Twiss, William

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b. 1745
d. 14 March 1827 Hardon Grange, Bingley, Yorkshire, England.
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English army officer and military engineer.
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William Twiss entered the Ordnance Department at the age of 15, and in 1762, aged 17, he was appointed Overseer of Works at Gibraltar. At the end of the Seven Years War, in 1763, he was commissioned Ensign in the Engineers, and further promotion followed while he still remained in Gibraltar. In 1771, as a Lieutenant, he returned to England to be employed on Port-smouth's dockyard fortifications. In 1776 he was posted to Canada, where he was soon appointed Controller of Works for the building of a British fleet for Lake Champlain. He was involved in military operations in the American War of Independence and in 1777 was present at the capture of Fort Ticonderoga (New York State). He was taken prisoner shortly afterwards, but was soon exchanged, and a year later he was promoted Captain.
In 1779 he was given the task of constructing a short canal at Coteau du Lac, Quebec, to bypass rough water at this point in the St Lawrence River between Montreal and Pointe Maligne. This was probably the first locked canal in North America. In 1781, following his appointment as Chief Engineer for all military works in Canada, he supervised further navigational improvements on the St Lawrence with canals at Les Cèdres and the Cascades. In parallel with these projects, he was responsible for an amazing variety of works in Canada, including hospitals, windmills, store-houses, barracks, fortifications, roads, bridges, prisons, ironworks and dams. He was also responsible for a temporary citadel in Quebec.
In 1783 he returned to England, and from 1794–1810 he served as Lieutenant- Governor of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, although in 1799 he was sent to Holland as Commanding Engineer to the Duke of York. In 1802 he was promoted Colonel and was in Ireland reporting on the defences there. He became Colonel Commandant, Royal Engineers, in 1809, and retired two years later. In retirement he was promoted Lieu tenant-General in 1812 and General in 1825.
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Further Reading
W.Porter, 1889–1915, History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, London: Longmans.
JHB

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

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