Jonathan Hulls, Inventor

This is some more from Highways and Byways of Oxford and the Cotswolds:

“Jonathan Hulls was the son of a mechanic at Aston Magna, a hamlet through which the railway now passes between Moreton and Blockley stations. In early manhood he settled at Broad Campden as a clock repairer, but his genius carried him far beyond the cogs and balances of the rustic timepieces. His studies led him to reflect on the possibilities of steam power as a means of locomotion, and 50 years before the day of Watt or Fulton he may claim to have been the inventor of the steamboat. His boat was tried on the Avon at Evesham, and in the same year he published a pamphlet containing explanations and diagrams of his system. He did not get so far as to place his engine on board an ordinary vessel; his boat was simply a steam-tug with an axis furnished with 6 paddles at the stern, this axis being connected with another one turned by the engine. Thus it was clear that he mastered the first principle of steam locomotion, viz., the conversion of the straight horizontal or perpendicular motion of a piston-rod into rotatory motion. Unfortunately, his experiment on the Avon was not a success, and owing to want of money and influential support he seems to have become disheartened, and not to have repeated it. Some years later he patented another invention for “discovering and preventing frauds by counterfeit gold”, as well as for a novel kind of measuring rule; but his experiments were a heavy drain on his limited income, and tradition says that like many another neglected genius eh died in obscurity in London.”

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