Elias Pym Fordham

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Elias Pym Fordham (1788-1850) was the original surveyor of Indianapolis. He was an English immigrant to the United States and author of an American travel memoir.

Elias Pym Fordham was born in Royston, Hertfordshire,[1] one of two sons and seven children to Elias Fordham (1762-1838) and his first wife Ann Clapton.[2] The family background was of liberal nonconformism in Hertfordshire, exemplified by his uncle Edward King Fordham. He studied civil engineering under George Stephenson (a developer of the steam locomotive).[2]

Fordham immigrated to the US in 1817 with his sister Maria and travelled to Illinois where he purchased a tract of land in what was known as "the English Prairie",[2] settled also by his first cousin George Flower (1788-1862), a founder of Albion, Illinois. In April 1821 he along with Alexander Ralston received joint appointments as surveyors of Indianapolis.[2]

Little else is known of Fordham.[2] He was well educated and articulate as evidenced by his Personal narrative of travels in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky : and of a residence in the Illinois Territory: 1817-1818 which was not published until 1906 (now out of print). He eventually returned to England and continued working on projects with George Stephenson.[2] On 16 Jul 1832 he obtained a licence to marry a widow, Priscilla Ebenezer Morris at Dover.[3]

His death was listed in the Dover Telegraph as having occurred at age 62 on 19 October 1850 in Capel-le-Ferne. His will was proved on 14 December 1850, his wife surviving him.[4]


  1. ^ Piece 4665-2: Dr Williams' Library Registry, Birth Certificates, 1824-1827
  2. ^ a b c d e f Sheryl D. Vanderstel. "Elias Pym Fordham", in The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1994. ISBN 0-253-31222-1
  3. ^ Kent, Surrey, London: - Canterbury Marriage Licences, 1810-1837 (Marriage)
  4. ^ England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858

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