Microfilm copy of letters by Sir Samuel Bentham, held in the papers of Gregory Alexandrovich Potyomkin, Prince of Yauris (known as Prince Potemkin), Central State War History Archive, Moscow.
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- ReferenceGB 103 MS ADD 303
- Dates of Creation1784-1786
- Name of Creator
- Physical Description1 microfilm
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Sir Samuel Bentham: born, 1757; youngest son of Jeremiah Bentham, an attorney, and brother of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham; educated at Westminster; aged fourteen, apprenticed to the master-shipwright of Woolwich Dockyard; lived in France, 1775; invited to accompany the Bienfaisanhim on the summer cruise of the Channel fleet, 1778; witnessed the battle of Ushant; suggested improvements in steering gear and gun fittings; travelled in order to study the shipbuilding and naval economy of foreign powers, arriving in St Petersburg, Russia, 1780; travelled over much of Russia, from Archangel to the Crimea, and through Siberia to the frontier of China, examining mines and methods of working metals; on his return to St Petersburg presented a report to the Empress, 1782; declined a commissionership in the British navy, because his prospects in Russia seemed more advantageous, 1783; accepted Potemkin's offer to send him to Cherson as lieutenant-colonel; settled at Kritchev, where the prince hoped to establish a shipbuilding yard; his military rank was made substantive and he was appointed commander of a battalion, 1784; owing to the limited number of officers at his disposal, introduced the plan of central observation, with workshops radiating from his own office, a scheme of which his brother Jeremy's 'Panopticon' was a modification; ordered to Cherson to direct the equipment of a flotilla against the Turks, 1787; Bentham's innovations allowed the fittings of recoilless guns of larger calibre than was previously thought possible for small craft, and were instrumental in defeating the Turks, 1788; was rewarded with the military cross of St George and the rank of brigadier-general; appointed to a command in Siberia, where he developed navigation of the rivers and promoted further exploration and trade with China; revisited England, 1791; on his return, spent the remainder of his career as Inspector-General of Navy Works, and later as one of the Commissioners of the Navy, urging and introducing improvements in machinery, equipment and administration of navy dockyards; pensioned off, 1812; moved to France, 1814; returned to England, 1827; during his retirement, prepared papers on professional subjects and continued correspondence with several navy departments until his death in 1831.
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