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Isabella Right Honourable Countess Dundonald - and Belchamp Walter

This connection is not obvious when you visit St. Mary's Church. You may wonder what the significance of Isabella Right Honourable Countess Dundonald is on the plaque in the church. You may have also made an Internet search to find out why.

Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald married Isabella R________, daughter of Samuel R______, on 12 April 1788. This was is second marriage the first was to Anne Gilchrist, daughter of Captain James Gilchrist, on 17 October 1774. He married, thirdly, Anna Maria Plowden, daughter of Francis Plowden, in April 1819, this was after Issabella had died.

The Right Honurable Countess Isabella was interred in the R______ family vault 1808 (22 on list) Samuel R______ her brother was interred 1826.

Samuel R______, her father was interred 1767.

An influx of funds???

I need to check dates here, but there was the re-purchase of the Manor and renovations of St Mary's.

Archibald Cochrane was a Scotish Nobleman and inventor. He was the sucessor of the 8th Earl of Dundonald qnd had little money. His invention was that of coal tar that although patented by him it was never captialised and while adopted by the Royal Navy did not result in a source of income for himself or the R______ family. He died impoverished in Paris in 1831.


There may however have been some revenue from the coal tar and other inventions:

The Earl of Dundonald

"Probably the first serious attempt to manufacture coal tar was made by Archibald Cochrane, the ninth Earl of Dundonald. The Earl was a self-taught inventor, who sadly never made the fortune he deserved from the process of manufacturing tar from coal at his estate at Culross Abbey, near Edinburgh. Throughout the 18th century, the Baltic Powers had virtually a monopoly on the supply of wood tar and pitch, and they were thus in a position to exert diplomatic pressure on a nation that was increasingly dependent for its prosperity on shipping. This was clearly an undesirable situation. Furthermore, during the Napoleonic wars, the increased demand for wood tar for the large numbers of ships being built could not be satisfied, and the situation was further exacerbated by the American War of Independence which adversely affected supplies of wood tar from that country. The need for a substitute was the principal reason for Dundonald’s research. He used all his financial resources to construct a plant for decomposing coal by heating it in the absence of air in a closed vessel known as a retort (the process was later called carbonisation). Coke, a valuable fuel, remained in the retort. British Patent 1291 was granted him in 1781 for ‘… a method of extracting or making tar, pitch and essential oils … from pit coal.’ "

Dundonald had another tar works at Muirkirk, which was managed by his cousin John Macadam, the inventor of macadamised roads. There were five more works in the Midlands, including one at Dudley Wood and one at Calcutts in Shropshire. Then Dundonald began to suffer financial problems and, by 1785, his tar was being widely marketed by the British Tar Company. He suffered a further commercial setback when the Admiralty lost interest in tar, favouring the use of copper to protect ships hulls. The builders of new ships were not particularly interested either, declaring that, "The worm is our best friend", meaning that they made more money from repairing ships than they did from building them. Most of Dundonald’s tar was sold to industry. In the 1790s, Dundonald set up a works at Bow Common in East London. Interestingly, one of Dundonald’s descendants, Thomas Barnes Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, was granted a patent in 1863 referring to improvements in the production of hydrocarbons from gas tar.

Dundonald’s experiments in the manufacture of tar from coal became interesting when he fitted a gun barrel to the delivery pipe leading from his condenser. On applying a source of ignition to the end of the gun barrel, a brilliant light blazed out. He had discovered that, in addition to tar and other chemicals, his process produced a gas that burned with a luminous flame. But because the objective of his research was to increase the revenue from coal by manufacturing tar and pitch from it, he failed to recognise the commercial potential of the gas as an illuminant; it was left to others to develop his discovery and grow rich from it. He did, however, light one room of his house with it – as a novelty "to amaze" his guests.

In 1782 Dundonald described his process to the well-known partnership of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, hoping that he might persuade them to invest in it. Boulton did in fact visit Dundonald in Scotland in the following year to discuss the matter, but for some reason the partners showed little interest in his discovery.

But Dundonald’s process soon attracted wider interest. For example, in 1791 the Society of Arts awarded a prize to a William Pitt for an account of a tar making plant at Dudley Wood Ironworks. There was a small number of tar distillers in business throughout the country some years before towns gas was manufactured on a commercial scale, but the coal tar industry really began to develop when large quantities of crude tar became available from the purification of gas. At first, most of the crude tar produced by the new gas companies was sold to independent tar distillers, but some of them carried out tar distillation on a modest scale at their own works; a practice which was to continue for many years. "

It looks like rather generating any income for the Rs' Isabella lent Dundonald money which was repaid. See: "Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald (1748-1831) - Father of the British Tar Industry" by Paul Luter

The 9th Earl of Dundonald was also the inventor of Potato Bread and other products related to chemical processing. He was also associated with John Loudon McAdam again, you would have thought that there was money to be made.

" In December 1799, Alexander Brodie took over the kilns at The Calcutts from Dundonald and was marketing tar at nine pence per barrel. Consequently an income of nearly £700 from oils, resins and varnish paints was reached. At this time, Lady Isabel Dundonald (nee R_____) began to be swindled by George Glenny. Dundonald distaste for Glenny can be seen in his letters where he describes him as "a scoundrel" and wanted a proper legal enquiry to be made as to his conduct. Meanwhile the partners in the British Tar Company including Dundonald's brothers John and Basil had been declared bankrupt "

In 1799 the British Tar Company was being managed by George Glenny, banker and gambler.

" Dundonald found himself in a strange predicament at this time when John and Basil Cochrane, his brothers tried to saddle him with all their debts. By 1799, they gained possession of £23,000 acquired from the fortune of Archibald's marriage. "

The Lordship of Belchamp Walter manor was sold to Thomas Ruggles in 1741 (by John R_____ III), this did not include the Manor house but presumably included some or all of the surrounding land.

The money "swindled" from Isabella, and presumably the Rs was well over £1,000,000 in todays money. Julian Fellows in his book "Belgravia" was describing far smaller amounts in 1840's in his description of the Earl of Tavistocks gambler son.

JMSR purchased the Manoral lands (presumably from Thomas Ruggles) in 1863??????

The Honywoods

The name Honywood appears on the R_____ family plaque in the church and the Alan Freer family tree. There is a (possible) Honywood conection to Marks Hall, Coggeshall

The first Phillip Honywood died young in 1757. This Honywood was a brother of Samuel and Isabella.

St. Mary's Church at this time

Samuel R______ (junior) 1784-1826

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