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Dud Dudley and the Industrial Revolution

By the seventeenth century, serious depletion of forests had occurred and local industrialists turned their minds to finding alternative fuels.

The common metallurgical fuel of the time was charcoal. The absolute dependency on wood for smelting was gradually undermining Britain's naval and mercantile strength. Dudley describes how others tried to use coal in smelting, but failed. He himself succeeded in perfecting a suitable process, and in 1619 obtained a patent from King James for this. Why use coal? Well, there was the increasing scarcity of wood/charcoal; while at the same time vast quantities of small coal, otherwise unusable, were lying around. Many coal pits produced both coal and iron ores from the same workings.

Dudley used coal not only for the smelting of iron ore in the blast furnace, but also to cast Iron works of sundry sorts and to fine pig iron into wrought iron or Merchantable good Bar Iron. During the Civil War he lost most of his goods and of course also his patent. Upon the Restoration, Dudley petitioned the King to be restored to his Place and his patent to be revived. By 1665, this request had not been granted - which was, of course, the reason for the publication of this book. Here Dudley sets out, in a methodical manner, all advantages of his invention, and this leads up to a new petition, which never was granted.

Dud Dudley was born in 1599 and died in 1684, the son of Edward Dudley, the 5th Lord Dudley 17 Sep 1567 - 24 Jun 1643, and Elizabeth Tomlinson 1560-1629, she was the long-time mistress of Edward Sutton, 5th Lord Dudley, with whom she had eleven children.

In 1619, Dud Dudley took over the running of his father's iron making business, and around 1620 Dud Dudley, began to experiment with coal as an alternative fuel for iron making. In 1665 he recorded in his book Metallum Martis, that he succeeded (after forty years of trials and experiments). He records that this upset the local charcoal workers who destroyed his furnaces.

Dud Dudley has received little recognition in the general scheme of things and until very recently one of the most significant of his works went completely unnoticed. This is that in that same book he provides a map showing Dudley Castle around which he correctly identifies the stratigraphic order and geographic layout of beds of coal and ironstone. This is, we believe, the earliest known geological map and reflects a key point in the development of scientific thinking and information recording and interpretation.

First printed in 1665, this publication is the author's own description of his production of iron using pit-coal, starting in 1620, and the subsequent ill-fortunes he suffered, prevented Dud Dudley exploiting his discovery, first devastating floods, then jealous competitors and finally the Civil Wars. Most of his works passing into the hands of the Foley family.

The locations where Dud Dudley used coal instead of charcoal to smelt his iron, where at Greensforge, Swindon and Cradley. Dud smelted his iron using this method 25 years before it was achieved, and made popular by Abraham Darby at Coalbrookdale.

Dudley's Process

Dud Dudley, in his experimenting to substitute coal for wood as fuel, he would subject the coal to a process similar to that of charcoal-burning. The result would be what is called Coke; and as Dudley informs us that he followed up his first experiment with a second blast, by means of which he was enabled to produce good marketable iron.

Production rate: About three tons of iron a week from each furnace.

Problems: Quality inferior to Charcoal-produced iron.

Dud Dudley's Metallum Martis

(This Article Written in 1881)

His Work Metallum Martis," first printed in the year 1665, and written by "Dud Dudley," a member of the ancient and honourable family of the Lords of Dudley, is most curious in its composition and most valuable to the antiquarian, and all engaged in the manufacture of iron and steel, and all their varied products, showing the indefatigable efforts of this enterprising artificer in metals, Dud Dudley," to make iron by the liberal use of coal, so abundant in this neighbourhood. The noble forests of timber in England were fast disappearing from our hills and valleys to meet the demand of household fuel; but the increased demand, yearly becoming greater, for the purpose of smelting iron ore with charcoal, became a matter of very serious consideration to all classes, for the King and Parliament were loudly called upon to prevent the total destruction of our noble forests. Acts of Parliament were ultimately passed for that object, for Symon Sturtevant, in his Metallica says, That there was then in the 12th year of King James in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, 800 furnaces, forges, or iron mills making iron with charcole. Dud Dudley says "Now what loads of wood or charcole is spent in Great Britain and Ireland annually ? In one furnace, that makes 15 tuns per week of pig iron for 40 weeks: I shall give you the table, and leave you to judge of the rest of the furnaces.

15 tun per week spends; 30 loads Charcole - 60 loads Wood

For 40 weeks its spends; 1200 loadsCharcole - 2400 loads Wood

Also for one forge that makes three tuns of bar iron weekly for 50 weeks.

For making 3 tuns per week of bar iron; 9 loads Charcole - 18 loads Wood

Per annum; 450 loads Charcole - 900 loads Wood

Yet, he says. by this barring of iron alone with pit-cole, by his invention 30,000 loads of wood have been preserved for the general good, which otherwayes must have been had and consumed.

This early pioneer of our now immense coal and iron trade was no mean uneducated inventor, for our Dud Dudley was the natural son of Lord Dudley, of Dudley Castle. In the pedigree of the family his mother is described as Elizabeth, daughter of William Tomlinson, of Dudley, concubine of Edward, Lord Dudley. His eldest brother is referred to as Robert Dudley, Squire, of Netherton Hall and we are told that all the children, though born out of wedlock, held a good position in the neighbourhood, and were regarded with respect. Dud is frequently alluded to in the History of Staffordshire, by Plot, who always described him as the Worshipful Dud Dudley. He was held in great respect and esteem by all contemporaries, except rival iron-masters and political opponents. He was the special favourite of the Earl, his father, who appointed him manager of his ironworks. From Balliol College, Oxford, he was sent for by the Earl, in 1619, to take charge of an iron furnace and two forges in the Pensnett Chase. It was here that, finding difficulty on account of the exhaustion of the Woodlands, in producing large quantities of iron by the old process, that he commenced experiments for carrying out a method of manufacture which had been unsuccessfully attempted by Simon Sturtevant, John Rouenzon, and others. After patient efforts, Dud Dudley succeeded in making iron with pit coal, and he carried on the manufacture not only at Pensnett, but also at Cradley, from whence, having obtained a patent of James 1., he was enabled to send up to the Tower, by the King's command, a quantity of new iron for trial. After experiments had been made with it, and its qualities fairly tested, it was pronounced good merchantable iron. It is appropriate that the locality where this great problem was practically solved by Dud Dudley, should be visited by the members of the Iron and Steel Institute, and it may not be an uninteresting fact to mention that it was near the spot at Cradley where Dud Dudley's works stood, that the late lamented Noah Hingley, Esq., J.P., commenced his remarkable career. There, we understand, it was that he began life as a working chain maker; there he afterwards rented a few chain shops, and, making progress, ultimately opened an iron-work, and, became one of the largest employers of labour in South Staffordshire. The works at Cradley, which were under the management of Dud Dudley, were swept away by a flood about two months after they had been in operation. Notwithstanding the great loss he had sustained, he repaired his furnaces and forges, and, according to his own account, went on with his invention cheerfully, and made annually great store of iron, good and merchantable, and sold it unto divers men, at 12 pounds per ton. He adds: I also made all sorts of cast-iron wares, as brewing cisterns, pots, mortars, &c., better and cheaper than any yet made in these nations with charcoal. He further states that he was able to make 5 or 7 tons of iron a week, and to sell his pig iron at 4 pounds per ton, and his bar iron 12 pounds per ton, whilst his charcoal iron cost in pigs 6 or 7 pounds, and in bars 15 or 18 pounds. He met, however, with strong opposition, and was at length ousted from his works at Cradley. With his wonted energy, however, he set up a pit-coal furnace at Himley, which is also situate near Dudley. Subsequently he erected large furnaces at the adjoining village of Sedgley. but these were scarcely finished when we learn that a mob of rioters, instigated by the charcoal iron-masters, broke in upon them, cut in pieces the new bellows, destroyed the machinery, and laid the results of that deep-laid ingenuity and persevering industry in ruins, and from that time forward Dudley was allowed no rest nor peace. He was attacked by mobs, worried by lawsuits, and eventually overwhelmed, with debts. To disengage his involved affairs, he married his grand-daughter and heiress, Frances, to Humble Ward, the only son of William Ward (jeweller to the Queen of Charles I,), who was descended from an ancient family of that name in Norfolk, by which means the estates came into the possession of the present noble family.

It is well known to the antiquarian and searcher after curiosities that the basement foundations of Dud Dudley's iron works can be distinctly traced, laying betwixt Dudley and Pensnett only two miles apart, and the four ancient forges not far from the inventors dwelling, known as Greens-forge, Swine-forge, Heath-forge, and Cradeley-forge, were known to put in practice his invention early in 1600, and continued making iron with coal after his death.

This persecuted and ill-requited gentleman, like many other inventors of great and distinguished renown, lived before his time; his prophetic soul saw the dawn of other days; and the incentives which men of science and wealth put into the development of iron making, culled from the genius this man foreshadowed, has resulted in such marvellous proportions as to pass man's understanding, and make the coal and iron trade the foremost industry in the land. That this ingenious and scientific son of Tubal Cain was a persecuted, misrepresented, and illused man, amidst all the blessings he was trying to shower upon his fellow men, cannot be denied; and we now leave the forerunner of the Black Country's wealth and greatness to tell the story of his own doings, in his own language.

"Metallum Martis"

is Dud Dudley's personal view of his discovery and subsequent misfortunes, published after the Reformation of the Monarchy, when he had petitioned the King, Charles II, to restore his lands & patents, and been turned down. In this book he claims the continued use of his process at his former works.

Dud Dudley's Message to the General Public

To the Reader, especially of England Scotland and Wales

The injury and prejudice done unto me & to this Island, my native Country for the making of Iron, in cast works and bars with Pitcoal, Seacoal, Peat and Turff and with the like fewell, to melt, extract, refine and reduce all Mines and mettals, moved me in the negligence of better Wits and Pens to apologise for it: in this ensuing Treatise, and believe me Reader, twas no private, or politick designe in my Invention, but meer zeal, becomming an honest man, Patri;, parentibus and amicis; that Engaged me (after many others failed) in these Inventions, for the general good and preservation of Wood and Timber, which,

Eque pauperibus, locupletibus eque,
Eque neglectis pueris senibusq; nocbit;

Therefore it concerns His Sacred Majesty, his high Court of Parliament, all his Counsels, Mariners, Merchants, Royall and Loyall Subject (the destruction of Wood and Timber) to lay it to heart, and helping hands, upon fit occasions, in these so laudable Intentions of making Iron & melting of mines and refining of them with Pitcole, Seacole, Peat and Turf for the preservation of Wood and Timber for maintenance of Navigation, men of War, the Fishing and Merchant's Trade, which is the greatest strength of Great Brittain, and all other His Majesties Kingdomes and Territories, whose defence and offence next under God, consists by his sacred Majesties assisting care and view of his men of War, Ships, experienced marrinours, merchants, Ordinance of Copper, Bras and Iron Armories, Steels and Irons of all sorts; both of bars, squares, and cast works and which ought and may be suplyed from Scotland and Wales by lron, Copper and Brasse, and made there, with Pitcole, Seacole and Peat; and which abound there and in England, also, In Cornwall, Devonshire, Sommerset, Glocester, Stafford, Darby, York, Lancaster, Westmerland, Cumberland, are many Copper Mines: so is there in Pembrook, Carmarthin, Merionith and Denbyshires, also there are very many rich Coper mines in very many places in Scotland, at Sterling, at Dumfad and many other places well known unto the Authour,
Dud Dudley.
Metallum Martis

Dud Dudley's Message to the King


May it Please Your Majesty,

ALI Your Kingdom, Dominions, and Territories, being the happy Subjects of Your Cares, are therefore the proper Objects of Your View: Great Brittain, 0 Great Brittain, Your Principal Island, here Humbly Presents herself unto Your Royall Presence, View and Care; be Pleased, to interpret this her Obsequiousness, to be her Duty; for since Your Majesties safe Return, has already Graciously dayned, to View, and often to review her Shipings, Stores, Armories, Ordnance, Magazines, and Trade; Vouchsafe, Great Sir, Great Brittain Your Royal Patronage, and once more, at some one hour, or two, to Grace it with Your Auspicious Aspect, in this Mite, with all Humility Presented, By,

A Faithful Servant, of your Sacred
Fathers; and a Loyal Sufferer,
for your Sacred Majesty:
And by Pattent-Servant,
Dud Dudley.

Dud Dudley's Message to Parliament



Your Predecessors in former Ages, had both serious Consultations, and Considerations, before they made those many Wholesome and Good Lawes, for the Preservation of Wood, and Timber, of this Kingdom, 1 Eliz. 15. 23 Eliz. 5. Eliz. 19. 28 Eliz. 3, 5. in whose dayes, and since in King Jame's Reign, Ships in most Ports and Rivers of this Kingdom, (Thames Excepted) might have been built, for forty Shillings per Tunn; but now they can hardly be built for treble the value, wood and timber is so much decayed; therefore men of War, Trade of Merchants, of Fishing, of Navigating, unto Plantations will decay, if not timely prevented, which is hoped will be one of Your Principallest Cares, seeing our Enemies have carried Timber from England, and the Iron Works have much exhausted it; For the prevention of so great a Consumption, almost incureable: First is to put the Wholesome Laws in Execution; Secondly, not to permit Timber to be Exported. Thirdly, to animate, as King James did, and also Prince Henry, the making of Iron in England, Scotland, and Wales with Pit-cole, Sea-cole, and Peate; which if the Authour (who had a Pattent for it) had not been opposed, after he had made much good Iron with Pit-cole, it had long since, by his Inventions, been fully perfected. The Fourth is, to stop all the Exportation of Pit-cole, and Sea-cole (paying His Majesties Duty) if the Cole be in a fit place, to make Iron therewith. Fifthly, That the Authour, or his Agents may have power to preserve many thousand Tuns of Pit- cole, Which are annually destroyed, for ever in England, Scotland, and Wales, which are fit to make Iron; and the Authour in this Treatise hath demonstrated it, being moved with pitty, seeing his Native Country decaying. Humbly offers but his Judgement. and leaves the grave consideration thereof, to your Learned, and more serious Consultations and Actings, praying that you may animate good thing, and new inventions, that may bring unto His Sacred Majesty, and all Loyal Subjects, Safety, Strength, Wealth, and. Honour by our Ships, and Men of War, Fishing, Navigation, and Merchandizing, unto Foreign Nations; but more especially, to and from the Territories of Great Brittain, our North Indies abounding in Mines and Minerals, that they that are of the Honourable Corporations of Mines Royal, and Batteries, or any others, would lay in a Common, or Joynt Stock, fully to set the Mines at Work, by imploying our idle, and burdensom supernumerary people therein. Iron, Tin, Lead, Copper, Quicksilver Silver and Gold, besides many other minerals and Maresita's, Lapis Calaminaris, Antimonie, Manganes &c, also many Mineral Earths and Precious Stones: Did I call Great Brittain our North Indies? give me leave to repeat a passage till further satisfaction, of King Josina of Scotland, a great Phylosopher, Physitian, and Herbalist, living before Christ. 161 years, at which time, two venerable Phylosophers and Priests passing from Portugall to Athens, their Ship and Company, and Marriners, all perished at Ros, they only saved; after refreshing. and good Entertainment, the King desired of them what they understood by their Science of the Nature of the Ground of Scotland; after deliberate advisement, said, There was more Riches and Profit to be gotten within the Veins of the Earth of Scotland, then above, for the winning of Mines and Metals; They knew this by the Influence of the Heavens: This you may see in the Chronicles of Scotland

My Dear Master, our Sacred Martyr, Charles the First of ever Blessed Memory, did animate the Authour by Granting him a Pattent, Anno 14 of his Reign, for the making of Iron, and Melting, Smelting, Extracting, Refining, and Reducing all Mines and Metals with Pit-cole, Sea cole, Peat and Turf which was Extinct, and Obstructed by reason of the War; and had not this unnatural and unparalleled war been, His late Sacred Majesty himself had set at work many of His mines, and. much good had been produced to Great Brittain before this time.
At present, the Authour is in good hope, and incessantly prayes, that the Mines be set at Work in his dayes, by the Honourable Corporation of the Mines Royal, for he verily believeth the time to be near, when the Omnipotent God, before he Judge the World in Fire, will shew His Omnipotency unto the Nations, by revealing of the wonderful and incredible things of Nature. of which the Learned do believe very many to be, in the Mineral Kingdome, by working of Mines and Fusion of Metals, gotten by honest labour under ground, profitable to Man, and Acceptable with God.

I might here speak somewhat of Superiour Planets producing Metal, Saturn, Lead: Jupiter, Tin: Mars, Iron: but these abound in Great Brittain, so do the Inferiour Planets produce Venus, Copper: Mercury, Quicksilver: Luna, Silver.

If God permit me health and leasure from Sutes and Troubles, not onely to write of them, but also the manner of the Melting. Extracting, Refining, and Reducing of them with Pit-cole, Sea-cole, Peat, &c. In the interim to let you know that Great Brittain abounds with Copper Mines, much neglected, yet of great use for Ordnance, at Land, and also at Seas, and for the making of Brass, with our Lapis Calaminaris, so much Exported by the Dutch, which doth hinder our manufactories of Brass, and causes the Dutch and Swedes to raise the price of Copper and Brass ever since our small loss at Sea by the Dutch. Mercury, Quicksilver is not wanting, but few Artists have made any Experiment of that Mine in this Kingdome.

Luna, Silver doth abound in Great Britain, especially a very Rich Vein, Rake, or Fibrey thereof was wrought at Binnyhills near Lithgo in Scotland, in the Authors dayes, some part of which he hath, is malleable Silver in the Oare or Mine, yet neglected. And so are many of our richest Mines in England and Wales, &c. the cause is conceived to be the want of a general and joynt-stock for the imploying our idle people in getting, and working of the Copper. and Silver Mines.

Of the Planet Sol, Gold: I may not be silent, whose Golden, Glorious, Pure, Sulphurious, Percing, Spirit, communicating his virtue mineral unto all things in the Mineral Kingdom, as well as to the Animal and Vegetable Kingdom, whose pure influence producing Cold, caused the poor indigent people of Scotland, which the Author did see, Anno 37, at Shortlough, six men to dig and carry with wheele-barrows, the common Earth or Mould. unto Rivolets remote, out of which those men did wash Gold-grains, as good as in the sand of the rivers, in which Rivers may have gotten Gold, and seen grains of Sol, near one ounce weight, both in the Low-lands, and. in the High-lands, also he hath seen Gold gotten in England., but not so plentiful as in Scotland. For Sir James Hope, An. 1654, brought from Scotland, Baggs of gold grains unto Cromwelll, some of which Grains were very large, and as fine as any Gold in the world, that is in Mines; thus I came to see the Baggs, taking a view of the Low-lands and. High-Land of Scotland, Anno 37, in which year. I spent the whole Summer (in opening of Mines, and making of discoveries) was at Sir James Hopes Lead Hills, near which I got Gold, and he coming to London, imployed Captain David Acheson, a Refiner, whom I met with in Scotland, Anno 37, to find me out~ when I came unto Sir James Hope, dwelling in White Hall, he produced the Baggs unto me, and poured the Gold out upon a board, in which was one large piece of Gold, which had to it adjoyning a large piece of white spar very transparent, which Cap. David Acheson yet living at Edinburgh saw; but I would never Act with Sir James Hope, hoping of these times to see good things acted, for I believe God is about to reveal many of his secrets, unto his Israel in this latter Age, which made me not to Answer the Letter of Sir James Hope, as followeth.

Edinburgh 26. June 1654.

Sir, If I had found the opportunity before my parting, I purposed to have been a sutor to yon, and I perswade myself you are so kinde and generously disposed, that you would have answered my desire, and therefore a/so even at this distance adventure to offer it: And it is that you would confer upon me one breviate of your journey through the North of Scotland, as to the. discovery of Minerals upon some account, and at first view, this may seem as unreasonable of me desired, as improbable that you should grant it, but the circumstance of time and persons and substance of the things considered, I am not altogether out, of hope of it; onely, I shall say, if you condescend to me in this, though it be more in satisfaction, to my curiosity, then for any designe 1 have upon the matter; yet you shall singularly oblige me to indeavor and be ready as opportunity shall offor, to expresse my thankfulnesse, in what way you will prescribe, that is in the power of;
your very affectionate brother
and Servant, James Hope.

This Sir James Hope, was a Judge at the City of Edinburgh, and by Cromwel made Lord Marshall of Scotland.

My hope now is, that the Honourable and ingenious Corporation of the Mines Royal will set the Mines at world that my Inventions, in which I have spent much time and charge, in melting, smelting extracting, refining and reducing of Mines and Mettals with Pitcoal, Seacoal and Peats; and have made with the same Fuell many hundred Tuns of good Merchantable Iron, into cast works and Bars: may by the inventioner be enjoyed according to the Act of Parliament. 21. Jacob. Seeing the Authour can make it appear he hath been much obstructed by lawsuits and the Wars hitherto: Desires that his Talent of Undoubted truths (may not be buried) for the general good, but be brought to light, after all the sad Sufferings of the Authour, whereby he may add unto his new inventions, what he conceives fit to be done: That not onely this so exhausted Kingdome may enjoy the benefit thereof but also Scotland and Wales which abound with Coals, Iron, Stone and Mines of all sorts, minerals and precious Stones, &c.

Yet from England's Granery, Scotland making no iron, and other Territories, have their thorow supply, not onely of Iron, but of iron manufactories many, so hath Wales; yet might Scotland and Wales not onely supply themselves, but supply His Sacred Majesties other Territories with iron and Iron Wares and Steel also, by Iron and Steel made with Pit-coale, Sea-coale and Peat; and thereby be helpfull unto themselves and England, and all Plantations of his Majesties, on this side and beyond the line.

The above information is a reprint of information from the website, www.lostlabours.co.uk, and appears by kind permission from Ian Grant.
Ian has a very informative website on the English Industrial Revolution.
I strongly suggest if you are interested in the Industrial Revolution to visit his website, especially if you are a student of history.
Ianís website, "Lost Labours", is a photographic history of the Black Country, and the post industrial landscape of England.
I have placed a link here to go to Ian's website, "Lost Labours" intro page.

To visit Ianís site, just "click-on" the link button below.

To read more about Dud Dudley and what Samuel Smiles wrote in his book about Dud Dudley in " Iron Workers and Tool Makers " by Samuel Smiles 1863 , which is also very very interesting I might add, just " Click-on " ' the Dudley Bear '

If you have comments or questions, feel free to contact me


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