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Henry James (1803-1877)

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Sir Henry James, R.E, F.R.S.(1803–1877), surveyor,

1803 June 8th. Born in Rose-in-Vale, near St.Agnes, Cornwall the son of the late Mr. John James, of Truro and his wife who was a daughter of the late John Hastren[1] of Carines.

Educated at Exeter Grammar School

Professional training at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, from which he passed in the usual course into the corps of Royal Engineers, as lieutenant, in 1825.

Sir Henry married a daughter of the late Major-General Matson,R.E. Assistant Adjutant-General and by his marriage he leaves two sons and a daughter.

1848 Elected a fellow of the Royal Society. He was also elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy, was a member of the Geological Society of London, of the Royal Geological Society of Ireland and of several other learned bodies. He left Ireland to take charge of the Ordnance Survey at Southampton.

1860 received the honour of knighthood for his long connection, extending over 40 years, with the Ordnance Survey.[2].

By 1861 Colonel Sir Henry James, C.B., F.R.S. (Assoc. Inst., C.E.) was head of the Ordnance Survey

1877 Sir Henry James died at Southampton on the 14th of June at the age of 74.


1877 Obituary.[3]

Henry James, son of the late Mr. John James, of Truro, and his wife, who was a daughter of the late John Hastren, of Carines, Cornwall, was born on the 8th of June, 1803, at Rose-in·Vale, near St. Agnes, Cornwall. His father's family was, we believe, originally of South Wales, and migrated to Cornwall in reference to mining or metallurgic pursuits. We have not been informed what other children, if any, constituted the family.

He was educated at Exeter Grammar School, and removed thence for his professional training to the Royal Military Academy, at Woolwich, from which he passed in the usual course into the corps of Royal Engineers, as lieutenant, in 1825. In those days pupils who had passed the course of instruction of the Academy sometimes remained still cadets for years before they obtained a Royal Engineer commission. Colonel Colby, who directed that portion of the corps of Royal Engineers to which was intrusted the Ordnance Survey of the British Islands, had infused into all the operations connected therewith new energies, and endowed them with new methods and new instruments, and laid the foundation, indeed, of all that has since rendered the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain the most perfect and famous national geodetic work, perhaps, in the world. The survey, commenced in 1746 by General Roy, and continued after his death by General Mudge, had, after several interruptions, produced by the great continental and American wars, been extended to some portions of Scotland, where it had been first commenced and already embraced a considerable tract of the southern parts of England, but Ireland had not yet been touched. The great triangulation of France, directed by Cassini, had been connected with that of England, with the primary view of determining the relative positions, as recommended by the great French astronomer of the national observatories of Paris and of Greenwich, and it was then determined to connect the triangulation of Scotland with that commenced in Ireland, by observations made from the summit of Slieve Donard, the loftiest of the Mourne mountains, in the county of Down.

The extension to Ireland of the Ordnance Survey was then commenced and about this fortunate juncture, when new energy and new methods, both of surveying and of mapping, followed each other in rapid succession, Henry James, the object of this notice, became attached to the Irish branch of the survey, with which he continued connected for almost the entire of his life. The survey in Ireland was commenced by that of the county of Londonderry, upon the comprehensive plan projected by the late General Portlock, R.E., who proposed that besides the mere geodesy and topography, the history, the antiquities, natural history, and geology of the whole island should be included in a succession of memoirs, by various competent men, whether military or civil....[much more]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. This appears to be a mistake in the 1877 obituary and the name is Hoskens
  2. The Engineer 1877
  3. The Engineer 1877/07/06