Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pockrich, Richard

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POCKRICH, POKERIDGE, or PUCKERIDGE, RICHARD (1690?–1759), inventor of the musical glasses, was born in co. Monaghan, and was descended from an English family which had left Surrey and settled in Ireland in the seventeenth century. His father was a soldier who had raised a company of his own, and was dangerously wounded at the siege of Athlone. Richard was left at the age of twenty-five an unencumbered fortune of 4,000l. a year (Pilkington, Memoirs), but all his resources he dissipated in the pursuit of visionary projects. He proposed to plant vineyards in reclaimed Irish bogs, to supply men-of-war with tin boats which would not sink, to secure immortality by the transfusion of blood, and to provide human beings with wings. He also bought some thousands of acres of poor land in Wicklow, and started the breeding of geese on a large scale, and was for a time proprietor of a brewery. After all his schemes had come to grief he endeavoured, without success, to obtain the post of chapel-master at Armagh. On 23 April 1745 he married Mrs. Margaret Winter, widow of a Francis Winter, with an income of 200l. a year, and in the same year made an unsuccessful endeavour to enter parliament as M.P. for co. Monaghan. In 1749 he failed again as a candidate for Dublin (Newburgh, Essays, &c., p. 237).

Pockrich, who was 'a perfect master of music,' was the inventor of the musical glasses, by which music was produced by striking harmonically arranged goblets of glass. The invention was developed in the harmonica. Pockrich also invented a new form of dulcimer. In later life he gave concerts in various parts of England, at which practical exhibitions of his musical glasses were given. He engaged John Carteret Pilkington, son of Mrs. Lætitia Pilkington [q. v.], to sing for him, and composed many pieces of music himself. In 1756 he published a volume of 'Miscellaneous Works,' comprising poems and songs. Brockhill Newburgh of co. Cavan described his eccentricities and schemes in a poem entitled 'The Projector.' 'A tall, middle-aged gentleman,' usually wearing a bag-wig and sword, he was suffocated to death in 1759 in a fire which broke out in his room at Hamlin's Coffee-house, Sweeting's Alley, near the Royal Exchange, London. Pockrich's wife seems to have formed a liaison with Theophilus Cibber [q. v.], and was drowned with that author in a shipwreck off the Scotch coast in 1758.

[Memoirs of John Carteret Pilkington; Brockhill Newburgh's Essays, Poetical, Moral, &c. 1769; Campbell's Philosophical Survey; Conran's National Music of Ireland; Gent. Mag. 1759; O'Donoghue's Poets of Ireland, p. 206.]

D. J. O'D.