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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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Sir Richard Arkwright (1732–1792) by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1789–90 private collection; photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Arkwright, Sir Richard (1732–1792), inventor of cotton-spinning machinery and cotton manufacturer, was born on 23 December 1732 at Preston, Lancashire, the sixth of the seven children of Thomas Arkwright (1691–1753), a tailor, and his wife, Ellen Hodgkinson (1693–1778). The family was rooted in ...

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Barber, John (1734–1793), coalmaster and inventor, was born at Greasley Castle Farm, Nottinghamshire, and baptized at Greasley on 22 October 1734, the eldest son of Francis Barber (d. 1782), Nottinghamshire coalmaster, and his wife, Elizabeth Fletcher (d. 1787). His mother's father, ...

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Patrick Bell (1799–1869) by unknown engraver, pubd 1868 (after E. Strachan) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bell, Patrick (1799–1869), Church of Scotland minister and inventor of agricultural machinery, was born in April 1799 at mid-Leoch, in the parish of Auchterhouse, a few miles north-west of Dundee. He was one of at least two sons of George Bell, a tenant farmer at ...

Article

Bell, Thomas (fl. 1783–1784), inventor of cylinder printing in the textile industry, was probably born in Scotland. He became a copperplate-engraver and printer, and by the 1780s he was living at Mosney, then at Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, an important region of calico printing. His move to ...

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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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Bramah [Bramma], Joseph (1749–1814), engineer and inventor of locks, was born on 2 April 1749 at Stainborough Lane Farm, near Barnsley, Yorkshire; he was the second son in the family of three sons and two daughters of Joseph Bramma (1713–1800), a farmer, and his wife, ...

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Budding, Edwin Beard (1796–1846), engineer and inventor, was born on 25 August 1796 and baptized at St Michael's, Eastington and Alkerton, Gloucestershire, on 10 November 1796, the son of Charles Brain Budding (bap. 1755), and his wife, Mary Beard. Nothing is known of ...

Article

Ronald M. Birse

revised by Christine Clark

Coffey, Aeneas (c. 1780–1852), exciseman and inventor of a still, was born probably in Dublin (though one source gives his birthplace as Calais), the son of Andrew Coffey, the city engineer of Dublin, who was employed in the Dublin city waterworks from 1774 to 1832. He is thought to have attended classes at ...

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Crompton, Samuel (1753–1827), inventor of the spinning mule, was born at Firwood Fold, Tonge, near Bolton, Lancashire, on 3 December 1753, the eldest son of George Crompton (1726–1758) and Elizabeth Holt (1725–1799) of nearby Turton. Firwood Farm had been held by Cromptons since Tudor times; ...

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Samuel Crompton (1753–1827) by Samuel William Reynolds senior, pubd 1828 (after Charles Allingham) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Davidson, Sir Samuel Cleland (1846–1921), inventor of tea processing machinery and manufacturer, was born on 18 November 1846 at Ballymachan Farm, near Belfast, the youngest of the seven children of James Davidson (1799–1869), corn miller, and his wife, Mary Taylor (1808–1896), also of Irish stock. Until the age of fifteen ...

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Dickinson, John (1782–1869), paper manufacturer and inventor, was born on 29 March 1782 probably in London, the eldest of nine children of Captain Thomas Dickinson RN (1754–1828) and his wife, Frances de Brissac (1760–1854). John Dickinson's father was superintendent of transports in the ...

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G. J. Holyoake

revised by Philip S. Bagwell

Edmondson, Thomas (1792–1851), inventor of ticket-printing machinery, was born at Lancaster on 30 June 1792. The son of Quaker parents, John and Jane Edmondson, trunk manufacturers, he was a brother of George Edmondson. He was educated at Ackworth School, Yorkshire, a Quaker institution. In his youth he displayed great aptitude for mechanical invention; and his mother, seeing that he could never be kept out of mischief, taught him knitting to keep him quiet and useful. He became a journeyman cabinet-maker with the firm of ...

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Gestetner, David (1854–1939), inventor of duplicating machinery and industrialist, was born on 31 March 1854 in Csorna, Hungary, the first son of the four children of Sigmond Gestetner, a small businessman, and his wife, Theresa Figdor. He left school at the age of thirteen and in 1871 moved to ...

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Hale, William (1797–1870), rocket inventor and entrepreneur, was born on 21 October 1797 in Colchester, Essex, the son of Robert Hale, baker, and his wife, Elizabeth, and may have been descended from Sir Matthew Hale, lord chief justice.

Hale's early education is unknown, but his maternal grandfather, ...

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Thomas Hancock (1786–1865) by unknown artist Science & Society Picture Library

Article

R. B. Prosser

revised by Anita McConnell

Hancock, Thomas (1786–1865), rubber manufacturer and inventor, was born at Marlborough, Wiltshire, on 8 May 1786, the second son in the family of twelve children raised by James Hancock, a timber merchant and cabinetmaker at Marlborough, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Longman. Walter Hancock...