Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,469 pages of information and 245,911 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Edward Mounier Boxer

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General Edward Mounier Boxer (1822-1898), F.R.S.

1822 Born in Dover, son of Edward Boxer and his wife Elizabeth

1843 Married Eleanor Charlotte Frances Payne in Woolwich[1]

1844 Birth of son Edward William Frederick Boxer[2]

1863 Patent to Edward Mounier Boxer, of the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, Lieutenant-Colonel, Royal Artillery, for the invention of "improvements in fuzes and shells for ordnance."[3]

1866 Patent to Edward Mournier (sic) Boxer, of the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, for the invention of "improvements in cartridges for breech loading fire arms and ordnance." [4]

1898 Died on the Isle of Wight[5]

1898 Obituary [6]

"...who died at his place, Upton, near Ryde, on January 2nd last, served exactly thirty years in the Royal Artillery, and for many years occupied the first place in England as an inventor of war material and artillerist. He was the son of Admiral Boxer, and the father of Lieut. Boxer, R.N., who was lost in the ill-fated Captain. He passed for the Royal Engineers, taking the first place, but received a commission in the Royal Artillery in December, 1839. He married as an extremely young officer Miss Payne, daughter of Colonel Payne, R.A. To this lady, indeed, he is said to have been engaged as a cadet. Very early in his career, Lieut. Boxer turned his attention to the improvement of war material. In those latter days of the long peace there was little encouragement given to such efforts. He was, however, appointed instructor to the cadets in artillery, and wrote a treatise on gunnery which was the standard work of its day. By the time the Crimean War broke out some of his inventions had been adopted, and Captain Boxer had been appointed Superintendent to the Royal Laboratory, and then came the opportunity of displaying his powers of resource, and his great capacity for work. The organisation of his department was considered a model in the way of order economy and production. While designing new stores, he exerted himself to patch up and improve existing ones in order to meet the great demands of the war and the "diaphragm" and "improved shrapnel" are examples of new and patched-up projectiles. He exerted himself, indeed, with such effect that the Secretary of State for War declared that it was owing to Captain Boxer's efforts that the siege of Sebastopol was pushed on, and the fire sustained as it was. The Boxer wood time-fuzes were of their kind very perfect, and when they arrived at the seat of war came as phoenixes to the gunners of the siege trains, who were commonly using wood fuzes of dates from 1795 to 1815. On one occasion when the French artillery sent a request for fuzes, and received in return a supply of these ancient stores, they brought them back, indignantly, saying:-"Nous ne voulons pas ces choses, nous voulons la fusee Boxaire." For his services at this time it is said that Captain Boxer was offered and refused a decoration, preferring a grant of money for the sake of his family. A special grant of money was accordingly voted to him. Admiral Boxer was directing the work at Balaclava harbour while his son was thus making ammunition. From this date war material was developed rapidly, and Colonel Boxer's designs were in some cases challenged by the formidable competition of Elswick. For rifled guns, however, as for smooth bores, the Boxer ammunition still held its own, so that when he left the service in December, 1869, there existed among other stores Boxer shrapnel shell for rifled and smooth-bore guns, Boxer time-fuzes for breech-loading and muzzle-loading guns, and Boxer fuses for all classes of smooth bore shells, the Boxer parachute light ball, Boxer rolled metal cartridges for Snider and Martini-Henry rifles, Boxer life-saving rocket, &c.

Personally, General Boxer was a remarkable man. He disliked prominence in public, but he read character and measured men curiously well, sometimes when there was little opportunity of doing so. He had an embarrassing habit of asking those employed under him some questions which they could not answer, so that they were apt to feel awkward in making reports to him. At the same time he was popular, and with his great capacity for work enjoyed leisure thoroughly. On leaving the service, his late foremen presented him with a testimonial. It is to his credit in his combined character of inventor and superintendent that Mr. Pettman, a foreman under him, declared that General Boxer had always encouraged him and recommended him for the pecuniary reward which he received for the well-known Pettman fuse, although General Boxer had himself a rival design. Whatever views may be entertained as to the employment of civilians and officers in our manufacturing departments, there can hardly be two opinions as to the value of an officer who combines the exact knowledge of the needs and the behaviour of projectiles in action, with powers of invention and organisation, and who also possesses great energy. General Boxer, in short, was a very strong man, and for such men we ought to find scope.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Parish Marriage Records
  2. Gravestone [1]
  3. London Gazette, 11 December 1863
  4. London Gazette 26 January 1866
  5. National Probate Calendar
  6. The Engineer 1898/01/07, p008