Keswick - Lake District
Copyright Marcus Roberts (with additional material by Dr Yaakov Wise (also with special thanks to Ian Tyler for his expertise on local mining history)


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After being interviewed in London by Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State Sir Francis Walsingham in 1581, Gaunse was brought to the Keswick project to improve its operations by George Nedham on the death of Daniel Hochstetter in that year, clearly an opportunity to improve operations at the company.

Sir Francis Walsingham (1532-1590) was Principal Secretary of State from 1573 to1590 and is popularly remembered as the Queen's "spymaster." Walsingham is frequently cited as one of the earliest practitioners of modern intelligence methods both for espionage and for domestic security. He oversaw operations which penetrated the heart of Spanish military preparation, gathered intelligence from across Europe, and disrupted a range of plots against the queen, securing the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. Walsingham was one of the small coterie who directed the Elizabethan state, overseeing foreign, domestic and religious policy, and the subjugation of Ireland. He worked to bring Scotland and England together. Overall, his foreign policy demonstrated a new understanding of the role of England as a maritime, Protestant power in an increasingly global economy. He was an innovator in exploration, colonisation and the use of England's potential maritime power. He is also a convincing prototype of the modern bureaucrat.

We know that Gaunse was an observant Jew because he was able to speak fluent Hebrew, and a few years later in 1589, in Bristol he declared that he was, " a Talmudic Jew born in Prague (then in Bohemia), and that he was circumcised and educated in the Talmud and was neither baptized, nor did he "beleeve any Article of our Christian faithe for that he was not broughte uppe therein."

Gaunse, was brought into the operations at Keswick, because he had developed some brilliant innovations in mineral dressing and smelting. On arrival, he scientifically analyzed the impurities in the ore, identifying nine main contaminants and determined how to remove them from the copper. He then proposed a new procedure to rapidly remover the impurities and move swiftly to smelting to raw copper. Gaunse's analysis of the ores was, according to Nedham, a new procedure, which with the identification of specific contaminants, had not been previously carried out by the Hochstetters, or any of the other specialists.

The removal of the iron as Iron Sulphate, one of the chief contaminants of the Lake District ores, was a new innovation and significant simplification of the process, which also yielded a valuable commercial cloth mordant, and the Vitriol was also a significant cloth dye. He succeeded in turning previous waste products, into products needed by the northern woollen industry and which had previously needed to be imported. This use of the by-products was an extraordinary innovation introduced by Gaunse.

These were entirely novel procedures, and meant that Gaunse could complete in four days, what had previously taken sixteen weeks. He was able to cut out 21 of 40 separate operations normally used to produce copper, and was able to produce better copper. At a stroke these methods enable him to cut the costs and delays in producing copper.

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