Recording Pioneers

John Clifford ENGLISH  1855 - 1918 arrowarrow PIONEER    PARENTS    LIFE    NOTES    LABELS    PHOTOS    THANK YOU


John Clifford ENGLISH  1855 - 1918

aka John C. English, J. C. English, John English, J. English
nationality American
occupation chemist, druggist, physicist, inventor
birth .. Aug 1855, ........., Alabama (on death certificate: Georgia)
death 19 Feb 1918, San Antonio, Bexar, Texas
burial Mission Burial Park, San Antonio, Bexar, Texas
remark There is evidence to suggest that English's body was exhumed and later probably reburied somewhere else, possibly in a (Camden?) New Jersey cemetery.
marriage married in <1888> to:

b. .. May 1856, ........., Tennessee
d. ..........

childrenno children


father John ENGLISH

b. <1832>, ......., Georgia
d. ...........

mother Florence RICKS

b. <1838>, ........, Georgia
d. ............

  • John Clifford

    b. .. Aug 1855, ......., Alabama
    d. 19 Feb 1918, San Antonio, Bexar, Texas


1900 CENSUS, New York, New York, Manhattan, 5 June 1900
John C. ENGLISH (44y; b. Aug 1855, ......., Alabama) Druggist
Mary E. ENGLISH (44y; b. May 1856, ......., Tennessee)
Charles E. MILLER (35y; b. May 1865, ...... Tennessee) brother-in-law // merchant (bicycle)

Visits Europe in spring 1905 (see p. 6-7 and p. 25 of Appendix 2 of George Brock-Nannestad's article)

dep. Southampton: 10 June 1905
arr. New York: 17 June 1905

John C. ENGLISH (54y)
+ Mary ENGLISH (50y)
dep. Hamilton, BERMUDA: 8 Mar 1910
arr. New York, US: 10 Mar 1910
residence: Camden, NJ

1910 CENSUS (Camden, Camden, NJ, 25 April 1910):
John Clifford ENGLISH (54y; b. Alabama) Chemist // Manufactory
Mary E. ENGLISH (53y; b. Tennessee)

See H. O. Sooy’s Memoir ..., p. 7 (of 16): "...... was a duplicate machine designed by Mr. J. C. English."

No. 461,822 applied for May 22, 1891 and issued to John C. English (Cylinder Record History, Nov. 1894 on internet)

Patent application for gas-engine:
Filed November 27, 1911. Serial No. 662,671
1,159,482 Patented, Nov. 9, 1915 (UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE)

Method of Recording and Reproducing Sounds 1910 - issued to John C. English
Application filed October 14, 1909. Serial No. 252711
957,195 Patented May 10, 1910

According to the obituary in the San Antonio Light of Wednesday 20 Feb 1918 (p. 9 column 4) English was living in Atlantic City, New Jersey, when he and his wife decide to travel down to Texas to stay with his wife's sister and her husband Montgomery Miller [Probably a mistake, since "Miller" was the maiden name of English's wife and thus of her sister. My guess is her husband Montgomery had a different surname, unless... husband and wife had identical surnames. - HS]
John Clifford English died from a cerebral haemorrhage in their house at 1140 West French Place, Beacon Hill, San Antonio, Texas. He had been in ill health a number of years.


  • The Zon-o-phone Record. A discography of recordings produced by the International Zonophone Company and associated companies in Europe and the Americas. 1901-1903. by Ernie Bayly and Michael Kinnear, Victoria, 2001, p. 5-6, 10
  • From Tinfoil to Stereo. Evolution of the Phonograph by Oliver Read and Walter L. Welch. Howard W. Sams & Co., Inc., Indianapolis, 2nd ed. 1976, p. 133
  • Website: Early American Record Piracy (Allan Sutton)
  • Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (Apr. 1918)
  • The American Graphophone Company and the Columbia Phonograph Company enter the disc record business, 1897-1903 by Raymond R. Wile (in: ARSC Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, Fall 1991)
  • High Drama in the Record Industry by Tim Brooks (in: ARSC Journal of 3 Feb 2002)
  • Harry O. Sooy: Memoir of my Career at the Victor Talking Machine Company, by Harry O. Sooy (online version: p. 7 of 16 ; original manuscript: p. 25)
  • The Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound by Hoffman & Ferstler, CRC Press
  • The Routledge Guide to Music Technology
  • The Objective Basis for the Production of High Quality Transfers from Pre-1925 Sound Recordings by George Brock-Nannestad
  • Obituary of John C. English (in: San Antonio Light of 20 Feb 19818, p. 9)
  • Pioneer in making phonograph records enjoying years of retirement in Tappan. Charles W. Carson Recorded Music Around World by Virginia Parkhurst (in: The Journal-News, Nyack, N.Y. of Thursday, August 12, 1948, (pp 1 and 5)





Patrick Feaster
Donna L. Tolliver
George Brock-Nannestad