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.

Edmund and his wife Eliza's 12 children led diverse lives. Two married into the Greg cotton-spinning family near Manchester 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.

Edmund and Eliza's eldest son obtained his doctorate in Germany, was Professor of Chemistry at the Queen's College Galway, and proprietor of the important Bonnington Chemical Works. With their shared technical interests, Sir Francis and his nephew Dr Edmund (1819-1889) were very close. Two of Dr Edmund's sons later wintered each year in Florida; Dr Tennent Ronalds (1859-1924) hunted and built a private golf course on his Live Oak Plantation and both eventually died there.

Further Information

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

Dr Edmund Ronalds' entry in the Dictionary of National Biography

Chemical Technology (1855) - the first in a series of Dr Edmund's textbooks

Two 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)