The Origin of Fire, a Forgotten Regency Invention.

Sacha Black in her Writespiration his week has challenged her fellow bloggers to write a story including ‘Burnt edges’. Here is my historical tale, of an unfortunate servant girl and her brilliant, if slightly mad, employer

George Dunlop Leslie - Her first place

Molly looked at the mess on the hearthstone and muttered under her breath. It wasn’t that her employer was a cruel man, he wasn’t, he was very kind and considerate, but Mr Walker was a chemist, and that meant mess.

He had told her that he was trying to make an, ‘inflammable liquid’, to make lighting fires easier. Why, she couldn’t understand, wasn’t a tinderbox simple enough? All he seemed to be making were horrible smells and mess like this on the hearth, she knelt down, and, taking an old knife, began to scrape it off.

Her scream echoed through the house, Mr Walker was the first in the room to find her sitting, shocked on the floor. Sulphurous fumes filled the room and flames were flickering over the hearthstone.

“I just scraped, and the stone caught fire.” She muttered, still shocked.

His eyes gleamed,

“Wonderful!” she looked at him bemused. He turned to his housekeeper.

“Take her and give a strong cup of tea, it’s alright, in fact it’s wonderful.”

As she rose he pressed a sovereign in her hand, ‘For your cap, the edges are all burnt.”

“Mad”, she thought as she left the room, “Quite mad.”


In 1826 John Walker of Stockton was trying to create an inflammable liquid for starting fires. He spilt some of his mixture on the hearth and, trying to scrape the dry mixture off, it caught fire. He had invented the friction match. He was a kindly and generous man who never patented his idea as he didn’t need the money.

History doesn’t record who scraped the mixture off the hearth, so I have invented the unfortunate housemaid Molly.



Filed under Georgian, Historical Reconstructions, Regency

6 responses to “The Origin of Fire, a Forgotten Regency Invention.

  1. Another great story from you !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. love it; what a splendid take


  3. This was awesome, my fave story of the week, especially as I learnt something from it. What an awesome discovery 😀 thank you for joining in

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Writespiration #91 The Hug You’ve Always Wanted | Sacha Black

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