William Dockwra

Member of The Hundred

Name
William Dockwra
Other names
Also spelt Dockwray
Birth and death
1635 - 1716
Occupation
Profession details
Copper and Brass manufacturer
Related place
Author
Alistair Grant

William Dockwra [Dockwray], (bap. 1635? - d. 1716) copper and brass manufacturer, promoter of the penny post. In 1680, Dockwra established the London Penny Post, with his partner, Robert Murray. They established a local post that used a uniform rate of one old penny for delivery of packets up to one pound within the city of London. The post made several deliveries a day within the city, and also delivered to addresses up to ten miles outside of London for an extra charge of one penny. In 1683, Dockwra was forced to surrender his business to the government operated General Post Office. In 1690, Dockwra established the Esher brassworks to supply the lucrative London market. Formerly the premises had been the brass works of Jacob Momma, who earlier in the century had struggled against privileged monopolies and the price manipulation of imports. Under Dockwra brass was produced in the traditional manner from refined copper and crushed calamine (the carbonate ore of zinc) from Mendip in Somerset. Brass and copper sheet was manufactured by water-powered rolling mills, believed to be the first in England. The brass sheets were then beaten under water-powered hammers to form pots, pans, and industrial vessels. Brass rod drawn to wire was used for pin manufacture in the first comprehensive works of its kind. However, by 1696 such advances in technical expertise provided only small profit margins. The Esher works declined until, in 1709, it came under the control of the brass works at Bristol.

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