- Gail Fowler Mohanty
Thorp, John (1784–15 November 1848), machinist and inventor, was born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, the son of Reuben Thorp, a wheelwright and coach builder, and Hannah Bucklin. Very little is known of Thorp’s early life, which was spent in Rehoboth or Pawtucket (the town was divided in half in a border dispute between Massachusetts and Rhode Island) and Providence, Rhode Island. His residence near Pawtucket, an enclave for artisans and metal workers, probably led Thorp to follow the metal-working trade and to develop several of his inventions. During this time a boy of twelve to fifteen might have apprenticed in a machine shop. Thorp may have acquired his interest in textile technology because Pawtucket was the home of the first water-powered cotton-spinning mill in the United States, and several textile-machine manufacturers operated there....