Bentham, Sir Samuel

SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
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b. 11 January 1757 England
d. 31 May 1831 London, England
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English naval architect and engineer.
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He was the son of Jeremiah Bentham, a lawyer. His mother died when he was an infant and his early education was at Westminster. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a master shipwright at Woolwich and later at Chatham Dockyard, where he made some small improvements in the fittings of ships. In 1778 he completed his apprenticeship and sailed on the Bienfaisant on a summer cruise of the Channel Fleet where he suggested and supervised several improvements to the steering gear and gun fittings.
Unable to find suitable employment at home, he sailed for Russia to study naval architecture and shipbuilding, arriving at St Petersburg in 1780, whence he travelled throughout Russia as far as the frontier of China, examining mines and methods of working metals. He settled in Kritchev in 1782 and there established a small shipyard with a motley work-force. In 1784 he was appointed to command a battalion. He set up a yard on the "Panopticon" principle, with all workshops radiating from his own central office. He increased the armament of his ships greatly by strengthening the hulls and fitting guns without recoil, which resulted in a great victory over the Turks at Liman in 1788. For this he was awarded the Cross of St George and promoted to Brigadier- General. Soon after, he was appointed to a command in Siberia, where he was responsible for opening up the resources of the country greatly by developing river navigation.
In 1791 he returned to England, where he was at first involved in the development of the Panopticon for his brother as well as with several other patents. In 1795 he was asked to look into the mechanization of the naval dockyards, and for the next eighteen years he was involved in improving methods of naval construction and machinery. He was responsible for the invention of the steam dredger, the caisson method of enclosing the entrances to docks, and the development of non-recoil cannonades of large calibre.
His intervention in the maladministration of the naval dockyards resulted in an enquiry that brought about the clearing-away of much corruption, making him very unpopular. As a result he was sent to St Petersburg to arrange for the building of a number of ships for the British navy, in which the Russians had no intention of co-operating. On his return to England after two years he was told that his office of Inspector-General of Navy Works had been abolished and he was appointed to the Navy Board; he had several disagreements with John Rennie and in 1812 was told that this office, too, had been abolished. He went to live in France, where he stayed for thirteen years, returning in 1827 to arrange for the publication of some of his papers.
There is some doubt about his use of his title: there is no record of his having received a knighthood in England, but it was assumed that he was authorized to use the title, granted to him in Russia, after his presentation to the Tsar in 1809.
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Further Reading
Mary Sophia Bentham, Life of Brigadier-General Sir Samuel Bentham, K.S.G., Formerly Inspector of Naval Works (written by his wife, who died before completing it; completed by their daughter).
IMcN

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • Bentham, Sir Samuel — (11 ene. 1757, Inglaterra–31 may. 1831, Londres). Ingeniero, arquitecto naval y oficial de marina británico. Fue el hermano de Jeremy Bentham y padre del botánico George Bentham (n. 1800–m. 1884). Un antiguo partidario de las armas con municiones …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • sir — /serr/, n. 1. a respectful or formal term of address used to a man: No, sir. 2. (cap.) the distinctive title of a knight or baronet: Sir Walter Scott. 3. (cap.) a title of respect for some notable personage of ancient times: Sir Pandarus of Troy …   Universalium

  • sir — (Voz inglesa.) ► sustantivo masculino Tratamiento honorífico empleado por los británicos. * * * sir (ingl.; pronunc. [ser]) m. *Tratamiento de respeto usado en Inglaterra delante de un nombre de hombre o para dirigirse a la persona de que se… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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