Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Cleveland Knight (Origin of English Alum Making) M. H. Dale (about Sir Thomas Chaloner, The Younger)

Monument to Sir Thomas Chaloner the Younger -
The Cleveland Knight - The Origin of English Alum Making
by Maurice H. Dale 
from Tweddell's North of England Tractates 1874
(Identified as Sir Thomas Chaloner The Younger)

First we present the poem from the Tractates in PDF file form with a piece from George Markham Tweddell's Bards and Authors of Cleveland and South Durham 1872 and then below it an extract from Wikipedia.

"Sir Thomas Chaloner (The Younger) (1559–1615) was an English naturalist. He was tutor to Prince Henry, son of James I, and was also responsible for introducing alum manufacturing to England. He was Member of Parliament for St Mawes in 1586 and for Lostwithiel in 1604. His third son was the Parliamentarian, Regicide Thomas Chaloner.

Chaloner was the son of statesman and poet Sir Thomas Chaloner, and Ethelreda Frodsham, was born in 1561. His father died in 1565. His mother marrying Edward Brocket (son of Sir John Brocket, knt., of Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire), he owed his education chiefly to his father's friend, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, at St. Paul's School and at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was esteemed for his poetical abilities, but took no degree.

In 1579 Chaloner wrote the dedication to Lord Burghley of his father's poetical works. He began his travels in 1580, and became, especially in Italy, intimate with the learned men of the time. He returned home three years after to become a favourite at court, and married Elizabeth, daughter of his father's friend, William Fleetwood, recorder of London.

In 1584 Chaloner published A Short Discourse of the most rare Vertue of Nitre, London, 4to, b.l., a practical work in advance of the age. He was M.P. for St Mawes in 1586 and for Lostwithiel in 1604. In 1588 he taught, at Christ Church, Oxford, Robert Dudley, son ofRobert, Earl of Leicester, and was knighted while serving with the English army in France in 1591. In 1592 Chaloner was made justice of the peace for Buckinghamshire. In 1596–7 he was again abroad, and his letters, chiefly from Florence, to the Earl of Essex and Anthony Bacon are in the Lambeth Library.

Alum Manufacture

After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, in 1540, the lands of Gisborough Priory were given to Thomas's father. At the end of the 16th century, Chaloner travelled to Italy and visited the alum works in the Papal States. Having a great interest in the study of plants, he recognised that certain plants grew wherever the minerals responsible for the formation of alum were present in the soil. From this he recognised that the rock from which the alum was made was similar to that abundant in several areas in and around his Guisborough estate, in present day Redcar and Cleveland. Alum was a very important product at that time, used internationally, in curing leather, fixing dyed cloths and for medicinal uses. Up to this period the Vatican, and Spain, two countries in conflict with England, had maintained virtual monopolies on the production and sale of the product.

Chaloner secretly brought some of the Pope's workmen to England to develop a thriving alum industry in Yorkshire. Once the alum industry around Whitby had taken root, the English Crown imposed its own monopoly - imports from abroad were banned. Although the methods were laborious, England became self-sufficient in alum.

In James I's time Chaloner's works became very profitable, the king having prohibited the importation of foreign alum. Under Charles I the crown claimed them as royal mines, and they were granted to Sir Peter Pindar for £12,500 a year to the king and £2,240 to the Edmund, Earl of Mulgrave and another, and after paying eight hundred workmen still produced an immense profit."

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