Online Encyclopedia

JOHN HEATHCOAT

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 160 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHN HEATHCOAT (1783-1860, English inventor, was born at Duffield near Derby on the 7th of August 1783. During his apprenticeship to a framesmith near Loughborough, he made an improvement in the construction of the warp-loom, so as to produce mitts of a lace-like appearance by means of it. He began business on his own account at Nottingham, but finding himself subjected to the intrusion of competing inventors he removed to Hathern. There in 18o8 he constructed a machine capable of producing an exact imitation of real pillow-lace. This was by far the most expensive and complex textile apparatus till then existing; and in describing the process of his invention Heathcoat said in 1836, " The single difficulty of getting the diagonal threads to twist in the allotted space was so great that. if now to be done, I should probably not attempt its accomplishment." Some time before perfecting his invention, which he patented in 18o9, he removed to Loughborough, where he entered into partnership with Charles Lacy, a Nottingham manufacturer; but in 1816 their factory was attacked by the Luddites and their 55 lace frames destroyed. The damages were assessed in the King's Bench at £io,000; but as Heathcoat declined to expend the money in the county of Leicester he never received any part of it. Undaunted by his loss, he began at once to construct new and greatly improved machines in an unoccupied factory at Tiverton, Devon, propelling them by water-power and afterwards by steam. His claim to the gnven of Stobs, Roxiurghshire, was born on the 25th of December 1717, and educated abroad for the military profession. As a volunteer he fought with the Prussian army in 1735 and 1736, and then entered the Grenadier Guards. He went through the war of the Austrian Succession, and was wounded at Dettingen, rising to be lieutenant-colonel in 1754. In 1759 he became colonel of a new regiment of light horse (afterwards the 15th Hussars) and became well known for the efficiency which it displayed in the subsequent campaigns. He became lieutenant-general in 1765. In 1775 he was selected to be governor of Gibraltar (q.v.), and it is in connexion with his magnificent defence in the great siege of 1779 that his name is famous. His portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds is in the National Gallery. In 1787 he was created Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar, but died on the 6th of July 1790. He had married in 1748 the heiress of the Drake family, to which Sir Francis Drake belonged. His son, the 2nd baron, died in 1813 and the peerage became extinct, but the estates went to the family of Eliott-Drake (baronetcy of 1821) through his sister.
End of Article: JOHN HEATHCOAT
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