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Henry Rowland Brandreth

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Henry Rowland Brandreth (1794-1848)

1838 Henry Rowland Brandreth of the Royal Engineers and Civil Architect to the Admiralty, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1849 Obituary [2]

Lieutenant Colonel Henry Rowland Brandreth R.E. F.R.S., &C., was born at Southampton, in the year 1794.

Being intended by his father, Captain Brandreth, R.N., for the Ordnance Department of the Army, he went to the Academies of Marlow and Woolwich, at both of which he passed early and brilliant examinations.

On receiving his commission, he served for the usual period at Chatham, and subsequently on the Survey in England, and was then sent on service to North America and to the West Indies. He then became Military Secretary to Sir Charles Maxwell, Governor of the Leeward Islands, where he is still remembered for the energy, tact, and benevolence, with which he fulfilled the duties of that office.

In 1825 he was sent to Antigua, to erect iron barracks for resisting the hurricanes; but when, on arrival, he discovered that the plans furnished him were not suited to the locality, and were not calculated for the precise service, he ventured to construct buildings from his own plans, which obtained the approbation of the authorities, and completely answered the purpose for which they were intended.

In 1829 he was employed at the Island of Ascension, to report to the Admiralty on the defence of the island, the means of accommodation for troops, the facilities for procuring water from the mountain districts, the actual state of the cultivation, the encouragement necessary to raise stock and vegetables for the ships of war touching there, and on the general prospects of the islands as a colony.

His reports were so satisfactory, that they induced, in a great degree, his subsequent appointment as Civil Engineer and Architect to the Admiralty. He also embraced the opportunity of contributing to the Transactions of the Geographical Society a paper upon the formation of Ascension Island.

Between the years 1831 and 1836 he was employed as a Commissioner under the Boundary Act;- was present at the siege of Antwerp, of which he wrote an account; and by command of H. M. William IV., read the notes to him at a private audience;- revised the boundary of the borough of Hertford;- was the Commissioner for reforming the establishment of St. Helena;- was a Commissioner under the Municipal Corporation Act, for settling the boundaries of towns in England and in Ireland, and was finally engaged in an inquiry into the mode of providing prisons for convicts in Ireland, and in remodelling the mode of transportation.

In the beginning of 1837 he commenced the duties of Director of Works to the Admiralty, which post soon became very arduous and important, as new works of magnitude were demanded by the exigencies of the service; and the zeal and talent he displayed in rendering available every improvement in science, and in obtaining the best advice and assistance of eminent men in every profession, are attested by the works at all the Royal Dockyards and Naval Arsenals, and the satisfactory reports from the Commissions of which he formed part.

In 1838-9, he was offered by Lord Glenelg the Government of South Australia, which however he declined.

In 1846 he resigned his position under the Admiralty, when their Lordships, in according their last testimony of approbation, stated they could not use more fitting terms, than those employed by the two previous Boards of Admiralty, under which he had served, namely, 'that the public never had a more useful or a more meritorious servant.'

In 1847 he received his promotion as Lieutenant-Colonel, having been previously named one of the Commissioners of the Railway Board.

In this position, as at the Admiralty, he was continually in communication with Civil Engineers, and the urbanity and unruffled temper with which he performed his duties induced the esteem and respect of every one.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution in 1838, and was always ready to contribute in any way to its success.

In private life his benevolence and ready sympathy for distress endeared him to all his friends, who admired him for his cultivated literary taste and acquirements; his mind was filled and regulated by Christian faith and principle, and his decease, which occurred suddenly from the rupture of a blood-vessel on the brain, on the 20th of February, 1848, created a vacancy which will not soon be adequately filled.

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