Carl Wilhelm Siemens (en: Charles William Siemens, known as Sir William Siemens) (4 April 1823 – 19 November 1883) was a German born engineer who for most of his life worked in Britain and later became a British subject.
He was born in the village of Lenthe, today part of Gehrden, near Hanover, Germany, where his father, Christian Ferdinand Siemens (July 31, 1787-January 16, 1840), a tenant farmer, farmed an estate belonging to the Crown. His mother was Eleonore Deichmann (1792-July 8, 1839), and William, or Carl Wilhelm, was the fourth son of a family of fourteen children. Of his siblings, Ernst Werner Siemens, the fourth child, became a famous electrician and was associated with William in many of his inventions. He is also a brother of Carl Heinrich von Siemens and a cousin of Alexander Siemens.
On July 23, 1859, Siemens was married at St. James's, Paddington, to Anne Gordon, the youngest daughter of Mr. Joseph Gordon, Writer to the Signet, Edinburgh, and brother to Mr. Lewis Gordon, Professor of Engineering in the University of Glasgow and became a naturalised British subject. He used to say that on March 19 of that year he took oath and allegiance to two ladies in one day — to the Queen and his betrothed. He was knighted – becoming Sir William – a few months before his death. He died on the evening of Monday November 19, 1883, at nine o'clock and was buried on Monday November 26, in Kensal Green Cemetery.
The early years
In the autumn of 1838 when William was fifteen years old, he began his studies to become an engineer. He attended a highly respected School of Trade and Commerce, Magdeburg Gewerbe Schule. William had a particularly close relationship with his eldest brother; Ernst Werner Siemens had decided to teach William mathematics so that he could learn English at school instead. This programme helped them both and William's knowledge of English proved an incalculable advantage to them both. He went on to pass his examination easily. Less than a year later their mother died and their father soon afterwards in 1840.
Once William had completed his course at the Magdeburg school he went on to Goettingen University where he attended lectures on physical geography and technology, high mathematics, theoretical chemistry and practical chemistry and physics. He was also able for a short time to work with Wilhelm Weber, the renowned scientist and inventor, in his Magnetic Observatory.
William was nearly nineteen when he left university to become an apprentice engineer. He also found time for more artistic pursuits such as taking dancing lessons and even painting a landscape of Nordhausen for the wife of the factory manager. His progress in the engineering factory was so rapid that his two year apprenticeship was cut down to one.
Full article ▸