Edward S. Renwick

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For the Louisiana political commentator, see Ed Renwick.

Edward Sabine Renwick (1823–1912) was an American mechanical engineer, inventor and patent expert.

Early life[edit]

Renwick lost most of his eyesight while working as a patent examiner. He worked for a time in Wilkes-Barre as an ironmaster, but failed.

Family connections[edit]

His father, James Renwick, Sr., was a Professor of chemistry and physics at Columbia University. His mother, Margaret, was a member of the Brevoort family of New York. One brother, James Renwick, Jr., was a leading US architect, designer of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grace Church, Vassar College, the Smithsonian Institution and the Croton Aqueduct. The other, Henry, was a former steamboat inspector and co-author with his father. His grandmother Jean Jeffrey/Jeannie Jaffray of Lochmaben was the Blue-Eyed Lassie mentioned in Robert Burns' poem I gaed a waefu' gate yestreen.[1] Charles Wilkes was an uncle of his.

Edward Renwick married Elizabeth Anne Brevoort in 1862.


Renwick formulated at least 25 inventions over his lifetime, including a combination chicken brooder and incubator, and a self-binding reaping machine. He sued Cyrus McCormick over royalties, but was awarded none.

His patent dates stretch from 1850 (age 27) to 1904 (age 81).

Great Eastern[edit]

One of his greatest achievements was the designing and supervising, with his brother Henry, of a repairing of a break in the bilge of the Great Eastern steamship with a floating caisson, clamped to the hull. It was 104 feet (32 m) long by 15 feet (4.6 m) wide and 8 feet (2.4 m) deep.

Later life[edit]

He later settled in Millburn, New Jersey in 1867. He built a large Victorian mansion at 140 Old Short Hills Road which stood until 2001. He died there in 1912 at the age of 89.



  • Renwick Family Letters and Manuscripts 1794-1916
  • A History of Millburn Township by Marian Meisner, Chapter XVIII
  • History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications Great Eastern by Bill Glover
  • James Dugan, The Great Iron Ship, 1953 ISBN 0-7509-3447-6, pgs 149-155
  • Black, George Fraser, Scotland's Mark on America, 1921