Green, William Pringle (DNB00)

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GREEN, WILLIAM PRINGLE (1785–1846), inventor, born apparently at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1785, was eldest son of Benjamin Green (d. 1794), treasurer of the province of Nova Scotia, a member of the House of Assembly there, and a justice of the court of common pleas. His grandfather, also Benjamin Green (1713-1772), was in business at Boston, Massachusetts, till 1745, when he took part in the capture of Cape Breton. In 1749 he settled at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and became governor of the province in 1766. William Pringle entered the Cleopatra as a midshipman in 1797, and was afterwards for three years and a half in the West Indies in La Topaze. He was afterwards in the Circe and the Sanspareil. After the peace of Amiens he was in the Trent, and thence drafted into the Conqueror, in which he served at Trafalgar. He took part in the capture of the Bucentaure on that day, and was promoted to a lieutenancy for his services, and appointed to the Formidable. He afterwards served on the American coast as first lieutenant of the Eurydice, and communicated to Sir John Borlase Warren plans for bringing English ships to an equality with the Americans. In 1811 he commanded the brig Resolute, and carried out his plans for training the crew to the satisfaction of the admiralty. The Resolute was paid off in 1815, and Green devoted his time to inventions, till in 1829 he was appointed to a Falmouth packet. After nearly three years' service she was paid off, and Green was neglected till in 1842 he was appointed lieutenant of the Victory, and quartered in the Blanche frigate at Portsmouth. He fell into embarrassments, had to resign a year later, and died at Landport, Portsmouth, on 18 Oct. 1846. He left a widow and seven children. He seems to have been neglected through life, and could only leave a pension of 50l. a year to his family. Green was an officer of great mechanical ingenuity. In spite of constant discouragement he devoted the greater part of his life to the promotion of inventions and improvements connected with the service, many of which were so valuable as to be introduced throughout the navy. He submitted to the navy board a clever plan for lowering and fidding top-masts, an imitation of which, at a later period, procured for another person a reward of 5,000l. from the admiralty. The Society of Arts in 1823 presented him with a silver medal for his improvements in rigging ships, as they subsequently did for his 'tiller for a disabled rudder' and his 'gun-carriage and jointed ramrod for naval use.' In 1830, and again in 1837, he took out patents for improvements in capstans, and in machinery employed in raising, lowering, and moving ponderous bodies (Woodcroft, Alphabetical Index of Patentees, 1617-1852, London, 1854). He had previously, in 1833, published a work entitled 'Fragments from remarks of twenty-five years in every quarter of the globe on Electricity, Magnetism, Aerolites, and various other Phenomena of Nature,' 1833, with portrait and a genealogy of the author.

[Gent. Mag. for 1847, i. 209; O'Byrne's Naval Biographical Dict.]

J. B-y.