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British Industrial History

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John Millington

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John Millington (1779-1868), qualified as a lawyer, engineer and medical doctor.

1779 Born the son of Thomas Charles Millington and Ruth Hill in Hammersmith.

Attended Oxford University but withdrew due to financial difficulties

1802 married Emily Hamilton at the parish church of St James. They had six children.

1803 Admitted to the bar; he practised for two years, particularly in the area of patents, before studying engineering.

Became an engineer, working with McAdam.

1810 Appointed as engineer to West Middlesex Waterworks (8th June 1810), but he proved unsatisfactory and was replaced in January 1811 by William Tierney Clark: 'John Millington , Clark’s predecessor at the West Middlesex Waterworks, was described there, in 1811, as grossly and generally negligent and was dismissed (GLRO Acc2558/WM/1/2p.291)'. He drew up the specification for construction of the Marlow Suspension Bridge 'but the document and his supervision of the work during summer 1829 proved highly incompetent'. The work was taken over by William Tierney Clark. John Millington owned a foundry in Webbs Lane, Hammersmith (see Taylor and Millington). [1]

1815 Appointed as a lecturer at The Royal Institution, indicating his academic ability.[2]

1816 Obtained a patent for a ship's propeller.

1817 Appointed professor of mechanics at the Royal Institution. Lectured on the application of scientific and mathematical principles to the practical problems of public works for the next 16 years.

He was also the owner of Hammersmith Ironworks.

1820 Civil engineer. Professor of Mechanics to the Royal Institution.[3]

1820 An original member of the Royal Astronomical Society. He served as secretary from 1823 to 1825

1824 Professor of Mechanics in the Royal Institution, Vice-President of the London Mechanic's Institute[4]

1827 the University of London named him to their first faculty as professor of engineering and the application of mechanical philosophy to the arts, but he resigned the chair in 1828 after the council refused to guarantee him a salary of £400 a year.

1829 left the Royal Institution. Engaged by the Anglo-Mexican Mining Association of Vera Cruz as chief engineer of their silver mines and superintendent of the mint for a three-year period.

1832 With his eldest son went to Philadelphia.

1833 His wife died on her voyage to join them.

1834 he married Sarah Ann Letts. They had three children.

1834 Employed by the Geological Society of Pennsylvania to investigate the Rappahannock goldmines, to the south-west of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

1835 Chief engineer to the the Rappahannock Mining Company

1836 Appointed professor of chemistry and natural philosophy at William and Mary University.

1838 received a doctorate of medicine from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia

1848 Resigned from William and Mary. Appointed professor at the new University of Mississippi.

1853 Became professor of chemistry and toxicology at the medical college in Memphis, Tennessee.

1863 Moved to Philadelphia.

1865 Millington and his wife moved to Richmond, Virginia, to live with their daughter Kate Blankenship.

1868 Died at Richmond on 10 July 1868 and was buried in Bruton parish church in Williamsburg.


Information from Graveyard Memorial

Partial transcription only, from memorial stone at Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, Virginia. See source[5] for full text):-

Died in Richmond, Virginia, July 10, 1868
Ninety years of an honoured and useful life on earth closing in on eternal rest.
The worthy friend and associate of men like Sir H Davy, Brewster, Faraday, Herschel and Lord Brougham.
Affection never can forget a friend so genial, generous and true. But faith looks up in hope and rejoices at the blessed end of one whose crowning glory it was to have served the Lord Jesus
Engineer for London and Middlesex [Water Works?]
Professor at Guy's Hospital; at Royal Institution; at London University
Vice President at Mechanics Institute and Royal Astronomical Society.
Chief Engineer of Silver Mines and Superintendent of a mint in Mexico
Professor of Chemistry & Natural Philosophy at College of William & Mary, Virginia.
Professor of Chemistry & Geology at University of Mississippi.
State Geologist of Mississippi.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'The Works of William Tierney Clark (1783 - 1852), Civil Engineer, of Hammersmith' by Denis Smith, read at the Science Museum, 11 March 1992 (Newcomen Society)
  2. [1] Preview page of 'John Millington (1779 - 1868)' by Sanford Charles Gladden, in The William and Mary Quarterly, 1933 (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)
  3. Morning Post - Saturday 08 January 1820
  4. Mechanics Magazine 1824/04/10
  5. [2] 'Find A Grave' website, Dr John Millington webpage
  • Biography of John Millington, ODNB