Edward Somerset, Second Marquis of Worcester
of Tuscany, Cosmo de Medicis travelled to England in 1656 and it is recorded
that "His highness, went again, after dinner, to the other side of the city,
as far as Vauxhall, to see a machine, invented by my Lord Somerset, Marquis of
Worcester. It raises water more than forty geometrical feet, by the power of one
* the four-way
cock is figured and described as early as 1618; by Robert Fludd
Edward Somerset, Sixth Earl of Worcester, Second Marquis of Worcester was born in 1601 and lived at Raglan Castle, Monmouth. A staunch Royalist Worcester had to flee to Paris in 1646 and returned in 1652 to visit his Cromwellian son only to be arrested and thrown into the tower for a couple of years.
In 1654 Worcester bought a lease on Vauxhall House, which was part of Kennington Manor next to the Thames at Vauxhall, from a Mr Trenchard. The house was partly for the use of Kaspar Kalthoff (or Gaspar Calthoff) a Dutchman formally employed by Charles I (to make 'guns and divers Engines and works for the King's service') and partly as a workshop and laboratory for Worcester's own scientific and engineering experiments.
Worcester secured a royal appointment as an inventor and builder and on 3rd June 1663 Worcester was granted a 99 year patent for his 'Water Commanding Engine'. This steam engine was demonstrated at Vauxhall from 1663 to 1667 (possibly as late as 1670). Around this time many people were working on the idea of using steam to do work so Worcester probably was not the first to build a steam engine, but he is now widely regarded as the first to use a steam engine for a practical purpose. Somerset also envisioned a public company for obtaining funds "to extend its utility to the supply of towns and canals, and for draining mines and marshlands." but nothing came of this idea.
There is a suggestion that Worcester may have got his idea for a steam engine from a Frenchman he met while visiting a mad house. The man Solomon de Cause, from Normandy, had been shut up in the Bicetre asylum, when he had pestered a Cardinal about his discoveries of the power of steam and the use to which it could be put.
It is not known when Worcester stopped using his Vauxhall property but in 1664 the King send in some investigators to establish what equipment Worcester and the late Kalthoff each owned. In 1666 Peter Jacobson (son in law of Kaspar Kalthoff) a Sugar Baker (a sugar refiner?) spent £700 repairing part of Vauxhall House and petitioned the King for a lease on the property. A new lease was granted in 1668, for the rest of Jacobson's life at a moderate rent of £5 in recognition of his earlier expenditure. Worcester he died 3rd of April, 1667.
Texto basado en documentos de la University of Rochester, Steam Engine Library