HENRY CHARLES FLEEMING JENKIN (1833-1885), British engineer, was born near Dungeness on the 25th of March 1833, his father (d. 1885) being a naval commander, and his mother (d. 1885) a novelist of some literary repute, her best books perhaps being Cousin Stella (1859) and Who breaks, pays (1861). Fleeming Jenkin was educated at first in Scotland, but in 1846 the family went to live abroad, owing to financial straits, and he studied at Genoa University, where he took a first-class degree in physical science. In 1851 he began his engineering career as apprentice in an establishment at Manchester, and subsequently he entered Newall's submarine cable works at Birkenhead. In 1859 he began, in concert with Sir William Thomson (afterwards Lord Kelvin), to work on problems respecting the making and use of cables, and the importance of his researches on the resistance of gutta-percha was at once recognized. From this time he was in constant request in connexion with submarine telegraphy, and he became known also as an inventor. In partnership with Thomson, he made a large income as a consulting telegraph engineer. In 1865 he was elected F.R.S., and was appointed professor of engineering at University College, London. In 1868 he obtained the same professorship at Edinburgh University, and in 1873 he published a textbook of Magnetism and Electricity, full of original work. He was author of the article "Bridges" in the ninth edition of this encyclopaedia. His influence among the Edinburgh students was pronounced, and R. L. Stevenson's well-known Memoir is a sympathetic tribute to his ability and character. The meteoric charm of his conversation is well described in Stevenson's essay on "Talk and Talkers," under the name of Cockshot. Jenkin's interests were by no means confined to engineering, but extended to the arts and literature; his miscellaneous papers, showing his critical and unconventional views, were issued posthumously in two volumes (1887). In 1882 Jenkin invented an automatic method of electric transport for goods - "telpherage" - but the completion of its details was prevented by his death on the 12th of June 1885. A telpher line on his system was subsequently erected at Glynde in Sussex. He was also well known as a sanitary reformer, and during the last ten years of his life he did much useful work in inculcating more enlightened ideas on the subject both in Edinburgh and other places.
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