|Above: Captain William John Engledue of the Royal Engineers probably photographed soon after his promotion to Captain in January, 1871.
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William John Engledue of the Royal Engineers had a career in private life which it turns out was much more interesting than his military one. He was born on 25 May 1840 at
Liverpool, Lancashire the son of John Ralph Engledue and Mary Ann Atfield.
Nothing regarding his early education has come to light at this point. He was commissioned in the Royal Engineers as a Lieutenant after completing the required course of study at
Royal School of Military Engineering on 23 December 1857.
He seems to have spent the majority of his military career deployed to India where we in all likelihood performed tasks that included both civil and military projects. While posted to
the subcontinent he saw no active service in the field. His promotions followed:
Captain – 14 January 1871
Major – 22 May 1880
Lieutenant Colonel – 23 November 1886
Colonel – 23 November 1890
Retired on Indian Pension – 4 March 1892
Engledue’s military career was undoubtedly performed with the professionalism and competence expected of an officer of engineers. Not much of his accomplishments are now known
although based on an article that appeared in a 1938 edition of The New Mexico Historical Review his duties seem to have revolved around irrigation and waterworks of various sorts.
On the other hand, he did leave an interesting though fragmentary trail after his retirement that stretched from British Columbia, Canada to the British and U.S. Patent Offices, then
onwards to the Rio Grande Valley near El Paso, Texas.
As recounted in J. F. Bosher’s Vancouver Island in the Empire (2012) Engledue was involved with an 1892 plan to settle hundreds of Scottish fishermen on the island in an attempt to
take better advantage of the abundant fisheries of the Pacific Northwest. Bosher’s book also gives us a tidbit of information when it states that Engledue served with the 89th Punjabis
while in India.
Scouring the archives of the U.S. Patent Office I found two patent drawings that exemplify Engledue’s creative and inventive mindset. The office issued Engledue a patent for a
galvanic battery (No. 481,664) on 30 August 1892 and later on 23 November 1897 one for an “Apparatus for Purifying Barrels” (No. 594,056).
In 1893 Engledue helped to incorporate the Rio Grande Dam and Irrigation Company at Las Cruces, New Mexico. The purpose of the firm was the building of a dam in the vicinity
of nearby El Paso, Texas to provide irrigation for proposed new farmlands. According to the History of New Mexico: Its Resources and People, Volume II (1907) other British investors
in the plan included the Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham, Lord Clanmorris, Lord Ernest Hamilton and Samuel Hope Morley, the governor of the Bank of England. The project was
tied up in litigation for years with the Mexican government and when finally completed by the United States Reclamation Service in 1916 became known as Elephant Butte Dam and
Spillway. Engledue would not live to see it come to fruition having passed away on 15 May 1906 at his home at Tavistock, Devonshire.
William John Engledue had married Miss Eliza McIver Forrest at Bengal, India in 1865. The couple had at least five children: Gertrude Mary born at Dublin in 1865, Mabel Florence
born at Dublin in 1869, Charles William, born at Dublin in 1870, Herbert Atfiled born at Tavistock, Devonshire in 1872 and Ella Frances born at Tavistock in 1873. Eliza passed way in
1873 possibly during childbirth. Engledue married a second time in 1881 this time to Alice Frederica MacKenzie. With his new wife, Engledue would father four additional children:
Olive Sandwith born at Saidpur West Bengal, India in 1882, Ralph Sandwith born at Darjeeling, West Bengal, India in 1884 (he would later serve in the 89th Punjabis), Guy born at
Darjeeling, West Bengal, India in 1885 and Violet born at Paddington, London in 1893.
|Above: Captain William John Engledue of the Royal Engineers probably photographed sometime just prior to his promotion to Major in May, 1880.
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|Above: Patent drawing for William John Engledue's “Apparatus for Purifying Barrels” for patent No. 594.056, 23 November, 1897. Courtesy U.S. Patent Office.
|Above: Patent drawing for William John Engledue's “Galvanic Battery” for patent No. 481,664, 30 August, 1892. Courtesy U.S. Patent Office.