Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Charles Stanhope

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Charles Stanhope (1753-1816), 3rd Earl Stanhope aka Charles Mahon, 3rd Earl Stanhope FRS, inventor of the Stanhope Press, statesman and scientist.

1753 August 3rd. Born the son of Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl Stanhope, and his wife Grizel Hamilton

Studied mathematics under Georges-Louis Le Sage at the University of Geneva. Also studied electricity and the volume of Principles of Electricity which he issued in 1779 contained the rudiments of his theory on the "return stroke" resulting from the contact with the earth of the electric current of lightning, which were afterwards amplified in a contribution to the Philosophical Transactions for 1787.

He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society so early as November 1772, and devoted a large part of his income to experiments in science and philosophy.

1794 With Samuel Varley, founded the Chemical and Philosophical Society

He invented a method of securing buildings from fire (which, however, proved impracticable), the first iron printing press and the lens which bear his name, and a monochord for tuning musical instruments, suggested improvements in canal locks, made experiments in steam navigation in 1795–1797 and contrived two calculating machines.

1800 Stanhope made it worthwhile for Samuel Varley to leave his prosperous career in London, to help his work at Chevening, including developing the stereotype and printing press. They worked together for 16 years.

When he acquired extensive property in Devon, Stanhope projected a canal through that county from the Bristol to the English Channel and took the levels himself.

1816 December 15th. Died

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