Famous 19th Century Mechanical Engineers

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 1 
Rudolf Diesel
(Inventor of Diesel Engine)
Rudolf Diesel
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Birthdate: March 18, 1858
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 29, 1913

Rudolf Diesel was a German mechanical engineer and inventor best remembered for inventing the Diesel engine. After Diesel's demise, his engine became an important substitution for the steam piston engine. The engine became widespread in applications, such as agricultural machines, submarines, ships, and trucks. His life inspired the 1942 biographical film Diesel, in which he was played by Willy Birgel.

 2 
Frederick Winslow Taylor
(Mechanical Engineer)
Frederick Winslow Taylor
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Birthdate: March 20, 1856
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 21, 1915

American inventor, mechanical engineer and an accomplished tennis and golf player, Frederick Winslow Taylor, regarded as the father of scientific management, sought to improve industrial efficiency. His approach on scientific management, referred to as Taylorism, has significantly influenced development of industrial engineering and production management. His monograph, The Principles of Scientific Management, laid out his views on principles of scientific management.

 3 
Granville Woods
(Inventor)
Granville Woods
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Birthdate: April 23, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, United States
Died: January 30, 1910

Granville Woods was 10 when he began working at a machine shop, while continuing his studies at a night school. He grew up to become a steam locomotive engineer and earned the nickname the Black Edison for his countless inventions, most of which were related to electrical systems for railways.

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 4 
Henry Gantt
(Engineer)
Henry Gantt
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Birthdate: May 20, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Calvert County
Died: November 23, 1919

Best known for creating the Gantt Chart, a management tool used for scheduling tasks, mechanical engineer Henry Gantt had been a disciple and colleague of Frederick W. Taylor. He also prepared ground for the Human Relations School of management and spoke about the social responsibility of business.

 5 
Wilhelm Rontgen
(Mechanical engineer, Physicist)
Wilhelm Rontgen
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Birthdate: March 27, 1845
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lennep, Remscheid, Germany
Died: February 10, 1923

Wilhelm Rontgen was a German physicist and mechanical engineer. He is best remembered for producing and detecting X-rays for which he was honored with the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. His discovery of X-rays remains one of the greatest achievements in the field of medical science.

 6 
Willis Carrier
(Engineer, Inventor)
Willis Carrier
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Birthdate: November 26, 1876
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Angola, New York, United States
Died: October 7, 1950
 7 
Nikola Tesla
(Inventor, Engineer & Futurist, Who Obtained Over 300 Patents)
Nikola Tesla
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Birthdate: July 10, 1856
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Smiljan, Croatia
Died: January 7, 1943

Inventor, engineer and futurist, Nikola Tesla, is best remembered for his contribution to the development of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. A prolific inventor, he had around 300 patents for his inventions. Even though he earned a considerable amount of money, he had poor money management skills and died a poor man.

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 8 
Albert Göring
(Mechanical engineer)
Albert Göring
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Birthdate: March 9, 1895
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Friedenau
Died: December 20, 1966
Apart from being an engineer who worked for the German army during World War I, Albert Göring is also remembered as the brother of infamous Nazi Party figure and military leader Hermann Göring. Surprisingly, he was anti-Nazi and had helped many Jews, though he remained ostracized due to his family name, post-war.
 9 
Henry Royce
(1st Baronet of Seaton and car designer who co-founded the Rolls-Royce automobile company)
Henry Royce
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Birthdate: March 27, 1863
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Huntingdonshire, England
Died: April 22, 1933

Famous for his designs of car and airplane engines, fifteen years old Frederick Henry Royce learned engineering through hands-on during his apprenticeship at Great Northern Railway Company rather than through education. At twenty-one, he started his own engineering business, manufacturing electrically driven cranes, dynamos, and motors, eventually drawing the attention of C.S. Rolls, co-founding the Rolls Royce Company with him.

 10 
Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis
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Birthdate: May 21, 1792
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 19, 1843

French mathematician and physicist Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis proposed what is now known as Coriolis force. While teaching at the École Polytechnique, Paris, he extended the scope of kinetic energy. His On the Calculation of Mechanical Action remains his most significant book. His name remains inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.

 11 
Hugo Junkers
(Engineer)
Hugo Junkers
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Birthdate: February 3, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rheydt, Rhine Province, Kingdom of Prussia
Died: February 3, 1935
 12 
Gustaf de Laval
(Engineer)
Gustaf de Laval
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Birthdate: May 9, 1845
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Blasenborg, Sweden
Died: February 2, 1913

Swedish scientist and engineer Gustaf de Laval is remembered for his pioneering contribution to the development of high-speed turbines and the de Laval nozzle. He also made milk-cream separators and milking machines. Apart from being a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, he was also named to the Swedish parliament.

 13 
Nigel Gresley
(Engineer)
Nigel Gresley
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Birthdate: June 19, 1876
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: April 5, 1941

Nigel Gresley designed some of Britain’s most famous steam locomotive engines. He also invented the Gresley conjugated valve gear, which smoothened the running of engines. His A4 Mallard was the world’s fastest steam locomotive. He later won honors such as the CBE and was also knighted.

 14 
Charles Algernon Parsons
(Anglo-Irish Engineer Best Known for His Invention of the 'Compound Steam Turbine')
Charles Algernon Parsons
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Birthdate: June 13, 1854
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 11, 1931

Copley Medal-winning engineer Charles Algernon Parsons revolutionized marine transport with his invention of a multi-stage steam turbine. His other inventions include a mechanical reducing gear. Apart from being named a Fellow of the Royal Society, he was also knighted and awarded an Order of Merit for his contributions.

 15 
Joseph Whitworth
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Birthdate: December 21, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stockport, England
Died: January 22, 1887

Mechanical engineer Joseph Whitworth is best remembered for devising the British Standard Whitworth system for screw threads. He contributed a lot to the development of Owens College, introduced a scholarship, and left most of his fortunes to the people of Manchester. He was also made a baronet of the U.K.

 16 
Marc Isambard Brunel
(French-British Engineer Who Constructed the 'Thames Tunnel')
Marc Isambard Brunel
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Birthdate: April 25, 1769
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hacqueville, Normandy, France
Died: December 12, 1849

French-British engineer Marc Isambard Brunel is best known for constructing the Thames Tunnel and had been the chief engineer of New York City. He had also spent time in a debtor’s prison for his association with loss-making projects. He was the father of renowned engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

 17 
Ludwig Prandtl
(Physicist, Mechanical engineer, University teacher)
Ludwig Prandtl
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Birthdate: February 4, 1875
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Freising
Died: August 15, 1953
 18 
John Ericsson
(Inventor)
John Ericsson
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Birthdate: July 31, 1803
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Långbanshyttan, Värmland, Sweden
Died: March 8, 1889

Swedish-born American naval engineer and inventor John Ericsson is most remembered for designing and building the first armoured turret warship and developing the screw propeller. The warship – USS Monitor – is credited for keeping the Union (North) Navy stay protected during the American Civil War. His other inventions include the torpedo technology and solar machine.

 19 
Carl von Linde
(Scientist)
Carl von Linde
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Birthdate: June 11, 1842
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berndorf, Germany
Died: November 16, 1934
 20 
Henry Maudslay
(Innovator)
Henry Maudslay
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Birthdate: August 22, 1771
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Woolwich, England
Died: February 14, 1831

While he initially apprenticed under a lock maker, he later joined the factory of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, where he invented scores of machines, the most notable of them being the metal lathe. He also developed plane surfaces to aid his workmen at his factory. He was married to inventor Joseph Bramah's housemaid.

 21 
Gustaf Dalén
(Swedish Inventor of the 'AGA cooker' and 'Dalén light' & Recipient of the 1912 Nobel Prize in Physics)
Gustaf Dalén
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Birthdate: November 30, 1869
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stenstorp, Sweden
Died: December 9, 1937

Gustaf Dalén was an industrialist, engineer, and inventor. The AGA cooker and the Dalén light are among his most prominent inventions. He was a long-term CEO of the AGA company. He received over 100 patents during his lifetime. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1912 for his invention of a special kind of automatic regulator.

 22 
Elmer Ambrose Sperry
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Birthdate: October 12, 1860
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cincinnatus, New York, United States
Died: June 16, 1930

Elmer Ambrose Sperry is best remembered for inventing gyroscopic compasses and stabilizers, which revolutionized navigation technology back in his time. His products had been of great use to the U.S. Navy. His illustrious career had witnessed him gain over 400 patents through his eight manufacturing companies.

 23 
Jacob Perkins
(Inventor)
Jacob Perkins
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Birthdate: July 9, 1766
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Newburyport, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 30, 1849

Known as the father of the refrigerator, American inventor, mechanical engineer and physicist Jacob Perkins made several useful mechanical inventions. He created improved nail machines and some of the best steel plates for engraving, invented a bathometer, became the first person in Britain to use a uniflow steam engine, and most notably built the world’s first working vapor-compression refrigeration system.

 24 
Laurens Hammond
(Engineer)
Laurens Hammond
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Birthdate: January 11, 1895
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Evanston, Illinois, United States
Died: July 3, 1973

American engineer and inventor Laurens Hammond garnered the first of his 110 patents for a barometer, while still in his teens. He left the Gray Motor Company job after inventing a silent spring-driven clock. His inventions in the ensuing years include, most notably the Hammond organ, the Hammond clock, and Novachord, often regarded as the world's first commercial polyphonic synthesizer.

 25 
Nathanael Greene Herreshoff
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Birthdate: March 18, 1848
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bristol, Rhode Island, United States
Died: June 2, 1938

Nathanael Greene Herreshoff was a distinguished naval architect and yacht designer, whose influence on boat building remains unrivaled to these days. Credited with producing the first modern multihull and the first successful fin-keel yacht, he used innovative ideas and lightest possible materials while building his boats. His boats defended the America’s Cup six times from 1893 to 1920.

 26 
Dugald Clerk
(Engineer)
Dugald Clerk
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Birthdate: March 31, 1854
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: November 12, 1932

Scottish engineer Dugald Clerk is best known for his invention of the two-stroke engine, used widely in motorcycles and other machines. He also headed engineering research of the British Admiralty as its director and was knighted, too. He also co-established the intellectual property service provider Marks & Clerk.

 27 
William Froude
(Engineer)
William Froude
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Birthdate: November 28, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Devon, England
Died: May 4, 1879

British engineer and naval architect William Froude made significant contributions to the field of hydrodynamics. He revolutionized ship design by working on a method of studying scale models. He thus became the first person to devise laws that explained the resistance offered to ships by water.

 28 
James Henry Greathead
(Civil Engineer)
James Henry Greathead
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Birthdate: August 6, 1844
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Grahamstown, South Africa
Died: October 21, 1896

James Henry Greathead was a civil and mechanical engineer best remembered for his work on the Liverpool overhead railway, Winchester Cathedral, and the London Underground railways. He is also credited with inventing the Greathead Shield, Greathead Injector Hydrant, and Greathead Grouting Machine.

 29 
Samuel Bentham
(Engineer)
Samuel Bentham
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Birthdate: January 11, 1757
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: England
Died: May 31, 1831

Mechanical engineer and naval architect Samuel Bentham was responsible for Russia’s victory over a Turkish force, using shell guns on warships. He had also visited China to study ship designs and had served as the inspector of English naval works. He was the younger brother of philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

 30 
Simon Lake
(Mechanical engineer)
Simon Lake
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Birthdate: September 4, 1866
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pleasantville, New Jersey, United States
Died: June 23, 1945

Simon Lake was an American inventor who is credited with building the first submarines to operate extensively in the open sea. His first two submarines, Argonaut and Protector, were sold to Russia as US Congress refused to buy them. Later, he built many more submarines and obtainined over two hundred patents for advances in naval design.

 31 
Matthew Murray
(Engineer)
Matthew Murray
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Birthdate: 1765 AD
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died: February 20, 1826

After quitting school at 14, Matthew Murray apprenticed to be a blacksmith or a whitesmith. He then worked for a Leeds-based flax spinner and later established his own factory, developing innovations in the domain of steam engines. His locomotives for collieries were the first to be commercially successful.

 32 
Linus Yale Jr.
(Inventor)
Linus Yale Jr.
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Birthdate: April 4, 1821
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Salisbury, New York, United States
Died: December 25, 1868

Best known for inventing the cylinder lock named after him, Linus Yale Jr. was a descendant of the benefactor of Yale University. While working in his father’s lock shop, Yale introduced many innovative designs for bank locks. He also put to use his painting skills in drawing lock designs.

 33 
Aurel Stodola
(Engineer)
Aurel Stodola
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Birthdate: May 10, 1859
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Liptovský Mikuláš
Died: December 25, 1942
 34 
David Crosthwait
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Birthdate: May 27, 1898
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Died: February 25, 1976

Ventilation, heating system, and air conditioning pioneer David Crosthwait was one of the first African-American men to excel in science. Throughout his illustrious career, he managed to gain 80 international patents. He later taught at Purdue University and was presented with an honorary doctorate by the same university.

 35 
Amos Whitney
(Mechanical engineer)
Amos Whitney
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Birthdate: October 8, 1832
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Biddeford, Maine, United States
Died: August 5, 1920

Amos Whitney was in his early teens when he apprenticed at a machine company. He is best remembered for his manufacturing company Pratt & Whitney, which he set up with Francis A. Pratt. He had designed a number of innovative machine parts for sewing machines, guns, and typewriters.

 36 
Andrew Meikle
(Engineer)
Andrew Meikle
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Birthdate: May 5, 1719
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Scotland, United Kingdom
Died: November 27, 1811
 37 
Emil Rathenau
(Entrepreneur)
Emil Rathenau
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Birthdate: December 11, 1838
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: June 20, 1915
 38 
Kate Gleason
(Mechanical Engineer)
Kate Gleason
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Birthdate: November 25, 1865
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rochester
Died: January 9, 1933

Known as successful businesswoman, Catherine Anselm Gleason had many firsts to her credit. The first woman to study engineering at Cornell University, she later became the first female to become receiver of a bankrupt company and successfully restored it.  Later, she also became the first female president of a national bank, and member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

 39 
Daniel Gooch
(Engineer)
Daniel Gooch
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Birthdate: August 24, 1816
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bedlington, England
Died: October 15, 1889

Mechanical engineer Daniel Gooch scripted history by becoming the first person to lay transatlantic cables successfully. He headed Great Western Railway as its locomotive superintendent and developed locomotive such as the North Briton. He was made a baronet for his achievements and had also represented Cricklade as a Conservative MP.

 40 
Henry Bell
(Engineer)
Henry Bell
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Birthdate: April 7, 1767
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Torphichen, Scotland
Died: March 14, 1830
 41 
John Heathcoat
(Inventor)
John Heathcoat
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Birthdate: August 7, 1783
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Duffield, England
Died: January 18, 1861

John Heathcoat was an English inventor who improved the construction of the warp-loom in order to produce better-looking mitts. In 1808, he invented the machine to produce an exact imitation of handmade pillow lace. It was by far the most complex and expensive textile apparatus.

 42 
Francis A. Pratt
(Mechanical Engineer)
Francis A. Pratt
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Birthdate: February 15, 1827
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Peru, New York, United States
Died: February 10, 1902

Francis A. Pratt spent his early days as an apprentice at a machine shop. He later met Amos Whitney, with whom he set up the manufacturing firm Pratt & Whitney. Apart from developing the Lincoln miller, Pratt also contributed to inventing machine parts for sewing machines, guns, and other industries.

 43 
George Herman Babcock
(Inventor, Engineer)
George Herman Babcock
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Birthdate: June 17, 1832
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Unadilla Forks, New York, United States
Died: December 16, 1893
 44 
Alphonse Beau de Rochas
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Birthdate: April 9, 1815
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Digne, France
Died: March 27, 1893
 45 
Alfred Büchi
(Engineer)
Alfred Büchi
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Birthdate: July 11, 1879
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Winterthur, Switzerland
Died: October 27, 1959
 46 
Joseph Clement
(Engineer)
Joseph Clement
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Birthdate: June 13, 1779
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Asby, England
Died: February 28, 1844

Born to a weaver, Joseph Clement himself initially worked as a weaver and learned metal work. He began building power looms and then moved to London, where he worked with top engineering firms. His best achievement was his collaboration with Charles Babbage in building Babbage’s Difference Engine.

 47 
Arthur Woolf
(Engineer)
Arthur Woolf
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Birthdate: 1766
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Camborne, England
Died: October 26, 1837

British engineer Arthur Woolf was a pioneer of the compound steam engine. Starting his career as a carpenter, he later worked for Joseph Bramah. While working at a London brewery, he began working with steam power and ended up inventing the Woolf high-pressure compound engine, almost twice efficient as James Watt’s engine.

 48 
Nicolas-Louis Robert
(French inventor)
Nicolas-Louis Robert
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Birthdate: December 2, 1761
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: France
Died: August 8, 1828
 49 
David Wilkinson
(Engineer)
David Wilkinson
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Birthdate: January 5, 1771
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Smithfield, Rhode Island, United States
Died: February 3, 1852

Born to a blacksmith, David Wilkinson grew up to be a skilled machine parts manufacturer. A mechanical engineer, he built a lathe for turning iron and brass, which helped the U.S. government manufacture firearms. He is also said to have built the first steamboat in the U.S.

Claude Antoine, comte Prieur-Duvernois
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Birthdate: December 2, 1763
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Côte-d'Or, France
Died: August 11, 1832
Claude Antoine, comte Prieur-Duvernois, was a French engineer and politician during and after the French Revolution. He was also a member of the Committee of Public Safety, which ruled Revolutionary France during the Jacobin dictatorship. Commonly known as Prieur de la Côte-d'Or, Prieur set up a wallpaper factory in Paris and received a pension from Napoleon’s government in 1811.