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Abel, Sir Frederick Augustus, first baronet (1827–1902), chemist and explosives expert, was born on 17 July 1827 at Woolwich, the eldest son of Johann Leopold Abel (1795–1871), a music master in Kennington, and his wife, Louisa (d. 1864), daughter of Martin Hopkins...

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Sir Frederick Augustus Abel, first baronet (1827–1902) by Frank Bramley, 1900 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Aconcio, Jacopo [Jacobus Acontius] (c. 1520–1566/7?), theologian and military engineer, was perhaps born at Ossana, in the Val di Sole, not far from Trento in Italy, the son of Gerolamo Aconcio and his wife, Oliana. After studying law Aconcio was admitted to the ...

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Anderson, Sir John (1814–1886), inventor of ordnance manufacture machinery and arsenal manager, was born at Woodside, near Aberdeen, on 9 December 1814, the posthumous child of a local merchant, J. Anderson, and his wife, Helen Hosie. His mother remarried and his stepfather, Irvine Kempt...

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See Armstrong, John

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John Armstrong (1674–1742) by unknown artist, c. 1711–20 [[Left to right] John Churchill, first duke of Marlborough (1650-1722) and ] © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Armstrong, John (1674–1742), military engineer, was born on 31 March 1674 the eldest son of Robert Armstrong (c.1651–1716) of Ballyan, King's county (co. Offaly), Ireland and Lydia (c.1649–1715), daughter of Michael Howard of Ballyard, King's county. Armstrong entered young into a military life, serving as a volunteer in the Williamite army in ...

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Beckett, Allan Harry (1914–2005), engineer, was born on 4 March 1914 at 294 Central Park Road, East Ham, London, the son of George William Harry Beckett, accounting clerk, and his wife, Emma Louise, née Stokes. He was originally given the first name Basil...

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[Anon.]

revised by Alastair W. Massie

Bell, John (1746/7–1798), army officer and inventor, was born in the parish of St Cuthbert's, Carlisle, the eldest son of William Bell, hatter, of Botchergate, Carlisle. He was baptized at St Cuthbert's Church on 22 February 1747. After working in the family business, ...

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Bickford, William (bap. 1774, d. 1834), currier and inventor of the safety fuse, was baptized in Ashburton, Devon, on 23 January 1774, the son of William and Mary Beckford. He was in business as a currier, dressing and colouring tanned leather, first rather unsuccessfully in ...

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H. M. Chichester

revised by Claire E. J. Herrick

Bisset, Charles (1717–1791), physician and military engineer, was born at Glenalbert, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, the son of a lawyer who specialized in Scots law. He studied medicine in Edinburgh and in 1740 was appointed second surgeon of the military hospital, Jamaica. He later served on board ...

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Blacker, (Latham Valentine) Stewart (1887–1964), soldier and inventor of armaments, was born on 1 October 1887 at The Beeches, Grappenhall, near Warrington, Cheshire, the son of Major Latham Charles Miller Blacker who came of a soldiering family, and his wife, Emily Violet Mattie...

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Blood, Holcroft (c. 1657–1707), army officer and military engineer, the third son of Colonel Thomas Blood (1617/18–1680) and his wife, Mary (fl. 1650–1670), the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel John Holcroft of Holcroft, Lancashire, was born in Sarney, co. Meath, Ireland. In 1672, unknown to his father, he enlisted in the navy and served during the Third Dutch War. Later, under the false name ...

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Bodley, Sir Josias (c. 1550–1617), soldier and military engineer, was born in Exeter, the fifth and youngest son of John Bodley (c. 1520–1591), merchant and later publisher, and his wife, Joan, née Hone (d. 1586). His brothers included the more celebrated Sir Thomas Bodley (1545–1613)...

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Bolton, Sir George (fl. 1790–1799), tutor and inventor of gun-locks, of unknown parentage and early life, was schooled in military tactics and mathematics preparatory to a career in the army, but was instead appointed instructor to the royal princesses in writing, geography, and arithmetic. Being of independent means, he indulged his interest in firearms by seeking to improve the musket gun-lock, which in both military and sporting firearms was so defective that accidents were frequently caused by guns going off at half-cock in the heat of battle or when forging through dense vegetation. The self-acting and detached bolting lock that he designed was constructed by mathematical instrument makers (whom he found more obedient to his orders than the gun makers), and patented in 1795 (no. 2041). The ...

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Boxall, Sir Charles Gervaise (1851–1914), army officer and promoter of rail-mounted artillery, was born on 30 August 1851 at Delves House, Ringmer, Sussex, the second son of William Percival Boxall JP, of Cowfold, Sussex, and his wife, Caroline Money. Educated privately, then at ...

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Brodie, John Leopold [formerly Leopold Janno Braude] (1873–1945), businessman and inventor, was by his own account born in Riga (at that time in the Russian empire) on 10 June 1873, the son of a railway builder (Buffalo Courier Express, 22 August 1926...

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Brown, John (bap. 1756?, d. 1816), military engineer and artist, was the second son of George Brown, an Aberdeenshire land surveyor, and Barbara, née May. He was probably baptized in Perth on 20 November 1756. Nothing is known of his education or early life; but he must have trained as a surveyor. He went at an early age to ...

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Bruce, Peter Henry (1692–1757), military engineer, the son of James Bruce (d. after 1705), army officer in the Brandenburg service, and Elizabeth Catherina Detring (d. after 1724), was born at his mother's family home, Detring Castle in Westphalia. Bruce recorded that his father was the son of a Scottish emigrant who had joined the ...

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Burgh, Thomas (1670–1730), military engineer and architect, was the third son of Ulysses Burgh (d. 1692) of Drumkeen, co. Limerick, dean of Emly and later bishop of Ardagh, and Mary, daughter of William Kingsmill of Ballibeg, co. Cork. After education at Delany's school...