Sue Young Histories

Richard Beamish 1798 - 1873

July 13, 2010

Richard Beamish 1798 - 1873 was an Irish Civil Engineer, who worked as an assistant engineer on the Thames Tunnel, who was an assistant to Marc Isambard Brunel and Isambard Kingdom Brunel,

Richard Beamish was a Member of the Management Committee of the British Homeopathic Association in 1847, a Member of the Management Board of the London Homeopathic Hospital, Richard Beamish donated £2 to Joseph Kidd to alleviate the plight of destitute convalescents in Cork in 1850, and he remained a sponsor of homeopathy for the rest of his life.

Richard Beamish was schooled in Clifton in Bristol from age 10, spending his holidays at Doddeshall Park with Colonel Pigott.

Beamish attended the Royal Military Academy in Marlow, and his father brought him a Commission with the Coldstream Guards and he served in France and Belgium in 1815-1816. Beamish’s parents blocked an offer for him to become Aid de Camp to Sir Stamford Raffles in 1818, and his proposed marriage in 1819, so he resolved to become independent of his family and train as an engineer.

He qualified in 1826 and came to London where he met Alexander Nimmo 1783 - 1832 and Thomas Telford, and began work as an assistant to Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the Thames Tunnel.

He met George Stephenson when he was visiting Liverpool and Manchester for Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

In 1828, Beamish inherited his father’s wealth and returned to Ireland where he worked as a public engineer for 6 years.

In 1834, he returned to England to work with Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the Thames Tunnel, but his health failed him and he lived a quiet life as a teacher preparing engineering students for their apprenticeships, and he became a Fellow of the Royal Society. He married and lived at Rotherhithe, at the entrance of the Thames Tunnel works.

In 1846, he was recovered and working again for Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the Forest of Dean Railway, and in 1850 he went to live in Germany with his wife’s relatives for two years, and in 1854 he settled at 2 Suffolk Square, Cheltenham, and in 1865 on the Isle of Wight and in Woolston near Southampton.

Beamish was an adherent of George Combe and phrenology, and of Casimir Stanislas D’Arpentigny’s theory of the form of the hand.

Beamish was interested in mesmerism and in spiritualism where he tried to contact the spirit of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Richard Beamish was born on 16 July 1798. He was the son of William  Beamish and Anne Jane Margaret Delacour. He married Theodosia Mary Heise, daughter of Lt.-Col. Augustus Charles Heise  Heise and Theodosia Arabella King, in 1831. He died on 20 November 1873 at age 75.

Richard Beamish gained the rank between 1815 and 1819 in the service of the Coldstream Guards. He was registered as a Member, Institution of Civil Engineers (M.I.C.E.) in 1829. He was invested as a Fellow, Royal Society (F.R.S.) in 1836. He was a civil engineer.

He wrote the book Life of Marc Isambard Brunel, and other works. He lived at Woolston Lawn, Southampton, Hampshire, England. Children of Richard Beamish and Theodosia Mary Heise: Richard Pigott Beamish 1832 - 1899; Anne Theodosia Beamish 1834 - 1834; Anne Theodosia Beamish 1835 - 1905; Emily Isabella Beamish 1838 - 1933; Alten Augustus William Beamish 1841 - 1902.

Richard Beamish was the fourth son of Mr. William Beamish, of Beaumont, descended from a Durham family who have been settled in the county of Cork since the time of Queen Elizabeth.

Richard Beamish  was born in July 1798. His father was adjutant of the15th regiment during the American war, and eventually became the head of an extensive brewery in Cork. His mother was a daughter of Robert de la Cour of Short Castle, descended from a French Protestant family which took refuge in Ireland at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685… (from the Obituary of Richard Beamish in Minutes of the Proceedings, Volume 40, Issue 1875, pages 246 –251)

Richard Beamish wrote Memoir of the life of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, A treatise on elocution, Psychonomy of the hand, Popular instructions on the calculation of probabilities with Adolphe Quetelet, Lecture delivered at the literary and scientific societies of Cheltenham and Gloucester, on the functions of the skin and the value of the bath: with special reference to the improved Turkish bath, Approximate rationale of the cold water cure, as practised by Vincent Priessnitz, The cold water cure. To which are added, some useful hints for the general practitioner, Notice concerning the Thames Tunnel with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Ms. sketch of a 38 inch diameter grooved pulley wheel,