The following is my transcription of a letter patent from the year 1636, which can be seen published in a 19th-century collection. I have modernized the spelling and added paragraph breaks and bullet points for readability, since the original is mostly one long continuous paragraph. Where I was not sure of the meaning of a term, I’ve added a (?)
CHARLES, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith.
TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME, greeting.
WHEREAS Sir John Christopher Van Berg, Moravian Knight, heretofore Lord of Wahanezee and Verantiez, and Deputy General over the heritable lordships belonging to the Palatine house within the Marquisite of Moravia, having been heretofore possessed of large demesnes, and command in the said marquiste, is now dispossessed of all by the devouring wars in Germany, and having been compelled for safety during the hazard of these wars yet continuing to fly from thence, and to endure banishment from his own native country, and being come into our Kingdom of England, not having means of support, he hath prostrated himself, his wife, and four children under our Royal protection, humbly imploring our grace and commiseration:
And whereas the said Sir John Christopher hath by his industry and observation in other countries found out and observed many Inventions, as well mathematical and mechanical engines and instruments not hitherto known or used in any of our Dominions, that is to say,
diverse mechanical instruments and frames operating by weight, so to be fitted and ordered that the force and strength of them may be augmented or diminished either in regard of the instruments themselves, or in respect of the number of workmen to be employed about them according as occasion or necessity shall require.
Which instruments or frames may be exercised by land either below, on the ground, or on high aloft, as well within as without any building, and likewise by water in ships, ponts(?), boats, and shallops for the effecting any such thing or things as may need lifting or heaving up, letting or drawing, or hauling from place to place, transporting forcible striking, in pulling forth, bearing down, battering, pressing, plating, or squeezing by the use of them, also all manner of things may be weighed most conveniently.
An invention whereby the smith’s bellows may be made to blow without putting to any hand either to hold or draw them, and may be also useful to such as need the continual use of fire or strong blasts of any manner of bellows,
diverse engines for waterworks, whereby the water may be compelled to rise, that so it may be the better deduced from place to place, and natural streams or current may be turned or diverted at pleasure,
likewise diverse mills to be turned or agitated by running rivers or other waters, by wind, weight, beast, as horses, oxen, and the like, or by the hand, serving for the doing whatsoever things may need to be grinded, beaten, bruised, grated, pestled, hammered, cut, hewed, hacked, sawed, whetted, planed with tools, turned, winded, rolled, circulated cast forth (?) or evacuated.
Also instruments, partly mathematical, partly mechanical, serving for the accurate measuring of land or ground, and may also in a certain manner be employed to coaches, carts, wagons, or any other thing that is moved from place to place, thereby to know the exact distance and dispatch of their motion,
likewise instruments of sounding and fathoming of any depths, whether of waters or mines, or any other depth, as also to know any height above the ground.
Also inventions of all kind of wagons, wains, coaches, carts, litters, wheelbarrows, packsaddles, and side saddles, better for ease, advantage, and profit than hitherto have been used;
other instruments whereby any ship receiving a leak may be preserved from sinkage till it may be brought to shore to be mended, or in case such ship of necessity must sink, then whereby a sign may be extant above the water to show the place where it sunk, that so instrument may be applied for the drawing it up again. With an assured way how the very greatest ship may be drawn up again, though it be sunk eighty fathoms deep.
Also instruments for the advantageous removing or taking forth sand or earth out of shallow places either at sea or in rivers, that the waters may be deeper and less dangerously navigable, and if there be any dikes or trenches under the water to break and even them speedily and forcibly, and to remove and cast forth the earth and materials thereof;
likewise an engine to go continually by water, horse, or man, for the working all sorts of timber, as well great for carpenters as small for joiners, and the same to drive diverse frames at once, each frame taking in its own work and delivering it out again without interrupting other.
Also another invention very good for warming the body of man, and for boiling, roasting, or frying all kinds of meats, useful also for many other purposes for which the heat of the fire is requisite.
Another invention to be agitated by wind, water, or horses, for the clean threshing of corn [grain], whereby much corn that is now left may be saved, and the straw made near as good as hay.
Also a new kind of wash or laundry house, wherein all kinds of linen and other clothes may be washed and dried so conveniently that the laundresses shall not be annoyed by the greatest cold in winter, but may wash as often and as much as their occasion shall require in a warm air, and get so much advantage of time, besides the saving of charges in drying of clothes, that they may easily dry as much in three or four hours as otherwise with more labor in three days.
Lastly, another invention especially useful in and about the building and repairing of churches and great edifices, houses, ships, and the like, for the better saving the excessive charge he hath heard is expended in scaffolds in and about the same.
All which inventions, engines, or instruments he hath presented unto us as things by the use whereof much good and benefit may accrue unto our people, and being desirous, if possibly he can, to support himself, his wife, and family, by his own endeavor, without being burdensome to others, he hath by his petition to us exhibited most humbly besought us to grant unto them the sole making and use of the said inventions, engines, and instruments within our dominions according to the limitation of the Statutes in that case provided: And because he is not fully capable of the benefit of our grant and gracious favor for that he is an alien born, he hath further besought us that we would be pleased to make him our denizen.
The rest of the letter is a statement in the legal language of the time making Sir John Christopher “denizen and liege subject” of the King and granting him exclusive right, for fourteen years, to “make and use within our kingdom of England and dominion of Wales, all and every the said engines and instruments, as also exercise, practice, and put in use within our said kingdom and dominion, all and every the said aforementioned inventions.”
Signed, “our self at Westminster, the seven and twentieth day of April.”
I have not been able to find any information on Van Berg other than this patent, nor any evidence that any of these claimed inventions were ever manufactured or put into use, nor indeed that any of them even worked, or even that any of these claims represented actual designs.