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Henry Cornelius Donovan

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Henry Cornelius Donovan (1842-1916) of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co

1916 Obituary [1]

HENRY CORNELIUS DONOVAN was born at Wandsworth on the 13th July, 1842.

After being educated at proprietary schools and the City of London School, he commenced his career by taking up a clerkship in a wholesale stationery firm, but soon tired of clerical work and sought more congenial employment.

This he found, in 1862, in the old Electric and International Telegraph Company, long since absorbed, in common with all similar enterprises, by the Post Office.

In 1864, soon after the formation of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company by the amalgamation of Messrs. Glass, Elliot and Company and the Gutta Percha Company, he joined the electrical staff of that Company at East Greenwich.

In 1866 he left that Company and entered the service of the Silvertown Company.

Subsequently he left England with an expedition organized for the laying of cables in the West Indies. A severe epidemic of yellow fever broke out on the vessel on her arrival in the West Indies, and many fatalities occurred, retarding the operations. Mr. Donovan escaped infection himself, and earned high commendation by the fearlessness and assiduous care he displayed in nursing those members of the expeditionary staff who were attacked by the disease.

In the autumn of 1868 he rejoined the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, in whose service he remained from that date until his retirement from active work in 1908, having been prominently associated throughout this period with the manufacture and submersion of the numerous important submarine cables undertaken by the Company. He was one of the few surviving electricians engaged on the laying of the 1865 and 1866 Atlantic cables by the s.s. Great Eastern, and was also one of the oldest members of the Institution, of which he was elected an Associate in 1872 and a Member in 1874. Although of a retiring disposition, he possessed marked originality of character, together with qualities which endeared him to those who knew him and appreciated his worth.

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