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British patent numbers 1617 - 1852 (old series)

Until 1852 patents (covering England and Wales only) were obtained through the complex medieval system which required visiting seven different offices and two signatures by the monarch. Patents granted under this system were not numbered and not published by the authorities at that time (though the details of some were printed in journals such as the Repertory of Arts). Following the modernisation of the patent law in 1852, 14,359 patents granted up to that date were given numbers of the form No nnnn/yyyy, eg No 1/1617, No 913/1769 and published during the 1850s.

Copies of these patents can still be bought from our Sales Branch. It is very important when ordering patents to specify the full number including the year, as similar numbers were used between 1852 and 1915.

The table below shows the progress of patent numbers between 1617 and 1852.

The first column contains a list of the years 1617 to 1760. The second column contains a list of the earliest patent numbers published during those years. A list of the years 1770 to 1852 are in the third column and a list of the earliest patent numbers published during these years in the fourth column.
Year Earliest Patent No Year Earliest Patent No
1617 No 2/1617 1770 No 949/1770
1630 No 49/1630 1780 No 1243/1780
1640 No 124/1640 1790 No 1720/1790
1650 * 1800 No 2367/1800
1660 No 128/1660 1805 No 2807/1805
1670 No 159/1670 1810 No 3291/1810
1680 No 210/1680 1815 No 3871/1815
1690 No 263/1690 1820 No 4428/1820
1700 No 365/1700 1825 No 5064/1825
1710 No 396/1709** 1830 No 5879/1830
1720 No 425/1720 1835 No 6743/1835
1730 No 514/1730 1840 No 8331/1840
1740 No 570/1740 1845 No 10453/1845
1750 No 652/1750 1850 No 12918/1850
1760 No 744/1760 1852 No 14359/1852***

* From 30 January 1649 to 29 May 1660 (the Commonwealth) England was under the rule of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector. No patents issued during this period were included amongst those published by Bennett Woodcroft in the 1850s.

** No patents were granted in 1710; the number given is that of the last granted in 1709 (dated 2 August 1709).

*** No 14359/1852 is the last patent granted under the medieval system before the introduction of the Patent Law Amendment Act 1852 on 1 October of that year.