A belgian inventor came up with the first “roller skate” in 1760 name called  john joseph merlin.

Who Is John Joseph Merlin?

John-Joseph Merlin by Thomas Gainsborough

John Joseph Merlin was a Belgian from the Prince-Bishopric of Liège in the Holy Roman Empire.

Born Jean-Joseph Merlin

(September 6th, 1735 – May 8th, 1803)

John Joseph Merlin Early Life.

As a young man, while studying at the Academie des Sciences, he became famous for his inventions. He was brought to England by the Spanish Ambassador, arriving on May 24th, 1760.

Soon after he arrived in England, he got a job at Cox’s Museum. He had been there for thirteen years.

After discovering his own patents, he initially left Cox’s, such as the Rotisseur or roasting-screen, a combination harpsichord and piano-forte, and some other unusual inventions.

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Because Merlin was also a keyboard builder, his skills in that field are immortalized by Thomas Gainsborough when he painted Merlin’s nameplate on the square piano in the portrait of Johann Christian Fischer.

What He Does, Apart From Inventing Roller Skates.

He made clocks, musical instruments, and freemasons and was an inventor. He moved to England in 1760. By 1766, he worked on automatons like Cox’s timepiece and Silver Swan with James Cox.

He was a patron of the arts and an innovative keyboard instrument designer by 1773.

In 1783, he opened Merlin’s Mechanical Museum in Princes Street, Hanover Square, London. The Museum was where the gentry and nobility could meet to see new technological innovations.

Merlin is famous for his timepieces, musical instruments, and automata but also invented inline skates in the late 1760s. He was often referred to by contemporaries as “The Ingenious Mechanic.” He was a friend of composer Joseph Haydn

Why He Invented Roller Skates.

John Joseph Merlin had the idea of adapting ice skating to the firm ground by fixing metal rollers on a wooden plate.

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After making his first roller skates, he reportedly played the violin at a masquerade ball in 1760 as he attempted to glide around on roller skates. Unable to control his speed or direction, he crashed into a large mirror and shattered it. The violin was destroyed, and Merlin was injured.

Maybe it was the first fall in the history of roller skating…

His Personal Life.

On September 17th, 1783, Joseph Merlin married Ann Goulding in the parish register of St. Saviour, Southwark.

Both lived in Southwark and had two children, pieced together using parish records.

Daughter Ann Johanna was born on November 19th, 1786, and son Joseph was baptized on May 18th, 1790.

Merlin’s marriage was kept separate and out of the public eye.

In November 1793, just 10 years after their marriage, they had a daughter named Ann Merlin, who went to live with her aunt name Elizabeth Hazell.

Later In His Life.

Merlin has apparently withdrawn from society after the death of his wife in 1793.

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He announces to the public that he won’t make any new inventions until April of 1795.

Public appearances and inventions were mixed with periodic reports of his ill health from then on.

Merlin made his last public appearance in 1803. It was surprising when he arrived at Hyde Park in a carriage without horses.


My name is Patricia Toh. I was born in the southen of China but I live in Hawaii. I work as a translator. I love skating. But in the future, I’d like to try yoga too."

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