TELFORD, THOMAS, an eminent engineer, was b. in the parish of Westerkirk, in Esk dale, Dumfriesshire, Aug. 9, 1757. His father was a shepherd; and during the intervals of his attendance at school, young Telford followed the same occupation, diligently employing his leisure moments in the perusal of whatever books were within his reach At the age of 14, he adopted the trade of a stone-mason; and long years afterward, when he had attained the summit of his profession, he confessed the advantages which he derived during this period from " the necessity of making himself acquainted with every detail in the procuring, preparing, and employing of every kind of material, whether it be the produce of the forest, the quarry, or the forge." In 1780 he removed to Edin burgh, and in 1783, he repaired to London, obtaining employment under sir William Chambers, who was then engaged on his chief work, the erection of Somerset house. 'Felford's merits attracted the notice of his employer, and he was appointed in 1784 to superintend the erection of the resident commissioner's house at Portsmouth dockyard, a work which lasted over three years, and afforded Telford the opportunity, of which he fully availed himself, of mastering the details of construction of docks, wharf-walls, etc. In 1787, he was appointed surveyor of public works for Shropshire; and his two bridges over the Severn at Montford m. w.n.w. of Shrewsbury) and Buildwas (14- m. w. of Coalbrook Dale), a large number of minor bridges, and other county works, tetti fied to the genius and industry of the rising engineer, and gained for him the planning and superintendence of the projected Ellesmere canal, 103 m. in length, to connect the navigation of the Severn, Dee, and Mersey—a work which occupied 10 years (1795-1805), and greatly added to the already eminent reputation of Telford. In 1790 he was appointed by the British fishery- society to inspect the harbors at their various stations, and in 1801 he received a commission from government to report on the state of Scot land, and on the desirable public works for that country. As a consequence, the plan of a canal from Inverness to Fort-William was revived, and its planning and construc tion intrusted to Telford (see CALEDONIAN CANAL). In the same capacity of engineer to the parliamentary commission of roads and bridges for Scotland, he executed more than 1000 m. of road in the Highlands, Lanarkshire, and Dumfriesshire (see ROAD-MAK ING), and erected about 1200 bridges, besides churches, manses, harbors, etc. In 1808,
and again in 1813, he was invited to Sweden, to report on the projected scheme for con necting lake Wener wall the Baltic, and superintended the construction of the Gotha canal, by which this was effected; receiving on his departure numerous and valuable marks of the royal approbation. His next great work was the construction of the road from London to Holyhead, including the erection of numerous bridges—among others, of the Menai suspension bridge (q.v .)—and the last was the execution of the St. Katha rine's docks in London, a work of remarkable merit. His other works are far too many to enumerate. We can only afford to state that, of bridges, the Conway (q.v.), the Broomielaw at Glasgow, the Dean in Edinburgh, the Over at Gloucester (an innovation on the ordinary form); of canals, the Glasgow and Paisley, the Macclesfield, the Birmingham and Liverpool junction, the Gloucester and Berkeley, the Weaver system, the great tunnel (11 m. long) on the Trent and Mersey; of harbors, Peterhead, Banff, Fraserburgh, Fortrose, Cullen, and Kirkwall—were planned by this indefatigable genius, and wholly or partially erected under his- superintendence. He was much employed by parliament to report on all public engineering schemes or works of impor tance, and was also occasionally consulted by the Russian government. For the last few years of his life, he retired from the active duties of his profession, employed him self in collecting and arranging materials for a complete history of his various works, and had the greater portion of the MSS. ready when he was seized with a severe bilious attack, and died at Abingdon street, Westminster, Sept. 2, 1834. His life, entitled The Life of Thomas Telford, foil Engineer, written, by himself, was published in 1838, in 1 vol. 4to, accompanied with a companion volume of plates. While a mason in Dumfriesshire, he was known favorably as a writer of short poems, in the homely dialect of his district, which are to be found in the appendix to his autobiography. He completed his imper fect school education during the intervals of business, becoming an excellent linguist, and contributed to the Edinburgh Encyclopadia. He was elected a member of the Royal society of Edinburgh in 1803, and of its more eminent southern sister in 1827.