Martien was probably never a serious contender for the honor of

discovering the atmospheric process of making steel. In the present

state of the record, it is not an unreasonable assumption that his

patent was never seriously exploited and that the Ebbw Vale Iron Works

hoped to use it, in conjunction with the Mushet patents, to upset

Bessemer's patents.

The position of Mushet is not so clear, and it is hoped that further

research can eventually throw a clearer light on his relationship with

the Ebbw Vale Iron Works. It may well be that the "opinion of

metallurgists in later years"[119] is sound, and that both Mushet and

Bessemer had successfully worked at the same problem. The study of

Mushet's letters to the technical press and of the attitude of the

editors of those papers to Mushet suggests the possibility that he,

too, was used by Ebbw Vale for the purposes of their attacks on

Bessemer. Mushet admits that he was not a free agent in respect of

these patents, and the failure of Ebbw Vale to ensure their full life

under English patent law indicates clearly enough that by 1859 the firm

had realized that their position was not strong enough to warrant a

legal suit for infringement against Bessemer. Their purchase of the

Uchatius process and their final attempt to develop Martien's ideas

through the Parry patents, which exposed them to a very real risk of a

suit by Bessemer, are also indications of the politics in the case.

Mushet seems to have been a willing enough victim of Ebbw Vale's

scheming. His letters show an almost presumptuous assumption of the

mantle of his father; while his sometimes absurd claims to priority of

invention (and demonstration) of practically every new idea in the

manufacturing of iron and steel progressively reduced the respect for

his name. Bessemer claims an impressive array of precedents for the use

of manganese in steel making and, given his attitude to patents and his

reliance on professional advice in this respect, he should perhaps, be

given the benefit of the doubt. A dispassionate judgment would be that

Bessemer owed more to the development work of his Swedish licensees

than to Mushet.

[119] William T. Jeans, The creators of the age of steel,

London, 1884.

Kelly's right to be adjudged the joint inventor of what is now often

called the Kelly-Bessemer process is questionable.[120] Admittedly, he

experimented in the treatment of molten metal with air blasts, but it

is by no means clear, on the evidence, that he got beyond the

experimental stage. It is certain that he never had the objective of

making steel, which was Bessemer's primary aim. Nor is there evidence

that his process was taken beyond the experimental stage by the Cambria

Works. The rejection of his "apparatus" by W. F. Durfee must have been

based, to some extent at least, upon the Johnstown trials. There are

strong grounds then, for agreeing with one historian[121] who


The fact that Kelly was an American is evidently the principal

reason why certain popular writers have made much of an invention

that, had not Bessemer developed his process, would never have

attracted notice. Kelly's patent proved very useful to industrial

interests in this country as a bargaining weapon in negotiations

with the Bessemer group for the exchange of patent rights.

[120] Bessemer dealt with Kelly's claim to priority in a letter

to Engineering, 1896, vol. 61, p. 367.

[121] Louis C. Hunter, "The heavy industries since 1860," in H.

F. Williamson (editor), The growth of the American economy, New

York, 1944, p. 469.

Kelly's suggestion[122] that some British puddlers may have

communicated his secret to Bessemer can, probably, never be verified.

All that can be said is that Bessemer was not an ironman; his contacts

with the iron trade were, so far as can be ascertained, nonexistent

until he himself invaded Sheffield. So it is unlikely that such a

secret would have been taken to him, even if he were a well-known


[122] Later developed into a dramatic story by Boucher, op.

cit. (footnote 97).

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