About Quizzes

Matthew Boulton

Matthew Boulton was born on September 3, 1728, in Birmingham, England. His father manufactured a variety of metals. The knowledge that Boulton gained from working with his father paid off for the rest of his life. By 1749, Boulton had worked with his father long enough to become a full partner and the general manager. A few years later, in 1755, the Boultons made a bold move to buy out the Sarehole Mill, which they needed to roll sheet metal. In 1756, young Boulton proposed to Mary Robinson, a distant cousin and heir to a large fortune, and they were married the same year. The marriage lasted only four years when she died in 1760. The couple had produced no children. It was only a year earlier that his father had died, which made the loss of his wife even harder. Boulton managed to pull through and arrange a new partnership with one John Fothergill. The partnership with Fothergill was the foundation for the Soho Manufactory, where they produced a vast amount of artistic objects that they shipped throughout the world. Along with the metals that they produced, the partners also began to produce reproduction oil paintings by machine, rendering copies with amazing accuracy. From the beginning of the partnership with Fothergill back in 1762, Boulton built an impressive reputation as a craftsman. He became known throughout the country and took direct orders from numerous famous people. In 1767, Boulton wanted to improve the way his machines were powered. By means of his contacts throughout the United States, he met with James Watt, who greatly appreciated the works of the Soho company. At that time, the firm was developing metals for the development of steam engines throughout the world. In 1772, a partner of Watt's got into some major financial difficulties. Discovering that he owed Boulton a substantial amount of money, he gave him two-thirds of his share in Watt's patent, instead of the money that he owed. Boulton accepted that as payment because he had faith in Watt's inventions. Boulton and Watts formed a partnership to develop their ideas. The two men worked hard on their ideas, day and night, and were close to developing a steam engine that would be primed for commercial success. They made sure to keep the consumer in mind, and left no detail unnoticed. All their work paid off; their development of an affordable steam engine brought them the success for which they had worked so hard. Now that Boulton had leisure time, he wanted to stay occupied, and came up with new ideas and inventions. In 1788, Boulton developed numerous ways to improve the coining machinery of their day. Using the profits that he acquired from his previous business, he built and managed a complete plant that produced much of the coin demand in the Sierra Leone and East India companies, and Russia. Boulton's success with creating magnificent coins became known throughout the world, and in 1797, he started to produce the new copper coins for Britain, becoming the only exporter of coins to Britain. One of his final inventions was the hydraulic ram that was used in conjunction with water. In 1797 Boulton took out a patent for his last major invention. Making enough profits to support themselves, the two men retired in 1800 and left the business to their sons, Matthew Robinson Boulton and James Watt Jr. Boulton died on August 18, 1809, in Birmingham.