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Billinghurst, William

Name Street Town State From To
Billinghurst, William 1 Buffalo Street Rochester New York 1843 1880

Patent Date Remarks
36,448 September 16, 1862 Machine Gun
Patent drawing
Specification 2nd page

Contract for

Born 1807 in Monroe Coutny, New York and died in 1880. Many of his apprentieces became later well known makers on their own. He was one of the most famous gunmakers of those days.

Buggy Pistol
Miller Patent rifle (see Miller, James and John)
.36 caliber percussion, 7 shot revolver rifle
.40 caliber percussion, 7 shot revolver rifle
.40 caliber pill lock, 7 shot revolver rifle
.40 caliber pill lock, 7 shot revolver carbine

It is interesting to note, that as early as 1852 he manufactured a Miller rifle using a shotgun barrel as the cylinder arbor. This was 4 years before LeMat claimed this feature in this patent of 1856. There is also a similar Bigelow rifle/shotgun known

7 shot pill lock revolving rifle, sidehammer with a shotgun barrel as cylinder pin, the shotgun was fired by a separate underhammer

.44 caliber percussion mule-ear target rifle, 30 3/3" octagonal barrel

.50 caliber percussion underhammer target rifle

Target rifle, left
Target rifle, right

Billinghurst-Requa battery gun predates the Gatling Gun, used in the Civil War. These gun was invented by Dr. Josephus Requa (1849 to 1853 apprentice of Billinghurst and later changed to become Dentist) and Billinghurst in 1862. The gun had twenty-five barrels, each twenty-four inches long. The spacing between the barrels could be adjusted for concentrated fire or a wide broadside. A single cap fired the 25-shot volley.

Billinghurst-Requa gun
Billinghurst-Requa gun
from Museum of U.S. Armory, Springfield
picture of a .56 caliber Billinghurst-Requa Gun cartridge
See Epitaph: The friends of Mount Hope Newsletter

Billinghurst figures in three articles found in the Rochester Daily Democrat.

(August 2, 1841)
William Billinghurst of this city has received an order from Don Pedro d'Alcantara, the young Emperor of Brazil, to make a rifle for him. Mr. BilČlinghurst is regarded as one of the best rifle smiths in this country and will, we doubt not, execute the order as satisfactorily to the Emperor as creditably to himself. The rifle will be finished in about 3 months and will cost $400.00.

(August 22, 1843)
Our friend, William Billinghurst, who made a repeating rifle for the Emperor of Brazil a year or two ago, has just completed one for the Maharaja of Bombay, India. It is designed for demolition of tigers and carried but 16 halls to a pound, probably the largest ever made in this city. It is a beautiful piece of workmanship with remarkable engraving; and it is highly creditable to Mr. Billinghurst and this city that orders for work of this description should be received from so great a distance.

(August 10, 1852)
Yesterday we were shown a revolving rifle made by Mr. William Billinghurst, a veteran gun manufacturer whose fame is only hindered by a modesty, which equals his genius. The complete and beautiful firearm is constructed upon a principle long well known here. A cylinder about 4 inches long contains 7 barrels which receive the charge through the long barrel like other guns, the cylinder being turned, by hand, as each charge is deposited. When loaded and primed the gun may be carried safely for any length of lime and the charge will not suffer from dampness even if exposed to rain or thrown into the water. The whole 7 can be fired in 1/4 of a minute by an expert shot. Attached to the gun below the rifle barrel is another barrel for shot, which extends to the breech through the cylinder and is entirely disconnected. It operates separately and may be fired at the same lime' as the rifle or afterwards. Such guns, excepting the shotgun part, are not very novel in this region where Mr. Billinghurst has made them for some lime. This rifle was patented by Mr. Miller, the inventor, but the patent expired and the patentee dying, it was not renewed. The principle was subsequently adopted by Colt and others in making revolving pistols and rifles.