Sir Charles Tilston Bright (1832-1888), English telegraph engineer, who came of an old Yorkshire family, was born on the 8th of June 1832, at Wanstead, Essex. At the age of fifteen he became a clerk under the Electric Telegraph Company. His talent for electrical engineering was soon shown, and his progress was rapid; so that in 1852 he was appointed engineer to the Magnetic Telegraph Company, and in that capacity superintended the laying of lines in various parts of the British Isles, including in 1853 the first cable between Great Britain and Ireland, from Portpatrick to Donaghadee. His experiments convinced him of the practicability of an electric submarine cable connexion between Ireland and America; and having in 1855 already discussed the question with Cyrus Field, who with J. W. Brett controlled the Newfoundland Telegraph Company on the other side of the ocean, Bright organized with them the Atlantic Telegraph Company in 1856 for the purpose of carrying out the idea, himself becoming engineer-in-chief. The story of the first Atlantic cable is told elsewhere (see Telegraph), and it must suffice here to say that in 1858, after two disappointments, Bright successfully accomplished what to many had seemed an impossible feat, and within a few days of landing the Irish end of the line at Valentia he was knighted in Dublin. Subsequently Sir Charles Bright supervised the laying of submarine cables in various regions of the world, and took a leading part as pioneer in other developments of the electrical industry.
In conjunction with Josiah Latimer Clark, with whom he entered into partnership in 1861, he invented improved methods of insulating submarine cables, and a paper on electrical standards read by them before the British Association in the same year led to the establishment of the British Association committee on that subject, whose work formed the foundations of the system still in use. From 1865 to 1868 he was Liberal M.P. for Greenwich. He died on the 3rd of May 1888, at Abbey Wood, near London.
See Life Story of Sir C. T. Bright, by his son Charles Bright (revised ed. 1908).