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Daniel Dennell

Pier head, Minehead harbour

Daniel Dunnell al Dennell was a carpenter and engineer and built the New Quay at Minehead.
He came from the West Midlands where he married Elizabeth Smith at Aston near Birmingham on 21 April 1685. He had at least two sons Daniel and Edward, the latter is said to have been baptised at Gloucester in 1695, presumably while his father was working there.

After his marriage Daniel appears to have remained in the west Midlands and to have developed a special interest in waterworks. In 1693 while he was still living at Hansworth, Staffordshire, he was licensed by Gloucester Corporation, in partnership with Thomas Nicholls and Richard Lowbridge, an ironmonger from Stourbridge, to build a waterworks on the Severn and to build a cistern on the King's Board market house.

By 1694 he was at work on the Exeter waterworks where his name and the date 1694 appear on the masonry. He may have remained in Exeter as he continued to work on the waterworks until 1699 but in 1697 he worked on the Lugg Navigation, Herefordshire following the passing of the Wye and Lugg Navigation Act in 1696. However, in 1699 he was employed to enlarge Exeter Canal for 33s a week and seems to have continued on this task until 1701.

He moved to Cannington in Somerset before 1704, described himself as a gentleman and remained there until his death. He probably designed the Bridgwater waterworks as he and Richard Lowbridge assigned a house and waterworks at Bridgwater to George Balch in 1709.

In 1704 he was employed to construct the extension to Minehead harbour pier known as the New Quay. He agreed to build a timber pier and related works and to clean out the debris from the harbour when he had finished for £3,885. Under a second contract he was to build the pier 15ft wider than originally agreed but this was not carried out. He was given 485 tons of oak and 3 of elm and was paid an additional £50 for maintaining the new pier head for 5 years. He was paid in instalments receiving his last payment in 1713.

In 1714 he agreed to case the outside of the pier in stone for £897 but he gave up the work and Joseph Alloway was chosen to case the inside and build a new slipway in 1715. Possibly Daniel had moved to employment elsewhere as his son Edward signed the last few receipts on behalf of his father.

Elizabeth Dennell was buried in Cannington on 26 Aug 1727 and her husband on the 23 May 1735. Their son Daniel was buried there on the 18 November 1737.

Content derived from research undertaken as part of the Victoria County History project

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