Thomas, William

Thomas, William
fl. 1850 London, England
English patentee of the lock-stitch sewing machine in Britain.
William Thomas, of Cheapside, London, was a manufacturer of shoes, umbrellas and corsets. He paid Elias Howe a sum of £250 to secure the British rights of Howe's 1846 patent for the lock-stitch sewing machine. Thomas persuaded Howe to go from the USA to England and apply his machine to the manufacture of shoes and corsets. Howe was to receive £3 per week, and in addition Thomas was to patent the machine in Britain and pay Howe £3 for every machine sold under the British patent. Patents for sewing machines were taken out in the name of W.Thomas in 1846 and 1848, and again in 1849. Howe did travel to Britain but quarrelled with Thomas after less than a year and returned to the USA. In 1853 Thomas started selling his own lock-stitch machine. There are patents in the name of W.F. Thomas for sewing machines, making button-holes bindings, etc., dating from 1853 through to 1864.
1846, British patent no. 11,464 (sewing machine). 1848, British patent no. 12,221 (sewing machine). 1849, British patent no. 12,736 (sewing machine). 1853, British patent no. 1,026.
1855, British patent no. 2,079.
1856, British patent no. 740.
1856, British patent no. 2,978.
1860, British patent no. 1,631.
1864, British patent no. 1,609.
Further Reading
F.G.Harrison, 1892–3, Biographical Sketches of Pre-eminent Americans (includes an account of Howe's life).
F.B.Jewell, 1975, Veteran Sewing Machines. A Collector's Guide, Newton Abbot (makes brief mention of Thomas).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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