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a.]    A List of Telegraph Companies 1838-68
b.]   Domestic Telegraph Companies 1868
c.]   Addresses
d.]   Domestic and Foreign Cables
e.]   Personalities
f.]    Telegraphic Suppliers
g.]   Special Acts of Parliament
h.]   Royal Charters
i.]    Government Acts affecting telegraphy
j.]    Significant Patents
k.]   Legal Context
l.]    Glossary
m.] Love's Telegraph - a comedy in three acts
n.]  Perceptions of the Telegraph Companies - a Melodrama...  

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a.] A List of Telegraph Companies 1838-68:

1. Electric Telegraph Company 1845
2. General Oceanic Telegraph Company 1845†*
3. British Commercial Electro-Telegraph Company 1845† *
4. General Commercial Telegraph Company 1845†*
5. Scottish Electric Telegraph Company 1848†
6. General Telegraph Company 1848†
7. Dublin & Holyhead Submarine Telegraph Company 1849†
8. British Electric Telegraph Company 1851
9. English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 1851
10. Submarine Telegraph Company between France and England 1851‡
11. Submarine Telegraph Company between Great Britain and the Continent of Europe 1851
12. European & American Electric Type-Printing Telegraph Company 1851
13. Ocean Telegraph Company 1852†
14. Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland 1852†
15. Irish Sub-Marine Telegraph Company 1852†
16. Isle of Wight Electric Telegraph Company 1852
17. Electric Time Company 1852†
18. British Telegraph Company 1853**
19. International Telegraph Company 1853
20. The Telegraph Company 1854†
21. Société du télégraphe électrique Méditerranéen 1854‡
22. Electric & International Telegraph Company 1855**
23. Universal Electric Telegraph Company 1855†
24. Mediterranean Extension Telegraph Company 1856
25. European & American Submarine Telegraph Company 1856†
26. British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 1857**
27. Atlantic Telegraph Company 1857
28. North-of-Europe Telegraph Company 1857†
29. Gloucester & Sharpness Electric Telegraph Company 1858
30. Levant Submarine Telegraph Company 1858
31. North Atlantic Telegraph Company 1858†
32. South Atlantic Telegraph Company 1858†
33. Dock Telegraph Company (Liverpool) 1858†
34. Red Sea & India Telegraph Company 1859
35. Great Indian Submarine Telegraph Company 1858†
36. India & Australia Telegraph Company 1858†
37. Poole, Bournemouth & South Coast Printing Telegraph Company 1859
38. Isle of Man Telegraph Company 1859
39. Channel Islands Telegraph Company 1859†
40. London District Telegraph Company 1859
41. British Transatlantic Telegraph Company 1859†
42. British & Canadian Telegraph Company 1859†
43. United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company 1860
44. Universal Private Telegraph Company 1860
45. Telegraph to India Company 1861†
46. Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company 1861†
47. European & Indian Junction Telegraph Company 1861†
48. National Telegraph Company 1861†
49. General Electric Telegraph Company 1861†
50. London & South-of-Ireland Direct Telegraph Company 1862
51. Tavistock, Princetown & Dartmoor Telegraph Company 1862
52. Private Telegraph Company 1862†
53. Oriental Electric Telegraph Company 1863†
54. Bodmin, Wadebridge, Padstow, St Columb & New Quay Telegraph Company c.1863
55. Portadown & Gilford Telegraph Company c.1863
56. Whitworth Telegraph Company c.1863
57. Abergavenny & Crickhowell Telegraph Company c.1863
58. Yarmouth & Kingston Telegraph Company c.1863
59. South-Western of Ireland Telegraph Company 1863
60. Globe Telegraph Company 1863†
61. Glasgow, Cantyre & General Telegraph Company 1864†
62. Reuter’s Telegram Company 1865
63. West Highland Telegraph 1865***
64. Economic Telegraph Company 1866
65. General Private Telegraph Company 1866†
66. Anglo-American Telegraph Company 1866
67. Liverpool District Telegraph Company 1866†
68. London & Provincial Telegraph Company 1867**
69. Anglo-Mediterranean Telegraph Company 1867
70. Anglo-Indian Telegraph Company 1867†
71. British & American Telegraph Company 1867
72. Scilly Islands Telegraph Company 1868
73. Orkney & Shetland Islands Telegraph Company 1868
74. Société du câble trans-atlantique Français 1868
75. Jersey & Guernsey Telegraph Company 1868
76. Store Nordiske Telegrafselskab A/S 1868‡
77. Indo-European Telegraph Company 1868

Including private partnerships and joint stock companies fully or provisionally registered under the Joint Stock Companies Regulation Act 1844; created by Statute, created by Charter, created under the Joint Stock Limited Liability Act 1856 and created under the Companies Act 1862.

* These three companies were only provisionally registered, General Oceanic Telegraph Co. on June 16, 1845; British Commercial Electro-Telegraph Co. on August 2, 1845; and General Commercial Telegraph Co. on September 3, 1845. The Electric Telegraph Company was registered on September 2, 1845.
** Only a change of name.
*** Trading title of the Universal Private Telegraph Company.
† Failed or abortive companies.
‡ Foreign companies.  

The Voltaic Telegraph Company was promoted on September 9, 1838 by Edward Davy, six years before the Joint-stock Companies’ Registration Act, but never got beyond correspondence.

This list summarises the companies that operated or obtained an Act of Parliament in the period of this work. Most were incorporated in Britain, although several foreign joint-stock companies have been included where they were participants in the domestic market or were organised from London. It is not complete! The Government reported in 1860 that twenty-eight companies to work electric telegraphs had been formed and that ten were still working in that year; which does not reconcile with this list. A large number of great cable companies were formed in 1869 and 1870.

b.] Domestic Telegraph Companies in 1868: 
This lists the companies mentioned in the text, an abbreviated evolution and their corporate connexions. The Electric, the Magnetic, the United Kingdom, the London & Provincial, Bonelli’s, the Economic, the Universal and Reuter’s were appropriated by the government in 1868.   

1. The Electric & International Telegraph Company
    (Founded 1845, a merger in 1855) including:
•  Electric Telegraph Company (1845) (to Electric & International)
•  Compagnie du Télégraphe Électrique (1846) (an Electric subsidiary line) (Anglo-Belgian)
•  Irish Sub-Marine Telegraph Company (1852) (rights passed to the Electric 1852)
•  International Telegraph Company (1852) (an Electric subsidiary) (Anglo-Dutch) (1855 to Electric)
•  The Isle of Wight Electric Telegraph Company (1852) (for the Electric)
•  The Isle of Man Electric Telegraph Company (1859) (for the Electric)
•  The Channel Islands (Electric) Telegraph Company (1859) (for the Electric)
•  London & South-of-Ireland Direct Telegraph Company Limited (1862) (for the Electric)
•  South-Western of Ireland Telegraph Company (1863) (for the Electric)
•  The Scilly Islands Telegraph Company (1869) (for the Electric)

2. The British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company
    (Founded 1850, a merger in 1857) including:
•  British Electric Telegraph Company (1850) (was known as the British Telegraph Company by 1853)  
•  English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company (1851)
•  European & American Electric Type-printing Telegraph Company (1851) (1853 to British)

3. The United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company
     (Founded 1851, active only from 1860)

4. The London & Provincial Telegraph Company
    (Founded 1859 as the District Co.) formerly
•  London District Telegraph Company (1859) (renamed in 1865)

5. The Universal Private Telegraph Company
    (Founded 1861) (with public telegraphs in Scotland and the north-east of England)

6. Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company
    (Founded 1861, inactive until 1863) (One public line made, but inactive by 1866)

7. The Economic Telegraph Company
    (Founded 1864) (One public line made, but no public circuits by 1868)

8. Reuter’s Telegram Company
    (Founded 1865) (a foreign news agency and cable-owner)

Domestic Underwater Cable Company:

The Submarine Telegraph Company between Great Britain and the Continent of Europe (1854) - a Royal Charter company owning cables to Belgium and latterly to Hanover in Germany and Denmark. It worked in concert with The Submarine Telegraph Company between France and England (1851) (French) which promoted the European Telegraph Co., above, in England, and subsequently was always closely connected with the various incarnations of the Magnetic company.

c.] Telegraph Company Addresses

Samples from Directories and Advertisements

Anglo-American Telegraph Company, 26 Old Broad Street, London, EC (1866 and 1869)
Anglo-Indian Telegraph Company, 26 Old Broad Street, London, EC (1866)
Anglo-Mediterranean Telegraph Company, 76 Palmerston Buildings, Bishopsgate Street Within, EC (1868)
Atlantic Telegraph Company, 22 Old Broad Street, EC (January 1858 and 1862) (The offices of George Peabody & Company, American merchants)
Atlantic Telegraph Company, 13 St Helen’s Place, Bishopsgate Within, EC (1868)
Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company, 69 Lincolns’ Inn Fields, London, WC (1862) (a law office)
Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company, 7 Angel Court, Throgmorton Street, City, EC, 2a Victoria Street, Manchester, and 2 Dale Street, Liverpool  (1864)
Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company, 17 Leadenhall Street, City, EC (1869) (The offices of Collie & Company, cotton merchants)
Brett & Little, 140 Holborn Bars (1847) (Brett’s Furnival’s Inn Coffee House & Hotel)
Brett & Little, 3 Furnival’s Inn, London (1848) (a set of showrooms)
British & American Telegraph Company, Crosby House, 95 Bishopsgate Street, London (1867)
British Electric Telegraph Company, Central Offices, Royal Exchange, London (1851)
British Electric Telegraph Company, 11 Ducie Street, Exchange, Manchester (the principal station in 1852)
British Electric Telegraph Company, Central Station, 29½ Royal Exchange, London (1854)
British Indian Submarine Telegraph Company, 66 Old Broad Street, London, EC (January 1869)
British Telegraph Company, 11 Ducie Street, Exchange, Manchester (This was the company’s head office, 1852 to 1855)
British Telegraph Company, Chief Office, 43 Regent Circus, Piccadilly, London (1855 to 1857)
British Telegraph Company, Manufactory, 29½ City Road, Finsbury, London (1855)
British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, Chief Office, 2 Exchange Buildings, Liverpool; Offices, 72 Old Broad Street, 30 Cornhill, Royal Exchange (under the Clock Tower) and 43 Regent Circus, Piccadilly (1857)
British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, Manufactory, 46 City Road, Finsbury, London, EC (1862)
British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, Central Office, 57 to 59 Threadneedle Street, opposite the Royal Exchange, London, EC (1865 & 1868)
Cape of Good Hope Telegraph Company, 17 Bucklersbury, London EC (1862)
Cape of Good Hope Telegraph Company, 25 Poultry, London EC (1867)
Channel Islands Telegraph Company, Founders’ Court, Lothbury (1860)
Channel Islands Telegraph Company, 12–14 Telegraph Street, City, EC (1861)
W F Cooke, patentee of the electric telegraph, 1 Copthall Buildings, City (1845)
Compagnie du Télégraphe Électrique, 74 Montagne de la Coeur, Bruxelles et 1082 Place de Meir, Anvers (1846) (the Electric’s Belgian subsidiary line)
Compagnie du Télégraphe sous Marin, 98 Gracechurch Street, London (September 1850) (see also Submarine Telegraph Company)
Dock Telegraph Company, 2 Exchange Buildings, Liverpool (1858)
Dublin & Holyhead Submarine Telegraph Company, 2 Palace Yard, Westminster (1849)
Eastern Telegraph Company, 16 Cannon Street, City (1855) (L Gisborne’s abortive Levant company)
Economic Telegraph Company, 6 Lord’s Chambers, Corporation Street, Manchester (1864)
Economic Telegraph Company, 2 Dean’s Yard, Westminster, and Corporation Street, Manchester (1866)
Electric Telegraph Company, 345 Strand (Chief Office, pro. tem.) (1846 and 1847)
Electric Telegraph Company’s Works, 22 Church Row, Limehouse (1846 and 1847) (next the Blackwall railway)
Electric Telegraph Company, Clock Department, 142 Strand, London and 11 Hanover Street, Edinburgh (August 1847)
Electric Telegraph Company, 64 Moorgate Street; and Central Station, Founders’ Court, Lothbury, City (1849)
Electric Telegraph Company, Central Station, Founders’ Court, Lothbury, London (1849 - 1868)
Electric Telegraph Company, Factory, Gloucester Road north, Regent’s Park (1854)
Electric & International Telegraph Company, General Offices, 12 - 14 Telegraph Street, Moorgate Street, EC (1868) 
Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland, Secretary’s Office, 2 Moorgate Street, City; and the Telegraph Offices, 37 Ann Street, Belfast, and 1 Eden Quay, Dublin (1853)
Electric-Printing Telegraph Office, 29 Parliament Street, London (Jacob Brett, patentee) (1849) (a showroom)
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, 6 North John Street, Liverpool (public office) (1853)
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, 5 Royal Insurance Buildings, North John Street, Liverpool (secretary’s & engineer’s office) (1853)
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, Chief Office, 2 Exchange Buildings, Liverpool (1854)
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, 72 Old Broad Street, London (1854)
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, 6 College Green, Dublin (1854)
European (& American) Electric Telegraph Company, 30 Cornhill, London (1852) (as the Submarine company)
European & American Submarine Telegraph Company, 2 Royal Exchange Buildings, City, EC (1858)
European & Indian Junction Telegraph Company, 250 Gresham House, Old Broad Street, City (1856)
Gamble & Nott’s Patent Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Office, 2 Royal Exchange Buildings (1847) (a showroom) see also Nott & Gamble
General Commercial Telegraph Company, 1 Bond Court, Walbrook, City (a law office) (1845)
General Telegraph Company, 9 John Street, Adelphi (1849) - Whishaw’s Office (a showroom)
General Private Telegraph Company, 4 Blue Boar Court, Manchester (1866)
Gisborne & Forde, 6 Duke Street, Adelphi, London, WC (1861) (office of  the telegraph engineers to HM government, Lionel Gisborne and Henry Charles Forde)
Globe Telegraph Company, 2 St Anne’s Churchyard, Manchester (1861 and 1865)
Gloucester & Sharpness Electric Telegraph Company, Commercial Road, Gloucester (1863)  
Great Northern Telegraph Company, 7 Great Winchester Buildings, City, EC (1869)
Holyhead Telegraph Office, Chapel Street, Liverpool (marine telegraph) (1828 to 1849)
Holyhead Telegraph Office, summit of Tower Buildings, Liverpool (marine telegraph) (1849 to 1860)
Indo-European Telegraph Company, 16 Telegraph Street, City (1870)
International Ocean Telegraphic Company, 32 Charing Cross, West Strand, WC (1864) (William Rowett’s French cable to Canada)
International Telegraph Company, Continental Telegraph Offices, 1 Royal Exchange Buildings, London (1853)
Irish Channel Submarine Telegraph Company, 15 Great Bell Alley, Moorgate Street, City (1852) (predecessor of the Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland)
Irish Sub-Marine Telegraph Company, 38 Parliament Street, Westminster, Commercial Buildings, Dublin, and at the Dublin & Drogheda Railway terminus, Amiens Street, Dublin (1852)  
Isle of Man Electric Telegraph Company, 64 Atholl Street, Douglas, Isle of Man (1860 and 1863)
Isle of Wight Electric Telegraph Company, York Street, Cowes, Isle of Wight (1854)
Jersey & Guernsey Telegraph Company, Hill Street, St Helier, Jersey (1870)
Levant Submarine Telegraph Company, 24 Abingdon Street, Westminster, SW (R S Newall’s office) (1860)
Levant Submarine Telegraph Company, 2 Westminster Chambers, Victoria Street, SW (1867)
Liverpool District Telegraph Company, 95 Islington, Liverpool (1866)
London & South-of-Ireland Direct Telegraph Company, 7 Broad Street Buildings, City, EC (1862)
London District Telegraph Company, Chief Office, 90 Cannon Street, London, EC (1865)
London & Provincial Telegraph Company, 101 Cannon Street, EC (1868) (same address as above, the street renumbered)
Magneto-Electric Telegraph Company, 4 New Broad Street, City (1852) (the first address of the Magnetic Co., the offices of Charles Kemp Dyer, merchant)
Malta & Alexandria Telegraph Company, 47a Moorgate Street, EC (1860) (became a Government concern)
Mediterranean Electric Telegraph, 117 Bishopsgate Street, City, and Paris and Turin (1854) (a Société en Commandité incorporated in France) See below
Mediterranean Electric Telegraph Company, 2 Hanover Square, London W (1859) (John Watkins Brett’s house)
Mediterranean Extension Telegraph Company, 158 Gresham House, Old Broad Street, EC (1862)
North Atlantic Telegraph Company, 61 Moorgate Street, EC (1862) (Shaffner’s America cable via Iceland)
North Atlantic Telegraph Company, 140 Gresham House, Old Broad Street, EC (1866) (James Wyld’s cable via Iceland)
Nott & Gamble’s Telegraph Office, 78 Cornhill, London (1846) (a show-room) see also Gamble & Nott
Oriental Electric Telegraph Company, 1 Victoria Street, Westminster, SW (1863) (Bright & Clark’s office)
Orkney & Shetland Islands Telegraph Company, 8 Great Winchester Street Buildings, London, EC (1871)
Railway Electric Signals Company, 30 Cornhill, London and rue Richelieu 83, Paris
Red Sea & India Telegraph Company, Offices, 62 Moorgate Street, London, EC (1865)
Julius Reuter, Continental Telegraph Office, 1 Royal Exchange Buildings, London (October 14, 1851)
J Reuter trading as ‘S Josaphat’, Continental Telegraph Office, 7 Exchange Buildings, Liverpool (June 1, 1852)
J Reuter trading as ‘S Josaphat’, Continental Telegraph Office, 33 & 34 Exchange Arcade Buildings, Manchester (July 1, 1853)
Reuter’s Telegram Company, Offices, 1 Royal Exchange Buildings, London, EC (1862)
Reuter’s Telegram Company, 5 Lothbury, EC (1867)
Reuter’s American News office, 2 King Street, Finsbury Square, EC (1862)
Reuter's West End News Office, 9 Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, SW (1862)
Scilly Islands Telegraph Company, 6 Old Jewry, City, EC (1869)
Scilly Islands Telegraph Company, 8 Great Winchester Street Buildings, London, EC (1871)
Scottish Electric Telegraph Company, 20 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh (1848) Société du câble trans-atlantique Français, Bartholomew House, Bartholomew Lane, EC (1868) (an English company)
Société du télégraphe électrique Méditerranéen, rue Richelieu 83, Paris (1853) became:
Société du telégraphe électrique sous-marin de la Méditerranée, rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette 10, Paris (1861)
South Eastern Telegraph Office, 1 South Eastern Arcade, London Bridge, SE (1859)
South-Western of Ireland Telegraph Company, 23 Old Broad Street, City, EC (1864)
South-Western of Ireland Telegraph Company, 17 Leadenhall Street, London, EC (1867) (The offices of Collie & Company, cotton merchants)
Submarine Electric Telegraph Office (Julius Reuter, agent), 1 Royal Exchange Buildings, City (1853) (alternate title for Reuter’s business)
Submarine Telegraph Company (France & England), 9 Moorgate Street, later 30 Cornhill (1851)
Submarine Telegraph Company between France and England, 10 Place de la Bourse, Paris (1852)
Submarine Telegraph Company between France and England, 10 Place de la Bourse, Paris (and 30 Cornhill) (1854)
Submarine Telegraph Company, 58 Threadneedle Street, London, EC (1865) (same as the Magnetic)
Submarine Telegraph Company between Great Britain and the Continent of Europe, bureau de télégraphe sous-marin anglo-belge, rue des Princes 2, Bruxelles, Belgium (1854)
Telegraph to India Company, 62 Moorgate Street, City, EC (1864)
United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company, 18 Cannon Street, City (1853)
United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company, 101 Gresham House, Old Broad Street, EC (1860)
United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company, Central Offices, 237 & 247 Gresham House, Old Broad Street, EC (1862 - 1868)
Universal Electric Telegraph Company, Offices, 5 Ludgate Hill, London (1853) Universal Private Telegraph Company, 3 Hanover Square, W (1861) (Lewis Hertslet’s office)
Universal Private Telegraph Company, 448 West Strand, W (1862) (i.e. the Electric Telegraph Company’s Charing Cross office)
Universal Private Telegraph Company, 4 Adelaide Street, Strand, W; and 11 St Vincent Place, Glasgow; 52 Brown Street, Manchester; and Printing Court Buildings, Akenside Hill, Newcastle (1864)
Voltaic Telegraph Company, 5 Exeter Hall, Strand, London (1839) (Edward Davy’s abortive promotion)
Watson’s General Telegraph Association, 83 Cornhill, City (marine telegraph) (1841)

This list illustrates the connection between the several companies through their common offices; and particularly the proximity of the International Telegraph Company offices in Royal Exchange Buildings to Julius Reuter, and to Nott & Gamble’s office.

The components of the largest of the cable concerns, the Eastern Telegraph Company, the Falmouth, Gibraltar & Malta, the Anglo-Mediterranean, the British Indian Submarine, the British Australian and the China Submarine companies, were all located at 66 Old Broad Street, City, EC, by 1870.

All of the public telegraph companies’ chief offices were adjacent to the Bank of England and the Stock Exchange in the City of London, the financial centre of the country. The Royal Exchange, Royal Exchange Buildings and Gresham House were essentially horizontal blocks of small offices in multiple occupancy.

Post Codes (EC, W, WC, etc) came to London in 1857.

d.] Domestic & Foreign Cables
This is a list of underwater cables with British circuits laid between 1850 and 1869, the owning company and the main contractor for armour; the Gutta- Percha Company made virtually all the insulated cores. Immediate failures are not noted.

1851 Dover – Calais STC - 25 miles, RSN, England to France
1852 Hurst Castle – Sconce Point IoW - 1 mile, Binks, England to Isle of Wight
1853 Dover – Ostend STC - 76 miles, RSN, England to Belgium
1853 Port Patrick – Donaghadee EIM - 25 miles, RSN, Scotland to Ireland
1853 Orfordness – Scheveningen ITC - 119 miles, RSN, England to Holland
1853 Tay Estuary ETC - 1 miles, RSN, Scotland
1853 Forth Estuary ETC - 5 miles, RSN, Scotland
1854 Port Patrick – Whitehead BET - 26 miles, RSN, Scotland to Ireland
1854 Holyhead – Howth ETC (duplicated in 1855) - 73 miles, RSN, North Wales to Ireland
1858 Orfordness – Haarlem EIT - 130 miles, GEC, England to Holland
1858 Cromer – Emden STC - 280 miles, GEC England to Hanover
1858 Weymouth – Alderney CIT - 69 miles, RSN, England to Channel Isles
1858 Alderney – Guernsey CIT - 18 miles, RSN, Channel Islands
1858 Guernsey – Jersey CIT - 15 miles, RSN, Channel Islands
1859 Cromer – Heligoland – Tonning STC - 376 miles, GEC, England to Denmark
1859 Folkestone – Boulogne STC - 24 miles, GEC, England to France
1859 Liverpool – Anglesey  MDH - 25 miles, GEC, (marine telegraph)
1859 Point Cranstal – Saint Bees IoM - 36 miles, GEC, England to Isle of Man
1859 Jersey – Pirou STC - 21 miles, GEC, France - Channel Islands
1861 Beachy Head – Dieppe STC - 80 miles, GEC, England to France 1861 Rhosneigr - Howth EIT - 73 miles, RSN, North Wales to Ireland (replacing the 1854-55 cables)
1862 Abermawr – Wexford LSI - 63 miles, GEC/SWS, South Wales to Ireland
1862 Cork Harbour & Blackwater at Youghal LSI - 5 miles, GEC/SWS, (part of the line to Wexford)
1862 Lowestoft – Zandvoort EIT - 130 miles, GEC, England to Holland
1863 Cape Clear – Baltimore BIM - 2 miles, GEC, (Irish marine telegraph)
1863 New Passage, across River Severn, BIM - 1 mile
1865 South Foreland – Cap Griz Nez STC - 25 miles, IRG, England to France
1866 Lowestoft – Norderney Reuter - 224 miles, TCM, England to Hanover
1866 South Foreland – La Paune STC - 47 miles, WTH, England to Belgium
1866 Killantringan - Whitehead EIT - 25 miles, TCM, Scotland to Ireland
1866 Valentia – Heart’s Content ATC (two cables) - 3,748 miles, TCM, Ireland to Newfoundland
1868 Newbiggin – Sondervig DNE - 342 miles, RSN, England to Denmark
1869 Peterhead – Egersund GNT - 375 miles, WTH, Scotland to Norway
1869 Lands End – St Mary’s SIT - 27 miles, RSN, England to Scilly Isles

Owners: ATC – Anglo-American Telegraph Co. BET - British Electric Telegraph Co. BIM - British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Co. CIT – Channel Islands Telegraph Co. DNE – Dansk-Norske-Engelske Telegrafselskab. ETC – Electric Telegraph Co. EIT – Electric & International Telegraph Co. EIM - English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Co. GNT – Great Northern Telegraph Co. IoM – Isle of Man Electric Telegraph Co. IoW – Isle of Wight Electric Telegraph Co. ITC – International Telegraph Co. LSI – London & South-of-Ireland Direct Telegraph Co. MDH – Mersey Docks & Harbour Board. Reuter – Reuters Telegram Co. STC – Submarine Telegraph Co. SIT – Scilly Isles Telegraph Co.

Contractors: Binks – Binks & Stephenson. GEC – Glass, Elliot & Co. WTH – W T Henley. IRG – India Rubber, Gutta Percha & Telegraph Works. RSN – R S Newall. Reid – Reid Brothers.  SWS – S W Silver. TCM – Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Co.

e.] Personalities – The Company-Men & Women

Cooke and Wheatstone have had several biographers over the years, as have many other scientific innovators to electrical progress. I have here included background detail on some of the minor, unsung characters, and also some not so minor. However, little information exists about many of the most important connections of the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company.

Thomas Allan (1812-1883) – electrician, engineer and company promoter. An Edinburgh printer and publishers, owner of the ‘Caledonian Mercury’ newspaper and printer of the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’, he was notable for his submarine “light cable” of 1853, which had an iron wire core and several external unarmoured conductors, the reverse of conventional practice. Allan projected at least a dozen telegraph companies between 1848 and 1867, including the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company and very many cable concerns, to connect with America and to India. He contrarily advocated the adoption of the telegraphs by the Post Office in 1854. Allan also devised improvements in needle telegraphs, electro-motors and automatic telegraphs, continuing to “improve” his light cable, with fourteen patents in several areas to his name. On his bankruptcy in 1866 he took up litigation against the telegraph companies and their directors, this lasted to his death in 1883 and beyond, the last suit (of over ten, all unsuccessful) by his executors was dismissed in 1894.

The writer of these pages has published a short biography of Thomas Allan on the Atlantic Cable website.

William Stratford Andrews (1832-1906) – Electrical engineer and telegraph company manager. The son of Thomas Stratford Andrews, a landowner of Westbrook, Elstead, Surrey, he was initially employed on the telegraphs of the South Eastern Railway. In 1852 he became electrician to the Submarine Telegraph Company; by 1855 he had also been appointed Commercial Superintendant in London for the British Telegraph Company, with which the Submarine company was connected. In 1860 he was appointed electrician and shortly after Secretary and General Manager of the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company. He oversaw the United Kingdom company’s national expansion until it was taken over by the State in 1870, including the successful introduction of the Hughes type-printing telegraph into Britain in 1863. As an engineer and electrician Andrews supervised cables laid to Germany and Denmark in 1858-9, devising improved current reversal instruments for underwater circuits, and resin- coated-wood insulators for pole telegraphs in 1860 whilst working with the Submarine Telegraph Company, and later new galvanic batteries for the United Kingdom company. Declining to join the Post Office Telegraphs, in 1871 he became Secretary and then Managing Director of the Indo-European Telegraph Company, and shortly after a Director of the West India & Panama Telegraph Company. He married Annie Lamb in 1869. Their son, Thomas William Stratford Andrews (1870-1923), was also to become Managing Director of the Indo- European Telegraph Company in 1900. More ought to be known about W S Andrews.

William Thomas Ansell (1822 - 1904) - Born in Bromley-by-Bow, Middlesex, but brought up in the West Indies, the son of a medical doctor, W T Ansell joined the Electric Telegraph Company in London on its foundation in July 1846, eventually becoming District Superintendent for North West England in Liverpool. He took leave of absence due to illness between 1858 and 1861, during which period he advised R S Newall on cable operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Returning to the Electric company in 1861 he was appointed General Superintendant for Ireland, located in Cork, responsible for creating its network there during the 1860s. In 1870 he chose not to join the Post Office and became Secretary and Manager of the Falmouth, Gibraltar & Malta Telegraph Company in London, before being appointed Traffic Manager to the Eastern Telegraph Company. He practised as an Electrical Engineer in his later years, retiring to Southsea, Portsmouth by 1900.  Ansell married Sarah Jaques of Bow in 1860, and they had one son and two daughters, all born in Cork, Ireland. He was Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Alexander Bain (1810 -1877) – electrician and inventor, he has his own chapter in this work.

Frederick Collier Bakewell (1800-1869) – a scientific writer, inventor and patent agent. His family came from Wakefield, Yorkshire, and established Bakewell & Company, 13 Tavistock Row, Bedford Square, soda-water manufacturers, in the 1820s. In March 1832 F C Bakewell patented an ingenious “portable apparatus for the production of aerated waters” which continued in production until the 1850s. By the 1840s he was well-known as a writer of books and articles on scientific matters, especially electricity, living at Haverstock Hill, Hampstead, London. In 1847 he was editing  the ‘Spectator’ magazine and was in communication with Alexander Bain (q.v.). In 1848 F C Bakewell patented the “copying telegraph” using Bain’s chemical principles to produce the first distant facsimiles of writing and drawings. This was shown to approbation at the Great Exhibition of 1851 but was never used commercially. He latterly continued as a successful writer and commentator on telegraphy, with a sideline in practising as a patent agent.

Eugene George Bartholomew (1828 – 188?) – Telegraphic engineer. Born in Ipplepen, Devon, Bartholomew first comes to notice in 1851 working for the Electric Telegraph Company in Scotland. In 1853 he became telegraph superintendent of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway in Brighton, Sussex; in this role he introduced his own needle telegraph for traffic control. Between 1856 and 1858 Bartholomew was assisting Prof William Thomson as electrician for the Atlantic Telegraph Company; during the cable-laying expedition he represented Thomson on the steamer HMS Agamemnon and became Superintendent of the Valentia station in Ireland. In 1860 he was an electrician with the Universal Private Telegraph Company in London. By 1864 he was an independent telegraph engineer, working in Scotland and Spain, obtaining several patents, before rejoining the Electric Telegraph Company as a District Superintendent. In 1871 he became a manufacturer of electrical instruments and batteries as E G Bartholomew & Company with workshops at 21 & 22 Frederick Street, Hampstead Road, London, employing twenty-six hands. He was declared bankrupt in January 1878, paying just 9d in the pound (3.75%) on his debts. Latterly he lived in Edinburgh, Scotland. He married in 1850 and had six children. Bartholomew was Member of the Society of Engineers.

Charles Vincent Boys (1825-1900) – Superintendent of the Intelligence Department of the Electric Telegraph Company and the telegraph news combine from 1848 until 1870. The son of John Boys, a merchant of Camden Cottages, Camden, “CVB”, as he was commonly known, was first employed as a clerk with the British Consulate at Frankfurt-am-Main. From 1848, at age twenty-three, he was editor-in-chief for all news telegraphed to the provinces, as well as responsible for the press private wires, and as such was important in the company’s hierarchy and in journalism. A skilled manager, with just three sub-editors, under his management the company’s income from news was four times the cost of collection. With the end of the Intelligence Department in 1870 CVB had a pension from the Post Office and received a widely-reported testimonial from the London press, presented by the Duke of Beaufort and, among others, Julius Reuter. Latterly Boys ran the office of Charles Bright, the famous cable engineer, but was drawn back into press telegraphy, managing the private wires of the Submarine Telegraph Company in London and on the Continent, in the 1880s. CVB lived and died close to the Strand in London; with his widowed mother, Jane, at 6 Cecil Street in 1851, lodging in 1861 at the telegraph office at 448 Strand, and dying at the Adelphi Hotel, after a period living at Ryde, Isle of Wight. Associated with the theatre, music and horse racing, as well as journalism, he was married only briefly late in life. CVB was a long-time member of the Savage Club, populated by authors, journalists and artists.

John Watkins Brett (1805-1863) – The son of William Brett, a carpenter of Bristol in the west of England, he was an artist in his early life and became a notable collector and dealer in works of art. Brett was living in America between 1832 and 1842. With his brother Jacob, and with Thomas Watkins Benjamin Brett, he was involved in promoting electric telegraphy from 1846. John Watkins Brett became justly famous for his advocacy and successful introduction of submarine telegraphy in England, France, Italy, Austria and America. He was promoting companies to further underwater electrical communication as early as the Railway Mania Year of 1845, going on to create the pioneering Submarine Telegraph Company and manage it to success. Brett founded the Atlantic Telegraph Company and was involved with this and the earliest plans for cables to India through the 1850s and 60s. Brett died in a lunatic asylum just before all of his plans came true.

Jacob Brett (1808-1897) – The younger brother of John Watkins Brett, was an electrical engineer whose name appears on several telegraphic patents in the 1840s and 1850s. There was “an appeal in favour of pecuniary assistance” for him in 1882.

The writer of these pages has published a short biography of John Watkins Brett and his brother, ‘The Moving Fire”, on the Atlantic Cable website.

Charles Tilston Bright (1832-1888) – He was employed by the Electric Telegraph Company in their electrical department for five years, before joining the British Telegraph Company for a short period. He became Engineer to the Magnetic Telegraph Company, as it then was, in 1852 until 1860 inventing, among other devices, the Bell telegraph. After forming a partnership with Latimer Clark (q.v.) in 1861 he remained as Consultant Engineer to the Magnetic company until 1868. His achievements for the Magnetic included the first successful Irish cable (after two previous attempts) in 1852 and his very efficient acoustic Bell telegraph which was widely used in its circuits from 1855 onward. His other affairs much reduced his contribution to the Magnetic company’s business after 1861, causing concern by the board. He was also, and famously, promoter and engineer of the Atlantic Telegraph Company from 1856 until 1862; after the failure of the first cables he parted on very bad terms with the board of directors. He was promoter of and consulting engineer to the early cables in the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and the West Indies between 1861 and 1873, and later to several in the South Atlantic. He was more accomplished in company promotion than in his technical ability, carefully managing his image as the father of the intercontinental cable through several books and many articles, aided in this by his brother, Edward (q.v.). Bright was Member of Parliament for Greenwich between 1865 and 1868, and was knighted, prematurely, on the apparent success of the second Atlantic cable in 1858.

Edward Brailsford Bright (1831-1913) - The older brother of C T Bright, he was also an electrical engineer, and was Secretary and General Manager of the Magnetic Telegraph Company in Liverpool from 1851 until 1868. As well as being chief executive he devised fault-finding instruments and undertook important research into retardation in cables. For a period after 1870 he was in partnership with his brother as a civil engineer in submarine telegraphy. In the 1870s E B Bright patented a widely-used system of electrical fire alarms. He was, in the 1880s, Chairman of the British & Irish Telephone Company and of the British Electric Light Company. He wrote extensively throughout his life and was an early historian of the telegraph industry and biographer.

John Brittan (1809-1886) - “The first mechanic who was called upon to construct an apparatus for the transmission of signals by electricity and magnetism,” Brittan was employed by Moore Brothers, Clerkenwell Close, to work on W F Cooke’s earliest telegraphic instruments in 1836, in which year he made a mechanical one the size of a “barrel organ”, the very first of Cooke’s designs; during 1837 and 1838 he also made several clockwork machines and electrical alarms for Cooke. Brittan was present at the first demonstration of the telegraph to the London & Birmingham Railway in 1838. This was all confirmed in correspondence with Cooke in December 1867. Britten joined the Electric Telegraph Company during 1849 and rose to become Superintendent of the Instrument Department at their Gloucester Road factory in London, retiring to live in Bath, Somerset, in 1870. He also worked in the 1850s as a clockmaker at 3 Bowling Green Lane, Clerkenwell. His son, Thomas Brittan, became a telegraph instrument maker with his own workshops at 22 Tysoe Street, Clerkenwell.

Colin Brodie (1830-192?) - Telegraph engineer. Born Perth, Scotland, Colin Brodie was employed as “line assistant” to Nathaniel Holmes of the Universal Private Telegraph Company in 1861, rising to become Assistant Engineer in 1864 and Engineer in 1867. Brodie joined the Post Office in 1870 and served as Surveyor of Private Telegraphs until the 1890s. He was also appointed Secretary of the Telephonic Department in 1881, retiring from the Post Office in 1895. He introduced the telegraph exchange in 1865, interconnecting four subscribers in Newcastle-upon-Tyne using the umschalter or switchboard. In 1872 he created a 60 line exchange in Newcastle connecting 40 private wire subscribers and 20 post offices; this was converted to a telephone exchange in 1881. Brodie married his wife Sarah in 1868, they had three daughters and three sons, several of which became telegraph clerks. The family lived in St Pancras, London, between 1868 and c. 1914. He was one of the original members of the Society of Telegraph Engineers.

Sir James Carmichael Bt. (1817-1883) - Sir James Robert Carmichael, 2nd Baronet, was born on 11 June 1817. He was the son of Major-General Sir James Carmichael Smyth, 1st Bt., an eminent military engineer, and Harriet  Morse (no relation!). The Smyth part was dropped in 1841. Joining the British Army he gained the rank of Ensign in the 86th Regiment of Foot, selling out on succeeding to the baronetcy in 1838 to manage his small estate at Oakdene, Edenbridge, Kent. He became acquainted with John Watkins Brett and the telegraph in 1845, probably though their mutual interest in art, and, as an able diplomatist, negotiated for him with government in Britain and Europe. He was a director of the Sovereign Life Assurance Company from its founding in 1846 until his death, and dabbled in joint-stock promotions for a short period in the 1860s, but otherwise confined his interests to the telegraph. Carmichael joined Brett as one of his partners in acquiring the French and Belgian cable concessions, eventually becoming Chairman of the Submarine Telegraph Company and a director of the Mediterranean Telegraph Company. He remained chairman of the Submarine company until his death and was effectively its chief manager. He also was on the board of the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company in the 1860s, but, curiously, was never associated with Brett’s great project, the Atlantic Telegraph Company. Carmichael was a close friend of the writer W M Thackeray and was executor to the estate of John Watkins Brett in 1863. In later years he held the office of Deputy Lieutenant of Kent. He married Louisa Charlotte Butler in 1841, they had three children. The baronetcy ceased with his son, James Morse Carmichael, a Liberal politician and Member of Parliament, who died unmarried in 1902.

Edwin Clark (1814-1894) – the elder brother of J Latimer Clark (q.v.). He worked with Robert Stephenson on the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Straits between Wales and Anglesey for the London & North-Western Railway. He was Chief Engineer to the Electric Telegraph Company from August 1850 until 1854, managing its construction and mechanical works; being retained subsequently as Consultant Engineer. He obtained several patents for improved telegraph apparatus, railway signalling, the Electric company’s first standard pole insulator and for suspending wire. He was also an accomplished hydraulic and dock engineer, to which profession he reverted in the partnership of Clark, Stansfield & Clark.

(Josiah) Latimer Clark (1822-1898) – younger brother of Edwin Clark (q.v.). He was originally a chemist and later a railway surveyor during the Railway Mania of the 1840’s, and worked for Robert Stephenson on the great railway bridge across the Menai Straits. He became Assistant Engineer to the Electric Telegraph Company in August 1850, and succeeded his brother Edwin as Chief Engineer in 1854, responsible for its mechanical works, especially cable-laying, a post he held until 1861 when he became its Consultant Engineer. From that time he was also Engineer to the Atlantic Telegraph Company. He devised improvements in resin coating of underground wires in the 1850’s, the Clark cell for electric batteries, a new insulator and a pneumatic message-transfer system. He went into partnership as a Consulting Engineer with C T Bright (q.v.) from 1861 until 1868. Clark then formed a partnership with Forde and Taylor in that year as cable engineers and together they engineered submarine cables in the Mediterranean, in the Far East, around Africa and across the South Atlantic.

William Fothergill Cooke (1806-1879) – John Monro provided a concise biography of him in ‘Heroes of the Telegraph’ in 1891 to which all are recommended. Latimer Clark summarised in his obituary; “none but those who were engaged in the early struggle of the English telegraphists know the energy, determination and patience” of W F Cooke.

Maria Craig (1823-188?) – Lady Superintendant or ‘Matron’ of female clerks for the Electric Telegraph Company. Mrs Craig, a widow, was born in Dublin in 1823, and lived in Streatham, South London, with her five children, relying on her elder sister, Margaret, to manage her household. Mrs Craig was responsible for recruiting, training and supervising all women télégraphistes, numbering several hundred, employed by the Company from around 1856 when she came to London, until 1868. She personally trained each new female recruit and saw to their welfare. Two of her sons and one of her daughters were to be employed by the Company as clerk operators. She went on to be senior ‘Matron’ with the Post Office Telegraphs, in her words, “growing grey in their service”. A pioneer in management.

(Alexander) Angus Croll (1811-1887) - “An experimental and manufacturing chemist, a gas engineer and superintendent, and a considerable proprietor of gas works”. Angus or A A Croll was born in Perth, Scotland to a worker in the textile industry. Apprenticed to the family business he built a model gas works in his teen years, which industry became his enduring vocation. In 1836 Croll came to London as a manufacturing chemist, patenting several improvements in gas manufacture. When his business failed in 1843 he joined London’s Chartered Gaslight & Coke Company as an engineer, managing their Bow works. After six years Croll became lessee of gasworks in Coventry, Tottenham and Winchester. In 1849 he became contractor to the Great Central Gas Consumers’ Company in London, running their works at Bow Common, investing in the concern and eventually becoming its Managing Director. The company was created to break the gas light monopoly in the City of London with a cheap tariff and a limit of 10% in dividend.

In 1860 Angus Croll became an investor in and director of the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company, Limited, which had a similar ethic to that of his Gas Consumers’ Company. In 1861 he became Managing Director and the engine of its public image as the “consumers’ friend”. Although in no way as successful as his gas enterprises, the United Kingdom company was perceived as having brought down the cost of public telegraphy during the 1860s. On the appropriation of the telegraphs by the state in 1868, the Company and Croll were singled out by Parliament for having introduced the one shilling flat rate message. A magnificent silver testimonial in the form of a fountain valued at over £1,000 was presented to him in 1871 for his work with the United Kingdom company.

Croll, however, was far more important in reforming and improving the gaslight industry and chemical engineering, with which he continued to the end of his life, as well as with many works for the public good, including prison reform, local government, the volunteer rifle movement and Christian charities.

Richard Spelman Culley (1818-1901) - Telegraph engineer. Son of John Culley, a Norwich wine merchant, he was an early associate of Cooke and Wheatstone in the 1840s. He became Superintendent for the Electric Telegraph Company in his home town of Norwich, Norfolk, in July 1846. Culley was to be one of the most widely experienced managers and engineers in the Company’s service. By May 1848 he was Superintendent at Derby, a vital centre for traffic north and south, and assisting W H Barlow with experiments recording electrical phenomena. In November 1853 he was Superintendent in Manchester for the North West of England, moving once again in 1855 to superintend the works in Scotland. By December 1859 Culley was Superintendent in Bristol for the West of England, where he stayed for seven years. With his experience it is unsurprising that Culley was appointed engineer-in-chief to the Company in January 1866, living for the first time in London. He joined the Post Office Telegraphs in January 1870 as Chief Engineer, retiring in 1877. For the rest of his life he returned to the West of England, dying at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, age 83.

Culley’s publication of ‘A Handbook of Practical Telegraphy’, a basic reader in electrical technology, in 1863 went through eight editions for over forty years, being recommended by the directors of the Electric & International Telegraph Company, by the Post Office Telegraphs and by the Department of Telegraphs in India; and translated into French, Italian and Romanian.

Richard Spelman Culley was a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and the Royal Scottish Society of Arts, as well as being as a founder member of the Society of Telegraph Engineers. He married his wife Harriett, who he met at Derby, in Manchester in 1853. They had three children, the eldest, William Richard Culley, became a significant telegraph engineer in his own right.

Charles Henry Davis Curtoys (1828 – 1901) – Telegraph company manager. Born in Edmonton, London, he was the son of Charles Lockyer Curtoys, a miller and coal merchant, who brought his family up at Lee Park, Blackheath, Kent. By 1855 Curtoys was working for the Electric Telegraph Company, rising to be District Superintendent for the West-of-England. He was Assistant Secretary in London for the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company in 1860, before becoming Secretary and Manager of the London District Telegraph Company in 1861. Only Curtoys’ determination and imaginative marketing enabled the District company to survive until 1868. He was a close friend of the engineer Charles Bright (q.v.), acting as agent when Bright became Member of Parliament for Greenwich. Retiring from business in 1870 for many years, he became secretary and manager of the Consolidated Telephone Construction & Maintenance Company, licensees of the Gower patents, on its foundation in 1881. Curtoys lived at Heath Lodge, Old Charlton, Kent, near to his family home, for most of his life, and died at Blackheath, Kent. He appears not to have married.

George Edward Dering (1831-1911) - Apparently tutored by the telegraphic pioneer Henry Highton (q.v.) at Rugby School, he was a landowner with an estate at Lockleys, Welwyn, England, and was an inventing dilettante. He acquired twenty patents in Britain between 1850 and 1881 relating to telegraphy, chemistry, iron- and brick- making. His single needle telegraph of 1850 was used experimentally after 1852 on some railways, by the Bank of England and by the Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland. Dering developed in 1853 theories that were said to anticipate radio transmission, although none of his other telegraphic inventions were successful.

Robert Valentine Dodwell (1831-1904) – An interesting career; born in Vauxhall, London; a telegraph clerk in Liverpool in 1851, married in 1857; a very active District Manager for the Magnetic Telegraph Company, Manchester, in 1859, rebuilding the circuits of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and marketing Henley’s dial telegraph; lecturer and writer on telegraphy, 1861-62; engineer to Bonelli’s Telegraph Company, Manchester, in 1863; patentee of insect repellent, 1863; bankrupt in September 1863; commission agent to the Universal Private Telegraph Company, Manchester, July 1864; consulting telegraph engineer, 4 Blue Boar Court, Manchester, April 1865; probably engineer to the General Private Telegraph Company, 1865- 1866; continued as contractor for private wires until January 1871 when he sold that business to John Bailey & Co., Albion Works, Oldfield Road, Salford, brass-founders and turret clock makers, for whom he managed their new telegraph instrument department; moved to London, compiled ‘The Social Code’, a telegraph code book, with George Ager, 1874; managing director of the Oriental Telegram Agency, Leadenhall Street, London, 1875, which used his abbreviating code to correspond with agents in India, China, America, Australia and Europe on behalf of subscribers; then again an electrical engineer, 1876, on the agency’s failure. After leaving Salford, he lived in Fulham, London, and then Epsom, Surrey, with his wife, Blanche, and their grown-up children, until he died, age 73, in 1904.

James Sealy Fourdrinier (1805-1870) - Secretary to the Electric Telegraph Company between March 1849 and December 1863. Born in the City of London, he was the son of Sealy Fourdrinier, one of partners in the rights to the first paper making machine, through which the family acquired considerable wealth from the early 1800s. The machine patent was owned by John Gamble, the pioneer in canning of foodstuffs. J S Fourdrinier relied on the family fortune until the death of his father in 1847. His tenure as Secretary, though long, was judged unsatisfactory, as he was to demonstrate poor people management and decision-making skills. He was, it has to be said, much older than most managers in the telegraph business. It was also said that he owed his position in the Company to the influence of Douglas Pitt Gamble, son of John Gamble and personal secretary to the chairman, who he had supported in a law suit. J S Fourdrinier was compelled to retire, age 58, in 1863, moving then to Bath, Somerset, where he died in August 1870. He never married.

Robert Grimston (1816-1884) Most noted as a gifted amateur sportsman, excelling in cricket between 1833 and 1855, as well as being a boxer, at Harrow School, Oxford University and with the Marylebone Cricket Club; Grimston on leaving Oxford in 1838 entered Lincoln’s Inn, one of London’s Inns of Court, after qualifying he practiced as a barrister between 1843 and 1852. He abandoned the law to join the board of the Electric Telegraph Company in 1852. He succeeded Robert Stephenson as Chairman on his death in 1859 and remained so until 1868. Latterly the guiding management personality for the Electric company, he joined the board of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in 1867, and was Chairman of the Indo-European Telegraph Company from 1868; remaining until his own death in 1884. Grimston had represented the Electric’s interests on domestic cable companies’ and other boards before the government took over. One of several sons of the Earl of Verulam, he remained unmarried. Little else is known about this important individual.

James Gutteres (1818-1898) - Telegraph manager. The son of M Guttères of Sidmouth, Devon, he studied law and qualified at the Middle Temple, London. Although he practised as a barrister in 1847, by 1851 he was a “clerk” with the Electric Telegraph Company in London. He was appointed Secretary of the International Telegraph Company in 1853 but was dismissed in the same year. Gutteres joined the English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company and was Superintendent in Cork, Ireland in 1856, and at Leeds in England four years later, being promoted to Manager of the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company’s chief office in London in 1861. Early in 1864 he became Secretary of Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company. On the failure of that concern he became a close associate of Charles Bright, late engineer of the Magnetic and promoter of the Atlantic Telegraph Companies, in his many cable enterprises. In 1870 he was Superintendent of the West India & Panama Telegraph Company in Jamaica where he remained for several years with his family. Returning to England by 1880 he became chairman of a number of mining companies. Gutteres died on Jersey, in the Channel Islands, in 1898. He married Susan Gooch in September 1847, they had several daughters.

William Henry Hatcher (1821-1879)Professional manager, civil engineer, chemist, and telegraph patentee. Born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, the son of Henry Hatcher, a well-known antiquarian and historian, he studied at King’s College, London, Wheatstone’s campus, becoming a civil engineer. He was employed by the Electric Telegraph Company as Secretary and Chief Engineer shortly after its formation in 1846; whilst there he encouraged the Hancock family, then developing india-rubber, to use gutta-percha as a cable insulator in 1847. He also patented an early dial telegraph and the mercury trembler switch. Hatcher was replaced as Secretary in March 1849, but was retained as Engineer until August 1850; keeping up a connection with the company for another year or so. He joined the provisional board of the Magnetic Telegraph Company when it was created in 1851. Hatcher wrote widely on engineering and technical matters in the late 1840s and early 1850s, and was a Member of Institution of Civil Engineers from 1843. He became connected with Price’s Patent Candle Company, Belmont Works, Battersea, London, in 1850 and was its chemical engineer and manager until his death in August 1879.

William Thomas Henley (1814-1882) electrician. From being a maker of electrical apparatus he introduced the magneto-electric telegraph without galvanic batteries and pioneered underground cables. He patented a wide range of telegraphic apparatus and tools; metallic troughs, pole insulators, chemical telegraphs, improvements in magneto-electric machines and, latterly, magneto- and galvanic-dial telegraphs for private circuits. From being an instrument maker in the early 1840s Henley became a major telegraph contractor erecting Cooke & Wheatstone lines for the South Eastern Railway in 1846. He was the main promoter of the English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company in 1850. Henley provided materials for the Magnetic company and later for the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company. In the 1860s his firm was manufacturing galvanometers to his design in quantity, as well as military telegraphs for the Army. He expanded his equipment factory into a joint-stock company for producing electrical and submarine cable equipment in 1868. Henley was an inventor not a manager; the works only flourished after he had left them in 1876.

Edward Highton (1817-1859)a civil engineer, telegraph engineer and company promoter, working in concert with his elder brother, the Reverend Henry Highton. Henry Highton patented a high-tension telegraph in 1844 and the sensitive gold-leaf telegraph in 1846. Edward was to develop from 1848 and patent a simplified, inexpensive needle telegraph using tappers (or keys) rather than commutators, and to make several innovations in overhead wire telegraphy, as well as being an early advocate of resin-insulated subterranean circuits. Edward Highton, having been a civil engineer, was apparently telegraph superintendent of the London & North-Western Railway between 1846 and 1848. He went on to found the British Electric Telegraph Company to work their patents in 1849 but had sold his interest to others by 1855. Born in Leicester St Margaret Edward Highton did not marry; he supported his three sisters. He lived at 5 Gloucester Road, Regent’s Park, from c 1845. The brother, Henry Highton (1816 – 1874), was a minister in the Church of England and was Principal of Cheltenham College from 1859 until 1862, as well as engaging in developing telegraphic apparatus from the 1840s into the 1870s. He married and had twelve children.  Edward Highton's single needle telegraph was one of the most widely used in Britain, but the family’s contribution to telegraphy remains largely unrecognised.

Nathaniel John Holmes (1824-1888)an electrical engineer. Descendent of a family of leather merchants in London, at age 23 he was both manager of the Electric Telegraph Company’s central station, having designed its electrical circuitry, and manager of its instrument workshops. Dismissed in 1849 he worked with Francis Whishaw (q.v.) for a short period. Holmes journeyed to Glasgow, Scotland, in 1850 to become manager of its Polytechnic Institution in Jamaica Street. In 1853 he set up as N J Holmes & Company, “ornamental draughtsmen, lithographers, embossers and printers” in Cochran Street, Glasgow. The firm failed in November 1856. After meeting Charles Wheatstone at a lecture in Glasgow he took up telegraphy once more, with several patents. Settling his financial affairs, Holmes returned to London in 1859 to work with Wheatstone, for whom he promoted, engineered and managed the Universal Private Telegraph Company from 1860 until 1866. He became, under Wheatstone’s guidance, involved with submarine telegraphy, initially as engineer to the London & South-of-Ireland Direct Telegraph Company in 1862. Holmes also worked closely with the American navigator and inventor, Matthew Maury, developing electrically-detonated torpedoes for the Confederate States in 1865. Holmes later in the 1860s became engineer to the Orkney & Shetland Islands Telegraph Company and then, for many years, to the Great Northern Telegraph Company of Copenhagen. After bitter experiences cable-laying in the Orkney Islands in the 1870s he patented life-saving maritime air horns and instantaneous signal lights, forming the “Holmes Marine Life Protection Association”. Always interested in acoustics, he was in the 1870s famous for his organ music. Holmes became bankrupt again in May 1878. He was married in Croydon, south of London, in June 1850, and lived from 1860 until his demise in 1888 at Primrose Hill, Hampstead, London.  In 1888 he was described as the last of the first telegraphers.

The writer of these pages has published a short biography of Nathaniel J Holmes on the Atlantic Cable website.

Thomas Home (1825-1898) - the first manager of a public telegraph, between 1845 and 1847. Born in Hadnall, Shropshire, son of an agricultural labourer, Home was an assistant to W F Cooke on the telegraph line between Paddington and Slough in 1843. He became licensee to work the Cooke & Wheatstone patents there paying them a fee of £170 a year until displaced by the Electric Telegraph Company. Although only 19 years old Home worked closely with both Cooke and Wheatstone, for the first time developing the telegraph as a business, widely publicising it in newspapers and posters. By 1851, after a short period in Cheshire, he had become a coal-dealer in Bicester, Oxfordshire, before starting a business as a brick, tile and pipe maker at the Cross Road Kiln, Brill, Oxfordshire, in 1860. Home had married Emma Burge in 1848 and they had ten surviving children. He lived in Brill for the rest of his life.

John Lavender (1829-189?)telegraph engineer. Educated at Manchester Grammar School, after a period at sea, he joined the British Telegraph Company in 1851. He was an assistant-engineer with special emphasis on erecting and rigging pole telegraphs in the Manchester and Eastern districts; in particular, from 1853, with high masts across rivers and roof tops in cities. In 1858, with the failure of the Magnetic company’s underground lines he started substituting overhead wires on the route between Manchester and London, but was soon relegated to a clerical role and left in 1859. Subsequently he became a “telegraph constructor” in Manchester, employed by railways and by the Magnetic company to build overhead circuits, with his speciality of very high over-house poles of 60 and 70 feet length. Lavender rejoined the Magnetic company around 1866 as a District Superintendant in Leeds and Cambridge. He resigned his position rather than join the Post Office Telegraphs and became Telegraph Superintendent of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company – the British Telegraph Company’s original partner of 1851. Latterly he became involved in the provision of electric light in Manchester.

John Pender (1816-1896) - Merchant, of London, Glasgow and Manchester. John Pender was undoubtedly the most important individual in 19th Century communications; although his influence on domestic electric telegraphy in Britain was relatively modest he effectively controlled the intercontinental cable business for half a century. Born in Leven, Dumbartonshire, Scotland, he was a successful merchant, trading, primarily in textiles, with India, China and America.

From his business hub in Manchester, in 1852 Pender invested in the newly formed British Electric Telegraph Company, the first concern to challenge the patent monopoly of the Electric Telegraph Company, and became one of its Directors. From this early speculation, an adjunct to his mercantile activities and related to his portfolio of railway shareholdings, Pender became an early investor in the even riskier Atlantic Telegraph Company of 1856. Despite the failure of the Atlantic cable in 1858 he retained confidence in the project to the extent of personally guaranteeing £250,000 for materials used in the successful cable of 1866. Realising the profits to be generated from intercontinental telegraphy he invested subsequently in over thirty cable companies that connected Britain with the entire populated world; from America, to India, China, Australia, Southern Africa, the West Indies and Latin America. The main vehicles for these were the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, the Eastern Telegraph Company and the Globe Telegraph & Trust Company, in which Pender was chairman and controlling shareholder. He also invested in the cable contracting concern, the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company.

Throughout his career he styled himself “Merchant”, from which trade the bulk of his considerable fortune derived, as well as from many investments in railways in Britain and overseas, and in telegraphy.

Pender married twice and raised two sons and two daughters. His eldest son succeeded him in managing his cable interests. He held property in Scotland and the South of England, and was awarded many honours from countries around the world for the connections his cable companies afforded.

William Powell (1826-188?) telegraph engineer, creator of two substantial domestic networks in Britain. Born in Kemberton, near Shifnal, Shropshire, Powell joined the Electric Telegraph Company in 1848 in Northampton, eventually becoming Inspector of Works for the Midlands. In 1852 he left to join the newly-created British Telegraph Company as Engineer in Manchester, being responsible for its overhead lines in the north of England. Overlooked in the merger between the Magnetic and British companies in 1857, he took up farming at Aspinal Smithy, near Denton in Lancashire. Powell was to join the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company in London during 1861 as Engineer of its works and oversaw the remarkable expansion of its national network in 1863 and 1864, despite considerable financial difficulties. In the later 1860s he became a consulting telegraph engineer, maintaining his relationship with the United Kingdom company until 1868, having offices at No 1 Circus Place, Finsbury, London. He married in Northampton and had six children.

William Henry Preece (1834-1913)an electrical engineer. Educated at King’s College, London, he joined the staff of Edwin Clark, engineer to the Electric Telegraph Company in 1852. He rose to become District Superintendent for the Company in Southampton during 1856, where he supervised the works of the Channel Islands Telegraph Company in 1858. His first post of authority was as Telegraph Superintendent of the London & South-Western Railway between 1860 and 1870, where he developed an electrical railway signalling system in 1862. In 1870 Preece was appointed one of the District Engineers in the Post Office Telegraphs and then in 1877 became Electrician for the whole system. Although he did little to advance electrical technology in that job Preece’s lasting claim to fame was his work at the end of his life with Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless telegraphy. He managed to accumulate an immense fortune whilst working for the Post Office Telegraphs.

His brother, George Edward Preece (1836-1895), was also a significant telegraph engineer, working as submarine electrician and district superintendent for the Electric Telegraph Company, as engineer and electrician of the British government’s Malta and Alexandria cable, and then as chief electrical engineer to W T Glover & Company, the cable makers, in Manchester.

William Reid (1798-186?) a Scottish-born philosophical and scientific instrument maker whose firm dated from 1820; the first ever telegraph contractor in Britain. He constructed many of the early instruments for Cooke and Wheatstone, and subsequently for the Electric company, becoming a major line-building and maintenance contractor in the early days of both the Electric and Magnetic companies; for example constructing most of the lines in Scotland and Ireland for the latter concern. He was involved with the laying of the first submarine telegraph cables across the Channel and patented several widely-used improvements in subterranean cable-laying to protect the resin insulated wires; he handed over management of his eponymous firm (q.v.) to his sons in March 1856 but lived on well into the 1860s. On retirement he became a critical shareholder in several telegraph companies whose stock he acquired in the course of his business. When he moved from Glasgow he lived initially “above the shop” at 25 University Street, St Pancras, then at 27 Chalcot Villas (a.k.a. 63 Adelaide Road), Primrose Hill. His firm continued trading as electrical instrument makers until 1922.

(John) Lewis Ricardo (1812–1862) - Son of the financier, Jacob Ricardo, and nephew of the economist, David Ricardo. An athlete in his youth he intended to join the Army but the early death of his father caused Lewis Ricardo to take over the family mercantile firm with his brother Samson. He became Member of Parliament for Stoke-upon-Trent, an industrial constituency, as a Liberal in 1841; a seat he retained until his death. Ricardo was an active Free Trader, campaigning for the repeal of the Corn Laws and the Navigation Acts that restricted trade. As well as being Chairman of the Electric Telegraph Company for over ten years he was a director of the North Staffordshire Railway, the Norwegian Trunk Railway, the Metropolitan Railway and the London & Westminster Bank. He was fortunate to inherit, through his wife’s family, a large estate in Scotland. When he resigned as Chairman of the Electric the staff presented him with one thousand books for his library in recognition of his stewardship of the company. Then, when he died in 1862 after an eight month illness, the offices of the Electric, Magnetic and District Telegraph Companies closed for a day in commemoration.

The Electrician magazine was to write in 1862; “There can be no question that it was Mr Ricardo who succeeded in establishing the electric telegraph on a firm and successful footing in this country”.

George Saward (1822-1873)professional manager. From being secretary or manager of a small railway company in 1847, he was successively secretary to the British Telegraph Company and to the Atlantic Telegraph Company. The success of these important concerns owes much to the determination of Saward. Living modestly in Islington, North London, with his wife and family from c.1850, he was out-of-place by 1871. His widow published his telegraphic memoir in 1878. Another unsung stalwart of telegraphy.

(Johannes Matthias) Augustus Stroh (1828-1914)a mechanician and inventor. Born in Frankfurt-am-Main, coming to London in the Exhibition year 1851. Worked for Charles Wheatstone from then until 1875, making models and manufacturing apparatus; perfecting his universal telegraph in 1863 and his automatic telegraph in 1866. Stroh had workshops at 42a Hampstead Road, London NW in the 1860s, employing fifty-four men and ten boys, then was engineer to the British Telegraph Manufactory until 1881, after which he worked for the Post Office. Like many in telegraphy he was interested in acoustics, devising the disc sound recorder in 1892 and the “phonographic violin” in 1900.

Edward Tyer (1830-1912)most noted as a railway electric signal engineer. Born in Enfield, London, he was associated with Dalston in east London for much of his life. Tyer was trained as an accountant but by 1851, age 21, he had patented a simple, single needle, single wire railway signal system, which he continually developed until 1870. In 1856 he was engineer to the Railway Electric Signals Company, a promotion of telegraph interests, formed to work Tyer’s new patents “to ascertain the position and distance of an engine or train”, in Britain and France. This firm did not survive and in 1858 he became electrical engineer to the London District Telegraph Company for several years, adapting his patent signal equipment for use as a compact single-needle telegraph and managing their subterranean and overhead works. In 1862 he was in partnership with John Musgrove Norman as Tyer & Norman at 15 Old Jewry, City, with workshops at Sash Court, Wilson Street, City, manufacturing “Tyer’s Train Signalling Telegraph”. Their apparatus was shown at the International Exhibition in London in that year. By 1874 the firm was much enlarged and became Tyer & Company, electric telegraph engineers and contractors, with works at Beech, later renamed Ashwin, Street, Dalston Junction. In 1878 Tyer patented the “Electric Train Tablet” for safely controlling railway traffic. His apparatus was to dominate railway electric signalling in Britain for well over one hundred years.

Cromwell Fleetwood Varley (1828-1883)Electrician. Born in Kentish Town, London, to a family of artists and engineers. The family were of the Sandemanian spiritualist sect, of the same congregation as Michael Faraday. He joined the newly-founded Electric Telegraph Company in 1846, becoming Electrician for the London region by 1852 and for the entire Company by 1861. He was appointed on the advice of W F Cooke. Varley was appointed to the Board of Trade committee to investigate the failure of the first Atlantic cable in 1858, which led to his appointment as honorary Chief Electrician to the Atlantic Telegraph Company, as well as to the Electric company. Varley devised several major electrical improvements: the ‘killing’ of wire, removing bad parts and preventing springing; perfecting the ‘loop test’ - the localisation of faults in submarine cables; and the ability to make cables “self-repairing”; introducing more efficient current reversal or double current working for the American telegraph; inventing the double coil relay, the translating (relay) system for very long distance traffic, as well as, more prosaically, the Company’s last standard insulator. The “Varley Unit” (c. 23.5 ohms) was the Company’s measurement of electrical resistance. He was long associated with Charles Wheatstone. Varley was an astute businessman and he latterly went into partnership with William Thomson and Fleeming Jenkin to develop their telegraphic patents, which proved highly profitable. 

His brother (Samuel) Alfred Varley (1834-1921) was employed as electrical engineer by the Electric Telegraph Company from 1852 to 1861. He was appointed civilian superintendent firstly of the British Army’s field telegraph in the Crimea and then of the Varna to Constantinople cable during the war with Russia in 1855. He retired from his position as District Superintendent for Metropolitan London with the Electric company to join his father Cornelius Varley in instrument manufacture in 1862 and then, in 1875, he became assistant manager of the British Telegraph Manufactory. He devised the chronopher for accurate time-transmission, and made many other electrical innovations.

Charles Vincent Walker (1812-1882)Electrician to the South Eastern Railway Company from 1845 until his death in 1882. Prior to this he had been a member of the experimental London Electrical Society from 1838, becoming secretary to that group in 1843. He was editor of the short-lived ‘Electric Magazine’ in 1845 and 1846. With the South Eastern Railway he made several improvements in Cooke & Wheatstone’s instruments, in railway signal telegraphy and in transmitting time-signals. In January 1849 he laid a two-mile lightweight gutta-percha insulated submarine cable, the first “ocean” cable, off a steamer from Dover into the English Channel. C V Walker was one of the few involved in the new industry to realise the need for a public record of its achievements, co-operating fully with journalists and historians.

Walker's wife, Susanna Maria, worked a private two-needle telegraph between their home and his office in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where they lived for most of their lives. They had no children.

His brother or half-brother, Alfred Owen Walker (1834-1878), was also employed in the telegraph department of the South Eastern Railway. In 1871 A O Walker was appointed telegraph superintendant of the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

Henry (Edward) Weaver (1825-1893)One of the most important managers in British telegraphy. Clerk-in-charge at Hull for the Electric Telegraph Company in 1854, he transferred to become managing clerk at The Hague and then the Amsterdam offices of the International Telegraph Company in the Netherlands, rising to the position of secretary to the International company and, simultaneously, District Superintendent for London for the Electric company in Britain in 1856. In January 1864 he became Secretary and Chief Manager to the Electric Telegraph Company, leaving in 1868 to become Secretary of the Indo-European Telegraph Company. In 1871 he became General Manager of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, latterly he was Managing Director. He also joined the board of the West India & Panama Telegraph Company. He married in 1853 and had three children, one of which was born in Amsterdam. His eldest daughter was to marry a Hollander.

Frederick Charles Webb (1828 – 1899) - Telegraph and Cable Engineer. A Londoner, he was apprenticed as a marine surveyor with the Royal Navy at age 15. During the Railway mania of 1845 he left to become a surveyor for several new lines, learning civil engineering with James Walker CE. In 1850 Webb became an assistant to Edwin Clark, engineer to the Electric Telegraph Company. For him he surveyed the underground circuits in London and many new telegraphs along the railways. In 1853 he became assistant engineer to the International Telegraph Company, responsible for its cables to The Hague, Dublin, and across the Tay, Forth and Humber rivers. In 1857 he joined the Atlantic Telegraph Company, subsequently working as a consultant engineer on many submarine works, on the Dover – Calais, Cagliari – Malta, Red Sea and India, Isle of Man and Cromer – Emden cables. When the cable business became slack he continued surveying for new railways and writing for technical journals. He was to engineer the Key West – Havana, the second Persian Gulf, the Marseille – Algiers, Bilbao – Porthcurno, Marseille – Barcelona, and River Plate – Brazil cables. Webb’s health was damaged by his travels in the tropics and he ceased active work in 1878. He died by his own hand after a surgical operation in 1899. He was a Life Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, an artist of some talent and a keen musician all of his life.

Charles Samuel West (1813-1881) –  Telegraph cable engineer. Born in Clerkenwell, London, and originally an author, reporter and proprietor of a railway magazine, he advocated india-rubber insulation of electrical wire from 1838. In 1845 he laid the first successful underwater cable, which lasted over fifteen years, in Portsmouth harbour. He gained permissions in England and France along with the Electric Telegraph Company for a circuit from Dover to Calais in 1847, but negotiations were prolonged and the Brett family pre-empted the works. He also successfully laid india-rubber insulated wires in several railway tunnels, including that at Box on the Great Western Railway. Bankrupt as a “manufacturer of insulated wire for electric telegraphs” in July 1850, he became engineer to the Irish Sub-Marine Telegraph Company and several speculative cable concerns. His cables comprised a copper core insulated with india-rubber, protected by a thin cotton and shellac outer, and armoured with plaited iron wire. One such was made to connect England with the Isle of Wight in 1853 for the Electric Telegraph Company. Working with S W Silver & Company (q.v.) in 1859 he perfected the machine for insulating wire with caoutchouc. Known pejoratively as “India-Rubber” West by his peers, he believed that his pioneering of submarine telegraphy was inadequately acknowledged. It is seem that Charles West died a pauper in the Liverpool Workhouse in 1881, in which city he had been a wireworker for the previous 20 years. He married his wife Martha in 1850 when practising as an ‘electric engineer’ in West Mersea, Essex, and they had one daughter, Edith. A telegraphic mystery.

Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875)His personality may be summarised; “Sir Charles Wheatstone was small in feature, childlike to a degree, shortsighted and with a wonderful rapid utterance, yet seemingly quite unable to keep pace with an overflowing mind.” Otherwise the reader is referred to ‘Heroes of the Telegraph’ of 1891 by John Munro for a fine biographical article.

Francis Whishaw (1804-1856) - A civil engineer who had minor roles in several railway projects in the 1830s. In 1836 he developed and publicised a hydraulic telegraph, using a pipe filled with water. He wrote the classic description of the railways of Great Britain in 1840. He became secretary to the Royal Society of Arts & Sciences for a short period, where he presented papers on Cooke & Wheatstone’s apparatus and introduced William Siemens to gutta-percha, before joining the Electric Telegraph Company from 1846 until 1848, creating their message department. He established the General Telegraph Company as contractors and engineers in 1849 where he marketed electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and speaking telegraphs, and fire and burglar alarms; becoming a consultant to the Gutta-Percha Company at about the same time. His advice was sought on introducing the telegraph to India in 1849. Although an engineer by profession, Whishaw’s forte was organising publicity and lobbying; organising exhibitions, writing articles for the press and public speaking. He wrote widely on electric telegraphy from 1840 until his death, and was an early and vociferous advocate of underground circuits insulated with gutta-percha.

Henry Schütz Wilson (1824-1902) - Telegraph Company Manager. One of the fifteen children of Effingham Wilson, the City of London’s leading commercial publisher and stationer, of 11 Royal Exchange, Schütz Wilson was privately educated before working for ten years in a foreign merchant’s business, where he learned  French, German and Italian. He then joined the Electric Telegraph Company as Assistant Secretary in 1853, handling administrative matters before becoming in the 1860s responsible for developing the Company’s foreign connections. He did not join the Post Office Telegraphs in 1870, taking a pension and becoming a prominent critic, essayist and novelist, contributing to many literary journals. Schütz Wilson edited the first editions of the Journal of the Society of Telegraph Engineers in 1872. He wrote many books, novels and factual works, from 1860 and was a vigorous member of the Arts Club from 1864, and of the Alpine Club. He never married.

Some Minor Characters:
There are several individuals associated with the early telegraph companies whose names briefly appear in the public press of the 1840s, 1850 and 1860s. These are a few of them with their subsequent history:

Frederick Ebenezer Baines (1832-1911) - Post Office bureaucrat. Baines worked as a clerk for the Electric Telegraph Company between 1848 and 1855, working at Founders’ Court, Lothbury, and Seymour Street, Euston Square, as an operator; rising to be clerk-in-charge of the Company’s telegraph at the General Post Office in St Martin’s-le-Grand. He then transferred to the Post Office in 1856 as a clerk, becoming, based on his “experience”, its expert on telegraphy. Something of an eminence gris, he worked in the background advocating the appropriation of the telegraphs, a master of disinformation and ambition, he rose high in the bureaucracy, cleverly avoiding any responsibility for the subsequent financial disaster that cost his superiors their jobs. On retirement in 1896 he wrote widely justifying his work at the Post Office. Baines owed his position in the Company and in the Post Office to the influence of Rowland Hill.

Jacob Thompson Bidder (1834-1874) - Born in Yeovil, Somerset, son of a dissenting minister, JT Bidder had become clerk-in-charge of the Central Telegraph Station at Ducie Buildings in Manchester for the Electric & International Telegraph Company by 1860, managing that office for the rest of the decade. In 1870 he chose not to join the Post Office Telegraphs and moved to London, living in Penge, to become Secretary to the Press Association. J T Bidder married in 1870, having a son and a daughter. He died in 1874 at Croydon, Surrey, and his family moved back to Manchester. No relation to G P Bidder.

Theodore George de Chesnel (1828-1857) - Born in France, T G de Chesnel was grandson of Samuel Bentham, the naval architect, whose daughter, Mary, married a French military officer. At age 20, in 1848 he replaced Thomas Home as manager of the telegraph line between Paddington and Slough on the Great Western Railway as Agent for the Electric Telegraph Company. By 1852 he was styled Civil Engineer and had become District Superintendant for the Company in York and was later District Superintendant for Scotland in Edinburgh. In 1855 de Chesnel became engineer to the Mediterranean Electric Telegraph Company’s lines and cables between France, Savoy, Corsica, Sardinia and Africa, but contracted “ague”, probably malaria, whilst working in Corsica, dying at Genoa in March 1857.

William Charles Daniell (1820-188?) - Telegraph Manager. Born in Dedham, Essex, he was a Clerk in the British Electric Telegraph Company’s office in the Royal Exchange, London, during 1851 and by 1868 had become Assistant Secretary of British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company in London. He did not join the Post Office Telegraphs, but became Agent for the Eastern Telegraph and the Anglo-American Telegraph companies, as well as several insurance concerns, in 1871 at Manchester, trading as Daniell & McGrath. He married Mary Lundy from Kingston-upon-Hull, sister to several telegraph engineers, in 1850.

Alfred Eggington (1841-1917) - Born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, son of a solicitor, Alfred Eggington had an exotic career in telegraphy. He joined the Submarine Telegraph Company as a Clerk in 1857, but left them for government service three years later to serve in a cable-laying expedition in the Far East. Shipwrecked in the Malacca Straits he returned to England in 1860 to work for the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company, leaving within a year to join Glass, Elliot & Company as a Clerk at Benghazi, “on the Barbary Coast”, working the Malta to Alexandria cable. In 1865 he became a Clerk on the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company’s leased line in Italy connecting the Malta cable with France, promoted to Clerk-in-Charge in Turin in 1868. Eggington left to be Clerk-in-Charge of the Brest station of the French Atlantic cable in 1869, but returned to Italy as Superintendant of the Anglo-Mediterranean Telegraph Company’s cables and land lines at Otranto and shortly after to be made Agent in Italy for its successor, the Eastern Telegraph Company. He died in Rome, after being created Chevalier of St Maurice by the King of Italy.

Frederick Evan Evans (1835-1914) - Born in London, F E Evans replaced Basil Holmes as District Secretary of the Universal Private Telegraph Company in Manchester in 1864. He joined the Post Office Telegraphs and was posted to Birmingham in 1871 as superintendent, at which post he remained until retirement in 1900, living in Edgbaston. He married his wife, Helena, late in life, retiring to Salcombe, Devon.

Henry Charles Fischer (1833-1905) - Born and educated in Munden, Hanover, H C Fischer worked for the Royal Hanoverian Telegraph Administration between 1852 and 1856, when he joined the Electric Telegraph Company in London. He managed the Foreign Gallery at the Lothbury station, supervising the company’s entire continental traffic, from 1856 until 1870. Fischer became Controller of the Central Telegraph Office of the Post Office in 1870, retiring from that role in 1898. He married Sarah Sawyer in 1878, from which time they lived in Bromley, Kent. They had two children, one becoming a clerk with the Eastern Telegraph Company. Uniquely for one in middle management, Fischer was awarded a knighthood and was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for his contribution to international relations.

Charles Alexander Gerhardi (1837-1905) - Born 1837 in Belgium, C A Gerhardi joined the Belgian government telegraphs in 1853, moving to England in 1856 to join the Electric Telegraph Company as a Clerk. He worked for the Atlantic Telegraph Company in 1857 on board the USS Niagara, and at Heart’s Content on Newfoundland between 1858 and 1859. In 1859 he became Superintendent for the Submarine Telegraph Company in St Helier, Jersey, whose island cable connected with circuits in France and Continental Europe, where he remained until 1871. During 1872 Gerhardi became Manager of the Direct Spanish Telegraph Company, and lasted over twenty years in their service.

Adolphus Graves (1838-1903) - Born in Clifton, Yorkshire, the son of an Army officer, he joined the Electric Telegraph Company in York as a clerk in 1852 with his elder brother, Edward. By 1861, when age 23, he was the Company’s District Superintendent at York. Choosing not to join the Post Office Graves became Telegraph Superintendent of the North Eastern Railway Company in January 1870 until a paralysis compelled his retirement in 1902, introducing block signalling, the telephone and electric lighting. An original member of the Society of Telegraph Engineers, his “retiring disposition” prevented him from speaking at the many meetings he attended. Graves married in 1864, and he had one daughter. His younger brother, Anthony Graves, was to become a telegraph clerk, age 14, in York during 1861.

Edward Graves (1834-1893) - The elder brother of Adolphus Graves (q.v), Edward Graves, also joined the Electric Telegraph Company as a Clerk in York in 1852 and was to replace T G de Chesnel as District Superintendent for Northern England in 1856. After 1870 he was appointed by the Post Office Telegraphs as District Engineer in Birmingham, and succeeded R S Culley as Engineer-in-Chief in 1878.

James Graves (1833-1911) - Born at Chesterton near Cambridge, Graves wrote a highly-detailed diary of his career in the telegraph industry, published on-line by Dr Donard de Cogan. He joined the Electric Telegraph Company in Lothbury as a ‘Learner’ in December 1852, transferring to Southampton as a Clerk in February 1853 and back to the Foreign Galley in Lothbury in 1857. He became Clerk-in-Charge of the Jersey station of the Channel Islands Telegraph Company in 1860, then Submarine Electrician to the Electric company in 1861 and Assistant to the Chief Electrician between 1862 and 1863. In 1864 Graves joined the Atlantic Telegraph Company and became Superintendant of the Valentia station, the cable end in Ireland, until his retirement in 1909.

John Henry Greener (1829-18??) - One of the earliest telegraph engineers, J H Greener was first employed on the circuits of the London & Blackwall Railway in 1843, joining the Electric Telegraph Company in 1847. He became Superintendent of Telegraphs for the Blackwall Railway in 1849. Rejoining the Electric company in 1853 he was responsible for new lines they had contracted to build alongside railways in Norway and Denmark. In 1860 joined the British India government telegraphs, surveying and constructing circuits in Turkey and Persia between 1861 and 1865. In 1865 he returned to London as Inspecting Engineer of Telegraph Stores for India and the Colonies.

James Humphrey Hammerton (1802-1898) - Hammerton had an early interest in electricity, supervising construction of the lines on the Great Western Railway and in the north-east of England for the Electric Telegraph Company. In September 1848 he was Superintendant of the Company’s “Central District” at the Central Telegraph Station in Lothbury, London. By the early 1850s Hammerton had become a Commercial Agent in London, from which occupation he retired in 1880.

Frederick Troake Jago Haynes (1844-18??) - Haynes was born in Exeter, becoming a Clerk for the Electric Telegraph Company at Exeter St David’s station on the Bristol & Exeter Railway, in 1857, moving to the District office in Taunton during 1858. He became Clerk to the Telegraph Superintendent on the Exeter railway in 1859. During 1865 and 1869 he was responsible for introducing electrical block signalling, and in 1874 Haynes was appointed Superintendent of Telegraphs for the Bristol & Exeter Railway.

Arthur West Heaviside (1844-1923) - A nephew of Charles Wheatstone, the son of Thomas Heaviside, a draughtsman and engraver of St Pancras, London, A W Heaviside joined the Universal Private Telegraph Company as an “electric telegraph assistant” in London during 1861, age 16. He became District Secretary for the Company in Newcastle-upon-Tyne by 1864. In 1870 he joined the Post Office Telegraphs in Newcastle as an engineer, eventually becoming superintendant engineer for the North East of England, employing his brother, Herbert, as his clerk. A W Heaviside married his wife Isabella in 1870; of their three sons, one was named Basil, after Basil Holmes, and one Colin, after Colin Brodie, colleagues in the Universal company. He was elder brother to Oliver Heaviside, the electrical theorist.

Edward Moseley (1829-188?) - Telegraph Manager. The eldest son of Edward Moseley, a wine merchant, of Camberwell, he became a “clerk at the electric telegraph” in Manchester in 1851 along with two of his brothers, Thomas Beeby and Litchfield Moseley, after the failure of their father’s business. He became connected with the newly-formed English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company in 1852 initially in Manchester then in 1853 as Manager of their station at Old Broad Street, London. By 1857 Moseley was Assistant Secretary in London of the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, their second most important management position. Sometime before 1868 he joined the broking firm of his younger brother, Thomas Beeby Moseley, who also had been a telegraph clerk, and became a member of the London Stock Exchange. Moseley joined the 7th Surrey Rifle Volunteers in 1860 as an ensign, along with Charles Bright (q.v.), and rose to be Lieutenant-Colonel of that Corps in the 1870s. He married his wife, Emily, in 1856, and they had three children.

John Muirhead, senior (1807-1885) - Telegraph Engineer. Born Salton, Haddingtonshire, Scotland; after assisting Edwin Clark (q.v.) in the construction of the Conway and Britannia bridges on the Chester & Holyhead Railway, Muirhead was appointed storekeeper to the Electric Telegraph Company in 1851, and then managed its warehouse in Lambeth from 1855. He became Superintendant of the Company’s new factory in Gloucester Road North, Regent’s Park in 1858, and there introduced several innovations in batteries and electrical equipment. Retiring in 1870, age 62, rather than work for the Post Office, Muirhead practiced as a telegraph engineer for some years. He married Margaret Lauder in 1845; their eldest son, also John, was the famous electrical engineer. Another son, Alexander, a doctor, also became a telegraph engineer.

Joseph Nelson (1830-189?) - Telegraph Manager. Nelson shows typical progress in the provincial service of the Electric Telegraph Company. Born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, the son of John Nelson, a plasterer, he joined the Company as a learner in 1849. By 1851 he was, age 23, a Telegraph Clerk at the important “transmission station” between the north and the south at Normanton, Yorkshire, still living at Wakefield, supporting two of his sisters. In 1854 he was Telegraph Clerk at Bradford, Yorkshire. In 1860, age 32, Nelson became Clerk-in-Charge of the busy telegraph station in Leeds, living in the suburb of Hunslet. In the mid-1860s, in addition to managing the Leeds station of the Electric company, he became Agent for the Universal Private Telegraph Company which ran several private wires from about the city into the public office for re-transmission. Nelson did not join the Post Office Telegraphs in 1870 but took a pension, age 42; in that year he was earning the remarkably large annual salary of £235 from his two positions. To supplement his annuity he became an insurance agent in Leeds. Nelson met and married his wife, Mary, in Wakefield in 1850; they had three sons and three daughters, and never left Yorkshire. His eldest son, John, became a telegraph clerk.

George Glanville Newman (1834-1892) - Telegraph Engineer. Born in Brighton, Sussex, son of a coach proprietor, G G Newman joined the Electric Telegraph Company as a clerk in Uxbridge, Middlesex, around 1851; by 1864 he was District Superintendent for the North West at Liverpool, until 1869, where he devised the electrical apparatus for measuring the muzzle velocity of cannon. He joined the London & North-Western Railway in 1870 as Superintendent of Telegraphs, working in Manchester, later being moved to London; he became a consulting telegraph engineer by 1881. Newman had retired by 1891 and returned to Brighton in that year, where he died. Unmarried, he lived in lodgings for virtually all of his life.

Selina Gabrielle Oppenheim (1827-1905) - Lady Superintendent of the London District Telegraph Company and pro bono Secretary of the Telegraph Clerks’ Provident Fund. Born in Holland, Selina Oppenheim was the eldest daughter of Gabriel Oppenheim, a Belgian bronze merchant. Having a nomadic life in Belgium, Holland and France she, her brother and three sisters settled in London c 1855. After working with the District company from 1861 until 1870, Miss Oppenheim became a scholastic agent with her sister Hannah at 68 Berners Street, London. She died in Fulham, West London, age 79, and never married.

Samuel Percy (1826-1875) - Born in Boscombe, Wiltshire, Percy was in 1851 a prison officer at the Middlesex House of Correction Coldbath Fields, Clerkenwell. He joined the British Electric Telegraph Company in 1851 and rose to become its Commercial Superintendent or general manager at its head office in Manchester by 1855. On the merger with the Magnetic company in 1857 he remained in Manchester with the decreased status of District Superintendent, leaving their employ at age 36 in 1862. Latterly, and until his death, he was a Telegraph Agent in Manchester. He married his wife, Agnes, in 1850 and they had a son and a daughter.

Henry Pomeroy (1841-18??) - Born in Westbury, Wiltshire, Pomeroy first joined the engineering department of the Great Western Railway in Westbury in 1856, transferring to the telegraph department in the following year. In 1858 he became a Clerk with the Electric Telegraph Company in Bristol and in 1860 was temporarily posted to work in the Company’s office in Amsterdam, Holland. Returning to Bristol in 1861, Pomeroy also worked in Cardiff and Worcester before becoming Clerk-in-Charge in Dublin in 1862, being appointed Engineer in 1863. He became Superintending Engineer of the Post Office Telegraphs in Ireland in 1878.

John Pope Cox (Age 29 in 1851) - Agent and superintendent  of the Electric Telegraph Company’s Manchester station in July 1847; later seconded to Ireland; being superintendent in Liverpool in 1850. Pope Cox was a key individual in developing the telegraph in the north-west of England, but in July 1851 he left to become Superintendent of Agencies for the Athenaeum Life Insurance Society in London until the firm was wound-up. He became Secretary of the English Widows’ Fund & General Life Assurance Association in London during 1856, then Secretary of the Metropolitan & Provincial Bank on its founding in 1864, as well as being promoter of the Marine Mansions Company, a property speculation, of 1865. The bank failed in 1866, as did Pope Cox. He became an estate agent and auctioneer in the 1870s. In London Pope Cox remained a friend of C V Boys (q.v.) of the Electric company in the 1860s.

Charles (Ernesto Paulo del Diana) Spagnoletti (1832-1915) - Telegraph Engineer - Born in Brompton, London, son of Paulo Spagnoletti, a renowned violinist of Sardinian descent. After a brief period as a civil servant in the National Debt Office, Spagnoletti assisted Alexander Bain in making his chemical telegraphs and electric clocks in 1846 and then, from 1847, worked for the Electric Telegraph Company as a telegraph clerk. He joined the Great Western Railway in May 1855, quickly rising to become Superintendent of Telegraphs and Chief Electrician, devising an effective electric train controlling telegraph in 1863. Spagnoletti was also allowed to work on the signals of the Metropolitan Railway; his system permitted intense train working on the underground line. He retired from the Great Western in 1886 and became a Consulting Electrical Engineer advising the City & South London, Central London, Metropolitan and District Railway companies on introducing electric trains, and on electric lighting in London. His son, James, was also an electrical engineer.

William Suter (1824-1861) - A telegraph and cable engineer. Suter was born in Byfleet, Essex, and by 1851 was working on the railways as a platelayer. In August 1852 he was assisting one Wainwright, a contractor on the Great Northern Railway, then in January 1853 he was assistant to F C Webb of the Electric & International Telegraph Company, with whom he worked on the Hague cable and the landlines to Amsterdam in Holland, remaining in that role until July 1857. Suter then had a position on HMS Agamemnon in the laying of the first Atlantic cable, joining the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company between 1857 and 1858, re-joining HMS Agamemnon for the second Atlantic cable expedition. In 1859 he was an engineer with the Mediterranean Extension Telegraph Company, repairing their cable between Cagliari and Malta. Later in that year Suter worked with Charles Bright and Latimer Clark in the Red Sea, attempting to restore the cables to India. He died at Aden in May 1861. Suter married his wife Emma in 1849, she and their children were left destitute on his death; an appeal on their behalf was made to the telegraph industry.

Thomas Bray Webber (1813-1896) - Superintendent of the Telegraphs on the South Devon Railway from 1848 until 1876. Born and died in Exeter in Devon, the son of a farmer, Webber managed the independent messaging and signal telegraphs of the railway until 1851 when the public circuits were absorbed by and then connected to the Electric Telegraph Company, and the remaining signal circuits until the South Devon was amalgamated with the Great Western Railway in 1876. The South Devon wires primarily worked Cooke & Wheatstone’s two-needle instruments, but also trialled W H Hatcher’s dial and W T Henley’s magneto telegraphs before 1851. Later Webber practised as a telegraph engineer and apparatus maker in Exeter. He married Charlotte Dodd in 1836 with whom he had one son and five daughters. She died in December 1852. His son, Thomas George Webber, was trained as a telegraph clerk and engineer but emigrated to America in 1855, where he adopted the Mormon faith and made a considerable fortune in business in Utah.

f.] Telegraphic Suppliers 1836 - 1870

There were relatively few specialist suppliers of telegraphic materials, apparatus, insulators, and so on, in this period. In London during the 1850s there were only three suppliers of instruments; W T Henley, William Reid and John Sandys. This is a fairly complete list: 

Alexander Bain & Company, 43 Old Bond Street, London – This, briefly, was the showroom for Bain’s electric clocks during 1852 and 1853 just before his bankruptcy. His chemical telegraph instruments were manufactured by William Reid (q.v.). Bain had previously manufactured his own telegraphic apparatus at 11 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, between 1844 and 1847. In 1860, just before he emigrated to America, he was living in Perceval Street, Clerkenwell Green, among the clock- and instrument-makers.

Joseph Bourne & Son, 126 London Wall & No 4 Wharf, south side, Paddington Basin, London, and Denby Pottery, Derbyshire – stone bottle and jar manufacturers. They were one of earliest, largest and most enduring makers of stoneware insulators for the telegraph industry, commencing in this from before 1850. Patentees of the three-chamber kiln for stonewares, most notable for making bottles for blacking, inks, ginger beer; as well as teapots and jugs, in large volumes.  

British Telegraph Manufactory, 172 Great Portland Street, London W, later 374 Euston Road, London NW – a partnership formed to manufacture Charles Wheatstone’s universal telegraph, automatic telegraph, exploder, clock and other instruments in 1870, as well as his original magnet-and-bell signal. It initially took over the workshops of Cornelius Ward, a renowned maker of musical wind instruments, before moving to the Euston Road in 1879. As the Government appropriated the universal telegraph its principal product was Wheatstone’s Magnetic Clock. It became a joint-stock company in 1874 with a capital of £30,000; Wheatstone owning 1,010 of the 3,000 £10 shares on which £5 10s was paid-up. Latterly it produced the Gramme dynamo-electric machine and varieties of telephones. The manufactory closed in 1881. Robert Sabine, to be Wheatstone’s son-in-law and executor, was manager, having been employed in Siemens & Halske’s factories in Berlin since 1860, and Augustus Stroh, was its engineer. As well as Gramme dynamos, its product list in the late 1870s included automatic telegraphs, sounders, cryptographs, magnetic exploders, lightning protectors, dial indicators, double current keys, testing keys, magnetic counters, magneto-electric clocks, type-printing receivers, portable or military magneto dial telegraphs, magneto dial telegraphs, resistances and switches.

Elliott Brothers, 268 High Holborn, London - Around 1804 William Elliott opened a scientific instrument shop in London. The firm became Elliott Bros. in 1853, and survived as a joint-stock company until 1966. Elliott Bros. supplied the Admiralty, Ordnance, India Board, and Board of Trade. William Elliott had specialized in drawing instruments. Elliott Bros. offered a wide range of mathematical, optical, and philosophical apparatus. After absorbing the firm of Watkins & Hill, in 1857, they increasingly focused on electrical instruments.

J & T Forster, india rubber and gutta-percha manufacturers, Streatham Common, Surrey. Working in concert with C V Walker, W H Hatcher and the eminent civil engineer, W H Barlow, John and Thomas Forster originated the first successful process for covering copper wire with gutta-percha resin for insulation. This involved hot-pressing together two narrow sheets or fillets of gutta-percha, cowrie gum and sulphur through several rollers, compressing copper wires between them; the fillets being trimmed by the rollers and wound on to reels. It was patented on April 28, 1848, and the rights acquired by the Electric Telegraph Company, used by them and the South Eastern Railway in underground and underwater circuits. Forsters abandoned the cable-making business early in the 1850s when a more efficient process evolved, but continued to be successful in the resin business until the 1930s.

W M Foxcroft’s Telegraph Case Manufactory, 54 Compton Street, Clerkenwell. Single and double needle instrument cases, disc cases, Morse boards and Bell cases in stock. Also teak clock cases. This is a small example of the division of labour in mid-nineteenth century technology.

Glass, Elliot & Company, East Greenwich, London, were initially created as Heimann & Küper, Grand Surrey Canal Basin, Camberwell, manufacturers of wire rope, in 1841 to work the patent of John Baptist Friedrich Wilhelm Heimann. As Heimann was a merchant in partnership with John George William Küper, it is likely that the patent for “untwisted wire rope” was a communication from Germany. They were one of the first manufacturers of wire rope in Europe, however the firm was declared insolvent in November 1846. New capital to continue the business was then provided by George Elliot and Richard Atwood Glass. It then traded as Wilhelm Küper & Company, with wire rope works still at Grand Surrey Canal Basin, Camberwell. Just after the Great Exhibition of 1851 the firm became Glass Elliot & Company, 115 Leadenhall Street, City, with works at Camberwell and new premises at Morden Wharf, East Greenwich, as a partnership between Richard Atwood Glass, Ralph Glass and George Elliot. It began to cover the resin-insulated conducting wire for submarine telegraph cables with the ‘armour’ of iron wire in 1854, starting with a circuit from Denmark to Sweden. In the same year it undertook to make the long cables of French Mediterranean Telegraph Company of J W Brett. The cables it subsequently armoured proved to be remarkably long-lasting, not least because it introduced anti-corrosive compounds to coat the finished cable during the later 1850s. The firm merged with the Gutta-Percha Company in 1864 to form the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company; Richard Glass became its managing director.

Gutta-Percha Company, High Street, Stratford, then 18 Wharf Road, City Basin, London. Founded on February 4, 1845, proprietors of, among many other patents relating to gutta perchae wares, the patent machinery to coat wire with resin, which they acquired of Charles Hancock. In 1849 it supplied Siemens & Halske with hundreds of miles of wire insulated with “sulphuretted gutta-percha” for the Prussian Government telegraph lines. It had a monopoly on insulating underwater cables until the 1860s when vulcanised india-rubber was applied for a period by other concerns. The Gutta Percha Company manufactured a huge range of resin products, not just covering for telegraph wires, including “pump buckets and valves, tubing for conveying messages (Whishaw’s principle), and for water, gas, oil, &c., driving bands, soles for boots and shoes, bowls, buckets, picture frames, brackets, mouldings, surgical instruments, vases, cups, inkstands, balls, &c.” Its proprietor and manager in its early years was Henry Bewley who, it is claimed, fraudulently displaced the Hancock family interests to acquire the whole company. The Hancocks went on to found the neighbouring West Ham Gutta-Percha Company in 1850; the family were anyway better known and far more successful in the rubber industry devising most of the common techniques and equipment, including the ‘masticator’ and ‘vulcanising’, before merging with the legendary Macintosh to become the competitors in Britain of the Goodyear interests. The Gutta-Percha Company’s chief personality in the 1850s was its superintendent, Samuel Statham. On his death in 1861 he was replaced by John Chatterton, whose Chatterton’s Compound was to be vital in preserving underwater cables.

W T Henley’s Telegraph Works Company, 27 Leadenhall Street, London EC, and North Woolwich (next to Silvertown), London - A joint-stock company succeeding William Thomas Henley’s smaller works in the Minories in Stepney and his larger instrument factory at St John Street Road, Clerkenwell, all in London. William Thomas Henley was an electrician, telegraph patentee and company promoter from the 1850s. He contracted for building overhead and underground lines for the South Eastern Railway and then for the Magnetic, London District and United Kingdom Telegraph Companies. The works commenced at Enderby’s Wharf, East Greenwich, in 1857 and moved to North Woolwich in 1859. By the latter year Henley had constructed 5,000 miles of underground wire and 280 miles of submarine cable. The works manufactured instruments, insulators, metallic pipes and cables, contracting to build public and private circuits, and became a joint-stock company in 1874. The company was to become a leading maker and layer of submarine cables until it failed in 1876. The firm was reconstructed and continued to prosper under the same title well into the next century.

Hooper’s Telegraph Works Company, 31 Lombard Street, London EC, and works at Millwall Docks, Isle of Dogs. William Hooper improved vulcanised india-rubber in 1859 and applied it to cable insulation. In 1870 he founded his cable-making company but originally, in the mid-1860s, he had offices at 7 Pall Mall East, London and works at the London India Rubber Mills, Mitcham, Surrey, making caoutchouc goods. His original india-rubber insulated cables of 1866 for India were manufactured by the India-Rubber, Gutta-Percha & Telegraph Works Company of Silvertown (q.v.). Hooper became a successful insulator of oceanic cables, working latterly with the Great Northern company in Europe and China in the 1870s and 1880s.

India Rubber, Gutta-Percha and Telegraph Works Company, 100 Cannon Street, City, and Silvertown, London; St Denis and Persan-Beaumont, France; and Menin, Belgium. Founded in 1864, a joint-stock company, it was an opportunist merger of several firms in the rubber and gutta percha trade; not all connected with the telegraph industry. It included the original patentees of the wire-coating machine and their West Ham Gutta-Percha Co, and was led by Stephen William Silver. S W Silver & Company, of 66 Cornhill, City, founded by Stephen Winckworth Silver as makers of rubber-coated waterproof garments since the 1840s, gave their name to the company town in east London. Silver & Co had previously patented and provided caoutchouc insulation for the aerial cables of the Universal company, the caoutchouc insulation for the Southern Irish cable and patent “ebonite”, vulcanised india-rubber, insulators in the early 1860s. The India-Rubber Company became an important supplier of insulation to the international submarine cable industry during the nineteenth century. It became British Tyre & Rubber in the 1930s and still survives (just).

Henry Izant & Company, 408½ Oxford Street, London and 24 Grosvenor Place, Queen Street, Pimlico. Telegraph Engineers, established in 1850, makers of all manner of electrical instruments, including detectors, American printers, double-needle, single-needle, and bell telegraphs, batteries, poles, arms, insulators, wire, brackets, shackles, tools and other stores. Izant was the principal maker of Spagnoletti’s railway telegraph. 

London Caoutchouc Company, 36, King Street, Cheapside, London with works in Holloway and Tottenham - a ‘patent’ company formed to work Robert William Sievier’s processes for rubberising fabrics in 1836, caoutchouc being the original name for india-rubber. They were large-scale manufacturers of elastic driving bands for machinery, rope for mines, waterproof cloths and garments, and waterproof canvas, as well the first rubber-insulated wire used by Cooke and Wheatstone. It also made the first telegraph “cable” for Cooke in 1841. The Caoutchouc company was superseded in the later 1840s by the Hancock and Macintosh rubber interests, and their patent machinery. Its india-rubber cloth interests seem to have passed to S W Silver & Company of Cornhill, the rubber works in North London passed to and were continued by William Warne & Company.

R S Newall & Company, 130 Strand, London and Gateshead, makers of wire-rope, and then for a period a major, if controversial, manufacturer of wire ‘armouring’ for submarine cables. Newall created the first successful underwater cable for the Submarine Telegraph Company between England and France in 1851. He claimed to have invented wire rope (untrue) and the submarine cable-laying apparatus. Although the first was an enduring success several of the many Newall cables subsequently failed, including those in the Channel Islands and the Levant - apparently due to the light weight of their armour. There were also criticisms of Newall’s financial affairs. The firm left the submarine cable business with the failure of their 1858 Atlantic and Red Sea cables, and with the start of a court case over the sabotage of a competitive cable.  Siemens Brothers acquired the good-will of their telegraphic cable business during 1860, after having been electrical advisors to the firm since 1858; although Newall returned to cable-making briefly in 1870.

Christopher Nickels & Company, 2 Guildford Street, 20 York Road and 17 York Street, Lambeth; and a warehouse at 13 Goldsmith Street, long-standing india-rubber manufacturers and patentees from the early 1830s. Nickels owned a share of Hancock’s gutta-percha wire-covering machine and provided his first gutta-percha insulated telegraph wire for the South Eastern Railway Company in 1852, in a large quantity; it failed after two years. Nickels then manufactured underground (and, probably, submarine) gutta-percha insulated two core cables for the Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland whilst trading as the ‘Gutta Percha Company of Lambeth’. By 1855 the 17 York Street site in Lambeth (on the river Thames) had become the ‘old’ Electric Telegraph Company’s Stores, when the firm appears to have merged into the original Gutta Percha Company.

William Reid & Company, 25 University Street, London, makers of scientific instruments from 1820, who became telegraph engineers, manufacturers of telegraph instruments, underground troughs, and so forth, in 1836 - the oldest telegraphic engineering firm, and one of the largest such, in Britain. The firm manufactured the initial commercial instruments for W F Cooke and Charles Wheatstone, subsequently providing equipment for the Electric, European, Submarine, Magnetic and other telegraph companies in Britain. Reid also manufactured electric clocks and chemical telegraphs to Alexander Bain’s patents. The firm became Reid Brothers on March 28, 1856, comprising William Jnr, James and Robert Nichol Reid, prospering as electrical engineers for another sixty years. The firm had works in several locations, concentrating eventually at 12 Wharf Road, City Road, London NW, manufacturing electrical instruments and equipment in large quantities until they failed in January 1922.   The firm possessed a remarkable collection of some of the earliest telegraphic instruments which, by implication, they had made: including Bain’s electric clock 1845, Cooke & Wheatstone’s original two-needle telegraph 1843, Cooke & Wheatstone’s original one-needle telegraph 1846, Nott & Gamble’s dial telegraph 1846, Wheatstone’s magneto & bell machine 1840 and Wheatstone’s dial telegraph 1840.

John Sandys’ Electric Telegraph Works, 72 Upper Whitecross Street, London, electric telegraph instrument makers. John Sandys (1814-1857) was from the mid-1840s a clockmaker in partnership with John Watson, a cabinet- maker, becoming “telegraphic instrument makers and telegraphic engineers” at 72 Upper Whitecross Street, London, one of the first concerns to concentrate on telegraphic equipment. From December 24, 1851 he was trading on his own as an “electric telegraph instrument- and clock-maker”. In 1852 his workshop in Upper Whitecross Street was employing fifty to sixty men in manufacturing needle telegraphs, time-transmitters, galvanometers, batteries and wire work, as well as large clocks. In addition to being a very large supplier of telegraph instruments to the Electric Telegraph Company he had a shop dedicated to making roof-top “time-balls”. In the later 1850s he had developed pneumatic current reversing keys and was making American telegraphs, both for the Submarine Telegraph Company. Sandys’ family and works moved to 158 Aldersgate Street, City, in 1856. When he died in 1857 his widow, Dora Elizabeth Sandys, attempted to continue the business; this failed on October 15, 1862. Mrs Sandys is the only known female “electric telegraph instrument manufacturer”. Latterly her works manager was George William Guy.

Julius Sax, 108 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London; Domestic telegraph instrument maker. Sax, born in 1825, emigrated from Sagarre (sic), Russia, to London in 1851 after apprenticeship as an optical instrument maker and working for Siemens & Halske in Berlin. He established his own philosophical instrument firm in 1855. Sax had workshops in several parts of London until, in 1864, he took premises at 108 Great Russell Street, where his firm remained for a half-century. He is best known for his domestic electric telegraph instruments, bells and alarms for houses, hotels and offices. His first domestic telegraph was introduced in 1864 and he patented several varieties of electric bell. Sax’s bells were widely used in the head offices of banks and insurance companies in London from the mid-1860s but he did not provide messaging telegraph instruments in any quantity. Sax, a supplier to Michael Faraday, also made more substantial optical and electrical instruments, latterly manufacturing telephones as well as electric bells. He married in 1863 and had four children. After his death in August 1890 Julius Sax & Company became a joint-stock concern in 1892. 

Siemens Brothers, 3 Great George Street, Westminster; Cable Works, Charlton Pier, Woolwich; Instrument Works, 12 Millbank Row, Westminster, and at Berlin and St Petersburg,  telegraph engineers and contractors. This partnership was the British arm of the Prussian electrical firm of Siemens & Halske who had pioneered the telegraph in Europe since 1849 and introduced gutta-percha insulation into Prussia, Denmark and the smaller German states. On the failure of its gutta-percha insulation system in 1851 the firm was excluded from the Prussian market for over ten years and from then concentrated on its works in Britain and Russia. In these countries it successfully introduced their improved American ‘writer’, their dial telegraphs, relays and current-reversing keys; in Germany its business was confined to water-metering equipment. Starting in London as an agency in 1851 represented by William Siemens, it became a joint-stock manufacturing firm as Siemens, Halske & Company in 1858. It latterly went into submarine cable works, which Halske thought too risky and the firm was reorganised as Siemens Brothers in 1865. The firm in the period described had disputes with the Elkingtons, M H Jacobi, Wheatstone, the Hancocks and others over electro-plating, telegraphic and insulation patents and origination of ideas. Siemens Brothers became involved in steel-making as well as having immense successes in electrical equipment and cable-making in Britain until 1935. 

S W Silver & Company, 4 Bishopsgate Street, London, EC, and Silvertown – india-rubber manufacturers. The firm was founded in 1840 as waterproofers, making clothing, tents and paulins, mainly for emigrants and travellers. They acquired a new works at North Greenwich in 1852 and subsequently extended their india-rubber interests, becoming involved in electric telegraphy. Silvers’ were the first to manufacture wire insulated with india-rubber in quantity. H A Silver perfected and patented in 1859 the process devised by Charles West in which three thin coverings of warmed, spiral-wound india-rubber were applied to the copper core to create the insulation; as part of their patent Silver’s treated the copper wire with a gum lacquer to prevent any reaction with the india- rubber. The active partners by 1860 were Stephen William Silver and Hugh Adams Silver. John Fuller, who had previously been a junior engineer responsible for the Electric Telegraph Company’s cables in London, was their manufacturing superintendent, telegraph engineer and electrician. The firm became the India Rubber, Gutta Percha & Telegraph Works Company in 1864 (q.v.).

Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company, 54 Old Broad Street, City, and its wire-core works at Wharf Road, London, and armour works at East Greenwich – a joint-stock company, a merger of the Gutta-Percha Company and Glass, Elliot & Company on March 17, 1864. This company became manufacturers and layers of the majority of the world’s oceanic submarine cables, totalling 250,000 miles, commencing with the Atlantic cables of 1865-6, when it provided much of the capital for the near-bankrupt Anglo-American Telegraph Company. It survived until 1935 as TELCON.

M W Theiler & Sons, 156 Barnsbury Road, Islington – telegraph and scientific instrument makers. Meinrad Wendel Theiler had been employed in managing the Swiss state telegraph workshops. In 1854 he visited London to patent a new type-printing telegraph and stayed to develop an improved American telegraph for the Electric Telegraph Company, which he patented. Encouraged by this Theiler returned with his family in 1861 and set up a manufactory in north London. Here he and his sons, Richard and Meinrad Jnr, produced portable single-needle instruments, American inkers, American embossers, keys and relays, alarms, and galvanometers. The firm flourished and was eventually absorbed into Elliott Brothers in 1891.

Tupper & Company, Galvanized Iron Works, 6 Berkeley Street, Broad Street, Birmingham, and at Limehouse, Regent’s Canal, London. Formed by Charles William Tupper in 1844 as the ‘Galvanized Iron Company’ with offices at 3 Mansion House Street, London, to work a patent protecting iron plate and iron wire with a zinc coating. W F Cooke was a partner-shareholder. Tupper & Co were the original manufacturers of galvanized iron wire for telegraphy, and continued to do so for several decades. In the 1860s the London office was at 61A Moorgate Street, City. C W Tupper was to be a founding director of the Atlantic Telegraph Company.

Frederick George Underhay, Crawford Passage, Clerkenwell, London EC: engineer and brass founder, maker of C F Varley’s complex valves to manage the Electric Telegraph Company’s “air circuits” or pneumatic tubes that connected their city offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool from 1862. Underhay was far better known as a maker of patent regulator water closets and gas meters which business he carried on for over 50 years. He also produced the mechanism for “The Crank” or “hard labour machine” used in prisons.

William Marston Warden & Company, 27 Great George Street, Westminster SW and Edgbaston Street, Birmingham - electric telegraph contractors, manufacturers of wire, instruments, batteries and all kinds of telegraphic apparatus and stores. The firm constructed overhead telegraph lines overseas in the Channel Islands, Russia and in India during the 1860s. Latimer Clark and John Muirhead Jnr were W M Warden’s technical advisors, and latterly took over the firm. Eventually it became Muirhead & Company. Cited here as a typical general supplier of the 1860s.

Watkins & Hill, 5 Charing Cross, London - scientific and philosophical instrument makers. Established in 1747, by the 1830s it was a partnership between Francis Watkins and William Hill who both died in 1847, leaving their workshops to be managed for their families by Abraham Day. Watkins & Hill made the experimental models of Wheatstone’s early needle and dial telegraphs in their small workshop of between four and six craftsmen. In addition the firm made and sold all manner of optical and electrical apparatus, miniature steam engines, hydraulic presses, magneto-electric machines, theodolites and cameras, utilising nearly sixty outworkers or sub-contractors. They were taken over by Elliott Brothers in 1857, who continued and expanded their electrical and magnetic instrument business.

Welch & Berthan, Eden Works, 306 Euston Road, London NW – electricians, telegraph engineers and contractors. Manufacturers of dial telegraphs as well as electric bells for domestic and engine purposes, electric bells to protect against thieves for doors, windows, gates and closets self-acting against burglars, ringing secretly with secret switches, and electric thermometers against fire or frost. This seems to be a typical middle-sized firm that also supplied iron piping, brass work and bicycle velocipedes in the 1860s.

Wells & Hall (aka Hall & Wells), 60 Aldermanbury, City EC, and Steam Mills (later Telegraph Works), Mansfield Street, Southwark, London - A partnership between Walter Hall and Arthur Wells, originally as india-rubber web manufacturers from the mid-1840s, they patented a method of spirally winding india-rubber around copper cores and of making hemp-bound cables in 1858. The firm made india-rubber insulated wire and cable for over two decades, although the partnership was dissolved in September 1867. Walter Hall continued in the india rubber web and telegraph cable business at Southwark until May 1879, when he failed. Their main customer was the British Army for whom they made field electric telegraph cable.

West Ham Gutta-Percha Company, Abbey Road, West Ham, Stratford, Essex, and then, from 1858, West Street, Smithfield, London. Manufacturers of telegraph wire covered with gutta-percha using Charles Hancock’s patent wire-covering machine of 1848, as well a range of gutta-percha products. It was formed in July 1850 when Hancock left the original Gutta-Percha Company. Charles Hancock was the managing director and John Branscombe was manager until it eventually became a component of Silver’s Telegraph Works Company when that firm was created in 1864. 

James White, 95 Buchanan Street, Glasgow. Founded by an optician in 1849, who became instrument maker to Glasgow University. White is famous for making the electrical instruments devised by William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), including the mirror-galvanometer used on the Atlantic cables of 1858 and 1866. The firm later became Kelvin & White. He is one of the few manufacturing instrument makers outside of London.

This list of the major telegraphic suppliers is drawn from contemporary articles and advertisements up to 1870. Incidentally, the major potters in England all produced earthenware or ‘porcelain’ insulators for the telegraph companies.

g.] Telegraph Companies in Great Britain incorporated by Special Act of Parliament  

The following is a list of all Bills deposited with Parliament to form a telegraph company, along with the date recorded on their initial application until 1870, according to the ”London Gazette”; those marked with an asterisk* were either abandoned or rejected:

Electric Telegraph Company - February 16, 1846
British Electric Telegraph Company - November 14, 1849
Magneto Electric Telegraph Company - November 12, 1850
European & American Electric Printing Telegraph Company - November 14, 1850
Submarine Telegraph Company between Great Britain and Ireland - November 14, 1850*
Submarine Telegraph Company between England and France - November 15, 1850*
United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company - November 25, 1850 (1)
Irish Sub-Marine Telegraph Company - March 9, 1852
Electric Time Company - November 1, 1852*
Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland - November 25, 1852
Universal Electric Telegraph Company - November 9, 1853*
Atlantic Telegraph Company - November 13, 1856
European & Indian Junction Telegraph Company - November 13, 1856
Red Sea & India Telegraph Company - November 8, 1858
Indian & Australian Telegraph Company - November 15, 1858*
London District Telegraph Company - November 17, 1858*
Great Indian Submarine Telegraph Company - November 10, 1858*
British & Canadian Telegraph Company - November 15, 1858*
Universal Private Telegraph Company - November 6, 1860
Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company - November 27, 1860
United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company, Limited (2) - November 8, 1861
United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company, Allan's (3) - November 11, 1861*
General Electric Telegraph Company - November 16, 1861*
National Telegraph Company - November 11, 1861*
Private Telegraph Company - November 12, 1862*
Globe Telegraph Company - November 9, 1863
Economic Telegraph Company - No date of deposit, but in 1866

The following is a complete list, including the intercontinental cables, of telegraph companies actually formed through statutory incorporation and any subsequent amending legislation from official records of Parliament contained in the Index to the Statutes up to 1871 with additional commentary by the writer and explanations of obvious omissions. The necessity for Special Acts is explained in Appendix k;

Anglo-American Telegraph Company
(see Atlantic Telegraph Company)

Atlantic Telegraph Company
Incorporation of Co. 20 & 21 Vic. cap. cii 1857
Preference Capital 21 & 22 Vic. cap. cxlviii 1858
Borrowing Powers 22 & 23 Vic. cap. xxiii 1859
Additional Capital 30 & 31 Vic. cap. xxviii 1867
Dissolution of Company and merger with Anglo-American
33 & 34 Vic cap. xcix 1870
A company formed to lay the cable between Ireland and Newfoundland: its several Acts primarily affected its ability to raise additional capital. Its cable rights were transferred subsequently to the circuits financed and laid by the Anglo-American company.

Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company
Acquisition and working of patents 24 & 25 Vic. cap. xcii 1861
Powers of Co., &c. 26 & 27 Vic. cap ccxii 1863
A domestic company formed to work Gaetano Bonelli’s printing telegraph, and which built a single public line. It was inactive by 1868; even so it was appropriated by the government under the Telegraph Acts. 

British & Canadian Telegraph Company
Incorporation 22 & 23 Vic. cap. cvi 1859
Further Powers 29 & 30 Vic. cap. xciv 1866
A company formed to lay the so-called “Northern Line” to America in a chain of cables from the mainland of Britain to the mainland of Canada by way of the Orkney & Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. It was rendered superfluous by the success of the Atlantic Telegraph Company’s lines of 1866.

British Electric Telegraph Company
Regulation, 13 & 14 Vic. cap. lxxxvi 1850
Working of patents, &c. 16 &17 Vic. cap. clix 1853
A domestic company formed to purchase and work the patents of Edward Highton; it altered its title to the British Telegraph Company on receiving a Royal Charter in 1853. It united with the European company in 1853, and with the Magnetic company in 1857 to create the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company. As the Joint-Stock Limited Liability Acts from 1855 generally regulated capital powers no further Special Acts were required.

Economic Telegraph Company
Re-incorporation and powers, 29 & 30 Vic. cap. clxxxv 1866
A company re-incorporated from a previous registration. It experimented with public lines but ended up as working a few private wires. It was still acquired under the Telegraph Acts as a possible competitor. 

Electric Telegraph Company
Formation, &c. 9 & 10 Vic. cap. xliv 1846
Additional Powers 14 & 15 Vic cap. lxxxvi 1851
(both repealed by the 1853 Act)
Additional Powers 16 & 17 Vic. cap. cciii 1853
Additional Powers 17 & 18 Vic. cap. cciii 1854
Consolidation of stock with the International Telegraph Co.’s capital stock
18 & 19 Vic. cap. cxxiii 1855
The original and by far the largest domestic telegraph company, formed to work the master patents of Cooke & Wheatstone, by which it had a monopoly of public telegraphy between 1845 and 1851. The subsequent Special Acts were to increase and reorganise its capital-raising powers. The 1851 Act divided its £100 shares into four £25 shares. The 1854 Act provided the shareholders with limited liability. The Act of 1855 authorised a merger with its foreign subsidiary, the International Telegraph Company, which had cables to Europe.

Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland
Formation, &c. 15 & 16 Vic. cap. cxxiii 1853
A company, unconnected with the original Electric concern, formed to make a line from Dumfries in Scotland to Belfast and Dublin in Ireland. Although it completed many of its land lines its underwater cable failed and it was wound-up in 1856, the works being abandoned.
(Note: the coincidental “chapter” numbers for the above two companies’ 1853, 1854 and 1855 Acts are just that, coincidences! It confused the compiler of the Index to the Statutes as well as this writer)

European & American Electric Printing Telegraph Company
Incorporation, &c. 14 & 15 Vic. cap. cxxxv 1851
A domestic company ostensibly formed to acquire and work the patents owned by Jacob Brett (i.e. the printing telegraph of Royal Earl House). It was in fact a creation of the Submarine Telegraph Company between England and France, a French concern having the cable concession for France, to allow it to connect its cables with lines to British cities and towns. Its capital and business was acquired by the British Telegraph Company in 1853.

European & Indian Junction Telegraph Company
Incorporation, &c. 20 & 21 Vic. cap. xc 1857
The sole foreign overland, rather than underwater cable, telegraph company authorised by Parliament was formed to connect planned (but never laid) submarine cables in the Mediterranean Sea at Seleucia across the Ottoman Levant to the East India Company’s cables in the Persian Gulf at Kornah. The Special Act allowed a subsidy from the Treasury. There was an abortive railway covering the same route and it did not build its line either.

Globe Telegraph Company
Powers 27 & 28 Vic. cap. cl 1864
The Globe was an abortive domestic concern formed to work Henry Wilde’s electro-magnetic dial apparatus. It was unrelated to John Pender’s Globe Telegraph & Trust Company of 1873, a long-lasting investment vehicle for financing foreign cables.

International Telegraph Company
See Electric Telegraph Company

Magnetic Telegraph Company
Incorporation, &c. 14 & 15 Vic. cap. cxviii 1851
A domestic company formed to acquire and work the patents of W T Henley; it subsequently acquired other patents, particularly those owned by C T Bright. It altered its title on receiving a Royal Charter in 1852 to the English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company. It laid the first domestic cable between Britain and Ireland in 1853. It merged with the British Telegraph Company in 1857 to form the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company, the country’s second largest domestic company, and the principal advocate of submarine telegraphy.

Red Sea & India Telegraph Company
Incorporation 22 & 23 Vic. cap. iv 1859
Amendment of preceding Act 24 & 25 Vic. cap. iv 1861
Arrangements with Treasury 25 & 26 Vic. cap. xxxix 1862
A cable company formed to lay a series of inshore submarine wires from Suez around Aden to the Persian Gulf, connecting the British governments’ Malta and Alexandria cable with India. Its Special Acts allowed a subsidy of the Treasury. The cables failed after a short period in 1861; as the circuits had actually worked for a period the Act compelled the subsidy to continue even though the circuit was dead, causing a minor political scandal.

Submarine Telegraph Company
Although the promoters lodged a Bill in Parliament to raise £200,000 in April 1851 for a circuit from England to France it was abandoned on June 2, 1851 and the ‘French’ company proceeded without an Act. The second or ‘Belgian’ Submarine Telegraph Company obtained a Royal Charter, an administrative rather than legislative process. They worked as one concern, with continental cable-landing concessions that eventually expired in 1890, when the government acquired its remaining assets for a small sum.

United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company
Purchase of Patents 14 & 15 Vic. cap. cxxxviii 1851
Power to carry on business 25 & 26 Vic. cap. cxxxi 1862
A domestic company originally formed to acquire and work the patents of Thomas Allan; it was dormant for ten years until revived in 1861, when it abandoned, without use, Allan’s apparatus for the American telegraph, which it continued to use in many of its circuits to the end. It famously adopted the type-printing telegraph of David Hughes in 1862 for its longest, busiest lines. Vigorous opposition from the existing companies required a second Special Act for it to lay wires alongside of public roads without challenge.

Universal Private Telegraph Company
Incorporation, &c. 24 & 25 Vic. cap. lxi 1861
A domestic company formed to acquire and work patents granted to Charles Wheatstone and to use such apparatus to connect private subscribers. It had powers to work public telegraphs so was appropriated by the Government.

h.] Telegraph Companies in Great Britain incorporated by Royal Charter on the advice of the Board of Trade and the Colonies  

The charter allowed these companies joint-stock limited liability for their capital but few powers within Britain.

The Submarine Telegraph Company between Great Britain and the Continent of Europe
Charter applied for on February 18, 1851 and granted on April 14, 1851 – for the cable between England and Belgium

The English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company
Charter applied for on February 20, 1852 and granted on April 5, 1852 – primarily altering the name of the Magnetic Telegraph Company

The Irish Sub-Marine Telegraph Company
Charter applied for on March 9, 1852 and granted on May 15, 1852 – for a cable between North Wales and Ireland. The hyphen is deliberate  

The British Telegraph Company
Charter applied for on December 30, 1852 and granted on June 13, 1853 – giving limited liability to the shareholders in the British Electric Telegraph Company, changing its name and authorising the laying of cables to Ireland

The International Telegraph Company
Charter applied for on October 21, 1852 and also granted on June 13, 1853 – for the cable between England and Holland


The United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company
Applied for a Charter on April 3, 1852 but withdrew

The Telegraph Company
Applied for a Charter on January 6, 1854 but withdrew

i.] Government Acts affecting the Telegraphs

Regulation of Railways Act 1844
7 & 8 Vic. cap. lxxxv 1844
Clauses in this Act obliged railways companies to allow access to and permit laying of electric telegraphs alongside of their lines, with priority for Government service, subject to payment; otherwise to treat all public messages over these circuits on equal terms.
Enacted before the creation of telegraph companies, until 1863 this was the only legislation affecting telegraphy. Its only actual affect was to compel the companies to carry Government messages in emergency; but the state had to pay for the service, the cost of which, apparently, came as a shock.

Telegraph Act, 1863
Regulating powers and works, 26 & 27 Vic. cap. cxii 1863
This Act applied to all future and existing telegraph companies authorised by Special Act, except as far as it countered any existing Special Act.
1 It gave general authority for telegraph wires underground, overhead and over or under buildings and by roads, railways or canals, with restrictions as below.
2 The companies might alter gas and water mains but only with permission and superintendence.
3 It required the laying of underground wires in the Metropolis or towns over 30,000 population where the public authority so insisted, and that notice be given to the street or road authority and the sewerage and drainage authority of any such works.
4 It required notice be given to the street or road authority and to occupiers of adjacent parks or mansions where overhead wires were to be erected.
5 The companies might open-up public roads and streets but only with notice and under superintendence of the authority, except in emergency, and make-good and maintain the work for six months.
6 The companies might affect private land or buildings (access or over-running) only by consent. Poles might not be set-up within 10 yards of such without consent of the occupier (not owner). The companies must publish notice of intent of work.
7 Subsequent alterations to roads, buildings, etc., affecting the wires required the company to move or remove the wires once given notice.
8 The companies might not place any work under, in, upon, over, along or across any railway or canal without consent, except when following a public road or street. 9 The companies might not place work along any seashore without consent, and without notice to the Board of Trade.
10 The lines of the companies must be open to all messages without preference; the sale of a company or its works was prohibited without consent of the Board of Trade, except for the privately-used works of the UPTC and other company’s on lease.
11 The Government was to have powers for message preference. The Queen was to have the telegraph for her exclusive use provided at cost.
12 The Government was to have powers to take possession of the works in emergency by authority of the Secretary of State.
As with other statute-regulated utilities the annual dividend was limited.

Telegraph Act Amendment Act, 1866
Additional minor regulations, 29 & 30 Vic. cap. iii 1866
This Act gave authority to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to take possession of works. The powers of 1863 Act now applied to all incorporated companies. Railway companies might erect and work private telegraphs between coal-pits, ironworks, factories, warehouses and offices in connection with the stations of the company or over their line.

Telegraph Act, 1868
Enabling the Postmaster General to acquire, work and maintain electric telegraphs as a monopoly, 31 & 32 Vic. cap. cx 1868
As this Act determined the final moment of the public domestic telegraph companies it is appropriate here to record the précis published in Bradshaw’s Railway Manual, Shareholders’ Guide, and Official Directory for 1869 of what it termed the Telegraph Purchase Act 1868:
“This Act, which received the royal assent on July 29, 1868, carries out in twenty-four sections, and sets forth the recital in the preamble that the means of communication within the United Kingdom are insufficient, that many districts are without it, and that it would be attended with great advantage to the State as well as to merchants and traders, and to the public generally, were a cheaper, more widely extended, and more expeditious system of telegraphy established, and to that end the Postmaster-General is empowered to work telegraphs in connection with the administration of the post- office.”
“The uniform rate, subject to regulation, of message throughout the United Kingdom, and without regard to distance, is to be at a rate not exceeding 1s for the first 20 words and not exceeding 3d for each additional five words or part of five words. The Postmaster-General is authorised, with the consent of the Treasury, ‘out of any moneys which from time to time may be appropriated by Act of Parliament, and put at his disposal for that purpose, to purchase for the purpose of this Act the whole or such parts as he shall think fit of the undertaking of any company’. Telegraph companies are empowered to sell their undertaking, under certain conditions specified, with a provision as to the appointments of their servants by the Government, or compensation by way of annuity.”
“The Postmaster-General is to enter into contracts with certain railway companies mentioned in the Act, and very specific directions are given as to such acquisition.”
“The Postmaster-General is to transmit to their destination all messages of a railway company in any way related to the business of the company in the United Kingdom free of charge. All matters of difference between the Postmaster-General and the railway companies are to be settled by arbitration.”
“The sums to be received by the directors of Reuter’s Telegram Company are to be applied in the first instance to the payment of the debts and liabilities of that company.”
“There are provisions in the statute to enable the Postmaster-General to acquire the right of way over canals.”
“Special agreements may be made with newspaper proprietors and with the occupiers of news-rooms, club, or exchange-rooms, to transmit messages at a rate not exceeding 1s for every 100 words between nine o’clock a.m. and six o’clock p.m., and a special use of a wire to be obtained under regulations, without undue priority or preference; messages having priority are to be specially marked, and all telegraphic messages are to be paid by means of stamps, and such stamps are to be kept for sale to the public at offices under the control of the Postmaster-General, to be appointed for that purpose.”
“It is constituted a misdemeanour in any person having official duties to disclose or to intercept messages.”
“Copies of all contracts and agreements made under the Act are to be laid before Parliament.”
“In the schedule annexed to the Act thirteen agreements with railways and telegraph companies are referred to, subject to the approbation of Parliament, and it declares it to be expedient that agreements should be made with other railways set forth, including the Metropolitan District. Three months’ notice is to be given by the Postmaster-General to the companies.”
“By the statute the Postmaster-General, with the approbation of the Treasury, can purchase the undertakings of telegraph companies, but no purchase or agreement to purchase is to be binding, unless the same has been laid for one month on the table of both Houses of Parliament without disapproval. The concluding enactment is to the effect that if no Act be passed in the next session of Parliament placing at the disposal of the Postmaster-General such moneys as may be requisite for carrying into effect the objects and purposes of the Act, then the agreements made to be void, and the Postmaster-General to pay the expenses incurred.”

Telegraph Act, 1869
Authorising expenditure for purchase of telegraphs, 32 & 33 Vic. cap. lxxiii 1869
The Government omitted to include any financial clauses in the Act of 1868, so had to return to Parliament the following year for a money Act. The Schedule attached to the Telegraph Act 1869 contained the following amounts that the Post Office anticipated paying to create a telegraph monopoly:

Electric & International Telegraph Company - £2,938,826 9s 0d
British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company - £1,243,536 0s 0d
Reuter’s Telegram Company - £726,000 0s 0d
United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company - £562.264 9s 11d
Universal Private Telegraph Company - £184,421 10s 0d
London & Provincial Telegraph Company - £60,000 0s 0d
Total: £5,715,048 8s 11d

These were the only figures presented to Parliament for approval. The detail of the odd pence in these costs contrasts with the blithe absence of any costs applicable to buying out the public telegraphs owned and worked by railway companies, or for the wayleaves or rights-of-way on which the telegraph depended.

Belatedly, on April 15, 1869, the Post Office acknowledged that its monopoly powers extended to the acquisition of the powers previously vested in fourteen Acts of Parliament, which might otherwise be resurrected:

British Electric Telegraph Company’s Act 1850
British Electric Telegraph Company’s Act 1853
Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company’s Act 1861
Bonelli’s Electric Telegraph Company’s Act 1863
Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland’s Act 1853
Electric Telegraph Company’s Act 1853
Electric Telegraph Company’s Amendment Act 1854
Electric Telegraph Company’s Consolidation Act 1855
Economic Telegraph Company’s Act 1866
Globe Telegraph Company’s Act 1864
Magnetic Telegraph Company’s Act 1851
Universal Private Telegraph Company’s Act 1861
United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company’s Act 1851
United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company’s Act 1862

The Post Office had gratuitously ignored several of these Acts it in its drive for the monopoly, and would require additional public money to buy them out.

Telegraph Acts Extension Act, 1870
Purchase of domestic cable companies, 33 & 34 Vic. cap. lxxxviii 1870
By this Act the Government acquired all the separate companies owning the domestic cables to Britain’s offshore islands. It had already authorised the consolidation of the ownership of the many British continental cables into the existing Submarine Telegraph Company, now a regulated monopoly, deferring the purchase of that concern until 1890 when its French and Belgian concessions finally expired.

j.] Significant Patents
This is not comprehensive; it only lists the important apparatus used by the telegraph companies and their most important material suppliers in Britain and any significant alternatives.
English patents were numbered consecutively until October 1852, when the number series restarted annually. Until that year separate, differing patent regulations applied in Scotland and Ireland.

Cooke & Wheatstone’s Patents
Patents assigned to the Electric Telegraph Company on its establishment in 1845. Patent 7,390/1837 – signals and alarums (Joint)
Patent 7,614/1838 –signals and alarums (Cooke)
Patent 8,345/1840 – signals and alarums (Joint)
Patent 9,022/1841 – magneto-electricity (Wheatstone)
Patent 9,465/1842 – telegraph wires (Cooke)
Patent 10,655/1845 - electric telegraphs (Joint)

Thomas Allan’s Patents
Patent 13,352/1850 – electric telegraph
Patent 1,889/1853 – light cable

William Andrew’s Patents
Patent 228/1859 – electric telegraphs, “pump” key
Patent 2,548/1860 – insulators, resin
Patent 710/1861 – insulators, ceramic and resin
Patent 1,620/1863 – sheds or covers for insulators

Alexander Bain’s Patents
Patent 8,783/1841 - electric clock
Patent 9,204/1841 - printing telegraph
Patent 9,745/1843 – chemical telegraph, clocks
Patent 10,450/1844 - clock, log, depth sounder
Patent 10,838/1845 - clocks and telegraphs
Patent 11,480/1846 – chemical telegraph
Patent 11,584/1847 - electric clocks

Frederick Collier Bakewell’s Patent
Patent 12,352/1848 - copying telegraph

William Henry Barlow and Thomas Forster’s Patent
Patent 12,136/1848 - gutta-percha insulation

Gaetano Bonelli’s Patent
Patent 861/1860 – typo-telegraph

Jacob Brett’s Patents
Patent 10,939/1845 – printing telegraph
Patent 12,054/1848 – printing telegraph

Charles Tilston Bright’s Patents
Patent 14,331/1850 – magneto telegraph
Patent 2,103/1855 - bell telegraph
Patent 2,610/1858 - double shed insulator

Edwin Clark’s Patent
Patent 13,336/1850 – metallic-shed insulator

Latimer Clark’s Patents
Patent 212/1854 – pneumatic message tube
Patent 1,641/1857 – pneumatic message tube
Patent 2,831/1856 – bell insulator

Edward Davy’s Patent
Patent 7,719/1838 - telegraphic communication

George Edward Dering’s Patents
Patent 13,427/1850 – intelligence by electricity
Patent 1,909/1853 – electric telegraphs 

Edward Highton’s Patents
Patent 12,039/1848 – electric telegraph
Patent 12,929/1850 – electric telegraph
Patent 13,938/1852 – electric telegraph

David Edward Hughes’ Patents (UK)
Patent 938/1858 – printing telegraph
Patent 241/1863 – printing telegraph

Charles Hancock’s Patent
Patent 12,223/1848 – gutta-percha insulation

William Thomas Henley’s Patents
Patent 12,236/1848 – magneto telegraph
Patent 185/1853 – magneto telegraph
Patent 1,779/1853 - spilt pipes for cables
Patent 734/1861 – magneto-dial telegraph
Patent 2,464/1861 – magneto-dial telegraph

John Obadiah Newell Rutter’s Patent
Patent 11,762/1847 – electric burglar and fire alarm

William Reid’s Patents
Patent 11,974/1847 – electric telegraphs
Patent 14,166/1852 – troughs for cables

Charles Shepherd’s Patent
Patent 12,567/1849 – working clocks by electricity

Ernst Werner Siemens Patent
Patent 13,062/1850 – galvanic dial telegraph

Charles William Siemens Patent
Patent 512/1859 – magneto dial telegraph
The above are just two of more than 200 patents obtained by the Siemens in Britain.

H A & S W Silver’s Patents
Patent 951/1859 – india-rubber insulation of wire
Patent 3,331/1862 – electrical insulation

Meinrad Wendel Theiler’s Patents
Patent 1,110/1854 - type-printing telegraph
Patent 2,453/1857 - direct printing American telegraph
Patent 2,147/1861 - improved type-printing telegraph

Edward Tyer’s Patents
Patent 13,906/1852 – railway and signal telegraphs
Patent 52/1854 – giving signals on railways
Patent 2,895/1855 – railway and signal telegraphs

Cromwell Fleetwood Varley’s Patents
Patent 371/1854 – double current & key relay
Patent 1,318/1855 – translator relay
Patent 3,078/1861 – double-shed insulator

Charles Samuel West’s Patents
Patent 2,321/1858 – insulating and covering wire with india-rubber
Patent 1,806/ 1861- insulating and covering wire with india-rubber
Patent 194/1862 – improvements in insulation

Charles Wheatstone’s Patents
Patent 1,239/1858 - automatic telegraph
Patent 1,241/1858 - universal telegraph
Patent 2,462/1860 - telegraph, aerial cable
Patent 220/1867 - electric telegraph
Patent 2,897/1870 - automatic telegraph
Patent 2,172/1871 – miniature type-printer (with Augustus Stroh)

Francis Whishaw’s Registered Designs (not Patents)
Design 1,454/1848 – Telekouphonon
Design 1,477/1848 – Uniformity of Time Indicator
Design 3,046/1851 – Telekouphonon  

For comparison:

Cooke & Wheatstone’s Patent (US)
Patent 1,622/1840 – electric telegraph
This was W F Cooke’s and C Wheatstone’s one and only patent in America; they sold-off a half-interest. The Western Union Telegraph Company was to acquire the rights to Wheatstone’s automatic telegraph in 1874.

Alexander Bain’s Patents (US)
Patent 5,957/1848 – chemical telegraph
Patent 6,328/1849 – fast telegraph
Patent 6,837/1849 – chemical telegraph
Patent 7,406/1850 – chemical telegraph
The first and third of these Bain patents in the United States were as his English patents of 1843 and 1846. The patent of 1850 was in the name of Henry J Rogers and introduced the disk receiver, the commonest Bain telegraph. Although all of these were challenged by the Morse Syndicate they were confirmed by the US Supreme Court.

S F B Morse’s Patents (US)
Patent 1,647/1840 – telegraph
Patent 3,316/1843 – wire in pipes
Reissue 79 in 1846 of 1840 patent
Patent 4,453/1846 – telegraph
Reissue 117 in 1848 of 1846 patent
The technical elements of Morse’s 1840 patent were never used commercially, but his general claims were used in an attempt to establish a monopoly in the United States. A provisional patent was also obtained in France on October 30, 1838, two years before that in America; no other country recognised his original claims. Morse’s patent of 1846 was the first to detail the elements of the enduring American telegraph, the key, the register or recorder and the relay, which was used world-wide. The 1849 patent was a cynical device to counter Bain.

Royal Earl House’s Patents (US)
Patent 4,464/1846 – printing telegraph
Patent 9,505/1852 – printing telegraph
R E House was obstructed in his patent applications by the Morse Syndicate. Jacob Brett had already patented House’s initial apparatus in England during 1845. The second instrument, “the most ingenious and beautifully constructed printing telegraph” (Marshall Lefferts, 1856), was in use on major circuits in America by 1850.

David Edward Hughes’ Patents (US)
Patent 14,917/1856 – printing telegraph
Patent 22,770/1859 – printing telegraph
Hughes was born in London of Welsh decent but lived his early life in the United States before returning to live in France in 1857. The Hughes apparatus was successively improved by Gustav Froment in France and Werner Siemens in Germany. Although adopted world-wide during the 1870’s it was scarcely used in the United States.

k.] British Legal Context:  

Periculum privatum utilitas publica!
‘At private risk for public service’, the motto of the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company of 1818

The Statutory Company - The majority of the companies mentioned here were each created under a Special Act of the British Parliament that defined their capital, structure, activities and legal powers. The use of the Special Act procedure was necessary for several reasons: 1] until 1856 this was the principal way in which joint-stock shareholder limited liability, where the proprietor was liable in extremis only to the nominal value of their share, could be acquired and 2] that the powers these companies required affected the public domain to which Parliament had to assent to and regulate. The procedure gave statutory companies considerable legal powers, particularly over property. They were granted, in effect, the power of Parliament to override private and municipal interests. With such security these companies were the only ones enabled to raise mass capital. The powers granted were contended in Parliament, although the legislature had no further effect on their management.
Many hundreds of statutory companies were created and directly regulated by Parliament in the 18th and 19th Centuries, occupying an enormous amount of legislative time. Railways, Canals, Gasworks and Waterworks were the principal statutory incorporations, as well as public trusts for turnpike or toll roads. Insurance, Cemetery and companies to work various Patents were among the others.
Where capital has been mentioned in this text generally it refers to the amount authorised by Parliament for issue to shareholders. Until 1855 the maximum amount was fixed and could only be altered by further application to Parliament. In addition to this sum statutory companies were commonly authorised to issue debentures (bonded debt) up to one-third of the value of the issued share capital.
The capital raised could only be used for the authorised purpose - which was rarely varied by Parliament. A company authorised to build a railway, for example, could not expend the money it raised on ships, gasworks or public telegraphs.
The statutory companies did not have common constitutions apart from a selection from some standard clauses inserted from those previously authorised. Financial reporting was basic. Essentially each company had to have two auditors and hold one annual general meeting for its proprietors.   Information for shareholders and the public was generally limited to a statement of account from the auditors without detail or commentary. The statement was not to a format and even the account categories varied from year to year (i.e. as the auditors changed) – making real comparison of performance (and honesty) difficult. The statutory general meetings were an opportunity for shareholders to obtain answers from the board of directors; but the press were often excluded. Information from companies regarding performance generally became available when they were about to go to Parliament for permission to raise further capital or in answer to some crisis publicised in the press.
The company was controlled by a Board of Directors elected by all of the shareholders; directors retired in rotation year by year but were eligible for immediate re-election. They were responsible for every matter, however trivial; authorising, at least in theory but often in practice, every expenditure and every appointment. The directors were usually the largest shareholders in the company. The decisions of the Board were communicated by the Secretary, the most important salaried official. All other management appointments and their tasks were at the whim of the Board.

The Charter Company – Some proprietors might apply to the Government, actually to the Board of Trade & Colonies, for a grant of a Royal Charter for their enterprise. This gave certain privileges – in particular joint-stock limited liability - to the proprietors. Commercially the grant of a Charter was most often granted to “trading” concerns, shipping firms and colonial companies whose work did not require particular powers in Britain or otherwise need protective legislation. A Charter was also used to secure charitable and academic institutions with substantial capital; with the advent of general limited liability for companies in 1855 this became the primary use of the privilege.
Five public telegraph companies each obtained a Royal Charter; the Submarine, the English & Irish Magnetic, the Irish Sub-Marine, the British, and the International.

The Joint-stock Company – Although joint-stock companies with unlimited liability for the proprietors had been permitted since 1828 it was only in 1844 that the Government obtained an Act for their registration and regulation. Until then they had been organised as very large common partnerships executed under a variety of deeds of trust with little or no protection for their members.   All of the companies mentioned here were registered under the 1844 Act, which made lawful the dividing of capital into shares and gave a slight degree of security to investors in identifying the promoters and in mandatory regular financial reporting, but still with unlimited liability.
It was not until 1855 that general limited liability for proprietors of joint-stock shares was permitted in Britain by simple registration of their company's articles of association. Even subsequent to the Limited Liability Act 1855 the individual capital sums raised were relatively small compared with the enormous amounts raised by statutory companies.
Concerns formed under the 1855 and later Company Acts, but not the statutory incorporations, had to include “Limited” after the word “Company” in their title. That necessity has been assumed throughout this work, though not applied.

Patents – In most countries the patent or brevet was an administrative process that gave legal recognition to an invention or improvement. It had to be a tangible or material innovation, carefully described in a written specification and with, if appropriate, accompanying drawings and submitted to a government official to prove its originality. It was a costly process, consuming much time in its drafting, and requiring substantial fees to the Government over its lifetime. Once granted it gave the owner or owners of the patent, twelve or less in number in British law, the sole right to use the invention for a period of time, or to assign use of it to others under licence.
In England patents were granted for a period of fourteen years without right of renewal. As monopolies in trade had been illegal since James I, major variations to a grant of patent (i.e. apart from a simple license) had to go before Parliament: this was particularly so where a body of capitalists originally of more than five persons wished to acquire and work a patent and form a so-called Patent Company, actually identical to a Statutory Company. The number of individuals permitted to own a patent was increased to twelve in May 1832. With isolated exceptions each domestic telegraph company mentioned here was formed to acquire and work, by permission of Parliament, particular patents relating to electric telegraphy. Each patent gave the company sole rights to use the components of the patent for a period of time to the exclusion of all others.
Registered Designs – By an Act of Parliament of 1838 and subsequent Acts in 1842, 1843 and 1850, the appearance of manufactures could be recorded to establish legal priority and prevent copying. The Act was meant to apply to works with aesthetic merit and other visual properties, falling between copyright and patents, but was also used as a cheap method of protecting inventions from imitation. 

 l.] Glossary:
Spelling and usage throughout this paper is contemporary with the period. Special care has been taken over the accuracy of personal names and company titles and their evolution.

Currency - £. s. d. or Libra, Sesterce, Denarius, the currency used throughout this paper is the pound sterling, the ‘£’ or ‘L’, then divided into twenty shillings, the ‘s’, each of twelve pence, the ‘d’. So the pound equalled 240 pence. To give some idea of relative value average individual male earnings were about £24 per year. The pound in the mid-nineteenth was worth twenty-five French francs, ten Austrian florins, ten Russian roubles, seven Prussian thalers or five United States’ dollars. These values held true for most of the century as systemic inflation of currency had yet to be invented.

Armour – a sheath of iron wire bound around tarred, resin-insulated wires as a protection against the effects of sea-water and sea creatures to make a ‘cable’
Cable – an armoured and resin-insulated underwater copper wire (or wires) or a subterranean resin-insulated wire or group of wires with a fabric sheathing
Code - With the exception of the original Wheatstone five-needle telegraph and the type-printing telegraphs of House and Hughes virtually all other public telegraphs, needle and acoustic, of the period transmitted code, actually cipher, in which movements or sounds are interpreted to represent characters, numbers and symbols. The original “Morse” code was devised by Alfred Vail in 1835 with 36 characters; there was also a different, extended Austro-German code, the “Hamburg Alphabet” that evolved into the “European Alphabet” in 1851 with 44 characters; and a particular Russian code that had 30 characters as well as numbers to suit an abbreviated Cyrillic alphabet. The “European Alphabet” or code was first used in British domestic circuits in June 1853 (See also Telegraphs, Dial)
The China Submarine Telegraph Company solved the problem of telegraphing the 50,000 characters of the written Chinese language. It reduced its messages to several thousand common names and phrases and had each office provided with small numbered wooden printing blocks for each. The sender selected the appropriate phrases and the clerk transmitted their numbers. On receipt the appropriate numbered blocks were printed on to the outgoing message form. The Great Northern Telegraph Company compiled a “dictionary” giving numeric equivalents to Chinese characters for transmission in its China and Japan circuits in 1871; this caused some offence as its construction and the selection by clerks was arbitrary.
Duplex – the ability to send two messages through a single circuit was discovered by Dr Wilhelm Gintl, an Austrian, in 1853 but only perfected by Joseph Stearns in America during 1868 as the third generation of electric telegraph technology. It was introduced to general service in the 1870s.
Galvanic – using batteries of chemical cells to produce electricity. During the period 1836 to 1870 and for long after virtually all telegraphs were ‘galvanic’ (but see also Magneto).
Insulators – In overhead or pole telegraphs an earthenware (often called “porcelain”), glass or hard-resin device used to insulate each of the overhead wires from the supporting pole.
Key – In Britain during the 1850s and 1860s a Key, Private Key or Telegraph Key commonly referred to a code used for concealment in messages. The mechanical “key” used on the Highton, Bright and American telegraphs was hence known as a “tapper”
Magneto – using the local mechanical generation of electricity. In the period discussed only Henley’s needle telegraph of 1849, Wheatstone’s Universal telegraph of 1858 and Siemens dial telegraph of 1859 used ‘magneto-electricity’ rather than batteries of cells
Messages – the record for public traffic breaks down into domestic and foreign, and ought to exclude company or “service” messages, as well as news and railway-related traffic
Miles of line – unduplicated route miles (i.e. 100 miles from London to Birmingham)
Miles of wire – absolute length of wire in circuit (i.e. 100 line miles of line by four wires = 400 miles)
Overhead (or Pole) telegraph
an iron wire or wires suspended above ground between wooden or iron poles
Relay or Repeater
an electro-magnetic device that received a weak incoming signal and retransmitted it using its own battery so amplifying its strength and increasing the length of the circuit without manual input. These instruments saw great development, causing them to be wholly automatic, to work two directions without switching and increasing their sensitivity. The relay had several alternate titles in Britain, varying in dignity from “pecker”, through repeater and translator, to the grand “perænode”, all performing the same basic function
a copper-wire conductor coated with an insulator of tar, india-rubber or (after 1848) gutta-percha and covered with a protective, anti-abrasive cotton outer for underground or underwater telegraphy
Telegraph, Acoustic
an instrument in which code is communicated by sound rather than visually by needles or in print. The earliest was Wheatstone’s magnet and bell of 1841, with a magneto worked by a lever. The American and needle galvanic telegraphs could also receive by sound alone as they made distinctive “dot” and “dash” or “left” and “right” noises. Bright’s Bell of 1858 and the American sounder of about the same date were specifically designed to receive acoustically
Telegraph, American
this bears little resemblance to the apparatus originally patented in the United States by S F B Morse in 1840. The real, hugely-successful American telegraph, of the key, register and relay, was only patented in 1846 and owed all of its elements to Morse’s collaborators. Alfred Vail devised the “register” in 1844; this was the essential and most original element of the American telegraph. One of the first two Vail registers still survives at Cornell University, but only because Vail took extraordinary precautions to keep it out of S F B Morse’s hands. Morse somehow managed to ‘lose’ its companion. Outside of Britain this was the world-wide “telegraph system” after 1850. It was also used, it must be said, throughout the British dominions overseas
Telegraph, Automatic
the second generation of electric telegraphy, utilising a division of labour to multiply message rates by at least a factor of five. Messages were punched in code into paper tape and the tape fed into a clockwork-driven transmitter and received distantly by a clockwork-driven receiver that printed the code on to tape. The initial version ran at 100 words a minute, subsequently increased to 600 and 800 words a minute. This is Wheatstone’s system of 1858
Telegraph, Chemical
the apparatus used electricity to mark a chemically- treated cloth or paper though a stylus controlled by a press-key. This had no electro-magnetic element, although being silent in operation it required an electro-magnetic alarm to warn the operators of a message. It is the basis of facsimile transmission and was devised by Davy in 1836 and perfected by Bain in 1846. The last Bain chemical telegraph was operating between Boston and Ogdensburg in North America during 1868
Telegraph, Copying
the apparatus is a variant of the chemical telegraph by which original writing is reproduced at a distance. The writing (or a line drawing) had to be undertaken on conductive material (foil), placed on a rotating metal drum and ‘scanned’ by a moving metal feeler. A similar metal drum in circuit with the first was covered in chemically-prepared paper was marked in sympathy by a metal stylus to reproduce the original. It was a mechanical telegraph with electro-chemical recording, relying on external power to rotate the drums synchronously and to move the sending feeler and receiving stylus. This is Bakewell’s perfected system of 1851. The Caselli copying telegraph of 1860, with a flat-bed and swinging arm rather than a rotating drum, was used experimentally for a time. Fax or facsimile transmission is essentially a copying telegraph
Telegraph, Dial
the apparatus comprised a dial upon which the letters of the alphabet were indicated by a rotating index-hand or pointer, so that any person could read it. The pointer might be driven by clockwork and released to rotate by an electro-magnetic ratchet, becoming a mechanical telegraph, or might be itself driven around the dial by the electro-magnetic ratchet. The mechanism for controlling the ratchet, that is the sender, might be a galvanic commutator (Wheatstone’s 1840, Siemens 1850 or Breguet’s 1852) or a magneto-electric device (Wheatstone’s Universal of 1858 or Siemens 1859) or even a mechanically-rotated galvanic commutator controlled by a piano-like keyboard (Froment’s 1849). Dial telegraphs were by nature overly complex and expensive, so little, if at all, used in public message telegraphy
Telegraph, Marine -
a line, whether optical or electrical, used to report ship arrivals to docks and wharfs in major cities from a distant coastal station; not offering a public service
Telegraph, Mechanical
the apparatus uses electricity to moderate an external mechanical power-source to produce communication. Typically this was an electro-magnetically-controlled ratchet that released a clockwork mechanism to rotate a pointer or type-wheel. These were the earliest telegraphs
Telegraph, Needle
the apparatus uses electricity to move the needles on one or more electro-magnetic galvanometers or “electricity-meters”; in galvanic telegraphy each needle moves left or right from the centre as the circuit polarity is changed by a single commutator worked by drop-handles or by a pair of press-keys (“tappers” in Britain between 1846 and 1870); in magneto-telegraphy each needle moves in a single direction at the instance of a local magneto- electric generator worked by a press-key or a handle. These instruments, by Cooke & Wheatstone or Highton, were commonly used in public messaging only in Britain
Telegraph, Printing
the apparatus used an electro-magnetic hammer to strike a rotating daisy-wheel on the ‘petals’ of which were alphabet type (Wheatstone’s 1841 and 1862), an electro-pneumatic piston to drive a type- wheel (House’s 1852) or an electro-magnetic print-wheel (Hughes’ 1859). The signals were generated by a rotating commutator on a horizontal drum in the House or a vertical ‘chariot’ in Hughes, controlled by a lettered piano keyboard. These were mechanical telegraphs relying on external power to drive the type-printer, to move the paper in front of the type and to rotate the keyboard commutator
Telegraph, Private -
electric communication directly connecting individuals. Private wires were offered on lease by all of the telegraph companies with or without the provision of operators. In the United Kingdom true private telegraphs used either Wheatstone’s 1858 or Siemens 1859 dial magneto- apparatus. Very short distance or internal private circuits usually used Breguet’s galvanic dial device
Telegraph, Public – electric communication accessible to the general public, whether offered by a telegraph, a cable or a railway company. Exchange Telegraphs providing a common message to private subscribers, are not dealt with here

Telegraph Stamps
adhesive labels sold by the companies, similar to postage stamps, used to pre-pay telegraphic messages by applying them to message forms or writing paper. These are different from the larger Telegraph Labels, used to seal the folded, addressed outgoing message forms instead of using envelopes in most countries other than Britain and the United States Transcription – in telegraphy, the process where a message is received and written down by one clerk to pass to another clerk for sending on another instrument; replaced in the 1860s by translation, an electrical process using switching and an automatic relay
Underground or Subterranean telegraph
a resin-insulated wire or wires in an iron or earthenware pipe or metal-covered wooden trough buried in the ground 

m.] Love’s Telegraph - A comedy of 1846

In coincidence with the launch of the Electric Telegraph Company in the late summer of 1846 came the English premiere of the play, Love’s Telegraph. Sadly, it must be said that the eponymous telegraph of the drama was not galvanic or even magnetic, but like the Company it was a success.

A comedy-drama in three acts, Love’s Telegraph was first performed in English on September 9, 1846 at the Princess’s Theatre, Oxford Street. It was translated from the French by James Planché at the instance of Mr J M Maddox, manager of the Princess’s Theatre, probably on the advice of the popular French-speaking actor Charles James Mathews. The work was revived regularly there until 1859. It also played subsequently in the English provinces and in New York, at Laura Keane’s Theatre, in June 1857 and for several seasons afterwards. Mathews was married to the famous actress and singer, Lucia Elizabeth Vestris, universally known on the stage as Madame Vestris. 

“The new drama of Love’s Telegraph has made a most decided hit, long continued plaudits follow each Act, it will therefore be repeated each evening.”

“Princess Blanche is played by Madame Vestris; Alice by Mrs H Hughes; Marguerite, Miss E Stanley; Baron Pumpernickel, Mr Compton; Count Theodore, Mr J Vining; and Arthur de Solburg, Mr Charles [James] Mathews.”

“It is an English adaptation of a French comedietta, and in a literary point of view presents no especial merit except that of general neatness. A lady and gentleman, courtiers at a Court of a Princess, invent a system of telegraph communication whereby they can make love to each other before the face of the princess herself. When the lady plays with her fan her conversation is directed to her lover, and when the gentleman gesticulates with his glove his compliments are intended for his inamoratas. It happens that the princess, notwithstanding the fact of her having a lover of her own, a prince too, falls in love with the gentleman in question, and of course appropriates all the fine compliments that are uttered over her head. She makes a written confession of her love, which the telegraphed individual, being high-minded, hands over to the princely suitor. This occasions some perplexity, but in the end all is set straight by the discovery of the flirtation that has been carried on by telegraph. The princess makes a sacrifice; marries the prince and allows the ingenious courtiers to unite their fortunes in life and matrimony.”

n.] Perceptions of the Telegraph Companies  

From ‘Punch, or The London Charivari’, September 20, 1862. There seems little difference in the art of customer service then as now...

“Electric Sparks”
An Imaginary Melodrama, constructed upon the complaints of Newspaper Correspondents Dramatis Personæ Some youthful Clerks. Enter to them Mr Morvays Hont, a mild gentleman who wishes to send a message.

Scene- An Electric Telegraph Office

Mr M H (approaching the counter, and speaking in a low voice): I believe you send electric messages to the town of Fortywinks?
1st Clerk (loud): Smith, where’s Fortywinks?
2nd Clerk: Give it up.
1st Clerk: No, I say, it ain’t a sell. This gent wants to send there. Where is it?
2nd Clerk: I don’t know – isn’t it out by Kent, or Wales, or that way. (Opens a walnut)
Mr M H (meekly): It is on your own list, sir.
1st Clerk: Is it? Why didn’t you say so at first. The public give a great deal of unnecessary trouble.
Mr MH: But I rather wanted to know what would be your charge for a message there.
1st Clerk: ‘Pends on length.
Mr M H: Yes, of course; yes, that is so. But I have written out the message I wish to send, and you can perhaps tell me the price before I fill up one of the forms.
1st Clerk (takes the paper, and 2nd and 3rd Clerk come and look over their friend’s shoulder): He reads: ‘My dearest Maria-Jane’ – that’s four words, three if you like to call her Mariar only -  ‘I hope that your poor head is better’  - (aside to friend) How about her poor feet? – twelve words. ‘Be sure to use the hoppledeaddog’ (a burst from his friends).
Mr M H (hurt): Opodeldoc, young gentleman. It is an application*.
1st Clerk: Oh, ah! Well, you’d better say application; for I’m sure there’ll be a mull with the Latin – eighteen words – ‘and be careful about open winders’.
Mr M H: I have written “windows”, I think.
1st Clerk: I said so, didn’t I? – twenty-four words. ‘I have sent the sugar candy’ – not this way, I say, no such luck. Thirty words. Eight shillings – is the house near the telegraph station?
Mr M H: About three-quarters of a mile.
1st Clerk: Eighteen pence porterage – nine-and-six.
Mr M H: Dear me, that is more than I expected.
2nd Clerk (a smart young fellow, up to business): Well, you can cut out some of it, you know. See now. Cut out your dearest Mariah-Jane, if your name’s to the letter she’ll know it’s you as sends, at least my Mariah-Jane would – that’s four out. What’s the use of hoping about her poor head? – stick to the message – say “Use the ophicliede” – what is it? – “keep out of draughts” – fifteen words out – there, Sir, we’ll put that into the wire for you at a low figure, say four bob. Fill up a form – one of those before your nose.
Mr M H: Well, thank you, yes, that is shorter, certainly (colouring). But - you see – in fact there are circumstances, and that would read a little abrupt.
2nd Clerk: Well, it’s your business, you know, not mine. (Opens a walnut)
Enter Small Boy, with much clatter.

3rd Clerk: Now then, you young scamp, where have you been all this while? You’re in for it, you are, I can tell you.
Small Boy (with much volubility): Well, how’s a fellow to go to Hislington and Chelsea and round by Brompting and the Minories and be back in five-and-twenty minutes you couldn’t do it yourself and you’ve no call to put it on me to do it and what’s more I won’t and I can’t and that’s it.
3rd Clerk (serenely): Better tell the Governor so.
S B: I will tell the Governor and I do tell the Governor so do you think I’m afraid to speak to the Governor he’s not the man to see a poor lad put upon and bullied out of his life time if he happens to be hindered five minutes out of two hours because the road’s up and the buss broke down and there was a fire and we couldn’t get by. Come!
3rd Clerk: You’ll see. Be off with this message to Hoxton. It’s been waiting here three hours. S B: Not till I’ve had my dinner if you know it and that’s all about it.


2nd Clerk: Nice lad that. Nothing to say for himself, oh no!
1st Clerk: That ought to go off, you know.
2nd Clerk: I know nothing about it; except that it’s been lying there since eleven o’clock, and that it is a thundering message to a doctor to be off by the next train.
1st Clerk: Well, I ask you is it my fault?
2nd Clerk: It’s nobody’s fault in particular, and everybody’s in general, and we’ll hope the doctor will be in time. Mind your customer.
1st Clerk: Well, Sir – cooked it?
Mr M H (who has been fidgeting over his document and making faces, and showing much discomfort about it): I – I think I have reduced it a little without making it quite so peremptory – how is it now?
1st Clerk: ‘My dearest’ – um – um.
2nd Clerk: You stick to the polite, Sir? (Graciously)
Mr M H: Ladies require to be addressed with consideration, you see. (Apologetically) 1st Clerk: Six shillings – seven-and-six in all.
Mr M H (with a sigh): Well, so it must be. But, oh yes, I beg your pardon, when will this be delivered? 
1st Clerk: Oh, sometime to-night.
Mr M H: Ah, but that is very important! I would not send unless you could guarantee that it would be delivered by nine, or at the latest ten minutes past, as – as the lady retires at half-past nine, and I would not have her disturbed on any account.
1st Clerk: We guarantee nothing, but I dessay you’ll hear that it’s all right.
Mr M H: It is only three o’clock now. Surely the message could go away at once.
2nd Clerk: Of course it could go if the wire wasn’t wanted for anything else, but we’ll send it as soon as we can.
Mr M H: But you will assure me that it will go before five – surely, a distance of thirty-six miles –
2nd Clerk: You see it ain’t all our line, there are two breaks, and we can’t say what the other companies may do, but she’ll have it tonight, and there’s nothing very pressing in it.
Mr M H (reddening): That, allow me to say, is a matter on which I must be permitted to have my own opinion.
2nd Clerk: Have it by all means. (Opens a walnut)
Mr M H (rising into wrath):  And I must add that to put Fortywinks on your list, and not be able to say that you can send there in six hours is a little more than inconsistent.
2nd Clerk: Well, you can write to the papers and say so. And as the papers pay our salaries, of course we shall all get the sack.
Mr M H: The papers may not pay your salaries, but – ha!  ha! (with wild maliciousness) they shall pay you out. (Rushes away on delivering this annihilating smasher, and hurries up the street)
2nd Clerk: Not so bad of the old muff, that. But he’s left his dearest ‘Maria-Jane’ paper behind him.

Re-enter Mr M H, very hot.

Mr M H: I left a paper here. I request its return.
2nd Clerk: Did you, Sir? No, I think not, Sir? I do not see it, Sir. Have you seen it, Brown?
1st Clerk: No, I haven’t, Robinson.
3rd Clerk: I think you must be in Herror, Sir. (They all gaze upon him with much politeness)
Mr M H: Then, I must have dropped it in the street.
2nd Clerk: Very likely, Sir. The public does those things occasionally. Perhaps the finder will bring it here and forward it at his own expense; if so, it shall receive every attention, Sir.
Mr M H: This telegraph system is ...

(Exit before completing his diagnosis)

(*Opodeldoc - “a well-known liniment, which is prepared by digesting three parts of soap in sixteen parts of the spirit of rosemary, till the former be dissolved; when one part of camphor should be incorporated with the whole. This unguent is of great service in bruises, rheumatic affections, and similar painful complaints”: The Domestic Encyclopaedia, 1802)

Telegraph, from the Greek “tele”, distant, and “graphos”, writing
© Copyright - Steven Roberts 2012