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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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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 ...

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

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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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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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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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Hargreaves, James (bap. 1721, d. 1778), inventor of the spinning jenny, was born in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, and baptized at Church Kirk on 8 January 1721. His exact birthplace is unknown, and apart from the fact that he became a hand-loom weaver, little has been discovered of his early life. His parents had one other child, ...

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John Heathcoat (1783–1861) by William Holl © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Heathcoat, John (1783–1861), inventor of the bobbin net machine and lace manufacturer, was born at Duffield, near Derby, on 7 August 1783, the son of Francis Heathcote (or Heathcoat), a farmer and grazier, and his wife Elizabeth née Burton. The family moved to ...

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Holden, Sir Isaac, first baronet (1807–1897), inventor of a wool-combing machine, entrepreneur, and politician, was born on 7 May 1807 at Hurlet, near Paisley, the seventh child of Isaac Holden (d. 1826) and his wife, Alice, née Forrest. His father, a native of ...

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John Kay (1704–178081) by unknown engraver Science & Society Picture Library

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Kay, John (1704–1780/81), inventor of textile manufacturing machinery, was born at Park Farm in the township of Walmersley in the parish of Bury, Lancashire, on 16 July 1704, the fifth son of Robert Kay (1651–1704) and his wife, Ellen, née Entwistle, of Quarlton...

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Lee, William (d. 1614/15?), inventor of the stocking frame; little is known of his life. Tradition placed his birth in Calverton in Nottinghamshire (Thoroton, 3.42), but others believed him to be a native of Sussex (Lives, ed. Walker, 2.32). The former is more likely; many ...

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Samuel Cunliffe Lister, first Baron Masham (1815–1906) by Frank Holl, 1882 private collection. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Lister, Samuel Cunliffe-, first Baron Masham (1815–1906), inventor of textile machinery, born at Calverly Hall, near Bradford, on 1 January 1815, was the fourth son in the large family of Ellis Cunliffe Lister-Kay (d. 1854) of Manningham and Farfield, and his second wife, ...