allotments 
of two acres to existing cottages on his estate. The offer 

1 An account of this examination is given in a letter from John 
Symonds to Arthur Young, printed in Young's Autobiography (Edition 
1898, by M. Betham-Edwards, p. 147). 


does not appear to have attracted any response, and, 
after a few years, it was discontinued. 

Many years later the subject was again taken up, 
and with rather more success, as will be related 
later on. 1 

1 See Chapter XVI, p. 392, and Chapter XXI, p. 491. 

Signalling by Hand, 1809 (see p. 252). 


First proposal to offer Medals The First Medal, Stuart's design 
Barry's suggestions Flaxman's Medal Smaller Medals, Isis, 
Ceres, and Vulcan The Palette Wyon's large Medal President's 
Head adopted for Medal W. Wyon's Head of Prince Albert King 
Edward's Head, by L. C. Wyon The same, by Emil Fuchs King 
George's Head, by Bertram Mackennal The Albert Medal, Prince 
Consort's Head, by L. C. Wyon. 

THE first prizes offered were all in money, but the Society 
was hardly a year old before the proposal was made to 
substitute medals for cash in some of the awards. At 
the meeting held at its rooms in Craig's Court on 3oth April 

1755 : 

" Some discourse arose concerning the Society's 
bestowing Medals on some Occasions instead of Money, 
but as nothing of that kind can take place this year, the 
further consideration of it was deferred to another Time." 

The idea evidently was that some " Honorary Premium" 
was desirable in cases for which a money award was un- 
suitable, and this idea was formally submitted to the 
Society by Henry Baker on 24th March 1756. Baker's 
paper does not appear in the Minutes, but it has been 
preserved in one of the old guard-books. The sentiments 
by which he was actuated may perhaps best be indicated 
by quoting his own expression of them : 

" Whoever would lead Mankind, even to their own 
Good, must take Advantage of their Passions, amongst 
which the Desire of Gain, and the Desire of Esteem, are 
two of the most prevailing. This Society, as far as is 
at present in its Power, with due Caution and great 

Judgment, applies itself to the former ; nor has it been 




,~* r/r, y2i ,A^ ; / - <-/* 





Isis MEDAL. 





To face page 314. 


altogether forgetful of the latter ; but, with all submission, 
may not your extensive and noble Views be greatly 
forwarded by adverting to it a little more ? 

" The Desire of Reputation and Esteem is strongest in 
the most ingenious and most ingenuous Minds, and can 
set those Heads and Hands to work which the Hopes of 
Gain can give no Motion to. Undoubtedly your Premiums 
in Money are, in general, the best Encouragement to the 
Mechanic, the Manufacturer, and the Planter, and to all 
the Multitude in whom the Desire of Gain prevails ; but 
may we not suppose that some honorary Token of Esteem 
would more effectually bring to your Assistance the 
Scholar, the Philosopher, and the Gentleman of Estate ? 
By many Others too it would perhaps be preferred to 

"It is therefore proposed that a dye be made for 
striking Medals of Gold, Silver, and Copper (with proper 
Devices), to be occasionally bestowed by the Society as a 
Token of Honour and Esteem on such as shall practice 
or produce some new Manufacture or Discovery that may 
employ many Hands, some considerable Improvement of 
Public Utility, or some valuable Branch of Commerce (in 
one or the other Metal), according to the Nature and 
Consequence of the Improvement or Discovery ; which 
Medals in Gold shall be of 5^ Value, and proportionately 
in Silver and Copper ; tho', in all of them, the Honour 
of being thus distinguished is the principal Object of 

This paper was referred to a committee, which reported 
that they were of opinion that the giving of medals would 
be of utility, and that a special committee should be 
appointed to consider a proper device. This committee, of 
which Baker, Nicholas Crisp, Hogarth, Henry Cheere, and 
Nicholas Highmore were members, agreed upon a design, 
but after it had been chased upon gold plates, and the 
order given for the dies to be cut, a difficulty arose. It 
had been decided that the value of the medal should not 
exceed ten guineas, but when specimens of the selected 
design were produced it was found that not less than 
fifteen guineas' worth of gold was required. This was 


considered too much, and the report of the committee 
was referred back to them, with instructions to obtain a 
new device which should only need gold to the amount 
of five guineas. This, however, was not found to be 
possible, and after a good deal of discussion, the com- 
mittee refused to make any report. Thereupon James 
Stuart, the painter and architect, well known as " Athenian 
Stuart " from his studies in Greek Architecture, came to 
the rescue with a design of his own, which after being 
executed by Thomas Pingo, the engraver to the Mint, was 
adopted. Pingo made the necessary dies and medals 
were struck from them in 1757. 

The design of the medal, as shown in the illustration 
facing page 314, represented Britannia receiving awards 
from Minerva and Mercury, " the classical tutelary deities 
of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce." 

There was much discussion as to the inscription, but 
eventually it was decided that the legend should be 
11 Arts and Commerce Promoted." At first the date of 
institution was given as 1753, but afterwards it was 
changed to 1754. 

Curiously enough the earlier and incorrect date was 
preserved for many years when the design was adopted 
for the Society's book-plate. 1 

The Medal was used for nearly half a century, 
until the die was worn. In 1801, James Barry, while 
approving the idea symbolised in the medal, criticised the 
execution and proposed " to substitute instead of the 
little entire figures of Minerva and Mercury, only two large 
heads of those deities, and he would omit the head of 
Britannia altogether, and by a wreath of the shamrock, 
rose, and thistle, totally rising round the edge of the medal, 
playing in and out in a graceful gustoso manner, he would 
represent the present happily United Kingdom of Great 
Britain and Ireland, with a felicity at least equal to the 
owl, the horse's head, or the dolphin on the Athenian, 
Punice, or Sicilian coins." 2 

Barry's design is here reproduced from the en- 
graving in his account of the pictures in the Meeting- 

1 See figure, p. 161. 2 Transactions, vol. xix. pp. xxxvi-xxxix. 


Room. 1 It is a fine vigorous sketch, evidently the work 
of an artist accustomed to express himself by the strength 
of his lines, rather than of a medallist. 

His suggestions do not seem to have commended 
themselves to the Society, and the Committee of Polite 
Arts asked Nathaniel Marchand, the well-known medallist, 
to prepare a design in accordance with their suggestions, 
one of which was to have the President's head on the 

Barry's design for the Society's Medal. 

obverse, and a symbolical Society, with statues of the 
" tutelary deities " on the reverse. Either Marchand 
did not care for the suggestions, or he was dilatory ; but 
for whatever reason, nothing came of the proposals. 
Then in 1805, Flaxman was asked to furnish a design, 
and he produced the very beautiful medal shown in 
the plate facing page 314. 

This, as will be seen, embodies Barry's ideas, and, it 
may be added, justifies them. Nevertheless, the design 
1 See Chapter III, p. 71. 


was not adopted without some opposition from Barry's 
friends, who wished that the preparation of the medal 
should be entrusted to him. But Barry's death in 1806 
put an end to any proposals of the sort, and no further 
objections were raised to Flaxman's work. The dies 
were cut by Pidgeon, 1 entirely to Flaxman's satisfaction, 
and from 1806 onwards this medal served as the chief 
of the Society's awards. A very beautiful engraving 
of the medal forms the frontispiece to Vol. xxv. of the 
Transactions? 1 It was drawn by Maria Denman, Flax- 
man's sister-in-law, and engraved by Anker Smith. 

Besides this large medal, three smaller medals were 
afterwards used, the Isis Medal, designed by Thomas 
Wyon the younger in 1810, the Ceres medal by William 
Wyon, a nephew of the elder Thomas, in 1813, and the 
Vulcan medal by George Mills in 1818. These were 
given respectively for Fine Arts, Agriculture, and 
Mechanics, and were often designated the smaller Society's 
medal, while Flaxman's was called the larger medal. 
They were struck in gold and silver. 

The weight and value of the different medals is given 
in a note in the Committee Minutes 3 for 1 843 : 

Large Gold, weight 3 oz., value ^13, 155. 
Small Gold, weight i oz. 8 dwts., value 6, 145. 6d. 
Large Silver, weight 2 oz. 8 dwts., value i, 43. 6d. 
Small Silver, weight i oz. 8 dwts., value 195. 

In addition to the medals there was in the class of Fine 
Arts the palette, an illustration of which is given in the plate 
facing page 160. Reference to it has already been made in 
the chapter on the Fine Art prizes. 4 It was a miniature copy 
of an artist's palette, bearing on the obverse the Society's 
title, and on the reverse a scroll with the recipient's name. 
It was struck in two sizes (2^ in. and 2 in. long respect- 
ively), and was generally silver, sometimes gold, and 

1 Probably G. F. Pidgeon, a medallist who worked at the Soho Mint 
under Matthew Boulton. He is mentioned and some of his work 
described in Ferrer's Dictionary of Medallists, but it is said that " no 
particulars of his life appear to be known." 

2 See plate opposite p. 354. 3 Miscellaneous Minutes, 1843, p. 76, 
See Chapter VII, p. 160, 

SOCIETY'S MEDAL, 1849-1861. 




To face page 318. 


occasionally silver gilt. It was devised in 1760, as a 
special sort of prize to be given instead of medals or 
money to youthful candidates. Later on, the restriction 
to young persons was not always observed. 1 

When, in 1811, the " Isis Medal" was introduced, 
it was intended to substitute this for the palette, but this 
idea was not carried out. Both medals and palettes were 
awarded for many years in fact, as long as any Fine Art 
prizes were given ; but it is not very easy to say what 
was their precise relative value. At the first institution 
of the medal, the two were of equal value, and the candidate 
was given the option of selection. The last award of a 
palette was in 1847. The Isis Medal was awarded in the 
last two distributions of awards in 1850 and i853. 2 

In 1 820 a new die was designed and executed by William 
Wyon to replace the one made from Flaxman's design, 
which was worn out. It is a design of much beauty, and 
of exquisite workmanship, but, in the opinion of competent 
critics, not equal to Flaxman's. This die was used for 
about thirty years, but in 1 849 it was found to be wearing 
out, and at the suggestion of Henry Cole a new design 
was adopted, with the head of the President, Prince 
Albert, upon it. The die for this was also prepared by 
William Wyon, and must have been one of his latest 
pieces of work, for he died in 1851. Probably in conse- 
quence of Wyon's death there was some delay in the 
preparation of the new medal, and the old die was cer- 
tainly used for striking some, if not all the medals pre- 
sented in 1853, but from that date onwards the new medal 
was always used, until the death of the Prince Consort. 

1 There was also the " John Stock Medallion," awarded, as stated in 
Chapter VII, p. 161, for Architecture, Sculpture, and Drawing. When, in 
1782, arrangements were under consideration for the award of the prize 
founded by the testator, it was at first proposed to strike a special 
medal for the purpose, but afterwards this idea was abandoned and it 
was "ordered that the medallion ... be composed of the Greater 
Silver Pallet, hung on a swivel within an oval frame of the same 
metal." Minutes of Committee of Polite Arts, 22nd March 1782, 3rd 
April 1782, 22nd January 1783. 

2 In 1850 there were no Fine Art prizes, but th? Isis Medal was given 
for some of the awards in Industrial Art, Jn 1853 it was given for 
gome purely technical inventions, 


At the election of the Prince of Wales (King Edward 
vii.) to the Presidentship in 1863, his head was placed 
upon the obverse of the medal. At the same time the 
reverse was re-engraved ; the wreath and inscription 
remained the same, but the engraving was bolder. The 
die for this medal was the work of Leonard Wyon, the 
successor of William. 

No further change was made till 1900, when, the need 
again arising for a fresh die, a new design was prepared 
by Mr. Emil Fuchs, whose portrait of the Prince was 
preferred by His Royal Highness. When, in the follow- 
ing year, King Edward came to the throne, he authorised 
the continued use of his head on the Society's medal, his 
title being changed, and the word " Patron " being substi- 
tuted for " President " in the inscription. 

On the accession of King George v. in 1910, when he 
resigned the Presidency and became Patron, he was asked 
by the Council if he would allow his head to be engraved 
on the medal. His Majesty consented, and expressed 
his wish that the work should be executed by Mr. Bertram 
Mackennal, A.R.A. An excellent likeness of the King 
was modelled by Mr. Mackennal, and from it a die was 
engraved by Mr. Allan Wyon, the present representative 
of the firm. 

Since 1853 the medal with the President's head upon 
it has been the only one employed by the Society for all 
its ordinary awards. It is struck in gold, silver, and 
bronze ; gold for special prizes, silver for the medals for 
papers, for examination awards, and for other purposes, 
bronze for examination prizes, and occasionally for other 
minor awards. 

In addition to this the Society possesses the Albert 
Medal, founded, as hereinafter stated, in 1863, to com- 
memorate the Presidency of Prince Albert. 1 The designs 
for both obverse and reverse of this were by Leonard 
Wyon, the head being intended as a likeness of the Prince 
during the later years of his life, and the reverse sym- 
bolical of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce. 
1 See Chapter XVI, p. 400, 




To face page 320. 




Presidencies of Lord Romney, the Duke of Norfolk, and the Duke of 
Sussex Annual Prize Distributions The Prince Consort elected 
President The Vice- Presidents The Committees The Secre- 
taryship of More The Transactions The Museum Rusticum 
Dossie and his Memoirs of Agriculture Charles Taylor succeeds 
More, and is succeeded by Arthur Aikin Aikin and his services 
to the Society His Lectures and his Suggestions for the reading 
and discussion of Papers His Resignation and his Successor, 
W. A. Graham The Assistant Secretaries, Box, Thomas Taylor 
the "Platonist," Thomas Woodfall The Registrars, Shipley, 
Tuckwell, W. Bailey, E. M. Bailey, George Cockings, Ann 
Cockings The Society's decadence Attempts at Reform by 
Thomas Webster and others Their eventual Success Whishaw, 
Secretary, succeeded by Scott Russell Formation of a Council 
The Charter. 

WE have now considered the proceedings of the Society 
during the first century of its existence, and the methods 
it adopted, by the distribution of its awards, to encourage 
the progress of Agriculture, Fine Arts, Industry and 
Commerce in the Kingdom and the Colonies. We may 
now devote a chapter to the personnel of the Society, its 
officials and the principal members of its staff, its general 
history, and the changes which were gradually effected in 
its character and its methods. 

On the death of Lord Folkestone in 1 761 , Lord Romney 
was elected President, and he held the office till his own 
death in 1793. From its foundation he had always taken 
the greatest interest in the Society, and during his presid- 



ency he continued to attend regularly. There is no 
doubt that the Society owed a great deal of its early success 
to its first two presidents. 

Lord Romney's portrait, facing page i6,is the head from 
the full-length picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds, painted 
for the Society in 1770. It was engraved by Sherwin 
for the frontispiece to Vol. in. of the Transactions, and 
is now reprinted from the original copper-plate. 

During Lord Romney's presidency a proposal was 
made that the Prince of Wales should be elected patron, 
and His Royal Highness seems to have agreed. At the 
meeting of the Society on i4th December 1785, a letter 
was read from Caleb Whitefoord, 1 saying that the Prince 
would become patron, and the proposal was approved. 
However, at the meeting of the following week (2ist De- 
cember) other counsels prevailed, and the consideration of 
the question was " postponed," not to be revived. The 
reasons for this action are veiled in what was perhaps a 
judicious reticence. 

Lord Romney died in November 1793, and was suc- 
ceeded in the following year by the Duke of Norfolk. 
The Duke had been elected a member of the Society in 
May 1769, as Charles Howard, jun., his father, also Charles 
Howard, having become a member in 1758. The elder 
Howard became tenth Duke of Norfolk in 1777, when his 
son became Earl of Surrey. The tenth Duke died in 

1 Caleb Whitefoord was for long a prominent member of the Society. 
He was a friend of Franklin, being his neighbour in Craven Street, and 
was proposed by him in January 1762. He continued a member till 
his death in 1810. He was then a Vice-President, having been elected 
in 1800, and for many years, from 1786 onwards, he served as Chairman 
of the Committee of Polite Arts. He was Secretary to the Commission 
which concluded peace with America in 1781, but had a greater reputa- 
tion as a wit than as a diplomatist. Burke described him as nothing 
more than a diseur de bons mots, but he was well known and popular in 
Society. He was a friend of Johnson, Goldsmith, Garrick, and Foote. 
The Society possesses a portrait of him painted by an unknown artist, 
and another portrait, engraved by Holl from a painting by Stuart, 
forms the frontispiece of Vol. xxix. of the Transactions. He presented 
Templeman's portrait to the Society, and was also instrumental in 
obtaining the portrait of Shipley. A short memoir of him is included 
in the preface to the volume of the Transactions above mentioned. 


1786, when he was succeeded by his son as eleventh Duke. 
He was made a Vice-President in 1791, and was elected 
President at the election of officers in 1 794 

He was a man of considerable natural ability and of 
independent character. He was distinctly eccentric, and 
was a frequent subject for Gilray's caricatures. Slovenly 
in his habits and dress, and too much addicted to con- 
viviality, he was yet a liberal patron of literature and the 
arts, a ready speaker, and endowed with plenty of common 
sense. He was extremely popular, especially in Cumber- 
land, and in the borough of Carlisle, which he repre- 
sented for some time in Parliament. But he lacked self- 
control, and allowed himself a licence in speech and be- 
haviour for which only his great rank procured toleration. 
He insulted the King, and was deprived of certain of his 
commissions. At one time he was intimate with the 
Prince of Wales, but they quarrelled. Their reconcilia- 
tion was celebrated by the disgraceful practical joke 
played upon the Duke in his old age by the Prince, and 
described in scathing language by Thackeray in the Four 
Georges. The Duke, himself a sufficiently seasoned toper, 
was invited from Arundel to the Pavilion at Brighton, 
and there made most disgracefully drunk. Readers of 
Thackeray's brilliant but very one-sided essays will 
remember the sorry story well enough. 

He certainly did not take the same keen personal 
interest in the Society's welfare as did his two predecessors, 
but he made a good and attentive President, and at all 
events performed efficiently the ceremonial functions of 
his office. He attended regularly at the annual distri- 
bution of prizes, and occasionally at other meetings 
when important business had to be transacted. It was 
owing to the Duke's objection to the proposal that the 
resolution giving permission to Barry in 1801 to substitute 
portraits of King George in. and Queen Caroline for those 
of Lords Folkestone and Romney, then in the Great 
Room, was rescinded. 1 

The Duke of Norfolk died in December 1815, and his 
death was formally reported at the ordinary meeting 
1 See Chapter III, p. 80. 


of the Society on the 2Oth of that month. At the next 
meeting, on loth January 1816, it was proposed that the 
Duke of Sussex should be nominated in his stead. The 
Duke was a member of some four years' standing, having 
been elected in April 1811, when he paid the usual life 
membership fee of 21. An extraordinary meeting was 
called for ist February, and His Royal Highness was 
elected by 180 votes to 24 over the Earl of Liverpool, 
who had also been proposed. At the same meeting a 
deputation was appointed to wait on the Duke and to 
invite him to accept the presidency. The deputation was 
received at Kensington Palace on the twelfth of the same 
month. The Duke made a very courteous and com- 
plimentary reply to the elaborate address presented by the 
deputation, and accepted the office, apparently with some 
gratification. He attended the next meeting of the 
Society two days later (i4th February 1816), was duly 
inducted into the chair, and conducted the regular business 
of the meeting. 

The sixth son of George m., the Duke of Sussex was a 
man of liberal sentiments, genial manners, and intellectual 
tastes. He took a genuine interest in art and in science, 
and was well qualified for such a post as the presidency. 
He liked the work, and did it well, and enjoyed acting as 
figure-head on all ceremonial occasions. Afterwards (from 
1830 to 1839) he acted as President of the Royal Society, 
and in both offices he made himself popular. That he 
should take any active share in the management of either 
society was not to be expected, but he was always ready 
to attend any functions which required his presence, and 
discharged the duties required on such occasions with 
unvarying amiability and dignity. 

So far as the Society of Arts was concerned, the most 
important functions for its President were the annual 
dinner and the annual distribution of premiums. The 
latter ceremonial was for many years held in the Society's 
own room, but the attendance grew too large for the 
limited accommodation, and after a good deal of con- 
sideration, when it became clear, after several years' 
experience of inconvenient crowding, that the meeting- 


room was too small for the numbers attending, a move was 
made in 1816 to Freemasons' Hall. In 1820 the distribu- 
tion was held in the Argyll Rooms, 1 and in 1822, as the 
crowds still grew, Drury Lane Theatre was hired for the 
occasion. It is clear that the event had become an im- 
portant social function. There was a military band, a body 
of stewards was organised, and a staff of policemen was 
engaged. Altogether it was a very important ceremonial, 
requiring not a little fuss and organisation. The secretary 
was required to deliver an appropriate address two of 
Aikin's are printed in the Transactions. 2 

For some years these celebrations were continued at 
Drury Lane or at the King's Theatre, 3 but in 1829, either 
the attractions of the ceremony had diminished, or the 
decreasing funds of the Society rendered economy desir- 
able, and it was decided to return to the more modest 
arrangement of a prize distribution in the Society's Great 
Room. In that year two separate meetings were arranged, 
one for the prizes in Polite Arts, and the second a month 
later for the other awards. In the following year a single 
meeting only was held and all the prizes were presented on 
the same day. This arrangement, however, was not 
popular, and in 1831 Exeter Hall was engaged. The same 
plan was followed for the next four years. Then for three 
years (1836 to 1838) the Society went to the Hanover 
Square Rooms, and in 1839, again hampered by failing 
resources, it came back to the Adelphi and had its annual 
distribution in its own meeting-room. 

In June 1840, the Duke of Sussex proposed Prince 
Albert for membership of the Society, and he was at once 
elected. The Duke of Northumberland and Lord Radnor 
were his other sponsors. His Royal Highness qualified as a 
life member. His marriage with Queen Victoria had taken 

1 These Rooms were on the east side of Regent Street, at the corner 
of Little Argyll Street. They were built by Nash in 1818, and must 
not be confounded with the Argyll Rooms in Windmill Street, which, 
as Mr. Wheatley says in London Past and Present, acquired an " un- 
savoury reputation " and had no history. 

2 Transactions, vol. xxxv. p. 209 (1817), and vol. xxxvi. p. 179 (1818). 

3 The King's Theatre or Haymarket Opera-House, later known as 
Her Majesty's Theatre. 


place in the previous February, when an address was pre- 
sented by the Society to Her Majesty. 

Three years later, in April 1843, the Duke died, and 
it was at once determined to invite Prince Albert to suc- 
ceed him. A deputation of three of the most distinguished 
Vice-Presidents the Duke of Buccleuch, the Duke of 
Sutherland, and the Marquis of Northampton was 
appointed to invite H.R.H. to accept the presidency. The 
Prince at once acceded, and was elected President on 
26th May of the same year. He entered on his duties by 
presiding at the annual distribution of awards in June. 

The number of Vice-Presidents varied from time to 
time. There were twelve at the end of the eighteenth 
century, nearly all great noblemen, with a few distinguished 
men, who took a more active share in the Society's pro- 
ceedings. The numbers were afterwards increased to about 
twenty, most of the additions being of the latter class, 
more or less active workers, and in 1843 a distinction was 
actually drawn between the " Honorary" and the "Acting" 
Vice-Presidents. There were also eighteen Chairmen of 
Committees, two for each of the nine Committees, which 
remained unchanged for very many years. These were the 
six Premium Committees Arts, Agriculture, Manufactures, 
Mechanics, Chemistry, Colonies and Trade, with three 
others Accounts, Correspondence and Papers, and Mis- 
cellaneous Matters. 

The paid officials were the Secretary, Assistant- 
Secretary, Registrar and Collector. These, with the 
President, Vice-Presidents, and Chairmen of Committees, 
were all elected at the annual meeting. 

Dr. Templeman 1 was succeeded as secretary by 
Samuel More, who had indeed discharged most of the duties 
of the office during the long illness which preceded Temple- 
man's death. He held the post for over thirty years, for 
he was elected in January 1769 (Templeman died in 
the preceding October), and died in October 1799, at the 
age of seventy-four. He was evidently a capable and 
efficient secretary, keenly interested in the Society's work. 
1 See Chapter I, p. 25. 


From an Engraving by W. Sharp, after the Portrait by B. West, P.R.A. 

To face page 326. 


He had been an active member for some ten years before 
he became secretary, and seems to have been both respected 
and popular. Of his private life not very much is recorded. 
A short paragraph in the Gentleman's Magazine reports 
his death, and in the Preface to Vol. xvm. of the Trans- 
actions there are some laudatory comments on his work. 
No biographical information is given, " because it is 
expected that a full account of him will be prefixed to the 
publication of some valuable papers which it is said he has 
bequeathed to the world. " This intention, however, does 
not appear to have been carried out, as no trace of such a 
publication can be found. 

The estimation in which he was held by the members 
is shown by the fact that he was presented with a gold 
medal in 1794 "For eminent services," and also by the 
inclusion of his portrait in Barry's picture, " The Society." 
His portrait was also painted for the Society by Benjamin 
West, P.R.A., in 1796. A fine engraving of the picture 
was made by W. Sharp, 1 and this is reproduced in the 
plate facing page 326. He contributed two papers to the 
Philosophical Transactions, 2 and one, on standards for 
weights and measures, to the Society's Transactions , 3 
besides his unsigned contributions. 

He seems to have been interested in gem-engraving 
and die-sinking. Before he was Secretary he received 
two premiums for collections of " Impressions of Pastes 
resembling Antique Cameos and Intaglios," and it is 
stated in Forrer's Dictionary of Medallists that he made 
-some designs " for the coinage and medals which were 
engraved by Hancock." Forrer gives a cut of a pattern 
halfpenny, which is also described in Crowther's English 
Pattern Coins, p. 45, and in Montagu's Copper Coinage, etc., 
1885, p. 63. The name is misspelt Moore, but it is stated 
that the designer was the Secretary of the Society of Arts. 

1 William Sharp (1749-1824), " One of the most celebrated of English 
line engravers " (Bryan). 

2 " Some Scoriae from Iron Works," Philosophical Transactions 
Abr. vol. xv. p. 182 (1782); "Account of an Earthquake felt in the 
Northern Part of England," ibid. vol. xvi. p. 176 (1787). 

3 Transactions, vol. xii. p. 292. 


It was during More's secretaryship that the Transactions 
were commenced. The need of some permanent record 
of the Society's proceedings was recognised at a very 
early date. It was obviously of little use to stimulate 
invention or to reward progress, unless full information 
of the results obtained could be made public. The 
Society soon became possessed of a good deal of valuable 
information contributed by the competitors for the 
awards, and this it was at first proposed to publish in an 
Historical Register, arrangements for the preparation of 
which, it appears from the minutes, were on several 
occasions discussed. Instructions were given to Templeman 
to prepare such a Register, and two MS. volumes are in 
existence, apparently bound at a later date, and entitled 
Dr. Templeman 's Transactions. These, however, consist 
merely of extracts and compilations from the minutes, a 
copy of the 1759 premium list, the Rules and Orders, a 
list of members elected from April 1755, to April 1758, 
and similar matter. There are only two documents of 
any importance. One is a manuscript copy of the 
pamphlet published in 1721, containing a proposal for 
the formation of a London " Chamber of Arts," referred 
to in the first chapter. 1 As no copy of this pamphlet, so 
far as the present writer is aware, has been preserved, 
Dr. Templeman's MS. copy is of interest. The scheme 
suggested is so much like that of the Society, that it 
looks as if Shipley, or some one of the founders, was familiar 
with the proposal. There is also a copy of a draft charter 
for an Academy of Arts without any date. This was no 
doubt the draft submitted to the Society in 1755 by Sir 
Henry Cheere, but not approved. It is very full and 
complete, but the scheme was one for an Academy of Arts, 
not for an industrial Society, such as was really in the 
minds of the founders of the Society of Arts. 

On the whole, it is fairly evident from the contents of 
these volumes that if Dr. Templeman had been able to 
complete and publish his Historical Register, it would not 
have added very much to the information available about 
the Society's early years. 

1 See Chapter I, p. 6. 


According to a statement by Arthur Young, 1 a good 
many of the communications made to the Society were 
published as pamphlets, in the book De Re Rustica, 2 in 
the Gentleman's Magazine, or in other periodicals. De- 
scriptions of some of the machines rewarded by the 
Society are to be found in an illustrated work entitled 
The Advancement of Art, Manufactures, and Commerce, or 
Descriptions of the Useful Machines and Models contained 
in the Repository of the Society, published in 1772, by 
William Bailey, who was then Registrar to the Society. 
Various references to this book have already been made. 
It is a quarto volume with a collection of fine illustrations 
in folio. In 1782 another edition was issued by A. M. 
Bailey, who succeeded his father as Registrar in 1773. 
It is in two volumes, folio. The book is of some value, 
as it contains accounts of several pieces of apparatus not 
elsewhere described, and the illustrations, mostly drawn by 
A. M. Bailey and W. Bailey, jun., are very good. William 
Bailey received a bounty of 50 guineas in 1 769 for this work. 3 

The first publication, however, which regularly pub- 
lished a selection from the proceedings of the Society was 
the Museum Rusticum et Commercial, a monthly journal, 
of which six volumes were issued, each containing six of 
the monthly parts. This commenced in 1764 and came 
to an end in 1766. It had no official connection with the 
Society, but it provided a means of publication for some, 
at all events, of the more important and interesting 
matters which were brought before it, though it was by 
no means restricted to the Society's proceedings. 4 

This casual and unofficial method of publication 

1 Farmer's Letters (2nd ed. 1771), vol. i. p. 256. 

2 De Re Rustica, or the Repository for Select Papers in Agriculture, 
Arts and Manufactures, London: 2 vols. 8vo. 1771. 

3 Some further information about the book is given in Ch. XI, p. 239. 

4 Two of the chief contributors to the Museum were Arthur Young 
and Robert Dossie. Young states in his Autobiography (edition of 
1898 by M. Betham-Edwards, p. 33) that the Farmer's Letters 
consisted of his scattered papers in the Museum Rusticum y which, at 
the suggestion of the Rev. Walter Harte, he republished, with additions, 
in a volume. Dossie contributed several articles signed " Agricola," 
and possibly other papers. 


proved unsatisfactory, and its failure suggested to Robert 
Dossie, an active member of the Society, the production 
of a similar work which should contain such memoirs as 
the Society desired to publish, together with other con- 
tributions, and also selections from the published pro- 
ceedings of foreign societies devoted to the Arts and 
Sciences. An arrangement was entered into between 
Dossie and the Society, under which he undertook to 
publish, and they to provide, such communications as 
seemed suitable to both parties. With this understanding, 
Dossie started his Memoirs of Agriculture and other 
(Economical Arts, the first volume of which was published 
in 1768, and contains a resolution, passed by the Society 
in June 1767, to the effect that they " will occasionally 
publish in this Work such Pieces as they shall think proper 
to lay before the Public." It is entirely made up of the 
Society's proceedings, and begins with a list of all the 
awards, other than those in Polite Arts, up to the end of 
1767 ; next follows a brief statement of the Society's 
receipts and expenditure to the same date ; and after this 
is a well-written and excellent account of the Society's 
proceedings, presumably prepared by Dossie himself. 
This occupies the greater part of the book, and it is in 
these pages that the whole early history of the Society 
is to be found. The last hundred pages contain seven 
articles, all but one devoted to agricultural subjects, the 
one exception being an account of the methods for dyeing 
Turkey leather, for disclosing which a reward had been 
granted to one Phillippo. 1 This first volume was followed 
by two others, Vol. n. in 1771, and 1782. The 
later volumes contain a few articles besides those con- 
tributed by the Society, and are for the most part devoted 
to agricultural subjects. Vol. in. continues the list of 
awards down to the year 1776, and also gives a complete 
list of the premiums in Polite Arts down to the same year, 
with some useful biographical notes about the prize- 
winners. Dossie 's intention of continuing the general 
history of the Society was, unfortunately, never fulfilled, 
and, indeed, it is probable that it was interrupted by his 
1 See Chapter XIII, p. 308. 


death, which happened certainly not later than 1783. 
The catalogue of the Advocates' Library gives 1777 as 
the date, but this can hardly be correct. ^In Vol. n. 
of the Society's Transactions (published in 1784) he is 
referred to as " the late Mr. Dossie," and the preface 
to Vol. in. of the Memoirs of Agriculture (1782) is signed 
by him. 

Not very much is known of Robert Dossie, who was 
certainly a skilful chemist and an accomplished writer. 
He was a friend of Dr. Johnson's, and almost the only 
reference to him which appears in contemporary literature 
is to be found in Boswell : 

" Johnson was well acquainted with Mr. Dossie, 
author of a treatise on agriculture, and said of him, ' Sir, 
of the objects which the Society of Arts have chiefly in 
view, the chymical effects of bodies operating upon other 
bodies, he knows more than almost any man.' Johnson, 
in order to give Mr. Dossie his vote to be a member of 
the Society, paid up an arrear which had run on for two 
years.'' 1 

There is a short and inaccurate notice of him in Donald- 
son's Agricultural Biographies, and beyond this there 
seems nothing beyond scattered references in the Society's 
records, and his own books. He was the author of 
several works on chemistry, and he was connected, as 
a contributor, if in no other way, with the Museum Rusti- 
cum. He received a gold medal from the Society in 
1766 for " aiding to establish the manufacture of potash 
in North America," 2 and before this, in 1761, he had re- 
ceived a grant of 100 for his method of purifying oil. 3 
As he was a member at the time this would appear to 
have been irregular, as members were not eligible for 
money prizes , but the grant was made in consideration of 
the expenses to which he had been put in experimenting, 
and no doubt this was considered sufficient justification. 
He was a candidate for the office of secretary in 1760, 

1 Boswell' s Life of Johnson, Birkbeck Hill's Edition, 1887, vol. iv. 
p. ii. Dr. Johnson paid two years' subscriptions on 25th March 1760. 
Dossie was elected on 2nd April of the same year. 

* See Chapter IV, p. 87. 3 See Chapter XII, p. 282. 


when Dr. Templeman was elected, and it was after his 
failure to secure this office that he became a member, 
He was an active and useful member of the Society, 
and a frequent attendant at its committees. 

It may have been Dossie's death, and the consequent 
discontinuance of the Memoirs of Agriculture, that 
brought to a head the proposals for a regular series of 
Transactions. Valentine Green claimed the credit for 
carrying the proposal through, and from the minutes it 
appears that the final decision to publish transactions was 
due to his efforts, but Arthur Young, apparently with 
justice, claims to have originated the idea. In his Auto- 
biography he says, 1 under the date 1772: "This year 
I attended very much the meetings of the Society for the 
encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, as 
well as the Committee of Agriculture, of which I was 
chairman. In a letter from Mr. Butterworth Bayley, he 
lamented the want of a respectable publication by the 
Society of Arts, and called on me to think of some means 
of remedying the misery. When I became chairman of 
the Committee of Agriculture, I was the first to propose 
that annual publication which afterwards took place. 
This proposition was at once acceded to, and Valentine 
Green, the engraver, had the impudence to assert that 
it originated with him." 

In this Young probably refers to his remarks above 
referred to in the Farmer's Letters of 1771, in which 
he dwells very earnestly and with much force on the 
necessity of the Society publishing Transactions, and 
points out that the value of the premiums, though in some 
cases they are " truly munificent," is greatly lessened by 
the absence of any published record. When the Trans- 
actions began to appear Young spoke of them very 
favourably in his Annals, and took the opportunity 
of praising the Society's work generally, as he ve^ 
often did. 2 

The first volume of the Transactions was published 

1 Autobiography of Arthur Young (ed. by M. Betham-Ed wards), 
1 898, p. 59. 

2 Annals of Agriculture^ vol. ii. p. 323. 


in 1 783.* It compares rather unfavourably with Dossiers 
skilful compilation. The original papers are neither 
numerous nor important, and the bulk of the volume is 
made up of mere official records, necessary but insufficient 
by themselves. Subsequent volumes show a marked 
improvement, and the records of the Society's proceedings 
bear a more reasonable proportion to the purely official 
matter. The series was continued to 1844, when it 
ceased with Vol. Lv. 2 Up to 1830 an annual volume 
was published, but from that date to 1843 (Vols. XLVIII. 
to LIV.) each volume consisted of two annual parts. 
Vol. LV. contains only the proceedings of a single session, 
that of 1 843-4. In 1 848, a few years later, an attempt was 
made to start a new series, and a volume was published 
purporting to contain the proceedings for the sessions 
1846-7 and 1847-8. It is a handsome quarto volume, 
containing some good illustrations, a selection of papers 
read before the Society, and the Charter. This was 
eventually treated as Vol. LVI., though on the title-page 
(which bears the date 1852) it is called a " Supplemental 
Volume." In December 1851 a volume called Vol. LVII. 
was published, containing the proceedings for the session 
1850-1. It corresponds in form with the original series, 
and is in no sense a continuation of Vol. LVI. After this 
no further Transactions were published. 

In 1845 there was commenced the issue of a publica- 
tion called the Abstract of Proceedings. This was published 
weekly during the session while meetings were being held. 
At first it consisted only of a few octavo pages of notices 
and general information about the Society, but from 1 848 
onwards it contained abstracts of the papers read. A 
little later it was entitled Weekly Proceedings, and in this 
form it continued till the end of the session for 1851-2, 

1 Vol. in. was printed by John Walter at the "Logographic Press." 
He applied for the contract for Vol. iv. but did not get it. The Minutes 
record rather fully the negotiations with Walter, who replied to a 
question as to whether he considered he had any claim to another 
order, that he would show no "bad temper " if he did not get it. 

2 A general index to the contents of previous volumes of the Trans- 
actions is given in Vols. xxvi. (1808), XL. (1823), and L. (1836). At the 
end of Vol. vm. there is a Catalogue of the Library. 


the last number being dated i7th July 1852. The 
number for i2th June contains a note stating that the 
Council were considering the publication of " a stamped 
weekly Journal/' and with the new session the Journal 
of the Society of Arts was started. The first number of the 
Journal was published on 26th November I852. 1 

After the death of More in October 1799, the usual 
steps were taken for the election of a new secretary. 
Amongst the candidates who applied, besides Charles 
Taylor, who was successful, were included the Rev. Ed- 
mund Cartwright, the inventor of the power-loom, and 
Valentine Green. 2 Valentine Green had for very many 
years taken a leading part in the Society's affairs, but he 
had been involved in a very serious loss by the failure 
of his scheme for publishing a collection of prints from 
the pictures in the Dusseldorf Gallery. It was no doubt 
this which made him apply for the secretaryship, as it 
afterwards led him, on the foundation of the British 
Institution in 1805, to accept the office of its Keeper. 
The committee, which subjected all the candidates to a 
severe catechising, rejected Green but recommended as 
qualified Taylor, Cartwright, and another. 

Cartwright submitted a special memorial of his quali- 
fications, which was afterwards published 3 in a volume 
together with some further information relating to his 
improvements in the steam engine, and his mechanical 
inventions. Much of the matter it contains was incorpor- 
ated in the memoir of his life afterwards published by his 
daughter, Mary Strickland. His qualifications were con- 

1 For some account of the origin of the Journal, see Chapter XVI, 

P- 373- 

2 Valentine Green (1739-1813), the well-known mezzotint en- 
graver, was a member of the Society from 1772 till his death. He was 
one of the most regular attendants and took an active share in its 
proceedings. He was Chairman of the Committee of Polite Arts from 
1780 to 1786, and Chairman of the Committee of Correspondence and 
Papers from 1787 to 1797. In 1773 he received a gold medal " For 
repeated services." 

3 A Memorial read to the Society of Arts . . . With an Appendix." 


siderable, for his experience not only of textile machinery 
but also of agriculture, was very great. He received three 
medals from the Society, a silver medal in 1 803 for a plough, 
a gold medal in 1816 for a horse gear, and a gold medal in 
1817 for experiments on manures. Shortly before the 
date of the election, Cartwright withdrew, and this left 
the field practically open for Taylor, who was elected by 
a large majority in February 1800. 

Taylor was a competent chemist, and, according to 
his statement to the committee, he was known to almost 
all the chemists in Europe. He informed the committee 
that he was the inventor of a method of calico printing 
" by wooden cylinders and sliding metallic cylinders." 
He also claimed to have furnished the Government with 
valuable information on indigo, which had led in the 
eight years from 1789 to 1797 to an increase in the value 
of the export of indigo from the East Indies from i 10,000 
to 558,000. Taylor was for some time engaged in the 
cotton manufacture in Manchester, but, as the short 
notice which appeared in the Transactions after his death 
states, " the opulence which flowed so exuberantly to 
many of his fellow-townsmen did not find its way to him." 1 
He was also among the first to utilise Berthollet's discovery 
of the applicability of chlorine for bleaching, and was said 
to be " the first to produce for sale in the Manchester 
market an entire piece of calico bleached by oxy-muriatic 
acid." His death took place in 1816, after sixteen years' 
service. He appears to have devoted himself energetically 
to his duties, and to have made an efficient secretary, 
without being a man of scientific eminence. 

Arthur Aikin,who succeededTaylorin the secretaryship, 
had, even when he was elected in February 1817, though he 
was then only about thirty-four years of age, acquired a 
much greater scientific reputation than his predecessor. 
He had already been one oi the founders of the Geological 
Society, which was established in 1807, and had published, 
in connection with his brother Charles, a dictionary of 
chemistry and mineralogy and some other works. From 
1 8 1 1 he had been honorary secretary of the Geological 
1 Transactions, vol. xxxv. (1818) p. 8. 


Society. He was an accomplished chemist, and was 
familiar with several branches of industrial chemistry. 
He told the committee, on his examination for the post of 
secretary, that he was then occupied in drawing up patents, 
and in advising on scientific matters. He had also a 
very considerable knowledge of metallurgy, and was a 
good botanist. He was the eldest son of John Aikin, M.D., 
a brother of Lucy Aikin, and a nephew of Mrs. Barbauld. 
His father was a friend of Priestley, and it was his associa- 
tion with that distinguished philosopher that led Arthur 
Aikin to the study of science. He was first intended for 
the Unitarian ministry, but he abandoned this idea in 
early life, and devoted himself entirely to science. He held 
the office of secretary for twenty-three years, and after 
his resignation in 1839 he became chairman of the Com- 
mittee on Chemistry. He also became the first treasurer 
of the Chemical Society, which was founded in 1841 at a 
meeting held in the Society's room, and afterwards (1843- 
45) its President. 1 He was never married, and died in 


To Aikin was certainly due the initiative of a change in 
the Society's methods, which ultimately had the result of 
turning the Society from a purely premium-giving body 
into one whose main object became the dissemination of 
information about the industrial arts and sciences, and the 
publication of new discoveries and inventions of an 
industrial character. The change was not effected during 
Aikin 's secretaryship, but it was certainly completed 
before his death, though that completion was effected by 
other hands than his. The foundation was laid by his 
proposal that courses of lectures on manufactures should 
be organised, and arrangements made for the reading and 
discussion of papers at the evening meetings. 

So far as the lectures were concerned Aikin not only 
suggested that they should be given, but gave them him- 
self. From 1829, when the scheme was first started, to 

1 The first regular meeting of the Chemical Society was held on 
3Oth March 1841. After this, for some time, its meetings were held 
fortnightly at the Society of Arts' House. See Gentleman's Magazine 
(N.S.), vol. xv. pt. i. p. 527. 


From a Daguerreotype. 

To face page 336. 


1842, after he had resigned the secretaryship, he continued 
to deliver, year after year, excellent and well-illustrated 
courses on various branches of manufacture. The subjects 
were very varied. They included glass, pottery, paper- 
making, furs, tanning, silk, sugar, artificial lighting, timber, 
horn and tortoiseshell, and other equally divergent topics. 
At first practically the whole of the work was carried 
out, and very efficiently carried out, by the secretary, 
though after two or three years Aikin only gave annually 
one or two of the " illustrations," and the bulk of the work 
was taken over by others. The lectures were much ap- 
preciated, and did something to keep up the waning popu- 
larity and reputation of the Society. Aikin received no pay- 
ment for the work, and a proposal in 1831 to present him 
with a gold medal was not carried, though the award was 
fully merited, and might well have been given. There is 
nothing in the minutes to show why the proposal was not 
adopted, but it appears that Aikin himself declined it, on 
the ground that he was an officer of the Society. At all 
events, a vote of thanks was substituted, couched in very 
warm and complimentary terms. Before he resigned his 
office, however, a testimonial was presented to him, in 
the form of a valuable microscope, with an inscription testi- 
fying to the esteem in which he was held, and to the value 
at which his services to the Society were rated. The 
instrument is now in the possession of his grand-nephew. 
Moreover, he got his gold medal eventually, for when he 
retired in 1839 it was voted to him unanimously, and he 
was also made a life member. Few compliments could 
have been better deserved, for during his twenty- two 
years' service he devoted himself earnestly to the Society, 
and it was certainly no fault of his that his single-minded 
efforts were not entirely successful. In after years his 
labours bore fruit, and he lived long enough to see their 

Even more important as regards its permanent effects 
wasthe substitution of papers and discussions at the ordinary 
meetings for the mere consideration of inventions compet- 
ing for prizes. There is no definite evidence in the records 
to prove that this change was Aikin 's doing, but there is 


not much doubt that it was due to his initiative. Among 
the suggestions made in 1828 for rendering the meetings 
more attractive was one that, instead of confining the 
discussions to inventions submitted for awards, a notice 
should be issued that the Society would welcome communi- 
cations of interest on suitable subjects for reading and 
consideration only. Such papers had indeed always been 
received, and, if considered worthy, printed in the Trans- 
actions. As far back as 1784, Daines Harrington made 
two interesting communications to the Society, one on silk 
and one on tobacco, and both were published in the second 
volume of the Transactions. But such papers were rare, 
and it was considered to be contrary to the spirit of the 
Society to invite them, because it looked like holding out 
an oifer of a prize and so prejudging the decision of the 
members. It was, however, realised that publication 
was often more important than the grant of a medal, and 
that many inventors and students would welcome the 
chance of publishing their ideas who would not care to 
enter in competition for a prize, or might, for various 
reasons, not be eligible if they did. Accordingly a notice 
was issued in the Transactions for 1829, that papers would 
be received for reading and publication only. The pro- 
posal proved popular, and before long such papers were 
found to be among the most important contributions 
to the annual volume. The system gradually developed, 
until in another ten years we find that the reading of such 
papers came to be the most important business of the 
meetings, as eventually it became the most important 
business of the Society. And when, as we shall see later, 
the whole proceedings of the Society were reformed, a 
special committee was appointed to secure suitable papers. 
At first they were only printed in abstract, but even in 
this form they are interesting, and among them are many 
communications of importance. 

It was in May 1839 that Aikin sent in his resignation, 
but he did not actually retire till the beginning of the new 
session in the autumn. In December, W. A. Graham was 
elected as his successor, but he only held office for three 
years, for he resigned in December 1842 


During the period covered by the secretaryships of 
Templeman, More, Taylor, and Aikin, there were many 
changes in the staff of the Society. As previously stated, 1 
Box became assistant secretary on the appointment of 
Templeman as secretary. He held the office till 1779, 
when he retired from failing health, having served the 
Society in various capacities for twenty-three years. Till 
1 771 he also acted as collector, but he then gave up that part 
of his duties, no doubt in consequence of his health, which, 
it appears, was but feeble for some years before he actually 
resigned. He was succeeded as collector by Abraham 
Brockelbank, the man who was first appointed (Thomas 
Dawson) being discharged after a few months, because he 
was unable to find the necessary security. As assistant 
secretary Box was followed by Richard Samuel, who was 
elected in May 1779. He died in the summer of 1787, 
and was succeeded by John Samuel, presumably a relation, 
who was first appointed temporarily to do the work, and 
was formally elected in November 1787. He served for 
a little over ten years, and died just before the annual 
election of officers in March 1 798, when the post of assistant 
secretary was left vacant. Bowman, the collector ,| was 
engaged to fill the vacancy, pending the regular appoint- 
ment of a new assistant secretary, and in April 1798 
Thomas Taylor was elected. 

Taylor, known as the " Platonist," was distinctly an 
eccentric character. He was an ardent student of the 
Greek philosophers and of mathematical philosophy, 
though he was absolutely unqualified either by aptitude 
or education to appreciate either branch of knowledge. He 
was the son of a London stay-maker, and was born in 1758. 
Though he was at St. Paul's School for three years, he does 
not seem to have profited much by the teaching he got 
there. After serving as an usher in a Paddington school 
he obtained a clerkship in Lubbock's Bank, and appears to 
have eked out his moderate financial resources by literary 
hackwork. Being lucky enough to have an annuity of 
100 left to him, he gave up his clerkship, and applied for 
the assistant secretaryship. He held the post for seven 
1 See Chapter I, p. 23. 


years, till November 1805, when he resigned on the 
ground of ill-health. He wrote in a very desponding tone 
about his health, but recovered, and lived for another 
thirty years, devoting himself assiduously to the work of 
translating and expounding the writings of the ancient 
philosophers. " His equipment for this enterprise left 
much to be desired. Critical faculty he had none. No 
doubt of the historic personality of Orpheus or the 
authenticity of the hymns ascribed to him ever crossed his 
mind ; the mystical neo-Pythagorean mathematics he 
esteemed the true science, which the Arabians and their 
European successors had corrupted. . . . But with an 
ardour which neither neglect nor contempt could damp, he 
plodded laboriously on until he had achieved a work never 
so much as contemplated in its entirety by any of his 
predecessors." l This is rather a hard saying, but it 
appears to be justified. Still, Taylor seems to have been a 
kindly and amiable character. Although he was, and 
probably always will be, regarded as a half-crazy enthusiast, 
he had many friends, and appears to have been much liked. 
The list of his translations and dissertations occupies nearly 
three columns of the Dictionary of National Biography, 
so he was a most laborious and industrious author. The 
best, perhaps, that can be said of his writings is that they 
were voluminous. They were certainly but little appreci- 
ated when they were written, and the lapse of time has 
added neither interest nor value. He died in 1835. 

When Taylor resigned, his post was temporarily filled 
by John Taylor, who was apparently a relation, perhaps 
his son, as he is spoken of as " Mr. Taylor, jun.," and 
in February 1806, Charles Combe was appointed. He 
held the post for less than a year, for he resigned in 
January 1807, and in the following March Thomas Wood- 
fall was appointed. He was a son of William Woodfall, 
a brother of Henry Sampson Woodfall, the publisher of 
Junius's Letters , and the conductor of the Public Advertiser. 
William was a journalist and reporter, endowed with an 
extraordinary memory, on which he relied for his reports. 

1 Life of Taylor, by J. M. Rigg, in the Dictionary of National 


Thomas Woodfall had a printing business, which he was 
allowed to retain after he became assistant secretary, and 
he seems to have done some of the Society's printing. He 
continued in the Society's service till I842. 1 

When, in October 1760, Shipley resigned the office 
of Registrar (the title is always spelt " register "), he was 
succeeded by E. G. Tuckwell, who continued in office till 
1766. On his resignation William Bailey was appointed. 
His excellent account of the machines and models in 
the Society's collection has already been mentioned > 2 
He died in January 1773, and the post was given to 
his son, Alexander Mabyn Bailey. He held it for six 
years, but resigned in March 1779 to avoid discharge. 
He seems not to have given satisfaction, and the Society, 
for some reason, disapproved of his action in bringing out 
a second edition of his father's book, or, at all events, in 
soliciting subscriptions for it. This second edition was, 
however, duly brought out, and, so far as the work itself 
goes, it is a credit to the Society. 

He was succeeded by a man whose name was associated 
with the Society for nearly eighty years. George Cockings 
Was appointed porter in November 1765, in place of a man 
discharged for accepting a gratuity of 5 from a candidate 
for a premium. In 1777, when Brockelbank died, he suc- 
ceeded him as collector, and when A. M. Bailey resigned, he 
was appointed registrar. He had wished to offer himself 
for the post in 1 766, but this had not been permitted. His 
election as registrar took place in May 1 779, at the meeting 
when Richard Samuel was elected assistant secretary. 

Before he entered the Society's service, Cockings had 
held some small Government appointment in Boston, 
North America. He is noticed in various biographical 
dictionaries (including the Dictio nary of National Biography) 
on the ground of his having produced certain inferior 
poems and dramas. Of most of these the present writer 
is not in a position to offer any opinion, as he has not 
felt it his duty to study them, but one particular epic, 
" Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce," written in 1766, 
no doubt in the first flush of satisfaction at being ap- 
1 See p. 349. 2 See Chapter XI, p. 239, and Chapter XV, p. 329. 


pointed porter, he has sampled, and he can only express 
a regretful belief that the very contemptuous opinions of 
the critics of his other works are probably fully justified. 1 
But Cockings was a better official than he was a poet. 
He worked himself up from a very humble post to a 
responsible position. In one capacity or another he 
served the Society well for thirty-seven years, and he 
evidently gained the esteem and approval of his employers 
long before his death in February 1802. 

For some years previous to his death he had been 
assisted in his work by his daughter, Ann Birch Cockings, 
and she was appointed his successor, with the title of house- 
keeper, but practically with the same duties as her father. 
This office she held for forty-two years, till her death in 
February 1844. She was evidently a very remarkable 
woman, endowed with great force of character, and it is 
quite clear that during the later years of her life she practi- 
cally ruled the Society. Tradition records that she had a 

1 It may be but reasonable to give readers an opportunity of judging 
for themselves. The following extracts are fair specimens, and are 
selected because of the courage they show in compelling the muse to 
treat subjects generally held to be beyond her competence : 

" On Principles of Skill (well understood,) 
With plain intelligible Aptitude, 
To polish Glass, a "new Machine comes forth, 
(Whose future Trials may proclaim its Worth ;) 
'Tis work'd by windy Pow'r, or watry Force, 
Or by a circumambulating Horse : 
Two diff'rent Ways the Crank, the Runner guides, 
As o'er a subject Plate it gently glides ; 
By other Cranks, some Polishers are made 
At first t' advance, and then turn retrograde ; 
And as they o'er the Spheres, and Basons pass, 
Polish the convex, and the concave Glass." 

And again : 

"Efford contrives a Rod, by Rules of Art, 
For Mensuration of th' internal Part 
Of any Cask, which gives th' exact Contents, 
Better than any other Instruments : 
Inserted thro' the Bung, compactly shut, 
And thro' the Liquid perpendic'lar put, 
By an expanding Pow'r, 'tis open thrown, 
Both Bung, and Length, at once are truly shown." 


bitter tongue as well as a strong will, and she was appar- 
ently a lady of some humour. She is said to have retorted 
to an importunate applicant who wanted to interview 
the secretary, that " one old woman ought to do as well 
as another." The story may serve to show the view 
she took of her own duties, and of her relation to the other 
officials of the Society. She became eventually, in name 
as well as in fact, registrar and librarian, as well as house- 
keeper, and if she never assumed the title of secretary, 
she probably did her share even of the secretary's work. 
Apparently a truculent and masterful old lady, she was 
an earnest and devoted servant, who was appreciated 
and esteemed by the masters whom she ruled. When 
she died, they subscribed for a monument in Kensal 
Green " in grateful remembrance of the perfect integrity 
and the constant and zealous diligence with which she 
performed the duties of her office." * The Society 
possesses her portrait, a work of moderate merit, by Miss 
E. A. Drummond. 2 

Aikin was certainly the most accomplished secretary 
the Society had had since the death of Templeman, but 
this did not prevent the Society's decline during the term 
of his office. This is not to say that he was in any way 
to blame for the result. Indeed it appears from what 
has been said above that he realised that the time had 
come for a change in the Society's methods, and he did 
his best to initiate such a change. There is good authority 
for believing that he in later life stated to his brother and 
his nephew that he could never get his ideas properly 
supported by the influential members of the Society, 
and the history of the years immediately following his 
resignation renders the accuracy of such a statement 
not only probable but obvious. It is very likely that 
he was not specially endowed with those qualities which 
go to make a good man of business, but he was a man of 
refined and cultivated intelligence, who had also the 
gift of making himself liked by those with whom he had 

1 Transactions, vol. Iv. (1845) P- xvi - 

2 See Chapter VIII, p. 174, and Appendix III. 


to work. Still the fact remains that at the end of his 
secretaryship the influence and reputation of the Society 
had reached a very low point. Its resources had fallen off 
and the number of its supporters had seriously diminished. 
As a matter of fact, the Society's revenues had 
been for some years decreasing. Its period of greatest 
prosperity had been in the first ten years of its existence. 
The largest amount subscribed in any one year was in 
1763, when a sum of 4614 was collected. In succeeding 
years we find a gradual falling off, till at the end of the 
century the average income was about 2000. In 1804 
a careful examination was made into the Society's financial 
condition, and an analysis of receipts and expenditure for 
the seven years ending with 1803 is given in one of the 
volumes of committee minutes. From this it appears 
that the annual receipts just balanced the annual expendi- 
ture, there being a trifling surplus, about 150, on the 
results of the seven years' work. At this date about 
50,000 had been expended in premiums since the Society's 
foundation. For the next quarter of a century the income 
fluctuated about this same figure of 2000, with a tendency 
to decline, and then it began to drop, till we find that 
the balance-sheet for the year ending June 1837 shows a 
total revenue of only 1235, and a debt of nearly 300. 
After this things went from bad to worse, until, as we 
shall see later on, the Society was reorganised, and its 
affairs again put on a prosperous and satisfactory footing. 
The causes for this unfortunate condition of an institu- 
tion which had for long been so prosperous and so popular 
were no doubt various. The political and economic 
state of the country may have contributed. For long 
after the end of the Napoleonic wars there was serious 
industrial depression, and this must have reacted on a 
Society whose main objects were industrial. Also it had 
to contend with the competition of many similar institu- 
tions. By the end of the first half of the nineteenth 
century there had been founded the Royal Academy, the 
Linnean, Geological, Chemical, Agricultural, and Geo- 
graphical Societies, the Royal Institution and the London 
Institution, the Institutions of Civil Engineers and of 


British Architects all occupying ground once left to the 
Royal Society and the Society of Arts. But it is certain 
that the main factor was the obsolete character alike 
of the Society's objects and of the manner in which they 
were carried into effect. Its constitution badly needed 
reform, and until that reform was effected, as it was a 
few years later, the Society remained incapable of useful 
work, and was consequently not likely to receive public 

The idea of encouraging industrial progress by the 
award of prizes, useful at a time when practical applications 
of science were unknown, and invention required all the 
artificial stimulus it could get, was out of date. As the 
distribution of such prizes was obviously ineffective, people 
were less ready to provide money for them, and so the whole 
scheme came near collapse. Besides, had the scheme 
been sound, the manner of its administration was in- 
effective. The whole business of the Society was carried 
on in open meetings, which all members had a right to 
attend, and at which consequently the attendance was 
always varying. The natural result was that the less 
work there was to do, the greater was the expenditure 
of time and talk. 

Much time was occupied in discussing the proper way 
of transacting business, and in making elaborate regula- 
tions to that end. The story goes that Lord Brougham, 
on one occasion attending a meeting of the Society, went 
off with an outspoken declaration as to what he hoped 
might be his final fate if he ever wasted his time with a 
Society that spent all its time in discussing " rules and 
orders/' Thus was lost to the Society the energy after- 
wards expended in promoting the Society for the Diffusion 
of Useful Knowledge and the Social Science Association, 
two institutions which owed much to Lord Brougham's 

To such a serious condition had the Society's affairs 
come, that at the first meeting of the session 1841-42, the 
Committee of Accounts reported that it had practically 
used up all its available resources, that its revenue was 
insufficient to meet its expenditure, and that of its accumu- 


lated funds only some 400 was available to meet future 
deficiencies. A special committee was at once appointed 
to consider the position of the Society and to suggest 
" means by which the Society can be rendered more 
efficient, both as regards its objects, management, and 
constitution." The chairman of the committeewas Thomas 
Webster, 1 and its appointment was the beginning of the 
much-needed reforms which he, and a small party of which 
he was the leader, eventually succeeded in bringing about. 
This committee, which was only appointed on i7th 
November, produced at the meeting of 15th December 
an excellent and exhaustive report, one characteristic of 
which was its extreme candour, and another the clear 
insight it showed into the causes of the Society's decay. 
Two passages are worth quotation : 

" Among the causes which have contributed to the 
present state of the Society the most prominent appears 
to be the want of an efficient governing body to direct the 
general proceedings and the internal regulations, upon the 
proper control of which the success of every society so 
much depends. 

" From the period when the Society was established 
to the present time, the system pursued has differed from 
that of all other societies instituted for the promotion of 
science and art, in which a council or committee of general 
management has always been considered essential. 

' The want of a superintending council was not for 
many years perceived or felt. But with the rapidly 
spreading taste for useful knowledge and scientific pursuits, 
other societies arose of a popular character, and the 
consequences soon became apparent in the diminished 

1 Thomas Webster (1810-75), afterwards Q.C., and an eminent 
patent lawyer. At this time he had only lately been called to the Bar, 
after acting for two years (1837-39) as Secretary of the Institution of 
Civil Engineers. Associated with him in the reform of the Society 
were Edward Speer, George Bailey, J. Scott Russell (the eminent 
engineer, afterwards Secretary), John Bethell, Joseph Woods (architect, 
geologist, and botanist), and William Tooke, solicitor. Thomas 
Webster's second son, Richard, afterwards became Lord Alverstone, 
L.C.J., and he has followed his father's example by his devotion to 
the interests of the Society. 


funds of this Society, whose great object is the promotion 
of the useful arts rather than the personal gratification 
of its members." 

" Another prominent cause has been the withdrawal 
of active members from the committees, the consequence 
of which has been a want of confidence in the decisions 
and a falling off in the number and value of the reports of 
the committees. These, and other causes combined, have 
led to a decline in the interest of the weekly meetings, 
the proceedings of which are now principally confined to 
discussions of rule and order, accounts and other matters, 
not tending to promote the interest of the Society." 

After some very judicious remarks on the wide field 
open to the Society, notwithstanding the competition 
of newly-instituted societies with more specialised objects, 
in the application of science to the arts and manufactures, 
it goes on to suggest the formation of a governing body 
or council, to consist of the chairmen of the six principal 
committees, the president, two vice-presidents, and 
two treasurers. The three other committees would be 
abolished, their duties being transferred to the council. 

Among the various other suggestions made in the report, 
certainly the most important are that the principal object 
of the Wednesday evening meetings should be the reading 
and discussion of communications on the arts and manu- 
factures of the country, and that the exclusion of patented 
inventions from awards had been " extremely detrimental 
to the interests of the Society." 

However, when this very judicious report was sub- 
mitted to a general meeting of the Society in the following 
January (1842), it met with distinct opposition. Eventu- 
ally most of its proposals were disapproved, and after a 
good deal of argument another committee was appointed, 
which in its turn reported advising a number of economies, 
the result of which must certainly have been the winding-up 
of the Society for good and all. One of these suggestions 
was that there should no longer be a salaried secretary, 
but that the office should be placed in commission, its 
duties being discharged by a committee of five members. 


Graham, the secretary, promptly resigned his office, and 
things appear to have got into a general muddle. Webster's 
committee was reappointed, and they prepared a report 
practically on the same lines as their previous one. This 
time they took the precaution of submitting it to the 
President, the Duke of Sussex, who cordially approved it, 
adopted it as his own, and sent it as such to the general 
body. It was, of course, accepted without much further 
demur, and in April 1843 it was finally adopted. In the 
following month a resolution of thanks to Webster was 
passed, which shows that, in spite of what seems to have 
been merely factious opposition, the Society appreciated 
his labours on their behalf. This was the last service 
rendered by the Duke to the Society, for he died in the 
same month, April 1843. It was, however, no trifling one, 
for it enabled the necessary reforms to be effected, and thus 
helped to start the Society on a new and prosperous career. 

Part of the committee's work was to provide for the 
immediate carrying on of the regular work of the office. 
They therefore recommended that a temporary arrange- 
ment for filling the office of secretary should be made, and 
at their request Webster undertook to find a suitable person. 
He had but lately resigned the office of Secretary of the In- 
stitution of Civil Engineers, and was therefore thoroughly 
familiar with the ordinary routine of a society's work. 
At a meeting of the Miscellaneous Matters Committee, in 
January 1843, he produced a letter from Francis Whishaw, 
an engineer, who was then known principally as the 
author of a volume published in 1 840 on The Railways of 
Great Britain and Ireland, in which Whishaw offered to 
act temporarily as secretary on the terms proposed two 
guineas a week, together with the use of certain of the 
rooms in the secretary's house. This offer was accepted, 
and Whishaw was appointed. At the annual election, 
in April 1843, Whishaw 's name was placed on the balloting 
list, and he was duly elected at a salary of 150 a year 
and a house. 

Among other recommendations of the committee was 
included one to the effect that it was not desirable to 
continue the office of assistant secretary, and notice was 


given to Woodfall, in March 1843, tnat his services would 
be dispensed with, but that his salary would be paid until 
the end of the session, and that he would have an addi- 
tional grant of i oo . A very complimentary vote of thanks 
was also passed to him at the annual meeting, and he was 
presented with a set of Barry's etchings, a gift which at 
the time was made by the Society to various people to 
whom it was desired to pay a compliment. Woodfall at 
first protested, but eventually expressed himself as entirely 
satisfied, although he said that it was with very great 
regret that he gave up a post which he had held for 
thirty-seven years. He appears to have discharged all 
his duties efficiently. On several occasions additional 
grants were made in augmentation of his salary, which was 
always on a moderate scale. 

For some months Whishaw carried on the work without 
assistance, but in October 1844 he was authorised to 
engage somebody to help him, and he engaged S. T. 
Davenport, then a young man of twenty-one. Davenport 
developed into a very valuable and trusted official, for 
he served the Society in various capacities for over thirty 
years till his death in i8?6. 1 

Whishaw held the secretaryship for nearly two years, 
until November 1845, when he wrote that he wished to 
resign, as he had accepted some other work which would 
prevent his giving proper attention to that of the Society. 
This work appears to have been an appointment in con- 
nection with Prosser's wooden railway. 2 At tr;e same time 
he stated that Mr. Scott Russell was willing to undertake 
the work of secretary, and proposed that he should be 

1 See Chapter XVI, p. 366. 

2 This was a scheme for the use of wooden rails, which it was thought 
would be cheaper than rails of iron. The inventor was William Prosser, 
the Secretary of the Metropolitan Railway Company, who took patents 
out for his invention in 1843 and l8 44- An experimental line was laid 
down on Wimbledon Common. Although favourably reported on by 
Major-General Pasley, Inspector-General of Railways, the scheme never 
came into practical use. Prosser himself did well out of it, for his 
rights were purchased by the London and South- Western for 20,000. 
He also received 32,000 from an Irish line. A full account of the 
system will be found in the Engineer, 5th January 1900, p. 9. 


nominated jointly with himself. This offer was accepted, 
and Scott Russell was appointed. At the annual election 
in the following year, in April 1846, Scott Russell was 
elected secretary, Whishaw being elected corresponding 
secretary. In 1 848 he was made auditor, and after this his 
official connection with the Society terminated ; but he 
had been elected a life member on his resignation of the 
secretaryship, and he continued to take an interest in the 
Society's work. The chief thing for which he is to be 
remembered is that he originated the idea of holding ex- 
hibitions, first on a small scale in the Society's rooms, and 
afterwards in the form of a national exhibition of industries. 
A full account of this work will be found in the chapter 
dealing with the early history of the 1851 Exhibition. 1 

Although, both before and after his connection with 
the Society, Whishaw appears to have been fully occupied 
in work associated with the construction of railways and 
of electric telegraphs, his career was, on the whole, not a 
fortunate one. In later life he seems to have suffered 
a good deal from illness, and eventually he died, in October 
1856, in Marylebone Workhouse. 2 

The most important reform, however, suggested by 
Webster's committee was that a Council or managing 
committee should be appointed, which should have full 
control of the Society's business, thus taking it out of the 
hands of the general body, and this was really the crux 
of the whole business. Though the change was greatly 
disliked by the excellent persons who had found amuse- 
ment and occupation in the control of the Society's affairs, 
the reform had been passed, and, in order to carry it into 

1 See Chapter XVII, p. 403. 

2 A full biography of Whishaw is given in the Proceedings of the In- 
stitution of Civil Engineers, vol. xvi. p. 143. The account of his connec- 
tion with the Society requires a little modification, for it attributes to 
Whishaw's efforts rather more importance than is actually their due. 
It does not mention his unhappy end, about which, however, there 
is no doubt. It is recorded in Boase's Modern English Biography 
(1901), vol. iii. p. 1306, and in the Gentleman's Magazine (November 
1856, p. 642). The facts have also been verified by the Clerk of the 
Marylebone Board of Guardians, who, at the request of the writer, very 
kindly made a search in the records of the Marylebone Workhouse. 


effect, a complete revision of the old rules and orders of the 
Society was necessary. Such a revision was made, and in 
December 1845 new rules and regulations were passed, 
establishing a managing committee or Council, and giving 
that body the necessary powers. It was to consist of the 
chairmen of committees, together with a certain number 
of elected members. The first meeting of the Council was 
held on 6th December 1845, with Edward Speer in the 
chair. For the first few months of its existence the 
Council seems to have had no regular chairman, but after 
its election, at the annual meeting in March 1846, Edward 
Speer and George Bailey l were elected chairmen, and this 
arrangement was repeated in 1847 an d 1848. 

The Council very soon got into active work, and the 
wisdom of the change became evident. Its proceedings, 
however, and the many useful alterations it introduced 
into the work and the character of the Society, will be more 
fitly considered when we come to deal with the history of 
the Society after the grant of a Royal Charter, the obtain- 
ment of which was one of the first matters with which the 
new council dealt. 

It is rather remarkable that no steps had ever before 
been taken towards making the Society a chartered body, 
although, as will be remembered, the suggestion that a 
charter should be applied for was one of the very earliest 
matters considered. Whether the original proposal con- 
templated a charter for the Society in its original form, or 
a charter for an academy of painting and sculpture, is 
not quite clear, but at all events it was in the latter form 
that the proposal was submitted to the Society in 1 75 5 , and, 
as previously mentioned, a complete draft of a charter for 
a Royal Academy of Arts is preserved among Dr. Temple- 
man's papers . It may have been intended that the Society 

1 George Bailey (1792-1860) was the first Curator of the Soane 
Museum, having been designated for the post by the founder. He 
was articled to Sir John Soane, and remained in his service first as 
architectural assistant, and afterwards as confidential clerk. He 
became a member of the Society of Arts in 1821, and continued until 
his death in 1860. After serving, as above mentioned, as one of the 
two chairmen of Council for three years, he resigned membership of 
the Council in January 1849. 


should be merged in such an academy. Probably this 
idea was not consonant with the notions of the original 
promoters of the Society, and it was for this reason that it 
was opposed and dropped, to be resuscitated later on by 
the committee of artists and successfully carried out in the 
foundation of the Royal Academy. 1 

The question does not appear to have been brought 
up again till 1 843 . In December of that year the secretary 
(Whishaw) reported to the Committee on Miscellaneous 
Matters, that " the subject of the Society obtaining a 
Royal Charter had lately been a matter of conversation 
by two or three members, who were willing to subscribe 
5, 55. each towards this desirable object." But nothing 
was done. In February 1845 tne question of applying 
for a Royal Charter was raised at one of the meetings, and 
was referred to the Committee on Miscellaneous Matters, 
but again no result followed. At last, in February of the 
following year (1846), the newly-formed council took the 
matter up seriously, and recommended that steps should be 
taken to make application for a Royal Charter. In De- 
cember of the same year we find that a draft of the Charter 
was submitted by William Tooke, who was then acting as 
the Society's honorary solicitor. This being approved, 
/ in the following March (1847), Tooke brought up a draft 
of the Charter, together with a petition, which, after they 
had received the approval of H.R.H. the Prince Consort, 
as President of the Society, were lodged in the PrivyCouncil 
Office. In June, Tooke reported that the Charter had been 
passed, and that fees amounting to 400 in all were re- 
quired of these the official charges amounted to 308, 
95. 2d., and there was about 75 for office expenses. 

With the grant of a Royal Charter the first period of 
the Society's history may be held to have come to an end. 
After this it may be said to have entered on a new chapter 
of its existence. It found new aims and adopted novel 
methods ; not only its constitution but its character was 
to a large extent altered, and with a reorganised system it 
may certainly be said to have started on a fresh career of 

1 See Chapter X, p. 232, and Chapter XV, p. 328. 



The Council and its Work Influence of the Prince Consort Sir 
Henry Cole The Chairmen of the Council, 1850 to 1862 The 
Leading Members of the Society The Officials, Scott Russell, George 
Grove, Edward Solly, Peter Le Neve Foster, Samuel Davenport, 
James Forrest, Charles Critchett The Work of the Council 
Education The Union of Institutions Educational Exhibition 
The Journal South Kensington Museum and the Science and 
Art Department Trade Museum Lectures on 1851 Exhibition 
Annual Exhibitions of Inventions Gallery of British Art Minor 
Exhibitions The Society's Collections Patent Legislation, the 
Act of 1852 First Exhibition of Photographs Fine Art Copy- 
right Musical Pitch Public Lavatories Prizes for Industrial 
Art Other Prizes The Society's Microscope Cheap Writing 
Case Prizes for Essays The Swiney Bequest Industrial 
Pathology Postal Reform Paper Duty Centenary of the 
Society The Annual Dinner Finances Death of the President 
The Prince's Services to the Society The Albert Medal. 

IN the last chapter, which dealt with the internal organ- 
isation and constitution of the Society, we left off at the 
point when a Council had just been appointed, and a 
Charter obtained for the Society. The task before the 
new Council was no light one, and it started on its work 
of reform with many difficulties in the way. It had to 
rescue the Society from the condition of torpor and in- 
eptitude into which it had fallen, to arrange its finances, 
and indeed to provide funds for its work. It had to justify 
its existence, to rouse public interest, and to find fresh 
directions for its efforts to carry out the objects for which 
the Society was originally founded. To do this it had 
first to organise itself, and to distribute the work between 


itself and the various committees into whose hands the 
details might safely be entrusted. At first the original 
six " Premium " Committees were maintained, the com- 
mittee on " Miscellaneous Matters " being merged in the 
Council. But it is hardly worth while to enter into an 
account of the various changes which were made in the 
number and duties of the committees. Sometimes the 
number was increased ; sometimes it was diminished ; at 
one time there were as many as thirty. But eventually the 
sensible system was adopted of appointing committees from 
time to time as questions arose for their consideration. 

Inasmuch as all the business of the Society at once 
passed under the control of the new governing body, there 
was nothing of this nature left to occupy the attention of 
the ordinary meetings, which had hitherto been taken up in 
the award of the premiums, and in the continual discussion 
of the Society's rules and orders. This naturally led to an 
increased importance in the scope and character of the 
papers, the reading of which rapidly became, at first, the 
most important, and very soon the only function of these 
meetings. By the time we have now reached, the system 
started by Aikin had grown and developed until it became 
the recognised practice that every Wednesday evening 
during the session should be occupied, either by a paper, 
followed by a discussion, on some new invention or some 
novel industrial development, or else by a lecture (which 
was not discussed) on some branch of industry, some 
fresh application of science, or, less frequently, some appli- 
cation of artistic principles or methods. 

The desire to encourage the reading of papers is 
shown by the fact that in 1845 it was determined to 
" prepare a form of Honorary Testimonial to be presented 
to persons making communications which may appear to 
the Society deserving of such notice." The Committee 
of Fine Arts, with the help of its chairman, Sir William 
Ross, decided on the design shown in the plate on the 
opposite page, 1 in which the principal feature is Miss 
Denman's drawing of Flaxman's medal, 2 with a wreath 

1 This is reproduced from the original copper-plate. 

2 See Chapter XIV, p. 318. 

-, .':. '::. : , ' 

* r , r . 


and a crown, executed after the Committee's instructions 
by S. Davenport, the father of S. T. Davenport, a 
member of the Society's staff from 1844 to I8/6. 1 This 
" Testimonial," besides being employed for the purpose 
for which it was designed, was also used to supplement 
the award of medals, as a sort of " Honourable Mention " 
for cases not quite deserving a medal. It was employed 
in this way up to 1850. 

Perhaps unfortunately, the series of lectures, for the 
introduction of which, as previously mentioned, Aikin was 
responsible, gradually died out. Aikin himself had no 
successor among the officials able and willing to devote 
himself to popular exposition, though Scott Russell had all 
the capacity for such work had he cared to undertake it. 
And so after Aikin 's time the Society, less fortunate than 
the Royal Institution, found no Faraday to draw intelli- 
gent audiences to its meeting-room by brilliant expositions 
of the applications of science and art, and it really was 
not until the receipt of the Cantor bequest provided 
funds for the payment for lectures that this valuable 
means of diffusing knowledge on industrial subjects was 
utilised. There was, however, no very great difficulty in 
securing suitable topics or capable authors for filling up 
the programme for the Wednesday evening meetings, and 
this important portion of the Society's labours rapidly 
developed, and eventually became its principal duty. 

But if the regular routine of the Society's work was 
thus provided for, there were many outside objects to which 
the Council now began to direct its attention. In this they 
were very greatly helped by the fact that they had as 
the Society's President the Prince Consort, who assisted 
them not only by his influence, which at the time was 
naturally much less powerful than it became in later years, 
but by the interest which he took in, and the attention 
which he devoted to, the Society's affairs during the 
first years of his Presidency. He realised and he him- 
self told the Society that the main object of its exist- 
ence was the application of science and of art to industrial 
purposes. These were matters in which he took a genuine 
1 See page 366 of this chapter. 


personal interest, and so long as the Society was ready to 
promote the objects he had at heart, he was quite willing to 
assist it as far as the numerous other occupations of his 
exalted position allowed him sufficient leisure. 

It has often been said that too much credit has been 
given to the Prince Consort for the Society's success about 
this time, especially for its success in starting the 1851 
Exhibition, but a careful study of the Society's records 
has satisfied the present writer that his influence was by 
no means exaggerated. It is quite clear that the Prince 
did not initiate the reforms economic, social, and in- 
dustrial which started from the Society of Arts. But 
most new suggestions of any importance appear to have 
been submitted to him, and he discriminated with extreme 
shrewdness between those w^hich were of value and those 
which it was not worth while to press. He evidently 
had an extremely quick and active mind. His judgment 
on the questions submitted to him seems generally to 
have been prompt and correct, and this is surely as much 
as can reasonably be looked for from one occupying a 
position such as he occupied. The period on which we 
are now engaged may justly be considered as the period 
of his Presidency, and there may be a little more to be 
said about the value of the services he rendered the Society 
when we come to deal with the termination of that Presi- 
dency by the Prince's death in 1 86 1 . 

During that period by far the most important of the 
public works carried out by the Society was the starting 
of the two great Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862. The 
history of these two Exhibitions, so far as the Society 
was associated with them, is important enough to deserve 
separate treatment, and may be left alone for the present. 1 
The next most important piece of public work was the 
establishment and organisation of a system of examina- 
tions carried out simultaneously all over the kingdom, which 
had the very greatest influence on industrial, middle-class, 
and scientific education during the fifties and sixties. 
The history of the examinations also will be more con- 
veniently dealt with by itself, and any further account 
1 See Chapter XVII, p. 401, and Chapter XVIII, p. 416. 


of them is therefore deferred to a later chapter. 1 The 
present chapter will therefore be devoted to the con- 
sideration of the various other matters which the Society 
had in hand during the period extending from the date 
of its charter (1847), or the assumption of the Presid- 
ency by Prince Albert (1843), down to the date of the 
Prince's death (1861) and the holding of the second great 
Exhibition in 1862. 

The subjects pursued by the Society during this period 
were so diverse and so numerous, that it is not at all easy 
to give any connected history of its proceedings. Perhaps, 
when those who had in hand the reconstitution of the 
Society realised that the purpose of its original institu- 
tion had been served, and that some other methods must 
be devised for carrying out the objects of its foundation, 
they found it difficult to set a limit to the scope of its 
work, and the result was that they extended its operations 
a good deal beyond what was intended or contemplated 
by its original founders, somewhat, indeed, beyond 
what was intended by the framers of its charter. 

The newly-constituted Council was a strong body, 
and the very fact that it was newly-constituted made it 
anxious to effect reforms, not only in the Society itself, 
but in all the departments of public life and administra- 
tion with which the Society could, by any reasonable 
extension of its objects, claim association. 

The Council, as a body, was quick to realise the value 
of the Society's organisation as an instrument for the 
promotion of many useful social and economic as well as 
industrial changes. Many of its members were active- 
minded, energetic men, keenly interested in the promo- 
tion of special reforms, full of enthusiasm for the causes 
they had espoused, and anxious to utilise the growing 
influence of the Society for the realisation of their own 
particular objects. 

Prominent among these was Henry Cole, a man of 

inexhaustible energy and indomitable perseverance, full of 

enthusiasm for his own ideals and of confidence in their 

value. At the instance of Scott Russell he joined the 

1 See Chapter XIX, p. 425, 


Society in 1846, and at once became a member of the 
Committee of Fine Arts. In January of the following 
year we find him attending a meeting of the Council, to 
explain, as a representative of the Committee, the scheme 
he had laid before them for annual exhibitions of the works 
of British artists, and suggesting as a commencement an 
exhibition of the works of Landseer, then at the height 
of his popularity. In the same year (1847) he was nomin- 
ated for the Council, and from that time till the date of 
his death, in 1882, he continued to exercise the strongest 
personal influence over the Society, influence which, for 
the first half or so of this period, really amounted to absolute 
control. A man of singularly active mind, he was per- 
petually conceiving fresh projects for the improvement 
of public welfare and the benefit of mankind. Some of 
these were eminently successful, such as the Victoria and 
Albert Museum, and, it may be said, the 1851 Exhibition, 
since, if he did not originate the idea of a great inter- 
national exhibition, it was his capacity for organisation 
that rendered the scheme practicable. Others naturally 
enough were failures, but the bulk of his proposals were 
valuable, and of genuine public utility. With very nearly 
all of them the Society of Arts was associated. He 
utilised its influence and its organisation to the full, and 
he repaid its help by useful guidance and administrative 

He was not a skilful or a cautious financier. Certain of 
his schemes cost the Society dear, but if he wasted some of 
its funds, it was mainly due to him that the Society had any 
funds to waste. It is the matured opinion of the writer, 
who knew him well and admired his great qualities, without 
being in the least unaware of his faults, that Henry Cole 
ought to be looked on as the second founder of the Society, 
and that it was owing to his influence and authority that 
the Society was raised from a state of impotence and 
insignificance to a condition of prosperity and influence. 
This does not imply that he started the improvement. 
He did not. The Society had been rescued from dissolu- 
tion before he became a member of it ; but he infused 
fresh vigour into its growth, and in a few years from his 


From a Photograph by Mrs. Cameron, taken about 1872. 

To face page 358. 


joining its governing body it had trebled the number of 
its members and quadrupled the amount of its funds. 

It may be admitted that Cole had in full measure the 
defects of his qualities. He liked having his own way, 
and he generally got it. He disliked opposition, and was 
ruthless with his opponents. He was a born fighter, and 
his methods of fighting were often questioned and disliked. 
Naturally enough, this made him unpopular, while the 
objects he sought often laid him open to the ridicule 
which is generally the lot of those who first advocate 
schemes for the accomplishment of which others in a 
later age are hailed as the benefactors of their kind. 
However, he cared little for ridicule or for unpopularity, 
so long as he got what he wanted, as he usually did. 
His best friends and admirers must wish that he had 
had greater regard for the feelings of others, and that he 
had been content to attain his objects without thrusting 
aside and trampling down those who did not agree with 
him. But that was not his way, and perhaps gentler 
methods might have proved less successful. At all events, 
it is likely that they would have been slower, and of all 
things, delay was hateful to the impatient soul of Henry 

Of course, he had a fight soon after he joined the 
Council, and, unhappily, it was with one of the best and 
staunchest friends of the Society, Thomas Webster. 
Webster, doubtless disapproving of Cole's arbitrary 
methods, and his somewhat reckless expenditure, opposed 
his proposals for annual exhibitions, industrial and 
pictorial. His criticisms were supported in the Council, 
and, in 1850, Cole resigned. But he organised an opposi- 
tion at the next annual meeting, and circularised the 
members, with the result that at a largely attended 
meeting, on 3rd April 1850, when 207 members voted, 
Cole and his friends were elected by a considerable majority, 
while Webster and his supporters were turned out. Inas- 
much as it was Webster who, by the introduction of much- 
needed reforms, had saved the Society from certain 
dissolution in I842, 1 the vote of the electors appears. 
* See Chapter XV, p. 346, 


ungracious, especially as bitter feeling was engendered 
by it. But, as above said, those who got in Henry Cole's 
way generally had to get out of it. His differences with 
Webster are the more to be regretted as Webster had the 
scientific knowledge to which Cole never made any pre- 
tensions, and his experience as a great patent lawyer might 
not improbably have led the Society to take a larger part 
in the guidance of industrial progress and the application 
of science to manufactures than it actually did take. 

Cole was Chairman of the Council in 1850, and again 
in 1852. One of the most prominent of his successors 
was Went worth Dilke, who was Chairman in 1857 and 
1858. He took an active share in the arrangements for 
the two great Exhibitions of 1 85 1 and 1 862, and a baronetcy 
was conferred upon him at the close of the latter Exhibi- 
tion. He was so keen about the Society's welfare that 
he brought his relations into it. His father, the well- 
known editor of the Athenceum, became a member of the 
Society in 1849 Dilke himself having joined four years 
earlier and he made his two sons, Charles and Ashton, 
life members when they were boys . Another very energetic 
and capable Chairman was Sir Thomas Phillips, who suc- 
ceeded Dilke, and was found so useful in the post that the 
by-laws were altered so as to allow him to hold the Chair- 
manship for four consecutive years, 1859 to 1862. Sir 
Thomas Phillips was a man of some character. He 
earned his knighthood by his action in quelling a Chartist 
riot in a mining district of South Wales, when he was 
wounded. He was a liberal and public-spirited man. 
Besides devoting himself strenuously to the Society's 
work, he took an active part in the work of King's College 
and of many metropolitan societies. 

Another most useful member was Harry Chester, who 
was Chairman in 1853. He was the originator of the 
Union of Mechanics' Institutions and of the Society's 
examinations, and continued an active worker on behalf 
of the Society until his death in 1868. He held certain 
official appointments, including the Assistant Secretaryship 
of the Committee of Privy Council on Education. The 
public work he did, mainly through the Society of Arts, 


never received due recognition ; he is even ignored by 
the Dictionary of National Biography. Lieut .-Colonel 
Owen was elected Chairman in 1853, but was compelled 
by pressure of his official work to decline office before 
actually taking any active part in it. But he was in 
many respects a useful member of the Council, and took 
his full share of its work. He was a brother of Sir Philip 
Cunliffe-Owen, who in later years was closely associated 
with the Society. The Rev. James Booth became Chair- 
man in 1855. The work he did in suggesting the establish- 
ment of the Society's Journal, and in the development of 
its examinations, will be referred to later on. 

Other Chairmen of Council during this time were 
Colonel W. H. Sykes, M.P., F.R.S. (1856), Chairman of 
the Board of Directors of the East India Company ; Lord 
Ebrington (1854), afterwards Earl Fortescue, who lived 
and preserved his interest in the Society until 1905 ; and 
William Saunders, F.R.S. (1851), a naturalist of some note 
in his day, who wrote much on botany and entomology, 
and served as President of the Entomological and Horti- 
cultural Societies. 

Amongst other members of the Council who took a 
prominent part in the Society's work, and attended most 
constantly at its meetings, the following should be men- 
tioned : Dr. Lyon Playfair (afterwards Lord Playfair), 
the eminent chemist ; Richard Redgrave, R.A., and his 
brother Samuel, the author of the useful Dictionary of 
Artists of the English School ; Sir Joseph Paxton, who 
designed the 1851 Exhibition building; Robert Stephen- 
son, the great engineer ; Richard Dawes, the Dean of 
Hereford, who gave valuable help in organising the ex- 
aminations ; J. C. Macdonald, the manager of the Times ; 
Sir W. H. Bodkin, the eminent lawyer, who co-operated 
with Thomas Webster in the reform of the Society ; 
Thomas Graham, Master of the Mint ; William De la Rue, 
F.R.S. ; Sir John Pakington (afterwards Lord Hampton) ; 
Sir William Page Wood (afterwards Lord Chancellor 
Hatherley) ; J. J. Mechi, the enthusiastic agriculturist ; 
Sir William Fairbairn, the engineer, who was a commis- 
sioner for the 1851 and 1862 Exhibitions, and took a 


particularly active part in the organisation of the latter ; 
Thomas Winkworth, a man not much known outside the 
Society, but one who did much hard work within it for 
the Exhibitions, and other matters ; Thomas Twining, 
the earnest advocate of many philanthropic schemes ; 
Joseph Hume, the Radical M.P. and economical reformer ; 
Sir John Boileau, an archaeologist of repute ; and William 
Tooke, for many years a Vice- President, and the Society's 
honorary solicitor. 

These were among the most active supporters of the 
Society. Something may now be said about the per- 
manent officials. In the early part of the period with 
which we are now concerned, the office of secretary changed 
hands rather frequently. In the ten years, 1843-53, 
there were six occupants of the post. As previously 
mentioned, 1 when Graham retired in 1843 (after holding 
office for two years only), Whishaw was appointed, and in 
1845 he was succeeded by John Scott Russell. Scott 
Russell was a worthy successor to Templeman and Aikin, 
and, indeed, as a scientific man he was superior to either. 
Born in 1808, he was thirty-six years of age when he came 
to London and became a member of the Society of Arts. 
He had already acted as Professor of Natural Philosophy at 
Edinburgh, and had acquired a reputation for his original 
researches on Wave Motion. He had also carried out, 
with much success, the construction of several large 
vessels in which his principles were embodied. These 
were all designed by him as manager of the shipbuilding 
establishment at Greenock, afterwards belonging to Messrs. 
Caird . 

Before his election as secretary, he had taken an active 
part in the deliberations of the Committee on Miscellaneous 
Matters. Though he was too active-minded to confine 
his attention to the Society's work, he made a most efficient 
and energetic secretary, and took his full share in the work 
of reconstructing the Society, which may be said to have 
been completed during his term of office. The steady 
improvement in the character of the papers brought before 
the evening meetings was certainly to a large extent due to 
1 ee Chapter XV, p. 348, 


him. He seemed ever ready to place at the disposal of 
the Society not only his abilities, but what he had in much 
less abundance, the contents of his purse ; for he frequently 
took upon himself the provision of expenses which assuredly 
he was not called upon to meet, and which, indeed, he could 
not properly afford. 

His energy in helping on the preparations for the 1851 
Exhibition led to his being appointed, jointly with Mr. 
Stafford Northcote (afterwards Earl of Iddesleigh), Secre- 
tary to the Royal Commission when it was appointed in 
January 1850. After this he resigned the secretaryship of 
the Society, and, having been elected a life member, was 
placed on the Council. In later life he resumed the practice 
of his profession, with a result that cannot be better stated 
than in the words of the author l of the account of his life 
in the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers : 

" In summing up Mr. Scott Russell's connection with 
the profession of naval architecture, it may be said that 
on commencing his career he found it the most empirical 
of arts, and he left it one of the most exact of engineering 
sciences. To this great result many others contributed 
largely besides himself ; but his personal investigations, 
and the theories he deduced from them, gave the first im- 
pels to scientific naval architecture." 2 

A man of real genius, he took high rank in his profes- 
sion among a race of great engineers, and in his own par- 
ticular branch of it he was far ahead of his contemporaries. 
But, spite of his great talents, his worldly success was 
never equal to his deserts, and when he died in 1882 he was 
in straitened circumstances. 

Scott Russell's successor was George Grove, who was 
appointed jointly with Russell in February 1850, and, 
alter a month's trial, sole secretary in March. Grove, like 
his two predecessors, was an engineer, and he had practised 
his profession to some extent before his appointment, 
though never afterwards. His tenure of office was very 

1 Sir George Holmes, a pupil of Scott Russell's, and at one time 
Secretary of the Institution of Naval Architects. 

2 Obituary notice, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers^ 
vol. Ixxxvii. p. 435. 


short, for when the Crystal Palace was established at 
Sydenham he was (in May 1852) offered the appointment 
of secretary, and thereupon he gave up his post at the 
Society. He was a thoroughly capable official in this 
respect superior to his immediate predecessors and with 
a longer period of service he would doubtless have left his 
mark on the administration of the Society. As it w r as, 
his powers were devoted to other institutions first the 
Crystal Palace, and afterwards the Royal College of Music 
where they had full scope and were greatly appreciated. 
Grove was the last secretary to live on the Society's 
premises. When he quitted office the house in which all 
the secretaries since Templeman had lived, and in which 
one of them (More) had died, was added to the Society's 

When Grove retired, Edward Solly, long an active 
member of the Council, was appointed secretary, and 
held the office for a year May 1852, to May 1853. 
Solly was an old member of the Society. He had been 
elected in 1838, and had served on the Council since 
1850. At the time of his appointment as secretary 
he was actually deputy-chairman. He was a chemist 
of some reputation. He became a Fellow of the Royal 
Society in 1843, an d in 1845 was appointed a Professor 
at the Addiscombe Military College. He resigned the 
secretaryship of the Society of Arts that he might 
devote himself to the organisation of the Trade Museum 
started by the Society, of which more hereafter. Though 
not a man of brilliant talent, he possessed considerable 
intellectual powers and some literary capacity, which 
he devoted in later life principally to antiquarian and 
bibliographical subjects. He died in 1886. 

Solly was succeeded in the secretaryship in 1853 by 
Peter Le Neve Foster, whose genial and kindly nature 
gained him the regard and esteem of all those with whom 
he worked. He is still remembered by many of the older 
members of the Society ; by none outside those of his 
own family can his memory be more affectionately 
cherished than by the writer of this narrative. He, like 
his predecessor, had for some years been connected with 


the Society, which he joined in 1837, at the instance of 
his grandfather, Abraham Osorio, who had become a 
member in iSoo. 1 His father (also Peter Le Neve) joined 
the Society in 1807, so that he had a long family connec- 
tion with it. When the first Council was formed, he 
became an ex officio member of it, as he was at the time 
Chairman of the Committee of Accounts. He was at 
once elected treasurer, and this office he held till 1852, 
when he became an ordinary member of the Council. 

Foster took his degree in the Cambridge Mathematical 
Tripos of 1830, and became a Fellow of his college (Trinity 
Hall). In 1836 he was called to the Bar at the Middle 
Temple, and he practised as a conveyancer until his election 
to the secretaryship, which he held for a period of not quite 
twenty-three years, till his death in 1879. He had taken 
his full share in the reorganisation of the Society, and 
by the time that he became secretary its various difficulties 
had been surmounted, and its second era of prosperity 
had commenced. This prosperity continued unabated 
during his term of office, and much of the credit for this 
state of things may fairly be claimed for him. 

If he did not originate any changes or introduce many 
fresh ideas, he carried out efficiently and well all the 
executive work of the Society, and it may fairly be said 
that its public reputation for practical work stood a good 
deal higher at his death than it did when he became 
secretary. Possessed of much sound scientific knowledge, 
of wide general reading, and endowed with considerable 
intellectual capacity, he was well qualified for the duties 
of his office, for which also he was equally well fitted by 
character and taste. Of a kindly genial nature, singularly 
patient and forbearing, tactful and full of common sense, 
he made an admirable secretary. If he was devoid of 

1 Abraham Osorio's father, Jacob, was also a member, and of a very 
early date (1766). His brother Abraham, who died unmarried, joined 
the Society in 1761. Three sons of Mr. Peter Le Neve Foster and one 
of his grandsons are now (1913) members, so that six generations of 
the family have been associated with the Society during a period 
extending from 1761, seven years after its foundation, down to the 
present time. 


ambition and inclined to be somewhat " easy-going," this 
only made him more contented with his duties, and never 
induced him to neglect them, for he was a steady and 
regular worker, who took a pleasure in his work. 

He had various interests outside the Society. Among 
the first to practise, as a scientific amateur, the art of 
photography, he was one of the founders of the Photo- 
graphic Society, and for many years on its Council. He 
followed with interest the developments of the art during 
its most interesting period, from the first photographic 
application of collodion to the introduction of the gelatine 
dry plate, and wrote a good deal on the subject. At one 
time he served on the Council of the British Association, 
and was for thirteen years secretary of Section " G," 
Mechanical Science. 1 

Some reference is also due to certain of the other 
officials of the Society. Of these Samuel Thomas Daven- 
port comes first, both from his seniority and because he 
devoted his whole life to the Society's service. 

His appointment in 1 844 as a sort of clerk or assistant 
to Whishaw has been mentioned, 2 and from that date he 
served the Society faithfully and well in various capacities, 
being always ready to undertake any work that might be 
required of him. His pay was very moderate, and occa- 
sionally small grants were made to him, which were 
certainly well deserved. In April 1848 he was given 
the title of assistant secretary, and in January of 1849 his 
salary was made up to 100 a year. Six months later 
W. Ellis was appointed assistant secretary, but he only 
held office for less than a year, as he resigned in March 
1850, when the post was left vacant. Davenport was 
then made " Curator and Collector," at a salary of 150, 
and in 1853 his title was .changed to that of " Finance 
Officer," afterwards modified to " Financial Officer," an 
appellation which he bore, with much personal pride and 
gratification, till his death in 1876. It would not be easy 

1 The fullest account of P. Le Neve Foster will be found in the 
notice published after his death in the Journal, vol. xxvii. p. 316. 
There is also a short life in the Dictionary of National Biography. 

2 See Chapter XV, p. 349. 


to overrate the value of Davenport's services to the 
Society, though they were in the earlier part of his life 
of an unpretending nature . Later on, his very considerable 
experience, and his minute knowledge of the Society's 
history, gave him much influence with the Council, and his 
opinion in matters connected with the internal administra- 
tion of the Society carried great weight. He had had in 
youth some artistic training, and would have made a 
capable engraver had he followed the profession for 
which he was intended, but in other subjects he was 
mainly self-educated. He had acquired a curious and 
extensive knowledge of the contents of the Society's records, 
and this led him to produce, in the form of a paper read at 
one of the meetings in 1 868, a short history of the Society, 1 
which has been more than once referred to before. 
Though it contains much information, it is badly put 
together, and shows a want of literary skill. The same 
criticism may be applied to his other communication to 
the Society, on " Prints and their Production," 2 though 
it has a distinct value as recording much which is not to 
be found elsewhere about the earlier attempts to produce 
printing surfaces by means of photography, since at the 
date of the paper many such attempts had been made, 
but none had yet succeeded. 

His single-minded and whole-hearted devotion to the 
interests of the Society rendered him a zealous and valuable 
official. The present writer, who, of course, knew him 
intimately during the last eleven years of his life, and had 
for him a genuine liking and regard, can testify to the 
kindliness of his nature and to his popularity amongst 
those with whom he was associated. 3 

From the date of Ellis 's resignation in 1850 to the 
middle of 1852, the office of assistant secretary was left 
vacant. In June of that year James Forrest, who had 

1 Journal, vol. xvii. pp. 10, 127, 143, 160. He had previously (in 
1 864) read a paper on the Society's promotion of industrial education 
(Journal, vol. xiii. p. 88). 

2 Journal, vol. xviii. p. 62. The paper had been preceded by an 
article on the same subject in the Journal, vol. xiii. p. 131. 

3 A notice of Davenport will be found in the Journal, vol. xxiv. p. 1 39. 


previously been assistant secretary to the Institution of 
Civil Engineers, was appointed. He held office till April 
1856, when he resigned in order that he might return 
to his old office at the Civil Engineers, with a view to his 
succeeding Charles Manby, who was about to give up the 
secretaryship of the Institution. This arrangement was 
duly carried out, and Mr. Forrest was appointed in 1860. 
All engineers know with what credit to himself, and with 
what benefit to the Institution, he filled his office, till 
he resigned in 1896. His name will always be associated 
with the Institution by the Forrest Lectures, founded to 
commemorate his secretaryship. Mr. Forrest is still living 
in retirement at St. Leonards, now one of three surviving 
representatives of the Society of Arts of sixty years ago. 

It was determined to fill up the vacancy caused by 
Forrest's retirement by an open competitive examination, 
the time being one when the value of test examinations 
ranked higher than it does now after half a century's 
experience. Accordingly, the appointment was adver- 
tised, and the candidates who applied were submitted to a 
regular examination, both viva voce and by papers . Charles 
Critchett, who had taken his degree at Cambridge (Trinity) 
in 1855, was successful and he was duly appointed. It 
must be said that the experiment was quite successful. 
Critchett made a perfectly efficient assistant secretary for 
thirteen years. He resigned of his own accord in 1869, 
though his connection with the Society was preserved by 
his appointment as educational officer, in which capacity 
he had a nominal responsibilty for the conduct of the 
examinations. He held this office till 1879, and when he 
gave it up he was made a life member. As he was quite 
comfortably provided for there was no need for him to work, 
and he naturally enough preferred a life of leisure to a 
continuance of official routine. He was a man of artistic 
tastes, cultivated manners, fond of society, and popular 
in a large circle of friends. He died in I9O6. 1 

Having dealt with the principal individuals who 
carried on the Society's work during the period which 
1 A notice of his life will be found in the Journal, vol. liv. p. 528. 


began with its incorporation and ended with the 1862 
Exhibition, we may pass on to a consideration of the work 
itself. At the commencement of the period, the attention 
of the Council was chiefly occupied with the organisation 
of the first great exhibition, and during its last years with 
the preparations for the second ; but in spite of this, time 
was found for a great variety of other business, the chief 
items of which have now to be described. 

Of these, the most important was education, industrial 
education as it was then termed, though by this was 
meant the general education of those engaged in. industry, 
not what we now know as technical education, the training 
of industrial workers in the subject-matter of their 

The first efforts for the promotion of popular education 
in this country took the form of the establishment of 
Mechanics' Institutions. Their origin ma}'' be traced as 
far back as 1800, when Dr. Birkbeck, who had succeeded 
Dr. Garnett as Professor of Natural Philosophy at the 
Andersonian University of Glasgow, established courses of 
lectures, to which working men were admitted at a low fee. 
The mechanics' classes thus established were for a long 
time a successful department of the University, and in 
1823 this department became the Glasgow Mechanics' 
Institution, apparently the first genuine institution of the 

The establishment of this institution suggested the 
formation of a similar organisation in London, where Dr. 
Birkbeck had been resident for about twenty years. He 
took the lead in the movement, and, with the assistance 
of Lord Brougham and others, established the London 
Mechanics' Institution, which later on became the well- 
known Birkbeck Institution, the name being changed in 
honour of its founder and first president. 

The London and Glasgow Societies had many imitators, 
and in 1848 the Society passed a resolution that any such 
institution established not less than fifteen miles from 
London might join the Society for the same subscription 
as an individual, so that its members might enjoy, under 
certain conditions, the advantages of membership of the 
2 5 


Society. A few institutions availed themselves of the offer, 
and a little later, in 1851, Mr. Harry Chester addressed a 
letter to the Council, suggesting that " the Society should 
exert itself to increase the efficiency of the metropolitan 
and provincial mechanics' institutes." The result of 
this letter was that the Society called together a con- 
ference on the subject, which was held in May 1852, under 
the presidency of the Earl of Lansdowne. At this con- 
ference a union of institutions was suggested, and such 
a union was formed in the following July by a resolution 
of the Council. The object of the union was to enable 
the scattered institutions to co-operate, and thereby to 
strengthen their educational powers. The intention of 
the Society was to provide a central organisation, from 
which information could be distributed to the institutions, 
lists of lecturers provided, and other facilities for their 
development arranged. 

In addition to holding this conference, the Society 
issued in 1853 a long report on Industrial Instruction , 
which had been prepared by a committee appointed for 
the purpose. This committee took a great deal of evidence 
from schoolmasters, manufacturers, representatives of 
mechanics' institutions, and others, and the information 
they supplied forms the principal and the most valuable 
part of the report. 

It was determined to hold an annual conference for the 
discussion of subjects relating to the institutions and their 
organisation, and such a conference was held at the 
Mansion House in May 1853, by the then Lord Mayor, 
Mr. Thomas Challis, at the request of the Society, by which 
time two hundred and seventy institutions had joined the 
union. In connection with this conference a small exhibi- 
tion of educational appliances was held in the Guildhall, 
and this led to a proposal for a similar exhibition on a 
larger scale to be held in the following year, the centenary 
of the Society. The proposal was readily taken up. 
Prince Albert expressed his warm approval of it, and 
promised a subscription of 100. The accommodation 
on the Society's premises being quite inadequate for an 
exhibition on the scale proposed, St. Martin's Hall a large 


concert hall which had been built for John Hullah in 
Long Acre was taken for the purpose. 1 

The exhibition proved to be a great success, and quite 
justified the very considerable amount of labour which 
was expended upon it by the Council. Contributions 
(through the assistance of the Foreign Office) were secured 
from France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Den- 
mark, Austria, Prussia, Switzerland, Spain, and the 
United States. The exhibits included educational appar- 
atus and appliances of all sorts, school buildings (shown 
in plans and models) and fittings, books, maps, etc., 
together with samples of work produced at schools. It 
was opened in July 1854 by Prince Albert, and remained 
open until September. Arrangements were made for the 
delivery of lectures by the most eminent authorities on 
Science and Education. The list of lecturers included 
Dr. Whewell, Professor De Morgan, Dr. W. B. Carpenter, 
Dean Trench, Cardinal Wiseman, Professor Alexander 
Williamson, Professor Huxley, Dr. Hullah, and many other 
names of almost equal renown. 2 

Including the donation from the Prince Consort, the 
subscriptions amounted to 1079. This involved a 
pecuniary loss of 363, which was made good by the 
Society. The success of the exhibition led to the suggestion 
that it should be made permanent, and this view was 
impressed by the Council upon the Government, with the 
result of the foundation of the educational collection and 
library at South Kensington as part of the Museum, now 
the Victoria and Albert Museum. A great number of 
the exhibits were presented to the new Museum, and 
formed the nucleus of the educational collection, and 
also of the fine library now forming part of the Victoria 
and Albert Museum. 

The conference of representatives of institutions became 

1 St. Martin's Hall was built in 1847-50 ; it was No. 89 Long 
Acre. It was burnt down in 1860, and its destruction nearly ruined 
Hullah, who had invested most of his money in it. Later on, the 
Queen's Theatre was erected on the site, which is at present occupied 
by private premises. 

2 Some of these lectures were published in a volume (Routledge, 
1855). Others were reported, more or less fully, in the Journal, 


an annual function, and was continued regularly on the 
same day as the annual dinner, so long as the dinner was 
held. It lasted for a little over twenty years, until 1875, 
by which time its usefulness had quite passed away, 
In the following year it was changed into a special con- 
ference on Adult Education, at which Sir Henry Cole 
presided, and in 1877 its place was taken by a conference 
on Domestic Economy, held at Birmingham, at the sug- 
gestion of the same gentleman, who had by that time 
retired from the public service, and was then temporarily 
resident in Birmingham. After that the conference was 
allowed to lapse. 

It would, indeed, have died out long before, but for the 
institution of the system of examinations, which has now 
for over fifty years been a very important part of the 
Society's work. It was in December 1853 that Mr. 
Harry Chester, the founder of the Union, suggested the 
establishment of a system of examinations for the benefit 
of members of the affiliated institutions. As above 
mentioned, a full account of the origin and growth of the 
Society's examinations will be found in a later chapter. 1 

Probably the real value of the Union of Institutions 
was that it encouraged the establishment and develop- 
ment in provincial towns of educational organisations, 
which a little later provided suitable centres for the local 
science and art schools, and thus served as a basis for the 
whole system of education, scientific, artistic, and technical, 
which has grown up around those schools. 

When the Society took in hand the organisation of 
local institutions, some of them were flourishing and doing 
serious work, but many others were in a feeble condition. 
Such education as these latter afforded was of a trivial 
sort, and they were devoted rather to amusement than to 
instruction. The Society provided a standard to which 
all were expected to conform, and a central organisation 
from which all could get information and help. 

After some twenty years or so the work of the Union 
was done, and there was no longer much need for its 
existence. When in 1882 the examination system was 
1 See Chapter XIX, p. 425. 


remodelled, and the examinations were thrown open to 
everybody, the last reason for its maintenance disappeared, 
and though there are still a few institutions which like to 
preserve their old association with the Society, it must 
be admitted that the practical advantages they derive from 
that association are now inconsiderable. 

It was the existence of the Union of Institutions that 
led to the establishment of the Society's weekly Journal. 
The first suggestion of such a thing was made by the Rev. 
Dr. Booth in a letter which he addressed to the Council in 
June 1852. In this letter he set out in considerable detail 
the scheme of a weekly newspaper which should record all 
the Society's proceedings, serve as a medium of communi- 
cation between the Society and the allied institutions, 
and form a permanent record of the progress of science, 
art, and industry. The proposal had evidently been 
thoroughly well thought out, and was, indeed, eventually 
adopted without any considerable modifications. 1 

As mentioned in a previous chapter, 2 the Transactions 
of the Society had stopped in 1844, and from that time 
there had been no regular record of the Society's pro- 
ceedings. The occasional publication first known as the 
Abstract of Proceedings, and afterwards, when it got to 
be published with greater regularity during the session, 
entitled Weekly Proceedings, had increased slightly in 
size, and it, at all events, recorded in brief abstract the 
papers read before the Society, and gave some amount of 
information about its other proceedings. This from 1844 
to 1852 was the only publication regularly issued by the 
Society, for the odd volume of Transactions published in 
1852, and intended to form the first of a new series, had 
no successor, and can only be regarded as an unsuccessful 

1 The Rev. James Booth, LL.D., F.R.S., was at this time Vicar of 
Wandsworth. His suggestion led to his being elected on the Council 
(1852), and he afterwards (1855) became its chairman. He took a 
very active and useful part in the establishment of the examinations, 
but later on some friction arose between the Council and him, and 
after a quarrel, the details of which are certainly now not worth recording, 
he was called upon to resign his seat on the Council, and did so. He 
died in April 1878. 

2 See Chapter XV, p. 333. 


experiment, as it proved too costly for repetition. A 
volume issued in 1851, and entitled Vol. LVII. of the 
Transactions, is really nothing more than the weekly pro- 
ceedings for the year bound together. Even the meagre 
record preserved in the Weekly Proceedings would not now 
be available but for the care of Davenport, who in Novem- 
ber 1852 presented to the Council a " volume containing 
a complete set of the papers published in the years 1844-9, 
during which time no regular transactions were published, 
and consequently no record of the Society's proceedings 
existed." l Davenport had no doubt carefully preserved 
a copy of each issue, which nobody else seems to have done, 
and his volume is the only set of them in the Society's 

Booth's suggestion commended itself to the Council, 
and after some discussion and consideration it was 
accepted, the form of the Journal settled, and its regular 
publication commenced, the first number appearing on 
26th November 1852. This number, after a preliminary 
notice dealing with the proposed scope and character of 
the new publication, contained the address of the chairman 
(Henry Cole) at the opening meeting of the session, an 
interesting account of the Industrial Societies of the 
United States, one of the replies (from British Guiana) 
to a circular asking for information about the productions 
and commerce of the Colonies ; reports of the proceedings 
of many of the affiliated institutions, and a list of applica- 
tions for patents under the new Patent Law Amendment 
Act of 1852. There are four pages of advertisements, but 
three of these are Society's notices. Succeeding numbers 
contain the papers read at the ordinary meetings at 
first in abstract, and afterwards in full with brief notes 
of the discussions, reports and notices dealing with the 
various matters on which the Council and the numerous 
committees were engaged, and much miscellaneous in- 
formation on subjects connected with the objects of the 
Society. From the first the Journal was a newspaper, 
and was stamped with the newspaper stamp required at 
the time. This duty on newspapers was originally 
1 Council Minutes, loth November 1852. 


imposed by the Stamp Act of 1712, and, after several 
reductions, was finally abolished in 1853. 

When the accounts of the 1851 Exhibition had been 
made up, it was found that there was a surplus profit of 
186,000. Of this, however, 67,896 was the amount 
which had been subscribed before the Exhibition was 
started, and it was expected that this would be returned 
to the subscribers, or at all events given back to the 
various localities in which it had been subscribed. The 
Society, which had collected the money, also put in a 
claim for a share. However, it was decided that the money 
should be kept, and used for the foundation of a central 
institution " for the dissemination of a knowledge of 
science and art among all classes." 

This caused a good deal of natural disappointment at 
the time, but, looking back at all the circumstances, it 
may fairly be admitted that the decision was a wise one, 
and that better results have been obtained than if the 
money had been frittered away by distributing it in com- 
paratively small sums for provincial objects. Eventually, 
as is well known, the estate at Kensington Gore was 
purchased, and the 1851 Commissioners were formed 
into a permanent body for its administration. Many 
schemes were proposed and discussed. Prince Albert 
had a large and comprehensive scheme of his own, which 
included the erection of suitable buildings, and the trans- 
plantation of the principal learned societies to South 
Kensington. The idea was a fine one, and if it could 
have been carried out we might perhaps have had, 
years ago, a single comprehensive board or institution for 
dealing with education, science, and art, instead of our 
present system, which, whatever its merits, cannot claim 
to be a model of organisation, economy, or uniformity. 

But there was much opposition, and there were many 
difficulties. The story is too long for repetition here. 
Those who care may find much of it in Sir Henry Cole's 
Life. 1 It may be sufficient to say that the immediate 
outcome was the South Kensington Museum and the 
1 Fifty Years of Public Work. 


Science and Art Department, with the foundation of 
both of which the Society had much to do. 

The second report of the Commissioners of the 1851 
Exhibition, published at the end of 1852, and' reporting 
the purchase of the Kensington estate, referred, amongst 
other matters, to the formation of a trade museum, and 
invited the co-operation of the Society of Arts. The 
Council at once took the matter into consideration, and the 
result was that in May 1853 they offered to undertake 
the formation of a collection of animal products used in 
manufactures, and to devote to it a sum of ^400, to be 
expended in the course of two years, if the Commissioners 
would provide a similar amount. This was at once agreed 
to, and the formation of such a collection was immedi- 
ately put in hand. Professor Solly undertook the task, 
and for that purpose resigned the secretaryship of the 
Society. He devoted himself energetically during the 
following two years to the work, and the result was that 
in May 1855 a very complete collection was exhibited 
in the model room, and was formally opened by the 
reading of a paper by Mr. Solly. The exhibits fully 
illustrated the utilisation of animal products for in- 
dustrial purposes, and comprised textiles (wool and silk), 
leather and furs, horn and bone, bristles, feathers, hair 
and shell, also wax and lac, oils, and, finally, refuse 

The collection, after being for some time exhibited by 
the Society, was made over to the Science and Art Depart- 
ment, and was placed in the South Kensington Museum, 
which was opened, in the temporary buildings for long 
known as the " Brompton Boilers," in 1857. As a matter 
of fact, the original intentions of the 1851 Commissioners 
about the formation of a trade museum were never carried 
out. The collection of animal products was transferred 
to the Bethnal Green Museum, when, new buildings having 
been built for the South Kensington Museum, the old 
" boilers," with certain additions, were re-erected at 
Bethnal Green in I872. 1 

The total amount expended by the Society, including 

1 Th3 building was opened in March 1872 by the Prince of Wales. 


the 400 originally granted by the Commissioners, was 
976. On the transfer of the collection, the Commissioners 
agreed to repay the Society's expenditure, and the balance 
(576) was accordingly repaid to the Society. 

This collection and the educational collection previously 
mentioned were the chief contributions of the Society to 
the Museum. Both of them were valuable, not so much 
for themselves, but because they formed a nucleus about 
which, by continual accretions, the scientific and educa- 
tional collections now forming part of the Victoria and 
Albert Museum have grown. It must, of course, be 
understood that this does not refer to the Art Museum, to 
the contents of which the Society was never in a position 
to make any but trifling contributions. 

As regards the Science and Art Department, the Society 
can only claim the credit of having done a good deal of 
pioneer work, and of having prepared the way for its 
establishment. Though Schools of Design 1 were started 
in 1839 or 1840, they were, by all accounts, not very 
successful, and in 1851 a vigorous attempt was made by 
the Society to encourage the formation of such schools on 
an independent basis. The proposal was well taken up 
in several provincial towns and in London, but in the 
following year the Department of Practical Art was formed 
by the Board of Trade, and this a year later became the 
Science and Art Department. It took over the existing 
Schools of Design, and there was no further need for the 
Society to persevere with its scheme, which was accordingly 

Still more useful service was rendered to the new 
Department by the Society's development of Mechanics' 
Institutions and by its examinations. It was at these 
institutions that the Science Schools and Art Schools 
were first formed, and it was on the model of the Society's 
examinations that the much larger scheme of Government 
science examinations was carried out. 

1 They were not really Schools of Design at all. They were called 
so because they were imitations of the French coles de Dessin, and 
were simply, like the French originals, drawing-schools. 


Before the opening of the 1851 Exhibition the Council 
announced the offer of prizes for essays or treatises on 
certain sections of the Exhibition. But before the time 
came for the award of these prizes, Prince Albert, in the 
autumn of 1851, suggested that a series of lectures should 
be given at some of the Society's meetings, " on the prob- 
able bearing of the Exhibition on the various branches of 
Science, Art, and Industry." This proposal was at once 
adopted, and the offer of prizes withdrawn. 

In all twenty-four lectures were delivered during the 
session 185 1-52, l and these were afterwards published in 
two volumes, which attained a considerable amount of 
popularity. The first lecture was given by Dr. Whewell, 
at the opening meeting of the session in November 1851, 
and dealt with the general bearing of the Exhibition on 
the progress of Art and Science. Among the other emi- 
nent lecturers were Sir Henry de la Beche, on Mining, etc. ; 
Professor Owen, on Raw Materials ; Dr. Playfair, on 
Chemistry ; Dr. Lindley, on Food Substances ; Professor 
Willis, on Machines ; Professor Royle, on the Arts and 
Manufactures of India ; Sir Thomas Bazley, on Cotton ; 
and Digby Wyatt and Owen Jones, on the Decorative 
Arts. The concluding lecture on the " International 
Relations of the Exhibition " was given by (Sir) Henry 

After the great international exhibition of 1851 the 
Society still went on holding exhibitions on its own account. 
In 1848 an exhibition of recent inventions had been held. 
This was composed partly of objects belonging to the 
Society's own collection, which had not then been finally 
disposed of, and partly of inventions recently patented or 
registered under the Designs Act of 1851 . This exhibition 
was a fairly good one. It contained 446 exhibits in all, 
of a rather miscellaneous character, some, however, of 
permanent interest and value. It remained open from 
26th December 1848 to 3Oth January 1849. It was the 

1 Sir H. Cole's lecture had to be postponed, and was delivered in 
December 1852. 


first of an annual series continued regularly up to 
1 86 1. By that time the character of the Exhibitions 
had depreciated, and Sir Thomas Phillips, in the ad- 
dress which he delivered as Chairman of the Council in 
November 1862, remarked that " the series have not 
kept pace with the progress of science, and have not 
been worthy of the present position of the Society." 
It was determined, in consequence of the 1862 Exhibi- 
tion, not to hold an exhibition of inventions that year, 
and the opportunity was taken of letting the series come 
to an end. 

Besides these exhibitions of an industrial character, 
the Society organised several exhibitions of pictures. As 
mentioned in a previous part of this chapter, the first 
action taken by Henry Cole in connection with the Society 
was the submission of a proposition for the holding of 
exhibitions of pictures by modern artists, the idea being that 
they would be a source of profit, from which funds might 
be provided for the establishment of a National Gallery of 
British Art. The proposal was that the profits from the 
exhibition of each artist's works should be expended in 
purchasing one or more of his pictures, and that these 
should be lent to the National Gallery, until enough had 
been collected to fill a special gallery. The idea was an 
admirable one. But the means proposed were quite in- 
adequate, and, in spite of the enthusiasm which Cole 
devoted to the scheme, it proved financially an absolute 
failure. The proposed series was started with an exhibi- 
tion in 1848 of Mulready's works, the original idea of 
beginning with a collection of Landseer's' not having for 
some reason been carried out. The financial result of the 
Mulready Exhibition was a small surplus, which was later 
on expended in the purchase of two of the artist's studies, 
and these were presented to the National Gallery. In 
1849 an exhibition of Etty's works was arranged. But 
this resulted in a loss, and the idea of making money for 
the proposed gallery was abandoned. In fact, the Society 
was a heavy loser, for the expenses were ultimately paid 
only by the diversion, with the donor's consent, of a gift 
of 500 from Mrs. Acton, the widow of a member, which 


had been intended for the general purposes of the Society. 1 
Some years later, in 1855, an exhibition of the works of 
the two brothers John and Alfred Chalon (both R.A.'s) 
was held, but it does not appear that this had any connec- 
tion with Cole's scheme. 2 After the death of Sir William 
Ross, an exhibition of his miniatures was held in the 
Society's rooms in 1860, which attracted a good deal of 
interest, but did not produce any profit. Ross, as may be 
seen by reference to the list of the Society's prize-winners, 3 
took many of the Society's prizes as a youth. He was 
long a member of the Society, was Chairman of the Com- 
mittee of Fine Arts, and served as a member of the first 

In December 1860 a proposal was made that an 
exhibition should be held in the following year of the 
works of C. R. Leslie, R.A., who had died in 1859. 
Although a number of owners of his pictures, including 
Queen Victoria, promised to contribute, it was found 
that a representative collection could not be brought 
together, and the proposal was consequently abandoned. 4 

It may be sufficient to mention that an exhibition of 
lithography was held in 1847, one of bookbinding in the 
same year, and a second of lithography in 1853. The 
photographic exhibition of 1852 will be referred to later, 
and the educational exhibition of 1854 has already been 
described. In the year 1852 the idea was started of 
holding an exhibition of the products of India. The East 
India Company was approached, and promised assistance, 
and some steps were taken for organising such an exhibi- 
tion in London. Eventually, however, there w r ere diffi- 
culties in finding a suitable locality, and the collection was 
sent to the Dublin Exhibition of 1853, of which it formed 
an important section. 

1 Mrs. Acton gave this money in 1837 o found prizes in memory 
of her husband, Samuel Acton, an architect, the prizes to be generally 
for subjects connected with architectural design or construction. She 
herself became a member after her husband's death. 

2 It is stated that this exhibition did not attract much attention, 
the works of the Chalons never acquiring much popularity. 

3 See Chapter VIII, p. 200. 

4 See Council Minutes, 1860 and 1861. 


Since the first exhibition held by the Society in 1761 
of agricultural and other machines for which the Society 
had offered prizes, 1 it had always kept up a permanent 
collection of mechanical and other models. As these 
accumulated from time to time, their disposal was always 
a matter of difficulty, and every now and again we find 
notices of the older models, for which it was difficult to 
find room, being sold, or given away, or destroyed. Many 
of these one may legitimately regret. It would have 
been satisfactory if the original model of Sturgeon's electro- 
magnet had been preserved, and we should certainly be 
glad to possess now the whole collection which was shown 
in 1761. 

But it must be remembered that such things accumulate 
rapidly, and that they soon become obsolete and unin- 
teresting ; while they have to be kept for a great many 
years before they acquire antiquarian interest an interest, 
indeed, which only belongs to the survivals because nearly 
all the apparatus or models have been destroyed. 

When the Society began to hold temporary exhibitions 
the space occupied by the old models was required, 
and they were finally disposed of in various ways. The 
bulk of them was presented in 1850 to Bennet Woodcroft, 
who was then Professor of Machinery at University College, 
London, the trustees of the College having undertaken to 
repair and preserve them. 2 Some of these eventually found 
their way into the Patent Office Museum 3 at South Ken- 
sington, which grew into the collection of engineering 
models now forming part of the Science Museum. Others 
were given to the South Kensington Museum at its founda- 
tion in 1857, and no doubt a great deal of what was really 
rubbish was quietly disposed of. 

1 See Chapter III, p. 58. 2 Transactions, vol. Ivii. p. xvii. 

3 The contents of this museum were the property either of the Com- 
missioners of Patents or of their clerk, Bennet Woodcroft. They were 
to have been placed in the principal museum building, but Woodcroft 
objected to the admission fee of sixpence on " Students' days." Cole 
insisted, and neither would give way. The result was that the models 
of inventions were crowded into an unsightly iron shed, which was 
always open free. So the authorities had their way, and nobody 
suffered except the public. 


Reference has already been made to the injurious effects 
on the Society's Premium List of the exclusion of patented 
articles from its awards, and the alteration in the regula- 
tions by which in 1845 patented articles were made eligible 
for such awards has also been mentioned. 1 Not very long 
after this date, the Society, taking a different view of the 
value of patents, turned its attention to the amendment of 
the patent law, and in 1849 the Council, at the instiga- 
tion of Henry Cole, appointed a Committee on the Rights 
of Inventors. It cannot be said that Cole had any deep 
or accurate knowledge of patent law ; but he had on this, 
as on most subjects which he took up, very clear and 
definite ideas, and he never hesitated as to their correct- 
ness. The committee, however, which was appointed 
by the Council, included many members who were quite 
competent to supply any deficiency in Cole's knowledge, 
and he provided the moving force, which eventually 
brought about the much-needed reform in the law of 
patents in this country. 

About a year after the appointment of this committee, 
Charles Dickens published in Household Words his well- 
known " Poor Man's Tale of a Patent " ; 2 this, by the 
public attention it attracted to a very dull and uninter- 
esting branch of legislation, greatly aided in securing the 
required reform. 

The committee published several reports reports 
containing many suggestions of considerable practical 
value . The general tendency of the reports was rather in 
favour of the French system simple registration, sans 
garantie du gouvernement a principle which has com- 
mended itself to a great many authorities on Patent Law. 
As a matter of fact, this has always really been the English 
system, which, while professing to make a grant direct from 
the Crown of an important monopoly, gave, as has often 
been said, nothing but a licence to go to law, and a 
registration of the date on which the inventor might com- 
mence his action. The logical French mind naturally 
agreed to a simple statement of the facts as they were. 

1 See Chapter XI, p. 243, and Chapter XV, p, 347. 
* Household Words, I9th October 1850. 


But the Englishman preferred something which appeared 
a great deal more important, although the imposing docu- 
ment, with the Great Seal attached to it, actually gave 
no more right than would have been conferred by a simple 
entry in a ledger. On the other hand, it has to be re- 
membered that an invalid patent, which could not be 
maintained for a moment in any court of law, is often ex- 
tremely valuable as a scarecrow, warning off trespassers 
from a territory to which the professed owner has no 
legal right, and this, perhaps, is after all the reason why 
the pretentious but illogical British system has so long 
been maintained. 

In America and in Germany the opposite ideal has pre- 
vailed, and the attempt is made to provide a patentee with 
a genuine monopoly, by certifying to the originality of his 
ideas. The system in America used, if all tales be true, 
to be modified by the friendly relations existing between 
the patent agents and the officials, though no doubt this 
is no longer the case ; while the German carried out his 
ideas to the utmost, and reduced them ad absurdum by 
such cases as refusing Siemens a patent for his regenerative 
furnace on the ground that it was anticipated by a mediaeval 
oven, in which bread was baked after the material by 
which the oven had been heated was removed. 

Whichever may be the better of these two opposite 
systems and ideals of patent law, it may suffice to say 
here that the view of the Society's committee was not 
adopted when the Bill, which in 1852 became an Act, for 
the reform of the Patent Law, was introduced into the 
House of Commons ; but many of the other provisions were, 
and many parts of the Act were founded on the Society's 
suggestions. This Act, which came into force on ist 
October 1852, introduced many and great changes into the 
system for granting patents. It abolished the " hanapers " 
and " chaffwaxes," whom Dickens had held up to scorn ; 
it simplified procedure, and it reduced cost. It continued 
to be the law for many years, as it was not until 1883 that 
any important alterations were made, and in that later 
reform the Society, as will hereafter be recorded, had its 
due share, For the present, the work of the committee 


having been more or less satisfactorily accomplished, no 
further action was taken, and it was not reappointed after 
the passing of the Act. 

The natural result of the new Act was an enormous 
increase in the number of patents applied for, and a conse- 
quent considerable revenue to the Patent Office. In the 
course of a few years the amount of patent fees had totalled 
up to a large sum, and suggestions began to be made that 
money provided by inventors ought to be applied in some 
way for their benefit, instead of being added to the public 
revenue. Sir Joseph Paxton, in 1856, addressed a letter 
to the Council on the subject, and the result was a com- 
mittee, and a memorial to the Commissioners of Patents. 
Nothing, however, came of it, though the Commissioners 
seem to have been sympathetic enough, for they published 
year after year in their annual report a sort of mute appeal 
to the Treasury in the form of a statement of the accumu- 
lated surplus income they had earned. The last time this 
statement appeared was in 1881, in their report for the 
previous year. At that time the aggregate surplus income, 
from ist October 1852 to the end of 1880, was stated 
(with a meticulous accuracy) as 2 ,04 1,159, J 6s. lod. The 
Treasury, however, were deaf to the appeal, and apparently 
saw no reason to abandon so convenient a source of revenue. 

In December 1852 an Exhibition of Photographs 
was arranged by the Society. This was the first public 
exhibition of photographs which had ever been held, 
though a few specimens had been exhibited in the Philo- 
sophical Instrument Section of the 1851 Exhibition. One 
hundred and twenty-nine pictures were shown, nearly 
all of them by the paper processes, though there were some 
collodion positives. At that time collodion had not been 
applied to the production of negatives, though a few 
months later (July 1853) it was found that the picture 
on the collodion film on glass could be employed as a 
negative, and from that time forward it was so employed, 
to the*] ultimate exclusion of the earlier methods, in 
which paper rendered transparent by wax or other means 
had been used. 


The formation of a Photographic Society was first 
proposed by Roger Fenton in April 1852, and in the 
same month Robert Hunt applied to the Society, 
asking for the use of the meeting-room for an inaugural 
meeting to establish such a society. 1 The request was 
granted, but the meeting was not held until January 1853. 
At this meeting Le Neve Foster, who had previously 
obtained the sanction of the Council to his suggestion, 
brought forward a proposal that, instead of forming an 
independent society a special section of the Society of 
Arts should be established dealing with photography. 
This proposal, however, did not meet with the approval 
of the photographers present, who were strongly in favour 
of an independent organisation, and the Photographic 
Society of Great Britain was established on 2Oth January 
1853. Sir Charles Eastlake, then President of the Royal 
Academy, became the first president of the new society. 
This, the earliest of all photographic societies, became the 
parent of many other similar bodies in this country, and its 
example was also soon followed in other countries. 

The question of copyright in works of Art was 
taken up in March 1858, when a committee was ap- 
pointed by the Council to inquire into this subject. 
Of this committee Sir Charles Eastlake, P.R.A., was 
appointed chairman, and he held the post until the 
termination of its work four years later. At that time 
there was almost no copyright in works of Art. The 
only Act in which any protection at all was given them was 

1 Roger Fenton was one of the earliest photographers, and among 
the most successful of his time. He was one of the principal contributors 
in the Society's Photographic Exhibition of 1852. He took a number 
of pictures in the Crimea during the war. He died in 1869. A short 
notice of him will be found in the Photographic Journal, 1 5th September 
1869. Robert Hunt, F.R.S., was a man of varied pursuits and attained 
reputation in more than one of them. His Researches on Light is 
believed to be the earliest book on photography. He was Keeper of 
Mining Records for over thirty years, and professor at the School of 
Mines. He was a copious yet accurate writer. He was a candidate 
for the Secretaryship of the Society in 1853 when Le Neve Foster was 
elected. There is a life of him in the Dictionary of National Biography 



that known as Hogarth's Act (8 George n. c. 15), passed 
in 1735. It was connected with the name of Hogarth 
because it was obtained by him, mainly at his own expense, 
in order to protect his engravings from the piracy by which 
he suffered considerable loss. It merely provided a cop}^- 
right of fourteen }^ears in original engravings. There had 
been several amending Acts, but none which gave the 
author of an original work of Art the power of preventing 
its being reproduced and copies being sold. 

The committee drafted a Bill to establish copyright 
in works of Fine Art, and this was introduced in the Session 
of 1860. In spite, however, of all the pressure that the 
Society could bring to bear, by deputations to the Govern- 
ment, petitions, and otherwise, the Bill was not passed 
until July 1862, and then only in an emasculated form, 
because the promoters were obliged to abandon its more 
important provisions in order to get the Act passed at 
all. Nevertheless, it was a very important reform, and it 
continued for many years to be the law on the subject. 
It established the existence of a copyright in works of Art, 
though, owing to the way in which one of the clauses was 
drafted, it left in uncertainty the question as to whom the 
copyright should belong in cases in which the artist had 
executed the work for a valuable consideration, or when 
he had disposed of the work itself without either retaining 
or transferring the copyright. In spite, however, of its 
admitted imperfections, it worked fairly satisfactorily, 
and though it has been adversely criticised, it was at the 
time a great and valuable advantage to artists. 1 

Its main provisions have been preserved in the most 
recent legislation on the subject, the Copyright Act (i & 
2 Geo. v. c. 46) passed in the Session of 1911, and in force 
since ist July 1912. 

In 1859 the Society, at the suggestion of Wentworth 
Dilke, who was then the Chairman of Council, took up the 

1 A few years later, on the receipt of an influentially signed memorial 
from artists and picture dealers, the Council drafted an amending Bill, 
and it was introduced into the House of Lords in 1868 by Lord West- 
bury, but nothing came of it (Journal, vol. xiv. pp. 213 and 544, vol. 
xv. p. 526, vol. xvi. p. 580). 


question of musical pitch. The French standard pitch, 
then and since known as the Diapason Normal, became 
legal in France on ist July 1859 ; and it was no doubt the 
fact of the French having adopted a musical standard that 
led to the endeavour in this country to follow their example. 
The proposal that an attempt should be made to standardise 
musical pitch here was referred to a meeting of musicians, 
and after this a committee was appointed, which produced 
a very comprehensive and valuable report drawn up by 
Dr. Hullah. 1 

On the recommendations of the committee, a standard 
was suggested of 528 vibrations for the middle C of the 
pianoforte. The French Diapason Normal was 435 for 
the corresponding note A. The Society's note A would 
naturally be 440 ; but instead of this, A was made 444 
vibrations, on the equal temperament system. 

It is certainly unfortunate that the Society's com- 
mittee did not adopt the "just" A 440, which would 
have been near enough to the French pitch for the two to 
have been treated as practically identical, and the probable 
result would have been that the French pitch would have 
been adopted in this country, and we should have got a 
uniform musical pitch many years ago. The question 
was further complicated by the fact that Mr. Griesbach, 
a musician who had concerned himself with experimental 
acoustics, and who had been entrusted by the Society with 
the tuning of the standard forks, unfortunately was incor- 
rect in his determination. His C fork was 534.5, instead 
of 528, and his A fork 445.7, instead of 444. 2 

The Society's well-intentioned efforts had no practical 
result, and the suggested pitch was never to any 
extent adopted here or elsewhere. Much later on its 
existence became one of the obstacles to the adoption 
in this country of a standard pitch, and in 1886 it was 
referred to a committee to consider whether it was still 

1 The report was printed in the Journal for 8th June 1860, vol. viii. 

P- 572. 

2 These particulars are taken from a most interesting paper by Mr. 
A. J. Hipkins, read before the Society in February 1896, and published 
in the Journal, vol. xliv. p. 535. 


desirable for the Society to maintain its theoretical C 528. 
On the advice of this committee, the Council, in February 
1886, formally abandoned the Society of Arts pitch, 
and published their reason for so doing. 1 

The committee further advised that the Society in 
abandoning its own pitch should use its influence in 
furthering the adoption of the French pitch, from which, 
as before said, the Society's pitch, when accurately 
measured, did not really differ very much. 

One of the schemes taken up by the Council aroused 
a great deal of ridicule, although it provided for what has 
now got to be considered as one of the necessaries of 
civilization that is, the supply of public water-closets 
and lavatories. Such conveniences had been provided 
in the 1851 Exhibition, and the charges made for their 
use resulted in a considerable profit. 2 It was thought, 
very properly, that similar conveniences ought to be 
available in all great cities, and (Sir) Samuel Morton Peto, 
the well-known contractor, offered to defray the cost of 
the experiment, if the Society of Arts would undertake 
to provide waiting-rooms with suitable accommodation 
in London. Arrangements were made for two such 
places one for gentlemen in Fleet Street, and one for 
ladies in Bedford Street, Strand. 

The experiment turned out a complete failure, as the 
cost of establishment and current expenses for a period of 
about six months amounted to 492, i;s. 4d., whereas the 
total receipts were only 15, 135. nd. Mr. Peto (as 
he then was) paid up the balance of 477> 3 s - 5^., and the 
experiment was brought to an end. It, however, served 
its purpose in drawing attention to the necessity for such 
places. Later on the matter was taken up by the City 
Corporation, mainly owing to the recommendations of 
William Hay wood, the City engineer (1846-1894), who 
originated the system of underground lavatories ; and 
now London, which fifty or sixty years ago was probably 

1 Journal for I2th February 1886, vol. xxxiv. p. 265. 

2 The receipts were 2470, and the expenses about 680 (Transactions, 
vol. Ivii. p. xvii). 


the worst supplied of any capital in Europe with sanitary 
conveniences, is certainly the best. 

Although the Society had long since given up the 
practice of making the bestowal of premiums its chief 
object, it never wholly abandoned that practice. Refer- 
ence has been made more than once to the special prizes 
which were given during the years which preceded the 
1851 Exhibition, and, indeed, gave the first stimulus to 
the idea of such an exhibition. The award of these 
special prizes was carried on from 1846 to 1850, and 
during that period the following well-known firms, amongst 
others, received the Society's medals : Minton & Co. 
and Copeland (pottery) ; Osier & Co. and Pellatt & Co. 
(glass) ; Woollams & Co. and W. B. Simpson (paper- 
hangings) ; the Coalbrookdale Co. (iron castings) ; Hunt 
and Roskell (jewellery) ; Crossley (carpets) ; Chubb 
(safes) ; and Leighton (bookbinding). Mention should 
also be made of the gold medal awarded to W. C. Siemens 
in 1850 for his regenerative condenser. This was an 
early and not very successful application of the regenerative 
principle. It was included in the patent for a regenerative 
engine (1847), and was the subject of a later patent (1849). 
The regenerative furnace was patented by Frederick 
Siemens in I856. 1 Many years afterwards, when he 
occupied the post of Chairman of Council, Sir William 
Siemens said that this prize, the first he ever received, 
had been of the greatest encouragement to him. In the 
same year (1850) Henry Bessemer also had a gold medal 
for one of his minor inventions a sugar-cane press. His 
improvements in steel manufacture were of a later 
date, his first patent connected with the " Bessemer 
process " having been taken out in 1855. 

Inasmuch as the Society never formally discontinued 
its practice of awarding medals for meritorious inventions, 
it was always open to anybody to submit anything which 
he considered worthy of award, and from time to time 
new inventions of various sorts were so submitted, were 

1 Life of Sir William Siemens, by William Pole, 1888, p. 75 
et seq. 


referred to a small committee or to some individual expert, 
and received prizes. 

During the period with which we are now engaged some 
special prizes of importance were offered. The Society's 
colour-box has already been .mentioned. 1 This was the 
most popular of all its awards. The most important was 
the prize offered for a microscope. In the summer of 1854 
Dr. W. B. Carpenter suggested to the Council that a prize 
should be offered for a cheap microscope, the cost of such 
instruments being then such as to put them out of the 
reach of students and teachers of elementary science. 
The proposal was approved, and on the recommendation 
of a committee of microscopists, two medals were offered, 
one for a simple and one for a compound microscope, to 
be supplied at the price of IDS. 6d. and 3, 35. respectively. 
It was said that at such prices nothing of any practical 
use could be provided, but Messrs. Field, of Birmingham, 
produced two excellent instruments at the stipulated 
prices, and the prizes were awarded to them. In the 
simple microscope, a tubular stem, which screwed into 
the top of the box containing the instrument when not in 
use, carried an inner rod fitted with a rack and pinion, 
and on this rod the lenses were mounted. There were 
three lenses, giving separately or in combination a range 
of magnification from about five to forty diameters. The 
top of the stem carried a stage, to which could be fitted a 
condensing lens for illumination or a stage-forceps. The 
little instrument, which was sold for los. 6d., was well 
suited for the examination of botanical and other natural 
history specimens. In construction and design it seems 
to have been quite novel at the time. 

The compound microscope was a really excellent 
instrument. It had a cast-iron stand, very firm and 
steady, two eye-pieces, two objectives giving a range from 
25 to 200 diameters, a stage with rotating diaphragm, 
coarse and fine adjustments, adjustable mirror with plane 
and concave sides, separate condenser, stage-forceps and 
live-box. It was not, of course, an instrument suited for 
scientific research, but it was a thoroughly serviceable 
1 See Chapter IX, p. 214, 


one, and nothing like it had ever before been produced 
at such a price. Dr. Carpenter, in his well-known book on 
the microscope, speaks highly of it, and in his third edition, 
published in 1872, he says that by the end of the year 
1 86 1, 1800 instruments had been sold. 

The principal value of the award was that it proved that 
a serviceable microscope could be produced at a cost far 
lower than that of any previous instrument, and the natural 
result followed that it had many successors, some of them 
improvements on the original, though perhaps there were 
none which competed with it in lowness of price. Certainly 
more than twenty years after its introduction microscopes 
were being sold which professed to be the Society of Arts 
pattern, and resembled it more or less closely both in 
character and merits. Later still, of course, much greater 
improvements were made, especially in the optical part, 
and inexpensive microscopes can now be bought com- 
pared with which the original Society's microscope is but 
a very inefficient tool. But it remains the first of its sort, 
and its introduction was a great boon to the scientific 
student of fifty years ago. 

In 1857 Mr. John MacGregor offered the sum of 10 
for a prize for a cheap writing-case suitable for the use 
of soldiers and sailors. The donor was well known as 
" Rob Roy " MacGregor, from his having invented what 
he called the u Rob Roy " canoe. This was a canoe 
rather larger than the double-paddle canoes which were 
then coming into fashion, covered in fore and aft, and 
capable of standing heavier weather than the ordinary 
canoe. MacGregor made various voyages in his favourite 
craft, including one down the Jordan (1868), which he 
described in a book that attracted a good deal of atten- 
tion at the time. MacGregor 's offer being considered 
insufficient, it was supplemented by a donation of an 
equal amount from the Rev. T. Trench, and the full prize 
of 20 was awarded in 1859 to Messrs. Parkins and Gotto 
for a writing-case which was sold at the price of is. 6d. 
It achieved a considerable amount of popularity, for 
within a year 20,000 of them were sold ; but its chief use 
was, like that of the colour-box and microscope, that it was 


succeeded by various forms of cheap desks and writing- 
cases, which were improvements on the original, and were 
sold at an almost equally moderate cost. 

The offer in 1848 of a Gold Medal or Thirty Guineas 
for a design for Labourers' Cottages attracted sixty- 
one competitors. In the result a prize of 15 was 
awarded to T. C. Hine of Nottingham, and a prize of 10 
to S. J. Nicholl. Both these designs were for a double 
cottage. Under the terms of the offer, the cost of a 
double-cottage erected in Middlesex was not to exceed 
300. There does not seem to be any evidence to show 
that there was much practical outcome of the competition. 
But it attracted a good deal of public attention, and both 
the prize-winners published a description of their designs, 
with working drawings and specifications. 1 

In addition to these there were several prizes for 
essays. In 1853 a prize of 50 was awarded to James 
Hole, of Leeds (Honorary Secretary to the Yorkshire Union 
of Mechanics' Institutions), for an essay on Mechanics' 
Institutes. To this reference has already been made. 

In 1855 a prize of twenty-five guineas, offered by Ben- 
jamin Oliveira, M.P., was awarded to Charles Wye Williams 2 

1 Reference to an earlier offer of similar prizes will be found in 
Chapter XIII, p. 312, and to a later one in Chapter XXI, p. 491. 

2 Charles Wye Williams was a man of a certain importance in his 
time. He founded the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, which 
for long maintained the service between Holyhead and Kingstown. 
He was the Managing Director of this Company until the time of his 
death in 1866. He also took an active part in the formation of the 
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, and is credited 
with having applied watertight bulkheads to divide a ship into separate 
compartments at an early date. He was the patentee of a steam boiler 
furnace, the principle of which is described in his Essay, and he wrote 
several books on coal combustion and the production of steam. The 
value of his work in this direction, however, is a little doubtful. His 
principal book has been described to the writer by a very competent 
authority as a " queer mixture of sense and nonsense." It was 
vigorously attacked by Armstrong and Bourne in their book on Boiler 
Engineering (1856), and also by Bourne in a review published in 1843. 
He was for many years a member of the Society, and a long obituary 
notice of him appears in the Journal , vol. xiv. p. 383. 


for an essay on " The Prevention of the Smoke Nuisance," 
and two years later, in 1857, a prize of 200, which had 
been offered by Henry Johnson for an essay " On the 
Present Financial Position of the Country " was awarded 
to Edward Capps. 

It should be added that in 1850 Scott Russell made a 
suggestion that medals should be given to the readers of 
the best papers every year. The suggestion was adopted 
and at once acted upon. The practice has been continued 
from that date down to the present time. 

As the first award of the Swiney Prize was made in 
1849, this would seem to be the proper place to insert some 
account of this curious bequest. 

At the meeting held on 7th February 1 844, Arthur Aikin 
reported that during his secretaryship thirteen years 
before, which would mean some time in 1831, " a stranger 
called at this office and put into my hand the will of Dr. 
Swiney, sealed up in an enclosure, and immediately left." 
Dr. Aikin endeavoured to find out the doctor's address, 
but without success. When he retired from the secretary- 
ship (1839) he took legal advice as to what had better be 
done with the packet, and was advised to open it, when he 
found a note from Dr. Swiney addressed to himself, express- 
ing a wish that he should take charge of the will. This 
note was dated from Sidmouth Street, Gray's Inn Road, 
but no trace of Dr. Swiney could then be found, though 
inquiries were at once made. 

Aikin handed over the will to William Tooke, the 
Society's honorary solicitor, and it remained in his hands 
until January 1 844, when Aikin was summoned to attend 
at Dr. Swiney 's lodgings in Grove Street (now Arlington 
Road), Camden Town, where he had died on 2ist 

On the will being read, it appeared that the deceased 
had bequeathed, amongst other legacies, 5000 Three per 
Cent. Consols to the Society of Arts, and a like amount 
to the British Museum, on the condition, so far as the 
Society of Arts was concerned, that a sum of 100 contained 
in a silver cup of the same value should be awarded on 


every fifth anniversary of Dr. Swiney 's death as a prize to 
the author of the best published book on Jurisprudence. 

Not a great deal has ever been found out about Dr. 
George Swiney. He was said to be a son of Admiral 
Swiney, and a relation of Sir Humphry Davy. He was 
about fifty when he died, and had resided in Grove Street 
for about fifteen years. He was an M.D. of Edinburgh, 
where he graduated in 1 8 1 6 . He was certainly an eccentric 
character, and it was thought that some of his relations 
for he appears to have had some would have disputed 
the will. Nothing of the sort was done, and in due course 
the Society received its bequest. His eccentricity was 
displayed in the provisions made in his will for his funeral. 
These were all duly carried out. His coffin was covered 
with a yellow velvet pall, and followed by three girls in 
gay dresses. So curious a procession naturally attracted 
a great deal of attention, and the crowd was so great that 
there was some difficulty in carrying out the funeral. He 
was buried in the burial-ground in Pratt Street, Camden 
Town. His tombstone having fallen into disrepair, it was 
twice repaired at the cost of the Society, the second time 
in 1899, when the old stone was in so bad a condition that 
it was thought best to renew it entirely and re-cut the 
inscription, which runs as follows 






Although the bequest was made to the Society of Arts 
alone, the adjudicators were, by the terms of the will, to 
be the members of the Society and the members of the 
Royal College of Physicians, " with the wives of such of 
them as happen to be married." It may be supposed 

1 A few further details will be found in two articles in the Journal, 
vol. xlvii. p. 660, and vol. Ivii. p. 440, 


that it was his connection with medicine which led him to 
drag in the College of Physicians ; but it is only another 
proof of the man's eccentricity that on deciding to found 
an award connected with Jurisprudence he should select as 
adjudicators the members of two institutions neither of 
which has any connection with the law, or their members 
any special qualifications for the task. It, therefore, 
became desirable to consult with the College of Physicians 
as to the disposition of the prize, and before the time for 
the first award came round the Council communicated 
with the College, with the result that an arrangement 
was arrived at that the award should be given alternately 
for Medical and General Jurisprudence. This arrangement 
has been amicably adhered to up to the present date. 

When the question of designing a cup arose, Daniel 
Maclise was invited to submit a design, which was approved 
and accepted by the Council in May 1849, the execution 
of the design being entrusted to Messrs. Garrard, the 
silversmiths. On two occasions since in 1856 and 1894 
the question has arisen of substituting a new design for 
that of Maclise, and the Council on both occasions went so 
far as to offer prizes for such a new design. In neither 
case, however, was the result satisfactory, and the cup is 
now, with some trifling alterations, the same as that 
originally designed by Maclise. 

Besides the various matters already mentioned to 
which the special attention of the Society and its Council 
was directed, there were many other topics of which little 
more than bare mention must suffice. 

In 1854 a Committee on Industrial Pathology was ap- 
pointed, of which the most important members were Dr. 
T. K. Chambers and Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Simon. 
This committee produced two reports. 1 Dr. Chambers 
also read a paper on the subject in June 1854. In this 
paper, 2 and in the first report of the committee, the 
subject was dealt with in a general manner. The second 
report had special reference to trades which affected the 

1 Journal, vol. ii. p. 364, and vol. iii. p. 119. 

2 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 491. 


eyes. Nothing very much seems to have come of the 
committee's efforts, and, indeed, this important subject 
hardly met with adequate treatment at the Society's hands. 

The question of cheap international postage was taken 
up as early as 1851, and in 1852 the Council sent a deputa- 
tion to Lord Granville, then Foreign Secretary, on the 
subject. In 1855 a parcel post was proposed for the first 
time. A committee reported on the proposal, and there 
was much discussion upon it, which bore fruit eventually, 
but not for many years. 

The effects of the Paper Duty came under considera- 
tion from time to time, first in 1853, when the Council 
undertook an elaborate investigation into the effect of the 
duties, and collected the opinions of those whose interests 
were affected by them, including paper-makers, stationers, 
publishers, newspaper proprietors and editors, authors and 
traders using paper for manufacturing and other purposes. 
A considerable amount of information collected from 
these various classes was published. In 1860 a petition 
against what was called " taxes on knowledge " was 
addressed to the House of Commons. The duties were 
abolished in 1861, after a dispute between the two Houses 
of Parliament. 

It is curious to note that when a proposal for national 
holidays was brought up before the Council in 1861, a 
resolution of disapproval was passed. 

The centenary of the Society occurred in 1854, and 
was duly celebrated by a dinner at the Crystal Palace, 
at which Earl Granville presided. The Society's annual 
dinner was continued regularly up to 1862, when Mr. 
Gladstone was in the chair. This dinner was held in one 
of the refreshment rooms of the 1862 Exhibition building. 
Two years previously Mr. Disraeli presided. Other chair- 
men had been the Duke of Argyll, Lord Ashburton, Lord 
Stanley, the Earl of Carlisle, Lord Napier, and the Earl of 
Elgin. The numbers attending the dinner had gradually 
fallen off (there were 750 in 1854), and after 1862 it was 
not continued. 

It is worth mentioning as a matter of record that the 
present Common Seal of the Society dates from 1856. It 


was adopted by a resolution of Council passed on i8th 
June in that year, and the old seal, with the design by 
Cipriani, which had been adopted in 1 848, was given up. 

When the Council met for the first time in December 
1 845 , the Society was not far from being bankrupt . All the 
available stock had been sold, and only a few trust funds, 
amounting to just 1000, were left. The receipts for the 
year were insufficient to meet the annual expenditure ; 
there was just i 1 7 in the bank, and the Society was about 
1000 or so in debt. The accounts are not very clear, but 
that seems to have been about the actual state of the 
finances. It was obvious that if the Society was to go 
on at all, money had to be provided. Various plans were 
considered. Among other expedients suggested was the 
raising of a loan fund amongst the members. Various 
liberal offers were made to contribute to such a fund 
without requiring any interest, and several hundred pounds 
were thus paid, or promised, by some of the members. These 
contributions kept things going for a year or two, and then 
the Council received an offer from one of the members, 
Mr. Henry Hobhouse, to lend the Society a sum of 1000 
at 4 1 per cent, interest, to be secured by a debenture on 
the Society's property. This offer was gratefully accepted 
in May 1848. It enabled temporary difficulties to be 
tided over, and in a year or so from this time the Society 
became practically solvent, the receipts from the increasing 
number of members and other sources being just about 
enough to balance the expenses. Still, when Mr. Hob- 
house died in 1854 and his executors required the debenture 
to be taken up, the Council were not yet in a position to 
discharge the liability, but Mr. Thomas Twining, who was 
then a member of the Council, advanced 1000 in the 
following year to pay Mr. Hobhouse's estate. This 
amount he was repaid in three instalments, the last in 
December 1857. 

The 1851 Exhibition and the growing reputation of 
the Society caused a large influx of members, and a similar 
result accrued from the Exhibition of 1862, so that the 
balance-sheet for the year ending June 1862 showed a 


total of actual revenue of nearly 9000, and a balance 
of income over expenditure of more than 1000. The 
moneys in hand, and the amounts actually due and re- 
coverable, were much more than sufficient to balance the 
actual liabilities. 

That the actual financial condition of the Society 
was not generally appreciated, or its independence of official 
support generally known, is shown by an order made by the 
House of Lords in 1856 for a return of the sums of money 
granted by Government to the Society during the five 
years ending April of that year. The officials of the House, 
unable to supply the information themselves, applied for 
help to the Society, whereupon the Council directed the 
Secretary to reply that the Society had existed for over a 
hundred years, and had never received any public money 
whatever, and that, therefore, the amount in question 
was " nil." There does not appear to have been any 
further correspondence. If the question were repeated 
at the present date, the same answer would serve. 

When all the arrangements for the 1862 Exhibition 
had been successfully completed, and the Society, then 
in the full tide of prosperity and success, was looking 
forward to the realisation of a considerable financial 
endowment from the anticipated profits of the Exhibition, 
their hopes were suddenly destroyed by the sudden and 
unexpected death of their President. The Prince Consort 
died in December 1861. Though it was decided that the 
Exhibition should still be held, it was held during a period 
of national mourning, and without any of the pomp and 
circumstance which are essential to the success of such an 
undertaking. The result was a financial failure, which 
deprived the Society of any advantage whatever, though 
it did not involve it in any actual loss. 

But the loss of prospective revenue was not the greatest 
of the Society's deprivations. For eighteen years Prince 
Albert had been the active and watchful President of the 
Society. He had taken office when its fortunes were at 
their lowest ebb, its members few and falling away, its 
resources exhausted. If he had not consented to accept 
the Presidency, a very few more years would have seen its 



To face page 398. 


extinction. When he died it was flourishing and rich, the 
number of its supporters was just as many thousands as they 
had been hundreds, and it had accomplished an amount 
of public work of which any institution might have been 
proud. To attribute all this to the Prince Consort alone 
would be the merest sycophancy ; but it is absolutely 
certain that but for his influence and his inspiring interest 
the work would never have been done. At his last 
appearance at the Society, when, in May 1861, he pre- 
sided at one of its meetings, he expressed his regret that of 
late he had been unable to give to its work the attention 
and the care he had given in earlier years. The Society 
of Arts was one of the first public institutions in the 
country to which he lent his patronage and his help. It 
repaid his attention by being amongst the first public 
bodies in England to value him at his true worth . For years 
he was unappreciated, misunderstood, almost unpopular ; 
but by the members of the Society with whom he worked, 
in pursuance of aims and objects on which his heart was 
set, he was from the first appreciated, understood and 
esteemed. It is something to the credit of the band of 
workers who used the organisation of the Society for the 
promotion of much public good, that they estimated at 
its true value the character of a man who for long lacked 
fit recognition at the hands of his adopted countrymen, 
and whose genuine worth was only fully realised in the 
closing years of his life among them. 

When the question of a national memorial to the Prince 
came under consideration, the Council at once voted what 
was considering the Society's resources the very large 
sum of 1000 towards it, and also took steps to collect 
subscriptions among the individual members. Yet to 
many outside the Council this seemed insufficient, and a 
proposal was put forward for a separate special memorial 
of the Society's own. This was at first opposed by the 
Council, who were aware of the Queen's desire that the 
monument to her late husband should be the result of 
a single united national effort. The feeling, however, 
was too powerful. An influentially-signed memorial was 
presented to the Council calling on them to summon a 


second general meeting one had already been held to 
endorse the action of the Council in contributing from 
the Society's funds to the national memorial and the 
Council, submitting to the evident wishes of the members, 
at once abandoned all opposition and took the lead in the 
proposed movement. The result was that a fund was 
subscribed by the members, out of which were provided 
the two portraits of the Queen and of the Prince now in the 
meeting-room, and the bust of the Prince now in the ante- 

A still finer memorial of the Prince is the Albert Medal 
founded in 1863, " for distinguished merit in promoting 
Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce," and awarded for the 
first time in 1864. This was established by the Council in 
pursuance of a suggestion made at the general meeting 
above mentioned, and is, of course, provided at the cost of 
the Society. 

It has been awarded annually since it was first 
founded. This year (1913) completes a half-century of 
awards, and the occasion has been emphasised by the 
presentation of the medal to his present Majesty, King 
George V. The list of its recipients forms a record of the 
greatest of those who during that period have laboured to 
apply the advances of science to the practical benefit 
of mankind. Their names are fitly associated with that 
of the earnest philosopher and philanthropist, to com- 
memorate whose association with the Society the medal 
was established, and while the renown of the recipients 
adds a constantly increasing value to the honour of the 
award, the services recognised by the medal may fitly 
be held to lend some further lustre to the reputation of the 
sagacious and benevolent Prince in whose memory it was 


Origin of National and International Exhibitions The First French 
Exhibition The "National Repository," 1828 First Proposals 
for a National Exhibition of Industry Attempts to carry out the 
Proposal The Society's Exhibitions of Manufactures Exhibi- 
tion of Ancient and Mediaeval Art Proposal for a National 
Exhibition Idea taken up by Prince Albert International 
Exhibition decided upon First Steps to carry out the Scheme 
Agreement with Contractors for a Building Royal Commission 
appointed, and work handed over to it. 

PROBABLY the most important piece of work ever under- 
taken by the Society of Arts was the foundation of the 
Great Exhibition of 1 85 1 , and through it of that long series 
of international exhibitions which have had such far- 
reaching influences on the arts, as well as on industry 
and trade. 

In the history, therefore, of the Society of Arts, the 
chapter dealing with its connection with exhibitions is a 
very important chapter, and so it becomes necessary to 
set forth in some detail an account of the steps which 
led to the successful inauguration of the Great Palace of 
Industry in Hyde Park. Now that so many exhibitions 
have been held, and that experience has established a 
system even a routine for their management, we may 
easily overlook the difficulties which surrounded the path 
of those who started without example or experience to 
guide them so novel an experiment, and who, indeed, 
realised a success not surpassed by any of their followers. 
Some of these men are now forgotten. Others never 
received their due share of credit. Perhaps, now that all 


of them have passed away, it may be possible to set out 
without invidious comparisons their various shares in the 
great enterprise, so far as the records of the Society enable 
it to be done. 

As it was only with the initiation of the undertaking 
that the Society was concerned, it will be only the early 
steps of preparation that will be recorded here. As soon 
as success was assured, and national support was certain, 
it was decided that so important a movement should be 
under Government control. Probably in no other w 7 ay 
than by means of a Royal Commission could the great 
enterprise have been so successfully accomplished. Still, 
the historian of the Society of Arts may be pardoned a 
regret that the Society should not have been able to 
carry out to the end the scheme it had brought so far, and 
to reap the full reward of its early and devoted labours. 

The question of the origin of national and international 
exhibitions has often been discussed, and there seems 
no doubt that the earliest industrial exhibition of which 
there is any record was the Exhibition, held by the Society 
of Arts in 1761, of Agricultural and other Machines, for 
which the Society had offered prizes. Thus it may 
certainly be claimed for the Society that it initiated the 
idea of Industrial as well as of Fine Art exhibitions. 

The idea was also independently originated in France. 
In 1797, in the time of the Directory, an exhibition of 
French manufactures was organised in the then dismantled 
Chateau of St. Cloud. The execution of the scheme was, 
however, interrupted by the decree for the expulsion of 
the nobility, and the consequent enforced sudden flight 
of the originator the Marquis d'Aveze, who was then 
commissioner for the State manufactures, Gobelins, Sevres, 
etc., and had proposed the exhibition as a means of raising 
these works from the state of decay into which they had 
lapsed. 1 

In the following year the scheme was actually carried 
into effect in a temporary building on the Champ de Mars. 

1 A full account of this first French exhibition, and of its successors, 
will be found in the Report on the 1849 Exhibition, prepared by Mr, 
Digby Wyatt for the Council of the Society. 


This was the first of a series of French national exhibitions, 
the last of which was held in 1849. The success of these 
national shows was avowedly one of the causes which led 
to the promotion of similar exhibitions in this country. 

Such an attempt was made in 1828. An influential 
committee was formed, with the Hon. G. Agar Ellis as 
chairman, and King George the Fourth gave his patronage. 
The Committee proposed to hold a series of annual ex- 
hibitions " of new and improved productions of our 
artisans and manufacturers." The place fixed upon was 
the King's Mews, which stood on the site of the National 
Gallery, and were pulled down in 1833. The scheme 
was well thought out, but seems to have been in advance 
of its time, for the manufacturers of the country did little 
to support it. The " National Repository," as it was 
termed, was continued for four years ; in 1833 it was 
moved from the King's Mews to a house in Leicester 
Square, and after this it was discontinued. 1 

Mention should also be made of the triennial exhibitions 
of the Royal Dublin Society, held from 1827 to 1850 ; of 
an exhibition held in Covent Garden in 1845, of which, 
however, no complete record appears to have been pre- 
served ; and also of attempts by Mr. S. Richards to get 
up an exhibition of industry, including foreign manu- 
factures, in Birmingham, in i836. 2 

In November 1844, Francis Whishaw, the Secretary 
of the Society, started a scheme for an annual exhibition 
of the products of national industry, and inserted ad- 
vertisements in the Times, Athenceum, and other papers, 
offering prizes to the amount of 300. In this scheme 
Whishaw had the assistance of Joseph Woods ; it came 
to very little, for the public gave it but slight support. 
A small exhibition of works of art and mechanical inven- 
tions was, however, held in the Society's rooms on the 

1 A full account of this exhibition is given in Mr. Hollingshead's 
introduction to the official illustrated catalogue of the 1862 Exhibition. 

2 Local exhibitions were held at Munich, 1818 ; Hanover, 1835 ; 
Brussels, 1835; Lausanne, 1839; Vienna, 1839; Berlin, 1844; and 
at many other places on the Continent. A list of these is given 
in the Introduction to the British Catalogue for the Philadelphia 
Exhibition, 1876, 


6th December 1 844, and a similar one on the 28th January 
1845. So far as appears from any remaining records, 
these little exhibitions were held for a single evening each, 
but they deserve notice as being really the first sign of 
the movement which eventually led to the Great Exhibi- 
tion. Whishaw states, in a memorandum he left on the 
subject, that, in 1844, he had an interview with Mr. 
Anson, Prince Albert's private secretary, and that he 
had asked for the Prince's patronage, apparently without 
any result. 

At a meeting of the Miscellaneous Matters Committee 
of the Society, held on the 2ist of May 1845, with Thomas 
Webster in the chair, William Fothergill Cooke, apparently 
at the instance of the Secretary, Whishaw, suggested that 
steps should be taken for the establishment of a national 
exhibition of the products of industry, and that efforts 
should be made to raise funds for the purpose, he himself 
offering to start a loan fund with the sum of 500. The 
matter was brought under the notice of H.R.H. Prince 
Albert, the President of the Society, in the address read 
to him at the distribution of the Society's rewards on the 
2nd June in that year ; and it is stated that His Royal 
Highness then directed the matter to be brought again 
before him as soon as the plan for carrying the proposal 
into effect had attained a practical form. A Committee 1 
was appointed for the purpose, and succeeded in obtaining 
the promise of a certain amount of funds. Hyde Park 
was suggested as a suitable site, and other plans were 
proposed. The committee even entered into communica- 
tion with the owner of Baker Street Bazaar. However, 
when they took steps to ascertain the views of manu- 

1 The Committee consisted of W. F. Cooke (well known in connection 
with the establishment of the electric telegraph; d. 1879); Joseph 
Woods, G. T. Kemp, Alfred Ainger, J. Scott Russell (then a member 
of the Miscellaneous Matters Committee), Thomas Webster, Q.C. ; 
Thomas Winkworth (partner in the firm of Winkworth & Proctor, silk 
brokers; an active member of the Society ; d. 1865), Francis Fuller, 
Bennet Woodcroft (F.R.S., Professor of Machinery at University 
College, London ; clerk to the Commissioners of Patents ; d. 1879), 
Thomas Sopwith (F.R.S., Civil and Mining Engineer ; d. 1879), and 
Francis Whishaw as Secretary. 


facturers generally on the subject, though many promised 
support, they did not meet with sufficient encouragement, 
and the proposal for a general national exhibition was 
for a time allowed to drop. 

But the idea was not permitted entirely to perish. 
Steps were taken by those who directed the Society's 
action to prepare the public mind for a great national 
exhibition. The Prince Consort had, since his election 
as President, continuously impressed on the Society the 
necessity of its taking steps to improve the condition of 
the artistic industries of the country, then in a very back- 
ward condition, and had urged on the Society, as its proper 
work, the encouragement of the application of art to 
practical purposes. As a means to this end, the Council 
were induced at the original suggestion, it is believed, 
of Scott Russell, who was then associated with Whishaw, 
as secretary, 1 and succeeded him in the following 
March to offer prizes for improved designs of u useful 
objects calculated to improve general taste." A fund for 
the purpose was subscribed, and a first offer of prizes 
was made in the year 1846. The response was meagre, 
but among the articles sent in was a tea-service designed 
by (Sir) Henry Cole (under his well-known pseudonym 
of Felix Summerly), and manufactured at his instance 
by Messrs. Minton. This service was simple in form, 
excellent in shape and thoroughly artistic in design. 
It afforded an admirable example of the true principles 
which should be followed in the manufacture of articles of 
common daily use, and, indeed, it effected a revolution in 
that manufacture. It is because this offer of prizes led 
to the first Exhibition of British Manufactures, and 
because this first Exhibition led to that of 1851, that it 
has often been said that this tea-service was the origin 
of the Exhibition. There is perhaps just enough founda- 
tion in fact to justify the epigrammatic statement that 
11 the Exhibition started from a tea-cup." It is, how- 
ever, much more true to say that Felix Summer ly's tea- 

1 At the first meeting of the Council, 6th December 1845, a sum 
of 50 guineas was offered " through the Secretary," for prizes. It 
appears that the offer came from Scott Russell himself. 


cup originated that application of art to industry which 
has changed the whole character of those British manu- 
factures to which artistic principles are applicable. It 
was, indeed, the commencement of the present school of 
art-workmanship in this country. 

Although, as above stated, the response to the first 
offer of prizes was unsatisfactory, it was renewed in 
the following year (1847), an d it was the prize articles 
of 1846, together with the articles submitted in com- 
petition in 1847, which formed the basis of the Society 

The Felix Summerly Tea-service. 1 

of Arts' first exhibition of " select specimens of British 
Manufactures and Decorative Art," which was opened at 
the Society's house in March 1847. The exhibition itself 
would have been but a poor one had it not been supple- 
mented by examples lent at the urgent solicitation of 
Henry Cole, Scott Russell, and another member of the 
Society. These three devoted men, as Russell himself 
afterwards said, spent three whole days travelling about 
London in four-wheel cabs calling on manufacturers and 
shopkeepers, till they had at last succeeded by personal 

1 Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Bell & Sons from Sir Henry- 
Cole's Fifty Years of Public Work. 


entreaty in inducing some of them to send sufficient 
goods to fill the exhibition room. The event more than 
justified the effort ; the exhibition turned out a complete 
success, and it was visited by 20,000 people. Still greater 
success attended a repetition of the experiment in 1848, 
for manufacturers began to realise the advantage of the 
cheap advertisement provided by exhibitions. This 
second exhibition was attended by over 73,000 visitors; 
and for the third, in 1849, the accommodation on the 
Society's premises proved quite inadequate. 

Even more successful was the exhibition held in 1850 
" of works of Ancient and Mediaeval Art." The success 
of this exhibition was due to a large extent to the exertions 
made by Mr. (afterwards Sir) Augustus Wollaston Franks, 
the eminent archaeologist, who in later years was the 
head of the British Museum Department of British and 
Mediaeval Antiquities. He acted as honorary secretary to 
the exhibition, and took infinite pains to ensure its success. 
This attracted even more public attention than the ex- 
hibitions of manufactures. Collectors, who had not 
then the numerous applications for loans to which they 
are now subjected, were liberal, and generously lent many 
objects of interest and value. The newspapers at the 
time were full of accounts of the exhibition and its 

The next definite step taken by the Council of the 
Society was to send, in March 1848, a deputation to the 
President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Labouchere (after- 
wards Lord Taunton), suggesting that the articles shown 
at the Society of Arts annual exhibitions should be circu- 
lated amongst the provincial Schools of Design, then under 
the Board of Trade. 1 The memorial presented by the 
deputation (which bears on the face of it evident signs 
that it was the work of Henry Cole) further proposed that 

1 The members of the deputation were : Sir J. P. Boileau, Bart, (a 
well-known archaeologist and an active Vice-President of the Society ; 
he died 1869), Mr. G. Bailey (Curator of the Soane Museum), Mr. 
Henry Cole (afterwards Sir H. Cole, K.C.B.), Mr. P. Le Neve Foster 
(at that time one of the Society's Treasurers), Mr. J. S. Lefevre, 
Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trade (afterwards Sir John Shaw 
Lefevre), and Mr. J. Scott Russell. 


every fourth year the Society should make a collected 
exhibition of the principal objects, and others specially 
prepared, in a suitable building in London ; that 
the site for the building might be Trafalgar Square ; 
that the Government should provide the building ; and 
that the Society should have the management of the 

Mr. Labouchere approved of the proposal, and promised 
the assistance of the Schools of Design, but, on the question 
of site, referred the deputation to the Chairman of the 
Commission on Woods and Forests, 1 Lord Morpeth (after- 
wards Lord Carlisle). The same deputation waited on 
Lord Morpeth two months later (in May 1848), and 
though he refused the use of Trafalgar Square, he offered 
the use of the quadrangle of Somerset House. 

The progress which had been made was duly reported 
by the Council to the Society in an address read on the 
occasion of the opening of the third Exhibition of British 
Manufactures in March 1849. This address definitely 
stated that the annual exhibitions were " only parts of a 
series of displays which it is proposed shall culminate every 
fifth year in a great national exhibition, embracing all 
manufactures/' and it suggested 1851, the fifth year from 
the first of the Society's Exhibitions of Manufactures, for 
the first national one. The address then went on to state 
what had been done by the deputation above mentioned, 
claimed that the Society had " practically demonstrated 
the means of establishing such exhibitions, and educated 
most successfully a numerous public of all classes of society 
to appreciate them and crowd to see them," and concluded 
by urging on Government that it should " provide, once 
in every fifth year, a suitable building, in which national 
exhibitions, duly representing the best productions in all 
branches of manufactures, may be found." 

A little later in the same year in April 1849 a 
petition from the Council, which had been drafted by Mr. 

1 Trafalgar Square, which is now under the control of the Office of 
Works, was then (and until 1851) under the control of the Commis- 
sioners of Woods and Forests. It forms part of the hereditary 
possessions of the Crown. 


Henry Cole, was presented by Mr. Milner Gibson to the 
House of Commons. This petition was referred to the 
Select Committee on the Schools of Design, which reported 
on it favourably, thinking that there was " every reason- 
able probability that a National Exhibition of Decorative 
Manufactures, if properly organised, might be made to a 
considerable extent, if not wholly, to repay its expenses." 
The Committee also thought that the prayer of the 
petition was well worthy of the consideration of the 

In the previous year, 1848, Mr. Cole had submitted 
to Prince Albert, through his secretary, Colonel Phipps, 
the memorial afterwards presented to the Board of Trade, 
but its reception was not encouraging. Colonel Phipps 
stated that the Prince's opinion was not favourable to 
the plan, and that " no reasonable hope could be enter- 
tained of any co-operation or assistance, at any rate at 
present, from the Government." The time, however, 
had now arrived when the Prince was induced to take a 
different view of the proposal, and, by lending it the 
support of his great influence, to carry it to the success 
it eventually attained. 1 

Careful study of the original records only serves to 
confirm the popular idea that the success of the Great 
Exhibition of 1851 was due to the wisdom and energy of 
the Prince Consort. Had he given but a nominal support 
it would doubtless indeed have been carried to a successful 
issue, but it would have been on a much smaller scale; prob- 
ably it would have been confined to national products alone; 

1 The early history of the Exhibition is contained in a report 
prepared by Mr. Scott Russell, and read to a general meeting of the 
Society held on the 8th February 1850. A great deal of information 
about these preliminary steps is given in Sir Henry Cole's Fifty Years 
of Public Life. The introduction to the official illustrated catalogue 
of the 1862 Exhibition, prepared by Mr. John Hollingshead, contains 
an account of the origin of the Exhibition, mainly founded on Mr. 
Scott Russell's report. Mr. Scott Russell also made an interesting 
collection of documents on the subject, which, after his death, was 
purchased by the Society, and is now in its possession. The First 
Report of the 185 1 Commissioners gives only a very summary account 
of these early proceedings. 


and, while it would certainly have had useful and important 
results, it could never have had the effect it certainly did 
exercise on the arts, industries, and commerce of the world. 

As previously mentioned, an exhibition of French 
Industry was being held in 1849 in Paris. This was 
visited by Henry Cole in company with Digby Wyatt, 
who had been commissioned by the Society to prepare a 
report on the exhibition, 1 and also by Francis Fuller, 2 
a member of the Council of the Society. Mr. Fuller, 
on his return, wrote to Mr. Scott Russell that, in his 
opinion, it would be possible to get up in London a much 
better exhibition than the one in Paris. On his way 
back to London, as Mr. Fuller stated at a later period, he 
accidentally met at Southampton Mr. Thomas Cubitt, 3 
who was then engaged in building the Royal Residence 
at Osborne House, in the Isle of Wight. A few days 
later, when Mr. Cubitt returned to Osborne, he mentioned 
the idea to the Prince, who is said to have expressed 
sympathy with the project. The matter, however, was 
more formally brought to His Royal Highness 's notice, 
first privately, by Mr. Scott Russell, and then publicly, 
in the report of the Council, read at the annual presenta- 
tion of the prizes on the i4th June in that year. 

From the minutes of the meeting, which are somewhat 
meagre, it does not appear that Prince Albert expressed 
any views of his own on that occasion, but he shortly 
afterwards sent for Mr. Scott Russell, and obtained from 
him full information as to the scheme. He also sent for 
Mr. Cole, on the occasion of a visit paid by him to Colonel 
Phipps, and questioned him about the arrangements for 
the proposed exhibition. It was evident that His Royal 
Highness 's interest had been thoroughly aroused, for on 
both occasions he went fully into the matter, and gave 

1 Published the same year for the Society. A copy is in the Society's 
library. Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt died in 1877. 

2 Francis Fuller was a member of the Society from 1843 till his 
death in 1887. He, as will be seen, took a very energetic part in the 
preparations for the Exhibition. For some time he was managing 
director of the Sydenham Crystal Palace. 

3 The founder of the great firm of builders of which he and his 
brother William were partners. He died in 1855. 


his own opinions as to the best means of success. He 
suggested Leicester Square as a suitable site, and, in 
answer to a question from Mr. Cole as to whether the 
exhibition should be national or international, he decided 
that it ought to embrace foreign productions, and must 
certainly be international. On Mr. Cole suggesting that, in 
that case, Leicester Square might not be large enough, and 
proposing, in reply to a further question, a site in Hyde 
Park, he was directed by the Prince to visit the park, and 
to consider whether a suitable site could be found there. 

These informal discussions were preliminary to a more 
formal meeting, when the Prince summoned Scott Russell, 
Francis Fuller, Henry Cole, and Thomas Cubitt to attend 
at Buckingham Palace. A formal minute of the proceed- 
ings of this meeting was prepared, at the Prince's desire, 
by Mr. Scott Russell, and the original MS. of this minute, 
with the Prince's own corrections, is amongst the docu- 
ments before referred to as having been collected by Mr. 
Scott Russell. Sir Henry Cole reproduced in facsimile in 
his autobiography the passage in which it was laid down 
that the exhibition was to be international. In the 
Prince's own words, it was considered " that whilst it 
appears an error to fix any limitation to the productions 
of machinery, science, and taste, which are of no country, 
but belong as a whole to the civilised world, particular 
advantage to British industry might be derived from 
placing it in fair competition with that of other nations." 
At this meeting, also, Prince Albert suggested that the 
exhibition should include the four following divisions : 
Raw materials, machinery and mechanical inventions, 
manufactures, sculpture and plastic art. It will be seen, 
therefore, that it was at this meeting that the various 
proposals for the holding of the Great Exhibition in 1851 
at last took definite form, and here, it may be said, that 
the Exhibition really originated. 

A second similar meeting was held at Osborne, which 
was attended by Scott Russell, Henry Cole, and Francis 
Fuller, Mr. Labouchere, President of the Board of Trade, 
being also present, by desire of the Prince. At this 
meeting it was decided that the best means of carrying 


out the proposed scheme would be by the appointment 
of a Royal Commission. 

At this meeting a definite plan for the exhibition was 
decided upon. It was settled that an exhibition should 
be held in London in 1851, under the presidency of Prince 
Albert, of works of art and industry of all nations ; that 
there should be a Royal Commission to control and 
regulate the exhibition, and to deal with the question of 
prizes ; that the Society of Arts should undertake to 
collect funds for prizes and all the other expenses, and 
should provide for the holding of similar exhibitions 

It was also decided that steps should be taken to 
ascertain the feelings of manufacturers, and to obtain 
their support. 1 

In order to carry these suggestions into effect, the 
Prince authorised Mr. Cole and Mr. Fuller to visit the 
principal provincial centres of industry, and to hold 
public meetings for the purpose of awakening interest 
and obtaining promises of support for the proposed ex- 
hibition. The costs of these journeys were, at all events 
in the first instance, defrayed by Mr. Fuller. The work 
of these gentlemen was supplemented by similar efforts 
by several other members of the Society, and the result 
was that a little later on in the year a report was presented 
to the Prince, showing that the proposal had met with 
warm support in all parts of the country. 

In the meantime the matter had been brought before 
the Council of the Society, which was summoned on the 
26th July 1849 2 to hear a report from the secretary of the 
meeting at Buckingham Palace on the 3Oth June, and to 
consider what the action of the Society should be. The 

1 Mr. Fuller, in an account of the meeting, published at a later 
date, states that Sir Robert Peel was also present, and that he expressed 
the opinion that the project was good and deserved support, but that 
until a sufficient majority of the manufacturers of the United Kingdom 
should declare in favour of it, he strongly advised His Royal Highness 
to have nothing to do with it. 

2 At this meeting Mr. Thomas Winkworth was in the chair, and 
there were present Messrs. Le Neve Foster, S. Hickson (d. 1870), S. 
Redgrave (d. 1876), F. Whishaw, and J. Scott Russell (secretary). 


conclusion arrived at was that the resources of the Society 
were not such as to justify the Council in guaranteeing 
the necessary preliminary outlay, but that it might be 
possible to find some capitalists who would provide the 
necessary funds, provided they were allowed to make the 
exhibition, to some extent, a source of pecuniary profit. 

The total probable cost of the exhibition was naturally 
a subject of considerable discussion. It was estimated 
by Mr. Cubitt that the cost of the building would not be 
much less than 50,000 ; 20,000 was proposed for prizes, 
and thus, with preliminary expenses, it was considered that 
75,000 would be required to ensure success. To recoup 
this expenditure the following sources were relied upon 
receipts at the doors, payments from exhibitors for their 
stalls, and various other miscellaneous sources of revenue. 

For a long time great difficulty was experienced in 
finding anybody who would undertake the speculation. 
The matter was laid before numerous contractors, but 
without success, until at last Mr. Fuller, through the 
agency of his father-in-law, Mr. George Drew, of Guildford, 
succeeded in inducing Messrs. J. & G. Munday to under- 
take the risk. Messrs. Munday agreed to advance the 
sum suggested for a prize fund 20,000 to the Treasurer 
of the Society, to be placed in the name of Prince Albert 
or of trustees appointed by him. They also undertook 
the whole cost of erecting the necessary buildings, and to 
provide the money for preliminary expenses. From the 
exhibition receipts they were to receive 5 per cent, interest 
on money advanced, and of the surplus profits one-third 
was to be paid to the Society of Arts to form a fund avail- 
able for future exhibitions, while the remaining two-thirds 
were to go to the contractors, after payment of all costs 
of the exhibition. 

To carry on the work the Council appointed an execu- 
tive committee and three treasurers. 1 When the deeds of 

1 The Executive Committee consisted of Henry Cole, C. Wen I worth 
Dilke (afterwards Sir C. Wentworth Dilke, Bart. ; he died 1869), 
George Drew, Francis Fuller, Robert Stephenson (the distinguished 
engineer; he died 1859), and M. Digby Wyatt (secretary). The 
treasurers were P. Le Neve Foster, Joseph Payne, and Thomas 


contract came up for approval, some of the members of the 
Council were of opinion that provision ought to be made 
in case the Government eventually consented to take over 
the management of the exhibition, and by agreement with 
the contractors a clause was inserted, empowering the 
Society, in the case of the above contingency arising, to 
annul the contract on terms to be settled by arbi- 

In the meantime steps had been taken for the appoint- 
ment of the Royal Commission, which had been decided 
upon as necessary at Osborne on the i4th July. At the 
end of that same month the Prince had written to Sir 
George Grey, the Home Secretary, asking, as President of 
the Society, for the appointment of a Royal Commission, 
and had received from him an encouraging reply. The 
Commission was published in the Gazette for the 3rd 
January iSso. 1 Besides the Commissioners, it appointed 
four treasurers for the receipts. The three gentlemen 
who had been appointed treasurers by the Society of Arts, 
were named as treasurers for the payment of the executive 
expenses, and the same executive committee was nomin- 
ated as had been appointed by the Council of the Society 
of Arts. 2 Mr. John Scott Russell and Mr. Stafford Henry 
Northcote (afterwards Sir Stafford Northcote, and later 
Earl of Iddesleigh) were appointed secretaries to the 

The first step taken by the Commission on the 1 1 th 
June 1850, was to terminate the contract which had 
been made with Messrs. Munday. It was thought, as the 
experiment was of a national character, it ought to rely 
upon voluntary subscriptions, and should not be made a 
question of profit and loss. The proposal was met in the 
most liberal spirit by the Messrs. Munday, who accepted 

1 Mr. W. E. Gladstone was the last survivor of the original Com- 

2 The constitution of this committee was afterwards modified. 
Mr. Stephenson retired, and his place was taken by Lieut. -Colonel 
(afterwards Sir W.) Reid, who became chairman. Mr. Drew and Mr. 
Fuller took no part in the proceedings of the committee, though their 
names were kept on it. 



an award made by Mr. Robert Stephenson, of 5120, with 
costs of $$7. 1 

On the 8th February 1850 a special general meeting 
of the Society of Arts was held to hear a report by Mr. 
Scott Russell on the preliminary steps which had been 
taken. A resolution approving the proceedings was 
passed, and the Society pledged itself to support its Presi- 
dent by every means in its power. It was also resolved 
that a subscription list should be opened, and a sum of 
7888, out of a total of 67,896, was eventually contributed 
by the members. 

The management of the exhibition was now, therefore, 
taken out of the hands of the Society, and the undertaking 
placed on an independent basis. The success achieved is 
matter of history, but it is outside the history of the Society 
of Arts. 2 

J A few months later (i5th August 1850) the Commission was 
granted a Charter of Incorporation, by which it was created a corporate 
body, with executive powers. Under this authority it still exists. 

2 The official history of the Exhibition is given in the first three 
reports of H.M. Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, published in 
1852 and 1856. A good account of it is also given in the introduction 
to the 1862 Exhibition Catalogue, previously referred to. 

1851 Exhibition (Front Elevation). 



Proposal for Exhibition in 1861 Various Plans suggested Date 
deferred in consequence of Franco-Austrian War Decision to 
hold Exhibition in 1862 Guarantee Fund Agreement with 1851 
Commissioners The Society's Trustees incorporated as Commis- 
sion for 1862 Financial Failure of the Exhibition The Jury 
Reports published by the Society. 

WHEN the proposal for the 1851 Exhibition first took 
shape, it was intended that it should be the first of a quin- 
quennial series of such exhibitions The importance, 
however, and the magnitude of the enterprise quite pre- 
cluded any idea of repeating so great an undertaking every 
fifth year, but as the ten-year period from 1851 approached, 
suggestions began to be made for holding a second exhibi- 
tion. Sir Henry Cole tells us in his autobiography that 
he and Mr. Wentworth Dilke had discussed the matter in 
the early part of 1858, and in February of that year Mr. 
Dilke, who was then Chairman of the Council of the Society, 
submitted to the Council a memorandum from Mr. J. C. 
Deane proposing that there should be held in London 
in 1 86 1 a Great International Exhibition of Arts. Mr. 
Deane had been associated with the Art Treasures Exhibi- 
tion held at Manchester in 1857, an d the memorandum was 
the outcome of a conversation which he and Mr. Dilke had 
had at Manchester. According to Mr. Deane 's proposal, 
the exhibition was to consist of two divisions, Ancient Art 
and Modern Art. The matter was discussed at numerous 
meetings of the Council and various suggestions were 
made. Eventually it was determined, on the 28th March 
1858, that a series of decennial exhibitions was desirable 


that an International Exhibition should be held in 1861, 
and that steps should be taken for the formation of a 
guarantee fund. The exhibition was to deal with Art and 
Industry (Fine Art had been excluded in 1851) and was to 
include Music ; it was to be mainly an exhibition of pro- 
gress. As soon as the guarantee reached a certain sum, 
100,000 or 150,000, an Executive Committee of three 
was to be nominated. Eventually in May a series of re- 
solutions was finally agreed to which practically embodied 
these proposals. 1 

On the 5th May a committee was appointed to wait 
upon H.R.H. Prince Albert and to submit the scheme to 
him. This Committee consisted of Harry Chester, Henry 
Cole, Thomas Winkworth, J. Scott Russell, Sir Thomas 
Phillips, Peter Graham, and the Chairman, Wentworth 
Dilke. The Prince, however, was away and could not 
receive the deputation at the time, so beyond the 
publication of the resolutions of the Council no further 
step was then taken. 

The announcement, however, of the Society's proposals 
naturally attracted public attention, and considerable 
discussion took place both inside and outside the Society 
as to the best site for the exhibition. The sites which 
found most public favour were Battersea Park and the 
estate at South Kensington, which had been purchased 
by the 1851 Commissioners with the surplus of the 1851 
Exhibition. This estate at the time consisted of the block 
of ground now occupied by the Natural History Museum, 
the Imperial Institute, the Albert Hall, and other buildings, 
and the site proposed for the exhibition was the southern 
extremity of this plot, where the Natural History Museum 
now stands. Those who were moving in the business on 
behalf of the Society were strongly of opinion that the 
proper site was at South Kensington, and indeed it was a 
question whether it was not the duty of the 1851 Com- 
missioners to take entire charge of the proposed exhibition. 

It was early in December 1858 that the Society 
brought the matter officially under the notice of the Com- 

1 The resolutions agreed to were published in the Journal of the 
i6th April 1858 ; vol. vi. p. 333. 


missioners, and asked them whether they were willing 
to undertake the management of the exhibition. They 
were the trustees of the surplus of the 1851 Exhibition, 
and in that surplus was included the amount of the sub- 
scriptions (67,896) which had been originally given to 
start the exhibition. It was urged in many quarters 
that the funds thus provided should be available for 
exhibition purposes, and that if a second exhibition 
was wanted the Commissioners of 1851 were the proper 
persons to carry it out. The Commissioners did not 
meet until the ipth February in the following year, 
when they replied asking for further information as to the 
prospects of the scheme, and the support it was likely to 
receive from manufacturers, and from the public. They 
stated that they had no funds to meet the expenses, 
but that if the report was favourable they were willing to 
consider how they could effectively help the undertaking. 
To this communication the Council replied on the nth 
March 1859, promising that they would endeavour to 
collect information, and would try to obtain subscriptions 
to a guarantee fund of 250,000 on the understanding that 
the Commissioners would initiate it by a contribution of 
50,000. It does not appear that any definite steps were 
taken to form such a fund", but informal promises were 
received from a number of the members of the Council 
and their friends of sums amounting in the aggregate to 
over 70,000. 

In the midst of the negotiations the Franco-Austrian 
war broke out (on the 26th April 1859), and after very 
careful consideration it was determined by the Council 
that it would be wiser to postpone the holding of an 
exhibition. This conclusion was not arrived at without 
much discussion, for the opinion was warmly urged 
that a state of war on the Continent ought not to be 
allowed to interfere with an industrial and peaceful 
enterprise like an exhibition, and it was further argued 
that even if no foreign nations co-operated, a sufficient 
exhibition could be formed of British productions alone. 
However, the more cautious counsels prevailed, so a formal 
resolution of postponement was adopted, and was publicly 


notified at the annual general meeting of the Society, held 
on the 2Qth June I859. 1 

The war, however, was brought to a conclusion much 
more rapidly than had been expected, and peace was con- 
cluded in July. On the 2nd November 1859, the Council 
passed a resolution to resume proceedings, postponing, 
however, the date of the exhibition till 1862, and resolved 
to take steps to obtain a guarantee fund of 250,000. They 
also appointed a committee to prepare a form of guarantee 
and to deal with exhibition matters generally. This 
committee consisted of Mr. Cole, Mr. Uzielli, and the 
Chairman of the Council, Sir Thomas Phillips. The com- 
mittee reported on the 22nd February 1860, and in pur- 
suance of their report a form of guarantee was adopted and 
five trustees were nominated Earl Granville, the Marquis 
of Chandos (afterwards Duke of Buckingham), Mr. Thomas 
Baring, M.P., Mr. C. Wentworth Dilke, and Mr. Thomas 
Fairbairn, who had been chairman of the Art Treasures 
Exhibition at Manchester in 1857. These proceedings 
were reported to Prince Albert by a deputation from the 
Council on the 28th February. 

The guarantee form adopted took the shape of "an 
agreement for holding an international exhibition in 1862." 
This was signed by the intending guarantors, and after- 
wards, when it became necessary to raise money for the 
purpose of the exhibition, a formal deed was executed, 
and it was signed by the guarantors. Under the provisions 
of this agreement it was resolved that no subscriber 
should be liable until 250,000 at least was guaranteed ; 
that the undertaking was to be under the management 
of the five trustees above named, who were to have full 
control of the exhibition ; that the trustees should apply 
to the Commissioners for the 1851 Exhibition for the 
grant of a portion of their estate at South Kensington as 
a site for the intended exhibition, but that they should 
have power, if they could not obtain such site on favourable 

1 The report of the Council, presented at this meeting, gives a full 
account of the correspondence between the Council and the Commis- 
sioners, and of the proceedings previous to the decision of postponement. 
See Journal, vol. vii. p. 557. 


terms, to adopt any other suitable site ; that one-third at 
least of the sum expended on buildings should be employed 
on erections of a permanent character, to be used by the 
Society for holding decennial or other periodical exhibi- 
tions, and for other purposes tending to the encourage- 
ment of arts, manufactures, and commerce ; that at the 
close of the exhibition the temporary buildings should 
be sold. If there should be a deficit, which the Society 
of Arts declined to liquidate, then the permanent buildings 
were to be sold ; and after such sale, if there was still 
a deficit, the ultimate loss was to be paid by the sub- 
scribers pro rata. If there was a surplus it was to be 
applied in a manner to be determined by the guarantors 
themselves to the encouragement of arts, manufactures, 
and commerce. 

In deciding on the terms of this agreement the Council 
were evidently inspired by two ideas first, to secure for 
the Society some tangible results from the success of the 
project, if success there should be ; and secondly, to 
make provision for the regular holding of exhibitions at 
stated intervals in the future. 

It is noticeable that a financial success was looked 
upon as assured. The large profits from the first exhibi- 
tion made it but reasonable to expect that a second, 
managed with all the benefit of the former experience, 
would produce even larger gains, and doubtless it seemed 
but prudent to avoid the discussions and controversies 
which had arisen about the disposal of the first surplus. 

With management as skilful as that of 1851, and 
conditions as favourable, it seems probable that 1 862 might 
have been made a source of profit, as an exhibition on a 
similar scale might be at any time, but this is only a 
speculation, and experience has long since taught the 
lesson that international exhibitions on the scale on which 
they are now held, cannot possibly prove remunerative, 
but must always involve a heavy expenditure. 

On the 8th March 1860 a copy of the guarantee 
agreement was sent to the Commissioners of 1851, and 
an application was made on behalf of the Society for 
the grant of a suitable site. The Commission being in 


doubt as to the means at the disposal of the Society for 
carrying out their proposal, delayed response ; but on a 
further letter being addressed to them in June 1860, 
containing the information that the guarantee fund had 
been subscribed to the amount of 308,350, the Commis- 
sioners expressed their readiness to appropriate a portion 
of their estate, rent free, for the exhibition ; and to vest 
in the Society of Arts, at a moderate rent, the site of the 
permanent buildings proposed to be erected, provided 
that the sum of 50,000 was expended on their erection. 
They, moreover, undertook to reserve the remainder of 
the ground for an International Exhibition, to be held 
in 1872, provided 10,000 were paid to them out of the 
proceeds of the 1862 Exhibition. 

There was a good deal of further correspondence be- 
tween the Society of Arts, the Trustees, and the Commis- 
sioners, 1 and amongst other suggestions it was proposed, 
at the instance of Lord Granville, and with the concurrence 
of the other trustees, that the management of the exhibi- 
tion should be handed over to the 1851 Commission. This 
proposal, however, was not accepted by the Commission 
for various reasons, one of them being that, as the guarantee 
agreement entrusted the control of the exhibition to a 
body of trustees specifically named, the agreement would 
fall to the ground if the management was transferred from 
the trustees to the Commission. The Commission, how- 
ever, undertook to assist the trustees, and on that under- 
standing the trustees agreed, in November 1860, to accept 
the trust on the condition that a charter of incorporation 
was obtained for them by the Society of Arts. 

A charter accordingly was applied for by the Council 
of the Society on behalf of the trustees, and was granted 
under date of the I4th February i86i. 2 This charter 
incorporated the trustees under the name of the " Com- 
missioners for the Exhibition of 1862," and gave them 
full power to take all necessary steps for the management 
of the exhibition, including the power of borrowing 

1 The whole of the correspondence is printed in the Fourth Report 
of the 1851 Commissioners. 

2 See Journal, vol. ix. p. 205. 


money for the purpose. It stipulated that a sum not 
exceeding 50,000 was to be expended on buildings of a 
permanent character adapted for the purposes to which 
the Society of Arts might put them, as previously agreed, 
the conditions for the ultimate disposal of these buildings 
being the same as those set forth in the guarantee agree- 
ment. If there was a loss, the Society of Arts was to have 
the option of making it good, and taking over the per- 
manent buildings. If there was a surplus, 10,000 was 
to be paid to the 1851 Commissioners for the use of a site 
of sixteen acres for an exhibition in 1872 ; the balance, 
as above stated, was to be employed as the guarantors 
might decide. 

The trustees did not wait for the formal issue of the 
charter, but took some provisional action before they 
commenced their labours, and they soon came to the 
conclusion that it would be impossible for them to carry 
out the condition of spending not less than 50,000 on 
permanent buildings. They therefore proposed that the 
sum to be spent on permanent buildings should be reduced 
from 50,000 to 20,000, with the understanding that if 
at the close of the exhibition the necessary funds were 
available, the difference should be made up. This was 
agreed to by the Society of Arts and by the 1851 Commis- 
sion, and these conditions were substituted for the condi- 
tions described as having been stated in the charter. 

The full control of the exhibition was now vested in 
the Commissioners appointed for the purpose, and passed 
out of the hands of the Society of Arts, which however 
was still occupied with its duty of increasing the guarantee 
fund. This was eventually raised to 45 1 ,070, contributed 
by 1157 subscribers. 

It will therefore be seen that the Society had a more 
intimate connection with the management of the 1862 
Exhibition than with that of 1851. In both cases the 
preliminary organisation was due to the Society, and in 
both cases the early preparations were made by, and at 
the risk of, the Society, but the exhibition of 1862 was 
managed by a Commission appointed by the Society, 
whereas the Commission of 1851 was an entirely inde- 


pendent body, the Society having had no voice in the 
selection of its members. 1 

At the conclusion of the exhibition it was found, as is 
well known, that the receipts had been insufficient to 
defray the expenses. This unfortunate result was no 
doubt largely due to the death of the Prince Consort in 
1 86 1. Not only did the exhibition lose the benefit of his 
personal interest and sympathy, but it was held during a 
period of national mourning, and was of course therefore 
deprived of the patronage of the court, and of the pomp 
and ceremonial essential to the success of such an under- 
taking as an International Exhibition. 

Eventually it was agreed that the contractors Messrs. 
Lucas & Kelk should take over the whole of the build- 
ings, alike the temporary erections and those which had 
been intended to be permanent, in discharge of their 
claims against the Commissioners of 1 862 ; and in addition 
to this, one of the members of the firm Sir John Kelk 
personally gave the sum of 11,000 to the Commissioners 
to enable them to balance their accounts without making 
any call upon the guarantors. The anticipation of the 
Society, therefore, that it would enter into possession of 
buildings at South Kensington suitable for the holding of 
exhibitions, and for other purposes, was not realised, and, 
as in 1851, it derived no profits from the undertaking. 

Later on an important service was rendered to the ex- 
hibition by the Society of Arts b}^ the publication of the 
Jury Reports. After the conclusion of the 1851 Exhibition 
the Commissioners published a very valuable volume of 
Reports of the Juries, containing not only particulars of 
all the awards but a great mass of valuable information 
on industrial history, much of which is not to be found 

The financial failure of the 1 862 Exhibition prevented 
the Commissioners for that Exhibition from undertaking 

1 For detailed information as to the management of the exhibition, 
construction of buildings, financial results, etc., reference may be made 
to the report of the 1 862 Commission published in 1 863 ; to the fourth 
and fifth reports of the 1851 Commission, and to the introduction tQ 
the Official Illustrated Catalogue, 1863. 



a similar task. Thereupon the Council of the Society, 
anxious, as they said, that a record of the industrial 
progress of the previous ten years should be preserved, 
undertook the duty of issuing a similar volume to that of 
1851. There was some little delay in the publication of 
the work, as it was not completed and issued until January 
1864. It appeared under the editorship of Dr. Lyon 
Playfair, afterwards Lord Playfair, and was of the same 
form as its predecessor. It also is a work of considerable 
value to the student of industrial history, though, dealing 
as it does for the most part only with the ten years from 
1851 to 1862, it is not quite so useful as the earlier volume. 
Unfortunately, the cost of its production proved to be very 
heavy ; the original estimate of 1806 was exceeded by 
over 450, and the total cost amounted to 2343 ; of 
this 1310 was recovered by sales, leaving a total loss to 
the Society of 1033. 

The 1862 Exhibition Building. 


Origin of the System First Examination of 1856 The College 
of Preceptors Qualifying and Competitive Examinations for the 
Government Service Value of Examinations generally Prof. 
Huxley's Views The Society's Board of Examiners Changes in 
the System The Existing System Value of the Certificates 
Special Examinations for Soldiers Technological Examinations, 
their Origin and their Transference to City Guilds Institute 
Examinations in Practical Commercial Knowledge Viva Voce 
Examinations in Modern Languages Music Examinations. 

THE examination system of the Society, which has now 
attained such large proportions, was, as previously men- 
tioned, 1 started as an adjunct to the " Union of Institu- 
tions," established in 1852. Though it was many years 
before the examinations attained their present dimensions, 
they were popular from the first, and much appreciated. 
There is this special interest associated with them, that 
the system they started was afterwards adopted by the 
Universities, the Science and Art Department, the City 
Guilds Institute, and many other bodies. There seems 
no good reason to claim any direct connection between 
the Society's examinations and the local examinations of 
the two Universities, though W. Hawes, in his chairman's 
address in November i863, 2 says that they originated 
from " a suggestion of one of our examiners that the 
Universities should do for the class immediately above 
those for whom our examinations were intended," what 
the Society had done for its own candidates, but the 
Government system certainly grew out of that started by 
* See Chapter XVI, p. 372. 2 Journal , vol. xii. p. 5. 


the Society, and the Guilds Institute took over and de- 
veloped the technological examinations founded by the 

It was in November 1851 that Harry Chester sub- 
mitted to the Council his scheme for the formation of a 
union of mechanics' institutions, the principal object of 
which was to encourage the founding of such institutions, 
and to develop the educational facilities which they pro- 
vided. As they were meant to help the education of 
artisans, it was considered that their promotion came 
legitimately within the scope of the Society of Arts. 

Among the early suggestions for the utilisation and 
development of these institutions was a proposal for a 
general system of examinations among their members. 
In December 1853, Mr. Chester definitely proposed the 
establishment of such a system, and in the spring of 1854 
a scheme of examinations was published. The scheme 
was of a very comprehensive character, and included 
the following subjects : (i) Mathematical Sciences ; 
(2) Experimental Sciences ; (3) Sciences of Observation ; 
(4) Mechanical Sciences ; (5) Social Sciences ; (6) Fine 
Arts ; (7) Moral and Metaphysical Sciences ; (8) Liter- 
ature. This very elaborate programme proved a little 
impracticable, and it is not to be wondered at that only a 
single candidate offered himself for examination in March 
1854. The promoters of the movement were not, how- 
ever, discouraged ; the scheme was remodelled, principally 
by Dr. Booth, and in 1856 an examination of 62 candidates 
was held at the Society's house. The subjects of this 
first examination were : (i) Book-keeping ; (2) Arith- 
metic ; (3) Algebra ; (4) Mensuration ; (5) Geometry ; 
(6) Mechanics ; (7) Chemistry ; (8) Animal Physiology ; 
(9) Botany; (10) Agriculture; (u) Geography ; (12) Phy- 
sical Geography; (13) English History; (14) English 
Literature ; (15) Latin and Roman History ; (16) French ; 
(17) German; (18) Freehand Drawing. 

In the following year, 1857, the first attempt at pro- 
vincial examinations was made, and an examination 
was held at Huddersfield, as well as in London, the ex- 
aminers of the Society going down for the purpose. The 


desire of increasing the number of examination centres 
and the obvious impossibility of sending examiners 
simultaneously all over the country, led in 1858 to the 
elaboration of the system of local committees to supervise 
examinations worked from a single centre. 

The system thus started has been developed and 
modified in the course of the sixty years which have 
passed since it was first devised, but in principle it remains 
unaltered. The numbers examined are now (1913) nearly 
30,000, the character of the examination has changed, 
the subjects have been altered from time to time, but in 
the method and general system there has really been no 
change whatever. Of this system, it may suffice to say 
that the examinations are conducted simultaneously at 
a number of different centres throughout the kingdom, 
through the agency of local examination committees 
established for the purpose by the Society. The papers 
in each subject are sent down in separate envelopes to 
the secretary of the committee immediately before the 
day of examination. The envelopes are opened in the 
presence of the candidates, and the papers distributed. 
The worked papers are sealed up at once and dispatched 
to the office of the Society. They are then distributed 
among the various examiners, who report upon them, 
and the results are published. 

It is, however, proper to say that the Society of Arts 
cannot claim the sole credit of the invention of the system 
of local examinations. In 1850 the College of Preceptors 
(established in 1846) was considering the best means of 
examining the schools of its members. It commenced 
by sending down examiners, its first school examination 
having been held in December 1850 at Nottingham, 
but in 1853 the experiment was tried of collecting pupils 
to a centre and examining them by means of papers sent 
down from London. The experiment proving successful, 
the system was regularly organised in the following year, 
1854, and has been continued ever since. 

It will be seen that the College of Preceptors' examina- 
tions preceded those of the Society of Arts by two years, 
but the objects, the conditions, and the methods of the 


two systems have been so different that there has never 
been any but the most friendly rivalry between them. 
The College examinations were school examinations, 
whereas those of the Society were intended for students 
of all ages, but especially for those beyond school age, and 
a special organisation had to be devised for carrying them 
on. In 1856 a conference was held at the Society's 
house between representatives of the two bodies, the 
College being rather afraid that the Society's examina- 
tions would interfere with their own. It was soon apparent 
that the two systems were intended to occupy different 
ground, and were not likely to affect one another. In 
practice this has proved to be the result, and it has never 
been found that they have interfered in the least with one 

The Society's methods had many imitations. The 
University local examinations were established in 1858. 
They deal with a class quite different from the classes 
for whose benefit the Society's examinations were intended, 
and have always been of a distinctly higher standard. 
The beginning of elementary drawing examinations by the 
Department of Science and Art was about contem- 
poraneous with the Society's examinations, and when those 
examinations were regularly established, drawing was 
struck off the Society's list in 1 860. The Science examina- 
tions began in 1859, and as these developed it was found 
that the Society's examinations were in many respects 
competing with those of the Department . The same candi- 
dates were being examined in the same subjects, and there 
was an evident waste of power. In 1870 this led to the 
abandonment by the Society of seventeen out of the 
thirty-six subjects then included in its programme. 

At the time when the Society's examinations were 
started, there was no doubt as to the value of examina- 
tions as a means of education, or as a test of fitness for 
any employment, especially employment by the State. In 
1854 a stringent qualifying examination was introduced for 
the Home Civil Service, and in the following year (1855) the 
first competitive examination was held for appointments 
in the Civil Service of India. Such examinations were 


regarded as the only alternative to patronage and jobbery 
on the one hand, and as providing the only opening for 
deserving merit on the other. After half a century the 
pendulum has swung back, and we have now arrived at the 
stage of reaction against over-examination, although it 
is quite certain that no other remedy against the evils of 
patronage in the disposal of minor Government appoint- 
ments has yet been discovered. Perhaps it may come to 
be recognised that examinations answer well enough as 
a rough test or for sorting men into classes. If thirty 
or forty clerks are wanted for a Government office and 
there are 100 or 150 applicants, it is certain that the men 
at the top of the list will, on the whole, be the best, though 
one or two who might have special qualifications will 
be rejected. 

When it comes to selecting men for special posts, 
examinations are not very satisfactory, and this has got 
by now to be generally admitted. Such, however, was 
not the case in 1853. The evils of the old system were 
evident and obvious ; the drawbacks to the new had yet 
to be discovered, and so it was naturally regarded as a 
panacea for all existing ills. 

Apart from their value as an impartial method of 
distributing State patronage, there are two points in which 
examinations have, or may have, a value first, as a test 
of knowledge ; and, secondly, as an incentive to the 
acquisition of knowledge. As to their value as a genuine 
test of knowledge, it is rather difficult to form an opinion. 
They can only test the information there is in the candi- 
date's head at the moment, and in too many cases that 
information has acquired but a temporary resting-place 
there. An examination is, probably, a better test of a 
candidate's power of acquiring knowledge than it is of the 
amount he possesses, and perhaps that may be considered 
as an argument in its favour. As a matter of fact, the 
question cannot be answered in general terms. Perhaps 
no better test need be desired of a man's mathematical 
knowledge than the mathematical tripos at Cambridge. 
On the other hand, an elementary examination in physics 
or chemistry, or indeed in most other subjects, offers but 


a poor means of estimating the real amount of knowledge 
possessed by a candidate. But it must always be remem- 
bered that on the whole a student who has passed an 
examination is probably a little better informed and a 
little better instructed than one who has failed, and if the 
possession of an elementary certificate does not amount 
to a great deal, at all events it means something. 

As an incentive to the acquisition of knowledge, it 
is evident that the present system of examination has its 
value ; its enormous extent alone is sufficient to show that. 
There are very few such earnest students as to be satisfied 
with the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake, and 
in the case of most people, especially of young people, 
an artificial stimulus is required. This stimulus, it 
is found, can very satisfactorily be provided by hall- 
marking those who have passed an examination, and 
allowing them to bear some special title as "Dr." or 
the like or permitting them to attach certain initials 
to their names. 

There is, therefore, a good deal to be said in favour of 
general examinations, although there is also a good deal to 
be said against them on the score of the superficiality of 
the knowledge that they tend to produce, and on account 
of the very erroneous idea that has been disseminated 
that the fact of a student having passed an examination 
affords much proof of his possessing a knowledge of the 
subject in which he has been examined. 

It was not very long before the general system of the 
Society's examinations took definite shape, and they 
assumed the commercial character they have ever since 
maintained. The institutions through whose agency the 
examinations were held, were originally intended for the 
benefit of the artisan class, but as they developed they 
drew their members more and more from middle-class 
folk, and adapted whatever education they provided to the 
needs of clerks and professional people rather than to those 
of work-people. Naturally the examinations were affected 
by the same influences, and their character was modified 
accordingly. The non-commercial subjects were gradu- 


ally dropped out, and subjects which were considered to 
have a distinct commercial value were introduced. 1 

It has always been a question whether the system 
adopted from the beginning by the Society, of holding 
separate examinations in separate subjects, is the best, 
or whether it might not be better to classify the subjects, 
and only issue certificates on the result of an examination 
held in a number of specified subjects. The experience 
of the Society certainly shows that the system of separate 
examinations is the more popular, and there is much to be 
said as to its actual merits. The arguments in its favour 
were very strongly put by Professor Huxley many years 
ago in an address which he delivered on the occasion of the 
opening of the Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore. 
He said : " It [the system of separate subject examina- 
tions] allows the student to concentrate his mind upon 
what he is about for the time being, and then to dismiss it. 
Those who are occupied in intellectual work will, I think, 
agree with me that it is important, not so much to know a 
thing, as to have known it, and known it thoroughly. If 
you have once known a thing in this way, it is easy to 
renew your knowledge when you have forgotten it ; and 
when you begin to take the subject up again, it slides back 
upon the familiar grooves with great facility." 2 

When the scheme was first started, a very strong Board 
of Examiners was formed, including amongst others such 
names as the following : Sir George Airy, the Astronomer 
Royal ; Dr. Temple, then Headmaster of Rugby, and 
afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury ; Dr. Vaughan, 
Headmaster of Harrow, and afterwards Dean of Llandaff 
and Master of the Temple ; Dr. Liddell, Headmaster of 
Westminster, and afterwards Dean of Christchurch ; Dr. 
William Sharpey, for long Secretary of the Royal Society ; 
William Spottiswoode, afterwards President of the Royal 
Society ; Canon Moseley, one of the first Inspectors of 
Schools ; Richard Dawes, Dean of Hereford ; Harvey 

1 Book-keeping first appears as a separate subject in 1859. Before 
that date it was included in arithmetic. Shorthand was introduced in 
1876, and typewriting in 1891. 

2 Huxley's American Addresses (1877), p. 1 16. 


Goodwin, Dean of Ely, and afterwards Bishop of Carlisle ; 
Charles Neate, the well-known economist and political 
writer ; Robert Hunt, the Keeper of Mining Records ; 
(Sir) E. G. Creasy, the historian, author of the Fifteen 
Decisive Battles of the World] and Professors W. B. 
Carpenter, A. W. Williamson, Bartholomew Price, Baden 
Powell, and T. M. Goodeve. 

At first the control of the examinations was left entirely 
in the hands of this Board ; but the arrangement was not 
found a wholly satisfactory one, and it was thought better 
that the Council should take over the direct management. 
Accordingly the Board was superseded in 1857, after 
which date the examiners were paid a fee. Previously 
their services had been honorary. 

Until the introduction of a competitive examination 
for posts in the Civil Service it was a not uncommon 
practice for Ministers to place at the disposal of the Society 
a few appointments in their Departments, and from their 
first establishment down to the year 1864 a good many 
clerkships in Government offices were thus obtained by 
candidates in the Society's examinations. 

To the examinations in 1858 fifty-eight institutions 
sent up 288 candidates ; in the following year there 
were 480; in 1860, 586. The numbers increased steadily 
till 1865, when there were 1899 ) the next year showed 
a slight diminution, and then there was a further 
increase, till the number of 2160 was reached in 1869. 
This was the largest number examined under the original 

In 1871, when the Council was considering the establish- 
ment of a system of technological examinations, of which 
an account is given below, they passed a resolution to 
discontinue the general examinations, but on the applica- 
tion of some of the more important of the Institutions 
in Union, they rescinded the resolution and determined 
to continue the examinations for a further period. This 
was done, on the same system as before, till 1876, when 
the programme was revised, and the plan on which certifi- 
cates were granted was somewhat modified. Previously 
certificates had been granted for single subjects, but in 


that year a " Commercial Certificate " was established in 
addition, to take which it was necessary to pass in at least 
three subjects. Very few of these certificates were ever 
taken, the system of single certificates for single subjects 
being more popular and better suited to the needs of the 
class of students who take up the Society's examinations. 

Before his death in 1861, Prince Albert offered a prize 
of twenty-five guineas to the candidate who obtained the 
largest number of first-class certificates in four consecutive 
years (including the year of the award). This was first 
awarded in 1862, and after his death the prize was con- 
tinued by Queen Victoria. It was awarded annually under 
the title of the " Prince Consort's Prize " up to 1879, when 
the proposed abandonment of the examinations referred 
to below unfortunately led to its discontinuance. 

In 1879 the question of abandoning the examinations 
again arose, it being thought that the ground was covered 
by other agencies. To quote from the report of the Ex- 
amination Committee in 1879 : 

" The Committee feel that the time has now come 
when the Society should cease to compete with other 
educational agencies more influential in the work of ex- 
amination. With the Education Department examining 
millions of children in elementary schools, and thousands 
of young persons in night classes ; with the Universities 
holding their local examinations throughout the country 
for young persons of a higher class ; with the Science and 
Art Department examining students in every branch 
of science and art ; with the new City Institute developing 
yet further the technological examinations just handed 
over to them by the Society ; with other agencies, such 
as the College of Preceptors, doing kindred work, the 
Society of Arts may well retire from the field, having in 
all these various directions acted as pioneer. It held 
science examinations before the Science Department, 
examinations in literature before the Universities went 
afield to meet the classes who could not go to Oxford or to 
Cambridge. It has seen the system it established develop, 
with the aid of Government funds, as it could never have 
grown without such help, and the time has now arrived 


when it may cease to compete with the agencies it has 
done so much to foster." 

In pursuance of the course recommended in this report 
no examination was held in 1881, but again some of the 
institutions where the examinations were held protested, 
and on further consideration it was determined to con- 
tinue the examinations, but to try whether they could 
not be made self-supporting. Hitherto they had been 
free. In 1 882 a fee of 2S. 6d. was charged to each candidate, 
and this charge has since been continued. The " Com- 
mercial Certificate " was abandoned and the old system 
was resumed of giving a separate certificate for each 
subject. The natural result of fees being charged was a 
considerable falling off in the numbers examined. In 
1882 only 695 papers were worked as compared with 
2325 in 1880. The numbers, however, soon began to 
increase again. In 1890 there were 2474 ; in 1895, 5 IQ 8 J 
and in 1900, 9808. This very considerable increase was 
doubtless to a great extent due to the facts that the 
County Councils had, by the Technical Instruction Act, 
1889, been placed in possession of large funds available 
for the promotion of technical education ; and that 
certain commercial subjects were scheduled by the 
Science and Art Department as subjects coming within 
the scope of the Act . The commercial subjects so scheduled 
were precisely those in which the Society of Arts 

In addition to its Commercial Knowledge Examina- 
tions, the Society conducted, from 1856 to 1894, Ele- 
mentary Examinations. These were of the same character 
as the general examinations, but much simpler. They 
were really carried on by the district unions and local 
boards in connection with the Society. All the Society did 
was to supply identical examination papers, the results 
being examined and certificates awarded by examiners 
appointed by the local boards. The Society supplied the 
certificates, but accepted no responsibility as to their award. 
The system, though useful at its first establishment, was 
never found to work in a very satisfactory manner, and 
in 1895 it was abandoned , 


There was, however, always a demand for examinations 
of a more elementary character than the general examina- 
tions, and in consequence elementary examinations in 
modern languages (French, German, and Spanish) were 
established in 1897. These were fully appreciated, and 
eventually, in 1901, an elementary or preliminary grade 
was added, with two classes only, passes and failures. 
The subjects selected for this grade included Handwriting 
and Correspondence, Shorthand, Book-keeping, Arith- 
metic, Typewriting, Commercial Geography, French, and 
German, Spanish and Italian were added a year or two 
later. In the first year in which these Elementary Ex- 
aminations were held (1901), there were 4458 papers 
worked in the different subjects, of which 2494 passed 
and 1964 failed. The percentage of successes and of 
failures was, therefore, 56 and 44. There has since been a 
continuous growth, till in 1912 the numbers reached 1 1 ,448, 
with a percentage of 64*99 successes and 35*10 failures. It 
may, therefore, fairly be concluded that the increased 
numbers have been accompanied by a perceptible im- 
provement in quality. 

In 1905 some considerable modifications were made in 
the general programme } I n t he system existing in 1 904 there 
were two grades- Senior and Junior. In the Senior there 
were three classes, and in the Junior, or Elementary, there was 
one. For some years past suggestions had been made from 
various quarters to the Council that it would be desirable 
to establish a higher grade of examination, which might be 
taken by more advanced students than those entering for 
the examinations as they then were. After very careful 
consideration, and a good deal of correspondence with the 
local committees, it was determined that the examinations 
should be arranged under three stages. Stage I. was to be 
elementary ; Stage II., intermediate ; and Stage III., 
advanced. The elementary was to be, as before, a pass 
examination, and in each of the two upper stages there 
were to be two classes. It was proposed that the advanced 

1 During the preceding ten years, no changes of importance were 
made. Domestic Economy, which had been in the programme almost 
from the beginning, was dropped in 1901. 


stage (No. III.) should practically correspond with the first 
class of the old Grade II. and the upper part of the second 
class, while the idea was put forward that the standard 
should be very gradually advanced. The intermediate 
stage was made up of the third class and the lower part of 
the old second class of Grade II. 

This system has since been carried on without any 
alteration, and it has been found to work very well. The 
advance in the standard has been but trifling, as it was 
found from the general character of the papers sent in that 
any considerable elevation of the standard would involve 
an undue amount of rejections that is to say, more than 
a third of the candidates entering. Some new subjects 
were also added to the advanced stage, the principal of 
which were commercial law and accounting and banking. 
A slight change was also made in the fees, those for the 
advanced and intermediate being left as before at 
2S. 6d., and for the elementary stage the fee was fixed at 
2S., with a reduction of is. for every subject after the first 
subject taken up. 

The new system resulted in a very large increase of 
candidates, from 17,771 in 1904, to 21,253 m *9Q$, 22,597 
in 1908, and 28,644 m 1911- This is the highest number 
yet reached. 

In 1912 the Education Committee of the London 
County Council took over the superintendence of the London 
examinations, and thus provided an independent local 
authority responsible for the work previously carried out 
by voluntary committees. The example is being followed 
in nearly all the large Provincial centres, and much is hoped 
from this most recent development. It is, however, at the 
present time too novel for much to be said about it here. 

As regards the practical value of the three sets of certifi- 
cates, it may safely be said that a certificate of the ad- 
vanced grade (especially of the first class) may be taken 
to afford an employer a reasonable assurance of a com- 
petent knowledge of the subject (so far as it can be tested 
by examination) on the part of a candidate for employ- 
ment who presents it. A certificate of the intermediate 
grade may be taken as evidence that the person presenting 


it has made a study of the subject and has made some pro- 
gress in that study. An elementary certificate in the 
hands of a young person shows that special study of the 
subject has been attempted, and its successful pursuit 
looked forward to in the future. It must be remembered 
that this grade is only intended for young persons of, or 
just over, school age. 

In 1907, at the request of the Army Council, it was 
arranged that a special annual examination in Shorthand 
should be held for soldiers at any centre fixed by the 
Army Council at any place in the Empire. Such an ex- 
amination has been held every year since. The number 
of centres has generally been about twenty-five ; they 
have been situated in the United Kingdom, India, South 
Africa, Egypt, and Malta. The average number of candi- 
dates is between sixty-three and sixty-four, of whom 
75 per cent. pass. This is much above the average of 
shorthand examinations. There are also a good many 
soldier shorthand writers who hold certificates obtained 
at the Society's ordinary examinations. 

In 1908 and 1909, also at the request of the Army 
Council, a similar examination for soldiers in Typewriting 
was carried out. All the work was good, but the entries 
were not sufficiently numerous to justify the expenditure, 
the cost of printing the necessary papers for such a 
subject for a few candidates being relatively consider- 
able, and so the examination was discontinued. 

The Technological Examinations, referred to on page 
432, were instituted in 1873 at the suggestion of Sir John 
Donnelly. Some account of their origin will be found 
in Chapter XX. 1 These examinations were intended to 
test the knowledge possessed by artisans of the subject- 
matter of their respective industries. It was arranged 
that they should be held in connection with the May 
examinations of the Science and Art Department, the 
technological papers being given out with those of the 
Department . Before a candidate could obtain a certificate, 
he was required to pass the Department's examination in 
certain specified science subjects, these varying according 

1 Page 465. 


to the technological subject taken up. Certificates of 
three grades were given elementary, advanced, and 
honours corresponding with those of the Department 
examination. No attempt was made to test practical skill, 
but each candidate was required to produce a certificate 
from his employer in which his competence was stated. 
The number of candidates was never great. In the first 
year (1873) only six entered, and the numbers gradually 
increased to 68 in 1870, and 184 in I878. 1 

In 1879, on the foundation of the City and Guilds of 
London Institute, the Technological Examinations were 
handed over to that body. From the funds placed at its 
disposal by the City Companies the Institute was able to 
offer to teachers payments on the results of the examina- 
tions like the grants of the Science and Art Department. 
Teachers were thus enabled to form classes and to send 
pupils in for the examinations, and a large increase in the 
number of candidates took place. These examinations 
now form an important part of the Institute's work, and 
attract annually a very large number of candidates. In 
1910 the number examined was 24,508. Large additions 
have also been made to the list of subjects, which now 
number seventy- five. No great change has been made in the 
general character or system, which remains much the same 
as that proposed by Sir John Donnelly, but the details have 
been considerably modified, and, in some cases, a practical 
examination, to test handicraft skill, has been provided. 

In 1889 an attempt was made to establish a system 
of examinations in " Practical Commercial Knowledge." 
Syllabuses for two subjects, " The Commerce of Food " 
and " The Commerce of Clothing," were issued, but no 
candidates came forward, and after a second year's trial, 
the proposition was dropped. 

A question which had been for a long time before the 
Council was the holding of viva voce examinations in 

1 The following were the subjects included in the 1878 examinations : 
Cotton Manufacture, Paper, Silk, Steel, Carriage - building, Manu- 
facture of Pottery and Porcelain, Gas Manufacture, Glass, Cloth, 
Silk-dyeing, Wool-dyeing, Calico Bleaching Dyeing and Printing, 
Alkali Manufacture, Blow-pipe Analysis. 


Modern Languages, and as far back as 1870 suggestions 
made by Mr. Hyde Clarke for holding such examinations 
locally, were included in the programme. No definite 
arrangements were made for holding the examinations ; 
it was merely announced that if any local board could 
find a suitable examiner in any modern language, the 
Society would grant a certificate to any candidate certified 
by him as proficient. The experiment was tried on a 
small scale in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Lichfield, 
and Penzance for six years, 1870 to 1875, and in that 
time only fifteen candidates qualified. The languages 
taken up were French, German, and Spanish. After 
1875 the experiment was dropped. 1 

It is quite obvious that no paper examination can be 
an adequate test of knowledge of a spoken language ; but 
the difficulties connected with the holding of colloquial 
examinations simultaneously at a number of different 
centres for a long time proved insuperable. In 1902 the 
idea of holding such examinations at the same time as 
the other examinations was abandoned, and it was 
announced that examinations in French, German, and 
Spanish would be held at any date at any of the Society's 
examination centres where proper arrangements could 
be made. Portuguese and Italian were afterwards added 
to the list of subjects. The experiment proved quite 
successful . In the first year 2 80 candidates were examined . 
The numbers rose to 68 1 in 1905, and this has been the 
highest number reached up to the present time. About 
75 per cent, of the candidates are successful, and it has 
been found on the whole that nearly all the candidates 
who enter have a very fair colloquial knowledge of the 
language, while certificates of distinction have been granted 
to a great many who showed thorough proficiency. No 
difficulty has been experienced in conducting the examina- 
tions satisfactorily. 

Although Music was hardly considered as coming 
properly within the range of the Society's work, it was 
included almost from the first in the list of examination 

1 Journal, vol. xviii. p. 654 ; vol. xix. p. 576 ; vol. xx. p. 604 ; also 
the examination programmes and lists of results for the years 1870-75. 


subjects. The Theory of Music first appears in the 1859 
programme, the examiner being John Hullah. In that 
year twelve candidates entered, and the numbers slowly 
grew to 324 in 1880. Hullah continued to conduct the 
examination till his death in 1 884. He was succeeded in the 
following year by W. A. Barrett, who for some time pre- 
viously had acted as his assistant. Mr. Barrett carried on 
the work till his death in 1 891 . Sir John Stainer acted for 
one year (1892), and in 1893 Sir Joseph Barnby took it on. 
He acted for three years, and in 1 896 Dr. W. G. McNaught 
undertook the work, which he has since carried on. In 
1893 a change in the form of the examination was intro- 
duced, the subject being divided into two, " Harmony " 
and " Rudiments of Music." About 700 papers are now 
worked in the two subjects, a certain number of candidates 
taking both. 

In 1879, at the suggestion of Dr. Hullah, examinations 
in Practical Music were established that is to say, ex- 
aminations at which the actual capacity of students to 
play an instrument, or to sing, could be tested. For many 
years these have been held in London only, at a certain 
specified date, though at one time there were also a few 
provincial centres. It was intended that these examina- 
tions should apply to a less advanced class of candidate 
than those who entered for the well-known examinations 
of the Royal Academy of Music, at the time when the 
Society's system was started, or who now enter for those 
of the Associated Board of the Royal Academy and the 
Royal College of Music. It is believed that the Society's 
examinations have fulfilled their purpose, and have 
proved a useful means of encouragement to many musical 
students. Dr. Hullah acted as examiner from 1879 till 
1884, and was succeeded by Mr. W. A. Barrett. The 
work was continued by Sir John Stainer, Sir Joseph 
Barnby, and Mr. W. G. McNaught. In 1895, Mr - 
John Farmer was appointed, and he continued to act 
till 1899, when he was obliged to give up the work in 
consequence of illness, which, at a later date, terminated 
fatally. Since his death the examinations have been 
conducted by Dr. Ernest Walker and Mr. Burnham 



W. Horner, who served as Assistant Examiners to Mr. 

The numbers examined have never varied within very 
wide limits. In the first year there were 117 candidates ; 
the numbers increased gradually to 276 in 1891, and to 
393 in 1895. The largest number yet examined was 566 
in 1900. During the last few years there has been a small 
but steady diminution. The standard has not varied 
greatly, but is now (1913) a little higher than it was. The 
general level of attainment is reported by the examiners 
to be slightly higher of recent years. 

The Swiney Cup (see p. 395). 



History not carried beyond 1880 Value of the Society's Publications 
Election of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, as President His 
relations with the Society and his interest in it His accession to 
the Throne as King Edward vii. Presidency filled by Sir Frederick 
Bramwell Election of George, Prince of Wales, as President 
His accession to the Throne as King George v. Presidency filled by 
Lord Alverstone, C.J. Election of Duke of Connaught as President 
Chairmen of Council, 1861-90 Principal Members of Council 
The Cantor Bequest Allowance to Dr. Cantor's Mother and 
Sister - in - Law The Cantor Lectures The Society and the 
Colonies First Suggestion of a Colonial Section Formation of 
Indian Section African Section, afterwards the Colonial Section, 
established Chemical Section Art Workmanship Prizes Food 
Committee Trevelyan Prize for Food Preservation Value of the 
Food Committee's Work First Applications of Refrigeration 
Failure to award the Prize Its ultimate disposal Technical 
Education Question raised by Dr. Playfair Conference and Report 
of Committee Technological Examinations Other Educational 
Work of Society School Drill Memorial Tablets ; Suggestions by 
G. C. T. Bartley; The Society's Tablets; Work taken over by 
London County Council. 

THE final chapters of this book are intended to bring 
the history of the Society as far as it has seemed desirable 
to carry it, viz. to the year 1880 or thereabouts, the time 
when the writer succeeded Mr. Le Neve Foster as secretary. 
There are obvious reasons for this course, one of them 
being that it avoids the need for reference to persons still 
alive. It has not seemed necessary to draw a hard-and- 
fast line, and in a few cases it has been more convenient 
to carry the history of a subject down to the end of the 



century, or even later. In many others it has appeared 
better to stop at an earlier date. At all events, it may be 
taken that this and the next chapter are intended to deal 
with the Society's principal work in the period of fifteen 
or twenty years after Prince Albert's death in 1861. 

Whether I should apologise for the brevity with which 
I have treated the various portions of my subject-matter, 
or for the length to which the whole narrative has extended, 
I am not certain. It is difficult to realise that I may 
have erred in both directions. 

One portion of my subject I know I have dealt with 
most inadequately, and that is the vast mass of literature 
which the Society has published in the form of papers 
read at its meetings. This publication is the Society's 
principal duty. Its execution of it is its chief claim to 
public support, and yet in a history of the Society's 
labours this department is almost ignored, or left with 
only occasional reference. But how could it be properly 
treated ? The first thirty volumes of the Journal, record- 
ing the proceedings from 1852 to 1882, contain the reports 
of about twenty-four meetings in each year, 720 in all. 
The 720 odd papers are on the most diverse topics in- 
dustrial, economic, social, artistic, scientific, educational, 
mechanical, fiscal, commercial, hygienic, and who shall 
say how many other divisions of human polity. 

The Society might take for its motto the old Terentian 
tag, Humani nihil a me alienum puto. It never refused a 
hearing to anybody who had fresh information to give 
on any subject likely to be beneficial to human progress 
or human welfare. The mere list of the titles of the 
papers occupies nearly fifteen pages (large pages and 
small type) of the amalgamated indexes to the Journal. 
A summary of their contents would easily fill a volume, 
and, as any reasonable summary is hopeless, it has seemed 
better to be content with a general reference to the vast 
mass of information available in the Journal x for the 

1 In the first address which, as Chairman of the Council, he delivered 
to the Society in 1890, the present Lord Chief Justice, Lord Alverstone, 
referred to " the mine of wealth as to the history of invention and 
scientific research which lay stored up . . . in the pages of the Journal." 


student of recent social and economic history, and not to 
attempt any account of it. 

As mentioned before, Prince Albert died in December 
1 86 1, and at first the Council considered that the office of 
President ought not to be left vacant, for at their meeting 
of 1 5th January they decided that a letter should be sent 
to General Grey, the Queen's private secretary, " request- 
ing him to ascertain any wishes which Her Majesty may 
have on the election of a President to succeed the late 
deeply-lamented Prince Consort. " 

It was, however, soon realised that there was no need 
for immediate action, as the letter apparently was not 
sent to General Grey, and the matter was allowed to rest 
until near the time of the annual meeting, when, in answer 
to a letter from the Secretary, General Grey wrote : 

' Her Majesty now commands me to say that, as His 
Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is not yet of age, and 
would himself be indisposed, young and inexperienced as 
he is, to be placed in any office in immediate succession to 
his great and beloved father, it would not be desirable that 
he should now be chosen. The best arrangement would 
probably be to fill up the office for the present in such a 
manner, should that be possible, as to admit of a recon- 
sideration of the subject on a future occasion." 

General Grey's letter was read at the meeting of i2th 
June 1862, and the Council accordingly, at their next 
meeting ( 1 8th June), invited William Tooke, the senior Vice- 
President, to accept the office, and his name was accord- 
ingly placed on the balloting paper for the general meeting. 

Mr. Tooke was a very old member of the Society, which 
he joined in 1802, and he had for many years taken an 
active part in its administration. He was a solicitor of 
some eminence, and his firm (Tooke, Hallowes, & Price) 
had for long acted as the Society's honorary solicitors. 
They had carried through all the legal work connected 
with the grant of the Charter in 1847. At the time of his 
election he was in failing health, and he only held office 
for little more than a year, for he died in September 1863, 
two months after his second election to the Presidency. 
He was in his eighty-sixth year at the time of his death. 


The Presidency being again vacant, a second applica- 
tion was made to General Grey, who intimated in reply 
that the Prince would now be willing to receive a formal 
deputation from the Council. A deputation was accord- 
ingly appointed to wait on His Royal Highness with an 
address from the Council, asking him to accept the Presi- 
dency. The Prince consented, saying, in his reply to the 
deputation, that he accepted the office in the hope " that 
he might be better able to promote the great and beneficent 
objects which his dear father had so much at heart, and in 
which he was so zealously supported by the Society. " 

It only remained to complete the formalities of election, 
and for this purpose an extraordinary general meeting of 
the Society was held at Burlington House on 22nd October 
1863, the Society's house in the Adelphi being then under 
repair. On the motion of Mr. William Hawes, the Chair- 
man of the Council, it was proposed " that His Royal 
Highness the Prince of Wales be elected a member of this 
Society," and, this resolution having been unanimously 
passed, it was further resolved " that His Royal Highness 
the Prince of Wales be elected President of this Society/ 1 

The office to which he was thus elected in 1863 the 
Prince held for thirty-eight years, until his accession to 
the throne in 1901 . If the aims and objects of the Society 
did not appeal to his personal tastes in the same way as 
they did to those of his father, yet he was led, at first by 
filial affection, and afterwards by his natural capacity for 
organisation, to pay all necessary attention to the Society's 
doings, and to devote to its interests as much time and 
thought as could reasonably be expected from the heir to 
the throne. 

From the earliest years of his Presidency he made it 
clearly understood that he did not choose to be a President 
in name alone, but that he expected to be consulted in all 
matters of importance sufficient to justify their submission 
to him. This, indeed, was characteristic of him, not only 
in his relations with the Society, but in regard to the 
numerous other bodies with which, as time went on, he 
became associated as President or Patron. 

In later years, when his time was more occupied by 


the numerous demands upon it, he was not able to give so 
much attention to the institutions with which he was 
associated ; but from the time he assumed the Presidency 
until the date of his accession, it may safely be said that 
no new action of any importance was ever undertaken by 
the Council without its being submitted to the Prince for 
his consideration and approval. Furthermore, it may be 
added that such advice as he cared to give was generally 
well worth taking, for he was gifted with great natural 
shrewdness and sense, as his subjects fully realised when 
he became King in after years. 

The Albert Medal of the Society was never awarded 
without the names being submitted to him, and his final 
choice of the selected candidate was always more than a 
nominal one. The Medal was regularly presented by him 
personally in the presence of the members of the Council, 
who attended for the purpose at Marlborough House. 

In 1887, when the Albert Medal was awarded to Queen 
Victoria " In commemoration of the progress of Arts, 
Manufactures, and Commerce throughout the Empire 
during the fifty years of her reign," the presentation was 
made to the Queen by the Prince at Buckingham Palace, 
in the presence of the Council, on the 8th March 1888. 

After his accession, the Medal was awarded to King 
Edward, " in recognition of the aid rendered by His 
Majesty to Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce during 
thirty-eight years' Presidency of the Society of Arts, by 
undertaking the direction of important exhibitions in this 
country, and the executive control of British representa- 
tion at international exhibitions abroad, and also by many 
other services to the cause of British industry." In accept- 
ing the medal he expressed the gratification which the 
award gave him, and it was clear that he was genuinely 

When, on his accession in 1901 , he, of necessity, vacated 
the Presidency, he became the Society's Patron, and, 
indeed, he was the first Patron of the Society ; for though 
it appears from the old Minutes that on her accession 
a suggestion was made that Queen Victoria should be 
invited to become Patron of the Society, that suggestion 


was not acted upon at the time, and, so far as can be 
ascertained, no application was ever made to Her Majesty 
that she should accept the position. 

It was in his capacity of Patron that in 1908, King 
Edward granted the Society permission to prefix to its 
title the term Royal. 1 

After King Edward's accession in 1901, when the date 
for the election of a President came round, H.R.H. the 
Duke of Cornwall (afterwards Prince of Wales, and now 
King George v.) was absent on a journey round the 
world, so the precedent of 1862 was followed and a tem- 
porary President was elected, Sir Frederick Bramwell, 
the eminent engineer, being selected for the vacant office. 
Sir Frederick had served every office on the Council, hav- 
ing been Vice-President, Treasurer, and Chairman. On 
the return of His Royal Highness in the autumn of 1901, 
Sir Frederick Bramwell resigned, and the Council, on 
behalf of the Society, invited the Prince to accept the 
office of President. From that date he continued to act 
as President till his accession to the throne in 1910 necessi- 
tated his abandonment of the office, and he then became 

At the annual meeting of 1910, Lord Alverstone, C.J., 
was elected President. He held the office till February 
1911, when he was succeeded by His Royal Highness the 
Duke of Connaught. 

The first Chairman of Council elected after the death 
of Prince Albert was William Hawes, and, as previously 
mentioned, he was in office when the Prince of Wales 
was elected President. Hawes was a capable man of 
business, and had great experience in the work of society 
administration, as he was for many years treasurer of 
the Royal Humane Society, of which his grandfather 
had been the founder. He was succeeded by Sir Thomas 
Phillips, and when Sir Thomas died in his first year of 
office Hawes was again elected, and served for a year. 
After him came Lord Henry Lennox. He accepted 
office at the desire of the Prince of Wales, who wished 

1 The first number of the Journal with the new title was that of 
January 1908. 


that the chairmanship should be held by a personal 
friend of his own, so that he might be kept in touch with 
the Society's proceedings. Lord Henry was a son of the 
fifth Duke of Richmond, and for long sat in the House 
of Commons. He held various official posts, including 
that of Under-Secretary of State for War. His official 
position often rendered him specially serviceable to the 
Society, and he became a very popular and useful Chair- 
man. He was thrice re-elected, and so held office for four 
years. His successor was Major-General Eardley-Wilmot, 
an officer of singularly high character and of consider- 
able reputation. The next Chairman was Lord Alfred 
Churchill, the second son of the sixth Duke of Marlborough, 
who served for two terms -1875-6 and 1878-9. Lord 
Alfred was devoted to the Society, and gave unremitting 
attention to its concerns, both during his tenure of the 
chair and afterwards till his death in 1893. Without 
any pretence to brilliance, he was a man of much common 
sense and infinite tact, to whom his colleagues were much 
attached. The interval between his two terms of office 
was filled by the election of Major-General Cotton, who 
was prevented by illness from taking up any of the work 
of his office, and Mr. Hawes, as deputy-chairman, delivered 
the opening address of the Session 1877-8. Lord Alfred 
Churchill was followed by Sir Frederick Br am well, whose 
record of service to the Society is certainly second to that 
of none of his predecessors or successors. He read several 
papers, and delivered a course of Cantor Lectures before 
the Society. He constantly occupied the chair at its 
meetings, and still more frequently took part in its dis- 
cussions. He served in every capacity on its Council 
from 1875 to 1893, and the list of the offices he filled was 
(as mentioned above) completed by his election to the 
post of President in 1901, in the interval between the 
accession of King Edward vn. and the acceptance of the 
Presidency by the Prince of Wales (King George v.). 

In succession to him (in 1 882) came Sir William Siemens, 
the illustrious inventor, who eight years before (1874) 
had received the Society's Albert Medal, and thirty-two 
years before (1850) had been awarded a Society's gold 


medal. 1 His term of office was cut short by his sudden 
death, and his place was taken by Sir Frederick Abel, 
another recipient of the Albert Medal, and a chemist of 
European fame. Abel's successor was Sir Douglas Gait on, 
who held office for the two years 1886-88. Like his 
two predecessors, Bramwell and Abel, Galton was a 
copious contributor to the Society's proceedings. The 
list may close with the name of the Duke of Abercorn, 
who was chairman in 1888-90, and whose death occurred 
this year (1913). 

Many of the members of Council mentioned in Chap- 
ter XVI. still took a leading part in the direction of the 
Society. Amongst others whose work should be recorded 
are the following : (Sir) Edwin Chadwick was a member 
of long standing; he was elected in 1847, an d served 
on the Society's Committee of Agriculture before the 
incorporation, but he did not join the Council till 1868. 
From that date till his death in 1890 he exercised con- 
siderable influence. As a young man he had been secre- 
tary to Jeremy Bentham, and he was saturated with the 
ideas of that philosopher. His persistent advocacy of 
sanitation left its mark on his generation, which owed 
much to his energy, though his methods did not meet 
with the universal approval of his contemporaries. The 
valuable service rendered the Society by Hyde Clarke 
in the formation of the Indian Section will be referred 
to later. He also made his influence felt in the 
conduct of the examinations 2 and in other matters. 
Sir Antonio Brady, an active member of the Society 
for more than thirty years, was the founder of the 
Bethnal Green Museum. J. Bailey Denton, the well- 
known engineer, and a great authority on matters 
connected with sanitation and water-supply, gave a 
prize for improved workmen's dwellings. The Rev. 
William Rogers (" Hang Theology " Rogers), the wise 
educational reformer and genial humorist, took an 
active part in the Society's educational work ; as also 
did Sir J. Kay Shuttleworth. Sir Daniel Cooper, well 

1 See Chapter XVI, p. 389. 

2 See Chapter XIX, p. 439. 



known first as an Australian statesman and then as repre- 
sentative in this country of New South Wales, took great 
interest in all the Society's Colonial work. Thomas 
Sopwith, mining engineer and geologist, was a member 
of the Society from 1843 to 1879, and of the Council 
from 1858 to 1864. Sir Charles Trevelyan, the distin- 
guished Indian administrator, took an active part in the 
work of the Indian Section. All the above were working 
members of the Council between 1862 and 1870. Later 
on there were others who became more prominent ; Captain 
(later General) Sir John Donnelly, Sir Henry Cole's suc- 
cessor at South Kensington, devised the system of techno- 
logical examinations, since widely developed by the City 
Guilds Institute. He became Chairman of the Council in 
1894. (Sir) George Hartley, Sir Henry Cole's son-in-law, 
afterwards M.P. for Islington, first suggested the erection 
in London of memorial tablets to distinguished men, 
and helped to carry the proposal into effect. Andrew 
Cassels, a member of the India Council, gave great 
help towards the establishment of the Indian Section. 
(Sir) Robert Rawlinson, the eminent sanitarian, read 
his first paper to the Society in 1858 and his last in 
1889. Colonel Strange was the constant and trusted 
adviser of the Council in all scientific matters. Admiral 
Ryder was responsible for the valuable report on life- 
saving appliances issued in 1 879.* (Sir) Benjamin Richard- 
son gave the Society several of his brilliant addresses on 
hygienic subjects. Sir Philip Cunliffe-Owen, the popular 
organiser of international exhibitions, joined the Council 
in 1879, but his work upon it was of later date. Francis 
Cobb, if he was not well known oustide the Society, was 
highly esteemed within it for his constant and ungrudging 
service. These though many others might be men- 
tioned were the principal organisers of the Society's 
multifarious work during the period under review. 

The first intimation of the Cantor bequest was made 
known to the Society in November 1 860, when a letter was 
received from James Welch, the Administrator-General of 
1 See Chapter XXI, p. 494. 


Fort William, Bengal, who in that capacity had been named 
executor of the testator's will, stating that Dr. Edward 
Theodore Cantor, who had died a few months before, 1 
had bequeathed his property in equal shares to the Society 
and to Wellington College, declaring it to be his desire that 
the moneys so given should be applied by the President of 
the Society and the Governors of the College respectively, 
in such manner as they should deem most conducive to 
promote the objects of the Society and of the College. 

Dr. Cantor was a surgeon in the Indian Medical Service 
and was Superintendent of the lunatic asylums at 
Bhowanerpore and Dallunda of Fort William, Bengal. It 
does not appear that he was ever a member of the Society. 

The bequest was not paid over until 1 862. A technical 
difficulty arose because the money was left to the President, 
and in January of that year the Society was without a 
President. This, however, was settled by the agents of the 
administrator of the will consenting to accept the acknow- 
ledgment of the treasurers pending the election of a Presi- 
dent, and in February the amount of ^5042 was paid over, 
and was invested in India 5 per cent, stock. In the 
meantime, in November 1861, an appeal was made to the 
two legatees by Mrs. Cantor, the mother of the testator, 
who had been greatly dependent on her son, and was at 
his death left very badly off. The Governors of Wellington 
College gave her 50 ; but the Council of the Society 
replied that, as the estate had not been distributed, they 
could not make any promise for the time. It appeared that 
Mrs. Cantor was a Danish lady, living in her own country, 
and that her son had allowed her 35 a year. Inquiries 
were made at the Danish Legation, and her appeal was 
supported by the Minister. The matter was discussed with 
the authorities of Wellington College, and it being ascer- 
tained that she would be well satisfied with an allowance 
of 50, it was agreed that this amount should be given her, 
the College and the Society each paying half. The allow- 
ance was continued until the lady's death in 1867. Nine 
years after this, in 1876, an application was made to the 

1 The date of the will was 3rd March 1859, that of probate 3ist May 
1680. Council Minutes, yth November 1860. 


Society by the widow of Dr. Cantor's brother, who was 
in reduced circumstances, and a grant was made to her of 
2 5 a year. This was continued until she died in 1 883 . 

Some consideration was given as to the best way of 
disposing of the money, and eventually it was determined 
to expend it upon courses of lectures on industrial tech- 
nology. Thus the Cantor Lectures were started, very much 
to the advantage of the Society and the promotion of 
the interests it was founded to assist. These courses of 
lectures have been delivered regularly from 1 864 down to 
the present date, the greatest number of lectures in any 
one session having been eighteen. With a very few ex- 
ceptions, all the lectures have been published in the 
Journal, and afterwards in separate form. Many of them 
have besides been developed into standard works on the 
subjects with which they dealt. The whole series may be 
said to form an encyclopaedia of information on matters of 
industrial technology, since there are very few important 
industries which have not at one time or another formed 
the subject of a course. 

The first series delivered was one on " The Operation 
of the Present Laws of Naval Warfare on International 
Commerce," by Dr. G. W. Hastings. It must be admitted 
that the subject does not appear to be a particularly 
suitable one. But it is to be remembered that at the time 
(1864) the American War was being carried on, and the 
various points of international law raised by a maritime 
war were then of pressing urgency. The two other courses 
given in the same session, on " Fine Arts Applied to 
Industry," by Mr. W. Burges, the well-known architect, 
and on " Chemistry Applied to the Arts," by Dr. F. Crace 
Calvert, were certainly very much more suitable, and, as a 
matter of fact, it is stated that they attracted very much 
larger audiences. 

It may be worth while to mention a few of the more 
important courses which were delivered before the end of 
the period with which this chapter deals. Besides his first 
course, Dr. Crace Calvert gave three others, all dealing with 
practical applications of Chemistry. The applications of 
Geology formed the subject of a course by Professor 


Ansted in 1865. In the following year Professor Fleeming 
Jenkin lectured on Submarine Telegraphy. In 1867, Dr. 
John Hullah gave a course on Music and Musical Instru- 
ments, and Richard Westmacott, R.A., one upon Sculpture. 
In the following year Dr. (afterwards Sir) W. H. Perkin 
lectured on Aniline and Coal-Tar Colours. In 1 869, and in 
1874 there were courses on Spectrum Analysis by (Sir) 
Norman Lockyer. Professor A. W. Williamson lectured 
on Fermentation in 1870, and in the same year Professor 
Barff gave a course on Artists' Colours and Pigments, the 
first of many courses which he delivered here. Special 
interest attaches to this series, because it led to the 
appointment of a Professor of Chemistry by the Royal 
Academy, Professor Barff himself being the first holder of 
the post. In 1 874, Dr. Charles Graham gave a long course 
on the Chemistry of Brewing these lectures have become 
a classic on the subject. Other courses deserving mention 
are those by (Sir) Frederick Bramwell on the Steam 
Engine in 1 875 ; by (Sir) William Preece on recent advances 
in Telegraphy in 1877 (the first of many lectures given to 
the Society by Sir William) ; by A. Vernon Harcourt, on 
the Chemistry of Gas Manufacture in 1877 ; by (Sir) 
Benjamin Ward Richardson on Alcohol in 1875 ; and by 
Dr. W. H. Corfield, on the Sanitary Construction of 
Dwelling-houses in 1879. 

The history of the early association of the Society with 
the Colonies was given in an earlier chapter. 1 After the 
incorporation of the Society, the new Council, when it was 
first formed, was perhaps too much occupied with its own 
domestic matters to pay much attention to Colonial busi- 
ness. So it was not until the 1851 Exhibition attracted to 
London a large number of Colonial visitors amongst them 
many Colonial Governors, some of whom were made 
honorary members of the Society and thus once more 
brought Colonial affairs to the front, that the Society again 
began to devote special attention to the Colonies. 

At the instance of the Society, the Secretary of State, 
in April 1852, sent out a dispatch in which the British 
Colonies were invited to form Associations in connection 
1 See Chapter IV, p. 83. 


with the Society ; and, in response to this appeal, a certain 
number of such Associations were formed, some of which 
are even now in existence. But the dispatch does not 
seem to have had a very great effect. 

A little later on, the Society endeavoured to include 
Colonial Institutions in the Union of Institutions, which 
was then being formed, and the Journal for 2ist December 
1855 contains a notification that the Council desired to 
include such institutions, and states the terms on which 
they could be admitted. In return for the usual subscrip- 
tion of two guineas, the Council offered to represent Colonial 
Institutions in London in business matters, to receive any of 
their members who were visiting London, and to give such 
visitors the privilege of temporary membership, to purchase 
books for their libraries at reduced rates, and to establish 
centres for the examinations in the Colonies. A certain 
number of Colonial Institutions joined the Union on these 
terms, but the response was not very great, and the number 
of such Institutions does not appear at any time to have 
exceeded sixteen. In 1860 there were fifteen Colonial 
Institutions on the list, and from this date the numbers 
fell away. 

In 1857, however, a proposition, which had much 
greater effects in the future, was made by Mr. Hyde Clarke, 
who wrote to the Council suggesting that " a special 
section be formed for India, another for Australia, one 
for English America, and so on." It was suggested 
that the Indian Section should meet once a fortnight, 
and the Australian once a month, for the reading of 
papers. The subjects suggested were " railway exten- 
sions, irrigation, canals, European colonisation, tea culti- 
vation, fibre products, the iron manufactures, and the 
copper mines. " Mr. Hyde Clarke also laid consider- 
able stress on the " non-existence of a Colonial centre in 

The letter was published in the Journal of i5th May 
1857, and a committee was appointed to consider the 
matter. Nothing, however, was really done. This was 
no doubt due to the fact that Mr. Hyde Clarke shortly 
afterwards left this country for Smyrna, where he resided 


for some time. Ten years later he returned to England, 
and in 1868 he renewed his proposal, but only proposing 
the formation of a committee which should organise 
conferences on Indian subjects. This time the suggestion 
was taken up more warmly. Hyde Clarke himself was 
placed on the Council, and the Indian Conferences, which 
soon developed into the Indian Section, were started. 
Previous to this date there had been occasional papers 
read on Indian matters; but from 1869 onwards, when 
the Indian meetings began with a paper on Indian tea by 
Mr. C. H. Fielder, read on i2th March in that year, the 
Indian Section has continued its regular work. There 
were eight meetings in 1869 and four in 1870. The 
number of meetings held each year from that date down 
to the present time have varied a little, but there have 
never been less than five or more than seven. 

The Indian Section thus established became a most 
important department of the Society. It has had great 
results in India by spreading information in that country 
as to the directions which the development of Indian 
manufactures and Indian products could most usefully 
take, and in this country by giving similar information as 
to the industrial resources and progress of India itself. The 
Section has received great help from the Indian press and it 
has in return been of service to the Indian press in supply- 
ing useful information to it. It has been of great value to 
the Society itself as the means by which many members 
have been added to its list, so that in fact, thanks to a 
very large extent to the work of the Indian Section and 
of the allied section for the Colonies, a large proportion 
of the present number of members come from the depend- 
encies of the Empire abroad. 

The continued success of the Indian Section led to the 
establishment in 1874 of the African Section, and this also 
was due to a very large extent to the efforts of Mr. Hyde 
Clarke. Five years later, in 1879, it was enlarged and 
became the Foreign and Colonial Section ; and in 1901 it 
was altered into the Colonial Section, under which title 
it has been continued to the present time. 

It will be seen, therefore, that Hyde Clarke's original 


suggestion of more than fifty years ago has eventually been 
carried out, and with remarkable success. Something 
might be said on behalf of the scheme in its original form, 
in which separate sections for the various portions of the 
Empire were proposed. But it is to be remembered that 
soon after this idea was put forward, the Royal Colonial 
Institute was established, and since its foundation, in 1868, 
it has carried out to the full the work which it was sug- 
gested in 1857 that the Society of Arts might do, especially 
the formation of a Colonial centre in London. There was 
no question that a separate Institution, devoting itself 
entirely to such work, could carry it out more effectually 
than the Society of Arts with all its different aims and 
objects could hope to do, and this has in practice proved 
to be the case. Still it has been found that there was an 
abundance of opportunity for the two institutions, both 
of which have, it is to be hoped, carried on work which 
has been useful to the Colonies. 

The growing importance of industrial chemistry led 
to the establishment in 1874 of a special Chemical Section 
for the discussion of subjects connected with practical 
chemistry, and its application to the arts and manufactures. 
The Section was opened with an introductory address from 
Dr. Odling, then President of the Chemical Society, who 
dwelt not only on the industrial importance of applica- 
tions of chemistry, but on the assistance which those 
applications had rendered to the growth of chemical 
knowledge. It was arranged that six papers should be 
read every session, and among the list of contributors are 
to be found not only men of considerable reputation at 
the time, but also many who have since made a reputation 
for themselves. 1 

In 1879 the scope of the Section was enlarged so that 
it might include matters connected with applications of 
physical science to the Arts. It continued its successful 
work for twelve years, until 1886, when its success led to 
its own extinction, for it had resulted in the formation of 

1 The first Secretary of the Section was Thomas Wills, a promising 
young chemist who died in 1878 in his twenty-eighth year, 


the Society of Chemical Industry, founded in 1881, the 
Institute of Chemistry having also been established in 
1877, a few years after the Section was started. The 
Council came to the decision to discontinue the work of 
the Section, the reason for this action being given in the 
following extract from the annual report of 1887 : 

" Since its establishment, the Section has fully carried 
out the intentions of those who advised its formation, for 
it has been the means of bringing before the Society, and, 
through the Society, before the scientific public, many very 
valuable applications of science to practical purposes. 
Looking back at the list of papers which have been read 
before it, it will be seen that many of the most important 
of the communications to the Society during the time found 
a place in this Section. Since its formation, however, 
two independent societies namely, the Institute of 
Chemistry and the Society of Chemical Industry have 
been specially established for the purpose of carrying on 
the work to which the Section was originally devoted ; 
and it appeared to the Council that the Society of Arts 
having, as in so many other cases, originated a movement 
of considerable public importance, might, as the work 
grew, leave it in the efficient hands of the above-mentioned 
Societies." x 

In the early part of 1863 the Society of Wood-Carvers 2 
applied to the Society of Arts to assist them in holding an 
exhibition of wood-carving, in connection with which 
prizes were proposed to be offered. The Council agreed 
to allow the use of the Society's rooms for the exhibition, 
and also offered a silver medal and a grant of 30. This 
amount, with a contribution of 1 5 from the Wood-Carvers, 
was distributed in prizes to workmen, and the exhibition 
was duly held. 

Its success led to a proposal for a series of Art work- 
manship prizes, and later in the same year the Council 

1 Journal, vol. xxxv. p. 775. 

2 This was a small society of working wood-carvers that was carried 
on successfully for a good many years in rooms in Bloomsbury. It 
came to an end about the beginning of the present century. 


offered prizes, amounting altogether to 162, for modelling, 
repousse work, hammered work, carving, chasing, enamel 
painting, painting on porcelain, and other subjects. In 
the following year the scheme was a good deal developed, 
and prizes amounting to 623 were offered in a larger 
number of subjects for productions from prescribed 
designs. A list of subjects for competition was drawn up 
with considerable care. It included carving in various 
materials, metalwork, etching and engraving, enamel 
painting, painting on porcelain, decorative painting, 
inlaying, cameo-cutting, engraving on glass, wall mosaics, 
gem engraving, die-sinking, glass-blowing, book-binding 
and leather work, and embroidery. The examples selected 
were mostly in the South Kensington Museum, but some 
were in private possession. Reproductions of them in 
the form of lithographs, photographs, or casts were 
provided at prices in most instances not exceeding a 
shilling. There was also a division for works to be executed 
without prescribed designs. 

The offer was continued annually up to the year 
1870. The total annual amount offered in prizes varied 
up to 666, but the money awarded never in any one year 
reached 300, and was in several years under 100. 
Although this seems a sufficiently good result, the Council 
at the time appear to have been disappointed. The prizes 
certainly were popular, as is shown by the fact that when 
a surplus was obtained by the North London Exhibition 
in 1864, an amount of 157 was handed over to the Society 
to be added to the prize fund. 

In the Council Report of 1870 an announcement was 
made that these prizes would be discontinued " for the 
present, " and that special prizes would be offered for 
objects of art workmanship to be exhibited at the Inter- 
national Exhibition of 1871, then being organised by the 
1851 Commissioners at South Kensington. Such special 
prizes were accordingly offered in the form of medals 
for manufacturers and* designers, and money prizes to 
the workmen employed. The articles which received 
prizes were to be shown in the exhibition, and it was a 
condition of exhibiting that the names of all engaged in 


the production of the works should be sent in. Seventy- 
five such articles were submitted, and silver medals and 
money prizes to the amount of 200 were awarded. 1 

In announcing the discontinuance of the ordinary Art 
workmanship prizes, the Council expressed their regret 
that, in spite of the large amount of prizes offered, there 
was still wanting anything like an adequate response on 
the part of manufacturers, designers, or workmen, the 
result being that though the articles rewarded were of a 
very satisfactory character, and showed great skill and 
taste, yet the competition was small, and the amount of 
money awarded far less than the offered total. The hope 
was also expressed that the annual exhibitions of industry 
would sufficiently encourage Art workmanship, and 
would, therefore, take the place of the Society's prizes. 
It is hardly necessary to say that these expectations were 
not realised. 

On the whole, it seems certain that these prizes, with 
the accompanying small exhibitions, served a useful 
purpose, and helped to encourage the workers in artistic 
industries. Some disappointment was expressed in various 
quarters at their discontinuance, and if at the time they 
were not popular with employers, they were certainly 
appreciated by the workmen themselves. It is quite 
possible that the real cause of their discontinuance was a 
desire on the part of the Council to concentrate the Society's 
efforts on the projected series of exhibitions. 

The problem of food supply seemed to be specially 
urgent in the middle of the last century, or at all events 
its urgency was very generally realised. The population 
had increased, and was increasing, at a rate far outstripping 
the growth of the national resources of the kingdom, and 
the means of supply from foreign countries had not yet 
been developed. Of actual food-stuffs it may be said 
that only cereals were imported. Dead meat could not 
be conveyed for any distance, while the trade in cattle 
was limited, and confined to European countries. The im- 
portation of canned meat had been introduced, but as yet 
1 See Chapter XXI, p. 486, 


only on a small scale. Imported fresh fruit was practically 
represented by a single sort the orange. Salted and dried 
fish were regular articles of trade, as they long had been, 
and so were salt beef and pork ; but even of these the bulk 
was supplied from domestic sources. 

It was a realisation of this state of things that, in 1866, 
led the Council to appoint a committee " to inquire and 
report respecting the food of the people," with special 
instructions to investigate methods for " the production, 
importation, and preservation of substances suitable for 
food." In the words of the authors of the most recent 
book on the subject, 1 the appointment of this committee 
was the " most practical step in the direction of providing 
a more ample food supply " which had yet been taken, 
and the committee did much useful work, though its 
labours were not quite so successful as they might have 

A proximate cause for the nomination of the committee 
was the offer by Sir Walter Trevelyan of a sum of 70 to 
form a prize for the discovery of a process for preserving 
fresh meat, the prize being specially intended to encourage 
the preservation of meat " in countries where it is now 
almost valueless." Later on, in 1872, Sir Walter added 
another 30 to his offer, making the total sum available 
for the prize 100. 

Some years before, in 1856, the same gentleman had 
given 100 for a prize for an essay on the utilisation of 
seaweed ; but, though the prize was offered, the response 
was unsatisfactory, and no award was made. The money 
was then applied to the more practical object of encourag- 
ing the preservation of meat. 

The committee met for the first time in December 
1866, and it continued its useful labours for fifteen years. 
Though one of its duties was to award Sir Walter Trevelyan 's 
prize, this was only a part of its work, its main object 
being to accumulate and disseminate information on the 
best means of increasing the available food supplies of the 
country. Its members took a wide view of their duties 

1 History of the Frozen Meat Trade, by J. T. Critchell and J. Ray- 
mond. 1912. 


and worked at them conscientiously, and if they failed 
in the first-mentioned object of their efforts, they certainly 
succeeded in the second and more important part. 

The committee collected an enormous amount of 
information, which -was published in successive reports 
in the Society's Journal. These reports were of great 
value at the time in directing attention to what was being 
done for the preservation of food, and they are now of 
considerable historical interest as a record, which appears 
to be fairly complete, of the various methods, more or 
less successful, which were proposed for the preservation 
and supply of meat before the introduction of cold storage 
and the importation of refrigerated meat. The committee 
took a large amount of evidence from experts, inventors, 
and others, and their reports dealt with almost every 
variety of food. At that time canned meats were a 
novelty, and the manufacturers who produced them gave 
evidence before the committee. All sorts of processes 
were described, and the results tested. Many of these 
processes were quite useless, but among the samples 
shown were some which have since been developed into 
valuable commercial products. Samples of meat from 
Australia and South America, preserved in various ways, 
were examined and reported on, but none proved satis- 
factory. The importation of live-stock was also con- 
sidered. The supply of milk and that of fish were among 
the subjects dealt with by the committee, and they 
devoted one meeting to the examination of a witness on 
salmon preservation. In one of their reports in 1867 they 
suggested a Fishery Exhibition, a proposal which, some 
years later, was carried into effect with great success, 
not only in London but in several Continental towns. 

In 1868 prizes were offered for railway vans for meat 
conveyance, and for milk-cans. None of the suggestions 
for improved vans were thought worthy of reward, but a 
silver medal was given to the Aylesbury Dairy Company 
for the best milk-can sent in. 

The problem of meat-supply may be said to have been 
solved in 1879-80, when a cargo of frozen meat was 
brought to London by the Strathleven, which sailed 


from Sydney on 29th November 1879, and arrived in 
London on 2nd February 1880; but the results of this 
experiment were either not brought before the notice of 
the committee, or were not appreciated as they deserved. 
It is certainly a matter of regret that this successful ex- 
periment met with no award at the hands of the com- 
mittee which for so long had done really excellent work 
in publishing information on the food supplies of the 
people. However, the value of the discovery was not 
realised at the time, and the view taken of it is shown by 
the rather desponding report of 1881, the last issued by 
the committee, which summed up the situation as follows: 
" Though numerous methods, more or less successful, 
for treating meat have been before the committee, the 
committee have never felt themselves able to select any 
one as being so far superior to the rest as to deserve the 
award of the prize ; neither have they had from any of 
those persons who are now engaged in the importation 
of meat preserved by means of cold from America or 
Australia, any such precise claim to the credit of the in- 
vention as would warrant the committee in thus awarding 
the prize. The prize, therefore, still remains in the charge 
of the Society, and the Council would gladly welcome the 
advent of any process which would justify them in pre- 
senting it." 

That the committee did not promptly recognise the 
value of the new experiment is perhaps not remarkable. 
They had been at work for fifteen years, the personnel of 
the committee had changed, and probably the interest of 
the early investigations had flagged. But failure is the 
more to be regretted since at various times they had before 
them, and had carefully considered, the question of the 
preservation of meat by the application of cold. As far 
back as 1869 they had under consideration Reece's freez- 
ing machine, 1 one of the earliest of the ammonia machines, 

1 Recce's machine was the subject of a report by a special committee 
(Journal, vol. xvii. p. 829). The report, though commendatory, is not 
wholly favourable. It was also described by Dr. B. H. Paul in his 
paper on "Refrigeration," read in December 1868 (Journal, vol. xvii. 
p. 67). 


while throughout their reports references are constantly 
made to the use of low temperatures for meat preservation. 
In 1 868 l they " look with interest at the scheme, proposed 
by influential persons at Sydney, to resort ... to cold." 
They say that " the promoters of this plan are understood 
not to have decided in what form they can most economi- 
cally provide the refrigeration, which must, of course, be 
kept up during the voyage by some artificial means." In 
the following year 2 they " still look with much hope to 
the process of preserving meat in cold temperatures," and 
they mention some experiments " by which they hope to 
be able to determine the conditions most favourable for 
the practical appliance to animal and vegetable substances 
of this mode of preservation." 

In the Journal for 24th April 1 868, a full report is given 
of the meeting above referred to, which was held at Sydney 
in February of the same year. At it Mr. T. S. Mort de- 
scribed the results of his experiments in freezing meat for 
exportation, experiments which were certainly the founda- 
tion of the whole frozen meat trade of the present day. 
It is probable that this report was supplied by Mr. John 
Alger, who was present at the meeting, and took an active 
part in the movement. He had been treasurer of the 
Society of Arts in 1862, and had gone out to Australia. 
It is now generally admitted that Mort was beyond doubt 
the pioneer of cold storage, and if he had lived a few years 
later (he died in 1878) he certainly ought to have had 
awarded to him the Trevelyan prize. 

After the publication of their rather despondent report 
in 1 88 1 the committee abandoned any further attempts 
to discover a suitable candidate for the prize, and the 
money was eventually awarded in five prizes of 20 each 
at the Health Exhibition of 1884. One of these was given 
to Messrs. J. & E. Hall for their " cold dry-air machines 
and cold storage chamber." Their machine was a carbonic 
acid compression refrigerating machine of the type invented 
by Giffard, and afterwards supplied by the firm for use on 
board ship, and for the preservation of imported meat in 
cold storage establishments. 

1 Journal, vol. xvi. p. 583. 2 Ibid. vol. xvii. p. 642. 


Still, if they missed the opportunity of awarding the 
100 prize and after Mort's death it would have been 
very difficult to name an individual who deserved it- the 
committee, as was said above, did a great deal of really 
useful work which might have been carried to an even 
more successful conclusion but for the sudden death in 
1877 f i ts energetic and devoted chairman, Benjamin 

On his return from a visit to the Paris Exhibition of 
1867, where he had been acting as one of the jurors, Dr. 
Lyon Playfair addressed a letter to Lord Granville com- 
menting on the industrial progress which had been made 
by other countries as compared with that of Great Britain. 1 
In Dr. Play fair's opinion, England compared very unfavour- 
ably with some of the other principal European countries 
who exhibited in Paris, and this state of things he attri- 
buted mainly to the advance which had been made on 
the Continent in technical or industrial education. As 
far back as 1853 Dr. Playfair had published a work on 
industrial education on the Continent, and had prophesied 
that the result of the attention given to such education 
abroad, and its neglect in England, would lead to a much 
more rapid industrial advance on the Continent than in 
England. He considered that the views he had stated in 
1853 were confirmed in 1867. 

The result of the attention thus drawn to the subject 
was that the Council, in the latter part of the year, ap- 
pointed a committee on the subject, and by this committee 
a conference was organised, which met in the Society's 
Room in January 1868. The list given in the Journal 
of the persons attending the conference is a very remark- 
able one. It is too long for quotation at length, and the 
list of names is too distinguished to justify a selection 
from them. 2 

After the conference, at which the subject was fully 
discussed, a committee was appointed by the Council, 

1 Dr. Playfair's letter, prefaced by one from Lord Granville, is re- 
printed in the Journal, vol. xv. p. 477. 

2 Journal, vol. xvi. p. 1 84. 


which, after a number of meetings, published an exhaustive 
report l a report that may with advantage be consulted 
at the present date. In it for the first time technical 
education was defined as meaning " general instruction in 
those sciences the principles of which are applicable to 
various employments of life," and it was also resolved 
that, for the purposes of discussion, technical education 
" should be deemed to exclude the manual instruction in 
Arts and Manufactures which is given in the workshop/' 

Throughout the report the committee had mainly in 
view the education, not so much of the operatives as of 
managers and superintendents of works a wise view 
which was afterwards lost sight of, when the subject of 
technical education became popular, and the training of 
the artisan was advocated as the one remedy for all 
industrial shortcomings. At the end of their report 
they added an appendix suggesting courses of study for 
such persons, and it is evident that these courses were 
intended for students having already a certain amount 
of general and scientific education, and not for artisans. 
It may be mentioned that at the end of the list was in- 
cluded a syllabus of higher commercial education, intended 
for the use of merchants and commercial men generally. 
After the issue of this report, the Council did little more 
for a time to promote technical education, though in May 
1 869 they presented a petition to the House of Commons 
urging its necessity, and asking for legislation such as 
would encourage scientific training in secondary schools. 

The next step was the proposal for the introduction of 
technological examinations, which was brought before 
the Council in November 1871, by Captain (afterwards 
General Sir John) Donnelly. The first draft scheme 
prepared by him was afterwards considerably elaborated, 
and was submitted to a conference held in July 1872, at 
which H.R.H. Prince Arthur (now the Duke of Connaught) 
presided. 2 The result of this conference was the estab- 
lishment of the technological examinations, described in 
a previous chapter. 3 

1 Journal, vol. xvi. p. 627. z Ibid., vol. Ivii. p. 434. 

3 See Chapter XIX, p. 437. 


Ever since its foundation the Society had been earnest 
in promoting industrial education, but for the most part 
this was considered to mean merely general education of 
the artisan class, not the provision of scientific or technical 

The proper educational work of the Society had always 
been for the most part the furtherance of industrial and 
technical instruction, though the foundation of the system 
of examinations had been an important contribution to 
the cause of secondary education in England. The 
movement, however, for the improvement of elementary 
education, which led to the passing of Mr. Forster's 
Elementary Education Act in 1870, drew the Society into 
its influence, and in the years 1869 and 1870 it was busy 
with the subject of national education generally. By 
means of specially-appointed committees, it collected 
information about the educational needs and facilities 
in several districts in and near London, and published 
reports upon them. Of those reports the most remarkable 
was the one prepared by G. C. T. Hartley, on " The Edu- 
cational Condition and Requirements of one Square Mile 
in the East End of London." This was published as a 
supplement to the Journal for 25th March 1870, and, as 
it well deserved to do, attracted a great deal of attention. 
It was a document of considerable value, prepared with 
great care, and at the cost of much labour and minute 

Before the Elementary Education Bill was introduced 
into the House of Commons, a conference was held (February 
I87O) 1 at which the various proposals already formulated 
were discussed, and the opinions upon them of leading 
educationalists were elicited. After the introduction of the 
Bill, a petition, embodying the views of the Council, was 
presented to the House, and a little later a full memor- 
andum suggesting various amendments and improvements 
was submitted to the Prime Minister (Mr. Gladstone) by 
the chairman (Lord Henry Lennox) on behalf of the 
Council. The principal demand of the Council, the 
appointment of a Minister of Education, was not suc- 
1 Journal, vol f xviii. p. 238, 


cessful, but some of the other suggestions were not without 

Special attention was drawn to the question of female 
education by the paper read by Mrs. Grey on " The 
Education of Women," in June 1872. In consequence of 
this paper, a committee was, a little later, appointed by 
the Council " to promote the better education of girls of 
all classes." It was at first proposed to form a " National 
Union for the Improvement of the Education of Girls," 
but the actual result was the much more practical pro- 
ceeding of the establishment of the Girls' Public Day 
School Company, which has been in successful operation 
ever since. 

At the end of 1868 the Council took up the idea of 
encouraging drill in schools. The reasons for their action 
are well set out in a paper read in March 1871 by Major- 
General Eardley-Wilmot, who laid stress on the value 
of drill as a means of physical and also of mental educa- 
tion. It was, indeed, as a means of improving the national 
intelligence, rather than as a preparation for the national 
army, that the encouragement of drill in schools was first 
taken up by the Society, and it was on such grounds that 
its extension was always advocated. 

The efforts of the Society met with a good deal of 
success. The first result of the movement was the holding, 
in June 1870, of a drill review of 3000 boys from metro- 
politan schools at the Crystal Palace, in the presence of 
the Prince of Teck. A similar review was held in the 
following year, in the presence of the Duke of Connaught, 
at the Horticultural Gardens, when banners provided by 
the Society were presented to the schools which were 
most successful in a test competition. In 1872 the Prince 
of Wales patronised the review, which was again held in 
the Horticultural Gardens. He afterwards presented 
the Society's prize-banners in the Albert Hall. Over 
4000 boys attended. Other reviews were held in 1873 
and 1875 ; and in 1876 the London School Board under- 
took to arrange a public review of the boys in their schools. 
This review was duly held in Regent's Park, when over 
10,000 boys are reported to have gone through various 


manoeuvres. On this occasion an elaborate challenge 
banner, provided by the Society, was competed for. 
This banner was embroidered by the School of Art Needle- 
work, and cost nearly 100. 

For some time the School Board continued these drill 
reviews. But there was a good deal of opposition to 
them from a certain party, who were afraid they would 
encourage " militarism," by which it was presumably 
meant that children who had been drilled in early youth 
might thereby acquire a pernicious desire to become 
soldiers in after life. The total cost of the movement 
to the Society, from the start in 1870 down to the 
time when the drill reviews passed over to the School 
Board, was 944, but of this 400 was recouped to 
the Society by the sale of tickets, subscriptions towards 
the expenses, etc. 

In the year 1864 an anonymous letter was printed in 
the Journal, which suggested that the Society might 
offer a prize for a design for memorial tablets to be affixed 
to houses in which celebrated persons had been born or 
lived. In the same year also some suggestions appeared 
in the Builder newspaper, to the effect that some sort of 
memorial might be set up on certain houses and churches 
in London to commemorate their association with eminent 
men. Probably in consequence of these suggestions, 
the Council appointed a committee to consider the " erec- 
tion of statues or other memorials to persons eminent in 
arts, manufactures, and commerce/' 

This committee does not seem to have done anything 
for some time. But in May 1866 (Sir) George Bartley 
submitted to the committee a proposal for affixing memorial 
tablets to houses in London which were known to have 
been inhabited by famous men. In his letter x Mr. Bartley 
quotes a reference by Samuel Rogers to the fact that in 
various towns in France and Germany such memorials 
were in existence, and he added a list of houses in London 
which at one time were associated with celebrated persons. 
Many of these, as well as many of those suggested by the 
* Published in the Journal, vol. xiv. p. 438, 


writer in the Builder, have since had tablets attached to 
them. Mr. Bartley concluded his proposal by suggesting 
that the best kind of indicating label might be some form 
of mosaic or marble slab. 

The committee at once approved the idea, and Mr. 
Hartley's proposals as they stood were practically adopted 
and carried out. A list was at once prepared of suitable 
houses, and in 1867 the first memorial tablet was affixed 
to the house in Holies Street, Cavendish Square, where 
Byron was born. The work was continued year by year 
for a considerable time, although there were certain diffi- 
culties in carrying it out. It was not always easy to 
indentify with absolute certainty the house in which it 
was recorded that some eminent person had dwelt. Before 
the latter part of the eighteenth century the houses in 
London streets were not numbered, and since that date 
many alterations have been made at different times in 
the numbering. Then the owners of houses were often 
reluctant to give permission for the attachment of the 
tablets to their premises, especially in the earlier years of 
the movement. Even so enlightened a body as the 
Benchers of the Middle Temple refused to allow the 
erection of a tablet in Brick Court, where Goldsmith 
lived and died, though later a more reasonable view 
was taken, and permission was given for the erection of 
a bronze memorial. But, on the whole, the work was 
carried out with a considerable amount of success, and it 
attracted a great deal of public interest and approval. 
In the year 1872 a sum of 50 was presented to the 
Council by Mr. Benjamin Whitworth and Mr. H. D. 
Pochin, to be devoted to the erection of tablets, but the 
rest of the cost, never very considerable, was provided by 
the Society. 

When the idea was first taken up, the offer of a 10 
prize for a suitable design was made, but nothing seems 
to have come of this. Later on Mr. Bartley undertook to 
obtain a design, and with the assistance of (Sir) Henry 
Cole, who took a great interest in the matter, various 
designs were prepared in the offices of the Science and 
Art Department, South Kensington, under the super in- 


tendence of Godfrey Sykes x and his assistant. Eventually 
the matter was placed in the hands of Messrs. Minton, 
Hollins, & Co., of Stoke-on-Trent, who appear to have 
worked on the suggestions submitted to them, and pro- 
duced the tablet which was approved and adopted by 
the Council of the Society. One of the main objects in 
the design was that the Society of Arts' name should be 
given, but that it should not be made too prominent, and 
this object was effectively attained by the ingenious 
border, in which the name of the Society is introduced. 
The same design has, in all cases, been used by the Society, 

Tablet formerly on No. 1 5 Bucking- 
ham Street. 2 

with the solitary exception of the tablet to Milton in Bun- 
hill Row. The architecture of the building there did not 
admit of the convenient erection of a circular tablet, and 
consequently the oblong slab which is now in position was 
specially designed and erected. 

The work was carried on by the Society until 1901, by 
which time thirty-five tablets had been set up . The houses on 
which four of these were erected have since been demolished. 

1 Godfrey Sykes (1825-66) was the talented designer of much of 
the terra-cotta and other decoration of the old buildings of the South 
Kensington Museum. One piece of his work is very familiar, the design 
on the cover of the Cornhill Magazine. 

2 The house was pulled down about 1906. It was the last remaining 
part of the Duke of Buckingham's house. 


The house in Holies Street on which Lord Byron's tablet 
had been affixed, was pulled down in 1889. I n May 1900, 
Messrs. John Lewis & Co. erected on the front of the new 
house, which was in their occupation, a fresh memorial 
consisting of a bronze relief bust of Byron placed in an 
architectural frame of Portland stone. When Furnivars 
Inn was pulled down in 1898, the tablet which had been 
set up to Charles Dickens disappeared, but two other 
residences of the great novelist have since been marked 
by the London County Council. About 1906 the house 
at the bottom of Buckingham Street, Strand, which carried 
a tablet to commemorate the fact that Peter the Great of 
Russia had lived there during his stay in London, was pulled 
down, and a block of chambers erected on the site. Mrs. 
Siddons' house in Upper Baker Street was demolished 
in 1904, but the original tablet was re-fixed by the London 
County Council on the new premises. 

It is always a difficult question whether these tablets 
should only be placed on the actual house in which the 
person to be commemorated had lived. In some cases 
the house had disappeared, and the tablet was set up on 
the building which had taken the place of the old house. 
Whether this was worth doing must remain a moot ques- 
tion, and, on the whole, perhaps it is really not worth 
while, for instance, to have a tablet on Archbishop Tenison's 
Grammar School in Leicester Square, now occup3dng the 
site of Hogarth's old house ; on the other hand, some- 
thing might be urged on behalf of the tablet on a ware- 
house in Bunhill Row, built on the spot where Milton's 
house once stood, because it at all events suggests to 
the passer-by the original suburban character of the 

In 1901 the Historical Records and Buildings Committee 
of the London County Council proposed to advise the 
County Council that it should undertake the work of 
indicating houses and localities of interest in London ; 
but, before taking any action in the matter, the Committee 
very courteously applied to the Society to know what its 
views on the matter were. The Council of the Society 
readily agreed to hand over the work to the County Council, 


and offered at the same time to render any assistance 
in the Society's power. The London County Council 
thereupon formally resolved to take upon itself the duty 
in future, and since that date they have certainly carried it 
out in a most able and efficient manner. Up to the present 
time (1913) the Council have set up seventy-six tablets. 
They have, probably wisely, in almost every case refused 
to indicate merely sites, and have confined themselves to 
indicating actual houses. It may be added that their 
work in this respect is a little easier, because nearly all 
the houses with which they have had to deal are compara- 
tively modern. Looking at the list of persons commemo- 
rated, it appears that, leaving out of consideration a 
few tablets which bear