Edward Somerset, Second Marquis of Worcester (1601-1667)

Edward Somerset, Second Marquis of Worcester (1601-1667)
The Grand-duke of Tuscany, Cosmo de Medicis travelled to England in 1656 and it is recorded that "His highness, went again, after dinner, to the other side of the city, as far as Vauxhall, to see a machine, invented by my Lord Somerset, Marquis of Worcester. It raises water more than forty geometrical feet, by the power of one man only."

Artists impression of how Worcester's steam engine worked Artists impression of how
Worcester's steam engine worked
A, A' Two cold water vessels connected by -
B, B' the steam pipe, with -
C, the Boiler, set in-
D, the furnace. The cold water vessels A A', also are connected with-
E, the vertical water pipe by means of-
F, F' continuations of the same pipe conducted into and nearly touching the bottom of eaeh vessel A, A'.
G, G', are two water supply pipes, with valves a, a', dipping into-
H, the well. lt is obvious that by uniting these pipes, and placing the valves in the upper bend of each, it would be sufficient for a single pipe to dip into the water.
On the steam pipe B B' is-
b, a four-way steam cock, operated by-
b', its lever handle; and on the horizontal portion of the water pipe F F', is-
c, a four-way water cock, operated by-
c', its lever handle.
* the four-way cock is figured and described as early as 1618; by Robert Fludd

Image and Text Source: University of Rochester, Steam Engine Library

Edward Somerset, Sixth Earl of Worcester, Second Marquis of Worcester was born in 1601 and lived at Raglan Castle, Monmouth. A staunch Royalist Worcester had to flee to Paris in 1646 and returned in 1652 to visit his Cromwellian son only to be arrested and thrown into the tower for a couple of years.

In 1654 Worcester bought a lease on Vauxhall House, which was part of Kennington Manor next to the Thames at Vauxhall, from a Mr Trenchard. The house was partly for the use of Kaspar Kalthoff (or Gaspar Calthoff) a Dutchman formally employed by Charles I (to make 'guns and divers Engines and works for the King's service') and partly as a workshop and laboratory for Worcester's own scientific and engineering experiments.

Image Source : Lambeth Archives

Worcester secured a royal appointment as an inventor and builder and on 3rd June 1663 Worcester was granted a 99 year patent for his 'Water Commanding Engine'. This steam engine was demonstrated at Vauxhall from 1663 to 1667 (possibly as late as 1670). Around this time many people were working on the idea of using steam to do work so Worcester probably was not the first to build a steam engine, but he is now widely regarded as the first to use a steam engine for a practical purpose. Somerset also envisioned a public company for obtaining funds "to extend its utility to the supply of towns and canals, and for draining mines and marshlands." but nothing came of this idea.

There is a suggestion that Worcester may have got his idea for a steam engine from a Frenchman he met while visiting a mad house. The man Solomon de Cause, from Normandy, had been shut up in the Bicetre asylum, when he had pestered a Cardinal about his discoveries of the power of steam and the use to which it could be put.

It is not known when Worcester stopped using his Vauxhall property but in 1664 the King send in some investigators to establish what equipment Worcester and the late Kalthoff each owned. In 1666 Peter Jacobson (son in law of Kaspar Kalthoff) a Sugar Baker (a sugar refiner?) spent �700 repairing part of Vauxhall House and petitioned the King for a lease on the property. A new lease was granted in 1668, for the rest of Jacobson's life at a moderate rent of �5 in recognition of his earlier expenditure. Worcester he died 3rd of April, 1667.

Text based on documents in the University of Rochester, Steam Engine Library