Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family

Alfred Ronalds: Angler, Artisan and Australian Pioneer

Alfred Ronalds. From the Fishing Gazette (1913)

Sir Francis' brother Alfred (1802-1860) is arguably the most recognised of the Ronalds family today, especially in the international fly-fishing community.

With their father dying when Alfred was just four years old, Sir Francis was a very important influence for his 14-year-younger brother. Sir Francis helped Alfred develop his broad scientific, practical and artistic skills. Working together closely over three decades, Alfred also took on many of Sir Francis' characteristics, including his approach to research, the motivations for his projects, his perfectionism, generosity, and a disinterest in status and renown.

In 1829 Alfred left home to become a gentleman farmer in Staffordshire, where he met his wife Margaret Bond (1813-1848) and researched his book on fly fishing. The family then moved to Wales and, after Margaret's death, to Australia in 1848 where he married Mary Ann Harlow (c.1816-1895). They initially lived in Geelong and he worked as a artisan. In 1851 he joined the Victorian gold rush, meeting with success. The family settled in the new goldfields township of Ballarat and he established the first garden nursery with the help of his son Nathaniel. He died there, having had twelve children, and with the youngest being a baby.

Fortunately Mary Ann was a strong and accomplished woman who was able to cope with being left with a large family but no monetary assets. She set up as a milliner and dressmaker and introduced her children into the trade as they became older. Her daughters later continued the business in Melbourne. Mary Ann was a widow for nearly 35 years.


Further Information

Alfred Ronalds: Angler, Artisan and Australian Pioneer - to be published by Medlar Press

Alfred Ronalds and John Corrie Carter in Radnorshire (2019) - published in the Transactions of the Radnorshire Society

Wikipedia entry for The Fly-fisher's Entomology

Alfred Ronalds' Family Tree

Sir Francis Ronalds: Father of the Electric Telegraph (2016) - published by Imperial College Press

Alfred Ronalds (1985) - written by A F Ronalds
Note: This pioneering biography of Alfred Ronalds has been superseded in part by more recent research