Richard Lovell Edgeworth

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Richard Lovell Edgeworth
Portrait of Richard Lovell Edgeworth .PNG
circa 1800
Born(1744-05-31)31 May 1744
Bath, England
Died13 June 1817(1817-06-13) (aged 73)
Alma materCorpus Christi College, Oxford; Trinity College, Dublin
ChildrenTwenty two, including
Edgeworthstown House, Ireland
Library at Edgeworthstown House 1888
Edgeworth's proposed optical telegraph for use in Ireland. The rotational position of each one of the four indicators represented a number 1-7 (0 being "rest"), forming a four-digit number. The number stood for a particular word in a codebook.[2]

Richard Lovell Edgeworth (31 May 1744 – 13 June 1817) was an Anglo-Irish politician, writer and inventor.


Edgeworth was born in Pierrepont Street, Bath, England, son of Richard Edgeworth senior, and great-grandson of Sir Salathiel Lovell through his mother, Jane Lovell, granddaughter of Sir Salathiel. The Edgeworth family came to Ireland in the 1580s. Richard was descended from Francis Edgeworth, appointed joint Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper in 1606, who inherited a fortune from his brother Edward Edgeworth, Bishop of Down and Connor.

A Trinity College, Dublin and Corpus Christi College, Oxford alumnus, he is credited for creating, among other inventions, a machine to measure the size of a plot of land. He also made strides in the developing educational methods. He anticipated the caterpillar track with an invention that he played around with for forty years but that he never successfully developed.[3] He described it as a "cart that carries its own road".

He was married four times, including both Honora Sneyd and Frances Beaufort, older sister of Francis Beaufort of the Royal Navy. The two men installed a semaphore line for Ireland. Richard Lovell Edgeworth was a member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham. The Lunar Society evolved through various degrees of organization over a period of years, but was only ever an informal group. No constitution, minutes, publications or membership lists survive from any period, and evidence of its existence and activities is found only in the correspondence and notes of those associated with it. Dates given for the society range from sometime before 1760 to it still operating as late as 1813. Fourteen individuals have been identified as having verifiably attended Lunar Society meetings regularly over a long period during its most productive time: these are Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, Thomas Day, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Samuel Galton, Jr., James Keir, Joseph Priestley, William Small, Jonathan Stokes, James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood, John Whitehurst and William Withering.

Richard Edgeworth and his family lived in Ireland at his estate at Edgeworthstown, County Longford, where he reclaimed bogs and improved roads. He sat in Grattan's Parliament for St Johnstown (County Longford) from 1798 until the Act of Union in 1801, and advocated Catholic Emancipation and parliamentary reform. He was a founder-member of the Royal Irish Academy. He died in Edgeworthstown on 13 June 1817.


He was the father of 22 children by his four wives[4]

  1. Anna Maria Elers (1743–1773), of whom five children[5]
    Richard Edgeworth (1765–1796), m. Elizabeth Knight 1788. Died in America
    Lovell Edgeworth (1766–1766)
    Maria Edgeworth (1768–1849) the novelist
    Emmeline Edgeworth (1770–1817), married Dr. John King of Bristol, October 1802[6]
    Anna Maria Edgeworth (1773–1824), married Dr. Thomas Beddoes 1794.[7]
  2. Honora Sneyd (1751 – 1 May 1780), of whom two children[5]
    Honora Edgeworth (1774–1790)
    Lovell Edgeworth (1775–1842), who inherited the property
  3. Elizabeth Sneyd (1753–1797), sister of Honora Sneyd, of whom five sons and four daughters
    Elizabeth Edgeworth (1781–1805)
    Henry Edgeworth (1782–1813)
    Charlotte Edgeworth (1783–1807)
    Sophia Edgeworth (1784–1784)
    Charles Sneyd Edgeworth (1786–1864) m. Henrica Broadhurst 1813, succeeded his brother Lovell Edgeworth
    William Edgeworth (1788–1790)
    Thomas Day Edgeworth (1789–1792)
    Honora Edgeworth (1792–1858), married Francis Beaufort (his brother in law from his fourth marriage) in 1838
    William Edgeworth (1794–1829), engineer.[8]
  4. Frances Ann Beaufort (1769–1865), botanical artist, daughter of Daniel Augustus Beaufort and Mary Waller, of whom six children,[5][9]
    Frances Maria Edgeworth (1799–1848) m. Lestock Wilson 1829
    Harriet Edgeworth (1801–1889) m. Richard Butler 1826
    Sophia Edgeworth (1803–1836) m. Barry Fox 1824
    Lucy Jane (1805–1897), married the Irish astronomer Thomas Romney Robinson 1843.
    Francis Beaufort Edgeworth (1809–1846), Mentioned in Thomas Carlyle's Life of Sterling. Married Rosa Florentina Eroles of Spain, 1831, of whom six sons and one daughter[10]
    William Edgeworth (1832 -1833)
    William Edgeworth (1834-1863), entered the army in 1853 and served in India
    Antonio Eroles Edgeworth (1835–1911), succeeded his uncle Charles Sneyd Edgeworth
    David Reid Edgeworth (1837-1871)
    Mary Edgeworth (1839-1893)
    Richard Lestock Edgeworth (1843-1869)
    Francis Ysidro Edgeworth (1845–1926), became an influential economist.[11]
    Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (1812–1881), m. Christina Macpherson 1846, botanist.


  1. ^ Butler 1972.
  2. ^ Rees, Abraham, ed. (1802–1820). "The Daily Telegraph". Cyclopædia. Vol. 35. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown. Unpaginated work: pages 9-11 of the article entry.
  3. ^ Beach Combing 2011.
  4. ^ Butler 1972, p. 489.
  5. ^ a b c Lundy 2015, Richard Lovell Edgeworth.
  6. ^ Find a Grave 2015, Emmeline Edgeworth King.
  7. ^ Find a Grave 2015, Anna Maria Edgeworth Beddoes.
  8. ^ A. W. Skempton (2002). A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland: 1500-1830. Thomas Telford. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-7277-2939-2. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  9. ^ Lundy 2015, Frances Ann Beaufort.
  10. ^ Barbe, L. (2010), Francis Ysidro Edgeworth : A Portrait with Family and Friends, translated from Catalan by M.C. Black. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
  11. ^ "Edgeworth, Richard Lovell" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.


External links[edit]

Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by Member of Parliament for
St Johnstown (County Longford)

1798 – 1801
Served alongside: William Moore
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom