Old Query from Mariner's Mirror (1911) re-visited

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    David Hepper

      One of the old, unanswered, queries from the first issues of the Mariners Mirror was Query 72 (1911). It was from a correspondent called Sapor and asked:
      “In a MS list of the Navy 1831 all, or nearly all, of the 68 pdr guns are noted as “Miller” and some of the 24 pdr as “Congreve”. Presumably these are the names of the makers. What were the firms’ full titles and where were the foundries?”

      Although Sapor will not be able to appreciate the response after this length of time I will attempt an answer. In both cases, the names do not refer to the maker, but rather the designer.
      I think Miller should correctly be Millar, and refers to Lieutenant-General William Millar (died 1838), who was a Royal Artillery officer, and was responsible for the introduction of shell guns. His design for a 32-pdr naval shell gun was widely adopted during the 1820’s.
      Congreve refers to William Congreve, who is perhaps better known as the deviser of the well-known Congreve Rocket. He served as the comptroller of the royal laboratory at Woolwich and among many inventions, he designed a short 24-pdr naval cannon, being 7ft 6ins long, two feet shorter than the existing standard 24-pdr gun.
      Adrian Caruana English Sea Ordnance vol.2 Rotherfield 1979
      Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: entries for William Millar and William Congreve

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