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British Industrial History

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Henry Foxall

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Henry Foxall (1758-1823) has an important place in the production of iron in England, Ireland, and America.

The following information is condensed from 'Henry Foxall and the Arigna Iron Works' by Jane Donovan[1].

Born to Thomas Foxall and Mary (nee Hays) at Monmouth Forge. The family moved back to their West Midlands origins, and Thomas became foreman at the Old Forge in West Bromwich.

Henry spent 7 years working with Henry Cort, becoming proficient in Cort's processes for puddling and rolling wrought iron. He also learned about the techniques of smelting with coke. He left Cort some time between 1786 and 1789 (probably in 1788) and was recruited by Robert O'Reilly of Arigna Iron Works. The works produced high quality iron, but was hampered by transportation limitations, and also may have been under-capitalized.

Foxall became a Methodist in 1791. Following political turmoil, the family left Ireland for America in 1795. Henry set up his own business and 'is generally credited with introducing the art of boring cannon into the United States, as well as Henry Cort's puddling and rolling processes. He was one of the first, if not the first, American founder to make iron from coke rather than charcoal.' Foxall became the business partner of Robert Morris Jr in the Eagle Iron Works, Philadelphia. His expertise led to the US Government ordering cannon and shot from the foundry. In 1800, Foxall bought out Morris, and sold the Eagle works to Samuel Richards of New Jersey. He established a new foundry in Georgetown, and made a fortune supplying cannon and shot to the US Navy in the 1812 war with Britain. He retired in 1816 and returned to England.


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Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'Henry Foxall and the Arigna Iron Works' by Jane Donovan, Methodist History, 41:4 (July 2003)