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Edward S. Renwick

Edward Sabine Renwick (b. 1823- d.1912) was a mechanical engineer, inventor and patent expert.


Early life

He lost most of his eyesight while working as a patent examiner. He worked for a time in Wilkes-Barre as an ironmaster, but failed.

Family connections

His father, James Renwick (1790-1862), was a Professor of Columbia University. His mother, Margaret, was a member of the Brevoort family of New York City. One brother, James Renwick, Jr., was a leading US architect, designer of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grace Church, Vassar College, The Smithsonian Institution and the Croton Aqueduct. The other, Henry, was a former steamboat inspector and co-author with his father. His grandmother Jean Jeffrey/Jeannie Jaffray of Lochmaben was the Blue-Eyed Lassie mentioned in Robert Burns' poem I gaed a waefu' gate yestreen [1]. Charles Wilkes was an uncle of his.

He married Elizabeth Anne Brevoort in 1862.


He formulated at least 25 inventions over his lifetime, including a combination chicken brooder and incubator, and a self-binding reaping machine. He sued Cyrus McCormick over royalties, but was awarded none.

His patent dates stretch from 1850 (age 27) to 1904 (age 81).

Great Eastern

One of his greatest achievements was the designing and supervising, with his brother Henry, of a repairing of a break in the bilge of the Great Eastern steamship with a floating caisson, clamped to the hull. It was 104 feet long by 15 feet wide and 8 feet deep.

Later life

He later settled in Millburn, New Jersey in 1867. He built a house at 140 Old Short Hills Road which is still standing and occupied. He died there in 1912 at the age of 89.


  • Renwick Family Letters and Manuscripts 1794-1916
  • A History of Millburn Township by Marian Meisner, CHAPTER XVIII
  • History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications Great Eastern by Bill Glover
  • James Dugan, The Great Iron Ship, 1953 ISBN 0-7509-3447-6, pgs 149-155
  • Black, George Fraser, Scotland's Mark on America, 1921


  • Scotland's Mark on America, available at Project Gutenberg.
  • Renwick, Edward S. (Edward Sabine). Patentable invention. Rochester, N.Y., 1893. 168pp. Patent. PDF
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Edward_S._Renwick". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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