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Robert Hughes

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Robert Hughes (1800-1860), Engineer-in-Chief to the Admiralty

1861 Obituary [1]

MR. ROBERT HUGHES was born on the 1st of January, 1800, in Dundee, where he received his education.

At the age of fourteen, he was apprenticed to Messrs. James and Charles Carmichael, of Dundee, who at that time, enjoyed considerable reputation as Mechanical Engineers.

Soon after the expiration of his apprenticeship, he removed to London, and worked in the establishment of Mr. Lloyd, of Gravel Lane, whose service he left, to proceed to France, where he obtained employment at the works of Messrs. Manby, Wilson, and Co., at Charenton, near Paris.

In 1830, on the breaking out of the French Revolution, he, as well as most of the English workmen in France, was compelled to quit the country. He then returned to Mr. Lloyd, by whom he was soon appointed foreman, in which position he remained till October, 1839, with the exception of a short period, during which he acted as manager for Messrs. Mather, Dixon, and Co., of Liverpool.

He finally left the then firm of Messrs. Lloyd and Easter, to become chief foreman of the steam factory then recently established in Woolwich Dockyard, under the direction of Mr. Peter Ewart, the Chief Engineer, who placed great confidence in the knowledge and judgment of Mr. Hughes. He made such good usc of the opportunity thus afforded of adding to his professional experience, that on the formation, in April, 1S47, of the steam branch, at the Admiralty, he was removed from Woolwich, and appointed Assistant to the Engineer-in-Chief of the Navy, which situation he held until the time of his decease. During this period he aided in carrying out those great improvements which became necessary, in consequence of the application of the screw propeller to the vessels of the Royal Navy, involving, as it did, a complete change in the engines for ships of war.

Mr. Hughes was remarkable for the extreme caution he displayed, before coming to a decision ; but when once formed, it was generally so sound, that it very seldom required any modification. He joined the Institution as an Associate in the year 1848, and occasionally attended the Meetings, especially when the subject of steam navigation was under discussion.

He died on the 9th of October, 1860, in the sixty-first year of his age, and was buried in Norwood Cemetery, in the same grave with his wife, who only survived. him two days.

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