Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family

Silvanus Ronalds

Silvanus Ronalds; miniature (c.1816). He was one of the few in the family who inherited his mother's ginger hair. Eldon House.

Silvanus Ronalds (1794-1819) was apprenticed to a distant relative Henry Field (1755-1837), who was an eminent apothecary in London and a leading member of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.

Silvanus was trained to be the "Chemical Operator" at the Society, where he supervised the large-scale manufacture of drugs for supply to practitioners, hospitals and the military forces. He worked under the general oversight of Professor William Thomas Brande, a friend of his cousin Sir Francis Ronalds. He also conducted consultancy work, including helping to win a patent infringement suit on a method of brewing beer where the opposing expert was the scientist Michael Faraday.

Sadly Silvanus died just a few years into his job at the age of 24. Sir Francis lamented at the time that "I cannot think of our Chemical & other disputes together without great regret that they can never be renewed." He was buried in the Ronalds family vault at St Lawrence's church.

Further Information

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

Court and City Register (1817) listing Silvanus as an officer of the Society of Apothecaries of London


The letter quoted is held in the Ronalds Archive at the IET.