Henry Cort

Henry Cort

Male 1740 - 1800  (~ 60 years)    Has one ancestor and 19 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name Henry Cort 
    Relationshipwith Francis Fox
    Born Jan 1740  Lancaster, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 23 May 1800  London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Hampstead, London Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Association Daniel Guion (Relationship: Friend) 
    Association Capt. Gardiner Henry Guion (Relationship: Godfather/Godson) 
    Association Oliver Toulmin (Relationship: Friend) 
    Association William Attwick (Relationship: Henry Cort inherits the ironmonger business of the Atwick family aft the de) 
    Association William Stout (Relationship: Henry Corts brother thomas was married to a niece of William Stout. Bef Wil) 
    Association Richard Crawshay (Relationship: Ironmongers) 
    Person ID I394774  Geneagraphie
    Links To This person is also Henry Cort at Father of Iron Trade 
    Links To This person is also Henry Cort at Wikipedia 
    Last Modified 28 Jun 2015 

    Father Henry Cort 
    Family ID F300804  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Elizabeth Brown,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married 24 Apr 1764 
    Last Modified 30 Mar 2009 
    Family ID F210260  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Elisabeth Haysham,   b. 1744,   d. 1826  (Age 82 years) 
    Married 16 Mar 1768  St Thomas The Apostle, London Find all individuals with events at this location 
    +1. Henry Bell Cort,   b. 1769,   d. 1806  (Age 37 years)
     2. Coningsby Francis Cort,   b. 1770,   d. Yes, date unknown
     3. William Thomas Cort,   b. 1771,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. Elizabeth Jane Cort,   b. 1773,   d. Yes, date unknown
     5. Harriett Ann Cort,   c. 3 Jun 1775,   d. Yes, date unknown
     6. John Hamer Cort,   b. 1777,   d. 1780  (Age 3 years)
     7. Maria Cort,   b. 1778,   d. 1797  (Age 19 years)
     8. Charlotte Cort,   b. 1779,   d. Yes, date unknown
     9. Frederick John Cort,   b. 1781,   d. 1835  (Age 54 years)
     10. Caroline Cort,   b. 1783,   d. Yes, date unknown
     11. Richard Cort,   b. 1784,   d. Yes, date unknown
    +12. Louisa Cort,   b. 1786,   d. Yes, date unknown
     13. Catherine Frampton Cort,   b. 1790,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 27 Jun 2015 
    Family ID F157461  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map Click to display
    Link to Google MapsDied - 23 May 1800 - London, Middlesex, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Hampstead, London Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos

    Documents 2 Documents

    Histories 3 Histories

  • Notes 
    • Cort's birth is supposed to have been in Lancaster in 1740.
      Nothing is known of his early life, though some accounts say his father was a builder.
      The first documentary evidence comes in October 1757, when Cort is working as clerk to a navy agent , Thomas Bell, in London .
      The Navy Office at this time is near the Tower of London, on the corner of Crutched Friars and Seething Lane. Henry soon takes up residence in Crutched Friars.
      It is easy enough to follow his career . He must have had some useful financial backing, for he has taken over the firm by 1764 and runs it for ten years.
      During this period he marries twice. Little is known about his first wife , but the marriage doesn't last long.
      His second wife is Elizabeth Haysham, the sister-in-law of one of his clients, John Becher .
      More significantly, she springs from the Attwick family : granddaughter of John Attwick, who has built up a big business in Gosport supplying ironmongery and other items to the Navy in Portsmouth.
      John is dead by the time Cort arrives on the scene, and the business is being run by his son William, Elizabeth's uncle.
      In 1772 William Attwick is hoping to retire.
      Cort suggests another of his clients, Thomas Morgan , as a suitable person to take over the firm.
      Morgan first becomes William's partner, then sole owner.
      When the American rebellion breaks out, Morgan re-enlists in the Navy .
      Cort moves to Gosport to take over the business.
      Morgan owes him money, but the whole enterprise is buttressed by a complex web of loans in which one of the main lenders is a Navy Office clerk, Adam Jellicoe .
      Early in 1781 the financial arrangements are simplified: Jellicoe becomes the main creditor, Cort the main debtor

      Mr Cort agreed the 8 January 1781 to sell Mr A Jellicoe: One half of the Iron Mill; One half of Gosport works demised by Mr Attwick; One half of Child's Wharf laid out with improvement; One half of his Contracts at a price to be settled by two indifferent persons; One half of his Stock in trade at a valuation. And in consideration of Mr A Jellicoe settling Mr Cort's affairs and paying his Debts to allow Mr Saml Jellicoe half the Profits of his Contracts and Trade.
      From Watson-Dundas memorandum , 1790

      Cort takes on Jellicoe's son Samuel as partner.
      Jellicoe continues to finance the enterprise. It looked a promising investment.
      Anchors and chains are forged at Gosport, but most of the ironmongery is purchased elsewhere in the country: probably in the West Midlands, although the Cramond works in Scotland is the main supplier of nails for a period.
      Cort, however, is experimenting with new techniques in iron manufacture . The Navy at this time prefers to use imported iron.
      When France enters the war in 1778 , supplies from overseas become more difficult to obtain and prices rise steeply.
      The Navy is particularly concerned about the price of hoops , used to seal the casks and barrels that hold ships' provisions.
      Cort enters into an arrangement to supply the Navy with iron hoops.
      He takes over an old iron mill at Fontley on the River Meon, some 12km from Gosport, and installs new equipment at some considerable cost.
      In 1783 and 1784 there are patents awarded for the processes he has developed: two patents in England and Wales, one in Scotland.
      The most important process later becomes known as puddling . Its purpose is to remove excess carbon that the iron has absorbed during smelting , to make it workable by a blacksmith. The iron emerges from the puddling furnace as a spongy solid, which is next squashed using a "shingling" hammer.

      The final stage is to pass lumps of this solid between rollers, so that it emerges as long bars.
      By fitting collars and grooves to his rollers, he can control the size and shape of a bar's cross-section: this part of the process is later adapted for rolling steel.
      Before Cort introduced this stage of the process, bars were shaped using heavy hammers, like the water-driven tilthammer said to be at Fonrtley Iron Mill when Cort took it over.
      The Navy spends a few years checking the efficacy of Cort's product.
      But he is confident enough to start travelling round the country (Wales and Scotland included) to demonstrate his process to other ironmasters. He expects them to adopt it and pay him royalties.
      Although they seem to be impressed at first, only one company, at Rotherhithe, gets involved at this stage. There is a snag in the process when freshly-smelted iron is used, caused by impurities which accumulate in the puddling furnace over time.
      Cort never appreciates this, because he always works with recycled iron, which does not contain these impurities.
      In 1787, however, a new enterprise in South Wales, under Richard Crawshay , takes an interest in Cort's process.
      Crawshay adopts it in a big way, installing twelve puddling furnaces where Cort used just one.
      Crawshay still runs into the impurity problem, and by the summer of 1789 the agreement with Cort and Jellicoe has broken down.
      But Cort has another problem. Some of the money Adam Jellicoe has lent him is Navy money , earmarked for paying seamen's wages.
      The point is never reached when money for wages isn't available: nevertheless Jellicoe's bosses at the Navy Office get nervous when they find out what he has done. He assures them he will soon get the money back.
      This hasn't happened at the time of Jellicoe's death in August 1789.
      The Navy determines to recover the missing money from Cort, and persuades the judiciary that he owes £27,500 to the Crown.
      They seize his property and assets, leaving him unable to meet the demands of other creditors. He therefore applies for bankruptcy, granted in October 1789.
      The generosity of friends and admirers enables him to set up house in London and pay off the debts not outstanding to the Crown.
      In the summer of 1791 a group petitions the Prime Minister on his behalf, and in 1794 he is granted a meagre pension .
      He has a wife and twelve children ranging in age from 4 to 25.
      He lives for another six years, during which one of his children dies and another is confined to a mental hospital in Calcutta for over a year.
      In the following years some of his children attempt to gain public recognition and recompense for his work, and myths are created suggesting he is a victim of conspiracy .
      It is in this atmosphere that The Times publishes the 1856 accolade . Accounts like this have coloured subsequent appraisals of Cort, but much has been disproved by evidence recently unearthed at the National Archives and elsewhere.

      Cort's lawsuits
      Parry v Cort etc
      Letters and promissory notes from Major David Parry to Henry Cort, described as [?regimental] "agent", defendant. Exhibits include a life assurance policy assigned by Parry to Cort.
      From PRO (online) catalogue for exchequer file E140/65/12.
      Mr Cort's agent was with Me this Afternoon & by a letter from Mr Hollis Mr Cort's Country Attorney informed Me that you have consented to take your Brother with Mr.Cort as security for your debt.
      From letter to David Parry from his attorney, 6 November 1776

      Major David Parry is not a navy man, but Cort seems to treat him the same way as navy clients - indeed, may offer favourable treatment. He continues to run an account for Parry after relinquishing his navy clients in 1773.
      That query "[?regimental] 'agent]" in the PRO catalogue (one researcher who spots it tells me "Cort was never a navy agent, he was an army agent"): most likely some rash cataloguer trying to explain Cort's connection with Major Parry, and unaware of his reputation as a navy agent. No other evidence has been found of Cort acting as agent for anyone in the army.
      Cort's role as Parry's agent appears to date from 1769. Most plausible explanation arises from repeated references in the files to an annuity that Parry is supposed to pay William Attwick (earliest payment covers a four-month period in 1771) but there are few clues how this arises.
      Parry's brother Roger, whose name crops up periodically in the files, manages to run up his own debt to Cort - possibly by overdrawing on a bond due to him. This debt figures in an attempt by Cort to settle his own finances a few years later.

      I cannot possibly entertain the favorable opinion you do of Mr Cort.
      From letter of David Parry to Daniel Guion, 4 November 1776.
      I would rather leave... and never more hear the name of Mr Cort, who has used me so ill.
      From letter of David Parry to Daniel Guion, 11 November 1776

      The Parry v Cort files contain many "bills of exchange" written (hurriedly, by the look of it) by Parry: effectively cheques drawn on his account with Cort . The suit arises after Parry complains that Cort won't provide a statement of this account. A charge easily enough countered. Cort's statement is part of his defence: it shows income and expenditure like a modern bank statement.
      It is a letter from Parry that establishes Cort's presence in Gosport in May 1776: his previous letter to Cort is addressed to Crutched Friars, August 1775
    • The Gosport Iron Foundry and Henry Cort by Philip Eley

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