[taken from Chapter 6 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

ROBERT CORTEEN (b. 1791, d. 1853),

was a remarkably clever and versatile man. Born in Maughold, his boyhood was spent as a clerk in an advocate's office at Ramsey. He then went to Douglas, where he became an assistant to Messrs. Gelling, who were iron merchants. While in their employ he erected a small gas plant and supplied St. Matthew's Church, as well as several business establishments, with gas, which had not, till then, been used in the island. He was also the first to start an iron foundry, and, for melting iron there, he applied two puncheons fitting into each other like a gasholder, instead of a blast. On leaving Messrs Gelling, he surveyed Douglas for the purpose of laying down gas and water in its streets, and he was the engineer who constructed the earliest gas-works in that town.

We next find him in quite a different capacity, viz., as a teacher of mathematics and navigation. Many of our most skilful navigators, notably Captain Brown (brother of the Rev. T. E. Brown), Captain Joughin, commodore of Brocklebank's line; and Captains Gell and Corlett, of the Isle of Man Steam Packet. Company, were taught by him. This indefatigable man then went to England, where he acted as one of the surveyors for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, at the time when the fever for railway construction was at its height. During the last seven years of his life he was secretary and manager of the Douglas Gas Company. For many years he made calculations for Jefferson's and other almanacs, which, like those of his successor, William Goldsmith, were remarkable for their accuracy. He was the first to publish a complete list of the lighthouses round the British coast, with their bearings, nature of their lights, &c., and, notwithstanding his multifarious occupations, he found time to acquire a knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. (Information from Mr. Henry Corteen, his son.)

+ "Annals of the Isle of Man," in Fargher's Directory.


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