Who was Andrew Meikle?
Andrew Meikle was a Scottish millwright, engineer and bridge builder active in Scotland in the late-18th century.
Life & Work
Andrew was born in 1719, the only surviving son of James Meikle. He married and settled at Houston Mill on the Phantassie Estate, by East Linton, owned by James Rennie. There he combined the occupations of farmer, miller and millwright. He set up his own mill at Phantassie, and a small workshop. He was interested in improving agricultural machinery and presumably in his workshop he built his prototypes. In 1768 he took out a patent for dressing and cleaning corn. This was one of the first patents taken out by a Scottish mechanic. In 1787 he is credited with inventing the drum threshing machine. His machine separated grain from straw, and threshed and winnowed it. It could be powered by horses, water or wind and it could handle up to forty bushels of corn an hour (a bushel is a dry measure of eight gallons of grain). His first machine was water-powered and the second one, built for James Rennie, was horse-powered, He patented the invention in 1788 and in the patent he describes himself as “engineer and machinist”. Ten years earlier, in 1778, he built Tyninghame Bridge crossing the River Tyne in East Linton, Scotland.
Andrew Meikle must have received very little money from his inventions, as a subscription for his relief was started in 1809 by Sir John Sinclair. He raised £1500.
Meikle died in Scotland on 27 November 1811 at Houston Mill, near East Linton. He was buried at the kirk of Prestonkirk, East Linton where a tombstone records his memory. He was survived by his son George, one of at least 8 children, whom Meikle had had with his wife Marjorie Mirrilees who predeceased him.
- Day, Lance and Ian McNeil, eds., Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology (London: Taylor & Francis, 1996) pp. 478-479.
- National Archives, National Register of Archives, Person Details, 'Meikle, Andrew (1719-1811) Millwright and Inventor GB/NNAF/P143375' < http://www.nationalarchives.go... > [accessed 7 October 2008]
- National Portrait Gallery, London, Search the Collections, 'Andrew Meikle (1719-1811), Millwright; inventor of the thrashing-machine' < http://www.npg.org.uk/live/sea... > [accessed 7 October 2008]
- Shaw, John P., ‘Meikle, Andrew (1719–1811)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) < http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/... > [accessed 7 October 2008]