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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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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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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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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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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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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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Cowper Phipps Coles (1819–1870) by J. Harris ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Coles, Cowper Phipps (1819–1870), naval officer and inventor of a gun turret, was born on 9 July 1819, the third son of the Revd John Coles (1787–1865) of Ditcham Park, Hampshire, rector of Silchester, and his first wife, Marianne Goodhead, née Rogers (...

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Drake, John Poad (bap. 1794, d. 1883), inventor and artist, son of Thomas Drake and his wife, Frances Poad, was born in Stoke Damerel, Devon, where he was baptized on 20 July 1794. A shipwright in the naval dockyard at Plymouth, Thomas Drake...

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Sir George Everest (1790–1866) by Maull & Fox ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Everest, Sir George (1790–1866), geodesist and military engineer, was born in Greenwich on 4 July 1790, the third of six children and the eldest son of (William) Tristram Everest (1747–1825), a lawyer at Greenwich, and his wife, Lucetta Mary Smith (d. 1809)...

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James Burnley

revised by D. H. L. Back

Forsyth, Alexander John (1768–1843), inventor, son of James Forsyth, minister of Belhelvie in Aberdeenshire, and Isabella, daughter of Walter Syme, minister of Tullynessle, was born on 28 December 1768 in his father's manse. He attended King's College, Aberdeen, from 1782 to 1786, and in 1790 was licensed as a preacher. After his father died suddenly on 1 December 1790, a presbytery meeting held in ...

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Fowler, Sir Ralph Howard (1889–1944), mathematical physicist and weapons researcher, was born at Fedsden, Roydon, Essex, on 17 January 1889, the elder son of Howard Fowler, of Glebelands, Burnham, Somerset, and his wife, Frances Eva, daughter of George Dewhurst, cotton merchant, of Manchester...

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Sir Ralph Howard Fowler (1889–1944) by Walter Stoneman, 1943 ? National Portrait Gallery, London

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Freeburn, James (1808–1876), army officer and inventor of shell fuses, was born in the parish of St Cuthbert's, Midlothian. At an early age he was apprenticed to a baker. At the age of seventeen he enlisted in the 7th battalion of the Royal Artillery...

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Gardner, William (1844/5–1887), inventor of a portable machine-gun, was a native of Toledo, Ohio, USA, who as a volunteer during the civil war rose to the rank of captain. In 1874 he designed the first portable machine-gun, but he lacked the capital to develop it and turned the prototype over to ...

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Gregorie [Gregory], David (1625–1720), physician and inventor of a cannon, son of the Revd John Gregorie, minister of Drumoak in Aberdeenshire, and elder brother of James Gregory (1638–1675), was born on 20 December 1625. His early education was probably undertaken by his mother, ...