British  Patent

GB 1.764/1790                                            Thomas Saint

Making and completing shoes, boots, spatterdashes, clogs and other articles, by means of tools or machines for the purpose.

A grant unto Thomas Saint, of Greenhill's Rents in the parish of Saint Sepulchre and county of Middlesex, cabinet maker, of his new invented method of making and completing shoes, boots, spatterdashes, clogs and other articles by means of tools or machines also invented by him for that purpose ; to hold to him, his exors, admors, & asss, within England , Wales, & town of Berwick-upon-Tweed and also within His Majesty's colonies and plantations abroad, for the term of 14 years pursuant to the statute ; with a clause to inrol the same within two calendar months from the date hereof.

                                                                                              July 17, 1790

GB 1.764/1790                     Thomas Saint          July 17, 1790
GB 1.764/1790 Thomas Saint July 17, 1790


extract from: 

The Invention of the Sewing Machine  by Grace Cooper


...The earliest of the known mechanical sewing devices produced a chain or tambour stitch, but by an entirely different principle than that used with either needle just described. Although the idea was incorporated into a patent, the machine was entirely overlooked for almost a century as the patent itself was classed under wearing apparel...

...This portentously titled British patent 1.764 was issued to an English cabinetmaker, Thomas Saint, on July 17, 1790. Along with accounts of several processes for making various varnish compositions, the patent contains descriptions of three separate machines; the second of these was for “stitching, quilting, or sewing.” Though far from practical, the machine incorporated several features common to a modern sewing machine. It had a horizontal cloth plate or table, an overhanging arm carrying a straight needle, and a continuous supply of thread from a spool. The motion was derived from the rotation of a hand crank on a shaft, which activated cams that produced all the actions of the machine. One cam operated the forked needle that pushed the thread through a hole made by a preceding thrust of the awl. The thread was caught by a looper and detained so that it then became enchained in the next loop of thread. The patent described thread tighteners above and below the work and an adjustment to vary the stitches for different kinds of material. Other than the British patent records, no contemporary reference to Saint’s machine has ever been found. The stitching-machine contents of this patent was happened on by accident in 1873.

Using the patent description, a Newton Wilson of London attempted to build a model of Saint’s machine in 1874. Wilson found, however, that it was necessary to modify the construction before the machine would stitch at all. This raised the question whether Saint had built even one machine. Nevertheless, the germ of an idea was there, and had the inventor followed through the sewing machine might have been classed an 18th-century rather than a 19th-century contribution...

owned by the London Science Museum
owned by the London Science Museum