Joseph Elkington

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Joseph Elkington
black and white reproduction of a painted, bust-length portrait of a white male
Born Baptised 1 January 1740
Warwickshire, England
Died October 1806
Resting place All Saints churchyard, Madeley, Staffordshire, England
Monuments In All Saints churchyard, Stretton-on-Dunsmore
Nationality English
  • Farmer
  • Drainage engineer
Known for Improvements to land drainage
Relatives George Elkington (grandson)
Awards £1,000 and gold ring

Joseph Elkington (baptised 1 January 1740[1] at Stretton-on-Dunsmore, died October 1806) was an English agriculturalist, lauded by parliament for his reforms to land drainage.[2]


While farming at Princethorpe, Warwickshire he devised a way of using boreholes to drain boggy land.[2] For this innovation, and concerned that his frail health would result in the loss of his knowledge before it was shared,[1] parliament awarded him, in 1795, £1,000 and a gold ring,[2] Edinburgh land surveyor James Johnstone (d. 1838) was employed by the Board of Agriculture to study Elkington's methods.[1]

Elkington subsequently worked in partnership with Lancelot "Capability" Brown to develop drainage plans for the latter's landscaping schemes, starting with one at Fisherwick Park near Lichfield.[2]

Elkington moved to Hey House in Staffordshire in 1797 to farm 500 acres (200 ha) of land at Madeley,[2] which became known as Bog Farm.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Elkington was the eldest son of Joseph Elkington (1697–1758), a yeoman farmer, and Mary, née Gallimore (died 1750).[1] He had epilepsy.[1] He married Sarah Webb (baptised 1738, died 1821), daughter of Richard and Mary, on 26 December 1760.[1] Nine of their children survived Elkington.[1] His grandson was the industrialist George Elkington.[2] He died at Hay House on 17 October 1806[1] and was buried in the churchyard at All Saints, Madeley[2] on 20 October.[1] A monument to him in All Saints churchyard, Stretton-on-Dunsmore, calls him a "pioneer of land drainage".[2]

Further reading[edit]

  • Johnstone, James (1841). Account of the Mode of Draining Land According to the System Practised by Mr Joseph Elkington (5 ed.). 
  • Holland, Christopher John; Langley, Anne D.; Moore, Adam (2006). Joseph Elkington: Warwickshires Land Drainage Pioneer. Stretton Millennium History Group. ISBN 9780953746248. 


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j H. S. Torrens, 'Elkington, Joseph (bap. 1740, d. 1806)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 accessed 16 Feb 2013
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Upton, Chris (15 February 2013). "Farm engineer Joseph Elkington was an expert in his field". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2013-02-16. 

External links[edit]