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John Hewitt was born on 8 January 1777 in Penkridge, Staffordshire. Although he learned his father’s trade of cabinetmaking, he became a machinist at the Boulton & Watt engine works in Soho. He went to the USA in 1796. He died in Trenton, New Jersey on 30 May 30 1857.
His parents were John and Sarah (Tomlinson). He married Ann Gurnee in New York, and they had four children - Charles, Erskine, Edward Ringwood, and Abram.
In 1897, Hewitt's son, Abram Stevens Hewitt, recalled that his father was a draughtsman and patternmaker at the Soho Foundry of Boulton and Watt. He and several others went to the USA to erect the first double-acting condensing stationary steam engine in America, at Centre Square, Philadelphia, to provide the city with water. He remained in the USA with several others, and they erected an American Soho Works at Belleville, New Jersey. There, John Stevens built the first low pressure steam engine to be manufactured in America. The context of this recollection was Abram's introduction, as a boy, to Colonel John Stevens (1749-1838).
Another source records that when Nicholas J. Roosevelt (1767-1854) established a foundry, machine shop, and smelting works at Belleville, he named it Soho Works, after those of Boulton & Watt in Birmingham, England. He hired British and German machinists (Charles Stoudinger, John Hewitt, James Smallman, and the Rhodes family - Frederick, George, and Lewis Rhodes) to work with him on projects such as the steam engines for Benjamin Henry Latrobe and his Philadelphia Waterworks project (1799). These engines ran from 1800-1816. John Hewitt was at Soho (NJ) from 1796 to 1802, and worked on the engine for the steamboat Polacca, which first sailed on 21 October 1798. Hewitt later left the engineering business and became a successful cabinetmaker in Belleville and New York City.