National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

John Boyd Dunlop (1840-1921)

John Boyd Dunlop (1840-1921)

Inventor and pioneer of the pneumatic rubber tyre

John Boyd Dunlop developed the air-tube tyre patented by Robert Thomson. He moved to Ireland in 1867 and it was there that he fitted his son's tricycle with pneumatic instead of solid rubber tyres which he patented in 1881. His invention revolutionised cycling and increased the speed and comfort of motor travel. He sold the patent to William Harvey du Cros in 1890 which ultimately led to the formation of the Dunlop Rubber Company. He died in Dublin on 23 October 1921.

Birth in 1840

John Boyd Dunlop was born on 5 February 1840, the son of John Dunlop and Agnes Boyd. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Dreghorn gives the date of baptism as 18 February.

Baptism entry for John Boyd Dunlop

Baptism entry for John Boyd Dunlop in the OPR for Dreghorn (21 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 589/2, page 24

1841 and 1851 censuses

In 1841 John Boyd Dunlop, aged 1, was living with his family and two servants in the village of Dreghorn. The entry in the 1841 census of that parish shows that everyone in the household was born in the county (Ayrshire).

1841 census entry for John Boyd Dunlop

Entry for John Boyd Dunlop in the 1841 census of Dreghorn (49 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/589/1, page 3

In 1851 he was staying with his grandparents, John and Jean Boyd, at Rose Meadow in the parish of Dreghorn. His grandfather was a proprietor and farmer.

1851 census entry for John Boyd Dunlop

Entry for John Boyd Dunlop in the 1851 census of Dreghorn (28 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/589/1, page 28