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Sybilla Masters (died 1720)
Sybilla Masters gained an English patent in 1715 for a mill to grind corn.
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Sybilla Masters
Colonial Women Inventors
Sybilla Masters carried a patent application to England in 1712. She invented a new corn mill, but the patent had to be filed in her husband's name because she was female.
Women Inventors
By Mary Bellis

American colonist and inventor, Sybilla Masters invented a way for cleaning and curing the Indian corn crops that the colonist in early America received as a gift from the native peoples. Sybilla Masters's innovation allowed the corn to be processed into many different food and cloth products. The patent was issued in her husband Thomas’ name by the British courts in 1715. That was the unfair law at the time, women and minorities had no rights to own patents. Thomas Masters was issued patents for "Cleansing Curing and Refining of Indian Corn Growing in the Plantations". A second patent was issued to Sybilla's husband for another of her inventions entitled "Working and Weaving in a New Method, Palmetta Chip and Straw for Hats and Bonnets and other Improvements of that Ware."

Sybilla Masters was the first American woman inventor in recorded history, no doubt women have been inventing since the dawn of time without recognition.

The following text is from a 1891 Scientific American magazine article that discusses the patent issued to Sybilla Masters, however, the writer appears to be a bit cynical.

Extracts From:
Scientific American, v 65 (ns), no 5, p 71-2, 1 August 1891
Fossil Patents By T. Graham Gribble

A much later but very quaint patent is that of Dame Sybilla Masters, of Philadelphia, for corn shelling and preserving. She writes in German text, hard to decipher and very antiquated for that period. 

It is granted by King George the 1st, and the official entry in Roman text is as follows: "Letters patent to Thomas Masters, of Pennsylvania, Planter, his Execrs., Amrs. and Assignees, of the sole Vse and Benefit of 'A new Invention found out by Sybilla, his wife, for cleaning and curing the Indian Corn, growing in the several Colonies of America, within England, Wales, and Town of Berwick upon Tweed, and the Colonies of America.'"

The two upper illustrations [refers to patent drawing] show the cleaning and the lower the curing. The top view represents the sheller, worked by animal power, probably a donkey (Asinus vulgaris). The gearing and shaft are of wood, and a reciprocating motion is produced by a series of detents upon a revolving cylinder something after the manner of a musical box.

It is to be feared that Dame Sybilla's invention did not attain to as wide a field of application as was covered by the letters patent. It is more than probable that the obtuse agriculturist continued to shell corn sitting on a pine plank with a spade edge to scrape them off by, in spite of the "paines and industrie" of the dame.

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