(1740-1800) English iron manufacturer. For the manufacture of wrought iron, he invented the puddling process and developed the rolling mill (shaping the iron into bars), both of which were significant in the Industrial Revolution.
Cort's work meant that Britain no longer had to rely on imported iron and could become self-sufficient. His method of manufacture combined previously separate actions into one process, removing the impurities of pig iron and producing high-class metal relatively cheaply and quickly.
Cort, born in Lancaster, became an arms purchaser for the navy. All the best metal suitable for arms manufacture was imported from abroad, mainly from Russia, Sweden, and North America. Seeking a method of making this high-grade metal in England, Cort in 1775 set up his own forge near Farnham, Surrey.
By 1784 he was in a position to apply for a patent on his process of puddling and rolling, which allowed bar iron to be produced on a large scale and of a high quality. With the advent of the Napoleonic Wars, demand for iron rocketed. But Cort was cheated by his financial backer and, having handed over the rights to his patent as security for the capital, was left bankrupt, to watch the ironmasters of England grow wealthy on his hard work.