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Sir Charles Algernon Parsons
Charles Algernon Parsons.jpg
Born 13 June 1854
Died 11 February 1931 (1931-02-12) (aged 76)
Kingston Harbour, Jamaica,
Nationality Irish and British
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
St. John's College, Cambridge
Known for Steam turbine
Spouse(s) Katharine Bethell
(m. 1883) (d. 1933)
Children Rachel Mary Parsons (1885–1956)
Algernon George Parsons (b. 1886–1918)
Awards Rumford Medal (1902)
Albert Medal (1911)
Franklin Medal (1920)
Faraday Medal (1923)
Copley Medal (1928)
Bessemer Gold Medal (1929)
Scientific career
Fields Engineering
Institutions Heaton, Newcastle

Sir Charles Algernon Parsons, OM, KCB, FRS (13 June 1854 – 11 February 1931), the son of a member of the Irish peerage, was an Anglo-Irish engineer, best known for his invention of the compound steam turbine, and as the namesake of C. A. Parsons and Company. He worked as an engineer on dynamo and turbine design, and power generation, with great influence on the naval and electrical engineering fields. He also developed optical equipment, for searchlights and telescopes.

Personal life and death

In 1883 Parsons married Katharine Bethell, the daughter of William F. Bethell. They had two children: Rachel Mary Parsons (b. 1885), and Algernon George Parsons (b. 1886), who was killed in action during World War I in 1918, aged 31.

Charles Algernon Parsons died on 11 February 1931, on board the steamship Duchess of Richmond while on a cruise with his wife. The cause of death was given as neuritis. A memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey on 3 March 1931. Parsons was buried in the parish church of St Bartholomew's in Kirkwhelpington in Northumberland.

His widow, Katharine, died at her home in Ray Demesne, Kirkwhelpington, Northumberland in 1933.

In 1919 Katharine and her daughter co-founded the Women's Engineering Society, which is still in existence today.


Sir Charles Parsons is depicted on the reverse of an Irish silver 15 Euros silver Proof coin that was struck in 2017.

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