John Lethbridge and his Diving Machine

Trans. Devon Assoc. vol. 12 (1880), pp. 490-496.


John S. Amery

Prepared by Michael Steer

John Lethbridge (1675-1759) was a wool merchant of Newton Abbot who invented a diving machine in 1715 that was used to salvage valuables from wrecks. This machine was an airtight oak barrel that allowed "the diver" to submerge long enough to retrieve underwater material. After testing this machine in his garden pond (specially built for the purpose) Lethbridge dived on a number of wrecks: four English men-of-war, one East Indiaman (both English and Dutch), two Spanish galleons and a number of galleys. He became very wealthy as a result of his salvages. One of his recoveries had three tons of silver on board. Lethbridge is buried in Wolborough church. Google with the Archive Organization has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. The Internet Archive makes available, in its Community Texts Collection (originally known as Open Source Books), books that have been digitised by Google from a number of libraries. These are books on which copyright has expired, and are available free for educational and research use. This rare book was produced from a copy held by the University of Michigan Library, and is available from the Internet Archive.


Becker, Major 495
Charles II 494
Dymond, Mr Robert 491
George I 495
Halley, Dr 494
Holdsworth, Governor 495
Lethbridge arms 490
Lethbridge family 491
Lethbridge, Mr John throughout
Lethbridge, John jnr 494
Ley, Mr Samuel 491-4
Lysons, Messrs 494
Nosworthy, Mr W 490, 496
Pengelly, Mr 490
Phips, Sir William 494-5
Symons, Mr Nathaniel 491-3
Urban, Mr 492