Open main menu

The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Manby, George William

MANBY, George William, an English officer, born at Hilgay, Norfolk county, Nov. 28, 1765, died at Southtown, Nov. 18, 1854. He was educated at the military college of Woolwich, and became in 1803 barrack master at Great Yarmouth. Here he attempted casting a rope from the shore to a wreck by means of gunpowder. The problem to be solved was the maintenance of the connection between the rope and the mortar during its transmission. Chains were unable to stand the shock of the discharge, but stout strips of raw hide closely platted together were found to answer; and on Feb. 12, 1808, the entire crew of the brig Elizabeth, wrecked within 150 yards of the beach, were rescued by this simple contrivance. In 1810 his invention was brought before a committee of the house of commons, and he received a grant of money, and all the dangerous stations on the British coasts were supplied with his apparatus. He also contrived a pyrotechnic which renders vessels visible from shore on the darkest night; and shells filled with luminous matter, to enable the crew to perceive the approach of the rope. He published “The History and Antiquities of the Parish of St. David, South Wales” (1801), and kindred works; also “Journal of a Voyage to Greenland in 1821” (1822).