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British Industrial History

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William Hartree

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William Hartree (1813-1859) of John Penn and Sons

1856 of Lewisham, subscribed £10 guineas to the Smith Testimonial Fund, commemorating the work of F. P. Smith in promoting the screw propeller.


1860 Obituary [1]

MR. WILLIAM HARTREE was born at Rotherhithe, in December, 1813, and was educated at the Merchant Taylors’ School, of which Company he became, subsequently, a liveryman.

Having early manifested a decided talent for mechanical pursuits, he became a pupil of Messrs. John Penn and Son, of Greenwich, into which firm, from the abilities and great perseverance he displayed, he was, eventually, admitted a partner, taking, for many years, in that position, a very active and prominent part in the management of those important works, whence have proceeded, not only so many engines for the Royal and mercantile navies of this and other countries, but whence such practical improvements have emanated.

Up to within a few days of his decease, he continued his active career, and it was after a trying day’s service at Devonport, on board H. M. S. Windsor Castle, that on his journey homewards, he laid the seeds for an attack of pleurisy, which terminated fatally, after only a few days’ illness.

He died on the 8th of February, 1859, in the forty-sixth year of his age, leaving a widow, (the only Sister of Mr. John Penn, (M. Inst. C. E.,) and five children. Not by them alone was his loss deplored, for it was also most sincerely felt by all who had enjoyed the opportunity of appreciating the frankness and kind-heartedness of his character.

He was much devoted to literary pursuits, and had, at an expense of nearly £210,000, collected a fine and well-selected library. Astronomy was also one of his favourite objects of study, and for its prosecution, he erected an observatory at his residence, near Greenwich.

His connection with the Institution dated from 1849, when he was admitted a Member, but his unceasing professional occupations precluded his taking any very active part in the proceedings.



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