Randall, John (1755-1802) (DNB00)

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RANDALL, JOHN (1755–1802), shipbuilder, was son of John Randall, shipbuilder, of Rotherhithe. He received a liberal education, and on the death of his father, about 1776, successfully continued the shipbuilding business under his own management. He applied himself at the same time to the study of mathematics, in which, as well as in the principles and details of naval construction, he attained proficiency. In addition to the large number of ships which he built for the mercantile marine and for the East India Company, he built upwards of fifty for the government, including several 74-gun ships and large frigates—among them the Audacious, Ramillies, and Culloden, which were specially celebrated in the war of the French revolution. In the more theoretical part of his profession, he collected materials for a treatise on naval architecture, but on the publication of some French works he abandoned the design. He took a prominent part in founding the Society of Naval Architects. At the same time he maintained his youthful interest in literature and music.

During the revolutionary war shipwrights' wages had been largely increased, and when, with the peace, the pressure of work ceased, and Randall lowered them to the former standard, his men went out on strike. The admiralty permitted him to engage workmen from the Deptford dockyard, and offered to send a military force to protect them. Randall declined the offer, believing that his personal authority with the men on strike would be sufficient. But the Deptford men were forcibly prevented from working in his yard; and, in attempting to quell the riot, he was slightly wounded. His mortification at the action of his men, whom he had treated liberally, brought on a fever, of which he died, at his house in Great Cumberland Street, Hyde Park, on 23 Aug. 1802. He left a widow and family.

[Gent. Mag. 1802, ii. 879–80; European Mag. 1802, ii. 193.]

J. K. L.