Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lloyd, John Augustus

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LLOYD, JOHN AUGUSTUS (1800–1854), engineer and surveyor, youngest son of John Lloyd of Lynn, Norfolk, was born in London on 1 May 1800, and was educated successively at private schools at Tooting and at Winchester, where he was taught the rudiments of science. When on a visit to Derbyshire he executed a survey of the Wirksworth mines. The peace of 1815 prevented his obtaining a commission in the army as he desired, and he was sent out to his elder brother, who was king's counsel at Tortola. There John spent his time in surveying, and acquired a knowledge of Spanish and French. Crossing to South America, he presented an introduction, which had been given him by Sir Robert Ker Porter, to Simon Bolivar, the liberator of Colombia, and served some years on his staff as a captain of engineers, ultimately attaining the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In November 1827 he was commissioned by Bolivar to survey the Isthmus of Panama and report on the best means of inter-oceanic communication. His progress was arrested by disturbances at Carthagena, where in helping to restore order he was severely wounded and narrowly escaped death. He ultimately carried out the survey under immense difficulties, some of it being through dense forests, where the surveyors were constant targets for the carbines of ‘Cisneros’ and his band, wild Indian freebooters, for years the pest of the Caraccas. Lloyd recommended a road, on the line since adopted for the Chagres and Panama railway. Soon afterwards he appears to have returned to England. His report on his survey appeared in ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ 1830, pp. 59–68, with supplementary information in ‘Journal of Royal Geographical Society,’ i. 69–101. In the same year he was made F.R.S. He was employed, under the joint direction of the board of admiralty and the Royal Society, in determining the difference of level in the Thames between London Bridge and the sea. His report appeared in ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ 1831, pp. 167–98.

In 1831 Lloyd went out to Mauritius, where he was appointed colonial civil engineer and surveyor-general. He arrived at Port Louis on 31 Aug. 1831, and soon afterwards made a daring ascent of the Peter Botte mountain, which was previously regarded as inaccessible (see account in Journal of Royal Geographical Society, vol. iii.) During his twenty years' service in Mauritius he executed many useful public works, including a breakwater for the inner harbour, the custom house, a patent slip for vessels of six hundred tons, the colonial observatory, iron bridges, district churches, hundreds of miles of macadamised roads, and a trigonometrical survey of the island and the adjoining islets. He also compiled a new map of Madagascar, with a memoir, published in ‘Journal of Royal Geographical Society,’ vol. xx. He quitted the island on 4 April 1849, and reached Europe by way of Ceylon. He made his way to Norway, and afterwards travelled through Poland, where he was temporarily detained by the Russian authorities at Cracow. On his release he visited the Carpathians, Vienna, Tyrol, and France, and inspected the observatories en route.

Lloyd became an associate of the Institute of Civil Engineers, and served on the council. His paper communicated to the institute in 1849 on the ‘Facilities for a Ship Canal between the Atlantic and Pacific’ (see Proc. Inst. Civil Eng. ix. 58 et seq.) was awarded the Telford medal. ‘There was nothing,’ he wrote, ‘but the climate and the expense to prevent a canal being cut from one sea to the other of sufficient depth to float the largest ship in her majesty's navy’ (ib. p. 60). In 1851 Lloyd acted as special commissioner, in conjunction with Dr. (now Sir James) Lyon Playfair, in procuring specimens of the industrial products of the metropolis and manufacturing districts for the Great Exhibition, and performed his work with indefatigable industry. By way of reward he was sent as British chargé d'affaires to Bolivia. A paper which he wrote there on the famous mines of Copiapo, Chili, was communicated by Prince Albert to the Royal Geographical Society (see Journal, xxiii. 196–212). After the outbreak of war with Russia, Lloyd started on a mission to stir up the Circassians in the English interest. He was detained in the Crimea after the battle of the Alma to collect information, and died at Therapia of cholera on 10 Oct. 1854, in his fifty-fifth year. He left a widow and family. Two sons held commissions in the British army.

Lloyd was a man of immense energy and of much scientific aptitude. Besides the scientific papers already mentioned Lloyd wrote ‘Notes on Panama’ (‘Journal of Royal Geographical Society,’ i. 69–100), ‘Account of Observations at Mauritius’ (‘Astronomical Society's Monthly Notices,’ 1833–1836, iii. 186–94), ‘On Beds and Masses of Coal at a distance from the Sea in Mauritius’ (‘Geological Society's Proceedings,’ 1842, iii. 317–18), ‘Notes on Geological Formation of Round and Serpents Islands, Mauritius’ (‘Proc. Verb. Soc. Hist. Nat. de Maurice,’ 1846, pp. 155–6), ‘Report of a Journey across the Andes between Cochabamba and Chimoré’ (ib. xxiv. 259–65). A volume of ‘Papers relating to Proposals for establishing Colleges of Arts and Manufactures for the Industrial Classes’ was printed for private circulation at London in 1851, 8vo. He made many drawings of Madagascar, and charts, mostly South American.

[Obituary notices of Lloyd in Proc. Inst. Civil Engineers, vol. xiv., and Journ. Roy. Geogr. Soc., vol. xxv. pp. xci–ii; Cat. Scientific Papers; Brit. Mus. Catalogues. No official records of Lloyd's services have been preserved either in Downing Street or in Mauritius.]

H. M. C.