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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor

 



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James Renwick

RENWICK, James     - A Stan Klos Biography Site

RENWICK, James, physicist, born in Liverpool, England, 30 May, 1790; died in New York City, 12 January, 1863. He was born during his parents' return from a visit to Scotland, where his mother, formerly a Miss Jeffrey, the daughter of a Scottish clergyman, had been a famous beauty. Burns celebrated her in three of his songs.

 

James was graduated at Columbia in 1807, standing first in his class, and in 1813 became instructor in natural and experimental philosophy and chemistry in that college. In 1820 he was called to the chair of these sciences, which he then held until 1853, when he was made professor emeritus.

 

He entered the United States service in 1814 as topographical engineer with the rank of major, and spent his summers in this work. In 1838 he was appointed by the United States government one of the commissioners for the exploration of the northeast boundary-line between the United States and New Brunswick. From 1817 till 1820 he was a trustee of Columbia, and in 1829 he received the degree of LL. D. from that college.

 

Professor Renwick was a vigorous writer and a frequent contributor to the first "New York Review," and on the establishment of the "Whig Review" he became one of its most valued writers, also contributing to the "American Quarterly Review." He translated from the French Lallemand's "Treatise on Artillery" (2 vols., New York, 1820), and edited, with notes, American editions of Parkes's "Rudiments of Chemistry" (1824); Lardner's "Popular Lectures on the Steam-Engine" (1828): Daniell's "Chemical Philosophy" (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1832); and Moseley's " Illustrations of Practical Mechanics" (New York, 1839).

 

His own works include, besides official reports, lives of "David Rittenhouse" (1839); "Robert Fulton" (1845): and "Count Rumford" (1848), in Sparks's "Library of American Biography"; also "Outlines of Natural Philosophy," the earliest extended treatise on this subject published in the United States (2 vols., New York. 1822-'3) ; "Treatise on the Steam-Engine" (1830), which was translated into several languages; "Elements of Mechanics" (Philadelphia, 1832); "Applications of the Science of Mechanics to Practical Purposes" (New York, 1840); "Life of De Witt Clinton, with Selections of his Letters" (1840); "Life of John Jay [with Henry B. Renwick] and Alexander Hamilton" (1841); "First Principles of Chemistry" (1841); and "First Principles of Natural Philosophy" (1842).

 

Professor Renwick printed privately for the use of his classes "First Principles in Chemistry" (1838), and "Outlines of Geology" (1838), and a synopsis of his lectures on "Chemistry Applied to the Arts," taken down by one of his class, was printed.

 

--His son, Henry Brevoort Renwick, engineer, born in New York City, 4 September, 1817, was graduated at Columbia in 1836, and became assistant engineer in the United States service. He served as first assistant astronomer of the United States boundary commission in 1840-'2, and in 1848 was appointed examiner in the United States Patent Office.

 

In 1853 he became United States inspector of steamboat engines for the district of New York, and since his retirement from that office he has devoted himself to consultation practice in the specialty of mechanical engineering, in which branch he is accepted as one of the best authorities in the United States. Mr. Renwick was associated with his father in the preparation of  "Life of John Jay" (New York, 1841).

 

--Another son, James Renwick, architect, born in Bloomingdale (now part of New York City), 3 November, 1818, was graduated at Columbia in 1836. He inherited a fondness for architecture from his father. At first he served as an engineer in the Erie railway, and then he became an assistant engineer on the Croton aqueduct, in which capacity he superintended the construction of the distributing reservoir on Fifth Avenue between Fortieth and Forty-second streets. Soon afterward he volunteered to furnish a plan for a fountain in Union square, which was accepted by the property owners, who had decided to erect one at their expense.

 

When the vestry of Grace Church purchased the property on Broadway at 11th Street, Mr. Renwick submitted designs for the new edifice. The building, which is purely Gothic, was completed in 1845. All of the designs and working drawings were made by him. Subsequently he was chosen architect of Calvary church on Fourth Avenue, and also of the Church of the Puritans, formerly on Union Square. He was selected by the regents of the Smithsonian Institution to prepare plans for their building, and also built the Corcoran Gallery in Washington.

 

In 1853 he was requested to make designs for a Roman Catholic cathedral to be built on Fifth Avenue between Fiftieth and Fifty-first Streets. His plans were accepted, and on 15 August, 1858, the cornerstone of St. Patrick's Cathedral, seen in the accompanying illustration, was laid. Its architecture is of the decorated or geometric style that prevailed in Europe in the 13th century, of which the cathedrals of Rheims, Cologne, and Amiens are typical, and it is built of white marble with a base course of granite. On 25 May, 1879, the cathedral was dedicated by Cardinal McCloskey, and in 1887 the completion of the two towers was undertaken. Meanwhile residences for the archbishop and the vicar-general have been built. It is estimated that upward of  $2,500,000 will be expended before the group of buildings, as originally designed, will be completed.

 

Later he planned the building for Vassar College, St. Bartholomew's Church, and the Church of the Covenant, New York, the last two in the Byzantine style. Besides churches in various cities, including St. Ann's in Brooklyn, he planned the building of the Young men's Christian Association in 1869, and Booth's Theatre in the same year, and other public edifices in New York City.

 

--Another son, Edward Sabine Renwick, expert, born in New York city, 3 January, 1823, was graduated at Columbia in 1839, and then, turning his attention to civil and mechanical engineering, became the superintendent of large iron-works in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, but since 1849 has been engaged mainly as an expert in the trials of patent cases in the United States courts.

 

In 1862, in connection with his brother, Henry B. Renwick, he devised methods for the repair of the steamer "Great Eastern" while afloat, and successfully accomplished it, replating a fracture in the bilge 82 feet long and about 10 feet broad at the widest place, a feat which had been pronounced impossible by other experts.

 

He has invented a wrought-iron railway-chair for connecting the ends of rails (1850), a steam cut-off for steam engines (1856), a system of side propulsion for steamers (1862), and numerous improvements in incubators and brooders (1877-'86), and was one of the original inventors of the self-binding reaping-machine (1851). He has published a work on artificial incubation entitled "The Thermostatic Incubator" (New York, 1883).


Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

RENWICK, James, physicist, born in Liverpool, England, 30 May, 1790; died in New York city, 12 January, 1863. He was born during his parents' return from a visit to Scotland, where his mother, formerly a Miss Jeffrey, the daughter of a Scottish clergyman, had been a famous beauty. Burns celebrated her in three of his songs. James was graduated at Columbia in 1807, standing first in his class, and in 1813 became instructor in natural and experimental philosophy and chemistry in that college. In 1820 he was called to the chair of these sciences, which he then held until 1853, when he was made professor emeritus. He entered the United States service in 1814 as topographical engineer with the rank of major, and spent his summers in this work. In 1838 he was appointed by the United States government one of the commissioners for the exploration of the northeast boundary-line between the United States and New Brunswick. From 1817 till 1820 he was a trustee of Columbia, and in 1829 he received the degree of LL. D. from that college. Professor Henwick was a vigorous writer and a frequent contributor to the first "New York Review," and on the establishment of the "Whig Review" he became one of its most valued writers, also contributing to the " American Quarterly Review." He translated from the French Lallemand's "Treatise on Artillery" (2 vols., New York, 1820), and edited, with notes, American editions of Parkes's " Rudiments of Chemistry" (1824); Lardner's " Popular Lectures on the Steam-Engine" (1828): Daniell's "Chemical Philosophy" (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1832); and Moseley's " Illustrations of Practical Mechanics" (New York, 1839). His own works include, besides official reports, lives of " David Rittenhouse" (1839) ; " Robert Fulton" (1845): and "Count Rumford" (1848), in Sparks's "Library of American Biography"; also "Outlines of Natural Philosophy," the earliest extended treatise on this subject published in the United States (2 vols., New York. 1822-'3) ; " Treatise on the Steam-Engine" (1830), which was translated into several languages; " Elements of Mechanics" (Philadelphia, 1832); " Applications of the Science of Mechanics to Practical Purposes" (New York, 1840);" Life of De Witt Clinton, with Selections of his Letters" (1840); " Life of John Jay [with Henry B. Renwick] and Alexander Hamilton" (1841); " First Principles of Chemistry" (1841); and "First Principles of Natural Philosophy" (1842). Professor Renwick printed privately for the use of his classes "First Principles in Chemistry" (1838), and "Outlines of Geology" (1838), and a synopsis of his lectures on " Chemistry Applied to the Arts," taken down by one of his class, was printed.--His son, Henry Brevoort, engineer, born in New York city, 4 September, 1817, was graduated at Columbia in 1836, and became assistant engineer in the United States service. He served as first assistant astronomer of the United States boundary commission in 1840-'2, and in 1848 was appointed examiner in the United States patent-office. In 1853 he became United States inspector of steamboat engines for the district of New York, and since his retirement from that office he has devoted himself to consultation practice in tile specialty of mechanical engineering, in which branch he is accepted as one of the best authorities in the United States. Mr. Renwick was associated with his father in the preparation of " Life of John Jay" (New York, 1841).--Another son, James, architect, born in Bloomingdale (now part of New York city), 3 November, 1818, was graduated at Columbia in 1836. He inherited a fondness for architecture from his father. At first he served as an engineer in the Erie railway, and then he became an assistant engineer on [he h Croton aqueduct, in which capacity he superintended the construction of the distributing reservoir on Fifth avenue between Fortieth and Forty-second streets. Soon afterward he volunteered to furnish a plan for a fountain in Union square, which was accepted by the property owners, who had decided to erect one at their expense. When the vestry of Grace church purchased the property on Broadway at 11th street Mr. Renwick submitted designs for the new edifice, which The building, which is purely Gothic, was completed in 1845. All of the designs and working drawings were made by him. Subsequently lie was chosen architect of Calvary church on Fourth avenue, and also of the Church of the Puritans, formerly on Union square, was selected by the regents of the Smithsonian institution to prepare plans for their building, and also built the Corcoran gallery in Washington. In 1853 he was requested to make designs for a Roman Catholic cathedral to be built on Fifth avenue between Fiftieth and Fifty-first streets. His plans were accepted, and on 15 August, 1858, the cornerstone of St. Patrick's cathedral, seen in the accompanying illustration, was laid. Its architecture is of the decorated or geometric style that prevailed' in Europe in the 13th century, of which the cathedrals of Rheims, Cologne, and Amiens are typical, and it is built of white marble with a base course of granite. On 25 May, 1879, the cathedral was dedicated by Cardinal McCloskey, and in 1887 the completion of the two towers was undertaken. Meanwhile residences for the archbishop and the vicar-general have been built. It is estimated that upward of , $2,500,000 will be expended before the group of buildings, as originally designed, will be completed. Later he planned the building for Vassar college, St. Bartholomew's church, and the Church of the Covenant, New York, the last two in the Byzantine style. Besides churches in various cities, including St. Ann's in Brooklyn, he planned the building of the Young men's Christian association in 1869, and Booth's theatre in the same year, and other public edifices in New York city.--Another son, Edward Sabine, expert, born in New York city, 3 January, 1823, was graduated at Columbia in 1839, and then, turning his attention to civil and mechanical engineering, became the superintendent of large iron-works in Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania. but since 1849 has been engaged mainly as an expert in the trials of patent cases in the United States courts. In 1862, in connection with his brother, Henry B. Renwick, he devised methods for the repair of the steamer "Great Eastern" while afloat, and successfully accomplished it, replating a fracture in the bilge 82 feet long and about 10 feet broad at the widest place, a feat which had been pronounced impossible by other experts. He has invented a wrought-iron railway-chair for connecting the ends of rails (1850), a steam cut-off for beam engines (1856), a system of side propulsion for steamers (1862), and numerous improvements in incubators and brooders (1877-'86), and was one of the original inventors of the self-binding reaping-machine (1851). He has published a work on artificial incubation entitled " The Thermostatic Incubator" (New York, 1883).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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