Kennish, William

(1799-1862)
   Poet and inventor, he was born into a humble family from Maughold, Isle of Man, and started his working life as ploughboy, speaking only his native language. He joined the Royal Navy as an ordinary seaman in 1821 and rose to be a warrant officer, learning English on the way. Some of his many inventions: warship cannon fire and surveying instrument; the theodolite; changing the way the broadside was set up and used; the use of warship cannon on land; grey paint for naval warships instead of black, to make them less visible; artificial horizon, to compensate for the ship's deviation from the stars; steam engines, how to replace sails with steam; screw type ship propeller; and the pneumatic tube for document transport. In June 1832 he received the gold Isis Medal from the Society of Arts. The Admiralty gave him little credit so he resigned around 1841, and in 1844, he published Mona's Isle and Other Poems about his homeland. He emigrated to America and became attached to the United States admiralty, for which body he made a survey of Central America-the Panama Canal. He died in New York of tropical fever.
   Sources: Biography of William Kennish (http://kennish.com/william). Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. William Kennish Poet, Inventor, Engineer, Explorer (http://www.isleof-man.com/manxnotebook/iomnhas/v062p181.htm).

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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