2019 marks the bicentenary of the death of James Watt, improver of the steam engine and partner of Matthew Boulton in the engine businesses at Soho, Handsworth. There will be many events commemorating this during the year, in Birmingham and Scotland, and information about these can be found on the James Watt 2019 website.
To help celebrate the richness of the archive of the James Watt and Family Papers [MS 3219], held in Archives and Collections, Library of Birmingham, there will be a monthly blog on a Watt related subject.
The last sad tribute…..
In 1840, William Wordsworth told J.P Muirhead whose biography of James Watt was published in 1858:
I look upon him [Watt] considering both the magnitude and the universality of his genius, as perhaps the most extraordinary man this country ever produced; he never sought display, but was content to work in that quietness and humility, both of spirit and outward circumstances in which alone all that is truly great and good was ever done.
Muirhead (1858) p. 381
James Watt died peacefully at his home, Heathfield, in Handsworth, on 25 August 1819, aged 83.
During his last illness, Watt had been treated by Dr Richard Barr (who submitted his bill for the whole of 1819 in the following year, MS 3219/6/71). The remedies prescribed for August 1819 were: Draughts, Pills, Diluted sulphuric acid, Sal volatile, and Ether. In July there had been Colocynth pills, Antimonial wine, Sulphuric acid, and Caoutchouc in washed ether, had been prescribed.Continue reading