Michael Pakenham Edgeworth

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Michael Pakenham Edgeworth
Dr. John Adamson (Scottish - Michael Pakenham Edgeworth. - Google Art Project.jpg
Born 1812
County Longford, Ireland
Died 1881
Residence India
Citizenship Irish
Fields botany
Author abbrev. (botany) Edgew.

Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (1812–1881) was an Irish botanist who specialized in seed plants and ferns,[1] and spent most of his life and work in India.

Early life and family relations[edit]

He was born in County Longford, Ireland in 1812, one of twenty-four children[2] of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817) and his four wives. His mother, Frances Beaufort, was the fourth wife. His older half-sister Maria Edgeworth, born to his father's first wife Anna Maria Edgeworth (née Elers), became a novelist. Among his other siblings were Honora (half-sister), Fanny (sister), Lucy (sister), and Francis (brother). With his wife Christina he had a daughter named Harriet.[3]


Although he is known to have had an estate of 1,659 acres[4] in County Longford, Ireland, at a young age he left for India in 1831 to join the Indian Civil Service of the British Colonial regime. Edgeworth's post encompassed an area from Lahore to Madras.[5] Being possessed of a curious spirit, Edgeworth travelled widely throughout India[5] and the island of Ceylon[6] (present day Sri Lanka) where he collected plants and made notes. In 1850 he was made the Chief of Police of the English settlement Punjab.[6] In addition to his interest in botany, he also wrote about Indian tongues[6] and culture, topography, and antiquities.[5]

But he wasn't always in India; as a correspondence[7] from Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker mentions a conversation held between himself, Edgeworth and biologists John Lubbock and George Charles Wallich, at a meeting of the Linnean Society of London (18 April 1861) less than two years after the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species (22 November 1859). Unfortunately, very little of the content of this conversation is revealed in the letter.[7]

Published works[edit]

In the field of botany, Edgeworth wrote:

Descriptions of Some Unpublished Species of Plants from North-Western India (R.Taylor, 1851)[8]
Catalogue of Plants found in the Banda district, 1847-49, pp.60.8 (Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta 1852, Vol. xxi.)[9]
Pollen (Hardwicke + Bogue, 1877)[8]

He also kept meticulous diaries from the years 1828 (just a few years before going to India) to 1867, compiled in the weighty, 8,000-page volume entitled India in the Age of Empire - The Journals of Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (1812–1881). It chronicles the broadening of British imperial influence in the Indian territories and is principally of cultural and political interest.[5] It was published after his death in 1881.

Botanical names[edit]

The plant genus Edgeworthia was dedicated to him.[10]


  1. ^ "Index of Botanists: Record number 102372". Harvard University Herbaria. President and fellows of Harvard College. April 7, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Longford: Loveliest County of the Irish Plain". Ireland for Visitors . Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  3. ^ Priestman, Judith; Mary Clapinson; Tim Rogers (1993). "Catalogue of the papers of Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849), and the Edgeworth family, 17th-19th century". University of Oxford, Bodleian Library . Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ "County Longford Landowners 1870's". Ireland Genealogy Projects . Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d "INDIA IN THE AGE OF EMPIRE The Journals of Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (1812-1881) from the Bodleian Library, Oxford". Adam Matthew Publications . Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  6. ^ a b c "Michael Pakenham Edgeworth". Speedy Look . Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "Darwin, C.R. to Hooker, J.D., 23 [April 1861]". Darwin Correspondence Project. University of Cambridge. Retrieved January 28, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Michael Pakenham Edgeworth". Open Library. October 17, 2008. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Full text of "Catalogue of the books, manuscripts, maps and drawings in the British Museum (Natural History)"". Archive.org. April 23, 1904. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Edgeworthia chrysantha". Royal Horticultural Society . Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Author Query for 'Edgew.'". International Plant Names Index. 

External links[edit]

The Potomac Valley Chapter North American Rock Garden Society 
The Harvard University Herbarium