Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 144,927 pages of information and 230,620 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
William Alexander Brunton (1840-1881)
1881 Obituary 
Mr. WILLIAM ALEXANDER BRUNTON was born in Glasgow on the 26th of January, 1840.
He was the only child of John Brunton, M. Inst. C.E., and grandson of William Brunton, and nephew of Robert Brunton, both Members of the Institution in their day. His education was commenced at Ivy Bridge, Devonshire; thence he entered the High School of Glasgow, where he displayed considerable talent in mathematics and in the acquirement of modern languages.
In the year 1855 he became pupil and assistant to his father, who was engaged under Her Majesty’s Government in the erection of the Renkioi hospital in Turkey for three thousand beds for the accommodation of the sick and wounded during the Crimean War. In this capacity he showed much facility of resource and great aptitude in setting out work and organising the labour of the native workmen, whose language, colloquially, he soon acquired.
After peace was concluded he returned to England, and in 1857 obtained an appointment as an assistant engineer on the Scinde Railway, of which his father was the chief engineer in India, and distinguished himself for the accuracy and rapidity of his surveying operations.
The failure of the contractor for the works threw their departmental construction upon the engineering staff. Accordingly, Mr. W. A. Brunton had, amongst other matters, special charge of the erection of the viaduct across the Bahrun river, a stone structure, having thirty-two arches each of 45-feet span. Here the tact he had acquired in Turkey of organising labour, and the readiness with which he learned the native language, proved of great value in pushing forward this piece of work - the key to the opening of the line for traffic. The kindness, yet strict justice, with which he treated the workmen endeared him to them in a marked manner.
In 1863 he had charge of the survey of a long district of the Indus Valley railway, still under his father as chief.
In 1865 he returned to England on furlough. Upon the decision of the Secretary of State for India that the Indus Valley railway should be constructed under the Department of Public Works, he, as well as the rest of the Scinde and Indus Valley staff, received notice that their services would no longer be required.
In 1868 he was appointed district engineer on the Oudh and Rohilkhund railway on the staff of Mr. Hederstedt, M. Inst. C.E., in which employment he remained until a sharp attack of fever compelled his return to England in 1870. It was not considered prudent that he should go back again, and he was reluctantly compelled to resign his position, receiving high testimonials from his employers.
In 1871 he joined his father in general professional business in England and on the continent.
After a short illness he died at Exmouth, on the 19th of January, 1881, from disease of the heart.
He had married, in 1866, Mademoiselle Louise Gabrielle du Vallon, who with his father and seven children survive to lament the loss of one in all the relations of life exemplary and much beloved. Punctual and methodical, he invariably threw himself with singular zeal and conscientiousness into all the duties he had to discharge. He was never happier than in the bosom of his family, and always kept in view the promotion of the true well-being of his children. One who has had large experience of men, testifies that it has rarely been his lot to come across any one who gained more fully the confidence and affection of others, or inspired a deeper conviction of his sincerity and uprightness of purpose.
Mr. Brunton was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 23rd of May, 1865, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 5th of April, 1870.
1881 Obituary