Isaac Merrit Singer

Isaac Merritt Singer (* 27. October 1811 in Schaghticoke, New York, the USA, † 23. July 1875 in Paignton, Devonian-almost, GB) was an US-American entrepreneur and inventor. It made substantial contributions for the development of the sewing machine.

Table of contents


early years

Singer were born in Utica , New York, as a son of Adam Singer, a Saxonian Immigraten, and his first Mrs. Ruth. At the age of nineteen years began it a theory in a mechanic workshop, however already left these after few months, in order to follow a group of actors. Its living costs earned himself he alternating as mechanic and an actor. 1830 he married Catherine Maria Haley.

it pulled 1835 with Catherine and its common son William to New York, where it began to work in printering. It already left woman and child in New York to 1836, in order to work as an agent of a group of tours from actors to. In Baltimore he became acquainted with Mary Ann Sponsler, to which he offered the marriage. After its return to New York it took the marriage life with Catherine; its common daughter Lillian was born 1837. Mary Ann Sponsler found out after its arrival in New York fast that Singer was still married. Together with it it returned to Baltimore, where they spent themselves as married pair. Its first common son Isaac came also 1837 to the world.

Singer received

first inventions its first patent 1839 for a stone boring machine. It sold its patent for 2.000 USD and had thereby for the first time a larger money. It decided to take up its career as actors again. It created a group of tours, the “Merrit Players “called themselves and arose as Isaac Merritt; Mary Ann was also an actress in this troop and called itself “Mrs. Merritt ".

1844 began to work Isaac Singer in Fredericksburg again in printering, moved however soon after Pittsburgh , where he created 1846 a carpenter's workshop, in which it prints manufactured. Here it developed its “machine for wood and metalworking” and left these to 10. April 1849 patent.

At the age of thirty-eight years, with two women and meanwhile eight children, he pulled this machine to marked out again to New York, over there. It received an offer from bad clay/tone, where it moved 1850, over in the workshop from Orson C. To design Phelps for its machine a prototype. In Phelps workshop also the sewing machines were designed by Lerow and Blodgett. Since nobody ordered Singers “machine for wood and metalworking”, Phelps Singer asked to argue with sewing machines more exactly. The sewing machines, which stood to this time for order, were not only complex in the production, but also difficult in the use. Singer stated soon that the sewing machines would be less susceptible, if the needle in a straight line would move instead of in a circle. Also a straight needle in place of bent the so far would make the machines more reliable.

With the help of a financing by George B. They created Zieber, which became common with Phelps its partner, the “Jenny Lind sewing machine ". Singers prototype was the first sewing machine, which was really operational, and in acknowledgment of its improvements he received for it to 12. August 1851 a patent. Mark out became the sewing machine however not as “Jenny Lind”, but as Singer sewing machine.

I. M. Singer & CO

Singer did not invent the sewing machine and this also never maintained. 1850, when Singer got the first time a sewing machine to face, were it became “invented” already four times. All sewing machines up to the advancement by walter Hunt produced a chain pass, which dissolved however rapidly again. The pass of the Hunt machine was characterised however by a pass, with which this does not happen. This was a characteristic of all machines produced thereafter, inkluse from Lerow and Blodgett, which developed Singer further in Phelps workshop. Independently of it also Elias Howe developed a sewing machine and received for it to 10. September 1846 a patent.

Between Howe and Singer on it a patent war broke out which went out in favor of of Howe. Singer paid thereupon for each produced sewing machine a fee at Howe and began as “I. M. Singer & CO " with the mass production of sewing machines. 1856 was already manufactured 2,564 machines; 1860 was it already 13.000. Isaac Singer expanded to Europe and developed a further company in Glasgow .

financial success

financial success made it possible to Singer to buy to the distinguished Fifth Avenue in New York a mansion into which it drew with its family. it could 1860 be separated from its first wife; Separating reason was their adultery with Stephen Kent. Singer lived together further with Mary Ann, until she found out that he maintained a relationship with its employee Mary McGonigal. At this time Mary McGonical had brought already five children to the world, whose father was Isaac Singer. These children received all to the surnames Matthews.

Mary Ann (itself still the Mrs. I.M. Singer called) let its life companions because of domestic force arrest. Singer was released on bail and sat down thereupon to London off; Mary McGonigal accompanied it. At the same time further by Isaacs families “one discovered”: It maintained a relationship with Mary Eastwood walter, with which it had a common daughter named Alice Eastwood. Both used the surname “Merritt”. In the year 1860 Isaac thereby was father of at least eighteen children of four different women.

While Isaac Singer in London lived, Mary Ann tried to secure parts of the fortune for itself. It argued with the fact that it never married formally with Isaac was that they were to be regarded however after the “Common Law” as a married couple, since they would have lived together more than seven months, after Isaac Singer of his first Mrs. Catherine could be separated. A financial agreement was finally reached, without a formal divorce was expressed. Since Mary Ann assumed that to be bound to no marriage promise now she married 1862 John E. Foster in bad clay/tone. Isaac Singer argued thereupon that it complained after Common Law as married to actually regard its, Mary Ann of the Bigamie on and forced her to cancel the before getroffenene financial agreement.

Singer began a relationship with the married Isabella Eugenie Boyer Summerville, from its married man separated and to 13. June 1863 Singer married. It at this time already expected a child of Singer. Mary Ann did unexplainable-proves to also accuse Isaac of Bigamie.

the last years in Europe

1863 the company I. became. M. Singer & cost. dissolved and as “The Singer Manufacturing company” again based. Thus a reorganization of the management of this company was possible. Singer did not play no more active role in the work-daily line of the company, was however member of the supervisory board and substantial shareholder.

During its its new family grew; with his new Mrs. Isabella it had six common children. Due to Isaac Singers Lebensführung was refused it an active role in the New Yorker society. It lived therefore together with its family up to the French-German war 1870/71 in Paris, emigrierte during wartime back to England and built themselves after a stay in London a large mansion at the coast of Devonian. It persuaded some of its children from earlier relations to live there together with it. Nine days after the wedding of its daughter Alice Merritt Isaac Singer at heart failure died. It was buried in Torquay, Devonian.

inheritance and descendant

Singer left at that time a fortune of over $14.000.000 and two wills, substantial for conditions, which divided this fortune on the different members of its family. Some its Nachkomen for different reasons was not considered, what entailed law case. Mary Ann complained that her the legitimate “Mrs. Singer " would be, but Isabella as the legal widow was explained. Isabella married in the consequence a Belgian musician named Victor Reubsaet, which should inherit the titles of the Vicomte D'Estemburgh and the prince of Camposelice.

Isaacs 18. Child, Winnaretta Singer married the prince Edmond de Polignac after short, cancelled marriage with the prince Louis de Scey Montbéliard and became an important Kunstmäzenin. A further daughter of Singer, Isabelle Blanche (born 1869), married Elie, duc Decazes. Daisy Fellowes came out from this marriage. One of the sons, Paris Singer, witnessed together with Isadora Duncan a child, and a further son, Washington Singer, became an important founder for the later University OF Exeter. Today one of the buildings carries its name.


  • Brandon, Ruth, Singer and the Sewing Machine: A Capitalist Romance, Kodansha international, New York, 1977.

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