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British Industrial History

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John Rickman

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John Rickman ( -c1840)

1835 John Rickman became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1841 Obituary [2]

John Rickman was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, and graduated there; he subsequently devoted himself to literary pursuits, to political economy, and to practical mechanics.

For some years he was conductor and principal contributor to the ‘Agricultural and Commercial Magazine.'

In 1801 he removed to Dublin, as Private Secretary to the Right Hon. Charles Abbot, then Keeper of his Majesty’s Privy Seal in Ireland. Upon the election of Mr. Abbot to the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Commons, Mr. Rickman continued to be his Private Secretary, and in 1814, he was appointed to the table of the House of Commons.

He also acted as Secretary to the two Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament in 1803, 'for the making of Roads and Bridges in Scotland, and for the construction of the Caledonian Canal,' and to the Commissioners 'for building Churches in the Highlands.'

The ability and energy which he displayed in the discharge and conduct of the duties of these laborious offices, for more than thirty years, in addition to his constant attendance at the House of Commons, called forth the warmest acknowledgments of public meetings held in the Scotch counties on his retirement, and various resolutions were passed expressive of the sense entertained of the unremitting exertions, and uniform and disinterested assiduity, with which he had promoted every object connected with the improvement and general prosperity of the Highlands and Isles of Scotland.

The conduct of the affairs of the Highland Commissioners brought Mr. Rickman into constant intercourse with their engineer, Mr. Telford; an intimate friendship was formed between them; and Mr. Rickman completed and published the account of the Life and works of that eminent man, which was but partially arranged at the time of his decease.

Mr. Rickman’s chief work is the Census of Great Britain, in six folio volumes; he is also the author of numerous papers connected with Statistics, having bestowed great pains in collecting and arranging the returns connected with education and local taxation.

To this Institution he rendered very essential services, and whenever application was made to him in its behalf, was always zealous in endeavouring to promote its interests.

The Library was enriched by him with two copies of the Life and Works of Telford, and as the acting executor of Telford, he endeavoured to carry out by every means in his power the intentions of that great benefactor of the Institution.

Mr. Rickman’s acquirements in every department of knowledge were accurate and extensive; to great quickness of perception, and memory of no ordinary power, were added indefatigable industry, undeviating method, and a sound critical judgment;- qualities which caused his acquaintance to be highly valued by the most distinguished literary characters of the day, and which, no less than the strict and scrupulous sense of justice and honour, which particularly showed itself in his considerate kindness towards all those with whom he was connected, will occasion his loss to be deeply regretted by a widely extended circle.

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