In 1618 Dud Dudley, the natural son of Lord Dudley, left Balliol
College, Oxford, at the age of 20 to take over his fathers furnace
& forges on Pensnett Chase. He soon claimed to have perfected the
use of coal instead of charcoal for the production of Iron, and
obtained a Patent from the King in 1620
However a series of misfortunes prevented Dud Dudley exploiting
his discovery, first devastating floods, then jealous competitors
and finally the Civil Wars. Most of his works passing into the hands
of the Foley family.
The Foley's Ironworks began to dominated the English iron trade
of the late 17c and by 1665 the family had become a powerfull force
in the country, holding major contracts with the navy. (Thomas Foley
is mentioned many times in the diaries of Samuel Pepys).
"Metallum Martis" is Dud Dudley's personal view of his
discovery and subsequent misfortunes, published after the Reformation
of the Monarchy, when he had petitioned the King, Charles II, to
restore his lands & patents, and been turned down. In this book
he claims the continued use of his process at his former works.
The accounts of Philp Foley's Stour Valley Ironworks for 1668 show
the sale between works of Pit-cole Iron. All this is around 90 years
before Abraham Darby working in Coalbrookdale introduced the widescale
use of coal for iron manufacture which is widely taken to be the
birth of the Industrial Revolution.