Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 48.djvu/24

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

out provoking a rupture. He returned to England in 1855. He died in London on 22 March 1860.

[Athenæum, 31 March 1860; Royal Academy Catalogues.]

C. D.

RENNIE, GEORGE (1791–1866), civil engineer, eldest son of John Rennie [q. v.], and brother of Sir John Rennie [q. v.], was born in the parish of Christchurch, Blackfriars Road, London, on 3 Dec. 1791. He was educated by Dr. Greenlaw at Isleworth, and was subsequently sent to St. Paul's School and to the university of Edinburgh. In 1811 he entered his father's office, where many great works were in progress. In 1818, on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks and James Watt, he was appointed inspector of machinery and clerk of the irons (i.e. dies) at the royal mint, which post he held for nearly eight years. On the death of his father in 1821 he entered into partnership with his younger brother John [see Rennie, Sir John], and for many years they were engaged in completing the vast undertakings originated by the elder Rennie. About 1826 he was entrusted with the construction of the Grosvenor Bridge over the Dee at Chester, from the designs of Harrison. He had considerable practice as a railway engineer, and made plans for lines to connect Birmingham and Liverpool, the Vale of Clwyd line, the railway from Mons to Manège, and the Namur and Liège railway, of which he was appointed chief engineer in 1846.

But Rennie's genius was chiefly mechanical, and he superintended the manufacturing business of the firm in Holland Street, where a great variety of machinery was turned out, including the first biscuit-making machinery, corn and chocolate mills for Deptford victualling yard, and the machinery at the Royal William Victualling Yard, Plymouth. Many orders for foreign governments were executed, and the firm were employed by the admiralty in making engines for the royal navy. He was much interested in the screw-propeller, and his firm built the engines for the Archimedes, in which Sir Francis Pettit Smith's screw was tried. Subsequently, in 1840, the firm built for the admiralty the Dwarf, the first vessel in the British navy propelled by a screw.

In 1822 he was elected fellow of the Royal Society, and contributed papers to the ‘Transactions’ in 1829 on the friction of metals and other substances. He also presented papers to the British Association and to the Institution of Civil Engineers, of which body he was elected a member in 1841. A list of his papers is given in the obituary notice in the ‘Proceedings.’

He died on 30 March 1866, at his house, 39 Wilton Crescent, from the effects of an accident in the street in the previous year, and was buried on 6 April at Holmwood, near Dorking. He married, in 1828, Margaret Anne, daughter of Sir John Jackson, bart., M.P., who survived him; by her he left issue two sons and one daughter.

[Obituary notice in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, xxviii. 610; Gent. Mag. 1866, i. 749–50.]

R. B. P.

RENNIE, JAMES (1787–1867), naturalist, born 26 Feb. 1787, appears to have been the natural son of Thomas Rennie (or Rainey) of Aldenholme, Sorn, Ayrshire, by Margaret Edwards. He matriculated at Glasgow University in 1810, and gained prizes in logic, ethics, mathematics, and natural philosophy. He won prizes for essays on a ‘Comparative View of the Huttonian and Wernerian Systems of Geology,’ on ‘Improvements in the Art of Bleaching,’ and the ‘Application of Steam to the Purposes of Navigation.’ He graduated M.A. on 20 July 1815, and took holy orders. In 1821 he removed to London, and on 30 Nov. 1830 was appointed professor of natural history at King's College. The chair was, however, abolished on 1 Aug. 1834, owing to a dearth of students in the subject. Subsequently Rennie engaged in literary work without much pecuniary success. He set sail for New South Wales in 1840, and afterwards settled in South Australia. He died at Adelaide on 25 Aug. 1867.

Rennie was author of:

  1. ‘Insect Architecture’ [anon.], 12mo, London, 1830.
  2. ‘Insect Transformations’ [anon.], 12mo, London, 1830.
  3. ‘Insect Miscellanies’ [anon.], 12mo, London, 1831.
  4. ‘The Architecture of Birds’ [anon.], 12mo, London, 1831—reissued as ‘Bird Architecture,’ 1844.
  5. ‘Alphabet of Insects,’ 8vo, London, 1832.
  6. ‘A Conspectus of the Butterflies and Moths found in Britain,’ 8vo, London, 1832.
  7. ‘Notes of a Naturalist’ in ‘Time's Telescope,’ vols. xix.–xxi., 8vo, London, 1832–4.
  8. ‘Alphabet of Physics,’ 8vo, London, 1833.
  9. ‘Alphabet of Zoology,’ 8vo, London, 1833.
  10. ‘Alphabet of Scientific Angling,’ 8vo, London, 1833.
  11. ‘Alphabet of Scientific Gardening,’ 8vo, London, 1833; another edit. 1850.
  12. ‘Alphabet of Botany,’ 12mo, London, 1833; new edit. 1836.
  13. ‘The Domestic Habits of Birds,’ 12mo, London, 1833.
  14. ‘The Hand-book of plain Botany,’ &c., 16mo, London, 1834; 2nd edit. 1845; 3rd edit. 1857; 4th edit., enlarged by the