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Bate, John (fl. 1626–1635), writer on mechanics, is an obscure figure; his birth and death dates, parentage, and virtually all personal details remain unknown. Bate's The Mysteries of Nature and Art (1634) is the first comprehensive illustrated English book on waterworks and hydraulic machinery. It also includes sections on drawing, painting, recipes, and folk remedies, as well as one on fireworks and incendiary devices largely derivative of earlier English and continental works on the subject. A second, greatly expanded edition in 1635 was followed by a third edition, printed in 1654, which has few changes from the second edition....

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Bentinck, John Albert (1737–1775), naval officer and inventor of mechanical devices, was born on 29 December 1737, the second son of William, Count Bentinck (1704–1774) and Countess Charlotte Sophie of Aldenburg (1715–1800), and grandson of Hans Willem Bentinck, first earl of Portland. His parents separated when he was about a year old and he never knew his mother. He went to sea at the age of fourteen in the ...

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John Albert Bentinck (1737–1775) by Mason Chamberlin, 1775 [left, with his son William Bentinck] © National Maritime Museum, London

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Bill, Robert (1754–1827), mechanic and inventor, was the son of William Bill and Mary, née Walton. Robert's father and uncle (Francis) had married coheirs Mary and Dorothy, daughters of William Hall Walton. The Bills of Farley Hall near Cheadle were an old ...

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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 ...

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Clarke, George Thomas Smith- (1884–1960), automobile and medical engineer, was born at Lower Park, Bewdley, Worcestershire, on 23 December 1884, the eldest of seven children (one of whom was adopted) of Henry Clarke (1850–1897), brass finisher and engineer, who in 1871 married Harriet (...

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Cumming, Alexander (1731/2–1814), watchmaker and mechanician, is said by most sources to have been born in Edinburgh, although there is no trace of his baptism in the parish registers. However, according to the first Scottish Statistical Account (vol. 21, 1799), discovered by Mary Cosh...

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Drebbel, Cornelis (1572–1633), inventor and mechanical engineer, was born in Alkmaar in the Netherlands, the son of Jacob Janszoon Drebbel (d. 1591). His father, whose family name was originally Dremmel, was a well-to-do burgher of Alkmaar, a town in the province of ...

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Cornelis Drebbel (1572–1633) by unknown engraver, pubd 1628 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Earnshaw, Lawrence (1707?–1767), mechanic and clockmaker, was born at Mottram in Longendale, Cheshire, the son of a weaver, probably John Earnshaw (b. 1653?), who married Lidia Johnson in 1693. After a short training with his father and four years apprenticed to a brother as a tailor, he served a seven-year apprenticeship to ...

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Fromanteel, Ahasuerus (bap. 1607, d. 1693), clockmaker and mechanic, was baptized in the Dutch Reformed church at Norwich on 25 February 1607, the eldest of five sons and two daughters of Mordecai Fromanteel, wood turner, and his wife, Leah. The Fromanteels were an armigerous family of high standing in ...

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Griffiths, Robert (1805–1883), inventor of mechanical devices, was born at Lleweni Farm, in the Vale of Clwyd, on 13 December 1805, but little else is known about his early life. He demonstrated a mechanical bent and was apprenticed as a carpenter in north Wales...

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Hindley, Henry (1700?–1771), clockmaker and mechanician, was probably born in or near Manchester, but his early life is obscure. Already married to his wife, Sarah, he had moved to York by 1731 and was admitted to the freedom of the city on the presentation of two clocks, now in the ...

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Hulls [Hull], Jonathan (bap. 1699, d. 1758), mechanical inventor, was born at Hanging Aston and baptized in Blockley parish church, Gloucestershire, on 17 December 1699. His parents, Thomas Hull, or Hulls, and Mary, had two other children, Thomas and Sarah. Hulls inherited mechanical skills from his weaver father and displayed a youthful aptitude for repairing neighbours' clocks. He attended ...

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Maceroni, Francis [known as Count Maceroni] (1788–1846), soldier and mechanical inventor, was born in the suburbs of Manchester. His father, Peter Augustus Maceroni, with two brothers, had served in a French regiment in America during the War of Independence, and after a roving life settled down at ...

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T. W. Bayne

revised by Jane Potter

Neilson, Peter (1795–1861), poet and mechanical inventor, was born at Glasgow on 24 September 1795, the seventh child and youngest son among the nine children of George Neilson, calenderer, and his wife, Janet Galbraith. George Neilson was descended from the Neilsons of Camoquill...

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R. B. Prosser

revised by R. C. Cox

Oldham, John (1779–1840), artist and mechanical inventor, was born in Dublin. He served an apprenticeship to an engraver at a calico printing works in Dublin but subsequently pursued a career as an artist. While based at Newry he also developed his interest in mechanics. He invented a machine for individually numbering banknotes to prevent forgery and, in 1812, laid his plans before the ...

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Pinchbeck family (per. c. 1720–1783), clockmakers and mechanics, came to prominence through the invention of ‘pinchbeck’, a copper and zinc alloy having the appearance of gold, by Christopher Pinchbeck (1669/70–1732). His parentage and date of birth are obscure; though no records have been found, it seems that he was first apprenticed to a fisherman and later to a pastry cook. Nor is it known where he learned the skills which enabled him to set up as a maker of clocks and automata, trading from ...

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See Pinchbeck family

Article

See Pinchbeck family