Chapman, William (DNB00)

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CHAPMAN, WILLIAM (1749–1832), engineer, was the son of William Chapman, an engineer at Whitby, who invented a machine for converting salt-water into fresh (described in the Philosophical Transactions for 1758?), and discovered a saurian, called after him Teleosaurus Chapmanni, William Chapman the younger, born in 1749, became an eminent engineer. He was a friend of Watt and Matthew Boulton [q. v.] He was engineer of the Kildare canal, and consulting engineer to the grand canal of Ireland. In conjunction with Kennie, he was engineer of the London Docks and of the south dock and basin at Hull. He was also engineer to Leith, Scarborough, and Seaham harbours, the last of which he constructed. In 1812 he patented a new locomotive to work on the Heaton railway, in which chains were so arranged that the wheels could never leave the rails, but it was found so clumsy in action that the plan was soon abandoned (Smiles, George Stephenson, p. 73). Chapman patented several other inventions and was the author of many essays and reports upon engineering subjects. He died on 19 May 1832.

His chief works are:

  1. 'Observations on the various Systems of Canal Navigation, with inferences practical and mathematical, in which Mr. Fulton's system of wheelboats and the utility of subterraneous and of small canals are particularly investigated,' 1797.
  2. 'Facts and Remarks relative to the Witham and the Welland,' &c., 1800.
  3. 'On the Improvement of Boston Haven,' 1800.
  4. 'Observations on the Prevention of a future Scarcity of Grain,' &c., 1803.
  5. 'Treatise on the progressive Endeavours to improve the Manufacturing of Cordage,' 1805, 1808.
  6. 'Observations on the proposed Corn Laws,' 1815.
  7. 'Treatise on the Preservation of Timber from premature Decay,' 1817.

Chapman contributed papers on the formation of mineral coal to Thomson's 'Annals of Philosophy' (1816), vii. 400, and on improvements in the old Rotterdam steam engine to the Rotterdam 'Niewe Verhandl.' (1800), i. 154-178.

[Information from Mr. J. H. Chapman, F.S.A.; Cat. Scientific Papers; Pantheon of the Age (1826), i. 329.]