On Jul 6, 2008, at 11:53 AM, Peter King wrote:

> I said that Coalbrookdale had several air furnaces, rather than that  
> they
> had a double one.  snip....
> As I understand it, commercial life in Virginia centred on stores on  
> the sea
> shore (including Chesapeake Bay), there being no towns.   
> Accordingly, a
> place on the shore (or a river bank) would occupy a similar  
> commercial role
> to an English town.  Nevertheless, foundries were rare in England  
> until at
> least the late 18th century, when foundry cupolas began to be used  
> instead
> of air furnaces.
At the end of the 17th century, there were a number of towns (as  
typically defined) in Virginia. By the time in question (first half  
C18) there were numerous towns established by the Crown and local  
governments all over the Tidewater including the Chesapeake Bay and  
tributary rivers. These towns had customs warehouses, stores, taverns,  
etc. wherein commerce was made as these were the transportation nodes  
where inland goods could be loaded onto ocean-going vessels.  
Fredericksburg was the Rappahannock River town on the Fall Line (upper  
limit of navigation for ocean-going vessels) where Spotswood had his  
Massaponax Double Air Furnace downstream thereof.

Why Spotswood had a DAF has been a source of conjecture for years.  
Their primary purpose was handling large loads of molten metal. Absent  
church bell founding, all of the enduser products did not require  
large amounts of molten metal, save one. That was for the production  
of cannon. Now as the right of cannon production was reserved by the  
Crown and Spotswood did not have permission to cast cannon, the  
question is to what purpose they were put.

But, Spotswood as governor was plagued by pirates roaming the  
Chesapeake Bay and the near Atlantic Coast (Blackbeard being the  
foremost), and he had urged the Crown to provide warships capable of  
handling the problem. Due to other larger concerns, the pleas fell on  
deaf ears. The thinking is that Spotswood had the political juice  
(modern phraseology) to handle the political fallout should he have  
been discovered founding cannon, and that he built the furnace to cast  
cannon that could be used by vessels tasked by the Governor to stop  
piracy. Otherwise, it's rather like using an aircraft carrier to crack  
a walnut given the capacity of the DAF compared to actual needs.

Lyle Browning