Difference between revisions of "William Fothergill Cooke"

(William Fothergill Cooke introduction to Frederick A. Kerby)
(Cooke's early experimental telegraph demonstrations)
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So now Cooke would test the invention on the Great Western Railway after finally engaging in the agreement with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, which Cooke most elatedly wrote about to railway entrepreneur Brunel's sister Mrs. Sophia Macnamara Brunel Hawes, on 30 May 1838.
So now Cooke would test the invention on the Great Western Railway after finally engaging in the agreement with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, which Cooke most elatedly wrote about to railway entrepreneur Brunel's sister Mrs. Sophia Macnamara Brunel Hawes, on 30 May 1838.
This business engagement between Cooke and Brunel successively allowed the use of the Great Western Railway lines for further needed experimental trials with telegraph equipments that Cooke was developing now mainly with Frederick Kerby, his "mechanician." A five needle model of telegraph first constructed during the initial telegraph trials between the London and Birmingham Railway was given up as too expensive. Thus, in 1838, an improvement reduced the number of needles to two, and a patent for this was taken out by Cooke and Wheatstone.[2]
This business engagement between Cooke and Brunel successively allowed the use of the Great Western Railway lines for further needed experimental trials with telegraph equipments that Cooke was developing now mainly with Frederick Kerby, his "mechanician." A five needle model of telegraph first constructed during the initial telegraph trials between the London and Birmingham Railway was given up as too expensive. Thus, in 1838, an improvement reduced the number of needles to two, and a patent for this was taken out by Cooke and Wheatstone.<ref>Cooke, Rev., Thomas Fothergill (1856). The Electric Telegraph: Was it Invented by Professor Wheatstone?. Vol. 2., London: W. H. Smith & Son. p. 84. </ref>
Nearly fourteen months following the May 1838 agreement signed between Cooke and Brunel, and after extensive tests and installations, the telegraph system for the Great Western Railway commenced operations on 9 July 1839. At a cost of £2,817, the line traversed a thirteen mile stretch connecting the Paddington with the West Drayton station. This was part of the London-Paddington to Bristol line of the Great Western Railway and was intended for use solely for internal functions of the "GW" railway and was still, essentially, "experimental."
Nearly fourteen months following the May 1838 agreement signed between Cooke and Brunel, and after extensive tests and installations, the telegraph system for the Great Western Railway commenced operations on 9 July 1839. At a cost of £2,817, the line traversed a thirteen mile stretch connecting the Paddington with the West Drayton station. This was part of the London-Paddington to Bristol line of the Great Western Railway and was intended for use solely for internal functions of the "GW" railway and was still, essentially, "experimental."

Revision as of 08:52, 6 May 2014



William Fothergill Cooke, along with Charles Wheatstone, professor at King's College, London - was the co-inventor of the Cooke-Wheatstone electric telegraph. A patent was filed in May 1837 and granted on 12 June 1837 for the invention that is the basis for all digital electric communications.

William Fothergill Cooke was born on 4 May, 1806 at Ealing, Middlesex, United Kingdom. William Fothergill was given the first name of his father, William Cooke - a distinguished surgeon who later became appointed professor of anatomy at the University of Durham. William Fothergill Cooke was educated at Durham before going off to the University of Edinburgh. When he attained twenty years of age, Cooke decided to join the Indian Army. [1]

After five years in India attending to his Majesty's service, Cooke left army life and returned home. Following in his father's footsteps, Cooke then went off to study medicine, first in Paris, and then at Heidelberg under Professor Georg Wilhelm Moncke. During his medical studies at Heidelberg, Cooke also took up the study of and making medical wax anatomical models. [2] This allowed William Fothergill Cooke to become a skilled draftsman and a proficient artist of good resolve.

Cooke's sees his first Electric Telegraph

In early 1836 Cooke came to witness a lecture on electromagnetic telegraphy - at the time when telegraph science itself was still only experimental and in its infancy. Dr. Moncke's Heidelberg lecture excited Cooke in that it provided a demonstration of telegraphic apparatus based on the principle introduced by Pavel Schilling [[1]] in 1835. Schilling was inspired by two Germans named Wilhelm Eduard Weber[[2]] and Carl Freidrich Gauss[[3]] It was Weber and Gauss who had at the University of Gottengin, in 1833 two years before, successfully developed the world's first electromagnet telegraph. Essentially this was a digital telegraph actuator. Weber in the Institute of Physics at Gottengin communicated with Gauss, the Professor of Astronomy, at the Observatory at Gottengin. This demonstration was done over telegraph wire strung in the air between the two building locations, and electrically activated with the digital telegraph actuator that the two German professors devised and put into use. The digital action of Gauss and Weber's telegraph is the basis of all electric communications today.

in early 1836, here now three years in following to Gauss and Weber, Cooke became entranced with what he saw during the demonstration of Professor Moncke and decided to put the novel telegraph invention into practical operation. Cooke sought to take it beyond merely the world of academia. Prophetically, Cooke reasoned that the telegraph as such could be applied to the railway systems that in 1836, were just beginning to develop commercially at that time. Cooke saw the potential use of the electric telegraph for the safe regulation of train passage. With this most earnest notion conceived for the public good, Cooke immediately gave up the study of anatomical model making and medicine and advised his parents by letter that he would be soon returning home to merry England.

William Fothergill Cooke left Heidelberg and returned to his native England on 22 April 1836, just as springtime was underway. Cooke soon set about writing up proposals for an electric telegraph, with noble intentions of issuing it as a monograph, but never came to publish.

Cooke's Acquisition of the "NAAMLYST" Journal

Cooke continued with his writings on the telegraph. In 1836, sometime during his travels, Cooke came to acquire a used, mostly unfinished lavish gold gilt stamped leather bound manuscript journal. [4] The word "NAAMLYST" was prominently stamped into the leather cover.

Photo credit: Richard Warren Lipack / Wikimedia Commons. William Fothergill Cooke's original manuscript journal for the invention of the electric telegraph. Illustrated alongside the cover of the journal is a page discussing the Cooke and Wheatstone installed telegraph system made operational along the London and Blackwall Railway in early July, 1840. This particular installation effort became the first perfected commercial digital electric telegraph communications system in the world.

When Cooke acquired the journal and then opened and saw the array of unfinished "Naamlyst" pages, Cooke's handling of it immediately caught his fancy. Outside of the dark green-blue marbleized end-pages and boards, each page had elaborate patterned borders that were printed 1/4" wide in red ink framing the margin area of each page, top and bottom and to each side. This was somewhat different than the usual blank pages Cooke or anyone usually encountered in journals or books in the time of 1775; when the "Naamlyst" and its binding was first crafted by a book binder of the day. Certainly as well, for Cooke to find this unique journal some sixty-one years later, well after it had begun life in Amsterdam, The Netherlands - was rather significant. It now beckoning before him, and his eyes, for William Fothergill Cooke, the special, even then antiquated journal - would mark a great beginning to the noble quest Cooke had vowed in his mind to accomplish before he left Heidelberg behind him.

This journal had great character, with exquisite calligraphy found in the first swath of pages. The journal had once belonged to an 18th-century societal group, possibly a scientific society that had been based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Dutch word "Naamlyst," in English means simply; 'name list.' Thus, the purpose of the 18th century "Naamlyst" journal was for the recordation of names of personages belonging to the "Amsterdamsche Societiet," the original owner of the journal, and the entity as listed inside the journal on the title page.

The "Amsterdamsche Societiet," as it was called, had been formed on 25 September 1775. This stated and entered on one of the first formally written pages of the journal. The words "Amsterdamsche Societiet" in simply means 'Amsterdam Society' in standard English.

With the remaining leaves of the old journal absent of any entries amounting to well over one hundred or more pages - Cooke would use these, the remaining bulk of empty pages - to enter on and add his own writings and drawings as needed and as thoughts came to him about electric telegraph designs and configurations.

The "Amsterdamsche Societiet" 1775 founding occurred at least three decades before William Fothergill Cooke had been born in 1806, and the defunct society's journal was found by Cooke three decades later, when he was thirty years old; in all, spanning altogether sixty-one years of time.

Initial use of the "Naamlyst" Journal by Cooke

Photo credit: Richard Warren Lipack / Wikimedia Commons.Introductory "Naam Lyst" page for the founding of the "Amsterdamsche Societiet," Amsterdam, The Netherlands dated 25 September 1775. Some sixty-one years following the 1775 inception of the "Amsterdamsche Societiet," Wm. F. Cooke acquired the society's old used journal sometime in 1836. On this same introductory page Cooke produced rudimentary sketches of brass and steel threaded machine screw configurations for the initial telegraph apparatus he would design and have fabricated by his chief "mechanician" Frederick A. Kerby of St. Pancras district, London.

The hand inked title page for "Naam Lyst," the entitled journal - which started off the "Amsterdamsche Societiet" in 1775, would become the first page used by Cooke with any purpose and conviction. At the top of this initial journal page, here Cooke would first come to draw details of basic, varying sized brass or steel screws needed for the telegraph model concepts he was intending to have made. The basis of these concepts Cooke had begun to form in his head after the first spark occurred when he had become witness to Professor Moncke's revelatory Pavel Schilling demonstration at Heidelberg.

The Dutch "Amsterdamsche Societiet" eventually came to be very short-lived, apparently disbanding after the year 1781, just six years approximately past its founding. The Cooke journal bears no entries beyond this time indicating any further reference to the "Amsterdamsche Societiet" or of its members.

The word "NAAMLYST" or essentially a 'name list' or 'list of names' - is boldly stamped in a formal manner on to the journal's reddish-brown leather cover, in gold gilt. This pronouncement was repeated inside the journal in two separate words as "Naam Lyst" - but in the calligraphy form on the initiating 1775 dated "Amsterdamsche Societiet" title page. It was this page on which Cooke would later come to first draw his threaded screw designs as stated above.

One aspect that will never be known, is how and where the "Naamlyst" journal was found and acquired by Cooke during his travels.

The earliest and first dated journal entry in Cooke's hand bears the date of "November 30, 1836." [5] This date is approximately three months before Cooke would, upon an initial recommendation by Professor Michael Faraday and Peter Marc Roget, meet Charles Wheatstone.[[6]] Appointed a Chair in Experimental Physics in 1834 at King's College, London, Wheatstone would help to solidify some of Cooke's telegraph concepts and designs into more workable formulations - leading the way to developing the world's first perfected commercial electric telegraph. A finite understanding by Wheatstone of "Ohms" and "Ohm's Law" contributed greatly to the partnership's progress on the development of the telegraph. Wheatstone as well would be the principal behind solving Cooke's dilemma of long distance telegraph transmission, with the application of a electric relay. Knowledge of the electric relay came to Charles Wheatstone from the American professor named Joseph Henry, who had visited Wheatstone at King's College in 1837.

There are two examples for this 1836 day and date in the journal. One singular page closer to the front bears only a minor title entry, in Cooke's hand, in ink, i.e.: "Astronomy," and the date "November 30, 1836." Nothing is entered below it. The second instance is a more formidable two page entry with exactly the same date and "Astronomy" title as entered by Cooke on the first singular page. This second instance became expanded now in great detail by Cooke.

For some unknown reason Cooke decided to restart the entry treating the same subject entitled "Astronomy" on a different page, separated by several pages past the first paged entry on "Astronomy." This second entry however, comprising now the two full pages, Cooke expanded to incorporate detailed drawings, including a planetary orrery and other astronomical forms. He also denoted a series of lectures numbered one to eight. Also there is mention of a "Dr. Ritchie Theodolite" on the second page, in Cooke's hand, which further chronicles the astronomy lectures documented by Cooke on this date as having most likely been conducted by Professor William Ritchie, the great physicist and doctor who taught astronomy and natural philosophy at the London University.

This earliest dated entry of "November 30, 1836" that is found in Cooke's journal is most significant, as it would be Professor William Ritchie who would become pivotal in Cooke's path towards the completion of his dream of the first perfected commercial electric telegraph. Cooke knew there were others before him, and he had likely heard of the last quarter of the late 18th century and early 19th century electric telegraphic parlor demonstrations by the Swiss inventors Lesage and Jean Alexandre respectively. This 1836 date becomes a further significant benchmark for the manuscript journal "Naamlyst." On one of the frontis leaves, besides on which Cooke has signed his name, not once, but four times, there is, along with the holograph signature of "Proffessor Wheatstone, King's College, London" [[7]] [[8]] the signature of "Proffessor Ritchie" himself - where he further writes: "Proffessor of Natural Philosophy at London University."

This frontis leaf entry, the November 30, 1836 "Dr. Ritchie Theodolite" reference - and other journal references to Prof. Ritchie, historically asserts strong evidence about how Ritchie became Cooke's foundational connection toward suggesting and recommending a person who would become the most important person Cooke would meet outside of Wheatstone. This occurred when Cooke, shortly after arriving back in the United Kingdom in late April 1836, began his initial quest in perfecting the telegraph and taking it to the level of widespread commercial public use.

William Fothergill Cooke introduction to Frederick A. Kerby

It was all at once, just after Cooke had returned to his country-land, that he began making his inquiry into the issue of locating competent craftsmen to do the work from the telegraph designs he was formulating. In some cases, Cooke would come to generate these designs variously on the pages of his used newly acquired "Naamlyst" journal, but not substantially at the onset of his work.

It is interesting to note that what totally crystallized Cooke's interest in the telegraph actually came to him just after the 1836 Moncke demonstration of the Schilling telegraph principles witnessed at Heidelberg. It was while enroute to Frankfort by carriage that Cooke became further inspired: as he intently read Mrs. Somerville's "Connection of the Physical Sciences." As his own letters and writings from this period sent to his mother Mrs. Cooke confirm, once back in London, Cooke immediately sought out proficient machinist and clockmaker practitioners there.

Under the auspices of Latimer Clark, who began his work as an officer in Cooke's Electric Telegraph Company - along with others - The Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1895 would publish Cooke's historic letters to his mother, as a tribute to Cooke. The Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) was late the Society of Telegraph Engineers and today, and the society maintains a Internet library online together currently with the Institute of Electric and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): "The world's largest professional association for the advancement of technology."

In the 1830's, at the London University, there was a man by the name of Francis Kerby [9] [10]. Kerby acted as assistant and curator of instruments to both Dr. Dionysius Lardner and Dr. William Ritchie. Francis Kerby himself had been widely published between 1810 and into the 1820's; an authority in his own right giving pertinent discussions on theoretical chemistry.

Frederick A. Kerby [11] a son of Francis Kerby, had become a philosophical and mathematical instrument maker. Although it is not certain if the elder Francis Kerby actually made instruments himself, it is known that he worked for Dr. Ritchie as an assistant, outside of his position as 'curator of instruments' and models at the London University.

Frederick Kerby, as William Fothergill Cooke oft liked to refer, was a "mechanician" by trade. [12] In the year 1836, and at age twenty when Kerby and Cooke met, Frederick A. Kerby had clearly become a "mechanician" of the highest order.

Ritchie's formidable mention and name presence found in the Cooke journal supports that young Kerby was introduced by Dr. Ritchie to Cooke. The time of this introduction between Cooke and Kerby appears to have been earlier than the first dated journal entry of "November 30, 1836" by Cooke, where Cooke references the "Ritchie Theodolite" used and designed by Professor Ritchie for his work in astronomy. The 1836 letters by Cooke to his mother reveal activity mentioning, obtaining and using machinists for telegraph earlier than this first dated entry in Cooke's manuscript journal of "November 30, 1836."

Kerby became one of two main craftsmen Cooke would choose to make his first experimental telegraphs. Moore of Clerkenwell would be the main clock maker who would provide the telegraph clock drive mechanisms for Cooke and his first telegraph instruments.

Most noteworthy, it should be known that Frederick A. Kerby is documented to have [13] made apparatus as early as 1835 for Professor Wheatstone at King's College, London. [3]

Wheatstone and Cooke's first patent granted on 12 June 1837 had been formulated within a month of Cooke and Wheatstone's partnership in May 1837, following their initial meeting together in February of that year. The patent claimed; "improvements in giving signals and sounding alarms in distant places by means of electric currents transmitted through electric circuits."

Cooke's links with Ritchie found in the Cooke "Naamlyst" manuscript journal solidly substantiates what other known published historical accounts have documented and asserted with respect to Francis Kerby's direct association with Dr. Ritchie.[14] It is via this 'link' between Ritchie and Francis Kerby that shows the direction about how Cooke became acquainted with Frederick A. Kerby, Francis Kerby's son. How all of this would have quickly led to Kerby becoming Cooke's machinist, is most paramount. With even a Wheatstone recommendation of Kerby to Cooke, besides that of Dr. Ritchie, this also establishes - that of the two machinists Cooke regularly used, the one that Cooke would rely on most; was that of Frederick A. Kerby.

Early instruments Kerby made for Cooke were Cooke's "Alarums," or alarm bell designs; some of which are clearly identified on drawings found in the Cooke journal pages. Later on, in late 1840, when Cooke would come to enter into arbitration proceedings with Wheatstone over proprietary credit to the telegraph they held joint patents on between them, Frederick Kerby would become on record the key witness in these proceedings and also the one who would substantiate that Cooke in fact was the true inventor of the "alarum" - and not Wheatstone, the latter claiming to argue in vane during the Cooke and Wheatstone arbitration, 1841-1842.

Primary content of Cooke "Naamlyst" journal

The Cooke manuscript journal pages contain approximately one hundred separate sketches and drawings executed by Cooke pertinent to perfecting the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph [[15]] [[16]] its early evolutionary periods between 1837 and 1842. The predominate thrust of the journal is the development of the 1840 Blackwall Railway telegraph systems, which is regarded as the world's first perfected commercial electric telegraph system ever. Also the invention and development of the "ABC" dial telegraph is prominently featured as well within the pages of the Cooke journal.

The Cooke telegraph builder's journal does not just contain on details of telegraphy development. It goes well beyond telegraph, delving practically into the world envisioned a few decades later by the great French science fiction author Jules Verne, whose books spoke of fax machines decades later, along with flying machines. It was Verne's conceptualizations that would usher-in the reality of what became the twentieth-century.

One notable journal drawing by Cooke is of a two passenger automobile with a steering wheel - circa 1840. This is likely the first steering wheel proposed ever shown for use in a small vehicle, which in this case, was steam driven. Several other drawings by Cooke of steam driven overland vehicles are also found in the journal, with the more conventionally accepted tiller steering.

Probably the most significant page of drawings found in the Cooke journal is that of the "sketches" for electric "key boards - 1840." This page essentially represents the very first instance of an 'electric keyboard.' The first electric telegraph keyboard in America was patented in 1855, fifteen years after Cooke drew his 1840 dated electric telegraph keyboard.

The Cooke keyboard consists of thirty finger keys - and clearly represents the true genesis of what has become known as the Internet. Even today, approximately 98% of all computer and telephone electronic communications in one way or the other is transmitted primarily by undersea 19th century laid telegraph cable and / or fiber optics. These Internet communications systems employ an electric keyboard that is part of a computer or digital communications system.

The Cooke manuscript journal contains in Cooke's hand several entries bearing the initials of "F.K." or the name "Frederick A. Kerby," "F. A. Kerby;" or "F. Kerby."[17] During the arbitration proceedings between William Fothergill Cooke and English telegraph co-patentee Charles Wheatstone, Frederick Kerby acted as Cooke's primary witness and provided testimony for the eventual published record of the proceedings that followed.

As Frederick Kerby was the primary machinist and "mechanician" for the development of the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph, he had been given access to Cooke's journal routinely over the five years during the system's invention and development, until the arbitration actions began. In the beginning, Cooke would keep the journal with him and when a spark of an idea occurred, or a demand for fabricating a particular instrument or number of instruments or parts of a particular design were needed, Cooke would draw it on a page or two in the journal. Following this, Cooke would then take the journal to Kerby and leave it with him so that Kerby could have it as ready reference to guide him during the machine work and fabrication process of the instrumentation required of Cooke for the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph.

Eventually, a few years after the passing of his father Francis Kerby, the settling of the elder Kerby's estate, and also not long after the Cooke and Wheatstone arbitration ended in late 1841, Frederick A. Kerby would emigrate to the United States with his young wife Charlot in late 1842. On board the ship taking the two to America and packed in with his wife's and his belongings, Kerby had taken along with him "Naamlyst:" Cooke's personal manuscript journal.

Why Kerby had Cooke's telegraph journal in his possession is not entirely certain and history will never come to know. The last entry by Cooke though does date to 1842.

Discovery of William Fothergill Cooke's Telegraph Journal in America

In the late 1990's, approximately over one hundred fifty years later - the Cooke journal was discovered in the United States by American author, historian and archivist Richard Warren Lipack while attending an antiques trade show in Atlanta, Georgia. Most of the pages of the journal had 1870's newspaper clippings and Harper's Weekly type stories pasted over most of its pages. It was a custom in the late 1800's for people to use old books and outdated ledgers as scrapbooks. Luckily for history, these clippings that had been affixed to the Cooke journal pages were done so with fish glue, which is water soluble. It subsequently took approximately one month for archivist Richard Warren Lipack to painstakingly soak off these clippings from the journal's pages and to air dry the pages, one by one.

Once this process was completed, more revelations about the beginning of modern electric communications and of the development of the Cooke and Wheatstone electric telegraph system, began to evolve.

Following the discovery, the Cooke journal came to be referred to as the "Kerby Journal" [18][19] by both the British Science Museum (London) and historian and discoverer Richard Warren Lipack. This particular identification arose because so many references to Kerby's name were found written on a good portion of the journal pages. Thus, when the journal was first scrutinized, such a multitude of references to Kerby inferred that machinist Frederick A. Kerby was the author of the 'Cooke journal' and had designed the telegraph apparatus and systems found drawn in the journal in an effort to aid his work as the machinist for the Cooke and Wheatstone partnership.

Kerby, it was found out had been mentioned by Cooke as being the machinist for the Cooke and Wheatstone partnership in Cooke's later years in letters reminiscing his early days developing the telegraph that he had penned to the noted 19th century telegraph historian Latimer Clark, who was actually a one time working associate of Cooke's in the Electric Telegraph Company that he founded in 1846.

Today the remaining key portions of the great telegraph book and document collection formed by the late Latimer Clark of London is now held at the New York Public Library, New York City, United States of America. The holdings, formally known as the "Wheeler Gift Collection" had originally been acquired in 1901 by Schuyler Skatts Wheeler of Ampere, N.J. and given as a bequest to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), New York City.

IEEE's roots go back 125 years to the initial formation of AIEE, but later combined with the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) after wireless radio technology began to foment past the year 1901. Today called simply IEEE, the organization is more formally known as the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, also stated prior herein.

The proper name for the Cooke journal discovery has become further defined in recent times as "Codex Lipack." [20] The "Codex" citation was applied to the named individual who had discovered the Cooke journal. The practice is standard accepted practice among the realm of rare manuscript discoveries. This formal designation happened a over a decade following the initial discovery or 'finding' of the journal in the late 1990's, when final authentication of the manuscript journal occurred, revealing that the journal was not in the hand of machinist Frederick A. Kerby, but in the hand of William Fothergill Cooke himself; established by its discoverer; historian Lipack.

This event of the actual 'discovery' occurred early in the year 2011, after the decade plus years of study and investigation. The effort established beyond all doubt, who in fact was the actual author of the "Kerby Journal."[21] Finite authentication occurred when historian Lipack acquired proper examples of rare letters written by Cooke to Mrs. Sophia Macnamara Brunel Hawes, the sister of Isambard Kingdom Brunel - the man who was the first to adopt the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph for use on his railway systems. Once having some of the finest examples of Cooke's writing found in letters dating to the 1830's, the 1860's and the 1870's, historian Lipack was able to conduct the critical and proper authentication procedure with respect to the "Naamlyst" or Cooke journal.

This acquisition of proper holograph exemplars paved the way for the Cooke journal's authentication by means of comparative analysis by utilizing a standard method known as paleography. This process clearly came to show and prove that William Fothergill Cooke was the author of the "Naamlyst" manuscript journal, and not Frederick A. Kerby - the former Cooke and Wheatstone machinist.

It was Kerby who had brought the journal to America, and then to Canada in the early 1840's. Documentation has become codified now showing that Kerby and his wife Charlot had briefly stayed in the United States in late 1842 and by 1843 was already living in New London, Ontario, Canada. The Kerbys' would stay in New London till just after the American Civil War. Over the twenty-five years in the Canadian province together, Frederick and Charlot Kerby became parents to two daughters. When the Civil War had ended in America, the Kerby family returned there and settled in Ronkonkoma, New York where Frederick Kerby engaged in the merchantile trade as a partner in Kerby and Griswold, and in his later years, became a house, sign and wagon painter by trade. Kerby apparently had abandoned his life as a mathematical instrument maker once he left England in 1842.

It was while first coming to the United States from England in late 1842, that Frederick Kerby met with Samuel F. B. Morse. This association between Kerby and the American telegraph inventor Morse was documented in Kerby's later 17 October 1894 obituary in the New York Times and the 31 October 1894 obituary found in The Electrical Engineer after Frederick A. Kerby's 16 October 1894 passing. [22] [23] Strangely, no mention of Kerby's prior association with Cooke and Wheatstone was at all mentioned in these obituaries.

Evidence in Cooke's journal exists showing drawings of two telegraph keys appearing to date to between 1837-1838 similar to what Morse had Vail make for the Vail-Morse electric telegraph demonstration between Baltimore and Washington D.C. provided to the U.S. Congress in 1844, which curiously occurred two years following Kerby's brief 1842 / 1843 'association' with Samuel F. B. Morse.

The novel U.S. demonstration by Morse and Vale, made over four years past when Cooke and Wheatstone launched their historic London and Blackwell Railway "Five-Dial" commercial telegraph system, unveiled what became known as the "1844 Vail Lever Correspondent" telegraph key. This same basic concept and design is clearly found first drawn in Cooke's only extant telegraph builder's manuscript journal of 1836-1842.

Morse received his U,S. patent for this Vail designed telegraph key, years later, in 1849. The very first Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph [[24]] patent of 12 July 1837 showed that the telegraph key was part of the system that they had patented. Two different telegraph "finger key" configurations were provided in the 1837 Cooke and Wheatstone patent, twelve years before Morse received a patent for his variant design of essentially the same thing in 1849. The Vail-Morse key was used as an closed electric circuit configuration, while Cooke's key was that of a open electric circuit - which allowed Morse to circumvent the original 1837 Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph patent the embodied the telegraph "finger key."

Recent published books by historians have documented the rather unscrupulous actions on the part of Samuel F. B. Morse in his day. One book is entitled Fleet Fire: Thomas Edison and the Pioneers of the Electric Revolution - by L. J. Davis (2003) and the second, written by former Harvard Medical Library curator Richard J. Wolfe together with his co-author Richard Patterson, entitled: Charles Thomas Jackson: The Head Behind the Hands (2007) - examines more closely the questionable actions on the part of Morse that has become suppressed over the years - and both accounts are supported with documented fact.

This old truth and its newly revisited and now developing consensus by scholars on Morse is further supported by tactile evidence of the aforementioned incident that occurred two years prior to the celebrated 1844 Morse-Vail telegraph demonstration. This occurrence too intimates more clearly that the Cooke journal apparently was seen by Morse himself after Kerby's arrival in New York City in late 1842. This assumption is supported by certain Morse association statements found in the Kerby 1894 obituaries.

The notion that Morse actually saw the two Cooke drawn telegraph keys in the journal before Kerby left for Canada to live for over twenty-five years, once he had come to North America, is hard to ignore.

Authentication of Cooke journal employing use of Exemplars

Adequate representations of Cooke's handwriting have not been made easily available publicly on the internet by the world's museums and libraries that house them. Furthermore, only one or two scant examples of Cooke's penmanship could be found in a book, reproduced as very small cropped halftones. These examples provided no help towards the ultimate comparative analysis and authentication needed for the Cooke journal. This problem is because actual sized original documents over that of lesser sized copies or book reproductions is what must be on hand for a authentication practitioner to do an accurate comparative analysis in conducting proper autograph and handwriting authentication using the standard paleography process.

Finding similar slants and nuances between the same words found in the Cooke journal and in the various exemplar letters secured, is the primary action required for matching between all elements needed for authentication. As well, having actual full sized exemplars is critical to a proper authentication when conducting the paleography process.[25]

With this procedure successfully completed in early 2011, the establishment of William Fothergill Cooke as the father of electric binary computer internet communications was established. The Cooke journal reveals the fact that Wm. F. Cooke is the primary individual who created the first perfected commercial digital electric communications system in the world; a system still in use today.

Cooke's Initial Telegraph Development with Wheatstone (1837-1839)

Not long after settling back in London, Cooke had his first telegraph instrument constructed, engaging the primary assistance of Frederick A. Kerby [26] of St. Pancras district, London - and for the clockwork escapements, Moore of Clerkenwell. With his first apparatus in hand, Cooke went about testing its usefulness.

At the office of Burton Lane, Cooke's friend and solicitor, Cooke painstakingly strung over a mile of wire round and round, but came quick to realize that getting a telegraph signal to extend beyond one mile remained a very real obstacle.

The disconcerting dilemma of sending telegraph signals over extended distances prompted Cooke to seek out outside technical assistance. This came through introductions to Michael Faraday and Peter Mark Roget - the prior a noted expert in electrical principles and then latter an esteemed physician, lexicographer and natural theologian.

Through Faraday and Roget, Cooke was introduced to Professor Charles Wheatstone at King's College, London, who prior in 1834, had already presented to the Royal Society an account of his experiments on the velocity of electricity.

At this time Cooke had already achieved constructing a system of telegraphy based on Schilling's principle and utilizing three needles. Cooke also made designs for a mechanical bell alarm, or "alarum," the latter of which some examples are actually found drawn and recorded in Cooke's journal (Codex Lipack).[27] during this initial period of activity, and although still in the experimental stages of development, Cooke had also made some progress in negotiating with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company for the use of his telegraphs.

On the strength of Cooke's determination and physical efforts of having telegraph equipments actually produced that did work, not long after meeting together, Cooke and Wheatstone went into partnership in May 1837 (6c). According to published historical accounts set down over the years partnership of Cooke and Wheatstone would rely on Cooke to handle the business side while Wheatstone would be the one providing the electrical expertise.

The discovery of Cooke's detailed 1836-1842 manuscript journal however now provides proof that runs contrary to the inaccurate notion that Cooke's only function was that of being the one behind the 'business side' of the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph [[28]]. Granted, Cooke did indeed run all of the 'business side' of the partnership, but the Cooke journal now clearly reveals that his stake in actually inventing and producing working telegraph systems was more prominent than what over a century long breadth of telegraph scholars and historians have led history to believe.

Cooke's early experimental telegraph demonstrations

Photo credit: Richard Warren Lipack / Wikimedia Commons. Holograph letter dated 5 October 1837 by Sir Francis Beaufort, Irish born hydrographer to Great Britain's Royal Navy and ultimately Rear Admiral and Knight Commander, sent to Sir Benjamin Hawes thanking him for the invitation to the 6 September 1837 trial "experimental" Cooke "electric telegraph" demonstration of the Cooke and Wheatstone electric telegraph system temporarily installed on the London and Birmingham Railway.

In a holograph letter dated 5 October 1837, written by Sir Francis Beaufort KCB, FRS, FRGS, MRIA (1774–1857), the Irish born hydrographer to Great Britain's Royal Navy and Rear Admiral and ultimately Knight Commander, sent to Sir Benjamin Hawes (1797–1862), of the English Parliament - mention of a Cooke "telegraph" demonstration is referenced. This letter by Beaufort thanked Benjamin Hawes for the invitation to the demonstration and "experiment" of the "electric telegraph" that Beaufort regrettably stated he had to decline because of his then ongoing seafaring commitments.

This first experimental telegraph demonstration mounted by Cooke took place on the London and Birmingham Railway line, established by George Stephenson, the latter who had introduced Cooke to his son, the legendary Robert Stephenson, the railway's chief engineer.  

Between 4 July 1837 and 6 September 1837, a series of three separate telegraph experiments would be mounted by Cooke along the London and Birmingham Railway lines. The demonstration that the Beaufort 5 October 1837 letter references to Hawes' invitation was likely the last of the three demonstrations; the one which took place on 6 September 1837. This event occurred precisely the month before Beaufort wrote his 5 October 1837 letter to Hawes, with the outdated delay in Beaufort's correspondence presumably caused from his having been away for sometime at sea.

As it was, Cooke had first solicited the Stephenson owned railway concern on 27 June 1837, some two weeks after Cooke and Wheatstone's very first telegraph system was finally tested on July 4, 1837, with the apparatus nestled inside a newly-erected carriage shed of the London and Birmingham Railway at Camden Town, north of London. This trial William F. Cooke mounted at his own risk with a primary objective sought to demonstrate the utility of the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph [[29]] in providing safe railway system signaling, by means of electric conveyance.

A second trial installation by Cooke was mounted, commencing on 17 July 1837. A temporary four-wire line was strung between Euston Square and the Camden Town stationary engine house. Once the installation was completed, the actual demonstration before the London and Birmingham Railway company directors followed on 25 July 1837, a week after the installation had begun.

Ultimately, a more permanent line was run by Cooke, advancing to the use of insulated wires buried underground, with its completion occurring by 31 August 1837. The trial for this third demonstration of a near-permanent line took place on 6 September 1837, lasting one hour.

It is however significant to note that Sir Francis Beaufort's 5 October 1837 letter to Sir Benjamin Hawes, referring to this first near-permanent telegraph installation of the Euston Square to Camden Town system and trial of 6 September 1837 - stated that the "telegraph" demonstration he regrettably missed was a grand "experiment" and "one of the most striking novelties of this inventive age." Sir Francis Beaufort's words mark the swell of enthusiasm held by many at the time surrounding the great ushering in of the telegraph 'phenomenon,' which at the time was still regarded as a mere novelty - as Beaufort too, codifies. There were even parlor games based on the older mechanical signal telegraph still being used as entertainment at this time in many English and French homes of the day. The word "telegraph" was fondly discussed and on the tips of everybody's tongue in the 1830's in high society England.

Although Cooke had demonstrated the positive utility of the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph to railway directors of the London and Birmingham Railway, and to Stephenson, it was deemed by them to be unnecessarily complicated. As much more monies were needed to be earmarked to lay track between Liverpool, Manchester and Holyhead, where there was none, enthusiasm for Cooke's telegraph initiative after the Euston Square and Camden Town demonstration waned. The laying of telegraph line to these points was not an immediate priority for the railway's board. With this notion, Cooke received a letter from the company dated 12 October 1837, with the corporate principals expressing no further interest to pursue any use of the electric telegraph as viable.

Sir Benjamin Hawes M.P. was an early proponent of the electric telegraph. English Parliament member Benjamin Hawes was husband to Sophia Macnamara Brunel (1802–1878); daughter of the famous engineer Marc Isambard Brunel and sister to Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

It was the latter Isambard Kingdom Brunel who had founded the Great Western Railway in 1835 and the principal who would eventually build the celebrated steamship Great Eastern, [[30]] which would come to lay the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable [[31]] in the late 1850s. I. K. Brunel was the company engineer for the Great Western Railway, while Stephenson was the engineer for the London and Birmingham Railway. The Great Western Railway utilized the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph system early-on as well, and fabrication orders and drawings pertinent to the Great Western Railway installations, provided to machinist Kerby by Cooke are also found in the pages of the Cooke journal.

When the London and Birmingham Railway declined the use of Cooke's telegraph, there is one account that exists that claims Cooke had been introduced to Brunel by Robert Stephenson. However, the recent discovery of the letter extant, described herein by Francis Beaufort, dated 5 October 1837 and written to Sir Benjamin Hawes, M.P., intimates a different more compelling possibility with respect to how Cooke met Brunel. Benjamin Hawes had apparently attended, at the least, the last trial demonstration of the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph between Euston Square and Camden Town along Stephenson's London and Birmingham Railway line. Six weeks thereafter Cooke was told by the Stephenson owned railway company they no longer had interest in the telegraph.

Cooke was now looking for new financial sources to support development of his telegraph system and had met Benjamin Hawes at the Stephenson supported railway based telegraph demonstrations. Thus, this 5 October 1837 letter by Sir Francis Beaufort bears more weight towards confirming that Hawes was likely the one who introduced Cooke to Brunel. Support of this too is found in the actual letter Cooke himself wrote to Hawes wife Sophia on 30 May 1838. That letter clearly reveals the propitious meetings Cooke had with Sophia Hawes' brother Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the agreement ultimately that would lead to the instance of the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph system installation on the Great Western Railway. The success of this installation subsequently, would lead to what would become known as the London and Blackwall Railway telegraph installation.

The sudden about face rejection by the London and Birmingham Railway and the ultimate signed agreement between Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Cooke to allow for Cooke to set-up shop along Brunel's Great Western Railway is revealed in this extant letter dated 30 May 1838, written by Cooke to Mrs. Sophia Macnamara Brunel Hawes. In this letter, Cooke excitedly writes:

Photo credit: Richard Warren Lipack / Wikimedia Commons. Obverse of 30 May 1838 holograph letter by Wm. F. Cooke to Mrs. Sophia Macnamara Brunel Hawes - pertaining to consummation of Cooke's negotiations with Mrs. Hawes' brother Isambard Kingdom Brunel relative to the contract initiating the landmark 'internal' trial electric magnetic telegraph installations of the Cooke and Wheatstone system on Brunel's Great Western Railway. This electric telegraph installation trial became the precursor to the later installation of the world's first perfected commercial electric telegraph system on Brunel's London and Blackwall Railway opened in July 1840.
Photo credit: Richard Warren Lipack / Wikimedia Commons. Verso of 30 May 1838 holograph letter by Wm. F. Cooke to Mrs. Hawes. This historic letter also represents the earliest of two exemplars used to authenticate Cooke's manuscript journal (Codex Lipack) implemented under the standard paleography process of document authentication.

"... and to announce that this very day my long pending engagement is satisfied with the Great Western Railway Co. and that I have the proud gratification of having myself employed under your brother "Brunel the Second"! Rather more than ordinary worry precluded the final arrangements during which time I walked with my hands in my pockets, up and down, or for more exercise from an angle to angle of a room eight feet nine inches and seven sixteenths square. All is happily and satisfactorily concluded now. The more I see of Mr. Brunel increases my satisfaction in bringing forward the E. M. [Electric Magnetic] Telegraph under his auspices. I am now so thoroughly engaged that I shall excuse myself delivering the letter say till next week. I know Mr. {Benjamin] Hawes will congratulate me on the termination of six month's sustenance!"

The cramped living quarters that Cooke was holed-up in is clearly spelled out in his candid letter to Mrs. Hawes. The stress Cooke endured over the anxieties that surmounted him following the rejection of his telegraph by the London and Birmingham Railway, becomes clearly evident here in his own words. Cooke also humorously makes note of his dire financial situation following the London and Birmingham Railway rejection notice he had received, where he says: "I know Mr. {Benjamin] Hawes will congratulate me on the termination of six month's sustenance!"

On the contrary, Cooke's fervent determination towards fulfilling his goal of the electric telegraph is noted in this 30 May 1838 letter to Mrs. Hawes. The expression of relief Cooke gained once he knew he had successfully completed the negotiations with Mrs. Hawe's brother to install his telegraph along Brunel's railway line - are formidably exuded by Cooke in this historic 30 May 1838 exchange from Cooke to Mrs. Hawes!

Even the fact that Cooke knew his room's size down to "seven sixteenths square," is also truly remarkable. By this written remark, it is quite evident that Cooke was clearly at his ends whits and was more than ever desperate for a breakthrough to come about for his dream of a perfected electric telegraph system.

This mention as well of "seven sixteenths" alone accounts for the epitome of great attention to detail Cooke dedicated to all of his tasks. As Cooke claimed he used his friend and solicitor Burton Lane's office to run a test early-on when Cooke first arrived back in London from Heidelberg, with wire strung all around and around the office, it may be that Cooke now knew his room size exactly for just the same reason. This may have been because Cooke, to idle away him time, may have also strung wire for a test in his own little London based room and living quarters while he was awaiting on Brunel to make a decision to let Cooke do his trial Great Western Railway electric telegraph installation!

So now Cooke would test the invention on the Great Western Railway after finally engaging in the agreement with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, which Cooke most elatedly wrote about to railway entrepreneur Brunel's sister Mrs. Sophia Macnamara Brunel Hawes, on 30 May 1838.

This business engagement between Cooke and Brunel successively allowed the use of the Great Western Railway lines for further needed experimental trials with telegraph equipments that Cooke was developing now mainly with Frederick Kerby, his "mechanician." A five needle model of telegraph first constructed during the initial telegraph trials between the London and Birmingham Railway was given up as too expensive. Thus, in 1838, an improvement reduced the number of needles to two, and a patent for this was taken out by Cooke and Wheatstone.[4]

Nearly fourteen months following the May 1838 agreement signed between Cooke and Brunel, and after extensive tests and installations, the telegraph system for the Great Western Railway commenced operations on 9 July 1839. At a cost of £2,817, the line traversed a thirteen mile stretch connecting the Paddington with the West Drayton station. This was part of the London-Paddington to Bristol line of the Great Western Railway and was intended for use solely for internal functions of the "GW" railway and was still, essentially, "experimental."

First Perfected Commercial Electric Telegraph System (1840)

The success of the Great Western Railway telegraph demonstration, even though the installation itself essentially was an internal test of sorts, never-the-less prompted Isambard Kingdom Brunel to seek use the Cooke and Wheatstone system in his new London and Blackwall Railway expansion he was set to launch in 1840. Brunel employed Cooke to install what would be the world's first perfected commercial electronic telegraph communications system at the inauguration of the London and Blackwall Railway which began the first week of July 1840. This was followed by an installation on Stephenson's London and Birmingham Railway, which finally saw the value of the telegraph after the commencement of the London and Blackwall Railway installation.

Before a parliamentary committee on railways in 1840, Wheatstone stated that he had, with Cooke, obtained a new patent for a telegraphic arrangement; the new apparatus required only a single pair of wires. Yet, the telegraph was still too costly for general purposes. In 1840, for the London and Blackwall Railway telegraph installation, however, Cooke and Wheatstone succeeded in producing the "single needle" apparatus, which they patented. Thus, from that time the electric telegraph became a practical instrument, soon adopted on all of the railway lines throughout the country. Another main aspect of the primary design was also brought forth during the London and Blackwall Railway installation. This installation combined this simplified "single needle" dial into what became widely known as the "five dial" telegraph system; combing five "single needle" dials from one single needle dial into "five dials."

Although the Stephenson assisted London and Birmingham Railway telegraph trials are often referred to as the first commercial electric telegraph line in the world, it would actually be the installation of the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph system opened for use on London and Blackwall Railway line in July 1840 that would come to garner that distinction. This fact is supported by John LIffen, curator of Electric Communications at the Science Museum, London.

Accompanying this discussion is a photograph of the cover of Wm. F. Cooke's manuscript journal and the page revealing the final system "Orders" in the days just before the start-up of the London and Blackwall Railway telegraph installation. Below the handwritten orders to Cooke's "mechanician" Frederick A. Kerby, is a detailed drawing of a telegraph control lever used on the London and Blackwall Railway "five-dial" telegraph apparatus and electric system installation.

Specific dates entered on this "Orders" page of the Cooke journal are for the first week of July, 1840. This page is highly significant because it marks the details behind the historic telegraph start-up. It is also representative of one of many 'sketches' by Cooke found in his journal that depict the London and Blackwall Railway installation's actual development. The telegraph builder's drawings found in the Cooke journal / Codex Lipack are for some of the actual artifacts that today comprise in part the collection of telegraph apparatus in found the Science Museum, London, and in other museums through-out England and other places.

Cooke's differences with Wheatstone

As inferred herein above, a priority dispute had arisen between Cooke and Wheatstone toward the end of 1840. The matter was simple. Cooke had become alarmed at seeing published information and accounts of the day citing Wheatstone as the sole inventor of the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph system.[[32]] [[33]]Thus, a difference arose between Cooke and Wheatstone as to the share each held in the honor of inventing the electric telegraph.

This question of priority was submitted to the arbitration of the famous engineer, Marc Isambard Brunel, on the part of Cooke, and Professor John Frederic Daniell, of King's College, the inventor of the Daniell cell or battery - on behalf of Wheatstone. Marc Isambard Brunel was the father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Ultimately in the spring of 1841, the Cooke and Wheatstone arbitration process came to a close. A statement dated 27 April 1841 prepared by Marc Isambard Brunel and J. F. Daniell, Esq. known as "The Award" was issued.

The arbitration awarded Cooke the credit of having introduced the telegraph as a useful undertaking which promised to be of national importance, and to Wheatstone; that his researches prepared the public to receive it. The arbitration published a conclusion citing: "....it is to the united labours of two gentlemen so well qualified for mutual assistance that we must attribute the rapid progress which this important invention has made during five years since they have been associated."

The decision, however vague, succinctly pronounced the needle telegraph a joint production. Many historical accounts over the past 170 years show that the telegraph had mainly been invented by Wheatstone. It would be better to more formidably refine this by saying that Wheatstone's grounded scientific guidance oversaw and assured that Cooke's basic finalized designs for the telegraph were fully workable; that they were based on sound scientific principals before they became chiefly introduced by Cooke into society through his concerted and precise business acumen.

Following the arbitration decree, an arrangement was agreed to between Wheatstone and Cooke by which several patents were assigned to Cooke, with the reservation of a mileage royalty provided to Wheatstone.

Cooke's contribution to the Electric Telegraph

Reading the later published record of the arbitration proceedings, which was released in two volumes beginning in 1854, it can be seen that the invention and introduction of the "alarum" or sounding alarm designs by Cooke was firmly asserted to by Cooke throughout the arbitration process. This was a direct rebut to claims made by Wheatstone himself claiming having invented the "alarum." In the arbitration records, Cooke stated that he began working on his "alarum" early-on, on 17 March 1836, just after seeing Shilling's telegraph principles in action during the demonstration at Heidelberg given by Professor Georg Wilhelm Moncke and reading Mrs. Somerville's book "Connection of the Physical Sciences."[4] The discussion of Cooke's "alarum" was paramount to the arbitration proceedings.

Cooke was very truthful in this regard. The assertiveness on Wm. F. Cooke's part is further substantiated today by the presence of several detailed and suitably marked drawings executed over several years by Cooke with the word "alarum" next to each drawing. Numerous Cooke drawings and journal annotations show that actual "alarum" instruments were ordered to be made for Cooke in multiples by Frederick Kerby. These were designated for installation on the Cooke and Wheatstone systems of telegraphy beginning with direct reference to the Great Western Railway installations, and others that were possibly earlier and not related to the Great Western Railway.

Later designs for patent specifications submitted by Cooke himself in December 1837 and October 1838, for telegraph patents Cooke obtained himself solely in his name and separate of Wheatstone - would later be confirmed by Kerby. Instruments based on these principles had been made by Frederick Kerby for the Great Western Railway installations and testimony by Kerby supporting this invention and application of Cooke's became part of the legal arbitration record with respect to Cooke's proprietary interest in the Cooke and Wheatstone arbitration.(4a)

Absent of Cooke's manuscript journal, some historians prefer to claim that respective shares in the undertaking of Cooke and Wheatstone might be compared to that of 'an author and his publisher.' However, the extensive amount of drawings and gleanings of telegraph designs by Cooke, whether they were put in to practice or not, found in the newly discovered Cooke manuscript journal that contains 191 pages and approximately 96 pages on the telegraph alone, reveals a very different picture.

The telegraphic content of Codex Lipack, the Cooke journal, produced over a span of several years by Cooke, completely overshadows the scant reference found in the limited extant written accounts to the telegraph's early invention that have been created by Wheatstone himself and held in the rather substantial Charles Wheatstone archive holdings at King's College, London. [34] It should be noted that King's College, London, in the 1990's employed the auction firm of Sotheby's London to de-accession actual apparatus, including telegraph apparatus, from Sir Charles Wheatstone's personal archives at the university. This unfounded action on the part of the King's College, London further diluted the value of what little remains at the university of evidence of Wheatstone's involvement with the invention of the telegraph.[[35]]

If Wheatstone was so prolific an inventor in this regard, one must question why there is not a substantial amount of paperwork anywhere in any archives at King's College, London's collections executed in the hand of Wheatstone that support all of his early telegraph work. There are some manuscript papers in Wheatstone's hand related to telegraph principles, but these papers begin in the year 1841; about the same time that Cooke's manuscript journal essentially ends! As well, no specific telegraph installations prior to 1841 seem to be discussed at all in any of the Wheatstone papers at King's College. [36] The extant documentation on a Wheatstone electric "galvanometer" is included in the papers Charles Wheatstone gave to King's College, London, dating to 1841, a year after the London and Blackwall Railway electric telegraph installation of July 1840.

On the contrary, actual sketches of galvanometers appear in Cooke's journal, although undated - and are on pages in the area of 1838-1839 Great Western Railway era work, and one is identified with the word "galvanometer," all in Cooke's hand. Further scholarly evaluation may confirm dates as early as late 1837 for these designs. A galvanometer was essential and needed to test the correct function potential of the telegraph line. Thus, such a simple instrument would have been needed for the earliest test installations that Cooke installed for the Stephenson trials of 1837, all of which he had full authority over during such installations and operation. Professor Wheatstone more so than not stayed back at King's College during Cooke's trials and Cooke just reported the results back to Wheatstone for evaluation and discussion.

As it was, Professor Michael Faraday often gave lectures on Charles Wheatstone's behalf. This practice was begun by Wheatstone not more than a few years after he was seated there in 1834. Wheatstone was shy and maintained a peculiar adversity about presenting his own lectures himself.

Represented by the sheer detailed output found in Cooke's newly discovered journal, the name of William Fothergill Cooke makes claim to more than what written telegraph [[37]] histories to date have shown, or what any other extant manuscript documents existing in any archiveal collection anywhere in the world maintains. Thus, all that remains is contrary to what scholars and historians to date have afforded Cooke - all in the same manner that scholars have wrongly afforded to Alfred Vail, with respect to the American telegraph of Samuel Morse.

As noted herein prior, and found in the detailed published record that came henceforth at the end of the arbitration process, Cooke's "mechanician" Frederick A. Kerby had been the key witness on Cooke's behalf during the 1840-1841 arbitration proceedings with Wheatstone.[4b]

The conclusion of the arbitration panel found however that Cooke had contributed to the business and management skills necessary to bring the telegraph into the mainstream; which was true. Cooke had handled all of the details that made certain that the systems were produced by his craftsmen Kerby and Moore. Cooke had negotiated all of details and business arrangements for the installations with the railroad companies and their agents. Cooke hired all of the Cooke and Wheatstone's system's telegraph installation workers. Cooke also oversaw all of the telegraph installations. It was claimed by the arbitration panel that Wheatstone had contributed his scientific skill to construct a stable and dependable device on which the business could be built. This also was true. The panel tried to be fair to both parties, giving the upper hand in the arbitration to neither.

In 1869, Cooke's brother The Reverend Thomas Fothergill Cooke, M. A., published: Invention of the Electric Telegraph: The Charge of Sir Charles Wheatstone Tampering with the Press. This work was published in the same year Cooke became knighted by Queen Victoria for his work on the telegraph with Wheatstone. Cooke stood his ground against Wheatstone for decades after the Cooke and Wheatstone arbitration of 1840-1841.

The argument Cooke voiced for decades was in fact no different than the several decades long argument between S. F. B. Morse and Joseph Henry stemming initially over Henry's "electricmechanical relay" of 1835. It was this relay that strangely, Morse had no working knowledge of until after Morse left America and traveled to London to attempt to file his lowly telegraph patents there in 1838 and met with Wheatstone. Here Morse finally learned of American Professor Henry's electricmechanical relay from Wheatstone, the Englishman, while in London in 1838.

Reading the later published proceedings of the arbitration of 1840-1841, with the first editions released in 1854, virtually no reference was ever made to Cooke's actual manuscript journal; even though the journal conclusively showed many of the actual working telegraph designs that came to be installed as actual Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph equipment. This included drawings for Cooke's "Alarum," which Wheatstone claimed priority interest repeatedly during his arbitration testimony.

The London and Blackwall Railway telegraph system installation drawings are found to be most abundant in the Cooke journal and many are clearly marked as being that of the London and Blackwall Railway electric telegraph installation. The large manuscript archives left by Charles Wheatstone after his death to King's College, London, however also holds nothing pertinent to the London and Blackwall Railway telegraph installation; the first perfected commercial electric telegraph communications system in the world![38] As well, it holds nothing executed by Wheatstone that appears to support his claim to having invented the "alarum" over that of Cooke's adamant claim; a key argument brought up during the arbitration of 1840-1841 between Cooke and Wheatstone.

Amazingly, Cooke's claim to the invention of the "alarum" is substantially supported in his only extant manuscript journal marked by several identified "alarum" drawings indisputably proving his claim. Further, the discovery of such evidence found itself coming to light approximately 170 years after Cooke's proprietary claim for the "alarum" was made on record during the Cooke and Wheatstone arbitration of 1840-1841.

Unfortunately a portion of what was left by Wheatstone to King's College, London in the form of actual apparatus held by the institution was dispersed at Sotheby's London public auctions in the mid-1990s. It was a minor assortment of Wheatstone effects, but one sold auction lot did tragically include a small 'ABC dial telegraph' model with an approximately 6 inch diameter circular shaped mahogany wood base - that went to an American private collector.

In William Fothergill Cooke's case however, his manuscript journal remains. Copying machines in Cooke's time based on Scotsman James Watt's 1780 invention were available but applicable only for use with separate sheets of paper that imprinted a like copy onto paper using a special process which involved cranking a roller mechanism and a series of chemical baths. The quality was not as refined as that of modern photocopy machines. Making copies of bound journal pages certainly was not possible using the Watt copier method.

With this, Cooke's only means was to actually leave his manuscript journal with Kerby, so that Frederick Kerby could work from the Cooke journal to make the telegraph instruments Cooke ordered Kerby to make. Conversely, during the arbitration proceedings of 1840-1841, Kerby as well likely kept Cooke's manuscript journal for extended periods to study it; as Frederick Kerby was the key witness on Cooke's behalf during the period of the Cooke and Wheatstone arbitration.

Historians have credited more of the telegraph's actual invention to Charles Wheatstone over that of William Fothergill Cooke. The discovery of Cooke's manuscript journal however contains substantial documentation, extensive notes and drawings in his own hand regarding the invention of the first perfected commercial telegraph. This material and data by Cooke is all expected to be made available for future study by scholars and students. Wheatstone on the other hand seems to have left so little documentation in his own hand with regard to the inception of the telegraph, and what little Wheatstone has left to the world amounts to a few pages of theory and basics - but not the actual working drawings used to make the actual Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph equipment.

Granted, the primary aspect making the telegraph system actually work over long distances, which stymied William F. Cooke since he had strung the mile of wire around and around his solicitor Burton Lane's office; was that of the electric relay. As briefly mentioned prior herein, Cooke was recommended to seek the help of Charles Wheatstone at the time. This was because Cooke could not overcome the dilemma of going long distances during his early telegraph experiments that followed his seeing Moncke's Heidelberg telegraph demonstration. It was from the American Professor Joseph Henry that Wheatstone had conveniently gained knowledge of the use of electric relays utilizing finer coil windings for sending electric signals over long distances. It had been quite propitious timing that Henry had met with Wheatstone just after the partnership formation between Cooke and Wheatstone in 1837. Henry's knowledge that allowed for the electric current in a telegraph circuit to be 'stepped-up' was the key factor that brought the Cooke and Wheatstone system a key edge towards its perfection.

It is interesting to note that very few drawings were made in the journal by Cooke following the London and Blackwall Railway telegraph installation of July 1840. As well, even less entries were made after the Cooke and Wheatstone arbitration ended in April 1841. One last journal entry was made by Cooke around the middle of 1842. By this time Cooke was busy with the bourgeoning telegraph systems that were being installed by this time. The call for larger orders of telegraph equipment undoubtably was now being jobbed out by Cooke to larger machine and cabinet shops that could handle the demand for faster output over that of Kerby's little home workshop at 12 Spann's Buildings, St. Pancras district, London.

Recent published accounts by historians of the telegraph, reveal that Cooke and Wheatstone were said to have had some discussion with Samuel F. B. Morse [[39]], the so-called "inventor" of the American telegraph with respect to having offered a proposal to Morse to act as their agent in the U.S.

As it was, the telegraph patent for the Cooke and Wheatstone system was issued in America just eight days before Morse's first American patent was issued in 1840. Cooke and Wheatstone made this proposal to Morse at this time.

Since Cooke and Wheatstone had already patented their telegraph in 1837, dialogue along these lines may actually have been discussed as early as Morse's late 1838 meeting at Wheatstone's King's College, London chambers. Morse at that time had visited Wheatstone and also Sir Humphrey Davy - in an effort to view their telegraph work during Morse's futile attempt to patent his telegraph in England at that time. Morse eventually would come to decline the proposal to act as an American agent for Cooke and Wheatstone. [[40]]

Not more than a year or so after this odd affair between Morse and Cooke and Wheatstone occurred, Cooke's machinist Frederick A. Kerby left England apparently late in 1842 for North America by ship. With his young wife Charlott, Kerby left England never to return, taking along with him Cooke's original manuscript journal comprising the earliest extant record and basic inception of the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph system [41] [42]

History may never know if Wm. Fothergill Cooke had instructed Frederick Kerby to take his old telegraph journal to America. It is doubtful that Cooke actually had such knowledge action by Kerby. It is also uncertain if Wm. F. Cooke ever realized that his journal was gone, missing, or if Cooke dismissed it as lost. Again, history may never know.

The Electric Telegraph Company (1846)

In August 1846 the Electric Telegraph Company [43] was established. Before it could begin full operation, the primary formation of the Electric Telegraph Company was contingent on securing all of Charles Wheatstone's telegraph patent interests. This was done by paying to Wheatstone the mutually agreed amount of £120,000 for Cooke and Wheatstone's earlier patents.

Together with a man by the name of John Lewis Ricardo, the creation of the Electric Telegraph Company [44] occurred and under Wm. F. Cooke's guiding tutelage, in essence, became the world's very first public electric telegraph communications company.

Although the formal incorporation of the Electric Telegraph Company began in late 1846, as stated above, the initiating efforts of this formation commenced the year before on 3 September 1845. It was at this time that the final consolidation of majority shares of stock in the Cooke-Wheatstone patents took place and was assigned to the company. This stock had come to be held between three company principals, which included Ricardo and Cooke. Cooke had provided a portion of his shares to the syndicate members in exchange for monies from them: To establish the Electric Telegraph Company.[45]

This final act of the formation was entered into by contractual indenture on 5 August 1846. British Telecom, the giant multi-national electric communications corporation that is based in over 170 countries worldwide today - is a direct descendant of Cooke's Electric Telegraph Company. The head offices of the British Telecom company are situated in both Durham, in London, England.[46] It is also interesting to note that the Durham British Telecom office is situate where Cooke resided and was schooled in his younger days.

Cooke's Knighting by Queen Victoria (1869)

Photo credit: Richard Warren Lipack / Wikimedia Commons. Obverse of holograph letter dated 11 November 1869 written by Wm. F. Cooke to Sophia Macnamara Brunel Hawes, wife of Sir Benjamin Hawes, M.P., daughter of Marc Isambard Brunel and brother of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Cooke writes to say that he had been received earlier the very same day at Windsor Castle by Great Britain's Queen Victoria, where he was bestowed the honor of Knighthood for his work on the electric telegraph with his partner and telegraph co-patentee Sir Charles Wheatstone, the latter who had been knighted in 1868 the year before by Queen Victoria.
Photo credit: Richard Warren Lipack / Wikimedia Commons. Verso of holograph letter by Wm. F. Cooke to Sophia Macnamara Brunel Hawes. Cooke provides new light on history with adverse sentiments concerning his Knighthood, stating in part that the Monarchy must "hold the national honor very cheap," because it took "possession" of the fruits of Cooke's labor and corporate entity "by violence - i.e. by an Act of Parliament."

Cooke achieved Knighthood in 1869. In a letter he wrote on 11 November 1869, immediately after his knighting at Windsor Palace, Cooke wrote the late Isambard Kingdom Brunel's sister Mrs. Sophia Macnamara Hawes to tell her his thoughts about the award just bestowed upon him. In his letter, Cooke complained how his founding corporate entity was not properly compensated financially when the Monarchy, apparently in a somewhat forcible manner through an unjust Act of Parliament - took over Cooke's creation of the Electric Telegraph Company [47] for the public good, with what he thought to be improper procedure and compensation. Cooke intimated to Mrs. Hawes detailed sentiments of his Knighthood that has eluded history and not been properly addressed by historians in nearly 150 years. Cooke stated in part;

"I have today had the honor of visiting upon her Majesty at Windsor! I feel the honour I have received quite adequate to my personal deserts - but I am morally convinced, that the country which originated and realized the Electric Telegraph, and the Gov't. which takes possession of it by violence - i.e. by an Act of Parliament, must hold the national honor very cheap - when a Knighthood given to an old man after 34 years of labour - and a sum of money to shareholders in a Company - are deemed sufficient acknowledgement of the introduction of an invention, now about to be a national Institution , which in its own line can never be surpassed."

Cooke also wrote that this was his "first letter after receiving the honour which I owe to your Father and your husband." Mrs. Hawes' father Marc Isambard Brunel presided over the heated arbitration of 1840-1841 between Cooke and Wheatstone pertinent to equal acknowledgement over the invention for which Cooke felt at the time he was not properly presented publicly.

William Fothergill Cooke later tried to obtain an extension of the original patents, but the judicial committee of the Privy Council decided that Cooke and Wheatstone had been sufficiently remunerated.

Wheatstone had been bestowed the same honor of a Queen's knighting conferred upon him the year before, on 30 January, 1868. 

The Albert gold medal of the Society of Arts was awarded on equal terms to both Cooke and Wheatstone in 1867, two years before Cooke was knighted by Queen Victoria. William Fothergill Cooke was bestowed the honor of the Albert gold medal for his service to telegraphy. The Cooke journal / Codex Lipack of recent discovery in the latter part of the 20th century represents the earliest full record of this service extant.

It should be noted that William Fothergill Cooke had lost the great fortune he had made in telegraphy developing a remarkable earth boring machine for use in mining during the mid-19th century. Cooke's earth boring device was actually the precursor to the modern tunnel boring machines (TBM) of today, used for example, to create the Orlovski Tunnel in St. Petersburg. Cooke subsequently died in relative obscurity, and is today, relatively unknown.

Most interesting, one will find that the death of this man - one who had come to create the very essence of modern electric communications, was no less humble than when he had first started his quest. Plus, the cryptic discovery of William F. Cooke's journal, found in America, thousands of miles away from where it was created in Great Britain, adds even more humbleness to what shall forever seem a most enchanted story to many. There will always be the 'lore' behind the 'discovery;' a key to a great element in modern man's history that had been lost for over 150 years.

A civil list pension was granted to Cooke in 1871. He died on 25 June 1879. The Cooke manuscript journal says much about Wm. F. Cooke.

There is in the Cooke journal one page depicting multi-dimensional cross shaped designs executed by Cooke for what appears he intended to be his grave marker; a simple humble plain stone epitaph in the form of a Christ cross - just as it came to be upon his death and burial at Surrey.

Re-publication of 19th Century Books and Pamphlets on Cooke's Electric Telegraph

Remarkably, in recent times, the books on the 1830's dated letters by Cooke to his mother relating mostly to telegraphy and then the book publication of the later 1840-1841 telegraph arbitration proceedings between Cooke and Wheatstone, among others - published by Cooke or Cooke interests that included Cooke's brother Thomas - continue to be published today for academic purpose. The titles for these books are as follows; Extracts from the Private Letters of the Late Sir William Fothergill Cooke, 1836-39, Relating to the Invention and Development of the Electric Telegraph (1895) - by Wm. F. Cooke and Latimer Clark; Authorship of the Practical Electric Telegraph of Great Britain: Or, the Brunel Award Vindicated, in VII Letters Containing Extracts from the Arbitration Evidence of 1841. Edited in Assertion of His Brother's Rights - By Thomas Fothergill Cooke; The Electric Telegraph - by Wm. F. Cooke; Telegraphic Railways: Or the Single Way Recommended by Safety, Economy, and Efficiency, Under the Safeguard and Control of the Electric Telegraph - by Wm, F. Cooke - and; The Electric Telegraph; Was It Invented by Professor Wheatstone?" - by Thomas Fothergill Cooke (Part 1, 1854 & Part 2, 1856). In May 2011, the University of Michigan published a two-part reprint of the Cooke and Wheatstone arbitration proceedings, intended for modern academic and undergraduate study.

By the year 2014, hardcover printing runs on some of these earlier printed books, pamphlets and letters by or on Cooke began to emerge as well - with all predominately published with United States of America imprints.

U.K. Newcomen Society publication acknowledge's Cooke journal Discovery

Formal mention of the discovery of the Cooke's manuscript journal / Codex Lipack in a letter by American Professor Emeritus Thomas Biddle Perera to Newcomen Society editor Roger Cline was published in the Volume 83, Issue 1 - January 2013 society issue of The International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology and Engineering.[48] This journal was formerly known as The Transactions of the Newcomen Society, the latter which has it office situate in the Science Museum, London. The Newcomen Society was founded in 1920 in honor of Englishman John Newcomen, who inspired the "Industrial Revolution" with his perfected steam engine.

Posthumously, the name of William Fothergill Cooke is suddenly rising out of complete obscurity and with his 1836-1842 manuscript journal found and now coming to light, more interest in this great man, along with a clearer insight into the beginnings of electric communications, will certainly follow.


(1). ^ a b Burnley 1887.

(2). ^ Cooke, Rev., Thomas Fothergill (1856). The Electric Telegraph: Was it Invented by Professor Wheatstone?. 2. London: W. H. Smith & Son. p. 84.

(3). ^ Cooke, Rev., Thomas Fothergill (1854). The Electric Telegraph: Was it Invented by Professor Wheatstone?. 1. London: W. H. Smith & Son. pp. 170–171.

(4). ^ a b Cooke, Rev., Thomas Fothergill (1856). The Electric Telegraph: Was it Invented by Professor Wheatstone?. 2. London: W. H. Smith & Son. pp. 165–166 & 170.

British Telecom Archives: Events in Telecommunications History, 1846, British Telecom website. http://www.btplc.com/Thegroup/BTsHistory/1846.htm

Internal IEEE References

Bowers, Brian, PhD, CEng, FIEE. Cooke and Wheatstone, and Morse. A Comparative View. Brian Bowers, Cooke and Wheatstone and Morse, Conference on the History of Telecommunications organized by the IEEE History Center and the IEEE History Committee, Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 25-27 July 2001 [[49]]

Charles Wheatstone [[50]]

Cooke and Wheatstone's Electric Telegraph [[51]]


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain. [5]

Unannotated References

Davis, L. J. Fleet Fire: Thomas Edison and the Pioneers of the Electric Revolution (2003). New York: Arcade Publishing.

Vail, J. Cummings (1914). Early History of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph, from Letters and Journals of Alfred Vail: Arranged by his Son, J. Cummings Vail. New York: Hine Brothers.

Wolfe, Richard J. / Patterson, Richard (2007). Charles Thomas Jackson - "Head Behind The Hands" - Applying Science to Implement Discovery and Invention in Early Nineteenth Century America. Novato, California: Historyofscience.com.

Cooke, William Fothergill (1895). Extracts from the Private Letters of the Late Sir William Fothergill Cooke, 1836 - 39. London: E. and F. N. Spon.

Hubbard, Geoffrey (1965). Cooke and Wheatstone and the Invention of the Electric Telegraph. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.

Cooke, Rev., Thomas Fothergill (1854). The Electric Telegraph: Was it Invented by Professor Wheatstone?. 1. London: W. H. Smith & Son. pp. 170–171.

Cooke, Rev., Thomas Fothergill (1856). The Electric Telegraph: Was it Invented by Professor Wheatstone?. 2. London: W. H. Smith & Son. pp. 165–166 & 170.

AWA (2011 / October). A Dramatic Announcement at the Key and Telegraph Seminar (The AWA Journal). New York: AWA / American Wireless Association.

Weaver, William D. & Potamian, Sci. D, Lond., Brother (1909). Catalogue of the Wheeler Gift of Books,, Pamphlets and Periodicals in the Library of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. New York. American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

External References

Munro, John. "Heroes of The Telegraph".- See Appendix, Chapter III http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/979

Biography of Sir William Fothergill Cooke. Biography from the Institution of Engineering and Technology http://ww38.globusz.com/ebooks/Telegraph/00000023.htm

External Links

^ Lipack, Richard Warren. "Sir William Fothergill Cooke's Newly Discovered Original Notebook / Journal For The World's First Commercial Telegraph" - Curator: Professor Thomas B. Perera, Ph. D. http://www.w1tp.com/cooke/

^ Burns, Bill / Roberts, Steven. "History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network: Frederick A. Kerby" http://atlantic-cable.com//Article/Kerby/

^ British Telecom Archives: Events in Telecommunications History, 1846, British Telecom website. http://www.btplc.com/Thegroup/BTsHistory/1846.htm

King's College, London - Archives Catalogues: WHEATSTONE, Sir Charles (1802-1875) - Papers - WHEATSTONE 1: Working papers, experimental notes and correspondence relating to the development of the electric telegraph, [1836-1960] http://www.kingscollections.org/catalogues/kclca/collection/w/10wh20-1/1wh20-a

Print References

  1. Burnley, James (1887)."Cooke, William Fothergill." Leslie Stephen. Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 102–103.
  2. Burnley, James (1887)."Cooke, William Fothergill." Leslie Stephen. Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 102–103.
  3. Cooke, Rev., Thomas Fothergill (1854). The Electric Telegraph: Was it Invented by Professor Wheatstone? Vol. 1. London: W. H. Smith & Son. pp. 170–171.
  4. Cooke, Rev., Thomas Fothergill (1856). The Electric Telegraph: Was it Invented by Professor Wheatstone?. Vol. 2., London: W. H. Smith & Son. p. 84.
  5. Burnley, James (1887). "Cooke, William Fothergill." Stephen. Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 102–103.