Vansittart, Henrietta (1840–1883)

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Vansittart, Henrietta (1840–1883)

English engineer. Born Henrietta Lowe, 1840, in London, England; died Feb 8, 1883, of acute mania and anthrax, a few months after she was discovered wandering the streets and sent to a county lunatic asylum (near Newcastle); dau. of a machinist; m. William Vansittart, 1855.

The 1st woman engineer in Britain, was involved in a secret affair, then long friendship, with Edward Bulwer Lytton, later 1st earl of Lytton (1858–71); after father's death (1866), pursued some patents to earn recognition for his inventions; registered patent 2,877 for the Lowe-Vansittart propeller (1868), which was used on HMS Druid in Admiralty trials and awarded a 1st class diploma at 1871 Kensington Exhibition; presented her 1st speech (1876), at London Association of Foreman Engineers and Draughtsmen's anniversary dinner; presented paper, "The Screw Propeller of 1838 and Its Subsequent Improvements" (1876); developed the propeller but failed to pay its renewal patent fee (£600).

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