Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Life of Richard Trevithick by F. Trevithick: Volume 2: Chapter 22

From Graces Guide


Conditions under which Don Pedro Abadia, Don Jose Arismendi, and Don Francisco Uville, establish the project of draining the mines by means of steam-engines, to be brought from England.

1st. The company is composed of three contracting persons without admitting therein any other whatever.

2nd. There are intended as a fund for the undertaking 40,000 dollars, to be divided into four shares in the following manner: -T Two shares to Don Pedro Abadia, one to Don Jose Arismendi, one to Don Francisco Uville. Four shares, dollars 40,000.

5th. These principles of good faith and friendship being established, the project is to be carried into effect with the greatest possible activity, for which purpose, by the first opportunity, the funds shall be forwarded by Don Pedro Abadia to the amount of 30,000 dollars, with the necessary instructions for the construction of the machinery to a person who may be appointed.

7th. As it has been estimated that 30,000 dollars will cover the cost of two engines in England, if the said Uville finds another on credit, he is authorized to purchase it on account of the company.

11th. Should the undertaking yield profits, Uville shall also be credited for 2,000 dollars for the value of the model.

12th. In the instructions that may be given to Uville, it shall be stipulated on what terms he may engage one or two English workmen.

LIMA, 17th July, 1812.


1st. The present contract shall be considered binding for nineyears, to be computed from the time the steam-engines may be erected in the different parts of these mines that may be judged suitable.

2nd. The miners herein contracting cede their mines in Yauricocha, Yanacaucha, Caya Chica, Santa Rosa, and in the mining ridge of Colquijilca, and the company offer the means, steam-engines, and instruments for draining the same, and on these principles the obligations of both parties are as follow, to wit.

3rd. The company binds itself within the period of eighteen months, or sooner if possible, to bring over the steam-engines to drain successively the different parts of these mines, and immediately on their arrival to place them in Yauricocha, and afterwards in Yanacancha, Caya Chica, Santa Rosa, and in the mining ridge of Colquijilca, to sink a general pit for the collection of the waters at a depth of 40 varas from the adit or drainage level of Santa Rosa.

8th. Each miner whose mine situated in the parts above specified is not perfectly drained in consequence of the filtration or natural gravity of the water to the general pit, is to continue a tube to communicate with the said general pit on his own amount, in order fully to enjoy the benefit of the draining, it being well understood that the company shall not refuse to admit the waters of any of the mines situated in this part whatever their quantity may be. And the company shall be further bound to supply funds to any miner who may not have sufficient to defray the expenses of such tube of communication at an interest of 6 per cent., to be refunded out of the first metals which may be obtained.

10th. The recompense to be made to the company for the general drain procured in the place or places agreed on, shall be, with regard to Yanacancha and Yauricocha, in consequence of the known richness of those places, and of the timber required by the softness of the ground to secure the mines, 15 per cent. on the ore that shall be extracted therefrom, and lodged either in the common depots or in the respective warehouses; and in the mines of Santa Rosa, Caya Clica, and Colquijilca, 20 per cent., which distribution is respectively to be made on the quantities obtained.

14th. That the miner who refuses to enter into this fair contract whose mines are benefited by the means of the engines, shall be compelled to pay the contributions and to perform what has been therein stipulated according to ordinance.

This contract being agreed to, the contracting parties signed respectively to be bound and compelled; and I, the Royal Judge and Sub-delegate hereof for His Majesty, signing it with all the contracting parties and witnesses before me on the said day, month, and year.

Pedro Abadia, Jose Arismendi, Francisco Uville, Jose Maria de Ulloa, Ignacio Beistequi, The Marquis de la Real Confianza, Jose Herresae, Publo Anellfuertes, Ramon Garcia de Purga, Jose Antonio de Arrieta, Jose Camilo de Mier, Jose Lago y Lemus.

For myself and Don Remigia, p. procuration Manuel Queypo, Rafael Doper, Juan Gonzalez, Augustin Zambrano, Francisco Rasines, Francisco Fuyre, Manuel Ysasi, Alberto de Abellaneda, Ysidro Crespo, Juan Antonio Arrasas, Pedro Gusman, Manuel Yglesias, Patricio Bermudez, Bartolome de Estrada. For the miners, Don Castano Villanueva, Juan Isidoro, Manuel de Santalla, Juan Palencia, Antonio Perez, Manuel Cavellero, Domingo Pallacios, Matias Canallero, Ambrosio Ortega, Francisco de Otayequi, Pedro de Arrieta, Juan de Erquiaga, Jose Zeferino Abaytad, Antonio Villaseca, Estanislas Maria de Arriola, Josa Maria del Veto, Ambrosio Guidones, Santiago Oreguela. For Don Pedro Mirales, p. procuration, Thomas Hidalgo, Nicholas Berrotarran, Barnabe Perez de Ybarrela, Augustin Bayroa, Francisco Xavier de Uribe, Manuel Varela. For my brother, Juan Francisco de Aspiroz, Juan Miguel de Aspiroz.

In the city of Los Reyes on the 26th September, 1812.

These extracts from an agreement drawn up by the leading men in Peru in 1812 are proofs of remarkable energy. Rumours of the power of steam-engines used in mines in England had reached Lima, Don Francisco Uville was sent on a mission of inquiry, and in 1811 consulted Boulton and Watt at Soho, who gave an opinion that their engines were not suitable to so elevated a position where the atmosphere was so much lighter than in England, and the difficulties of transit so great. On his return to Lima he carried with him a small model of Trevithick's high-pressure steam-engine. The Spaniards on seeing it work had the good sense and courage to put aside the Watt report and adopt the principle of the small but active high-pressure steam-puffer engine.

An influential company was formed, which sent Uville again to England to seek out the high-pressure engineer and purchase his engines. What stronger evidence could be given of the great difference between the rival engineers and their engines? The one with low-pressure steam and vacuum, the other with high-pressure steam and without vacuum.

The three persons contracting to drain the Peruvian mines agreed that no other should be allowed to join them in the contract; two steam-engines were to be purchased, and if convenient a third engine might be ordered on credit. One or two English mechanics were to accompany the engines which the contractors engaged should be in Lima within eighteen months. Ten months had passed before Uville reached Trevithick, and when in May, 1813, he communicated to the Cornish engineer the same wants that he had made known to Watt two years before, how different was the answer received. "I engage to supply in four months six 24-inch cylinder high-pressure steam pumping engines, with pumps and all necessary apparatus complete." [1]

This promise was nearly fulfilled, [2] but want of money, the ordering of additional machinery, and difficulty in finding a ship, — for Spain was then at war, or on the verge of it, with the South American republics, — delayed for a time the completion of the order but within eight months even the additional work seems to have been ready, and the following agreement was entered into, though the ship with her freight of nine steam-engines did not leave England until September, 1814, fifteen months after Uville's first meeting with Trevithick.

Agreement dated the 8th January, 1814.

The said persons from whom he (Uville) would have received supplies, not being at that time in London, the said Francisco Uville has agreed to admit the said Richard Trevithick to be a partner in the concern, upon his advancing and paying a proportionable part of the expenses necessary for carrying on the same. Now these presents witness, that in consideration of the said Richard Trevithick having paid, and agreeing by those instruments to pay certain bills for machinery ordered by the said Francisco Uville to the amount of £3,000, and also in consideration of the services which the said Richard Trevithick hath already rendered, and of the future benefits which he is expected to perform, doth agree to admit the said Richard Trevithick a partner therein, as nearly as can be ascertained to one-fifth share of the whole.

He hath planned and directed the particular construction of three steam-engines, and hath for that purpose taken many journeys to manufacturing towns and other places.

He hath given to the said Francisco Uville a general knowledge of English mining, miners' tools, winding and crushing engines, &c., &c., and for that purpose hath taken him to various mines in England, to which the said Richard Trevithick, through his interest, had access. He hath instructed the said Francisco Uville in the art of making drawings of mines, and in engineering.

He hath furnished him with various drawings of English mines, and plans for the future working of Spanish mines, and hath given to him every other engineering and milling information.

He hath increased the power of the three engines above mentioned to the extent of one full third, without making any additional charge for so doing, and he hath agreed to supply the said company with a fourth engine, and to wait for the payment of it, until the return of the said Francisco Uville to Lima, in recompense for all which the said Francisco Uville doth for himself and his partners grant to the said Richard Trevithick one and quarter per cent. of the net produce or profits (all expenses first deducted) of the ore extracted from the said mines, and as a further recompense, doth appoint him sole engineer in Europe for all the machinery that shall be used or required.

The nine steam-engines, with apparatus for minting, crushing ores, draining, winding, and even locomotion, with miners' tools complete down to mine ladders, borers, picks and gads, and hammers, were received by a large and influential body of Spaniards residing near Lima, under the special patronage of the Viceroy. The machinery had then to be taken up precipitous tracks that foot-passengers trembled to walk on, to the height of more than 15,000 feet.

The calculated profit was £500,000 a year, of which £100,000 a year was to be Trevithick's share, a portion of which was sold to pay for the engines. A prospectus drawn up in England states that "the whole capital was in four hundred shares, of which Trevithick held eighty, valued at £40,000, together with special advantages to be accorded to him."

The machinery having left England in September, 1814, reached Peru in the early part of 1815, shortly after which one of the engines was at work in the Mint at Lima, within two years from the giving the order for it in England; for in the early part of the latter year Trevithick wrote to one of his men:—

I am sorry to find by Mr. Uville's letter that the Mint engine does not go well. I wish you had put the fire under the boiler and through the tube, as I desired you to do, in the usual way of the old long boilers, then you might have made your fire-place as large as you pleased, which would have answered the purpose, and have worked with wood as well as with coal, and have answered every expectation.

I always told you that the fire-place in the boiler was large enough for coal, but not for wood, and desired you to put it under it. The boiler is strong enough and large enough to work the engine thirty strokes per minute, with 30 lbs. of steam to the inch. I hope to leave Cornwall for Lima about the end of this month, and go by way of Buenos Ayres, and cross over the continent of South America, because I cannot get a passage; none of the South Sea whalers will engage to take me to Lima, they say that they may touch at Lima or they may not, in the whole course of their voyage; therefore, unless I give them an immense sum of money for my passage, they will not engage to put me on shore at Lima, and for me to risk a passage in that way, and to be brought back again to England after two years' voyage, without seeing Lima, would be a very foolish trip; therefore to make a certainty, I shall take the first ship for Buenos Ayres, preparations for which have already made. [3]

Penzance in Olden Time (W. J. Welch)

The whole of the machinery having been sent off, Trevithick was prepared to make his way across the then little-known continent of South America in its broadest part, from Buenos Ayres to Cerro de Pasco. [4] His departure was deferred from various causes until the 20th October, 1816, when he sailed from Penzance in the South Sea whaler 'Asp,' Capt. Kenny.

20th August, 1817.

DEAR SIR, I am enabled to furnish you with a few particulars which led to the introduction of steam-engines into Spanish America, which you will embody into your interesting paper for our next Geological meeting, as you deem most proper.

Captain Trevithick was born in Illogan, Cornwall, 1771, but he has generally resided at Camborne, the adjoining parish. He has devoted the greatest part of his life to mechanics and to improvements in the high-pressure steam-engine, and many engines of Captain Trevithick's construction are now working in different parts of England.

Mr. Francisco Uville, a native of Switzerland, visited Lima and the rich Peruvian mines in the neighbourhood of Lima, at an early age, and being a gentleman of great intelligence, he thought it possible that the silver mines at Pasco, about 150 miles from Lima, which were fast falling into decay for want of machinery to drain the water, might be restored to their former celebrity by the introduction of steam-engines.

Mr. Uville, who is now about thirty-six years of age, came to England in 1811, where he continued a few months, and just as he was about to leave London he observed by accident a model of a steam-engine, made by Captain Trevithick, at the shop of a Mr. Roland, Fitzroy Square, and Mr. Uville so much liked the simplicity of its construction, that he immediately purchased it at twenty guineas. Mr. Uville returned to Lima with it, and tried it on the mountains of Pasco, in consequence of which, on the 17th of July, 1812, Mr. Uville, with Don Pedro Abadia and Don Jose Aresmendi, eminent merchants at Lima, were so confident of success, that they formed a company to drain the mines at Pasco and its vicinity and on the 22nd of August then following a contract was entered into by these gentlemen and the proprietors of the mines in that district. Soon after which Mr. Uville was deputed by the company to return to England and to find out some able engineer to assist him in procuring proper steam-engines to be conveyed to the mines.

Uville having put into Jamaica, came to England in the 'Fox' packet, Capt. Tilly, and arrived at Falmouth early in the summer of 1813. During the passage Mr. Uville frequently talked of the object of his voyage, and that he was particularly anxious to find out the maker of the model of the engine he took to Lima, and recollecting that the name of 'Trevithick' was on the model, he mentioned it to a Mr. Teague, who happened to be on board the packet, when the latter informed him that Capt. Trevithick was his first cousin, and that he resided within a few miles from Falmouth. Immediately on Mr. Uville's arrival an interview took place between him and Capt. Trevithick, and soon after Mr. Uville removed to Capt. Trevithick's house in Camborne, where he resided several months, during which time Capt. Trevithick instructed him in mining, machinery, etc.

Capt. Trevithick and Mr. Uville, after seeing most of the mines in Cornwall, visited several other mining districts in England, to afford Mr. Uville a better opportunity of acquiring the best knowledge of engineering by examining the steam engines erected. Afterwards they went to London, when Mr. Uville was introduced to a Mr. Campbell, of the East India Company's department. Mr. Campbell informed Mr. Uville that the best engineers in Europe were Messrs. Boulton and Watt, of Birmingham; and strongly recommending them to him, he observed that he was convinced if engines could be made capable of being transported to the mines of Pasco across the mountains they would be able to do it. Mr. Uville accordingly applied to these gentlemen, and fully explained to them the nature of the engines which would be wanted, and the state of the road by which they must be conveyed, and Messrs. Boulton and Watt returned an answer that it would be impossible to make engines small enough to be carried across the Cordillera to the mines.

Capt. Trevithick, however, was not startled at the difficulties, and having applied himself to the improvements of his high-pressure engines, entered into a contract with Mr. Uville to provide nine steam-engines for the company at Lima; and, by virtue of the powers with which Mr. Uville was invested, Capt. Trevithick was admitted a partner of one-fifth in the concern; besides which, for his great pains and services he had rendered, Mr. Uville guaranteed to him a handsome percentage on the profits of the company (vide Articles of Agreement of 8th January, 1814).

These matters being settled, nine engines were provided at an expense of about £10,000, and were shipped on board the 'Wildman,' South Sea whaler, Capt. Leith, who sailed from Portsmouth for Lima the 1st September, 1814, accompanied by Mr. Uville and the following, Cornish engineers,— Thomas Trevarthen, of Crowan; Henry Vivian, of Camborne; and William Bull, of Chacewater, in Gwennap.

The engines arrived at Lima, and were received by a salute from the Government batteries, and the greatest joy was testified on the occasion.

On the 27th July, 1816, the first steam-engine was set to work at Santa Rosa, one of the mines of Pasco, under the direction of Mr. Bull (vide despatch of that date, signed Jose G. de Prada).

On the 20th October, 1816, Capt. Trevithick sailed for Lima in the 'Asp,' South Sea whaler, Capt. Kenny, accompanied by Mr. Page, a gentleman of London, and James Saunders, of Camborne, an engine maker; and on the 6th February, 1817, they arrived at Lima, where Capt. Trevithick was immediately introduced to the Viceroy by Don P. Abadia, and he received the most marked attention from the inhabitants (vide 'Lima Gazette' of 12th February).

Perhaps you will think it proper to notice the furnaces which Captain Trevithick took out in the 'Asp' to Lima for the purpose of purifying the silver by sulphur. A great expense will be saved by these means. Any further information which I can afford you I will readily give.

I am, dear Sir,
Your very obedient and humble servant,


H. F. BOAZE, Esq.

This statement, from a solicitor more than fifty year ago, inadvertently points out the difference between the steam-engine of Watt and that of Trevithick. The former said it was impossible to make engines having the required power small enough to be carried to the mountain mines, whereas a small high-pressure engine by the latter had sufficient power.

Day and Page were lawyers advising Mr. Uville in London. Page sailed from Penzance with Trevithick and James Saunders, a boiler maker, in the 'Asp,' a South Sea whaler, on the 20th October, 1816, just two years after the departure of Uville with the machinery and engines. The difficulty of conveying heavy weights up the mountain foot-paths was almost insurmountable.

Mr. Rowe, who went to these mines in 1850, says,-

The Cerro de Pasco mines are about 170 miles from Lima; we crossed a ridge 25,000 feet high. The mines were about 13,400 feet high above the sea. There was but one road; no wheel vehicle could be used; everything was carried on mules. Sometimes the road was only 2.5 feet wide, cut in precipices three or four hundred feet perpendicular: some of the men were afraid to walk, and dared not ride.

I lived in the house that used to be Mr. Trevithick's office and store-room; it was in the suburbs of the town of Cerro de Pasco. The shafts are some of them in the middle of the town; several pieces of Captain Trevithick's engines lay about the shafts, and some on the way up, as though they had stuck fast, and some we saw at Lima. Mr. Jump, a director on the mine, pointed out a balance-beam that Mr. Trevithick had put up thirty years before. Only one Englishman then remained there who had worked for Mr. Trevithick; he was called Sycombe, and said Trevithick's men were an unmanageable lot.

The natives worked in the mines underground. The atmosphere was only about 10 lbs. on the inch, We found a coal mine not far off; the quality was not very good. The smiths had difficulty in welding with it. Our heaviest pieces of machinery did not exceed 280 lbs. The worst parts of the road have been a little improved since that time.

Just one month before Trevithick sailed from Penzance for Lima, the first pumping engine taken out by Uville had been satisfactorily put to work in the mountain mine of Santa Rosa, with its steam-cylinder weighing double the limit fixed on by modern engineers.

The following information respecting the progress of the steam-engine fixed on the Santa Rosa Mines, one of the mineral ridges of Pasco, in the Viceroyalty of Peru, is extracted from the Government Gazettes of Lima, dated the 10th of August and 25th of September, 1816:


His Excellency the Viceroy of Peru to the Editor.

In order to satisfy the eager expectations of the inhabitants of this Viceroyalty, those of the greater part of these Americas, and even of the Peninsula itself, I hereby order the printing, at full length, in the next Government Gazette, or at same time in a separate sheet, the enclosed despatch from the Intendant Governor of Tarma, giving the details of the admirable results of the steam-engine fixed in the mineral territory of Pasco, for the most important purpose of draining its mines, and for the extraction of its rich ores. This authentic communication must produce the most lively and grateful sensations in those true Spaniards, who with grief contemplated as irreparably lost the only spring from which flowed the prosperity of this continent, excite their just acknowledgments to the meritorious co-operators in such an expensive and difficult as well as eminently-advantageous enterprise, and encourage to similar undertakings in other parts those who, with personal aptitudes and patriotic sentiments, have been waiting the final success of the first.


LIMA, 4th August, 1816.

Certificate of the Deputation.

We, Don Domingo Gonzales de Castafieda and Don Jose Lago y Lemus, Commissaries and Territorial Magistrates in this Royal Mineral Territory, and deputed by the United Corporation of Miners in this district, do hereby certify judicially, and as the law directs, in manner following:—

Though this deputation never doubted the extraordinary power of steam compressed, and consequently the certain operation of engines worked by its influence, it nevertheless entertained some fears respecting the perfect organization of all the mechanical powers of the machines. This uncertainty, rather than any doubt, has been completely dissipated by our personal attendance this day to witness the draining of the first pit, situated in Santa Rosa. The few instants employed in the same produce a full conviction that a general drainage of the mines will take place, and that their metals will be extracted with the greatest facility from their utmost profundity: as also that the skill of the company's partners and agents will easily overcome whatsoever difficulties nature may oppose, until they shall have completed all the perpendiculars and levels; and consequently that the meritorious undertakers who have risked their property in the enterprise will be re warded with riches.

We and the whole Corporation of Miners would do but little were we to erect them a monument, which should transmit down to the remotest posterity the remembrance of an undertaking of such magnitude and heroism; but for the present we will congratulate ourselves that our labours, co-operation, and fidelity, keeping pace in perfect harmony with the exertions of the agents, the company may thus attain the full completion of their utmost wishes, extracting from the bowels of these prolific mountains, not the riches of Amilcar's inexhaustible wells, not the treasures of the boasted Potosi in its happiest days, but a torrent of silver, which will fill all surrounding nations with admiration, will give energy to commerce, prosperity to this Viceroyalty and to the Peninsula, and fill the royal treasury of our beloved sovereign.

Thus certifies this Magisterial Deputation of Yauricocha, the 27th. of July, 1816.



Despatch from the Intendant Governor of the Province of Tarma to His Excellency the Viceroy.

Pasco, 27th July, 1816.

Having finally conquered the great difficulties consequent on the enterprise, though with immense and incessant labour, and at an enormous expense, the object has been accomplished of purchasing, importing, and erecting the steam-engine in the celebrated rich and royal mineral territory, called 'The Mountains of Yauricocha', in this province of Tarma, of which I have the honour to be Governor, the chief and valuable works of which have ceased to produce ore, in consequence of their bases being completely submerged in water.

The day is arrived when we witness with admiration the advantageous and useful effects of the before-named steam-engine; the completion of the promises made by the generous and undaunted individuals who united themselves to supply the funds sufficient for the realization of an enterprise so important, and the fulfilment of the wishes of these valuable subjects, to render to the State the highest possible service; a service, although at all times of extreme importance, at this crisis is infinite; because the State, being weakened by a series of disastrous events for six years past, requires salutary remedies and none exist so effectual as the re-establishment of the mines, which the steam-engines are achieving.

After some experiments, which (although they left no doubt of ultimate success in draining the mine) discovered some slight defects, these were corrected on the 23rd instant; and this day the first of the four pumps which arrived for the use of the royal mines was erected in the particular mine called Santa Rosa; the result of its operation has been the exhaustion of the water from the well or hollow below the adit. In twenty minutes, by this engine, an aggregate of water is ejected amounting to 6 yards or 18 feet in diameter, 3 yards 24 inches in length, and 1 yard 30 inches in breadth. In the same manner a second engine, accessory to that which drains the water, is worked by the same steam, on the same point, and in the same perpendicular shaft, from the surface of the earth, which extracts the ore, and with advantages hitherto unknown here, on account of the considerable saving of expense and the economy of manual labour.

The steam-engine will continue evacuating the water from the pit until it is reduced to 6 yards below the old adit, whence they must eject the water raised by the engine by a continued elongation of the barrel of the pump gaining depth, until they have completed the number of yards required, or until the progress of the work indicates a proper situation for forming a new line of levels and channels of communication to those mines which are not vet drained. In proportion to the successive acquisition to these subterranean works which are daily advancing, will be the increased operations of the mines, and consequently the increased prosperity of the mining interest, which had most astonishingly fallen from the degree it had attained in former years.

In a short time, similar effects will be seen in the three remaining mineral ridges of Yauricocha, Caya, and Yanacancha, productive of ores of a better quality than that of Santa Rosa, which has nevertheless obtained the preference for the erection of the first engine upon it from its being more abundant in its peculiar produce, and on account of the greater number of persons interested in this property; as also its contributing immediately to relieve the necessitous, by employing the workmen in the vicinity of the mines. In my opinion, no event so beneficial has occurred as the erection of the steam-engine, since the discovery and addition of these dominions to the crown of Castile. From this time, by the help of these machines, immense and incalculable riches will accrue to the nation.

God preserve your Excellency many years,


The Viceroy's Answer.

5th August, 1816.

Your Lordship's official despatch, No. 898, the 27th of last month, communicated to me the satisfactory detail of the complete results which you witnessed on the 23rd and 27th, produced by the grand steam-engine placed over the mine of Santa Rosa, one of those situated in the mountains of Pasco, for the purpose of draining the mine and extracting the ores.

I desire particularly to distinguish and patronize the chief agent and assistant, Don Francisco Uville; the generous promoters of the undertaking, Don Pedro Abadia and Don Jose Arismendi; their agents and assistants, Don Luis de Landavere and Don Tomas Gallegos; and lastly, Mr. Bull, and all those associated in this great work, whom you recommend to my notice. Your Lordship, by having exerted yourself to facilitate, by all the means which your zeal and authority could procure, the happy consummation of so profitable an enterprise, has added a new claim to the many preceding which you possessed, to the high consideration of the king and the public.

Viceroy of Lima.

Extract from the 'Lima Gazette' of the 25th of September, 1816.

We have the satisfaction of communicating to the public the information that the company for draining the mines of Pasco have just received accounts from their agents in that mineral territory and they promise for our next Gazette a description of the state of the works for fixing the remaining three engines. — EDITOR.

CERRO, September 201h, 1816.

After having observed the progress of the machine at the Santa Rosa Mine last Saturday, the 14th instant, at 10 o'clock at night we began to act; at 11 o'clock the pitmen went down to clear the shaft, and have not since ceased working an instant. The clearing of the mud and rubbish which had remained at the bottom of the shaft, and clogged every moment the buckets and suckers of the engine, lasted till Wednesday; but this being accomplished, at 12 o'clock at noon they began to break through the level. At half a yard below the shaft we found a lively coppery ore, with its particles of silver. This bronze-coloured ore indicates that the veins of Yauricocha and San Diego incline to the west, or towards the Santa Rosa Mine. The mines in the vicinity of this pit are all dry. Some of them, at the distance of 300 yards, in the ridge of Santa Pita, have also felt its effects and even as far as the territory of Caya, behind our steam-works, the waters have fallen in several mines. Don John Vivas has begun to work in San Diego Mine. They are also going next Monday to begin working in several points of the Santa Rosa Mine. The pit is already 8 yards in depth, and we are proceeding with the greatest activity. The workmen are relieved every two hours, and as they go out they give up their tools to those who succeed them, by which means not one minute is lost. Continuing thus, in the course of a month we shall be at more than 20 yards depth, and have many mines in full activity. The winding engine raises a basket (which is a load) in two minutes; the draining or steam-engine, with two vibrations per minute, keeps the surface always dry. Both work with the greatest ease, certainty, and regularity.

By dint of searching after a vein of coal, we have at last found one near at hand, of excellent quality and of great richness. The pit we are now at work at is at the distance of a quarter of a league from Rancas, and at the same distance from Vista Alegre which the Cerro is from these works. We have likewise found a vein of plumbago, which was an object of search, on the supposition that it was coal. This substance, of which much is consumed, mixed with grease, to soften the friction of the piston, &c., we have now here; and thus the necessity of sending to Lima, or perhaps to Europe, for it is obviated.

Within six months of the setting to work the pumping engine in Santa Rosa, another pumping engine was at work at Yanacancha Mine.

The following extracts from the 'Lima Gazette' were published in the Cornish papers by Mr. Edmonds:—

From the Government Gazette of Lima, 12th Feb., 1817.

We have had the pleasure of receiving a letter from Pasco, dated 6th instant, containing the following account:-

The second engine established in the mine called Yanacancha, which is far superior in point of beauty, convenience, and size to that called Santa Rosa, was set to work on Friday last, and notwithstanding the great quantity of water which filtered into this mine the engine with only half its power drained the mine completely in nine minutes. This filtration did not happen in Santa Rosa, on account of the quantity of hard copper ore on which the engine is situated.

By this successful operation, the water in several mines has been lessened considerably, amongst which in particular is that belonging to Don Juan Vivas, situate in the hill called Chucarillo, which at present affords ore of 400 marcos per caxon (50 cwt.). Of this ore about 25 lbs. has been received in this city, with a proof of 2 lbs. made in Pasco, showing not only the richness of the ore, but its easy extraction and cleanness for the ready refinement of it. And another proof has also been received from another mine, situate in Chucarillo, belonging to the widow Mier, in company with Don Joachin Aitola, which yields 100 marcos per caxon of 25 cargas.

To this agreeable news we ought to add that at the arrive of the whaling ship 'Asp', bound from London, having on board a large quantity of machinery for the Royal Mint, and for the constructing of eight engines more, equal to those in Pasco, with the advantage that they are of the last patent and more easy to be worked; but what is of greater importance is the arrival of Don Ricardo Trevithick, an eminent professor of mechanics, the same who directed in England the execution of the machinery now existing in Pasco. This professor can, with the assistance of the workmen who accompany him, construct as many engines as are necessary in Peru, without any need of sending to England for any part of these vast machines. The excellent character of Don R. Trevithick, and his ardent desire for promoting the interests of Peru, recommend him in the highest degree to public estimation, and make us hope that his arrival in this kingdom will form the epoch of its prosperity, with the enjoyment of the riches enclosed in it, which could not be enjoyed without this class of assistance, or if the British Government had not permitted the exportation from England, which appeared doubtful to all those who knew how jealous that nation is in the exclusive possession of all superior inventions in arts or industry.

So far everything promised success. Two pumping engines had so reduced the water in two of the mines, that the miners were at work, and the people of Lima believed that many more such engines would be usefully employed, now that Don Ricardo Trevithick was with them.

February 15th, 1817.

We arrived here last Saturday in good health. The (our) Mint is at work, and coined five millions last year, and in their way of working does very well but I trust to make it coin thirty millions per year.

Two engines are drawing water, and two drawing ore, at the mines, but in an imperfect state. If I had not arrived, it must have all fallen to the ground, both in their mining and in their engines. I expect we shall go to the mines in about ten days, from where I will write to you every particular.

There are still two engines to put up for lifting water, and two for winding ore, and those at work to be put to rights. They are raising ores from one mine which is immensely rich, and from what I can learn, a much greater quantity will be got up, when the whole are at work, than these people have any idea of. Several other mines will also be set to work by engines that we shall make here. We have been received with every mark of respect, and both Government and the public are in high spirits on account of our arrival, from which they expect much good to result.

Mr. Vivian died the 19th of May. I believe that too much drink was the cause of it. Uville, I think, wished him gone, and was in great hope that I should not arrive. His conduct has thrown down his power very much, which he never can twain recover.

They all say that the whole concern shall be put entirely under my management, and every obstacle shall be removed out of my road. Unless this is done, I shall soon be with you in England. I am very sorry that I did not embark with the first cargo, which would have made a million difference to the company, The first engine was put to work about three months since, the other about two months but they are as much at a loss in their mining as in their engineering. The Mint is the property of our company, and Government pays us for coining, which gives us an immense income; the particulars of which, and the shares in the mines, I have not yet gone into. I shall be short in this letter, because I know but little as yet, and that little I expect Mr. Page will inform you. A full account you shall have by the next ship, which I expect will sail in three weeks. This letter goes by a Spanish ship that will sail this afternoon for Cadiz. My respects, and good wishes to your family and to Mr. Day, and hope this will find you all as hearty as we are.

Mr. Page would not depart this life under the line, as he promised when at Penzance but, on the contrary, has a nose as red as a cherry, and his face very little short of it. His health and spirits far exceed what they were in England. I am glad to have such a companion. With . . . . think he will have no reason to repent . . . . He will get a command at Pasco . . . such as his ingenuity may find out, when on the spot; whether as a miner or an engineer I cannot say, but time will show.

If you have not insured my life I would thank you to do it now, if you can on reasonable terms. I do not wish them to take the rise of the seas in the policy, because the voyage here is over and on my return I hope I shall not want it therefore it must be for two years in the country. I will get a certificate of my health, if they wish it, from the most respectable inhabitants, and also from the Vice-king, if they wish it. The policy may be drawn accordingly.

Be so good as to write me often, with all the news you can collect. If you wish your dividends in this company to be applied to further advantage in any new mines I may engage in in preference to having it sent to England, I will, as the dividends are made, do everything in my power to improve the talent. On this subject I must have your answer before I can make any new arrangement under this head. I will thank you to send a copy of Mr. Page's letter to my wife; I mean such parts of it as belong to the business; there may be some things that I have forgotten to mention.

I remain, Sir,
Your humble servant,


MR. JAMES SMITH, Limekiln Lane, Greenwich.

In the early part of 1817 four engines were at work in the mines, two pumping water and two raising the ore; while a fifth engine was coining in the Mint at Lima. Trevithick believed that he could much improve the engines and the mining, and that it would be necessary and practicable to arrange for the construction of engines in Lima for though death and dissension had caused difficulty, the authorities were still prepared to give him full power.

A strange defect in his character is evidenced in this letter. He wished his life to be insured for the benefit of his wife and family, but never thought of paying the yearly insurance premium, leaving it for his wife to pay, whom he had left, as far as he knew, penniless in England.

On his sailing from Penzance, he told his wife that he had paid the house-rent for a year in advance, mentioning the sum. At the end of that time a demand was made on Mrs. Trevithick for a year's rent, being a larger sum than her husband had mentioned as the proper rent. It turned out that Trevithick had taken and paid for the house at six-monthly periods, instead of yearly periods. It was in the same street, and but three or four houses from that occupied by the parents of the eminent Sir Humphry Davy.

Market, Jew Street, Penzance (W. J. Welch)

A person pressed him for payment of a bill. Trevithick said, "Give me your bill," and writing on the bottom of it "Received, Richard Trevithick" handed it back to the claimant with "Now, will that do for you?" The payment of the life insurance obliged Mrs. Trevithick to part with her personal property, on which she had counted for support during her husband's absence. This inability to see the necessity of methodical action, when working with others, and utter disregard for hoarded money, caused him to be a somewhat unmanageable partner, though his genius never allowed him to sink; and in November, 1817, he wrote a letter, of which the following is an extract:-

There are also nunneries beyond number, and in those places no male is ever suffered to put his foot. Through one of the most noted runs a watercourse, which works the Mint; and Mr. Abadia has repeatedly made all the interest he could to be admitted, for the purpose of inspecting it, but could never get a grant. The Mint belongs to our engine concern, and now coins about five millions per year. We have a contract from Government for making all the coin, both gold and which gives an immense profit; and as there must now be coined six times as much as before, I must build new water wheels to work the rolls which we took with us from England. It was on this account that I wished to examine the watercourse for this purpose, without the knowledge of Mr. Abadia or anyone but Mr. Page and the interpreter, who always attends me. I walked up and knocked, in my blunt way, at the nunnery court door, without knowing there were any objections to admit men; it was opened by a female slave, to whom the interpreter told my name and business. Very shortly three old abbesses made their appearance, who said I could not be admitted. I told them I came from England, for the purpose of making an addition to the Mint, and could not do it without measuring the watercourse upon which a council was held amongst them; very soon we were ordered to walk in, and all further nunnery nonsense was done away. We were taken round the building and were shown their chapel and other places without reserve.

Uville knew nothing about the practical part of the engines, and Bull very little, therefore you may judge what a wretched state this great undertaking was in before my arrival; no one put any confidence in it, and believed it was all lost, together with five hundred thousand dollars, that had been expended on it. The Lord Warden was sent from Pasco to offer me protection and to welcome me to the mines. They have a court over the mines and miners, the same as the Vice-Warden's Court in England, only much more respected and powerful. The Viceroy sent orders to the military at Pasco to attend to my call, and told me he would send whatever troops I wished with me. The Spanish Government and the Vice-king since my arrival are quite satisfied that the mines will now be fully carried into effect, and will do everything in their power to assist me. As soon as the news of our arrival had reached Pasco, the bells rang, and they were all alive down to the lowest labouring miner, and several of the most noted men of property have arrived here - 150 miles. On this occasion the Lord Warden has proposed erecting my statue in silver. On my arrival Mr. Uville wrote me a letter from Pasco, expressing the great pleasure be had in hearing of any arrival, and at the same time he wrote to Mr. Abadia that he thought Heaven had sent me to them for the good of the mines. The water in the mines is from four to five strokes per minute.

Tell the members of the Geological Society that Mr. Abadia is making out a very good collection of specimens for them, which will be sent by the first opportunity; and soon after I arrive at Pasco I will write them very fully.

After Trevithick's death, in 1833, casts were taken from the head, and busts presented to scientific societies were thankfully received, with the single exception of his near neighbours at Penzance, who, under the name of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, refused it.

Mr. W. J. Henwood, who had frequently drawn the attention of Cornishmen to Trevithick's engines, being about 1870 President of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, presented to it a bust of Trevithick, which was admitted within its walls.

In 1819 Mr. R. Edmonds forwarded to the 'Cornwall Gazette' news from Lima, from which the following is extracted: -

We have much pleasure in stating that accounts have lately reached England from Lima, giving the satisfactory intelligence that our countryman and able engineer, Captain Trevithick, was in February last in good health, and superintending the rich and extensive mines of Pasco.

Don Francisco Uville,, a Spanish gentleman, having, with Don Pedro Abadia and others, formed a company to drain the mines of Pasco, unfortunately for Captain Trevithick, F. Uville was anxious to impress his countrymen with an opinion that it was solely owing to him that steam-engines were first introduced into the silver mines of South America; and notwithstanding the obligations he was under to Captain Trevithick, he sought every opportunity, soon after Captain Trevithick's arrival at Pasco, to oppose him, in claiming to have the direction of the mines.

Captain Trevithick, knowing but little of the country, and disgusted with the treatment he received from Uville and the party he had formed against him, amongst whom was a gent who had lately arrived from England, retired from the concern, and proceeded on other important discoveries on his own account.

Things remained in this state until August, 1818, when Uville met his death, in consequence of the cold penetrating air of the Cordilleras on coming out of the mines in a strong perspiration. Mr. Abadia and his friends were then under the necessity of soliciting the assistance of Captain Trevithick. On condition of his having the sole direction of the mines, he was prevailed upon to accept the situation which had been first most faithfully agreed he should have had; and when the accounts last left Lima in February, Captain Trevithick had been five months at the mines as the chief superintendent. The mines are represented as being in the most prosperous state, and likely to realize the sanguine expectations of the shareholders. Mr. Bull, an engineer from Chacewater, who left England with Uville, died at Pasco about ten months since.

When this was written, Trevithick had been two years in the country, and found the immense difficulties of the undertaking increased by jealousies and jobberies. Mr. Uville was no more, neither were Vivian or Bull; but one man remained alive out of the four who had sailed from England with the first cargo of machinery. In August, 1818, Mr. Abadia, who from the first was a leading authority, requested Trevithick to take upon himself the sole management of the mines, where he continued until April, 1819, as shown by the following extract from Captain Hodge's journal, supplied by my friend Mr. Charles Hodge:—

The first time they met was at Lima, on the 26th April, 1819, at Dr. Thorne's; your father had just come down from the Cerro de Pasco mines. On the 8th May following, I find my father witnessed the hanging of three men for killing two of your father's men, named Judson and Watson.

Mr. W. B. Stevenson says:- [5]

The Mint was established in Lima, in 1565. The machinery was formerly worked by mules, eighty being daily employed till the year 1817, when Don Pedro Abadia, being the contractor for the coinage, Mr. Trevithick directed the erection of a waterwheel, which caused a great saving of expense. In the year 1817 two Englishmen, sent from Pasco by Mr. Trevithick (who afterwards followed with the intention of working some of the silver mines in Conchucos), were murdered by the guides at a place called Puloseco. This horrid act was perpetrated by crushing their heads with two large stones, as they lay asleep on the ground. The murderers were men who had come with them from Pasco.

I have heard Mr. Trevithick say, that on shaking hands with the men who work in those quicksilver evaporating rooms, drops of quicksilver show themselves at the fingers' ends, and that the workmen wearing shoes take them off before leaving the work, to pour out any quicksilver that had oozed through the pores of the skin, which had been respired in the floating state of vapour. The men so employed fell a sacrifice in twelve or eighteen months.

Trevithick's experience in applying the force of running streams was turned to good account in giving an economical helpmate to the steam-engine then at work in the Mint. Miers says: - [6]

Another instance occurs in the unfortunately ruinous result and lamentable ill-treatment of the persons engaged in the attempt to introduce European improvements and British machinery into the great silver-mining district of Pasco (Chili), in which was engaged one of our most celebrated engineers, a most able mechanic, to whom the grand improvements in our Cornish mines are chiefly indebted — I mean Mr. Richard Trevithick. Trevithick was induced to furnish the machinery at an expense of £3,000 sterling, upon condition of being admitted a partner in the amount of 12,000 dollars in the joint stock of the company, and entitled to a share corresponding to the capital employed. This share was calculated at a fifth. Trevithick, before he embarked for Peru, divided his interest in the concern into 320 shares, each representing 38 dollars, and these were sold in the market for £125 sterling each some few were sold for £100 cash. The success of the engines gave to some of the persons interested much confidence, who conceived they could now do without the management of the ingenious Trevithick. Every possible obstacle was therefore thrown in his way by those who, from motives of jealousy, wished to get rid of him. The persons to whom Trevithick's and other shares had been sold in London, sent out to Lima an agent, whose duty it was to look after their interests in the concern; but as it was found a much larger sum would be necessary for carrying the enterprise into effect than had been calculated, a collision of interests took place; complaints were made on all sides as to the delays and expenses which those who did not comprehend the almost insurmountable difficulties of the undertaking attributed to mismanagement and carelessness. The greatest share of opprobrium fell unjustly upon Trevithick, who, being a man of great inventive genius and restless activity, was at length completely disgusted, and retired from the undertaking. He left Pasco, although Abadia offered him 8,000 dollars per annum, together with all his expenses, if he would continue to superintend the works; on no conditions would he consent to contend with the jealousies and ill-treatment of the persons with whom he had to deal. He soon after entered into speculations with some of the miners at Conchucos, for whom he constructed grinding mills and furnaces, with the view to substitute the process of smelting for that of amalgamation in silver ores, in which vain pursuit he became a considerable loser.

November 3rd, 1869.

MY DEAR SIR, Forty-seven years are now passed since I had the great pleasure of meeting your father in Peru, and I have a vivid remembrance of the gratification afforded to my messmates when he came to dine with us on board H.M.S. 'Aurora,' then lying in Callao. I was then a lieutenant of that beautiful frigate, and was introduced to your father by Mr. Hodge, of St. Erth, with whom I had become acquainted in Chili. I remember your father delighting us all on board the 'Aurora' by his striking description of the steam-engine, and his calculation of the horse-power of the mighty wings of the condor in his perpendicular ascent to the summit of the Andes. Your father's strong Cornish dialect seemed to give an additional charm to his very interesting conversation, and my messmates were most anxious to see him on board again, but he left shortly after for the Sierra.

The Pasco-Peruvian mines were those which your father was engaged to superintend before he left England, and he had actually managed, by incredible labour, to transport one or two steam-engines from the coast to the mines, when the war of independence broke out, and the patriots threw most of the machinery down the shafts. This fearful war was a deathblow to your father's sanguine hopes of making a rapid fortune. About a year after this terrible disappointment (I think in 1822), the 'San Martin,' an old Russian fir frigate, purchased by the Chilian Government, sank at her anchors in Chorillos Bay, ten miles south of Callao, and your father entered into an engagement with the Government in Lima to recover a large number of brass cannon, provided that all the prize tin and copper on board which might be got up should belong to him. This was a very successful speculation, and in a few weeks your father realized about £2,500. I remember visiting the spot with your father whilst the operations were carried on, and being astonished at the rude diving bell by which so much property was recovered from the wreck, and at the indomitable energy displayed by him. It was Mr. Hodge, and not I, who then urged in the strongest manner that at least £2,000. should be immediately remitted to your mother. Instead of this, he embarked the money in some Utopian scheme for pearl fishing at Panama, and lost all!

I had the honour of dining with Lord Dundonald on board the crazy frigate 'Esmeralda,' which carried his flag in Callao Bay, but I never heard of the gallant conduct of your father in swimming off to his ship and advising him of an intended assassination. I fancy that this must have occurred before I came on the station, probably in 1820, or 1821.

Believe me,
My dear Sir,
Very sincerely yours,


Trevithick's floating caissons for the sunken ship of Margate Bay in 1810 [7] were similarly applied in 1821 in the Bay of Callao. In Lima, he became acquainted with Lord Dundonald, whom he warned of a plot on his life, discovered in his friendly intimacy at the residence of President Bolivar. Those two remarkable Englishmen were alike in their daring inventiveness, and not unlike in face and person.

We have traced Trevithick's steps from his landing at Lima in 1817 to the destruction of the mine machinery by the civil wars, and his departure from there about 1822. But one link in the chain has been nearly lost. During some portion of those five years he visited Chili, and set to work mines which are still producing large and profitable quantities of copper. The late Mr. Waters, an eminent Cornish miner, who for many years managed some of these mines in the neighbourhood of Valparaiso, said that Trevithick's name was better known to the miners there than to the miners in Cornwall. This statement was made in the Dolcoath account-house at a public meeting, the speaker and the writer being both on the committee of management.

Simon Whitbarn, of St. Day, informed the writer that at Copiapo and at Coquimbo he had seen large heaps of copper ore, apparently unclaimed, which the people said had been raised by Don Ricardo Trevithick. About 1830 a miner, returned from South America, made a claim for wages for watching mineral left behind by Mr. Trevithick.

To further illustrate this history, we have a report written by himself:—

Memoranda regarding the Copper and Silver Mine of * * * *.

In 1814 an arrangement was made between the miners of Peru and myself for furnishing them with nine steam-engines and a mint, to be executed in England and erected in the mines of Pasco; and in October, 1816, I sailed from England for that country, for the express purpose of taking the management of those mines and erecting the machinery, being myself a large proprietor of the same. The Government of Peru was at that time subject to old Spain, under the immediate superintendence of a Viceroy. The machinery having been erected, and its sufficiency for the intended purpose of draining the mines having been proved to the satisfaction of all parties, there was granted to me a special passport by the Viceroy, for the purpose of travelling through the country to inspect the general mining system, and to make the native miners acquainted with the English modes of working. In return for which Government conceded to me the privilege of taking possession for my own benefit and account of such mining spots as were not previously engaged. In this way I travelled through many of the mining districts, and although I met with several unoccupied spots which would have paid well for working, yet, being a considerable distance inland, and requiring more capital to do them justice than I could then advance, I abandoned for the time all ideas of undertaking them.

To this, indeed, there was but one exception, and that was a copper and silver mine, the ores of which are uniformly united, in the province of Caxatambo.

When the patriots arrived in Peru, the mine was deserted by all the labourers, in order to avoid being forced into the army, In this state it remained for a considerable time but on the Spaniards retreating into the interior, I recommenced working; and to secure my right to this mine under the new Government I at the same time transmitted a memorial and petition to the established authorities, accompanied by a plan and description of the mine, the result of which was the formal grant, as exhibited in the Spanish document now in your possession. It was not my good fortune to be allowed to follow up my plans, which almost warranted a certainty of success. I had scarcely commenced a second time when the Spaniards returned, and everyone again was obliged to fly. The country, as is well known, continued for a long time in a most distracted state, and I was ultimately compelled to quit that part of Peru, robbed of all my money, leaving everything behind me, miners' tools and about £5,000 worth of ores on the spot ready to be carried to the shipping port. Numerous as my misfortunes had been in Peru, and heavy as my disappointments, I felt none so sensibly as this, because it was an enterprise entirely of my own creation, and so open to view that I was enabled to calculate at a certainty the immense value contained within the external circle where the copper vein made its appearance in the cap of the mountain, and to be obtained without risk or capital. However, revolution followed revolution, and the war appeared to me to be interminable. Even Bolivar's arrival at Lima made it still worse, for he forced me into the army, with my property, which is not paid to this day, to the amount of $20,000; and at his urgent solicitations, disgusted as I was with what I had seen and suffered in Peru, I determined on quitting it for a time at least, and on visiting Colombia. Being at Guayaquil I first heard the name of Costa Rica and its recently-discovered mines, and having no doubt of the authenticity of my information, I immediately proceeded thither instead of going to Bogota to carry Bolivar's orders into execution, not having been paid. This short digression you will excuse, as it points to the causes of my separation from a property of so much value, as I consider the mine of * * * * . Thirty years ago the neighbourhood of * * * * was famous for its silver mines, At the foot of the copper hill, on a fine stream, are two sets of works on a most extensive scale, which were carried on on account of the Spanish Government. The silver was found in lead veins, which are very large and numerous all around. The soil is very rich, and the climate as good as any in the world, wheat and Indian corn both growing round the mountain. Provisions and wages are low, the latter 1s. per day, and there are about 20,000 inhabitants within three miles. Wood for smelting and other purposes is abundant on the spot.

'* * * * is * * leagues from Lima; the port of * * * * where the ores are to be shipped, is 37 leagues north from Lima; and * * * * copper mine * * leagues back in the country east from this port, a good road for mules and plenty of them. The miners contracted with me to break the ores and deliver them at the surface for £4 per ton, which was double what I ought to have paid them; the farmers likewise contracted to carry the ores to the port at the same rate, which comes to sixpence a league for each mule cargo. But even at present wheel-carriages might travel over a large proportion of the road, and a small outlay would make it a carriage-road the whole distance, and then the expense of carriage would be diminished more than one-half. Taking it, however, at what it cost me, the whole expense on the ores delivered on board would not amount to £9 a ton, and as I conceive the freight to England would not exceed £4 a ton, the total cost would be £13, but say £15 a ton. Its value in England would be above £80 a ton. At the time I worked I intended to have sent 300 tons of ore to England, for in the then disturbed state of the country it would not have been prudent to risk myself on smelting works. I think it will ultimately be found preferable to smelt on the spot, but the course I should recommend in the meantime would be to send out two practical miners to direct and superintend the natives, who ought to be employed by contract to break and raise the ores and deliver them on board. In that case no erections whatever would be wanted; nothing but about £70 worth of labourers' tools.

I remain, Sir,
Your very humble servant, (Signed)


The foregoing undated report was written after his return to England from South America. The Viceroy granted him a special passport through the country, that he might give general instructions to the workers of mines, with the right to claim any mineral spot for his own working not under grant to others.

He often spoke of his discovery and working of the great vein of copper ore in Caxatambo, estimated to contain copper worth twelve millions sterling, the working of which was prevented by the frequent revolutions and unsettled government of the country and of residing for months with Bolivar, at that time the Republican Governor of Peru.

Bolivar's cavalry were short of fire-arms. Trevithick invented and made a carbine with a short barrel of large bore, having a hollow frame-work stock. The whole was cast of brass, stock and barrel in one piece, with the necessary recess for the lock; the bullet was a flat piece of lead, cut into four quarters, held in their places in a cartridge until fired, when they spread, inflicting jagged wounds. He was obliged to serve in the army, and to prove the efficiency of his own gun. He was never a good shot, nor particularly fond of shooting; and, after a long time, Bolivar allowed him to return to his engineering and mining. Scarcely had he got to work again when the Royal Spanish troops, getting the best of it, overran the mines, and drove Trevithick away penniless, leaving £5,000 worth of ore behind him ready for sale.

The 300 tons of ore, valued at £24,000, never reached England and the writer, who was to have returned to Peru in the ship that had been engaged to convey it, lost the chance of being a youthful traveller in foreign lands.

Trevithick left Lima about 1821 or 1822, for Bogota, in Colombia, on a special mission for Bolivar. On his way, putting in at Guayaquil, be heard of rich mines in Costa Rica, and thinking they would pay better than Bolivar's promises, he threw up his engagement and made for the new venture. It was probably at Guayaquil that he met Mr. Gerard, a Scotchman of good family and education, then sailing on the Pacific coast as a speculator. Since Trevithick left the mines of Cerro de Pasco, more than one English adventurer has attempted to work them. At the present time they are in the hands of a large company, and are thus spoken of in the 'Cornish Telegraph' of May 10, 1871:—

Cerro de Pasco and its Silver Mines.

This place, in the Republic of Peru, is situated on the top of the Andes, on the eastern side of the Western Cordillera. It stands about 15,000 feet above the sea level, and is said to be one of the highest, if not the highest, inhabited place of importance in the whole world.

From Callao to here is a distance of 160 miles, but, in consequence of the rapid ascent in such a comparatively short distance, it is considered a quick journey if mules make it in six days; it more frequently takes them a week, and at times, during the season of snow and rain, the pampas, which are the table-lands of these mountains, are impassable for several days together.

The town of Cerro de Pasco, which at present numbers 10,000 souls, is of no small importance, considering its great altitude and inconvenient distance from the coast, but it lacks order and design in every part. The streets are crooked and uneven; and the houses are stuck about anywhere and everywhere, with the greatest display of uneducated taste that I have ever before witnessed; moreover, it would be difficult to find another such place so equally dirty.

It rains and snows on these heights with not much cessation for about six months in the year, and in what is termed the dry season there are also frequent falls of snow. Furthermore, water boils at 180° Fahr. instead of at 212°, as with you; consequently it requires six minutes to cook an egg.

The majority of the inhabitants are a low type of Indians, who are small in stature and mind, but are large in cunning, and have exceedingly plain features not possessing the slightest trace of the noble features and bold simplicity of the Indians of the North.

Any person acquainted with minerals and mining coming up to Cerro de Pasco would fancy that the whole town was built on the back of one huge lode; go wherever one may, through the streets, or on the outskirts of the town, and even up to the slopes of the hill surrounding it, he finds it to be all lodestuff everywhere; its composition is what we Cornish miners generally term an iron gossan.

The greater portion of this mineral spot is parcelled out into setts or grants, which consist of pieces of ground 60 yards in length by 30 in width, giving to the place no less than 664 mines. At present there are no more than seventy-eight of them at work, and only sixty-three of which are producing ore, and the united returns amount to 2,000,000 oz. of silver per annum. Owners or companies have roads leading down to their mines, formed of steps cut out in the rock, dipping at angles varying from 30° to 50°. When you have descended to the depth of the mines, the levels or holes leading to many of them are so small that one has to drag himself along snake fashion until he reaches the main excavation. The miners break down the silver ore with pointed bars of iron and then shovel it into bags made of hide with the shoulder-bone of some animal; after which the stuff is carried to surface on men's and boys' backs.

When all the mineral has been extracted there remains an immense excavation, and in consequence of the roof not being properly supported with timber, one risks his life in entering it. Heavy falls of rock frequently occur, and by which means a vast number of persons are annually killed. One day in the last century, at the mines of 'Matagente' (which word means killed people), which are situated in the rising ground on the northern side of the town, while a great number of men and boys were at work, the roof of one of these immense chambers, consisting of many thousands of tons, fell in without giving the least warning, and 'in the twinkling of an eye' the souls of 300 Peruvian miners rushed into the presence of their Redeemer. Their bodies have never been exhumed, and their shattered bones, still remaining, will bear evidence of the catastrophe to future explorers. An adit has been driven through the district, beginning at the Lake of Quiulacocha on the south-west, and terminating at the mines of Ganacaucha on the north. The entire length of the adit, including its branches, is about 3 miles, and its average depth from surface 50 fathoms. Three perpendicular shafts, situated at about 600 yards apart, have also been sunk from surface to a short distance below the adit.

Mule Track from Lime to Cerro De Pasco. (W. J. Welch)

The whole of the machinery for the mines in question, which is being made and dispatched by Messrs. Harvey and Co., of Hayle, Cornwall, consists of four steam pumping engines, six boilers, four iron main beams, four balance ditto, and also a sufficient quantity of 24-inch pit-work for both shafts. No single piece of all this cumbrous machinery must weigh more than 300 lbs., in consequence of its having to be transported on the backs of mules from the coast to this mountainous region. Although the main distance is no more than 160 miles, these beasts with their burdens have to climb an altitude of 15,000 feet before they reach their destination. Moreover, the passes in ascending the Andes and Cordillera can only be correctly imagined by experienced travellers. Some of the defiles are not much wider than a sheep-path, and with a thousand feet below you a roaring cataract, and thousands of feet above you snow-capped overhanging mountains, looking so dreadful that the awe-struck stranger in the pass fears that the next peal of thunder will cause them to topple.

I observe in a paper which is now before me, entitled 'The Introduction of the Steam-Engine in the Peruvian Mines, by Richard Trevithick, 1816,' that when Captain Trevithick arrived at Lima on board the ship 'Asp,' with sundry small engines for the draining of the mines of Cerro de Pasco, he was immediately presented to the Marquis de Concordia, then Viceroy of Peru, was most graciously received by the most flattering attention of the inhabitants, and subsequently the Viceroy ordered the Lord Warden of the mines to escort the great man with a guard of honour to the mining district. In contrasting the two epochs, that of Trevithick in 1816, with this of Wyman and Harrison in 1871, one is led to exclaim that there were gentlemen in Peru in 1816, and they gave unto Cesar that which belonged to Cesar. [8]

The same newspaper, on the 9th November, 1870, stated:-

The 'Bride' sailed from Hayle on Thursday with a portion of the machinery made by Messrs. Harvey and Co., of Hayle, destined for Cerro de Pasco, in Peru. The work comprises four 37-inch cylinder pumping engines; no part to weigh more than 300 lbs.

To enable the parts to be reduced in weight, each steam-cylinder was made of thirty-seven different pieces. The mechanics of Trevithick's time could not make a steam-cylinder in parts; therefore his difficulties in designing and conveying the machinery were ten times greater than they would be in the present day, and necessitated the extreme simplicity of his engines. His residence with the Peruvians from 1816 to 1822 taught them the use of high-pressure steam-engines in their mines; and indirectly heralded the advent of the steam-horse, now as familiar to them as to the residents in many English towns.

See Also

Foot Notes

  1. See Trevithick's letter, 22nd May, 1813, vol. ii., p. 198.
  2. See Trevithick's letters, 22nd Sept. and 23rd Oct., 1813, vol. ii., pp. 206, 209.
  3. Unfinished rough draft of letter by Trevithick.
  4. See Trevithick's letter, December 9th, 1815, vol. ii., p. 31.
  5. See 'Historical and Descriptive Narrative of Twenty Years' Residence in South America,' by W. B. Stevenson, published 1842.
  6. See Miers' 'Travels in Chili and La Plata,' published 1826.
  7. In 1834 the writer was employed at a marine engine works in London, and made working drawings for a scheme of Lord Dundonald's, who expressed great pleasure in meeting the son or his old friend.
  8. In 'Mining Journal' W. R. Rutter