Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family

Maria Carter née Ronalds

Maria's sketch made using Sir Francis' perspective drawing instrument. Courtesy IET

Quarry Hill in Battle, East Sussex

Sir Francis Ronalds' fifth and youngest sister Maria (1804-1880) wed his friend Samuel Carter (1805-1878), a solicitor who played a key role in the development of the railways across England.

Samuel had grown up in an influential Coventry family. His uncle John Carter was the city's undersheriff for many years - he was apparently the model for the character Mr Hawley (who "was afraid of nobody") in George Eliot's Middlemarch. Samuel was briefly the MP for Coventry.

Maria and Samuel retired to a property called Quarry Hill, sited near where William the Conqueror's forces gathered in preparation for the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Sir Francis lived his last years very close by in the village of Battle and was buried in the cemetery there.

Samuel was one of Sir Francis' strongest supporters. He provided business advice on his inventions and, after his death, shaped his collection of electrical books into the renowned "Ronalds Library". Maria and Samuel's children also strove over many years for greater recognition of Sir Francis' accomplishments and their son Hugh Carter (1837-1903) painted his portrait.

Further Information

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