Brandreth, Thomas Shaw (DNB00)

BRANDRETH, THOMAS SHAW (1788–1873), mathematician, classical scholar, and barrister-at-law, descended from a family that has been in possession of Lees in Cheshire from the time of the civil war, was born 24 July 1788, the son of Joseph Brandreth, M.D. [q. v.] He was sent to Eton, and was prepared by Dr. Maltby, afterwards bishop of Durham, for Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took his B. A. degree in 1810, with the distinctions of second wrangler, second Smith's prizeman, and chancellor's medallist, and his degree of M.A. in 1813. He was elected to a fellowship at his college, was called to the bar, and practised at Liverpool, but his taste for scientific inventions interfered not a little with his success as a barrister. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1821 for his 'distinguished mathematical attainments.' He had previously invented his logometer, or ten-foot gunter. He also invented a friction wheel and a double-check clock escapement, all of which he patented. His scientific tastes drew him into close friendship with George Stephenson, and he was one of the directors of the original Manchester and Liverpool railway, but resigned shortly before its completion. He took an active part in the survey of the line, especially of the part across Chatmoss. The famous House of Commons limitation of railway speed to ten miles an hour, which threatened to destroy the hopes of the promoters of steam locomotion, led Brandreth to invent a machine in which the weight of a horse was utilised on a moving platform, and a speed of fifteen miles an hour was expected; but the success of the 'Rocket' soon established the supremacy of steam, and Brandreth's invention was only used where steam power proved too expensive, as in Lombardy and in some parts of the United States, where it is still employed. These scientific pursuits and his removal to London, where he had no longer the legal connection, considerably reduced his practice, and though he was offered a judgeship at Jamaica, he decided to retire to Worthing and devote himself to the education of his children. He had married in 1822 a daughter of Mr. Ashton Byrom of Fairview, near Liverpool, and had, besides two daughters, five sons, who all distinguished themselves in the navy, at Cambridge, or in India. At Worthing he resumed his classical studies, and pursued a learned and difficult inquiry into the use of the digamma in the Homeric poems, and published the results in a treatise entitled 'A Dissertation on the Metre of Homer' (Pickering, 1844), and also a text of the 'Iliad' with the digamma inserted and Latin notes ('ΟΜΗΡΟΥ ΙΛΙΑΣ, littera digamma restituta, Pickering, 2 vols. 1841). This was followed by a translation of the 'Iliad' into blank verse, line for line (Pickering, 2 vols. 1846), which was well received as an accurate and scholarly version. He also took a lively interest in the affairs of the town, and was largely instrumental in perfecting the extensive water and drainage improvements of Worthing, where he was chairman of the first local board, and a justice of the peace for West Sussex. He died in 1873.

[Private information.]

S. L. P.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.35
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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226 i 31 Brandreth, Thomas S.: for in 1873 read 27 May 1873