The Thorneycroft Carbine was a bolt-action rifle designed by James Baird Thorneycroft. It is thought to be the very first bullpup design in history.
During the early 1900s, the British Army sought a short rifle or carbine. This was spurred by the disadvantage that British cavalrymen had experienced in the 2nd Boer War (1899 - 1902); the British rifles were too long to use practically on horseback. James Baird Thorneycroft of Ayrshire, Scotland designed a short rifle that maintained the same barrel length as the Lee-Enfield rifle but the overall build of the weapon was shorter, and weighed far less. His first patent was in 1901, and a year later, he submitted his design to the British War Office. Unfortunately the Short-Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) was already in its trial phase by the time Thorneycroft submitted his rifle, and thus, there was little interest in testing a new rifle. His design was rejected due to its strong recoil (ultimately down to the lightness of the weapon) and awkward handling.
After his rifle's rejection in 1902, Thorneycroft formed a partnership with Moubray Gore Farquhar, another weapons designer. The Thorneycroft-Farquhar Model 1905 was the result of their joint efforts. The awkward design of the original prototype was modified to feel more comfortable for the shooter, although the weapon was allegedly still unreliable compared to the SMLE. The Thorneycroft-Farquhar model was also rejected by the British Army and James Thorneycroft abandoned his efforts to create a short service rifle. Moubray Farquhar went on to work on machine guns.