Brunel. I. Sir Mark Isambard, a civil engineer, born at Hacqueville, near Rouen, France, April 25, 1769, died in London, Dec. 12, 1849. He was the son of a farmer, was educated at Rouen, studied drawing, hydrography, and mathematical sciences, and in 1786 entered the merchant service, and made several voyages to the West Indies. In 1793, for political reasons, he fled from France to New York, where he undertook the exploration and survey of some lands on Lake Ontario for a French land company, and in 1794 commenced the survey of the Champlain canal. He sent in a design for the national capitol, which involved too much expense, and was therefore rejected; and he was much employed as an engineer and architect in New York. After a stay of some years in America, he went to England, where he invented complicated machinery for cutting the blocks used in the rigging of ships, which was secured at a large expense for the royal dockyards. He invented many other useful machines, and was constantly employed upon important architectural and engineering works. His greatest achievement was the construction of the Thames tunnel, commenced in 1825, and completed, after immense difficulties and several disasters, in 1843. In 1829 he received the cross of the French legion of honor, and in 1841 was knighted.
He was a member of the royal society, and corresponding member of the French institute. II. Isambard Kingdom, an English engineer and naval architect, son of the preceding, born at Portsmouth, April 9, 1806, died Sept. 14, 1859. He was educated in the college of Henry IV. at Caen, and was resident engineer, under his father, of the Thames tunnel. He was long occupied in perfecting an engine designed by his father, the motive power of which was carbonic acid gas. This was abandoned on economical grounds, although the machinery was brought to high perfection. In 1833 he was appointed chief engineer of the Great Western railway, and he designed and constructed the numerous bridges, viaducts, and tunnels on the entire line and its branches. Among his works are the Box tunnel near Bath, and the Hungerford suspension foot bridge over the Thames, which has the longest span of any in England. He constructed the Great Western steamship, the first which regularly traversed the Atlantic, the Great Britain, the first ocean screw steamer, and the Great Eastern, the largest steamer ever built.
He also took part in the floating and raising of the Conway and Britannia tubular bridges, constructed some of the most important docks on the English coast, conducted the works of the Tuscan portion of the Sardinian railway and of other foreign railways, and during the Crimean war had the entire charge of establishing and organizing the hospitals on the Dardanelles. He was elected a fellow of the royal society in 1830, and was vice president of the institution of engineers and of the society of arts, and chevalier of the legion of honor.