Copyright 2013 Edward S. Slagle
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Necessity—frequently economic necessity—is truly the mother of invention. Such was the case in the Eighteenth Century when an English clockmaker named John Harrison invented the chronometers that first accurately measured longitude, thus enabling Harrison to win the fortune promised by the British Parliament in the Longitude Act of 1714. In 1809, after years of experimentation, Nicholas Francois Appert invented canning to win the 12,000-franc prize that Napoleon Bonaparte had offered nine years earlier to anyone who could devise a method to preserve food. Although his contributions were not so far-reaching, James Q.C. van den Bosch could rightly fit into the same mold as that of these predecessors of his. The reward that van den Bosch claimed came in the form of silver.
James Quirinus Cornelius van den Bosch was born into a distinguished family in the town of Wilhelminadorp, Zealand, Holland on October 17, 1824. He was the son of parents with names as delightful as that of his own: Iman Walter Jacob van den Bosch and Cornelia Adriana Kakenbeeke van den Bosch. James’s great-grandfather wrote one of the earliest treatises on vaccination, and received a gold medal for the effort. His grandfather, a consul of the Danish government in Rotterdam, was decorated by King Christian for his ability. James’s father was the owner of some 4,000 acres of land, a parcel known as the “Wilhelmina Embankment,” that had been reclaimed from the marshes. The father had also received awards for both military and civic contributions that he had made.