National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

John Rennie (1761-1821)

John Rennie (1761-1821)


John Rennie gained practical knowledge working for Andrew Meikle, millwright and inventor, and studied science and engineering at the University of Edinburgh where one of his teachers was the chemist Joseph Black. He moved to London to work for Boulton and Watt and established his reputation there. In 1790 he married Martha Mackintosh. He was appointed surveyor of the Kennet and Avon Canal, undertook drainage, dock and harbour improvements and collaborated with Robert Stevenson on the Bell Rock Lighthouse. In 1798 he was elected fellow of the Royal Society. John Rennie built many bridges and is probably best known for designing London Bridge which was relocated to the USA in 1968.  He died on 4 October 1821 at his home in Southwark and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral. A memorial at his birthplace of Phantassie near East Linton includes a baluster from Waterloo Bridge.

Birth in 1781

John Rennie was born on 7 June 1761, the son of James Rennie and Jean Rennie. The entry in the Old Parish Register for the parish of Prestonkirk in the county of East Lothian (formerly Haddingtonshire) gives the date of baptism as 17 June and the witnesses as Alexander Cairns, Matthew Sheriff and William Richardson

Birth and baptism entry for John Rennie

Birth and baptism entry for John Rennie (16 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 717/2, page 97