ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL WASThe only son of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel(1769-1849) was himself a famous engineer and a former French Naval officer and, before he came to England in 1799, chief engineer of New York Sir Marc Isambard Brunel was of French parents the son of Jean Charles Brunel,a prosperous farmer, and Marie Victoria Lefevre, Jean Charles's second of four wives. He was born on 25 April 1769 in the hamlet of Hacqueville in northern France. .He managed to escape but she was imprisoned in a convent at Gravelines, a convent which had a guillotine erected outside its walls. Fed on only black bread mixed with straw the prisoners lived in fear of execution but on the death of Robespierre they were freed. Sick and emaciated Sophie made her way back to her friends who nursed her back to health and took her to England. There she was reunited with Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, were married, and their son Isambard was born in 1806.
ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL showed a talent for drawing, mathematics and mechanics at an early age. As an eleven year old, however, he earned his father's displeasure by declaring his wish to become an engineer. Declaration of his engineering asperations prompted his father to send him to a seminary in Rouen. Fortunately, the Superior recognised ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL talents could best be developed elsewhere, and arranged for him to lodge with an elder cousin and prepared for eventual entry as a naval cadet. In 1793, after six years in the French navy, Brunel returned to France, then at the peak of revolutionary fervour. Within a few months, his royalist sympathies compelled him to leave. He fled to the United States, where he practiced as an architect and civil engineer in New York, eventually becoming the city's chief engineer.