John Patch developed his propeller in the winter of 1832-1833, The Canadian Patent System was not in place at that time so he went to Washington with his patent application. He was denied the right to file his patent in the USA because he was not a resident. This was a requirement at that time.
John Patch has been described as the pioneer inventor of modern-day marine propellers. Some wrote that his propeller was the most important invention of the 19th century. This invention moved marine science from the sail and paddle-wheel era to the steam era. In 1976, The Atlantic Advocate wrote that it was John Patch’s type of propeller that was used to propel the Queen Mary and her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth, across the Atlantic at record-breaking speeds.
In 1834, Captain Robert Kelly agreed to put the new propeller on his 25-ton ship, the Royal George. On a subsequent trip to Saint John, the wind had died down, leaving other sailing vessels stranded, but the Royal George carried on into the port of Saint John, to the astonishment of everyone there. The propeller was a success.
In 1848 John Patch moved to Boston. Soon after he filed a patent application for a second propeller, which he named: “Double-Action Propeller”, and which was tried on a small boat in Boston.
Although we do not have any drawings of Patch’s first propeller, the modern propeller (shown below) is surprisingly similar to the single pair of blades in Patch’s double-action propeller and fits beautifully with the original description of Patch’s first propeller, “an instrument acting in the water on the principle of an oar in sculling a boat.”