James Bowman Lindsay (1799-1862)

James Bowman Lindsay (1799-1862)

Experimenter with electricity and writer on theology

James Bowman Lindsay started work as an apprentice weaver before he was sent to be educated at St Andrews University. In 1829 he became a lecturer at the Watt Institution in Dundee. His electrical discoveries included the telegraph, electric welding and continuous electric light. In 1843 he suggested laying a telegraph under the sea floor across the Atlantic. He was able to compare the Lord’s prayer in 50 languages and used his astronomical work to check the accuracy of events recorded in the Bible.

Birth in 1799

James Lindsay was born on 8 September 1799, the son of John Lindsay and Elizabeth Bowman of Cottown of West Hills. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Carmyllie shows he was baptised before the associate congregation at Dunbarrow on 15 September.

Baptism entry for James Bowman Lindsay

Baptism entry for James Bowman Lindsay in the OPR for Carmyllie (38 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 276/1, page 176

1851 and 1861 censuses 

James Bowman Lindsay was living at 11 South Union Street in Dundee at the time of the 1851 and 1861 censuses. He was the only person in the household.

In 1851, he was enumerated as James Lindsay and his occupation was teacher of mathematics and languages, and teacher in Dundee Prison.

1851 census entry for James Bowman Lindsay

Household of James Bowman Lindsay in the 1851 census of Dundee (10 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/282/20 page 23

In 1861 he was enumerated as James B Lindsay and his occupation was teacher of languages. His house has three rooms with one or more windows. This data was collected in order to assess housing conditions in Scotland.

1861 census entry for James Bowman Lindsay

Household of James Bowman Lindsay in the 1861 census of Dundee (15 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1861/282-2/3, page 15

Death in 1862

James Bowman Lindsay died at his home on 29 June 1862. The entry in the statutory register of deaths for Dundee Second District shows he was single. The informant was his nephew, David Lindsay of Carmyllie, who was also one of his executors.

Death entry for James Bowman Lindsay

Death entry for James Bowman Lindsay in the statutory register for Dundee (43 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1862/282-2, 659

Testament of James Bowman Lindsay

National Records of Scotland, SC45/31/17 pp134-137

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