Boulton, Matthew

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Boulton, Matthew (1728–1809). Birmingham entrepreneur and engineer. Boulton developed his father's button and stamping business from 1759, applying a dowry to establish his new Soho Works (1760–2). Like his associate Wedgwood, he integrated manufacturing with mercantile functions and a coherent marketing approach to his products. Already chronically short of water power by 1771, he acquired a two-thirds share of Watt's 1769 patent (1773), and entered partnership (1775), managing the business and the defence of patent rights. Their new engine (1776) particularly suited Cornwall, where coal was expensive, and 40 per cent of their reciprocating horsepower had been installed by 1800. Their distinctive rotative engine was complete by 1787, and 4,000 horsepower was in use by 1800, over half in Lancashire, Staffordshire, London, and Yorkshire. They joined the Albion Flour Mill project (1784), and centralized production in their new Soho Foundry (1796). As the partnership ended, Boulton applied steam to minting at Soho (c.1800) and the Tower (1805), and exported mints to Russia, Denmark, and Brazil (1800–11).

J. A. Chartres