James Blackburn

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James Blackburn

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James Blackburn (1803-1854), civil engineer, surveyor and architect, was born in Upton, West Ham, Essex, England, the son of John Blackburn, a liveryman of the Haberdashers' Company and partner in a firm of scalemakers at Shoreditch, and Anne, née Hems. One brother, Isaac, succeeded his father in the profession, while another, John, ordained in the Independent Church, became its pioneer statistician. Blackburn married Rachel Hems in 1826. In 1833, when employed as an inspector for the commissioners of sewers for the London districts of Holborn and Finsbury, extreme financial distress caused by the failure of a private building speculation, and the threatened resumption of his possessions, led to the forgery of a cheque for £600 on the Bank of England in the names of his employers. Despite highly commendatory testimonials to character, including those of the commissioners, Blackburn was sentenced at the Old Bailey on 20 May 1833 to transportation for life. He arrived at Hobart Town in the Isabella on 14 November, and his wife and daughter arrived in the Augustus Caesar on 31 October 1835. He was immediately employed in the Department of Roads and Bridges, under Roderic O'Connor in 1833-36 and Alexander Cheyne in 1836-39. For more information see : http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/blackburn-james-1789


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