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British Industrial History

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Joseph Chessborough Dyer

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J. C. Dyer (1780-1871) was born in Connecticut, and settled in England in 1811

of Shore street, Manchester

1811 The first card-making machine was patented by J. C. Dyer, of Manchester

1825 Listed as a patent card maker, Stanley Street, Dale Street, Manchester. House: 17 Dale Street[1]

1836 Advert: 'To be let, the FACTORY, lately used by J. C. Dyer as his patent wire-card manufactory), situate in Stanley-street, Dale-street, with the STEAM ENGINE of 12-horse power, mill-geering, steam pipes, &c. ....[2]

1838 The business was sold to Parr, Curtis and Madeley

1840 Joseph Chessborough Dyer of Manchester, a Machine Maker, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[3]

1851 Living at Burnage, Lancs (age 70 born Connecticut, British Subject), a Retired Machine Maker and Owner of Houses and a Widower. With his son Wilson Dyer (age 25 born Burnage), a Portrait Painter. Two servants. [4]

Biography [5]

DYER, JOSEPH CHESSBOROUGH (1780–1871), inventor, son of Captain Nathaniel Dyer of the Rhode Island navy, was born at Stonnington Point, Connecticut, on 15 Nov. 1780, and educated at the common school of Opdike's Newtown, now called Wickford, Narragansett Bay.

His mother died from hardships she underwent during the storming and burning of New London under Benedict Arnold.

He had a turn for mechanics, and when quite a lad constructed an unsinkable lifeboat, in which he and his father took excursions along the coast.

At the age of sixteen he entered the counting-house of a French refugee named Nancrède, to part of whose business he subsequently succeeded.

He first came to England in 1802, and was frequently in the country from that date until his final settlement here in 1811, when he married Ellen Jones, daughter of Somerset Jones of Gower Street, London.

Thenceforward he devoted himself to mechanics, and was active in introducing into England several American inventions, which became exceedingly profitable to him and others. One of the first of these was Perkins's plan for steel-engraving (1809); then followed fur-shearing and nail-making machines (1810), and the carding engine (1811). Fulton sent him drawings and specifications of his steamboat in 1811, and Dyer experienced many difficulties and discouragements in bringing the system into use in England.

In 1825 he took out his first patent for a roving frame used in cotton-spinning, invented by Danforth and subsequently much improved and simplified by himself.

He lived at Camden Town until 1816, when he settled in Manchester.

He was associated with William Tudor in founding the ‘North American Review’ (1815), of which the first four numbers were written by Tudor and himself. He was also concerned in the foundation of the ‘Manchester Guardian’ in 1821.

In 1830 he was a member of a delegation to Paris to take the contributions from the town of Manchester for the relief of the wounded in the revolution of July, and to congratulate Louis-Philippe on his accession. It was claimed that he, as chairman of the Reform League, was instrumental in procuring the prompt recognition of the French king by the British government.

He aided in establishing the Royal Institution and the Mechanics' Institution at Manchester; and was one of the original directors of the ill-fated Bank of Manchester, which, after a few years of great prosperity, came by fraud and neglect to a disastrous end, whereby Dyer lost no less than 98,000L.

He engaged in the struggle for parliamentary reform and in the promotion of the Liverpool and Manchester railway, and in later years was closely associated with the Anti-Corn law League, both in its formation and operations.

In 1832 he established machine-making works at Gamaches, Somme, France, which were given up in 1848, having, through mismanagement on the part of an agent, entailed great loss on Dyer.

After the death of his wife in 1842, and when he had relinquished his extensive machine works at Manchester (afterwards carried on by Parr, Curtis, & Madeley), he resided with one or other of his sons, and occupied himself with science, literature, and politics. He contributed to various journals and read a number of papers before the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society on physics, on political science, and on the origin of certain mechanical inventions. In these last he referred chiefly to the inventions he had himself been instrumental in introducing or developing.

In 1819 he published ‘Specimens and Description of Perkins's and Fairman's Patent Siderographic Plan to Prevent Forgery (of Bank Notes),’ and in 1850 a pamphlet entitled ‘Remarks on Education.’

He cherished a strong hatred of slavery, and wrote several interesting pamphlets on the subject, both prior to and during the American war. They were: 1. ‘Notes on the Legalised Reclamation of Fugitive Slaves from the Free States of America,’ 1857. 2. ‘Democracy,’ 1859. 3. ‘Notes on the Slave-holders' Mission to England,’ 1860. 4. ‘Notes on Political Mistakes,’ 1862. 5. ‘Letter to William H. Seward,’ 1862. A few months prior to his death he wrote a treatise on ‘Longevity, by a Nonagenarian,’ but the manuscript was lost at a publisher's.

He died at Manchester on 3 May 1871, aged 90. His son, Frederick N. Dyer, was author of ‘The Slave Girl, a Poetical Tale,’ London, 1848, 8vo, and ‘The Step-son, a Novel,’ 2 vols., 1854, 12mo.

His youngest son, Wilson Dyer (who died in 1867), was an artist.

A Contribution to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society

A paper was read entitled Notes on Cotton-spinning Machinery.
Part II.—Roving Frames." By J. C. Dyer, Esq., Vice-President.
Having in part I of these notes given an account of the inventions and improvements that have been applied to the mule jenny, and for converting it into the self-acting mule, the present paper in like manner traces the origin and progress of the machines known as roving frames, which come next in the order of scientific interest, having engaged the labours of many eminent mechanics, through a long course of years, to bring them into their present accurate form of working.

'The rovings are equalised by doubling and drawing before coming to the roving frame, in which they are again drawn and slightly twisted to fit them for spinning; but the twist is not enough to give them strength to be taken up by the drag of the bobbin, as is the case in throstle spinning, so that the bobbins must be driven separately from the fliers and their speed must vary according to their different diameters, so as to make the surface motion of winding on to correspond with that of the delivering rollers, and when the latter motion is changed the former must be made to agree with such change, which is called the differential motion; and to make these agree with the frequent changes required was attended with much trouble and difficulty in working, which ultimately led to the introduction of the machine tube called the "tube roving frame," in which the said differential motion was wholly dispensed with. In this frame the bobbins are mounted on cylinders and turned by the friction of their surfaces. Being geared with the delivering rollers, their motions were thus made to agree at all speeds. But another property of importance in the tube frame was the twisting and untwisting of the rovings and the pressing of them hard upon the surface of the bobbins, so that the surface motion could be made accurate. This tube frame to a large extent was substituted for the bobbin and fly frame for low numbers, but it could not be made applicable to rovings for fine spinnings; but the pressing of the rovings hard upon the bobbins in the tube frame rendered the application of the presser to the fly frame of great importance. After many experiments this object was effected, and the application of the presser to the bobbin and fly frame was carried into effect by means of springs, or the centrifugal action of revolving weights attached to the arms of the fliers, and both of these methods were set forth in the patent for those improvements. Nevertheless, several competing parties afterwards obtained patents for very trivial changes, called "inventions," for applying the said spring and centrifugal actions to press the rovings upon bobbins.

'The differential motion of the bobbin and fly frame continued very imperfect until Mr. Henry Houldsworth's important invention of a self adjusting apparatus for giving the differential motions required. The discovery of a very simple train of movements for securing the required rotations of the delivering rollers of the bobbins and of the fliers will at once be recognised as an invention of high order in mechanical science. From the limits of this abstract the main features only of these delicate movements can be given, and for the details the paper must be consulted in extenso. I may here add that about sixty years ago Mr. John Kennedy employed rotating tin cans for giving twist to rovings but as they could not be driven with sufficient speed, the old throstle spindle, enlarged to suit rovings, was adopted for the frames called the "slubber " and the " bobbin and fly," and these frames, with many improvements by the same gentleman and others, were in extensive use until partially superseded in the year 1828 by the tube frame as before mentioned ; and the suggestive nature of new inventions and discoveries as leading to the production of others is strikingly shown in the successive application of those in the tube frame to the bobbin and fly, as before said. Again, Mr. Houldsworth's beautiful differential motion, then called "Jack in the box," being governed by bands and pulleys, their chance of slippage rendered it desirable to substitute toothed wheels, which occasion Mr. John Kennedy and Mr. Peter Ewart each discovered the three wheeled motions since adopted - those of Mr. Ewart were mitre wheels, Mr. Kennedy's, spur gearing—the latter being mostly preferred. And it is worthy of note that the three mitre wheels for giving the differential motion to the slide lathe, required for turning cones had been long in use and publicly seen without any one having dreamed of the application of them to other objects; nor was Mr. Houldsworth at all aware of these slide lathe differentials until pointed out to him by Mr. Ewart.

'The paper concludes by an earnest appeal to Mr. Houldsworth and other eminent mechanicians personally connected with the progress of modern inventions and improvements of the machinery employed in our manufacturing establishments, to record their own experience and observations upon the several branches with which they have been more especially conversant, as has been done by Dr. Fairbairn in his published works, and as the author of these notes has aimed to do.'[6]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'History, Directory, and Gazeteer of the County of Lancaster', Vol 2, by Edward Baines and W. Parson
  2. Manchester Times, 1 October 1836
  3. 1840 Institution of Civil Engineers
  4. 1851 Census
  5. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 16
  6. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 3 April 1866