Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family

Hugh Ronalds

Grave of Hugh Ronalds at Albion cemetery, Illinois.
Jim McNeely photography

Being the third son in the family cheesemonger business did not suit Sir Francis' brother Hugh Ronalds (1792-1877) - he wanted to make his own way in the world. In 1818 he sailed to Philadelphia and then rode 1,500 km on horseback to frontier Illinois. There he became one of the initial town proprietors who funded and oversaw the development of a settlement that became the city of Albion.

The area had been selected by Morris Birkbeck and George Flower (son of Richard Flower), who were known to the Ronalds family in England. Hugh married George's sister Mary Katherine Flower (1802-1852) - called Kate - in 1820 and the couple lived their lives there.

Hugh shared Sir Francis' interests in science and engineering. He recorded and sent home daily thermometer readings at Sir Francis' request during his voyage and after he settled in Illinois. He was also awarded two patents. The first reduced the time and labour of leather tanning by using banks of interconnected vats and pits, and the second was a water jet propeller for steamboats. These were employed in the businesses he established in Albion, which included a tannery, leatherworks and produce export/import. Hugh and Kate's sons became physicians in Illinois and one of their daughters was a high school teacher.

Further Information

Hugh Ronalds: Pioneer of Albion, Illinois (Summer 2022)
- published in the Quarterly Journal of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, Vol. 54, No. 2

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

Alfred Ronalds: Angler, Artisan and Australian Pioneer (2022) - published by Medlar Press

Kate Ronalds' youngest brother Edward Fordham Flower's entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.
Edward's eldest son Charles Edward Flower married Hugh's niece Sarah Martineau

Hugh and Kate née Flower's Family Tree

Some of the books written by family members:

History of the English Settlement (1882) by George Flower - Early years in Illinois

Eliza Julia Flower (1991) by Janet Walker - Life in Illinois through surviving letters

The attempted Whig revolution of 1678-1681 (1937) by Dr Francis Spring Ronalds

The Modern Corporation (1913) by Thomas Conyngton - published by the family's Ronald Press

Corporation Procedure (1923) by Thomas and Hugh Ronald Conyngton - published by Ronald Press

Business Law (1933) by Thomas Conyngton - published by Ronald Press