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William Johnson (1823-1864)

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William Johnson (1823-1864)

1849 Joined the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.[1]


1866 Obituary [2]

MR. WILLIAM JOHNSON was born in 1823, at Kendal, in Westmorland. His father, who was a solicitor in that town, died when his third son, the subject of this notice, was six years old.

The son received his education partly at Kendal, and partly at Wharton, a village in the north of Lancashire.

Having early displayed a taste for mechanical pursuits, a situation was obtained for him at the cotton manufactory of Messrs. Ainsworth, at Preston. There he remained, studying the structure of the various machines within his reach, and improving his knowledge of practical mechanics, until the year 1843, when, in consequence of the representations of Messrs. Ainsworth as to his mechanical abilities, he was placed, through the instrumentality of Mr. Birley, with whose family he was connected on his mother’s side, under the late Mr. J. G. Bodmer (M. Inst. C.E.), with whom he continued for about three years.

He was, at that time, in the habit of contributing Articles to the mechanical periodicals of the day; and Mr. Buchanan, the editor of the 'Glasgow Practical Mechanics’ and Engineers’ Magazine,' offered him the sub-editorship of that journal. This appointment necessitated his removal to Glasgow in 1845.

That periodical having been given up in 1848, Mr. Johnson, young as he was, had the enterprise to start the 'Practical Mechanics’ Journal,' entirely on his own responsibility, which publication he carried on successfully for many years. Soon afterwards he undertook the business of a patent agent, and as this rapidly increased, and required more attention than he could give to it, he took into partnership his younger brother, Mr. John Henry Johnson (Assoc. Inst. C. E.)

When it was found to be desirable that an office should be opened in London, the management of the latter was undertaken by the younger brother, whilst Mr. William Johnson remained at Glasgow, attending to his editorial duties, and managing the Scotch branch of the patent business.

He was appointed Secretary to the Glasgow Committee for the Great Exhibition of 1851, in conjunction with the late Dr. Strang. Latterly his health gave way, and he withdrew in a great measure from his laborious duties.

He died at Glasgow, on the 10th of June, 1864, leaving a widow and two young sons.

Mr. William Johnson was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in the year 1850. In engineering circles he was well known as being thoroughly acquainted with the details of machinery. He was remarkable for his power of rapidly grasping and comprehending the details of complicated mechanism. The 'Practical Mechanics’ Journal' contains many articles from his pen, describing or criticising the various inventions of the day.

He edited the 'Practical Draughtsman’s Book of Industrial Design,' a quarto volume, forming a course of mechanical engineering and architectural drawing, of which a second edition has already been published, He also contributed articles to several mechanical publications, his last work being that on Textile Machinery and Manufactures, and some other subjects, for the Scientific (or 'Practical Mechanics’ Journal') Record of the Great Exhibition of 1862.


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