D5303/45: London, 13 June 1809
We have just terminated a successful opposition in the House of Commons to an attempt of a set of speculators in this city, styling themselves first the National Light and Heat Company and more recently the Gas Light and Coke Co, to obtain an Act of Incorporation with the power of raising a large capital and to trade in the various products of the distillation of coal. As some of these documents we have been obliged to print may afford you amusement, I shall take the liberty of forwarding copies to you in a small parcel per coach. Our oppositions won in the first instance from our feeling it unjust that the credit of an invention which had originated with Mr [William] Murdock and him to a certain extent perfected under our auspices, should be usurped by a set of men who had contributed nothing to its progress and in whose hands it was likely rather to prove a source of delusion than of benefit to the public. But in entering upon the subject, we found that it involved also the question of the general expediency of the grants of incorporation to manufacturing bodies, by which the individual adventurers should be exempted from any responsibility beyond the extent of their respective shares: a principle so contrary to the general policy of the laws under which our manufacturers have thriven, that we could find but one or two instances in which it had been deviated from, and those rather serving as beacons to deter from a repetition of the practice than holding out any arguments for imitation. From the number, and influence of our opponents, as well as the capital they had already raised and the delusions they had practised, we have found the contest rather an arduous, and have been much indebted for our success to the active part which our friends Mr Lee and Mr Gott have taken, the former particularly having been examined much at length before the committee.
I have this morning taken the liberty of giving a letter of introduction to you, to Mr Manning, the leading partner of the great West India House of Manning Anderton and Co., in the City, to whose assistance in parliament we have been materially indebted, and who is a most worthy and respectable man. He wishes to show his son the general principles of manufacture carried on in different districts of the country and I shall feel particularly obliged by your gratifying him in so far as it does not infringe upon any of your regulations. I am with much regards, dear sir,
J Watt Junior.
Addressed to William Strutt, Derby