Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family

Edmund Ronalds

Daguerreotype of Edmund and Eliza's son James Ronalds (1834-1891), who died in Australia

Edmund (1790-1874) was Sir Francis Ronalds' closest brother in age and they together ran the family cheesemonger business in Thames Street, London, until Sir Francis and his mother "retired" in 1814. Edmund continued in business for another 40 years and served as Master of the Drapers' Company, one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies in the City of London. In later life he lost most of his wealth by investing unwisely in the Depot silk mill in Derby - the same mill that his cousin Thomas Field Gibson had formerly owned.

Edmund's wife Eliza Jemima (c.1799-1853) was the daughter of Dr James Anderson, who ran a respected school. Their 12 children led diverse lives. Eldest son Dr Edmund Ronalds became a successful chemist and later brought his brother into his business. Two siblings married into the Greg cotton-spinning family and another spent her last years in Algeria. Five migrated to New Zealand, where letters describe their struggle to support themselves. The two girls wed Atkinson brothers - a third brother, Sir Harry Atkinson, went on to become Premier of the Colony of New Zealand.


Further Information

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

Books about the early years in New Zealand based on surviving letters:

Born to New Zealand (1989)

My Hand will Write what my Heart Dictates (1996)

Tom's Letters (2001)