Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Negretti, Enrico Angelo Ludovico

NEGRETTI, ENRICO ANGELO LUDOVICO (1817–1879), optician, was born at Como in Italy in 1817, and came to London in 1829. As a glass-blower and thermometer maker, in partnership with M. Pizzi, he established himself at 19 Leather Lane, Holborn, in 1843, and thence removed to 9 Hatton Garden in 1848. In 1850 he took Joseph Warren Zambra into partnership. At the Great Exhibition of 1851 they received prize medals as opticians, spectaclemakers, and constructors of almost every kind of scientific or mathematical instruments, and were then appointed meteorological instrument makers to the queen, Greenwich Observatory, and the British Meteorological Society. In 1852 Negretti took out a patent, No. 14002, for thermometers and barometers. The firm obtained a world-wide reputation for the excellence of their work and the uprightness of their dealing. In 1858 they removed to 107 Holborn Hill, and in 1869 to Holborn Circus. Among the Italians in London Negretti enjoyed an almost patriarchal popularity: his purse was open to the poor, and his time, already overtaxed by his business, was never wanting in their service. On 26 Dec. 1864 Serafino Pelizzioni was charged with killing Michael Harrington in a public-house, was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be executed on 22 Feb. 1865. Through the interest of an Italian committee, headed by Negretti, the man was respited; and in another trial on 2 March it was clearly proved that the murder had been committed by Gregorio Mogni, and Pelizzioni was liberated on a free pardon (Times, 31 Dec. 1864, 5, 12, 24 Jan., 9, 10, 20 Feb., 6, 7, 9, 13, 16 March 1865; J. D. Barnett and A. Buckler's Central Criminal Court Sessions Paper—Minutes of Evidence, 1865, lxi. 283–302, 590–636). Negretti was also on terms of friendship with Garibaldi. The Italian hero was his guest in 1854, when he was coming from South America; and when in 1864, after the conquest of Sicily, he revisited London, Negretti was chief of the Italian reception committee. On 11 April 1862 he was naturalised as a British subject, under the name of Henry Negretti. He died at Cricklewood House, Cricklewood, Middlesex, on 24 Sept. 1879.

[Times, 29 Sept. 1879, p. 11; Nature, 1879,

xx. 542.]

G. C. B.