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Alfred Davis
Phoebe Oxenbold
Eva Davis
John Catley Davis
Mary Street
Thomas Bateman
Charles W. Penrose
Edwin C. Penrose
ECP Missionary Letters
Jabez Carter Hornblower
Jonathan and Ann Carter Hornblower
Joseph Hornblower
Romania Bunell, MD
Lydia Adamson
Lucetta Stratford
Louise Lusty
Margaret Bateman
Nielsine Thompson
Niels Pederson
Alfred Woodland
William Thomas Woodland

Jonathan Hornblower (1717-1780)

Ann Carter Hornblower (1721-1802)

Susan W. Howard
Their 5th Great Granddaughter

© 2009 Susan W. Howard

July 14, 2009

           Jonathan Hornblower was a handsome man who was looked upon favorably by the lasses of Broseley, Shropshire, England.  His heart, however, belonged to Ann Carter, the oldest daughter of Thomas Carter, a lawyer, and his wife Elizabeth Carter.  Unfortunately, a spinster in the town who found the sight of the young lovers annoying pestered them whenever she could.  Jonathan put up with it, but eventually his patience ran out.  One day he and Ann were outdoors when the woman intruded on their togetherness.  Jonathan caught her up in his arms and carried her to a nearby pond where he put her down in water that came to her waist.  He walked away, but she cried so much that he went back.  He pulled her out and sat her on a bank and told her “he hoped he had cured her of the long persecution he had experienced at her hands.”[1] 

             The description of this handsome young man who dunked the town busybody comes from his grandson, Cyrus Redding. Cyrus was born in 1785, five years following his grandfather’s death, so he wrote not from his own memory, but from what his mother and grandmother had told him.  (Redding’s mother was Joanna Hornblower, the eldest daughter of Jonathan and Ann.)  Redding’s recollections are inconsistent at times; his account of the family genealogy occasionally inaccurate, yet we are indebted to him for giving us a glimpse into the lives of some of his Hornblower relatives.  His look back into his family’s past is told with affection, and stands in stark contrast to some of the harsh judgments put into print by supporters of inventor James Watt, who became the family's nemesis after Jonathan's death.  This family history is intended to provide a full and balanced look at the Hornblowers. 

                 Jonathan was born in 1717 in Staffordshire.  On occasion writers have confused him with his father, Joseph, who died in 1762, but more frequently writers have confused him with his sixth son who bore his same name.  To avoid confusion, the son is called Jonathan Junior, but please note that some writers mistakenly confused this son with his older brother, calling him Jonathan Carter Hornblower.  Apparently the two brothers differed in character and personality, so it is unfortunate they are often lumped together into one person.  The reason for the mix-ups will soon be apparent.

                Jonathan’s mother died when he was thirteen.  He was the oldest of four children, all born in Staffordshire.  His father traveled long distances to Cornwall and other sites in Britain, constructing the atmospheric steam engines invented by Thomas Newcomen, whom Jonathan might have met.  Newcomen and the Hornblowers belonged to a close community of Baptist believers in Staffordshire and Shropshire, whose members must have helped to look after the young family while the father was away. 

                Joseph raised his sons to follow his profession as a mining engineer.  Training in this occupation did not require years in school, but rather was a practical profession learned on the job.  In his teenage years Jonathan had been employed in Wales, Derbyshire, and “Madely-wood, in which are the iron works of Coalbrook-dale.”  In 1836 Jonathan’s grandson Cyrus saw a ruined tower near that place, where Jonathan had said he and others used to hear philosophical lectures.  He had also been employed in Wales and Derbyshire.[2]

                During his life Cyrus met many of the celebrities of the time and reminisced about them.  Fortunately he gave later readers some insight into the Hornblower family. In Yesterday and Today Cyrus Redding rambles through the family history, telling us that his grandfather, Jonathan, succeeded Joseph “about 1740 or 1743.”  Later, on the same page he states that after Joseph erected an engine in Polgooth about 1741, “the father returned no more to the county, his son Jonathan taking his place.”  Two pages later Redding says Jonathan took up residence in Truro, also in Cornwall, in 1744, then at St. Mewan near Polgooth mine, settled at last in a house he built for himself at Chacewater.  According Redding, Jonathan had married around 1743 to the only daughter of a lawyer in Broseley, Thomas Carter.  Here he momentarily forgets Sarah, the younger sister of Ann, who was Redding’s connection to the poet John Milton through her marriage into the Phillips family.  Redding writes that his mother’s family was from Halesowen, near the Leasowes of Shenstone, south of Dudley and not far from Nederton.  (His mother was Joanna Hornblower Redding.)[3]

            Standing at five feet nine inches, Jonathan was strong, agile, and florid of complexion.  Once, overhearing some workers disputing over their strength, he invited them to pick up a 50-pound weight lying nearby and one by one, to see how far they could toss it.  He then threw it farther than any of them.  According to Redding, his grandfather Jonathan built a number of engines, beginning with one at Wheal Virgin, (1740-43) in the rich mining district of Gwennap “which has now been worked for more than a century.”  He had great mechanical judgment and sound principles.

Jonathan may have worked with his father on Newcomen engines in Cornwall, but he did not settle there permanently until 1745.  He married in Broseley, where his first child was born in 1744. 



Ann Carter Hornblower

 During the seventeenth century, Broseley, Shropshire, became a boomtown.  Situated on the south bank of the Ironbridge Gorge south of Telford, near the Shropshire coalfields, the town attracted miners, ironworkers, and clay pipe makers, making it an ideal place for early industrialization in Great Britain.  The town was closely linked to Coalbrookdale, just across the River Severn, and in 1779 the famous Iron Bridge was built to bring the two towns closer together.  John Wilkinson, who won fame himself as an ironmaster, eventually lived here.  He made designs for the Iron Bridge and built the first iron boat, but that is getting ahead of the story.  In addition to the budding industrialists who were attracted to the area, members of dissenting religions—the Methodists, Quakers and Baptists, found this a congenial place.[4]

           Ann Carter was baptized 5 January 1724 in Broseley.  Her father was Thomas Carter, a prominent lawyer.  Her mother was named Elizabeth, last name unknown.  Thomas and Elizabeth also had a daughter, Sarah, baptized 25 May 1727.  Sarah married a Phillips and had at least two children, both named in Thomas Carter’s will.  Sarah was a widow when her father wrote his will, which was proved in 1772.  Unfortunately the name of her son as written in his grandfather’s will is illegible.[5] 

                Redding tells us that Ann was "the kind grandmother to my youth."  Near the end of her life she made a present to him of her copy of Fontenelle’s Plurality of Worlds, “a present from herself in her seventy-seventh year,” which would have been around 1797, when Cyrus was twelve years of age.  The complete title of this book is Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (French: Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes) by Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, a French writer.  Published in 1686 in the form of a dialogue, (and published in English the following year) the book was remarkable in the first place because, unlike most scientific books of the era, it was written in French rather than Latin, and secondly was addressed to female readers.  It was one of the first attempts to popularize scientific theories in popular language, and it is still in print today.[6]

                That Ann Carter Hornblower might have esteemed this book enough to give it to a grandson who possessed literary talent gives us a glimpse into her character.  Ann and Jonathan were intelligent, talented, and curious about the scientific world that was just beginning to use scientific knowledge in a practical way.  Scholars have claimed that the early inventors of the steam engine were practical men with little or no knowledge of the principals of physics that allow their machines to work.  Jonathan, we have already been told, was interested in science and according to Cyrus, “had great mechanical judgment and sound principles.”  Ann, one of only two children, both daughters, born to her lawyer father, must have been well educated, and she in turn taught her children well.

                Redding wrote:

“I remember while on a visit to my grandmother, she possessed an old history of the Turks.  It was that of Knolles, a folio, with pictures of the different Ottoman rules.  I have not Johnson’s life at hand, but I think it was the same book he had read with delight in early life.  It was a very old but clearly-printed work, and many of the words were spelled in the old way, but I must have mastered them pretty well, as I contrived to entertain the old lady by my readings, or spellings, or both in connection.  However it might have been, I certainly learned to read out of that work during my log visits to a strong minded female.” [7]

                Ann and Jonathan named their first child Jabez Carter Hornblower.  Born 21 May 1744 in Staffordshire, he was baptized 10 December 1744 in Staffordshire. The young family did not stay here for long.  The duty on coal needed to operate the Cornish engines had been lifted, creating a demand for more engines.  Joseph was about to relocate to Bristol and needed his sons to replace him in the southwest of the county.  On 22 August 1745 Ann and Jonathan set out for Cornwall where they would spend the rest of their lives.  They arrived at Truro on 6 October that same year.  For the time being, their young son remained with Ann’s parents in Broseley.  The following year, on 16 July 1746, a second son, Jethro, was born in Truro, Cornwall.[8]  Jonathan eventually built a house for his growing family in Chacewater, a mining district four miles from Truro, in the parish of Kenwyn.

There are many beautiful places in Cornwall, but by the mid-seventeenth century the landscape near the mining areas was bleak. Ann MacGregor Watt, second wife of inventor James Watt, traveled to Chacewater in 1777 with her husband.  Writing to her friend, the wife of Watt’s partner, Matthew Boulton, Mrs. Watt said of Chacewater:  “The spot we are at is the most disagreeable in the whole county.  The face of the earth is broken up in ten thousand heaps of rubbish, and there is scarce a tree to be seen."[9]  Amidst this wasteland, Ann Carter Hornblower had made a home for her talented young family.

                Redruth, the capital of the mining districts of Camborne, Redruth, and Gwennap, was described thus:  “All round it the country seems to have been disemboweled; and heaps of scoriae, “deads,” rubbish and granite blocks cover the surface.  The view form the lofty eminence of Carn Brea, a little to the south of Redruth, strikingly shows the scarified and apparently blasted character of the district, and affords a prospect the like of which is rarely to be seen.”[10]

                Ann Carter Hornblower must have been a remarkable woman.  In the years between 1744 and 1769 she gave birth to thirteen children.  They all survived to adulthood excepting the fifth child, Jemima, who died at age three.  Jonathan and Ann were active in the Baptist community, and perhaps as a way of showing reverence to their religious beliefs, they gave all thirteen of their children biblical names beginning with the letter “J.”  Unfortunately this confused many writers who also had to contend with the fact that several of the sons were given the same names as uncles who were also engineers.[11]

In all, six sons and seven daughters were born into the family.  Ann would outlive four of these children.  She met the challenges of raising and educating her children far from her own parents and childhood friends.  She was an outstanding mother, keeping her children safe in a country full of hazards from open mine shafts, diggings, and waste materials.  Cyrus Redding tells of an incident where his mother Joanna, finding a gate open, was hiding from her friends and narrowly missed falling down a forgotten shaft.  James Watt might rail against her brood as a “band of pirates,” but her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would have been a source of great pride to her. 


The Richest Square Mile on Earth 

The latter part of the eighteenth century was a time of great engine building in Cornwall.  Contemporary writers called Gwennap “the richest square mile to be found anywhere on earth.”  The land from Redruth and Camborne to Truro was honeycombed with diggings.  At auction times the streets of the mining center in the town of Redruth were filled with huge parcels of ore bid for by a complicated process of “ticketing.”  Redruth grew into an industrial town considered to be the heart of the Cornish mining industry.  A mining exchange and schools of mining and engineering were built here. 

             Jonathan had an extensive practice as an engineer, eventually earning the distinction of being considered one of the principal engineers in Cornwall.  The only others who attained his stature was John Nancarrow, and later John Budge.[12]  Jonathan’s younger brothers Joseph (1721) and Josiah (1729) also worked as engineers in Cornwall.  In 1753 his father gave young Josiah the responsibility of taking a steam engine to America and overseeing its construction there.  Josiah’s biographer, William Nelson, mentions that in May Jonathan wrote in his diary that his brother had left for Falmouth, there to join a tin ship to sail to New York.  The whereabouts of the diary of Jonathan Hornblower is unknown today, but what a great find it would be.  Josiah remained in America, settling in Belleview, New Jersey.  He married and raised a family, worked as an engineer, was speaker of the New Jersey Assembly and a delegate to the Continental Congress.  

                In his early years Jonathan built engines at Wheal Virgin, Polgooth and St. Mewan.  Working at Wheal Sparnon, near Redruth, he earned a salary of  £2 pr month.  In 1765 his participation in erecting the new engine there earned him an additional £52-10-0 ‘for his directions etc. erecting the new engine.  The Wheal Sparnon engine took more than eighteen month to build at a cost of over £1050 for materials alone.[13]  By January of the following year Jonathan began erecting an engine at Tresavean, near Redruth.

By the mid 1770s he had worked on the Newcomen engines at Wheal Virgin, Wheal Maid; West Wheal Virgin and Carharrack, seven in all, and by 1779 there were ten engines working on these mines.  Yet by the 1770s the era of the Newcomen engine was coming to an end.  A young inventor born several years after the death of Thomas Newcomen had obtained a patent on an improved version of what now was known as “the Cornish Pumping Machine.”  The inventor was James Watt, who in 1777 would travel to Cornwall to meet Jonathan and his fellow engineers.        



Establishing the Baptist Church in Cornwall

In the mid-1740s John Wesley made his first trip to Cornwall to preach Methodism.  In his early days he spoke mainly to smaller groups, often to the poorer classes who were not well served by the Church of England.  Often his message was not welcomed.  He encountered opposition, physical threats, and at times his meetings were broken up by unruly gatherings of men who broke up the furniture or pelted the preacher and his listeners with rocks and other objects.  In this era Methodism was still part of the Church of England:  Wesley and followers did not make a definitive break until late in his life.  Eventually Wesley and his younger brother Charles overcame opposition and had a great success, especially among the miners and in the area around Redruth, where he spoke to large audiences of miners, farmers, and fishermen at the Gwennap Pit.

                While the Methodists grew in strength, the Baptists in Cornwall languished, although they seemed not to attract the hostility that followed the Wesley brothers. In 1670 a Baptist Society was established in Falmouth, and Baptist preachers had gained a few adherents, but by 1700 few believers could be found in Cornwall.  A Baptist Chapel was not founded in Falmouth until the late 1765.  By the late 1760s chapels had been established in Truro and possibly Penryn.

                Jonathan was a religious man, “even to strictness” according to his grandson Cyrus.  Although Jonathan’s parents had been members of the Baptist Chapel in Broseley, the views of Jonathan and Ann regarding the faith are not known.  Once settled in Chacewater Jonathan became acquainted with William Pollard, a serious young man who belonged to a religious society in the Parish of St. Agnes.  The Hornblower family began meeting with a group of like-minded believers in a “Christian conference” for conversation, hymns and prayer.  The members of the group differed in belief, however.  When a Mr. Heath, a Baptist minister form Plymouth visited and preached in 1767, the Hornblowers saw the need to have a meetinghouse for the use of the Baptist community.  A suitable meetinghouse was built “almost entirely by our worthy and zealous brother Mr. Jonathan Hornblower” in 1767. [14] The following year, 12 April 1768, the house was licensed as a meetinghouse for Baptists.  In September it was opened for religious purposes. 

                On Sunday, 29 May 1769 a Mr. Lewis from Exeter performed the first baptisms at Chacewater:  Jonathan and Ann Hornblower and two others.  The baptismal ceremony took place at a nearby river and was witnessed by a large group, many who later joined the local Baptist church, where it was reported that from three to five hundred met for worship.[15]  By November of 1772 the Reverend Robert Redding, a Baptist minister who had come to Cornwall from Worcestershire, took charge in Falmouth.  That year he married Ann and Jonathan’s eldest daughter, Joanna.  He would eventually minister to the Baptists at Chacewater and later at Truro.

                Although the Hornblowers were outsiders in Cornwall, and set apart even further by their faith, the evidence suggests that they got along well with the Cornish people.  Certainly they were much better liked than was the patent-holder for the Watt steam engine. 



James Watt and Cornwall

  By the late 1770s sixty Newcomen engines were at work across Cornwall.  With many years of experience working with theses engines, Jonathan had suggested improvements that made the machines run more efficiently.  As the mines sunk deeper into the earth and greater quantities of water had to be raised, the Newcomen engines reached the limit of their power.  The engineers dealt with the problem by using two engines on one shaft:  the first lifted the water from the bottom of the mine to a level part way up the shaft, then the second raised it to the level where it could be drained into the adits, the tunnels the miners had dug to carry away excess water.  The engines were useless during the wet seasons.  Overwhelmed with water, the engines stopped altogether, unable to pump the quantity necessary to clear the mineshafts.   

Although the increase in ore removal helped the mine owners, the life of the miners themselves became more difficult as the work went deeper underground.  Most of the men were broken by the time they reached their thirties.  Many did not live that long. Cave-ins, rock falls, accidents from the use of explosive frequently led to injuries.  (Gunpowder had been used in Cornish mines as far back as the mid-17th century, although the saltpeter necessary to make it had to be imported until 1808 when the first Cornish gunpowder factory opened.

                Hundreds of tons of ore mined each year was transported to smelters in Hayle and Swansea, or shipped to Bristol.  Competition from new sources put pressure on the Cornish mines to operate more efficiently in the extraction of the copper and tin.  On March 2, 1768, large quantities of copper were discovered at Parys Mountain, near the town of Amlwch on the Island of Anglesey in North Wales.  The large production of the rich copper veins worked there further challenged the mines in Cornwall as prices for copper fell.  The mine owners could not cut down on labor costs; therefore they had to pump more efficiently.  James Watt’s new engine provided that efficiency and saved fuel.

James Watt, (1736-1819) an instrument maker in Glasgow, had a friend, John Robinson, who had a passion for steam engines.  In 1757 Watt’s interest was piqued.  He had never seen a working Newcomen engine other than a scale model on display at Glasgow University that he was asked to repair in 1763.  As he began the repair work, he was troubled by the amount of coal it took to run even the small model.  He experimented with ways to build an engine that was more efficient in fuel consumption, but his progress was slow.  The granting of a patent required an act of Parliament and in 1769 Watt petitioned and obtained a patent for his new engine.  Encouraged by his friends, he moved to Birmingham, near Soho, Handsworth, where Matthew Boulton lived.  In 1775 Boulton and Watt became partners and the former provided the necessary capital to allow Watt to demonstrate a working engine four times more efficient than the Newcomen engines.  On 22 May 1775 Watt was granted an extension on his patent over opposition in the House of Commons.  Some members believed the wording was too broad and non-specific—they charged the extension of the patent would create a monopoly.  Engineers had been working on their own modifications of the Newcomen engine—Watt’s patent would hamper their work.  With the help of friends who had strong ties to Parliament, Watt prevailed.  

The extended patent, now set to expire in 1800, would be a major source of difficulties for the next generations of Hornblowers.  In the meantime, Jonathan and Watt were about to begin a cordial relationship.  Jonathan apparently learned of the new engine while working as engineer at the Ting Tang mine, a copper mine near Redruth.  The engine in use was too small for the needs of the miners.  Word of the newly invented machine had reached Cornwall, and in the summer of 1776, Richard Trevithick and John Budge (known as “old Bouge”) agents for Cornish mine proprietors, went to Soho to look at Watt’s new fuel-saving engine.

On 10 October 1776 Jonathan wrote to Watt’s partner, Matthew Boulton, asking for details on the engine and terms for building one in Cornwall.  “I don’t know whether you are acquainted with the nature of Welsh coal made use of here, it is much more durable and will go much further than ours in Shropshire and Staffordshire (I still call it ours tho’ I have been in Cornwall near 30 years) but it requires different management.”[16]  

Watt replied a week later, and again on November 8 after further correspondence Watt offered to supply parts for an engine at Ting Tang on trial.  The offer was accepted and it was decided that local smiths could make some of the parts.  Jonathan wrote to Watt: “There are very good engine smiths in Cornwall with some bad ones (all of them love drinking too much.)”[17]  

In addition to the 52-inch cylinder Ting Tang Mine, Watt had an order for a smaller 30-inch engine at Wheal Busy (also known as Wheal Spirit) near Chacewater, halfway between Truro and Redruth.  When it was time to ship the cylinders for the Ting Tang mine, they were found to be too large to fit through the hatches of the boat that was to carry the parts.  The resulting delay in transporting the parts meant that the engine for Wheal Busy mine was completed first.  

Jonathan was then in his sixtieth year.  The following year, 1777, James Watt and his wife made their first visit to Cornwall.  Although more than fifty years had passed since Joseph Hornblower had first traveled over the rough roads, the Watt’s journey was still long and tedious, and the roads were bad not much improved.  

James and Ann Watt arrived at Chacewater, an area in the midst of what was considered to be the richest mining district in the world.  The area from Camborne on the west and Gwennap south was “a constant succession of mines.  The earth has been burrowed in all directions for many miles in search of ore, principally copper—the surface presenting an unnaturally blasted and scarified appearance by reason of the ‘deads’ refuse run out in heaps fro the mine-heads.  Engine-houses and chimneys are the most prominent features in the landscape, and dot the horizon as far as the eye can see.”[18]  

By this time the materials for the Wheal Busy engine had arrived and some progress had been made with its erection.  The delay in the arrival of the Ting Tang engine left Watt anxious and he wrote to his business partner, Boulton about his worries.  If the Chacewater engine did not work well, Boulton and Watt could lose out in the business of building new engines.  The owners of several of the old mines had no faith in the Watt engine and preferred to stick with the Newcomen type.  A new engine developed by William Blakey, who had been granted a patent by the Dutch, may have been tried in 1776.[19]  Jonathan had looked at the design of that engine and had seen weak points that would make it risky to build.  This and his long experience with engines may have made him skeptical of the Watt engine.

After meeting Jonathan, Watt wrote to Boulton that: “Hornblower seems a very pleasant sort of old Presbyterian:  he carries himself very fair, though I hear that he is an unbelieving Thomas.”[20]  Watt biographer Samuel Smiles says that Hornblower’s unbelief showed at the starting of the Wheal Busy engine when he reportedly said “Pshaw!  It’s but a bauble:  I wouldn’t give two pence halfpenny for her.”

Smiles, writing in 1865, believed that:  “It was natural that Hornblower regard with jealousy the patentees of the new engine.”  According to Smiles, if the Watt engine were successful, Hornblower’s vocation as a builder of Newcomen engines would be finished.[21]  From all that we know of Jonathan’s character, however, it seems unlikely that he was jealous of Boulton and Watt. The relationship between the Hornblowers and the Watts apparently continued to be amicable until the end of Jonathan’s life.  In June 1779 Watt ended a business letter to Jonathan with these words:  “Mrs. Watt joins me in compliments to you and Mrs. Hornblower.”  Smiles’ statement, made looking backwards from 1865, may have attributed negative emotions to Jonathan based on the deteriorating relationship between Watt and the Hornblowers that began after Jonathan’s death.  His oldest son, Jabez Carter, had gone to work for Boulton and Watt in Shropshire in 1779.  Sons Jethro, Jesse, and Jonathan Jr. had been working for their father on the Newcomen engines and most likely worked with their father on Watt engines from the beginning. 

Watt apparently spent many hours in the company of Ann and Jonathan.  Despite labeling Hornblower as a Presbyterian, Watt attended Baptist meetings with him.  Making the then common error of confusing the Baptists with the Anabaptists, in September 1777 Ann Watt wrote to Mrs. Boulton “poor Mr. Watt is turned AnaBaptist, and attends their meeting, he is indeed and goes to chapel most devoutly.”[22]  

Nevertheless, Watt disliked the Cornish people.  “He thought them ungenerous, jealous and treacherous.”  Also that they had the most ungracious manners of any people he had yet been amongst.[23]  His views were not so different from other outsiders who viewed the Cornish as proud and suspicious.  In return, the Cornish did not like Watt.  "There were others beside Hornblower who disliked and resented the intrusion of Boulton and Watt in their district, and indeed never became wholly reconciled to the new engine, though they were compelled to admit the inefficiency of the old one."  “Old Bouge” refused to touch Watt’s engines.

In January 1778 Hornblower wrote to Watt that the Ting Tang adventurers wanted him to come down to Cornwall himself to see their engine installed.  Watt arrived in May and was dismayed to find that his Soho workman had made many mistakes.  Despite setbacks, the engine began working successfully.  As orders poured in for more Watt & Boulton engines, Boulton realized that he and Watt would have to remain in Cornwall for years.  He found a house for himself in the in the village of Cosgarne, in the sheltered Gwennap valley just to the south of the Redruth mining area. 

                Watt rented a house in Redruth, 'Chylowen’ (No. 12) in Plain-an-Gwarry, as a base for conducting his business.  Smiles wrote: “Watt was of too sensitive and shrinking a nature to feel himself at home amongst such people.  Besides, he was disposed to be peevish and irritable, easily cast down, and ready to anticipate the worst.”[24] 

                Jonathan’s work as an engineer was winding down.  In the spring of 1780 Jonathan was “very bad, but getting better again,” presumably ill with “the stone” or kidney stones.  In November he made his will leaving everything to his wife for her profit and use during her life, and on her death to be divided among his surviving children.  He died on December 7 at age 63.  According to his grandson, Cyrus:

                His physician was Wolcot (Peter Pindar), of whose treatment he highly approved, but told him he could do him no good.  When dying, his numerous family around his bed, distressed him.  “O take me away from all these who are come to see a mortal die,” were his last words.[25] 



Ann’s Last Years 

                Ann Carter Hornblower lived another twenty-two years, dying 29 May 1802 in Chacewater, at eighty-years of age.  In 1793 Jonathan Junior wrote to his uncle, Josiah Hornblower, in America.  Writing from Penryn on May 3rd he informed his uncle that his mother was in good health and lived in Chacewater with three of her daughters, who were unmarried at the time.  “Her memory fails her but otherwise is well.”  Ann then had been a widow for thirteen years.  Six years later, on 1 June 1799, Jonathan, Jr. writes that is mother is still living and well, “except so far as her sight.  I have not seen her for several months but am informed that her blindness is total.” 

                At the time of her death Ann was living with her daughters Jecholia and Jerusha.  She had at least thirty grandchildren, and many children who survived her, most of them still living in Cornwall.  Both of the daughters she named Jemima had predeceased her, along with daughter Julia and son Josiah. 

                Jonathan Hornblower contributed to the economic and religious life of Cornwall, but perhaps the major contribution he and Ann Carter Hornblower made was through their descendants.  Many were overlooked, especially the females of the tribe, because their lives were not recorded nor valued as much as the males.  Engineer Matthew Loam stated that Jonathan Hornblower Senior, “was considered clever in his day, which I have no doubt of for a more clever family could scarcely be found, they were all geniuses more or less.”[26]  




[1] Cyrus Redding, Yesterday and To-day, Vol. I, T. Cautley Newby, London, (1863) p. 134. The story of Joanna Hornblower Redding (b. 1747) will be told together with the children of Jonathan and Ann.

[2] Redding, 131.

[3] Cyrus Redding, Fifty Years of Recollections, Literary and Personal, with Observations of Men and Things, Charles J. Skeet, London, (1858) Vol. I, 3.

Halesowen, former Hales Owen, was in a detached district of Shropshire within Worcestershire, since the 1970s a part of the West Midlands.

[4] For more about the Baptists in England, including the Hornblower family, see the biography of Joseph Hornblower (1696).

[5] The will names Sarah Phillips and Ann Hornblower as trustees, and Rosamond Phillips, Sarah’s eldest daughter, as sole executrix.  Witnesses are Jemima Phillips, William Perrey and Thos. Phillips. 

On page 134 of Yesterday and To-day Redding tells us that by “this marriage,” that is, the marriage of his great-aunt (Sarah Carter) his mother “became connected with the Phillips family of Shrewsbury and Shiffnal, a family for having among its members Edward Phillips, secondary of the crown office, who married the poet John Milton’s sister, and whose sons, John and Edward, are recognized in our literature.  He says the family is also distantly related to the Actons,  “one so well known as a minister of Naples, who died in Sicily in 1811.”  Here Redding admits that time has obliterated his remembrances and returns to the Hornblowers.  The Acton he mentioned would have been Sir John Francis Edward Acton, 6th Baronet, who was called upon by Queen Marie Caroline and King Ferdinand IV of Naples (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies) to reform the Neapolitan army and navy in 1779.  Acton also served as minister of finance and as prime minister.

[6] Fontenelle presented the book as a series of conversations between a philosopher and a marquise as they walked in a garden under the stars.  As they walk, his philosopher discourses on Copernicus’ explanation of the heliocentric model of the universe in language understandable by the average person of the time, while carefully avoiding a challenge to the censors of the Catholic church of 17th Century France.  He also speculated on the possibility of life in other worlds and space travel. 

[7] Redding, Yesterday and To-Day, 8-9.

[8] T. R. Harris, “The Hornblower Family:  Pioneer Steam Engineers,” Trevithick Society Journal, 4 (1976) 14.

[9] Jenny Uglow, THE LUNAR MEN:  Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York (2002).  Letter from Ann MacGregor Watt quoted on page 283. 

[10] Samuel Smiles, Lives of Boulton and Watt, John Murray, London (1865) 237.  Carn Brea is a hill southwest of Redruth.

[11] The children were Jabez Carter (the only Hornblower child given the middle name of Carter, Jethro, Joanna, Jesse, Jemima, Jonathan, Joseph, Jemima (born after the death of the first Jemima), Julia, Jecholia, Jedida, Jerusha, and Josiah.

[12] Smiles, 237.  John Smeaton, (1724-1792) called the “father of civil engineering” worked on a Newcomen engine in Cornwall in 1775. He reported that the principal engineers in the county were Jonathan Hornblower and John Nancarrow.  Towards the end of Jonathan’s life, some would have him share the status of leading engineer with John Budge.  See section under Ting Tang.  Boulton and Watt inadvertently mispelt Budge's name in their letters, calling him "Bouge."  Watt once wrote "Vice and Bouge" about Wise and Budge.  Samuel Smiles called him "Bonze."

[13] Smiles, 237.

Measuring Worth:  Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1264 to Present

In 2008, £2 0s 0d from 1765 is worth:

                                £224.59               using the retail price index.

                                £2,859.84           using average earnings.

In 2008, £52 0s 0d from 1765 is worth:

                                £5,839.32           using the retail price index.

                                £74,355.73        using average earnings.

In 2008, £1050 0s 0d from 1765 is worth:

                                £117,909.28     using the retail price index.

                                £1,501,413.73 using average earnings.

[14] Harris, 15.               

[15] Harris, 15. 

[16] Harris, 16.

[17] Harris 16.

[18] Smiles, 231.

[19] For more on the building of steam engines in Holland, see the biography of Jabez Carter Hornblower.

[20] Watt to Boulton 14 Aug 1777, Smiles, 232-4.

[21] Smiles, 237. 

[22] Harris, 17.

[23] Smiles, 233.

[24] Smiles, 234.

[25] The physician John Wolcot settled in Truro around 1772 after returning to England from Jamaica where he had been a physician.  While there he took holy orders in 1769.  He went to London in 1781 and there wrote satires using the nom-de-plume of Peter Pindar. A. L. Rowse said that Pindar was the chief satirist of the time in verse.

[26] Harris, 20.




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