John Robinson McClean

John Robinson McClean

Ceramic bust of McClean made in 1869
Born 21 March 1813
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Died 13 July 1873(1873-07-13) (aged 60)
Nationality British
Education University of Glasgow

Engineering career

Discipline civil engineer
Institutions Institution of Civil Engineers (president)
Practice name South Staffordshire Water Works Company
Projects South Staffordshire Railway, Suez Canal

John Robinson McClean CB FRS (21 March 1813 13 July 1873), was a British civil engineer and Liberal Party politician.

Early life

He was born in Belfast. Educated at Belfast Academical Institution and University of Glasgow.

Engineering career

Whilst still young, he offered himself as candidate for the Office of Engineer to the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, but was refused. Upon leaving the Board Room, he said to Mr Edmund Getty, (an old family friend) “that he would let the Commissioners yet see what a man they had lost”.

With his partner, Francis Croughton Stileman, he founded McClean & Stileman, engineering consultants of Great George St, Westminster. Some of his positions were:

After an Act of Parliament was passed to allow it, he took a 25-year lease on the railway, thus becoming the first person ever to be the sole owner of a railway. With the financial backing of several businessmen, he planned and built "The South Staffordshire Water Works Company" which piped fresh water to all of the Black Country. He was also the owner, with partner Richard Chawner, of "The Cannock Chase Colliery Company".

He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers from 1864-5.[1]

Political career

He unsuccessfully stood for Parliament as a Liberal Party candidate for Belfast at the 1857 general election,[2] the second time he had been rejected by his native town.

He was elected at the 1868 general election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Staffordshire,[3] and held the seat until his death in 1873.[3][4]

He was also Lieutenant-Colonel of the Engineer and Railway Staff Corps, a volunteer corps whose members serve as engineering advisors to the British Army.

Funerary monument, Kensal Green Cemetery, London

Later life

He died in 1873 aged 60, and is buried with his wife Anna, on the edge of the main path at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

Personal life

He was married to Anna (1813–1877). They had five daughters and one son, Frank McClean.


  1. Watson, Garth (1988). The Civils. London: Thomas Telford Ltd. p. 251. ISBN 0-7277-0392-7.
  2. Walker, B. M. (1978). Parliamentary election results in Ireland 1801–1922. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. p. 89. ISBN 0-901714-12-7.
  3. 1 2 Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 455. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
  4. Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "S" (part 4)
Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for East Staffordshire
With: Michael Arthur Bass
Succeeded by
Samuel Allsopp and
Michael Arthur Bass
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
John Hawkshaw
President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
December 1863 – December 1865
Succeeded by
John Fowler

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