Sibley, George (DNB00)

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SIBLEY, GEORGE (1824–1891), civil engineer, born on 12 Aug. 1824, was son of Robert Sibley, one of the first members of the Institution of Civil Engineers. From 1831 to 1838 he received his education at University College school, London. After serving an apprenticeship with his father in London, he obtained employment in 1845 as assistant engineer on the Bristol and Exeter railway under Isambard Kingdom Brunel [q. v.], and afterwards under Charles Hutton Gregory. In 1851, through James Meadows Rendel [q. v.], he received the appointment of assistant engineer on the East India railway, and was placed in charge of the Chandernagore district. His promotion was rapid. In August 1853 he was placed in charge of the Beerbhoom district as resident engineer, and in this position designed the two largest brick arch-bridges in India, those over the Adjai and More. In December of the same year he was made a district engineer. About 1857 he was appointed deputy chief engineer under Turnbull, and in 1859 chief engineer of the North-West Provinces division. On the death of Samuel Power he became, in April 1868, chief engineer of the whole line and a member of the board of agency. During his service in the North-West Sibley completed the Allahabad Jumna bridge, then the largest railway bridge in the world, constructed the Delhi Jumna bridge, and designed all the works at Delhi connected with the railway.

In 1869 he was involved in a controversy with the Indian government, which had issued a notification implying that the civil engineers received commissions from others than their employers. The accusation does not appear to have been justifiable, and Sibley, with the other engineers, addressed a strong remonstrance to the government.

In January 1875 Sibley left India on furlough, and shortly after retired. In consideration of his services he was made a companion of the order of the Indian Empire. He resided in England in a house which he built on the summit of Whitehill, Caterham, devoting himself to literary and scientific pursuits. He died of heart disease on 25 Oct. 1891, leaving a considerable legacy for the purpose of founding engineering scholarships and encouraging native students at the university of Calcutta. Like his father, Sibley was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

A brother, Septimus Sibley (1831–1893), physician, was for many years resident surgeon of Middlesex College Hospital, and was the first general practitioner elected to the council of the Royal College of Surgeons. Hee published ‘A History and Description of the Cholera Epidemic in London in 1854,’ besides papers in ‘Medico-Chirurgical Transactions’ (British Medical Journal, 25 Mar. 1893).

[Proc. Instit. Civil Engineers, 1891–2, pt. ii.; Times, 28 Oct. 1891.]

E. I. C.