1802 - on the death of his father, went to London to perfect his watchmaking skills, eventually returning to Totnes to take over his father's business. 1809 - went to London to study at the Royal Academy Schools. 1812 - exhibited at the Royal Academy. 1815 - first trip to Europe, visiting France and Belgium. 1817 - began to exhibit a series of ambitious large-scale religious subjects at the British Institution. 1819 - invented an improved method of wire-drawing which involved drawing the wire through a hole defined by diamonds or other gemstones in order to maintain a precise diameter. 1821 - began a lifelong interest in the Alps with a crossing of the Simplon en route for Italy, returning a year later via the Brenner Pass. 1830 - helped form the Royal Geographical Society. 1831 - patented an improved writing pen with an oblique slit in the nib. 1833 - founded the Graphic Society. 1834 - elected a fellow of the Royal Society. 1838 - wrote the sections dealing with Savoy and the Alps for Murray's Handbook for Travellers in Switzerland. 1843 - patented improvements in the manufacture of wadding for firearms. 1845 - became a partner in the Manchester firm of Charles Mackintosh & Co. 1847 - patented a system of burning gas instead of solid fuel to heat rooms and apartments, with the gas ignited over pumice-stone in a fireplace to give the appearance of a real fire. 1851 - his last patent deals with applications of vulcanized indiarubber or gutta-percha in surgery.