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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Joseph Jenckes

JENCKES, Joseph, inventor, born in Colbrooke, England, in 1602; died in that part of Lynn, Massachusetts, that is now Saugus, 16 March, 1683. Iron-ore was early discovered about, Saugus river. The great need of the colonists for iron tools led Robert Bridges to take specimens of ore to London, by which he procured the formation of a company to develop its working. Joseph Jenckes was induced to come from Hammersmith in 1642, as master-mechanic, to establish the "iron-works "--the first "foundry and forge" in the colonies. By his hands, or under his superintendence, the first furnaces were erected, the first moulds made, the first domestic utensils cast, and the first machinery and iron tools manufactured. The iron enterprise, under the protection of the Massachusetts bay government, appears to have been successful for several years, and furnished all kinds of excellent bar-iron to the colonies at a price not exceeding £20 a ton. Flowage and other lawsuits, with fear for a scarcity of fuel, eventually brought about a collapse. Mr. Jenckes introduced to the colony the idea of patenting inventions, and it seems to have been a motive for coming to the new country that he might protect and introduce his own ideas. In 1646 he secured a patent for fourteen years on an improved water-wheel, also a newly invented sawmill. On 20 January, 1647, he purchased a privilege at the iron-works to build a forge where he might manufacture scythes and other edged tools. In 1652 a mint was established in Boston for coining silver. The pieces had "Masatusets," with a pine-tree, on one side; the reverse, "New England, Anno 1652," and the number of pence in Roman numerals. (See illustration.) The dies for this coin, the first issued in this country, were cut by Jenckes at the Lynn iron-works. In 1654 he built a fire-engine on the order of the selectmen of Boston, the first in this country. In 1655 a patent was granted him for an improved grass-scythe. It had been withheld nine years, because it was deemed too valuable to be monopolized. This instrument has been and is used among all nations without essential improvement. The commissioner of patents, in 1846, pronounced the improvement to have been of greater relative mechanical advancement upon previous instruments than is the mowing-machine of today. In 1667 government aid was sought to enable him to establish machinery for wire-drawing, and he also proposed the coinage of money. He was the originator of many improvements in tools and machinery, and received patents for his most useful inventions. Mr. Jenckes was the progenitor of all that bore his name in his country up to 1800. Most of his descendants have modified the spelling.--His son, Joseph, manufacturer, born in Buckinghamshire, England, in 1632; died in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1716. About 1647 he followed his father to Lynn, Massachusetts, and acquired his trade and business. The rapid destruction of the forests about Lynn, to make charcoal for smelting and refining iron, caused alarm, and to establish himself in the iron business, he followed Roger Williams to Rhode Island. About 1655 he purchased from the Indians a tract of woodland in and about the territory of Providence, on Black-stone river, including Pawtucket falls. Iron ore was discovered near the falls, where he built a foundry and forge, which were destroyed during King Philip's war in 1675, but were rebuilt. Mr. Jenckes became the founder of what is now Pawtucket. It is enterprise laid the foundation by which Providence became the great iron work-shop of the colonies at the beginning of the Revolution. In 1661 he was a member of the governor's council, and he served for several years as a member of the house of deputies.--The second Joseph's son, Joseph, governor of Rhode Island, born in what is now Pawtucket in 1656; died 15 June, 1740, was a land-surveyor, and much employed by the Rhode Island colonial government in establishing its boundaries with adjoining colonies. He was a member of the general assembly from 1679 till 1683, and clerk and speaker of that body. He was commissioner of the colony to settle the many boundary disputes that arose with Massachusetts and Connecticut" and later, between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and Maine. He was also commissioned to reply to a letter of the king as to the "condition of affairs in Rhode Island," and to answer twenty-seven questions that were propounded by the lords of the privy council. He was councillor most of the years from 1680 till 1712, state auditor in 1697-1704, and in 1717 chairman of a commission to compile and publish the laws of the colony, and to make a map of the colony for the English government. He was again a member of the assembly from 1700 till 1708, deputy-governor from 1715 till 1727, except in 1721, when he was sent to England with plenipotentiary powers to settle boundary questions before the king" and governor in 1727-'32. Being the first governor that lived outside of Newport, he was voted 1,100 by the assembly to defray the expense of removing his family to the seat of government. In 1731 he vetoed an act of the assembly to emit paper currency. After serving five years as governor, contrary to the usage of his predecessors, he declined a re-election. Governor Jenckes was a giant in stature (measuring seven feet two inches in his stockings), and was well proportioned.

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