Name: Alexander SHIELS
Given Name: Alexander
Birth: 12 SEP 1865 in Lauder (Berwick) Scotland
Death: 22 OCT 1907 in Earls Barton (Northants) England
Doctor, Inventor, Promoter of the Kosmoid companies. Studied at Medical school in Glasgow. Special study of use of anaesthesia in childbirth
Change Date: 7 SEP 2011 at 09:15:22
Became inventor, often in conjunction with his ELLIOT brother in law.
Milking machine patents. Shiels Patent Pulsating Cup.
Society medical consultant with houses and nursing homes in Glasgow and London.
KOSMOID bubble then took off, only to burst in 1905. [See below].
1881 Dwelling: 125 Nth John St Census Place: Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland
Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Elizabeth SHILLS W 42 F Swinton, Berwick, Scotland Rel:Head
Ellen E. SHILLS U 22 F Lauder, Berwick, Scotland Rel:Daur Occ:Teacher
Alexander SHILLS U 15 M Lauder, Berwick, Scotland Rel:Son Occ:App Chemist
John SHILLS U 12 M Lauder, Berwick, Scotland Rel: Son Occ:Scholar
William VALSY U 56 M England Rel:Lodger Occ:Joiner
David GOODALL U 28 M Milnathort, Kinross, Scotland Rel:Lodger Occ:Stationers Assistant
The teacher Claud Wilson who recognised and developed Alexander's talents at St John's School Glasgow is here in 1881:
@Free Church@626-A1@ Census Place:Cadder, Lanark, Scotland
Source: FHL Film 0203618 GRO Ref Volume 626-A1 EnumDist 4 Page 9
Dwelling: Roselea Census Place:Cadder, Lanark, Scotland
Source: FHL Film 0203618 GRO Ref Volume 626-A1 EnumDist 4 Page 9
. . . . . . . . . . . . . MarrAgeSexBirthplace
Claude WILSON . . . .M 40 M Saltcoats, Ayr,Sc Rel:Head Occ:Certificated Schoolmaster
Rachel WILSON . . . . M 35 F New Monkland, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Wife
Claude (Junr) WILSON . .8 M Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Son Occ:Scholar
John WILSON . . . . . . . . .4 M Cadder, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Son
Louisa C. WILSON . . . . . 2 F Cadder, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Daur
James Thos. C. WILSON 1m M Cadder, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Son
Margaret PORTEOUS U 22 F Old Monkland, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Serv Occ:General Serv (Domestic)
Fanny GRANT . . . . . W 66 F St Evox, Ayr, Scotland Rel:Visitor Occ:Ladies Nurse
Dwelling:Rosebank Census Place:Cadder, Lanark, Scotland
Source: FHL Film 0203618 GRO Ref Volume 626-A1 EnumDist 4 Page 9
. . . . . . . . . . . . . MarrAgeSexBirthplace
Thomas SMITH . . . M 76 M Tinwald, Dumfries, Sct Rel:Head Occ:Retired Schoolmaster
Mary SMITH . . . . . .M 63 F Kirkmichael, Dumfries, Scotland Rel:Wife
Mary Jane SMITH . .U 27 F Dalkeith, Edinburgh, Scotland Rel:Daur
Thomas R. S. SMITH U 23 M Dumfries, Dumfries, Scotd Rel:Son Occ:Warehouseman
Elisabeth FORRESTER U 60 F Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Boarder
Charles DICK . . . . U 35 M Burghead, Elgin, Scotland Rel:Lodger Occ:Minister Of Bishopbriggs United Presbyterian Church
"...Suction was first used as a basis for the mechanized harvesting of milk in 1851, although the attempts were not altogether successful, drawing too much blood and body fluid congestion within the teat. To encourage further innovations, the Royal Agricultural Society of England offered money for a safe, working milking machine. Around the 1890s Alexander Shiels of Glasgow, Scotland, developed a pulsator that alternated suction levels to successfully massage the blood and fluids out of the teat for proper blood circulation. That device, along with the development of a double-chambered teatcup in 1892, led to milking machines replacing hand milking. After the 1920s machine milking became firmly established in the dairy industry.... "
American Cownmilker Patents
03/10/1896 Shiels, Alexander vacuum
04/21/1896 Shiels, Alexander vacuum
07/14/1896 Twyman, C. & Thomas, M. pressure
11/17/1896 Mehring, W.M. vacuum
12/29/1896 DeLaval, Carl pressure
03/23/1897 Cushman, M.J. vacuum
03/30/1897 Stroyberg, Carl pressure
05/25/1897 Bender, John pressure
12/07/1897 Cushman, M.J. vacuum
02/01/1898 Klein, Daniel vacuum
04/26/1898 Roth, Reuben pressure
02/14/1899 Shiels, A. vacuum
07/04/1899 Lawrence, William vacuum
08/29/1899 Bundy, Charles C. vacuum
11/07/1899 Norby, Nels vacuum
12/05/1899 Mehring, William vacuum
01/02/1900 Klein & Swartz vacuum
01/23/1900 Lawrence & Kennedy vacuum
02/27/1900 Klein & Swartz vacuum
03/27/1900 Lawrence & Kennedy vacuum
05/29/1900 Thatcher & Hussey vacuum
07/17/1900 Cushman, M.J. vacuum
07/24/1900 Shiels, Alexander vacuum
On 24 May 1992 David Harvie wrote about Alexander Shiels in The Herald, Glasgow. In its Inside Story feature, under the headline: "The Alchemist of Kosmoid Hall" with an image of "A man of mystery: Alexander Shiels" looking like a young Rennie Mackintosh, the newspaper announced: "As the Babcock and Wilcox plant at Dumbarton closes its doors, David Harvie looks back on the legend which surrounds the previous owners - the tale of a secret society reputed to have dabbled in an ancient art." Secret society? More société anonyme in the business sense. Here's what David wrote:
"THE closure was recently announced of the Babcock and Wilcox plant at Dumbarton, almost a century after its construction. This factory was the focus of one of Britain's most bizarre scandals. It was alleged that the princes of Scottish business were persuaded to connive - knowingly or otherwise - in the commercial production of gold from lead and copper from pig-iron. According to the legend -nurtured by years of lazy journalism- Lord Kelvin - Europe's most celebrated physicist - was the leading proponent. Aided and abetted by suppression of facts and a peculiar novel, the myth outgrew the equally grotesque truth.
"In January 1906 the Daily Express made a startling revelation:
'A mysterious looking document, apparently of American origin. reached the Express office for publication yesterday. It stated that the secret of the Philosopher's Stone and the transmutation of metals had been discovered by a young Glasgow doctor. A new metal called Cuferal, a mixture of copper and iron, is being manufactured by Kosmoid Ltd. The process, which is a secret one, was invented by Dr Alexander Shiels of Glasgow and London, and is carried out by Kosmoid Ltd, whose headquarters are at Glasgow.'
"The affair embarrassed some of the most influential families in Scottish engineering, shipbuiding, and commercial circles.
"'It is suggested that the real secret of Kosmoid was not the method of making Cuferal. but the transmutation of metals and declared that such eminent men as Lords Kelvin, Overtoun and lnverclyde, having had ocular demonstration of the manufacture of gold, silver, and copper from lead and iron, had become shareholders. The initials of the names of the shareholders, said the document, form the word KOSMOID. They are Lord Kelvin, Lord Overtoun, Dr Shiels, GG Millar, Lady Overtoun, Lord Inverclyde and Denny Brothers of Dumbarton. '
"Hopes and aspirations were raised and dashed an a grand scale; a Parliamentary Inquiry collapsed in bitter recrimination; the events were described in a novel which had a strange publishing history; and there was an allegation of attempted murder. But how much was true?
"Alexander Shiels was born in 1865 at Earlston in Berwickshire. Having graduated in medicine from Glasgow University in 1890 and 1891, he lived with his mother at 190 Bath Street, where he opened consulting rooms.
"With his brother in law, William Elliot of Lanark (father of Walter, later Secretary of State for Scotland) [qv] he developed a wide range of engineering patents, registering more than a hundred British patents for a huge range of engineering processes. He opened nursing homes at Park Crescent in London (where a neighbour was Lord Lister), and at No 12 Claremont Terrace near Glasgow's Charing Cross.
"Shiels also led a double private life. In December 1902 he married Georgina Clark, daughter of a wine merchant, at St Pancras Registry Office. They later had two children, and apparently kept the whole matter secret from his mother.
"An American niece wrote home describing the lavish lifestyle in Bath Street: dining with the aristocracy, servants, carriages, fine furniture and even a private railway sleeping car in which Shiels travelled weekly to and from London.
"In Glasgow, the jealous medical fraternity regarded Shiels as charlatan. To some he became 'the most polished humbug and trickster ever met or heard of -- his capacity for fraud almost unlimited'.
"During 1904, Shiels established three related companies, Kosmoid Ltd., Kosmoid Locks Ltd., and Kosmoid Tubes Ltd., with a combined share value of about 8 million pounds at today's values. The companies were established to exploit Shiel's 'special facility to introduce patents'.
"The list of those who became directors or principal shareholders reads like Scotland's industrial roll of honour: James, Peter, Archibald, John and Leslie Denny of the Dumbarton shipbuilding family, William Donaldson ironmaster and chairman of J&G Thomson (later John Brown's shipyard) Archibald Coats, of the Paisley threadmaking family; AD Wedgwood, forgemaster of Dumbarton and Sheffield, Alex Walker, the Kilmarnock distiller; Walter Brock and Daniel Jackson, eminent marine engineers, and many other of the most significant individuals in industry and commerce. Unquestionably, neither Lords Kelvin, Inverclyde or Overtoun were ever involved in any Kosmoid venture.
"Shiels organised a secretive organisation to control the companies. The Metallurgical Syndicate was a private association with capital of about 1.5 million pounds at today's values. The 18 members included Shiels, GG Millar (Art Publisher), Charles W Fulton (textile manufacturer), Archibald Coats, William Donaldson, Archibald Denny, James Denny, Walter Brock, Peter Coats and William Coats.
"The principal object of this organisation was utterly astonishing. --'the commercial development of the products of certain secret processes known to Alexander Shiels, known respectively as the Quicksilver Process and the Copper Process, by which quicksilver could be produced from lead and copper from iron'.
"What did they think they were doing, these merchant princes? In a move either of spectacular irresponsibility or naivete, the syndicate members agreed that Shiels could control finance, and any manufacture, or any buildings that might be erected and any persons employed in their venture. It was confirmed that the members would have 'no right of interference with or inquiry into the said process' and that they would not visit any of the premises to he built. Why did they abrogate their rights?
"The press reported the construction of a huge new factory being built on 53 acres of the Dumbuck estate at Dumbarton: '...the new works will be put down on the American principle; its equipment of machinery will be as near perfection as it is possible to make it; in fact, the new concern will be quite novel and wonderful for these parts.'
"One four-storey building attracted particular attention. The Fireproof Stores had walls of two-feet thick concrete, clad with armoured steel. The Burgh Council, especially the forward-looking Provost, Robert McFarlan, took a keen interest in the new development. Interest intensified when Kosmoid promoted a Garden City of 6000 cottages, with schools, library, churches, and public buildings. Dumbarton's Lennox Herald observed of the Kosmoid directors that 'their capital seems to be unlimited, and nothing but the very finest material and workmanship pleases those in charge".
"Provost McFarlan urged the council to petition Parliament for permission to impound the waters of Loch Sloy. This proposal (costing about 8 million pounds at today's values) was enormously controversial when information about Kosmoid was extremely vague: '...some aver that the principal part of the work will be the manufacturing of projectiles; others that a new motive power will be conserved that will revolutionise every existing energy.
"In the autumn of 1904, Shiels's mother wrote to her son Tom in Texas, urging him to join the company. Her faith in supernatural guidance is touching. 'I can scarcely understand all that is taking place -- surely it is the work of the Lord. They are Secret patents and Alex being the only one in full possession of the Secrets must have a Nominee and no doubt the Lord in his great mercy and Kindness has planned it for you. The Company is composed of very wealthy Gentlemen such as the Dennys. It seems all too great to grasp.'
"INDEED it was. On the face of it, all was well. The three companies made their headquarters in The Hatrack, Glasgow's famous Art Nouveau building in St Vincent Street. But under the surface, scepticism prevailed. Tom Shiels stayed only briefly before returning to Texas.
"Sheils signed deeds of partnership with John Joseph Melville of Hampstead in London. He installed him in the vast Fireproof Stores, knowing that the directors were neutered. Catastrophically, Melville was a self-confessed alchemist.
"The Kosmoid directors contracted with the Dennystown Forge Company in Dumbarton over experimental processes. However, attitudes soon soured, and a forge director wrote to James Denny that: 'I say without fear of contradiction that our friends are romancing'.
"And Lord Kelvin, whom the legend improbably has steering the good ship Kosmoid, instructed his secretary to reply to a letter he had received: 'Lord Kelvin has received Mr Shiels's letter of June 15. He thinks you should not go on with your project as no result could come from it.'
"The Parliamentary Inquiry into the Loch Sloy Water Scheme opened in May 1906, chaired by the Duke of Argyll. MacFarlan and the council were ridiculed by witnesses for their municipal megalomania. After several days of evidence and without bothering to hearmost of the formal objections, the Commissioners threw out the council's Bill, amid great acrimony.
"Next came allegations that a senior Kosmoid manager, who was being treated by Shiels at his Glasgow nursing home, had been systematically poisoned. With that, Shiels disappeared.
"Whether he fell or was pushed is uncertain, but he decamped to a small Northamptonshire village" [Earls Barton, where he and his wife lived in the house Grangefield] "The Kosmoid directors may have connived at his disappearance in order to remove him from the scene of their embarrassment and financial loss. Within a year, Shiels suffered a stroke and died, leaving about 5,000 pounds --hardly the swag of a man who had committed massive fraud.
"KOSMOID and Kosmoid Locks were quickly dissolved, while Kosmoid Tubes was reconstituted by James Denny before being restructured as the Dumbarton Weldless Tube Company, which in turn was subsumed by Babcock and Willcox in 1915.
"The rather mysterious Metallurgical Syndicate went into limbo, and a Judicial Factor for its sequestration was appointed by the Court of Session. Followers of conspiracy theory will be delighted that the papers of this process are missing from files in the Scottish Record Office.
"In 1910, 'The Gold Makers' by Nathaniel P. McCoy was published in London. This rather bad novel tells the story of an eccentric doctor who persuades a number of influential businessmen to fund the US Multi-Patents Company to manufacture quicksilver and gold from base metals. The novel appears to mirror the scandal as perceived to surround the Kosmoid companies; the names are changed, and the setting is Boston, Massachusetts.
"The quirk is that 'Nathaniel P. McCoy' was apparently none other than George Grandison Miller, Kosmoid director and member of the Metallurgical Syndicate. His fellow directors supposedly bought up and destroyed most of the print run of the book, copies of which are rare.
"Did they really manufacture gold? It seems probable that they tried. John Joseph Melville, Shiels's alchemist collaborator, had a lifelong history of similar scandals. His first disgrace was in Tottenham, where he tried to make tin and gold from lead. There were further public outrages in 1923 in Battersea, and in 1928 in Southend-on-Sea.
"MELVILLE made endless spectacular claims, among which, in 1924, was that: 'Gold can be made in large quantities, not only from mercury, but also from antimony, lead. copper, and silver, and I do not hesitate positively to affirm that with relatively simple plant, our debt to America can be wiped out in 12 months.' Just before his deathin 1928, he admitted that he had been trying to make gold in Dumbarton.
"There was confirmation of that extraordinary claim from a Kosmoid director and Metallurgical Syndicate member, Charles W. Fulton of Paisley and Launceston Place, South Kensington, who affirmed to the Daily Mail that: 'A special concrete building of four floors was erected for Mr Melville's process, the exact nature of which was kept secret. We in touch with him knew that he claimed to be able to produce copper from iron and quicksilver from lead, to say nothing of gold and silver.'
"There is no evidence that Fulton's confirmation of attempted alchemy at Dumbarton was ever challenged by his fellow directors or anyone else.
"Although the cobwebs will gather at the factory in Dumbarton before the roar of the bulldozers, the 'Transmutation Building' of the novel (and of the resulting legend) still has a busy, working future.
"Perhaps there is an argument for the listing of the 'special concrete building of four fioors' as being of unique architectural and historical interest. It is certainly unusual structurally, and there can be few equals in the country as the location of twentieth century alchemy."
Did Shiels have some tacit state backing for his Kosmoid venture, at least at the start?
The Alkali Inspector, R.F. Carpenter was almost certainly involved in some early discussions. Unionist Prime Minister Arthur BALFOUR [qv] was an enthusiast for science and was having difficulties with the army's gun barrels at the time. No politician knew Dumbarton and the Glasgow metal business more intimately than Balfour's Trade Secretary Bonar Law. Balfour's Committee of Imperial Defence was alert to the fact that Rutherford and Soddy in Canada had discovered secrets of transmutation. Balfour's scientist brother-in law John William STRUTT (1842-1919) [qv] (Lord Rayleigh, who presided over the Royal Society) kept him informed. Strutt had a chain of dairies so might have taken an interest also in milking machinery.
The young chemist Fredeick SODDY (who had spent some time with Sir William RAMSAY working on Krypton at Imperial College) was brought to Glasgow as a lecturer in radio-activity. He was billeted at Glasgow University with Sir George BEILBY who as leading light of the Anglo-American Society of Chemical Industry and a section leader of the British Association took an interest in the growing field of atomic science. His daughter -also interested in radio-activity- became Soddy's wife. Beilby had made his fortune and his reputation in oil shale and gold refining, and was a prime mover in the British Aluminium Company, which required huge infrastructure investments of railways, dams and hydroelectricty. His technological and business brains were at the disposal of the state, and later became the foundation of both British Petroleum (in which the government was to take an interest) and Imperial Chemical Industries. Kosmoid's coat of arms indicated that it saw itself as essentially a chemical venture. There is no wonder that suggestions of magical new materials like Kryptonite might be in the offing. Any links are wild speculation, of course.
New form of energy were hinted at when Kosmoid was building its works, And the intriguing figure of television pioneer CAMPBELL-SWINTON has a small part in the Loch Sloy part of Kosmoid's venture. .As well as chemistry, Kosmoid saw themselves as an an engineering company. They may for a time have imagined a future exploiting American patents inside the British Empire's tariff wall (Singer at Clydebank had made much the same calculation). If so, they would indeed have become the 'US Multi-Patents Company'. But it was not to be. Balfour and Chamberlain's tariff wall didn't materialise, instead their Unionist government was surprisinly swept away at the polls. That is precisely when the Kosmoid venture began to disintegrate.
The village where Shiels hid away -Earls Barton- was in cattle-rearing Northamptonshire, a county where his livestock-dealing brother-in-law may have had interests and where the Buccleuch family -Scots Unionists like Balfour and Bonar Law- were a local force.
You can find A.J BALFOUR, J.W. STRUTT and SHIELS' nephew Walter Elliott ELLIOT in this database.
Andrew Barclay, Kilmarnock - Locomotive Works Lists:
1905, Andrew Barclay, Locomotive manufacturers despatched loco No 2 to Kosmoid:
1058 9.11.05 0-4-0CT OC 14x22 3'5 Std Kosmoid Ltd, Dumbarton [5 ton crane] No 2
footnote: A rival to Shiels pulsating cup milking machine, or is this a development of it?
The Gane Milking Machine (NZ)
Genealogist for the Gane family: Jenny Crooks
Eltham Argus Saturday 2 May 1914
Business Notices: The Gane Milking Machine
Milking by machinery in England
A correspondent's letter in "Farmer and Stockbreeder" July 1913,
England's principal agricultural and pastoral paper:-
Sir, I have had machines of the best known makes in England working
since 1907. Two years ago, at the Royal Show in Norwich, I purchased
for cash outright a machine of a different make, also well known in
England. I did not use this machine longer than two weeks, for I
found that my cows were being affected by it. It is now on the scrap
heap. I have had almost every milking machine on the market to try
them. The plant I was using did its work fairly well, but the linings
or inflators in most cases had to be replaced every month, thus
causing heavy expense for upkeep and much trouble in taking them to
pieces and putting them together again. The pulsation was also
complicated and required attention.
For the past eight months I have been using the cups and pulsators of
the new "GANE" Milking Machine from New Zealand, and it has given me
the greatest satisfaction. I am still using the linings I started with
eight months ago, and they are apparently as good as ever. The chief
reason of this is the inflation has a solid moulded top, and is not
stretched past the normal in any place. The entire cup consists of
three parts, and it is a matter of only ten or twelve seconds to take
it to pieces and put it together again. It is by far the best milking
and most sanitary cup I have seen; besides, it holds on well to the
cow's teats. The pulsator is overhead instead of on the buckets, and
one pulsator does the same work as two of my former ones would do.
It is simplicity itself; driven by suction, has no wearing parts, can
be adjusted in a second to give any pulsation, and it should last one
a life-time with no cost for upkeep.
I understand that this machine holds premier position both in New
Zealand and Australia, and should be welcomed in this country. I have
found machine milking quite a success even with the old methods, my
only objection to it being the heavy expense in upkeep and the
machines being too complicated for the average farmer. I hope I have
not trespassed too far into your valuable space, but I feel it is time
that we farmers had something in the way of mechanical milking so as
to prepare us for any future contingency. I am etc., D. GRAHAM,
Willows Farm, Marlesford, Wickham Market, Suffolk.
THE MACHINE USED IS THE GANE.
Jenkins: Descendants of William Jenkins & Catherine Jane Mewis
May 1842 - May 1992 page 99
Cyril Gane, a Taranaki farmer, patented improvements to the milking
machine which had been invented in Scotland and was very primitive.
Harry Reginald Jenkins acquired the sole rights of Cyril Gane's patent
and founded the Gane Milking Machine Company Limited in 1907. In a
vigorous programme of promotion the Gane Machine was successful in
New Zealand and overseas and won international recognition at the
Royal Agricultural Show in England in 1913. Harry founded the Gane
Engineering Company Limited in the early 1920s.
Alexander Sheil's medical collaborator was the eminent surgeon Sir Thomas Kennedy DALZIEL -here in shown1881:
Dwelling: Annanlea Census Place:Moffat, Dumfries, Scotland
Source:FHL Film 0224051 GRO Ref Volume 842 EnumDist 4 Page 3
. . . . . . . . . . MarrAgeSexBirthplace
John WILSON . . .M 53 M Crawford, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Head Occ:Retired Merch
Isabella WILSON M 43 F Penpont, Dumfries, Scotland Rel:Wife Occ:Retired Merch Wife
Isabella WILSON . . 13 F England Rel:Dau Occ:Scholar
Mary Jane WILSON . 9 F England Rel:Dau Occ:Scholar
Maggie Dalziel WILSON 8 F England Rel:Dau Occ:Scholar
Forsyth James WILSON 9m M Moffat, Dumfries, Scotland Rel:Son
Thomas Kennedy DALZIEL 19 M Penpont, Dumfries, Sc Rel:Neph Occ:Medical Student
Helen DINWOODIE . . . . . . .18 F Kirkmichael, Dumfries, Scotld Rel:Serv Occ:Gen Serv
Jemima LITTLE . . . . . . . . . .18 F Tweedsmuir, Peeble, Scotland Rel:Serv Occ:GenServ
Elizabeth Hannah HAYDON .18 F England Rel:Serv Occ:Gen Serv
This was close to the Moffat Hydropathic run by Christian Nau of Clansthal, Hannover
Kennedy Dalziel later became a lt colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and AS's widow Georgina Sheil, was pointed out as an RAMC nursing sister during the Great War, possibly at Yorkhill Hospital.
Rusmoid Ltd letterhead lists directors as
A.E. Cohen; F.M. Russell; C.H. Mocatta; R.B.S. Lewis
Father: Alexander SHIELS b: ABT 1818
Mother: Elizabeth THOM(P)SON b: ABT 1838 in Swinton (Berwicks) Scotland
Georgina CLARK b: ABT 1870/1880
in St Pancras Registry Office,London
- Alexandra Georgie SHIELS
- Alexander SHIELS