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John Braithwaite (1759-1818)
1759 Born in London, descendent of engineers who ran a small engineer's shop and smithy at St. Albans from the year 1695
1783 Descended on the wreck of the "Royal George" off Spithead in a diving bell of his own construction; recovered an anchor and many guns. Also recovered many guns from the Spanish flotilla sunk off Gibraltar
1788 Recovered dollars, lead and tin from the "Hartwell" wrecked off the Cape Verde islands
Set up engineering works in New Road, London
1796 Birth of son, Francis
1797 Birth of son, John, at No. 1, Bath Place, in the New Road., London, on the 19th of March.
1798 Birth of son, Frederick
1806-7 John the elder was operating with the diving bell on the "Earl of Abergavenny", an East Indiaman, sunk off Weymouth, from which he recovered £130,000 of specie, as well as the general cargo, and successfully blew up the wreck with gunpowder. He was assisted by his son John, who, young as he was, was entrusted with the signalling from his father, who was at work below, and who was frequently under water for from six to eight hours at a time.
1823 Francis died; John the younger carried on the business alone.