Biographies

NOT everyone in 18th-century and 19th-century England was involved in industry. This section brings you potted biographies of many people from all walks of life who made names for themselves. Just click on the letters (right) to find the name you are interested in. Click on underlined names for fuller descriptions.

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A

Aberdeen, George, 4th Earl of (1784-1860). British Prime Minister, 1852-55. Resigned over mismanagement of Crimean War.
Accum, Friedrich (1769-1838). Pioneered introduction of gas-lighting into Britain.
Adams, William Bridges (1797-1872). Engineer who patented the fishplate, used for connecting rails.
Albert, Prince Consort (1819-1861). Husband of Queen Victoria. Organised the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Ampere, Andre Marie (1775-1836). French physicist who founded science of electrodynamics. Gave his name to unit of electrical current.
Anderson, Elizabeth Garrett (1836-1917). England's first woman doctor.
Appert, Nicholas (1749-1841). Frenchman who invented the food-canning process to help solve the problem of feeding the French army.
Applegarth, Augustus (1788-1871). Built the world's first successful rotary printing press for The Times in 1848.
Arkwright, Sir Richard (left) (1732-1792). Patentee of the water frame and other cotton-spinning machinery, whose claims to have invented them were rejected in a court case of 1785. Introduced factory system.
Armstrong, William, Baron (1810-1900). Engineer, produced various machines including an improved hydraulic engine and a steam-powered electrical generator. His firm amalgamated with Joseph Whitworth's and later became Vickers Armstrong.

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B

Babbage, Charles (1791-1871). Father of the computer. Invented calculating machines using trains of gears and punched cards.
Baekeland, Leo Hendrik (1863-1944). Belgian-American, inventor of Bakelite and founder of the modern plastics industry.
Baines, Sir Edward (1800-1890). MP for Leeds. Wrote history of the cotton industry.
Baker, Sir Benjamin (1840-1907). Engineer. With John Fowler designed the London Metropolitan Railway, Forth Railway Bridge, Egypt's Aswan Dam and Hudson River Tunnel in New York.
Baldwin, Matthias William (1795-1866). American locomotive engineer. First engine, Old Ironsides, was in service for 20 years from 1832. His accurate steam joints allowed use of pressures up to 120lb psi.
Bamford, Samuel (left) (1788-1872). Dialect poet, author and radical leader, born in Middleton, Lancashire. Imprisoned for his part in Peterloo Massacre, although he had been there only as a spectator, his experience turned him against fdellow radicals who failed to help.
Bell, Alexander Graham (1847-1922). Edinburgh-born inventor of the telephone, which he patented in 1876.
Bell, Patrick (1799-1869). Scottish clergyman who invented the first efficient reaping machine, which helped transform American agriculture.
Bentham, Jeremy (1748-1832). English social reformer and philosopher, a supporter of Utilitarianism, who argued that all legislation should be aimed at "the greatest happiness of the greatest number."
Bentham, Sir Samuel ((1757-1831). Brother of Jeremy, a naval architect whose armament inventions improved the strength of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.
Benz, Karl Friedrich (1844-1929). Developer of the two-stroke engine, produced his first petrol-powered motor car in 1885.
Bessemer, Sir Henry (1813-1898). Invented the Bessemer process for making cheap steel from pig iron (1855).
Blanchard, Jean Pierre Francois 1753-1809). Inventor of the parachute, first man to cross English Channel by balloon. Killed while parachuting.
Blucher, Gebbard von, Prince of Wahlstadt (1742-1819). As commander of the Prussian Army, helped Wellington beat Bonaparte at Waterloo (1815).
Bodmer, Johann Georg (1786-1864). Swiss inventor of, among other things, textile machinery. In 1824, he established a factory in England to make a carding and spinning machine.
Bonaparte, Napoleon. (1769-1821). Emperor of France. Successful military campaigns led to his being nominated First Consul of France in 1799, originally for 10 years and later for life. Assumed title of emperor on May 18th 1804, and further campaigns left him in control of much of Europe. But after a series of major reverses, he was forced to abdicate in April 1814. Exiled to Elba, he gathered a new army after landing back in France a year later, but was ultimately defeated by Wellington and his allies at Waterloo in June, 1815, and finally banished to St Helena.
Bouch, Sir Thomas (1822-1880). Designer of the Tay Bridge, which collapsed as a train crossed during a storm in 1879, with the loss of 70 lives.
Boulton, Matthew (left) (1728-1809). Proprietor of the Soho engineering works in Birmingham, his partnership with James Watt made the steam engine into the power plant of the Industrial Revolution. Founder of the Lunar Club.
Bradshaw, George (1801-1853). Salford-born cartographer who initiated, in 1839, the railway guides that bore his name.
Bridgewater, Duke of (1736-1803). Constructor of the Bridgewater Canal.
Bright, John (right, 1811-1889). Rochdale-born, leading member of Anti-Corn Law League.
Brindley, James (1716-1772). Canal engineer. Planned and surveyed the Bridgewater Canal and many other waterways, including the Trent and Mersey.
Bronte, Emily, (1818-48), Charlotte (1816-55) and Anne (1820-49). Novelist sisters who wrote Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, among others. Charlotte's Shirley is set during the Luddite Riots.
Brown, John (1800-59). American slavery abolitionist. Leader of abortive raid on Harper's Ferry, he was convicted of insurrection, treason and murder and hanged.
Brown, John (1816-96). Sheffield steel magnate who invented process for rolling armour plate, while his firm manufactured rolled steel rails.
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett (1806-61). English novelist and poet. Among her works was The Cry of the Children, a condemnation of the employment of children in factories.
Brunel, Isambard Kingdom (left) (1806-1859). Engineer. Built Great Western Railway, Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, and several large steam passenger liners, including (1858) The Great Eastern,, the largest vessel ever built before 1899.
Brunel, Marc (1769-1849). Escapee from the French Revolution. Engineer, father of Isambard. Built Rotherhithe Tunnel.
Burdett, Sir Francis (1770-1844). Politician, spent time in the Tower on a Speaker's Warrant for condemning the House of Commons for imprisoning a radical speaker. Gaoled for three months (1820) for letter castigating the Peterloo Massacre.
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C

Cadbury, George (1839-1922). With brother Richard, took over his father's cocoa business and established (1894) workers' model village of Bournville, near Birmingham.
Canning, George (1779-1827). Politician, MP for Liverpool. Campaigned for Repeal of the Corn Laws.
Carlile, Richard (left) (1790-1843). Journalist and social reformer. Suffered several periods of imprisonment for publishing activities. His newspaper carried first the reports to reach London of the Peterloo Massacre.
Carnegie, Andrew (1835-1918). Son of a Dunfermline weaver, founded America's largest iron and steel works, and became a philanthropist on a massive scale, endowing libraries throughout the United States and Britain.
Cartwright, Edmund (1743-1823). Clergyman who invented the powered loom and opened a mill in Doncaster powered by a bull. A prolific inventor, he also built a wool-combing machine and an alcohol engine.
Cartwright, John (1740-1824). Brother of Edmund, known as 'Father of Reform.' Campaigned for annual parliaments, manhood suffrage and abolition of slavery. Fined for sedition in 1820.
Castlereagh, Robert Stewart, Viscount (1769-1822). Statesman responsible, as English Foreign Secretary, for the long, post-Napoleonic peace. Committed suicide.
Cayley, Sir George (1771-1857). Aviation pioneer. His unmanned glider was first heavier-then-air machine, and in 1853 he built the first man-carrying glider.
Chadwick, Edwin (1800-1890). Manchester-born Civil servant responsible for Poor Law Amendment Act.
Cobbett, William (1763-1835). Author, Parliamentarian and champion of the poor.
Cobden, Richard (1804-1865).Calico printer, led fight against Corn Laws and known as "Apostle of Free Trade."
Cockerill, William (1759-1832). Lancashire-born inventor who, in 1807, built factory in Liege to produce spinning machines.
Cole, Sir Henry (1808-82). Inventor of penny-postage system, planned and organised the Great Exhibition of 1851, and produced the first Christmas cards.
Collier, John (1708-86). Known as 'Tim Bobbin,' Manchester-born dialect poet who produced View of the Lancashire Dialect in 1775.
Colt, Samuel (1814-62). American inventor of the revolver (1836).
Cook, Thomas (1808-92). Pioneered railway tours and excursions, starting with trip from Leicester to Loughborough in 1841.
Cooper, Peter (1791-1883). Industrialist who built America's first railway locomotive, Tom Thumb, in 1830. Also invented a washing machine and was a benefactor to New York's poor.
Cort, Henry (1740-1800). English iron-founder who invented process for puddling and rolling wrought-iron using coke.
Crampton, Thomas Russell (1816-88). English railway engineer who laid first successful cross-Channel submarine telegraph cable in 1851.
Creed, Frederick 1871-1957). Inventor of Creed teleprinter in 1897.
Crompton, Samuel (1753-1827). Inventor of the spinning mule, which transformed the cotton-spinning industry.
Cugnot, Nicolas Joseph (1725-1804). Inventor (c. 1770) of a steam-driven vehicle designed to pull artillery pieces at about walking pace. His idea perished for lack of official support.
Cunard, Sir Samuel (1787-1865). Canadian-born founder of what was to become the Cunard Line. His first liner, the Britannia, made inaugural trans-Atlantic crossing in 1840, taking more than 14 days.
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D

Daimler, Gottlieb (1834-1900). Patented the gasoline engine in 1885, based on Otto's work.
Dale, David (1739-1806). Scottish industrialist and philanthropist who opened spinning mills at New Lanark in 1786 and provided work and a benevolent environment for hundreds of needy fellow-countrymen.
Darby, Abraham (1678-1717). Founded Bristol Iron Co in 1708 and a year later used coke, instead of charcoal, to smelt iron for first time. His works at Coalbrookdale produced high-quality iron, and his son, also named Abraham (1711-63), is reputed to have discovered a process to produce wrought-iron from coke smelting. A grandson, another Abraham ((1750-91) built the world's first iron bridge over the River Severn.
Darwin, Charles (1809-82). English naturalist who propounded the theory of evolution by natural selection.
Davy, Sir Humphry (1778-1829). English chemist and scientist, best-known for his invention of the safety lamp, which allowed safer coal mining in pits where fire-damp gas was present.
Dickens, Charles (1812-70). English author and journalist, whose impoverished childhood provided the experience for such novels as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby.
Diesel, Rudolph (1858-1913). German engineer who perfected the compression-ignition engine that bears his name.
Disraeli, Benjamin (1804-1881). English Tory politician and author, Prime Minister from 1868-80.
Donkin, Bryan (1768-1855). English engineer, inventor (with the Fourdrinier Brothers (1804) of first automatic paper-making machine. In 1813 he built an unsuccessful rotary printing press, and then perfected the sealed tin-can to preserve food, his factory supplying cans of meat and vegetables to the Royal Navy.
Doulton, Sir Henry 1820-97). Potter who introduced stoneware drainpipes in 1846. Two years later he founded his factory at Dudley which became the largest pottery in the world.
Dudley, Dud (1599-1684). Illegitimate son of 5th Earl of Dudley, became an iron master who experimented by smelting ore with coal, and possibly coke.
Dunlop, John Boyd (1840-1921). Scottish veterinarian who developed and produced pneumatic tyres for bicycles and motor vehicles.
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E

Eastman, George (1854-1932). American inventor (1884) of the roll film and (1888) the Kodak box camera. His Eastman Kodak Company manufactured the first Box Brownie camera in 1900.
Edison, Thomas Alva (1847-1931). Prolific American inventor. Among his creations were the ticker-tape (1871), the phonograph (1877), the electric lightbulb (1879) and more than a thousand others, including the first talkie moving picture (1912).
Egerton, Francis, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (1736-1803). Constructed (1759) the Bridgewater Canal connecting his mines at Worsley to Manchester and later Runcorn.
Elkington, George Richards (1801-65). With his cousin Henry, introduced electro-plating (1832).
Elliott, Ebenezer (1781-1849). Rotherham-born iron-master who became a radical and a poet, dubbed The Corn Law Rhymer, whose attack on the Corn Laws was published in 1831.
Engels, Friedrich (1820-95). German-born partner of Karl Marx. Spent much of his working life in his father's Manchester cotton mill, and wrote Condition of the Working Classes in England in 1844.
Ericsson, John (1803-89). Swedish inventor and engineer who came to England in 1826 and built a competitor to Stephenson's Rocket, then patented a screw propeller. He later moved to America, where among his many inventions was the ironclad Monitor, (1861), the first ship with a moving, armoured turret, and The Destroyer, (1878), the first warship to carry torpedoes.
Evans, Oliver (1755-1819). American inventor in the Trevithick mould. He produced high-pressure steam engines, the world's first production line (in a flour mill), and an amphibious dredger (1804) that was America's first steam-powered road vehicle.
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F

Fairbairn, Sir William (1789-1874). Scottish-born Manchester industrialist who made textile-mill machinery and later iron boats. He designed the square iron tube used for the railway bridge over the Menai Straits at Anglesey and used the same principle in many other bridge constructions.
Faraday, Michael (1791-1867). Probably the greatest experimental physicist England has produced. The one-time assistant to Sir Humphry Davy is best remembered for his work on electricity, notably electromagnetic induction and electrolysis.
Ferranti, Sebastian Ziani de (1864-1930). Liverpool-born electrical engineer who conceived the idea of a national electricity grid. His firm, Ferranti Ltd, became a major player in the electrical engineering industry.
Fitch, John (1743-98). American gunsmith who built, between 1775-83, four steam-powered boats, one of them 60 feet long, driven by reciprocating paddles. He also experimented with the screw propeller but poisoned himself when his projects failed.
Fourdrinier, Henry (1766-1854) and Sealy (d. 1847). English paper manufacturers who, with Bryan Donkin, revolutionised the paper-making process in 1804 by perfecting a machine that produced a continuous roll of paper.
Fowler, Sir John (1817-98). Builder of the London Metropolitan Railway, the first sections of London Underground, and the Forth Railway Bridge (with Sir Benjamin Baker).
Fox, Sir Charles (1810-74). Railway constructor who also built the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Friese-Greene, William (1855-1921). English inventor of the motion picture (1890), who also experimented with colour film and 3-D techniques, but died in poverty.
Frost, John (d. 1877). Leader of the Monmouth Uprising by Welsh Chartists in November, 1839. Condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered, his sentence was commuted to transportation and he returned to a hero's welcome in 1856.
Fry, Elizabeth (1780-1845). English prison reformer and Quaker preacher. Devoted her life to improving prison conditions for women after a visit to Newgate in 1813.
Fulton, Robert (1765-1815). Irish-born American artist who turned to engineering and inventing. Among his creations was a submarine torpedo boat and an 1803 steamboat that was tested on the Seine. In 1807 his steamship Clermont, sailed the 150 miles of the River Hudson from New York to Albany in 32 hours and is recognised as the first successful steam-powered vessel.
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G

Garstin, Sir William Edmund (1849-1925). Designer and builder of the Aswan Dam on the Nile in Egypt.
Gilchrist, Percy Carlyle (1851-1935). With his cousin, Sydney Thomas, invented a new way of smelting iron ore, using a furnace lined with magnesium oxide to remove phosphorus impurities. This made phosphoric iron-ore deposits usable, thus doubling the amount of steel the world could produce.
Gillette, King Camp (1855-1932). American inventor (1901) of the safety razor and disposable blade.
Gillott, Joseph (1799-1873). Sheffield inventor who perfected a process for the manufacture of steel pen nibs.
Gladstone, William Ewart (1809-98). English Liberal politician and statesman, master of Parliamentary debate, Prime Minister for four spells between 1868 and 1894.
Gooch, Sir Daniel 1816-89). Railway engineer, contemporary of the Stephensons, who was locomotive superintendent of the Great Western Railway from 1837-64. Organised the laying of first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable (1866).
Goodyear, Charles (1800-60). Failed American iron-maker, who invented vulcanised rubber in 1844 and brought in the era of manufactured rubber.
Gordon, Lord George (1751-93). Head of an anti-Catholic group, he led 50,000 protestors in a march on the House of Commons (1780) demanding repeal of an Act easing the lot of Roman Catholics. Five days of rioting - the Gordon Riots - followed with troops eventually killing 285 and 21 more being executed.
Gray, Elisha (1835-1901). American inventor who lost a long patent battle with Alexander Graham Bell over invention of the telephone. His many patents included the multiplex telegraph, and his electrical equipment firm eventually became Western Electric.
Greathead, James Henry (1844-96). South African-born inventor who designed the Greathead Tunneling Shield with which he built a subway beneath the Thames in 1869. Using an improved version, he constructed tunnels for the City and South London lines in 1886.
Grey, Charles, 2nd Earl (1764-1845). English Whig statesman and Prime Minister who carried through the First Reform Bill in 1832 and saw through the abolition of slavery in the colonies the following year having, as foreign Secretary in 1806, carried through the Act abolishing the African slave trade.
Gurney, Sir Goldsworthy (1793-1875). Cornish inventor who devised a steam carriage which did the return journey from London to Bath at 15mph in 1829.
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H

Hackworth, Timothy (1786-1850). Northumbrian railway engineer, a contemporary of Stephenson, chief engineer of the Stockton-Darlington Railway and constructor of several impressive early engines.
Hancock, Thomas (1786-1865). Patented method of elasticising dress material using rubber, then (1843) took out first British patent for vulcanisation of rubber.
Hansom, Joseph Aloysius 1803-82). York-born inventor of the Hansom safety cab in 1834.
Hargreaves, James (1720-1777). Lancashire weaver who is popularly credited with inventing the Spinning Jenny, first of the machines that brought about a revolution in the spinning trade, although many believe credit should go to Thomas Highs.
Harrison, John (1693-1776). Inventor (1760) of a marine chronometer which allowed navigators to accurately determine latitude.
Haynes, Elwood (1857-1925). Builder of what is reputed to be the first (1893) American automobile, now in the Smithsonian Institute.
Hedley, William (1779-1843). Newcastle mining engineer whose locomotive, Puffing Billy, proved that traction could be achieved by smooth wheels on smooth rails.
Highs, Thomas (1720-1803). Reedmaker from Leigh, Lancs, who invented the Spinning Jenny and then developed roller-spinning, only to have his idea appropriated by Richard Arkwright.
Hill, Sir Rowland (1795-1879). English creator of the penny-postage system (1840), using pre-paid stamps, which was the prototype for the worldwide modern postal system.
Hoe, Richard Marsh (1812-86). British-born American who designed a rotary printing press, first used to print the Philadelphia Public Ledger in 1847.
Holland, John Philip (1840-1814). Irish-born American father of the submarine. After various prototypes, his Holland VI, demonstrated on the River Potomac in 1898, finally convinced the world's navies that the underwater fighting vessel was a practical proposition.
Hollerith, Herman (1860-1929). Inventor of a punched-card computer system. His equipment won an award for efficiency in the 1890 US census, and six years later established the company that was to become IBM.
Holyoake, George Jacob (1817-1906). The last Englishman to be imprisoned - in 1842 - for atheism, Holyoake was a lifelong social reformer and the founder of secularism.
Hornblower, Jonathan Carter (1753-1815). Cornish engineer, patentee of the single-acting compound steam engine (1781), seen as an improvement on the engines made by Boulton and Watt, for whom he worked. He abandoned work on the project when it was adjudged to infringe Watt's condenser patents.
Howard, John (1726-90). English prison reformer whose campaigning led to an improvement in sanitary conditions. Died of typhus after visiting Russian military prison in the Crimea. Howard League for Penal Reform (1866) named after him.
Howe, Elias (1819-67). American inventor of the sewing machine.
Hudson, George (1800-71). Known as the "Railway King," he was a draper until he inherited a �,000 fortune in 1828. He was ruined financially by an accounting scandal during the railway mania of the late 1840s, but continued as MP for Sunderland until 1859.
Hughes, David (1831-1900). English-born inventor who patented the telegraph typewriter in 1855 and a microphone in 1878.
Hunt, Henry "Orator" (1773-1835). English radical, proponent of Parliamentary reform, jailed for three years for his involvement in the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. Later MP for Preston.
Huntsman, Benjamin (1704-1776). Introduced the crucible process for casting steel (1751), a marked improvement on the cementation process then in use.
Huskisson, William (1770-1830). English statesman, proponent of free trade, who became the first victim of a railway accident, being run down by a locomotive at the official opening of the Liverpool-Manchester line.
Hyatt, John Wesley (1837-1920). Discoverer of celluloid, which he used in the manufacture of billiard balls.
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I

Ives, Frederick Eugene (1856-1937). Connecticut inventor who discovered the half-tone photographic printing process in 1878, and improved it seven years later.
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J

Jacquard, Joseph (1752-1834). French inventor of the Jacquard loom - an improvement on an earlier machine by Vaucanson - which greatly simplified the process of weaving intricate patterns in silk.
Jenner, Edward 1749-1823). Discoverer of vaccination, in 1796 he used cowpox as a protection against smallpox.
Jessop, William (1745-1814). Helped found the Butterley ironworks in 1790 where he began making cast-iron rails. Chief engineer for the Grand Junction Canal, the Surrey Iron Railway (1802), Bristol's Avon Docks and the West India Docks in London.
Jones, Ernest (1819-69). English lawyer and writer who became leader of the Chartist Movement in 1845, foregoing a �000-a-year legacy when he refused to give up the cause. Jailed for two years for his part in the Chartist riots in Manchester in 1848.
Jouffroy d'Abbans, Claude, Marquis de (1751-1832). Constructed a paddle-wheel steamboat, the Pyroscaphe, in 1783, but fled the French Revolution and, penniless, had to watch as Robert Fulton carried out his own experiments 20 years later.
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K

Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir James Phillips (1804-77). Rochdale-born physician who was secretary to Manchester Board of Health during the cholera epidemic of 1832. His pamphlet The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes Employed in the Cotton Manufacture in Manchester had a great effect on attitudes towards health and sanitation.
Kay, John (1704-1780). Bury-born inventor of the flying shuttle, which revolutionised the cotton-weaving trade and led to the Industrial Revolution.
Kelly, William (1811-88). American contemporary of Henry Bessemer, who invented a process for blowing hot air through molten iron to make mild steel. However, it was Bessemer's version that achieved commercial recognition.
Kelvin, William Thomson, 1st Baron (1824-1907). Scottish industrialist and inventor, chief consultant for laying of first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable in 1857-8.
Konig, Friedrich (1774-1833). German inventor of the steam printing press ((1810). A second patent the following year, for a rotary press, was improved and adopted by The Times in 1814.
Krupp, Alfred (1812-87).German steel magnate and arms manufacturer, who built the first Bessemer steel production plant.
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L

Lawes, Sir John Bennett (1814-1900). English agricultural innovator whose experiments led to the founding of the artificial fertiliser industry. Founded the Rothamsted experimental agricultural station in 1843.
Leblanc, Nicholas (1742-1806). Founder of the modern chemical industry, his cheap method for making soda (1791) was used for a century, but the execution of his patron, the Duc d'Orleans, in the French Revolution, and subsequent shortage of cash, led to his suicide.
Lenoir, Jean (1822-1900). Inventor of the first practical internal combustion engine (1859). A year later, he built a motor car.
Lesseps, Ferdinand, Vicomte de (1805-94). Guiding light behind construction of Suez Canal (1869), but his scheme for an un-locked Panama Canal collapsed in 1888, and de Lesseps was sentenced to five years' gaol for embezzlement - a decision which was later overturned.
Lilienthal, Otto (1849-96). German aviation pioneer who made many glider flights. He died when one of his machines crashed near Berlin.
Lincoln, Abraham 1809-65). 16th U.S. president, whose opposition to slavery led to the secession of the Southern States and the Civil War of 1863.
Lister, Samuel Cunliffe, 1st Baron Masham (1815-1906). Bradford-born inventor and merchant, who improved the machinery in his father's woollen mill. His wool-combing machine of 1845 made him a fortune, and his waste-silk loom - the development of which almost bankrupted him - eventually made him another. In 1848 he devised an air brake for railways.
Locke, Joseph (1805-60). One time apprentice of George Stephenson, formed his own business in 1833 and built many railways in Britain and Europe.
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M

McAdam, John L (1756-1836). Introduced metalled or "macadamized" roads, originally for the Bristol Turnpike Trust (1816).
Macmillan, Kirkpatrick (1813-78). Scottish blacksmith who invented an early bicycle (1840). He neglected to patent the idea and others copied it freely.
McNaught, William (1813-81). Scottish engineer who in 1845 perfected the idea of adding a second, high-pressure cylinder to low-pressure steam engines, to increase power.
Marconi, Gugliemo, Marchese (1874-1937). Italian radio pioneer who transmitted signals across the English Channel in 1898 and, three years later, across the Atlantic.
Maudslay, Henry (1771-1831). English inventor of the metal screw-cutting lathe.
Mercer, John (1791-1866). Blackburn chemist who invented mercerisation - a process giving cotton a silky, lustrous finish.
Metcalf, John (1717-1810). Known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough, he surveyed and constructed 185 miles of new roads in Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Miller, Patrick (1731-1815). Scottish steam pioneer who sailed a steamboat on the loch at his Dalwinston estate, near Dumfries, in 1788. The engine had been built by William Symington.
Montgolfier, Joseph (1740-1810) and Jacques (1745-1799). French brothers who built the world's first man-carrying flying machine, a hot-air balloon, which carried two men to an altitude of 3,000 feet for more than seven miles in 1783.
Morse, Samuel (1791-1872). Demonstrated the electric telegraph in America in 1837, but it was six years before Congress paid him $30,000 to build a telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore. He also devised the Morse Code for use by telegraphists.
Murdock, William (1754-1839). Scottish engineer who anticipated Trevithick by building, in 1784, a model high-pressure steam engine that ran on wheels at Redruth in Cornwall, where he worked installing steam engines for Boulton and Watt. He experimented using coal gas for lighting, and in 1803 Boulton's Soho Works in Birmingham were lighted in this manner.
Murray, Matthew (1765-1826). Newcastle-born engineer who came to the fore when Watt's patents expired in 1800, producing lighter, more efficient steam engines which were later applied to railway engines and ships.
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N

Napier, Robert (1791-1876). Scottish shipbuilder who manufactured the engines for early Cunard liners and ironclad warships.
Napoleon See Bonaparte, Napoleon.
Nasmyth, James (1808-90). Owner of a metal foundry at Patricroft, near Manchester, he designed a steam hammer in 1839, and after patenting it three years later, had it taken up by the Admiralty. He also invented a steam piledriver and a planing machine.
Neale, Edward Vansittart (1810-92). Barrister and reformer who founded the first co-operative store in London.
Neilson, James Beaumont (1792-1865). Perfected the hot-blast method of iron smelting in 1828, changing the shape of the industry.
Nelson, Horatio, Viscount Nelson (1758-1805). Britain's most famous naval commander. Among his many notable victories were St Vincent (1796), Aboukir Bay (1798), Copenhagen (1801) and Trafalgar, where he met his death.
Newcomen, Thomas (1663-1729). Inventor of the world's first practical steam engine (1712), in use for well over a century, mainly to clear flood water from mines.
Niepce, Joseph 1765-1833). French chemist who in 1826 is said to have produced the world's first photograph on a metal plate.
Nightingale, Florence (1820-1910). The 'Lady with the Lamp,' English nurse who revolutionised military hospital sanitation during the Crimean War, after taking 38 nurses to Scutari in 1854.
Nobel, Alfred (1833-96). Swedish inventor of dynamite (1866) and gelignite (1875) who amassed a fortune and used much of it to endow (1901) Nobel Prizes for chemistry, physics, medicine, literature and peace.
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O

Oastler, Richard (1789-1861). Reformer who campaigned successfully for the reduction in factory hours, culminating in the 10-Hour Act of 1847.
O'Brien, James 'Bronterre' (1805-64). Radical writer who played a major role in Chartism in London, secretly supporting the advocates of physical force. Served 18 months in prison at Liverpool for sedition (1840).
O'Connor, Feargus (1794-1855). Chartist leader, editor of the Leeds-based Northern Star and a rabble-rousing orator. Elected MP for Nottingham (1847), presented Chartist petition to government the following year. Became insane, 1852.
Otis, Elisha Graves (1811-61). American inventor of the safety elevator (1853).
Otto, Nicholas August (1832-1891). His gas engine (1876), working on the "Otto Cycle", became the prototype for the modern internal combustion engine.
Owen, Robert (1771-1858). Cotton magnate, son-in-law of David Dale, who established a model mill community at New Lanark in Scotland, providing school, meeting hall, shops and well-appointed housing for his workers.
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P

Paine, Thomas (1737-1809). Anglo-american philosopher and writer, most famously author of The Rights of Man (1792), which backed the French Revolution and urged Britain to follow suit. he was indicted for treason but escaped to France where he joined the National Convention as a deputy.
Palmerston, Henry, 3rd Viscount (1785-1865). English Prime Minister between 1855 and 1858, and again from 1859 until his death. Known as "Firebrand Palmerston."
Panhard. Rene (1841-1908). Founder of the Panhard Motor Co., he was the first man to install an internal combustion engine in a motor vehicle (1891).
Parker, Richard (1767-97). Ringleader of the naval mutiny at The Nore, May 10-June 13, 1797, shortly after volunteering for service. Hanged the same month.
Parsons, Sir Charles (1854-1931). Inventor of the high-speed steam turbine, he built the first turbine-powered ship, the Turbinia, in 1897.
Pasteur, Louis (1822-95). French bacteriologist who demonstrated the effectiveness of vaccination.
Paul, Lewis (d. 1759). He invented the roller-attenuation technique for spinning cotton, later copied by Arkwright in his water frame.
Paxton, Sir Joseph (1801-65). Duke of Devonshire's gardens superintendent, his iron-framed conservatory at Chatsworth became his model for the Crystal Palace, the building that housed the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Pease, Edward (1767-1858). Woollen merchant who backed Stephenson's Stockton-Darlington railway project in 1825.
Peel, Sir Robert (1750-1830). Cotton manufacturer who used "parish children" to operate his mills, but later became a leading figure in the fight to ease the plight of child labourers.
Peel, Sir Robert (1788-1850). English statesman, son of Sir Robert, who reorganised London's police force, introducing his 'Bobbies' or 'Peelers' in 1829 and later, as prime minister, overseeing the repeal of the hated Corn Laws (1846).
Pelton, Lester (1829-1918). American inventor of an improved, highly-efficient waterwheel, utilising the undershoot principle and cups instead of paddles (1880).
Perceval, Spencer (1762-1812). English prime minister from 1809 until he was assassinated by Liverpool bankrupt John Bellingham in the House of Commons.
Perkin, Sir William (1838-1907). Chemist whose discovery of mauve in 1856 brought into existence the aniline die industry.
Perkins, Jacob (1766-1849). American-born English inventor who built a steam boiler operating at an unheard-of 1000lb per square inch. His engraving factory produced the plates for the first postage stamps of 1840.
Pitt, William 'The Younger' (1759-1806). An MP at 22 and a year later appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was offered the Premiership in 1783 but declined in favour of the Duke of Portland. But when Portland's administration collapsed later the same year, he accepted and became England's youngest ever Prime Minister at the age of 24. He remained in the post for 17 years, and returned three years later to mastermind the fight against Napoleon, being hailed as the saviour of Europe after Nelson's victory at Trafalgar.
Place, Francis (1771-1854). English radical who oversaw the repeal of the Combination Acts in 1824, campaigned vociferously for the Reform Act of 1832 and was one of the drafters of the People's Charter.
Plante, Gaston (1834-89). French scientist who built the first practical electrical storage battery in 1860.
Popov, Aleksandr (1855-1905). Russians claim him as the inventor of wireless telegraphy, and he demonstrated the technique in 1895, the same year as Marconi.
Preece, Sir William (1834-1914). Chief engineer to the Post Office who introduced telephones to Britain.
Priestley, Joseph (1733-1804). Nonconformist minister and chemist, who did pioneering work on gases and was one of the discoverers of oxygen. He also wrote A History of electricity (1767).
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R

Rastrick, John Urpeth (1780-1856).English engineer who built an iron bridge over the River Wye at Chepstow (1816). After advocating the use of steam to power the Liverpool-Manchester Railway, he was one of the judges at the Rainhill Locomotive Trials in 1829 and, after constructing a colliery railway in Staffordshire, built the London-Brighton Railway in 1841.
Rennie, George (1791-1866). Scottish shipbuilder and civil engineer who built The Dwarf, the Royal Navy's first propeller-driven vessel.
Rennie, Sir John (1761-1821). Father of George, a civil engineer who built a number of important canals and constructed London Docks and the famous Plymouth Breakwater.
Reuter, Paul Julius (1816-99). German founder (1849) of the news agency that bore his name, using pigeons and the telegraph service to distribute news to newspapers.
Ronalds, Sir Francis (1788-1873). Designed and built an electric telegraph in his garden at Hammersmith in 1816, which was turned down by the Admiralty.
Rumsey, James (1743-92). American naval pioneer who demonstrated on the River Potomac in 1787 a steamboat driven by a jet of water ejected from the stern.
Russell, John Scott (1808-82). Scottish shipbuilder who collaborated with Brunel on the Great Eastern (1858).
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S

Sadler, Michael Thomas (1780-1835). Leading proponent of factory reform who backed the 1833 Factory Reform Act.
Salt, Sir Titus (1803-76). Progressive Yorkshire woollen manufacturer who built the model village of Saltaire, near Leeds, for his workers.
Savery, Thomas (c.1650-1715). His high-pressure steam pump of 1698 was the first practical device for draining mines. Newcomen's machine of 1712 was much better, but Savery's catch-all patent forced Newcomen to take him into partnership.
Scheutz, Pehr Georg (1785-1873). Swedish designer of a difference engine, or calculating machine, inspired by the idea of Charles Babbage, which was completed by his son Edvard in 1843.
Seguin, Marc (1796-1875). French inventor of the fire-tube steam boiler, used by Stephenson in his Rocket.
Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl (1801-85). As Lord Ashley, he took over leadership of the factory reform movement in 1832 from Michael Sadler, and saw the Factory Acts of 1847, 1850 and 1859 through Parliament. He also sponsored the Coal Mines Act of 1842 which barred women and children under 13 from working underground.
Sidmouth, Henry Addington, 1st Viscount (1757-1844). British Prime Minister from 1801-04 and Home Secretary from 1812-21. He introduced the draconian Machine-Breaking Act to counter the Luddites of 1812.
Singer, Isaac Merritt (1811-75). American inventor of the chain-stitch sewing machine (1852).
Slater, Samuel (1768-1835). One-time apprentice to Jedediah Strutt, Slater defied a ban on the emigration of textile workers and moved to America in 1789, where he built cotton machines from memory for a Rhode Island mill, laying the foundations for the U.S. textile industry.
Smeaton, John (1724-94). Builder of the third Eddystone Lighthouse - now a memorial on Plymouth Hoe - he also made significant improvements to the Newcomen steam engine.
Smith, Sir Francis Pettit 1804-74). Inventor of the screw propeller in 1836, he went on to build the world's first successful propeller-driven steamship, the Archimedes, and in 1843 built the Rattler, the Royal Navy's first screw-driven warship.
Spence, Peter (1806-53). Inventor of a process for making potash alum, used in textile dyeing. He was forced to remove his factory from Manchester in 1857 because of the smell.
Stanley, William (1858-1916). American inventor of the electrical transformer (1885).
Stephens, Joseph Rayner (1805-79). Factory reformer and campaigner for the Ten-Hour Act, who was imprisoned for his activities in 1847. The founder of three independent chapels in Ashton-under-Lyne, he campaigned against the Poor Law legislation of 1837 and supported the Chartist movement.
Stephenson, George (1781-1848). Railway engineer, known as the Father of the Railways. He built the Stockton-Darlington line and later the Liverpool-Manchester Line, the world's first inter-city railway, for which he designed the first engine,m called Th Rocket
Stephenson, Robert (1803-59). Railway engineer, son of George. Remembered for his bridges, which include the tubular Britannia Bridge over the Menai Straits (18500 and the Newcastle High-Level Bridge (1849).
Stevens, John (1749-1838). Patented a multi-tubed boiler in 1803, using it to power a steamboat, Little Juliana, with high-pressure steam driving Archimedean screws. A later boat, Juliana (1811), the world's first steam ferry, operated on the Connecticut River.
Stringfellow, John (1799-1883). English aviation pioneer. He built a steam-powered, 20-foot span model aircraft in 1847 which was disappointing, but a smaller model, tested indoors a year later, demonstrated its ability to fly and climb. His triplane, built 20 years later, did not fly but featured an engine which produced a remarkable one horse power while weighing only 13lbs.
Symington, William (1763-1831). Scottish inventor who patented a steam engine designed for road locomotion (1787) and a year later, one that powered a catamaran-type vessel with paddle wheels in the centre. His Charlotte Dundas, (1802) was among the first practical steam vessels ever built, but it was banned from working as a tug on the Forth-Clyde Canal because of fears of the wash damaging the banks.
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T

Talbot, William Henry Fox (1800-77). English photographic pioneer, who claimed to have invented photography, using silver-chloride paper, in 1837, the same year as Daguerre in France. He also invented the negative system (1841)and a form of flash photography (1851).
Telford, Thomas (1757-1834). Scottish civil engineer renowned as a road and canal builder. Built the impressive Pontcysylte aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal (1793-1805) and the 579-foot span Menai Suspension Bridge (1819-26) on his road from London to Holyhead.
Tennant, Charles (1768-1838). Scottish chemical manufacturer whose 1799 patent for a dry bleaching powder that was easily transportable to the textile industry made his Glasgow works the biggest of its kind in the world.
Thistlewood, Arthur (1770-1820). English revolutionary who organised the mutiny at Spa Fields in 1816 and was behind the Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820 to murder Castlereagh, for which he was executed.
Townshend, Charles, 2nd Viscount (1674-1738). Agriculturalist who earned the nickname "Turnip Townshend" after he introduced new crops and clover for winter fodder on his Raynham estate.
Toynbee, Arnold (1852-83). Historian and reformer who reputedly was the first to use the phrase "Industrial Revolution."
Trevithick, Richard (1771-1833). Cornish engineer and inventor, pioneer of the high-pressure steam engine, who built a steam road carriage in 1801 and a steam railway locomotive in 1804, several years before Stephenson.
Tull, Jethro (1674-1741). Agricultural pioneer who invented the seed drill.
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V

Vaucanson, Jacques de (1709-82). Frenchman who improved silk-making machinery and, in 1745, invented the world's first automatic loom which operated on a punched-card system.
Vicat, Louis Joseph (1786-1861). French inventor of hydraulic lime and concrete.
Volta, Allesandro, Count (1745-1827). Italian inventor of the electric battery, from whose name is derived the volt, the unit of electrical potential difference.
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W

Walker, John (1781-1859). English inventor of the friction match.
Walschaerts, Egide (1820-1901). Belgian inventor (1844) of the locomotive valve gear that bears his name
Watt, James (1736-1819). Scottish engineer whose improvements to Newcomen's design, including the separate condenser, the sun and planet motion and the parallel motion, turned the steam engine into the motive force of the Industrial Revolution.
Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke (1769-1852). Remembered for his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, he later (1827) became Prime Minister, retiring from public life in 1846.
Whitney, Eli (1765-1825). American inventor of the cotton gin, a device for separating cotton fibre from the seeds.
Wilberforce, William (1759-1833).One of the leading figures in the British campaign to abolish the slave trade, which ended in success in 1807.
Wilkinson, John (1728-1808). English ironmaster who in 1774 designed an accurate cannon-boring machine which was quickly adapted to bore the cylinders of steam engines.
Woolf, Arthur (1766-1837). Cornish engineer who patented a compound engine in 1803, and later helped perfect the high-pressure engines designed by Trevithick.
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2017 | Admiral Nelson | Read about the Industrial Revolution