The Edgeworth Family - Early history.

The first Edgeworths to come to Ireland in 1585 were Edward and Francis, natives of Edgeworth or Edgware a town in Middlesex near..London. Edward the elder became bishop of Down and Connor while his brother Francis entered the law in Dublin and was appointed to the office of Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper. In 1619 he was granted some 600 acres of land near Mostrim by King James I. His third wife was Jane Tuite daughter of Sir John Tuite of Sonnagh in Westmeath. Their son John was brought up in England. and is returned with his wife to live at the castle of Crannelagh (Cranley). He was absent when the rebellion broke out in 1641, when his strife and three year old son also John were saved from death and smuggled to Dublin by a ruse by Edmond MacBrian Ferrall a servant of the household. He also saved the castle from destruction by fire. This son settled later in Lissard. He was somewhat of a gambler and spendthrift but in 1670 bought the lands of Mostrim now Edgeworthstown though it was many years later that it became the home of the head. of the family when his son Francis came to live there at the end of the century of the death of his father Sir John, who although knighted in 1671 by the Duke of York later took the Williamite side at the revolution. In the meantime he had left Lissard to live at Kilshrewley, but much of his life was spent in the Army and in England. One of his sons Henry later came back to live in the old house at Lissard.

Sir Johns grandson Richard was left a penniless orphan at the age of' eight and was brought up by his half sister in Packenham Hall in Westmeath. At the age of 18 in 1719 on the death of his half sisters husband, Edward Packenham, he had take over the estate and paid off the debts of his father and grandfather and recovered losses incurred by the malpractices of his uncles Robert and Ambrose. He it was who built the house in the 1720's we know to-day. It was built around an earlier house presumably that occupied, about 1697 by his father Francis. He was the author of the Black Book of Edgeworthstown an estate record which tells us so much about the locality at that time.

Edgeworths - extended Family

Richard Lovell

The first member of the family we meet is Richard Lovell Edgeworth, father of Maria. Born in 1744, he survived four wives, and had twenty-two children before dying, aged 73, in 1817.

He was a liberal both in thought and in politics. He was in full sympathy with the eighteenth century enlightenment in science and belief in scientific method, in industrial progress and in educational thinking. He was a friend on the leading scientists and thinkers of the day – such as Erasmus Darwin, Sir Humphrey Davy, James Watt.

Distinguished as an inventor, he turned his wider-ranging inventive genius to such diverse objects as architecture and town planning, mechanical loaders, carts and carriages with springs, railroad tracks for the transport of peat. He designed and built the spire in the Parrish Church of Edgeworthstown. His architectural skill was in evidence at Pakenham Hall, particularly in the installation of an ingenious domestic heating system.

He was a pioneer of modern techniques of road construction; and it is a rather unfair accident of history that a less brilliant and successful contemporary, the Scotsman, Macadam, should have had his name perpetuated in road-making vocabulary, though Edgeworth did much more to merit that honour. Edgeworth did very important pioneering studies and experiments in telegraphy, and it was obscurantist on the part of the British Government of the time, not to implement his plans for a telegraphic communications system in Ireland before the end of the eighteenth century.

In the sphere of bogland development, Edgeworth remarkably anticipated the work, which had to wait more than a century after his death for full implementation by Bord na Mona. In 1808, the then Chief Secretary, Sir Arthur Wellesley, proposed the setting up of a commission to explore the possibilities of utilisation of the bogs of Ireland. A bill to this effect was introduced in the British Parliament in the following year. The commission was set up and began its investigations immediately.

Edgeworth was invited to act as one of the engineers to the commission. Although now a man of 65 and in failing health, he accepted and threw himself into the work with extraordinary energy declaring, characteristically, that “he could only die, and he would rather die doing something than doing nothing.” He was convinced of the great contribution the bogs could make to the economic prosperity of Ireland. He began by planning a survey of 35,000 acres of bogland on Co. Longford and adjacent areas of Co. Meath. The survey entailed systematic marking, draining, levelling of the bogs. A canal system was to provide for both drainage and transport. A portable rail system, based of movable wooden tracks, was designed. Special ploughs for bogland drainage were devised.

For most of twelve months, Edgeworth spent day after day, often for fifteen food-less hours at a stretch on the bogs of C. Longford. After this exhausting toil, he could confidently claim that the development of the Irish bogs was not only practicable but was economically viable and offered important employment prospect for the impoverished population of the country.

His work. Like several other precocious projects of his, failed to secure government support. In this instance, vested interests on the part of absentee landlords as well as of local proprietors conspired to thwart Edgeworth’s plans. But, he has been posthumously vindicated. A century later, a free Irish State gave reality to his dreams, following not only the spirit but also to methods and equipment and techniques. We should spare a thought for Edgeworth when we pass by Bord na Mona’s Installations at Lanesboro and elsewhere in the county.

A second area of Edgeworth’s vision gives equally impressive proof of his enlightened thinking, namely the sphere of education. He was influenced, in this domain, by the theories of Locke and Rousseau. His own writings though somewhat verbose and turgid, helped to diffuse new and more scientific approaches to education in the early eighteenth century.

His three volumes entitled “Practical Education,” published in 1798m drew upon the new empiricistic psychology to urge that education should depend upon natural associations of ideas rather than on rote memory; that spontaneous learning was preferable to coerced concentration; that teaching should proceed by teacher-pupil conversation rather than by cramming. The end-product of good educations he argued, would be, not the pupil who could mechanically reproduce facts, but the person who had “learned to generalise his ideas and to apply his observations and principles.” If the pupil can do this, he can be called educated, whether he can reproduce the facts of grammar, geography, or even Latin, or not. For he will desire better than merely knowing facts. In the subsequent business of life, he will out-distance the man “ who had only been technically taught, as certainly as the giant would overtake the panting dwarf, who night have many miles start of him in the race.”

Here again, as his biographer remarks, Edgeworth was more than a century ahead of his time. As Macadam annexed the reputation Edgeworth should have had in road-making, so Edgeworth lost to Montessori, Froebel, Pestalczzi and others the prestige he merited in the field of education.

His second book in this subject, “Practical education,” published in 1808, was less enlightened and less successful. But his contribution to the cause of education was not merely theoretical. He availed of his opportunity as Member of the Irish Parliament, convened in 1799, to introduce proposals “for the education of the peasantry and working part of the community in Ireland.” In his supporting speech, he declared, “the power of the sword is great, but the power of education is greater.” But, he urged, the state of education in Ireland was lamentably defective and only sweeping new legislation could remedy the situation. He proposed a building programme to provide one or more schools for each parish in the country. He advocated training and qualifications for teachers and inspection of schools.

The most notable and praiseworthy feature of Edgeworths educational plan was that it envisaged equal educational opportunity, at primary school level, for Catholics, with safeguards for their religious beliefs and total exclusion of proselytism. School books were to be approved by the clergy and separate religious instruction for Catholics to be provided by the clergy. It was to be many years yet before the British government and the Irish ascendancy were to be ready to enact such tolerant ideas into law and practice. Edgeworth had a different conception from Davis of the relationship between education and freedom; but he agreed with him on the importance of education for the nation’s good. He considered the education of the people “ to be of greater and more permanent importance than the union or than any merely political measure could prove to his country.”

If Parliament failed to adopt his proposal, Edgeworth would at least make a beginning with his own estates. He founded, in Edgeworthstown, in 1816, a school for boys, which was open to Catholic and Protestant boys alike, and educated poorer and richer children side by side in the same benches. The better-off boys were boarders, with separate dormitory quarters; but the mingling of social classes during class hours was a distinctive feature of the school. The pupils went out to their respective churches for worship and their own clergymen came in to teach then religion during school hours. Edgeworth arranged for a “post-primary” section in the school, where boys might remain on after the school-leaving age to learn book-keeping, mechanics, commerce, and elementary science. He also provided a playground, believing that games too had their place in education.

This remarkable experiment was unfortunate in its immediate direction. Edgeworth’s son, Lovell, who was put in charge of it, proved inefficient, improvident and bibulous, and soon ruined a noble and pioneering educational project. But it lasted long enough to justify Edgeworth’s own boast: “Edgeworthstown is a village remarkable for the health and longevity of its inhabitants. As to religion and moral education here, happily the ministers of both the Protestant and Catholic religion are free from bigotry and live on the best of terms with each other without the slightest mutual jealousy.”

The liberalism, of Edgeworth found expression in his political stances, as several courageous speeches testify. The years after ’98, he wrote: “To justify myself to the Orange Party here can only be done by wearing orange ribbons and becoming a member of the Orange Lodge-a thing I would never be induced to do.”

The ’98 rebellion was followed by a wave of orange fanaticism, bigotry and bitter sectarian reprisals. These so disgusted Edgeworth that he contemplated leaving Ireland for good. He wrote at this time “I have lived in Ireland for no other motive than a sense of duty and a desire to improve the circle around me. I shall lose about £10,000 sunk in the country by removal, but I shall live the remainder of my life amongst men instead of warring savages.”

These words do something to offset the Edgeworths’ attitude to the Irish insurgents at Ballinamuck. In fact Edgeworth was in greater personal danger from Orange loyalists at the time of the Ballinamuck battle, than he was from the Irish rebels. The leader of insurgents personally guarded the entrance to Edgeworthstown House and refused admittance to any of his men. The Orange yeomanry in Longford, knowing Edgeworths’ scorn for their bigotry, and his detestation of their politics, drove him out of the town with stones and staves.

The fullest expression of Edgeworth’s political liberalism was given, a decade before ’98, in his address to the Irish Volunteers. In this address, he demanded equal civil rights for Catholics. He called for the emergence of a yeomanry “which will diffuse liberty and industry throughout every class of the inhabitants of Ireland.” He predicted that the aristocracy would come to bless the hour that turns their ambition from a sordid scramble for titles and places to the solid happiness of serving an industrious and prosperous people.” His political testament may be found in the same address, “For myself, I have no interest to serve, no private pique to gratify, nor have I any view in offering you my advice, but what every Irishman would be proud to avow-the liberty and glory of my country.”

Edgeworth’s patriotism was qualified, his nationalism conditioned by the inevitable ambivalance of the colonist. But it would be narrow-minded and chauvinist to exclude such men as Edgeworth from their place in the pre-history of modern Irish nationalism, and it would be unhistorical to define patriotism in such a way as totally to refuse the term patriotic to a man whom the British loyalists in ’98 regarded as a renegade and suspected of treachery.

Edgeworth died in 1817. Five days before the end he wrote calmly about his impending death. “If a careful retrospect be made of former life; if faults which we have committed strike us with regret, and if we do sincerely believe that we should avoid them were we to live over again; and if upon the whole we feel the internal conviction that we have exerted our faculties in the exercise of our domestic duties and, in so far as it has been in our power, for the public good, I do believe the descent to the grave, if we can escape bodily pain, may resemble sinking into deep sleep.” Maria wrote that his last words were “I die with the soft feeling of gratitude to my friends, and submission to God, who made us.”

Abbé Edgeworth

The third member of the Edgeworths we meet is Henry Essex Edgeworth, who was born in 1745 and died ages 62, in 1807, at the height of Napoleon’s campaign against Russia.

He was born at the Rectory at Edgeworthstown, the son of the Rector, Robert Edgeworth who was a first cousin of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Maria’s father. He was a great-grandson of Archbishop Ussher, distinguished Anglican scholar-Archbishop of Armagh. His grandfather had been Rector in the same vicarage before his father.

By a decision of remarkable courage and integrity, Robert Edgeworth became a Catholic, as the result of a long process of prayer and reflection and study of the Bible and the Fathers of the Church. One of the dominant reasons for his decision was a growing conviction of the biblical truth of the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence. It was while preaching on “the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper” from the pulpit of his Parish Church, that his conviction of the truth of the Catholic Church became final. He broke down in the middle of his sermon and could not continue. He came down the steps of the pulpit and was never able to bring himself to mount them again. His reception into the Catholic Church followed soon after.

This was in 1749. It was henceforth impossible for the ex-Rector and his family to remain in Ireland. He went to France and settled at Toulouse. A modest revenue followed his annually, from a small property at home called Firmount. Later, when his son, now fully gallicised, found that Frenchmen had difficulty in pronouncing the name Edgeworth, he borrowed the “Firmount,” in the French form, “Firmont,” and called himself Henri Essex de Firmont.

Henry Essex grew up as an ordinary French Catholic boy. Educated by the Jesuits in Toulouse and later at the Sorbonne in Paris, he felt a vocation to the priesthood and was ordained for the diocese of Paris. He devoted himself with ardour to pastoral work among the poor of the Paris slums. He continued to reside in the seminary of the Missions Etrangeres de Paris on the Rue du Bac. But devoted himself to spiritual direction and work of the confessional. He rapidly became much sought after as spiritual director and confessor.

His name became known at the court, and in 1791, on St. Patrick’s Day, he was summoned to the Royal Palace of the Tulleries and asked to become confessor to the sister of Louis XVI, Madame Elizabeth. From now on the Abbe Edgeworth or as he was better known in France, the Abbe Firmont, was to be closely identified with the fortunes and fate of the French Royal Family in the most tragic moments of their history.

When Louis XVI was in prison, it was the Abbe Edgeworth whom he summoned to give him spiritual ministration. The Abbe’s letters and notes are among the most precious records of the ill-fated monarch’s personal reactions to the blows of the Revolution. When he came to the King’s side in his prison cell, the King said: “Now, sir, the great business of my salvation is the only one which ought to occupy my thoughts. The only business of real importance! What are all other subjects compared to this?"

The Abbe accompanied Louis XVI to the scaffold. He has left to history an eye-witness account of the last moments of Louis Seize, or Citizen Capet, as the revolutionaries called him as he waited for the guillotine to fall. The King bore himself erect with remarkable fortitude. He declared that all his happiness and strength in this extremity came to him from his religious principles. He requested the revolutionary guards to respect and spare “this good man,” the Abbe Edgeworth. He died protesting his innocence of the crimes laid to his charge, and praying that his blood might never be visited on France.

The Abbe, his clothes drenched in the King’s blood, was able to slip away unnoticed amidst the frenzied crowd. He may not have said the words: “Fils de Saint Louis, montez au ciel.” “Son of Saint Louis, go up to Heaven,” – but the words express the feelings the Abbe from Edgeworthstown would have had as he slipped through the revolutionary crowd in the Place de la Revolution, which had until a few months before been called the Place de Louis XV and was later to be called, more hopefully, Place de la Concorde.

The Abbe escaped from Paris and experienced exile in England, Germany, Russia and finally Poland, in the company of two survivors of the French Royal Family. To whom he remained loyal to the end.

In 1807, during Napoleon’s Russian campaign, they were at Mitau in Poland. Twenty-three soldiers from Napoleon’s army were brought to hospital there in high and virulent fever. The armies of Napoleon were, in the Abbe’s circle, regarded as ministers of evil. But for the Abbe the soldiers were only souls to save, Christians in need of priestly help. As soon as he heard of their presence, regardless of the danger of infection, the Abbe went and ministered to their spiritual and material needs. He caught the fever, but continued day and night to bend over their bedside. After a few days he could struggle on no longer. He collapsed after Mass one morning and died a few days later. His epitaph in the cemetery at Mitau commemorates “the Very Reverend Henry Essex Edgeworth of Firmont, a priest of the Holy Church of God, who, pursuing the steps of our Redeemer was an eye to the blind, a staff to the lame, a father to the poor, and a consoler to the afflicted.”

Francis Ysidro Edgeworth

Francis Beaufort Edgeworth was a restless philosophy student at Cambridge on his way to Germany when he decided to elope with a teenage Catalonian refugee he met on the steps of the British Museum. One of the outcomes of their marriage was Ysidro Francis Edgeworth (the name order was reversed later), who was destined to become one of the most brilliant and eccentric economists of the 19th Century.

Edgeworth was born in 1845 in Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland into a large, well-connected and eccentric Anglo-Irish landowning family. The famous novelist Maria Edgeworth, of Castle Rackrent fame, was his (elderly) aunt. Although Edgeworth was the fifth son of a sixth son, all the other heirs eventually died, leaving him to inherit Edgeworthstown in 1911. A lifelong bachelor (for a brief period, he hopelessly attempted to court Beatrice Potter), the Edgeworth line died out with him.

Edgeworth was educated at Edgeworthstown by tutors until 1862, when he went on to study languages and the classics at Trinity College, Dublin. He proceeded in 1867 to Oxford (initially at Exeter, then Magdalen and then, finally, from 1868, Balliol College). He graduated in 1869 with a First in Literae Humaniores, but his degree was only awarded in 1873.

Around 1870, Edgeworth moved to Hempstead, in the environs of London. Very little is known about the next decade of his life. Edgeworth subsisted on private income. He must certainly have studied law, for in 1877, he was called to the bar by the Inner Temple. It is also presumed that he learnt mathematics and statistics on his own. It is likely that his interest in this topic was "inherited" from his father's friend, William Rowan Hamilton, from his Oxford tutor, Benjamin Jowett, and from his close friendship with his Hempstead neighbor, William Stanley Jevons.

In his first book, New and Old Methods of Ethics (1877), Edgeworth combined his interests, applying mathematics -- notably the calculus of variations and the method of Lagrangian multipliers -- to problems of utilitarian philosophy. His main concern, following up on Sidgwick, was "exact utilitarianism", defined loosely as the optimal allocation of resources that maximized happiness of a society. He argued that ultimately it falls upon the "capacity for pleasure" of people in a society. He recognized that, under uncertainty, "equal capacity" ought to be assumed. However, he then went on to argue that certain classes of people "obviously" have a greater capacity for pleasure than others (e.g. men more than women), and thus some amount of inequality is justifiable on utilitarian principles. He struck a Darwinist note when, in an attempt to sound optimistic, he argued that "capacities" would evolve over time in a manner that the egalitarian solution would become justifiable in the future. He resurrected his argument, and gave it a more frighteningly eugenicist tinge, in his 1879 paper.

Although qualified as a barrister, Edgeworth did not practice law but rather fell into the academic underground of Victorian Britain for the next decade. Edgeworth lectured on a wide variety of topics (Greek, English theatre, logic, moral sciences, etc.) in a wide variety of settings, from Bedford College for Women in London to Wren's private training school for Indian civil servants. The pay was miserable and prestige non-existent. A hopelessly impractical and deferential man, his applications for more permanent and lucrative positions at established academic institutions met with heartbreakingly little success.

He was giving evening lectures on logic at King's College, London when he published his most famous and original book, Mathematical Psychics (1881). From 1883 onwards, Edgeworth began making his monumental contributions to probability theory and statistics. In his 1885 book Metretike, Edgeworth presented the application and interpretation of significance tests for the comparisions of means. In a series of 1892 papers, Edgeworth examined methods of estimating correlation coefficients. Among his many results was "Edgeworth's Theorem" giving the correlation coefficients of the multi-dimensional normal distribution. For his efforts, he was elected President of Section F of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1889 and later served as president of the Royal Statistical Society (1912 to 1914).

In 1888, on the strength of testimonials from friends and luminaries such as Jevons and Marshall, Edgeworth finally attained his first professional appointment, to the Tooke Chair in Economic Sciences and Statistics and King's College, London. But that was only a stepping stone. In 1891, he was elected Drummond Professor and Fellow of All-Soul's College in Oxford, a much-craved position he would hold until retirement.

In 1891, he was also appointed the first editor of The Economic Journal, the main organ of the fledgling British Economic Association (what later became the Royal Economic Society). This was a task he performed with remarkable diligence until 1911, when the post was assumed by John Maynard Keynes. Edgeworth returned as joint editor in 1919, when Keynes had gotten too busy with other activities. Edgeworth continued actively in this role until his death in 1926.

In 1897, he published a lengthy survey of taxation. It was here that he articulated his famous "taxation paradox", i.e. that taxation of a good may actually result in a decrease in price. His paradox was disbelieved by contemporaries, "a slip of Mr Edgeworth", as E.R.A. Seligman put it. However, many years later, Harold Hotelling (1932) rigorously proved that Edgeworth had been correct. Edgeworth also set the utilitarian foundations for highly progressive taxation, arguing that the optimal distribution of taxes should be such that "the marginal disutility incurred by each taxpayer should be the same" (Edgeworth, 1897).

Edgeworth's contributions to economics were stunning in their originality and depth. But he was notoriously poor at expressing his ideas in a way that was understandable to most of his contemporaries. Trained in languages and the classics, he habitually wrote (and spoke!) in long, intricate and erudite sentences, sprinkling them with numerous obscure classical and literary references. He was in the habit of inventing words (e.g. brachistopone = the "curve of minimal work") without bothering to define them clearly for readers who could not spot the Greek roots.

If his prose was taxing to read, his use of mathematics was even more negligent of his readers' abilities. Having taught himself mathematics, Edgeworth must have assumed everyone else had done so as well. He did not bother to provide preliminary explanations of the techniques he was using. Without warning, Edgeworth would glide breathlessly back and forth from his impenetrable prose to no less impenetrable mathematical notation and analysis.

Michael Pakenham Edgeworth

Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (1812–1881) was an Irish botanist who specialized in seed plants and ferns, and spent most of his life and work in India.He was born in County Longford, Ireland in 1812, one of twenty-two children to Richard Lovell Edgeworth. His mother's name was Frances. His half-sister, born to Honora Edgeworth, was the novelist Maria Edgeworth. Among his other siblings were Honora (sister), Fanny (sister), Lucy (sister), and Francis (brother). With his wife Christina he had a daughter named Harriet. Although he is known to have had an estate of 1,659 acres in County Longford, Ireland, at a young age he left for India in 1831 to join the Indian Civil Service of the British Colonial regime. Edgeworth's post encompassed an area from Lahore to Madras. Being possessed of a curious spirit, Edgeworth travelled widely throughout India[5] and the island of Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) where he collected plants and made notes. In 1850 he was made the Chief of Police of the English settlement Punjab. In addition to his interest in botany, he also wrote about Indian tongues[6] and culture, topography, and antiquities.

But he wasn't always in India; as a correspondence[7] from Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker mentions a conversation held between himself, Edgeworth and biologists John Lubbock and George Charles Wallich, at a meeting of the Linnean Society of London (18 April 1861) less than two years after the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species (22 November 1859). Unfortunately, very little of the content of this conversation is revealed in the letter.

In the field of botany, Edgeworth wrote:

Descriptions of Some Unpublished Species of Plants from North-Western India (R.Taylor, 1851)

Catalogue of Plants found in the Banda district, 1847-49, pp.60.8 (Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta 1852, Vol. xxi.)

Pollen (Hardwicke + Bogue, 1877)

He also kept meticulous diaries from the years 1828 (just a few years before going to India) to 1867, compiled in the weighty, 8,000-page volume entitled India in the Age of Empire - The Journals of Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (1812–1881). It chronicles the broadening of British imperial influence in the Indian territories and is principally of cultural and political interest. It was published after his death in 1881.

Below the Edgeworth Chrysanthemum named for Michael P. Edgeworth

Richard Edgeworth

This article is taken from the DICTIONARY OF NORTH CAROLINA BIOGRAPHY: VOLUME 6, T-Z edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu

Website link: http://uncpress.unc.edu/browse/book_detail?title_i...

Edgeworth, Richard

by Edgar E. MacDonald, 1986

1764–19 Aug. 1796

Richard Edgeworth, mechanical engineer and planter, was born in Oxfordshire, England, at Black Bourton, the ancestral estate of his Hungerford grandmother. He was the oldest son of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744–1817) and Anna Maria Elers. His father, whose living was derived from a family estate in Edgeworthstown, Ireland, was interested in science and mechanical inventions. An admirer of the educational theories of Rousseau, Edgeworth gave his son Richard a practical rather than a classical education, one designed to make him independent and self-sufficient. In 1771 he took him to France, where the seven-year-old boy met the French philosopher. In Lyons the elder Edgeworth became involved in the engineering feat of diverting the Rhone River. Richard soon spoke French better than his English tutor, and Edgeworth became aware that his son's education was making him alarmingly independent. While in France, Richard was placed in a Jesuit school; later, in 1776, he was sent to the Charter House in London. While not a remarkable student, Richard shared his father's interests in mechanics. In 1778, at the age of thirteen, he was awarded a silver medal for "Early Mechanic Genius" by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufactures. Finally, father and son decided that a naval career might best suit Richard's temperament, and he joined the British Navy, with the encouragement of his cousin Edward Pakenham, Lord Longford, who was later killed at the Battle of New Orleans.

By 1781 Edgeworth was a midshipman on the Monmouth, which had seen service in the American Revolution. While aboard the Monmouth he participated in battles against the French off the Coromandel Coast of India, at Madras, and off Ceylon, the ship suffering heavy damages and loss of life. On 10 Feb. 1783 Edgeworth, not yet nineteen, jumped ship at Goa, thereby forfeiting his naval career as well as exhausting his father's patience. He was "lost" to his family for several years.

Edgeworth appeared in the Pee Dee area on the North Carolina-South Carolina border, having come down from Virginia, in 1786 or 1787. He became a tutor in the home of Claudius Pegues, a planter, and some time later in the homes of several gentlemen in Georgetown, S.C. In May 1788 he was married in Richmond County by John Speed, J.P., to Elizabeth Knight, daughter of a hatter. By her he had three sons, Nathaniel Lovell (1789), Achilles Sneyd (1791), and Richard (1795). Edgeworth purchased land in Anson County on the Pee Dee River, where he projected establishing a town. Having effected a reconciliation with his father, he returned to visit his family in England in 1792 and 1795. He stayed some time at a property named Ashton Bower, near Clifton, rented by two maiden stepaunts, the Misses Mary and Charlotte Sneyd. Furnished with monies and credit from his father, he bought more land in Anson and named his plantation Ashton. In projecting a town on the Pee Dee, he doubtless had his father's work at Lyons in mind. If he could make the river navigable from Georgetown, S.C., to Anson County, a town at the head of navigation should prosper. He would name the town Sneydsboro after his two step-aunts who listened so sympathetically to his plans. But Edgeworth returned from his last trip to England a very ill man, and, owing to a flood of the Pee Dee and an epidemic of equine distemper, he suffered financial reverses. He was forced to sell Ashton to pay his debts. On 7 Mar. 1796 he sold it to William Johnson with the understanding that, if a town were established on the property, it should be named Sneydsboro. Five months later Edgeworth died in Anson; his place of burial is unknown. His will, written 23 Nov. 1792 and proved in the January Anson court 16 Jan. 1797, was subject to much misinterpretation by his descendants. The property he left his two youngest sons had been sold to pay his debts. The European property left to his oldest son was not the Edgeworthstown estate still in the possession of his father but three small properties left to him by his grandfather. Richard Lovell Edgeworth and his daughter Maria, soon to become celebrated as an author of educational treatises and popular novels, endeavored to aid the widow of Richard and his three young sons. Owing to the difficulties of communication and the legalities of disposing of the three small Irish properties, years elapsed before any substantial assistance could be made. Nathaniel Edgeworth migrated to Alabama and left descendants there and in Mississippi; Achilles moved to Fort Valley, Ga., and left descendants there and in Texas; Richard, the youngest, lived in Chesterfield County, S.C., and left descendants there, as well as in North Carolina and Virginia.

On 3 Apr. 1902 an almost wholly fictitious account of the life of Richard Edgeworth and his family appeared in the Wadesboro Messenger and Intelligencer. Unfortunately this article became the basis of fabrications by other journalists so that the early history of Sneedsboro, the town that came into being after Edgeworth's death, is largely apocryphal. These fictions appeared most recently in A History of Anson County (1977). The correspondence of Maria Edgeworth with Rachel Mordecai Lazarus perhaps gave currency to the myth that Maria and her father had established schools in North Carolina. The Mordecai School in Warrenton incorporated the educational principles advocated by the Edgeworths, and later a school in Greensboro was named the Edgeworth Female Seminary, but Richard Edgeworth was the only member of that family to come to these shores.

References:

Harriet Jessie Butler and Harold Edgeworth Butler, The Black Book of Edgeworthstown and Other Edgeworth Memories, 1585–1817 (1927).

Desmond Clarke, The Ingenious Mr. Edgeworth (1965).

Edgar E. MacDonald, The American Edgeworths (1970).

Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Esq., Begun by Himself and Concluded by His Daughter (1820)

Honora Sneyd Edgeworth

Honora Edgeworth (née Sneyd; 1751 – 1 May 1780) was an eighteenth-century English writer, mainly known for her associations with literary figures of the day particularly Anna Seward and the Lunar Society, and for her work on children's education. Sneyd was born in Bath in 1751, and following the death of her mother in 1756 was raised by Canon Thomas Seward and his wife Elizabeth in Lichfield, Staffordshire until she returned to her father's house in 1771. There, she formed a close friendship with their daughter, Anna Seward. Having had a romantic engagement to John André and having declined the hand of Thomas Day, she married Richard Edgeworth as his second wife in 1773, living on the family estate in Ireland till 1776. There she helped raise his children from his first marriage, including Maria Edgeworth, and two children of her own. Returning to England she fell ill with tuberculosis, which was incurable, dying at Weston in Staffordshire in 1780. She is the subject of a number of Anna Seward's poems, and with her husband developed concepts of childhood education, resulting in a series of books, such as Practical Education, based on her observations of the Edgeworth children. She is known for her stand on women's rights through her vigorous rejection of the proposal by Day, in which she outlined her views on equality in marriage.

Early life 1751–1773

Honora Sneyd was born the third daughter to Edward Sneyd who lived in Bishton, Staffordshire[11] and Susanna Cook of Sible Hedingham, Essex, in Bath in 1751. Her father was a Major in the Royal Horse Guards,[12] with an appointment at Court as a Gentleman Usher, her parents married in 1742and she was one of eight children and the second surviving daughter of six, and only six years old when her mother died in 1757. Her father found himself unable to take care of all of his children and various friends and relations then offered to take them in.

Adoption by the Seward family 1756–1771

Honora Sneyd, who was seven years younger than the thirteen-year-old Anna Seward, moved into the home of family friends, Canon Thomas Seward and his wife Elizabeth and their family at Lichfield, Staffordshire, where they lived in the Bishop's Palace in the Cathedral Close. The Sewards had lost five children after their first two daughters, and such fostering was not uncommon at the time.[19] There she was brought up by the Sewards as one of their own, being variously described as an adopted or foster sister. Anna Seward describes how she and her younger sister Sarah first met Honora, on returning from a walk, in her poem The Anniversary (1769). Initially Honora was more attached to Sarah, to whom she was closer in age, but Sarah died of typhus at the age of nineteen (1764), when Honora Sneyd was thirteen. Following Sarah's death Honora became the responsibility of Anna, the older sister. Anna consoled herself with her affection for Honora Sneyd, as she describes in Visions, written a few days after her sister's death. In the poem she expresses the hope that Honora ('this transplanted flower') will replace her sister (whom she refers to as 'Alinda') in her and her parents' affections. Throughout her life Honora Sneyd's health was fragile, experiencing the first bout of the tuberculosis that would later claim her life in 1766, at the age of fifteen. However Anna Seward believed she detected the first signs in 1764, at thirteen, writing presciently:-

This dear child will not live; I am perpetually fearing it, notwithstanding the clear health which crimsons her cheek and glitters in her eyes. Such early expansion of intelligence and sensibility partakes too much of the angelic, too little of the mortal nature, to tarry long in these low abodes of frailty and of pain, where the harshness of authority, and the impenetrability of selfishness, with the worse mischiefs of pride and envy, so frequently agitate by their storms, and chill by their damps, the more ingenious and purer spirits, scattered, not profusely, over the earth.

Education

At Lichfield Honora Sneyd came under the influence of Canon Seward, who raised her, and his progressive views on female education, which he expressed in his poem The Female Right to Literature (1748). She was described as clever and interested in science, From Anna she developed a great love of literature.

Honora Sneyd was an accomplished scholar, attending day school in Lichfield where she became fluent in French, translating Rousseau's Julie for her older foster sister. Though Canon Seward's (but not his wife's) attitudes towards the education of girls was progressive relative to the times, they were "by no means excessively liberal". Amongst the subjects he taught them were theology and numeracy, and how to read, appreciate, write and recite poetry. Although this deviated from what were considered "conventional drawing room accomplishments", he encouraged them away from traditional female roles. However, the omissions were also notable, including languages and science, although they were left free to pursue their own inclinations in this regard. To that end they were exposed to the circle of learned men who frequented the Bishop's Palace at Lichfield where they lived, and which became the centre of a literary circle including, David Garrick, Erasmus Darwin, Samuel Johnson and James Boswell. The children were encouraged to participate in the conversations, as Anna later relates.[

Relationships

Sneyd had a reputation for both intelligence and beauty, as commented on by many, including Anna Seward and Richard Edgeworth (see below). In 1764 Seward described Sneyd as "fresh and beautiful as the young day-star, when he bathes his fair beams in the dews of spring".

Around Christmas 1770, Thomas Day and Richard Edgeworth, who like Thomas Seward were members of the Lunar Society that met in Lichfield amongst other places, were spending increasing amounts of time at the Seward household and both had fallen for Sneyd, although Edgeworth was already married. In 1771 she declined an offer of marriage from Thomas Day.

However Honora Sneyd's father moved to Lichfield from London in 1771, and reassembled his family of five daughters there. By now Honora was nineteen and Anna viewed her friend's departure with considerable dismay. Although Day was much distressed by his rejection by Honora Sneyd, he transferred his affections to the fifth daughter, Elizabeth Sneyd, who had been in the care of Mr Henry Powys and his wife, Susannah Sneyd,of the Abbey, Shrewsbury, Mrs. Powys being Mr Sneyd's niece. However Elizabeth Sneyd was not inclined to accept Day.

Richard Edgeworth comments on how Honora Sneyd had affected him;

During this intercourse I perceived the superiority of Miss Honora Sneyd's capacity ... her sentiments were on all subjects so just and were delivered with such blushing modesty though not without an air of conscious worth as to command attention from every one capable of appreciating female excellence. Her person was graceful her features beautiful and their expression such as to heighten the eloquence of every thing she said. I was six and twenty and now for the first time in my life I saw a woman that equalled the picture of perfection which existed in my imagination.

The elimination of Day as a suitor for Honora Sneyd's hand placed Edgeworth in a difficult situation and he resolved to end it by moving to Lyons France, to work, in the autumn of 1771.

Marriage and move to Ireland 1773–1776

On 17 March 1773, Edgeworth's first wife Anna Maria Elers gave birth to their fifth child, Anna Maria Edgeworth, at the age of 29. Ten days later she died from puerperal fever. Edgeworth was still in Lyon to avoid temptation leaving his expectant wife in the care of Day. On learning of the death of his wife, Edgeworth travelled to London, where he consulted Day as to Honora Sneyd's situation. On learning that she remained in good health and unattached, he promptly headed to Lichfield to see Honora at the Sneyds, with the intention of proposing. His offer was accepted immediately, and there was no mention of the conventional waiting period before remarrying after widowhood. Although Mr. Sneyd was opposed to his daughter's marriage, the couple were married at Lichfield Cathedral on 17 July 1773, officiated by Canon Thomas Seward, Anna Seward being a bridesmaid. After marrying, problems with the Edgeworth family estates in Ireland required the couple to immediately move to Edgeworthstown, County Longford in Ireland.

Through this marriage Sneyd became step-mother to Edgeworth's four surviving children by his first wife, Anna Maria, ranging from seven months to nine years in age; Richard, Maria, who became a writer in her own right, Emmeline and Anna Maria. On encountering her new family she observed that Maria, then aged five, was exhibiting behavioural problems, and expressed her views that speedy and consistent punishment were the keys to ensuring good behaviour in children, a view she proceeded to practice. However she believed that such discipline needed to be imposed "before the age of 5 or 6", and was therefore rather late in the case of the older children,[66] however she imposed a strict discipline. Following a period of ill health on Sneyd's part, Maria Edgeworth was sent away to boarding school in Derby (1775–1781), and later London upon the death of Honora Sneyd (1781–1782). Similarly, her older brother Richard was sent to Charterhouse (1776–1778) and then went to sea, and she never saw him again. Later Richard Edgeworth would comment on how difficult the first two years were for Sneyd in her new role as stepmother to undisciplined children, a role her relatives had advised her against.

Honora Sneyd gave birth to her daughter Honora on 30 May 1774, who died at the age of sixteen. Her second child, Lovell, who inherited the property, was born the following year on 30 June 1775. The Edgeworth children were raised according to the system of Rousseau, as refined and modified by the Edgeworths. Richard Edgeworth considered his early educational efforts a failure, the older children from his first marriage growing up unruly and then being sent away to school, and readily concurred with his new wife's stricter rules. However he had seen very little of them in their early years.

Return to England 1776–1780

After three years in Ireland, in 1776 they moved to England again, taking up residence in Northchurch,Hertfordshire. During a temporary absence of Edgeworth on business in Ireland in the spring of 1779, Honora Sneyd fell ill with a fever,[90] just as he was summoning her to let the house and join him there. On his return they consulted Dr. Erasmus Darwin at Lichfield, who was of the opinion the illness was more severe than at first thought, being a recurrence of consumption (T.B.) from which she had had a brief bout at the age of fifteen. He advised against returning to Ireland but rather, moving closer to Lichfield. For a while they stayed at the Sneyd house that was temporarily vacant while consulting a wide range of physicians including Dr. William Heberden (Samuel Johnson's physician), and even staying with Day near London to be close to medical care. but only received news of incurability.

Death

Four years after returning to England Honora Sneyd died of consumption at six in the morning on 1 May 1780 at Bighterton, surrounded by her husband, her youngest sister, Charlotte and a servant. Honora Sneyd was buried in the nearby Weston church where a plaque on the wall Honora Sneyd died within eight years of her marriage to Richard Edgeworth, at almost the same age as her predecessor. The same disease which had would soon claim the life of her young daughter, Honora Edgeworth (1790), as well as her younger sister, Elizabeth'

On Honora Sneyd's death, Edgeworth married her younger sister, Elizabeth Sneyd, stating that this had been the dying wish of Honora. Uglow speculates that this was a marriage of convenience, for the sake of the children. Although it was technically legal to marry one's wife's sister, the marriage was considered scandalous, and was opposed by the Sneyds, Sewards and Edgeworths as well as the Bishop. The couple fled to London where they were married on Christmas Day with Thomas Day as witness, before proceeding to live at Northchurch.

Work

Practical Education

The Edgeworths jointly developed the concept of "Practical Education", a principle that would become a new paradigm by the 1820s.[106] Having determined that after eight years, Richard Edgeworth's attempt to raise his eldest son Richard according to the principles of Rousseau was a failure, he and Honora were determined to find better methods. After the birth of Honora's first child (1774), the Edgeworths embarked on a plan, partly inspired by Anna Barbauld, to write a series of books for children. After trying many other methods, Barbauld's Lessons for Children from two to three years old was published in 1778, and the Edgeworths used it on Anna (5) and Honora (4), and were delighted to find that the girls learned to read in six weeks. Now back in England, at Northchurch the Edgeworths were in closer contact with the intellectuals of the Lunar society.[113] Richard Edgeworth and Honora were determined to design a plan for the education of their children. They started by reviewing the existing literature on childhood education (including Locke, Hartley, Priestley in addition to Rousseau), and then proceeded to document their observations of the behaviour of children and then developed their own "practical" system.

Richard and Maria Edgeworth state that "She [Honora] was of opinion that the art of education should be considered as an experimental science",and that the failures of the past were due to "following theory rather than practice". Richard Edgeworth and Honora then set about applying the emerging principles of educational psychology to the actual practice of education. After Honora Sneyd's premature death, her sister Elizabeth continued the work,[120] in her role as the third wife of Richard Edgeworth. The final version of the book was authored by Richard and Maria Edgeworth and published after both Honora and her sister Elizabeth's deaths, in 1798, and further revised under Maria's name as Early lessons (1801–1825). In reality this was a family project contributed to by a number of their members that would extend over 50 years, beyond Richard Edgeworth's death in 1817 (c. 1774–1825).

Other

Honora Sneyd, through her early contact with members of the Lunar Society, had always taken a keen interest in science, an attribute that drew the intention of Richard Edgeworth who considered himself an inventor. Following their marriage, she worked on his projects with him and in his words, "became an excellent theoretic mechanick"[129] herself.

Legacy

Since little of Honora Sneyd's own words have survived, our image of her is largely through the eyes of others, in particular Anna Seward and Richard Edgeworth. Honora Sneyd is often listed amongst the members or associates of the Bluestockings, educated upper class literary women who disdained traditional female accomplishments and often formed close female friendships. The depiction of the effect of consumption on her has been used as a symbol of the pervasiveness of the disease in eighteenth century culture. The work she started on educational psychology would prove to be immensely influential throughout the nineteenth century.

From growing up in the Seward household with Canon Seward and the members of the Lunar Society, Honora Sneyd and her childhood friend Anna Seward developed relatively progressive views for the times on the status of women and equality in marriage, a key to which was female education. Sneyd entered into marriage with Richard Edgeworth on the understanding that they were equal partners in his work. Anna[ and later Honora's stepdaughter, Maria Edgeworth, were to take those values and promote them in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Britain, the ancestors of modern feminists. Today Honora's position on women's rights is best remembered for her rebuke of Thomas Day and his theory of the "perfect wife".

The plaque in St. Andrew's Church, Weston, where she is buried, on the north wall of the tower, reads;

Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Thomas Lovell Beddoes (30 June 1803 – 26 January 1849) was an English poet, dramatist and physician. Born in Clifton, Bristol, England, he was the son of Dr. Thomas Beddoes, a friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Anna Edgeworth, sister of Maria Edgeworth. He was educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College, Oxford. He published in 1821 The Improvisatore, which he afterwards endeavoured to suppress. His next venture, a blank-verse drama called The Bride's Tragedy (1822), was published and well reviewed, and won for him the friendship of Barry Cornwall, an English poet.

Beddoes' work shows a constant preoccupation with death. In 1824, he went to Göttingen to study medicine, motivated by his hope of discovering physical evidence of a human spirit which survives the death of the body. He was expelled, and then went to Würzburg to complete his training. He then wandered about practising his profession, and expounding democratic theories which got him into trouble. He spent most of his adult life in various cities in Continental Europe (once being banished from Göttingen because of drunkenness, later being banished from Bavaria and Sweden for radical political activity), studying medicine and anatomy as well as writing. He continued to write, but published nothing. He led an itinerant life after leaving Switzerland, returning to England only in 1846, before going back to Germany. He became increasingly disturbed, and committed suicide by poison at Basel, in 1849, at the age of 45. For some time before his death he had been engaged on a drama, Death's Jest Book, which was published in 1850 with a memoir by his friend, T. F. Kelsall. His Collected Poems were published in 1851.

Songs From “Death’s Jest-Book” II - Dirge

IF thou wilt ease thine heart

Of love and all its smart,

Then sleep, dear, sleep;

And not a sorrow

Hang any tear on your eye-lashes;

Lie still and deep,

Sad soul, until the sea-wave washes

The rim o’ the sun to-morrow,

In eastern sky.

But wilt thou cure thine heart

Of love and all its smart,

Then die, dear, die;

’T is deeper, sweeter,

Than on a rose bank to lie dreaming

With folded eye;

And then alone, amid the beaming

Of love’s stars, thou ’lt meet her

In eastern sky.

Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Francis Beaufort

Beaufort, Sir Francis, K. C.B., Admiral, was born at Navan in 1774. He entered the navy in 1787, and soon rose by his bravery and talent in the services on which he was engaged under Lord Howe and others, and was appointed Lieutenant in 1796. He greatly distinguished himself while Lieutenant of the Phaeton in 1800, by cutting out a Spanish vessel, the San Josef, from under the guns of a battery near Malaga. For this service he received a commander's commission. Disabled by wounds, and forced to remain at home from November 1803 to June 1804, he devoted his time, in conjunction with his brother-in-law, Richard L. Edgeworth, to the construction of a telegraph from Dublin to Galway. Francis Beaufort had a lifelong keen awareness of the value of accurate charts for those risking the seas, having been shipwrecked himself at age fifteen due to a faulty chart, and his life's biggest accomplishments were in nautical charting. Gazetted anew, and after seeing more service in South America, off Spain, and in the Levant, he was paid off in 1812. During these early years of command, Beaufort developed the first versions of his Wind Force Scale and Weather Notation coding, which he was to use in his journals for the remainder of his life. From the circle representing a weather station, a staff (rather like the stem of a note in musical notation) extends, with one or more half or whole barbs. For example, a stave with 3½ barbs represents Beaufort seven on the scale, decoded as 32–38 mph, or a "Fresh Gale". Beaufort didn't really invent something new here; rather, he eventually succeeded in getting others to adopt it as a standard when there was no existing standard. or eight years, Beaufort directed the Arctic Council during its search for the explorer, Sir John Franklin, lost in his last polar voyage to search for the legendary Northwest Passage.

As a council member of the Royal Society, the Royal Observatory, and the Royal Geographic Society (which he helped found), Beaufort used his position and prestige as a top administrator to act as a "middleman" for many scientists of his time. Beaufort represented the geographers, astronomers, oceanographers, geodesists, and meteorologists to that government agency, the Hydrographic Office, which could support their research.

Having given much attention to coast surveys, he received the appointment of Hydrographer to the Admiralty, and in 1846 attained the rank of Admiral. His second wife was a daughter, by a third marriage, of his brother-in-law, Mr. Edgeworth; he was consequently uncle and brother-in-law to Maria Edgeworth. He died at Brighton, 16th December 1857.

Kenneth Essex Edgeworth

Kenneth Essex Edgeworth was a professional soldier who made original contributions to economics and especially to the theory of the origin of the solar system. He was born 26 February 1880 at Daramona House, Streete, Co. Westmeath. His father Thomas belonged to the junior branch of the Edgeworth family of Kilshrewly, Co. Longford.

He was educated at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and the School of Military Engineering at Chatham. He served with the Royal Engineers in South Africa, Somaliland, Egypt, Sudan, Chatham and Dublin . During World War I he was in charge of a Signals unit in France , was awarded the DSO. and MC and was three times mentioned in dispatches. He retired from the army in 1926 with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and in 1931 he became chief engineer in the Sudanese Department of Posts and Telegraphs at Khartoum. After five years in this post, he resigned and returned to Ireland to live at Cherbury, Booterstown, Co. Dublin, his parents’ former home.

In retirement, Edgeworth turned his attention to economics and theoretical astronomy. He published four books on economics and the ideas which he put forward have since been judged very progressive. However, it was theoretical astronomy that interested him most and over a 23-year period he published a score of papers and letters culminating in his book, ‘The Earth, the Planets and the Stars: Their Birth and Evolution’ (1961).

Edgeworth’s astronomical work was concerned mainly with star formation and the origin and development of the solar system. In 1943 he published a paper on ‘The Evolution of our Planetary System’ in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association where he suggested the existence of a vast reservoir of cometary material beyond the orbit of Neptune. This was seven years before Jan Oort made a similar suggestion and eight years before Gerard Kuiper presented his ideas on this topic. This reservoir of cometary material is generally known as the Kuiper Belt and the first object belonging to it was discovered in 1992 by D.C. Jewitt and J.X. Luu. Many more members of the Belt have since been detected and it is estimated that there are at least 70,000 trans-Neptunian objects with diameters greater than 100km in the radial zone extending from 30 to 50AU (Astronomical Units). These objects are confined to a thick band around the plane of the solar system.

Edgeworth died in Dublin on 10 October 1972 at the age of 92. Although he was elected to membership of the Royal Irish Academy in 1948, the full significance of his astronomical research was not recognised until 1995. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1903, a member of the British Astronomical Association in 1943 and he also belonged to the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

William Edgeworth

He was the son of Richard Lovell Edgeworth and his third wife Elizabeth, making him one of a very large Anglo-Irish family, including the novelist Maria Edgeworth. His father moved to Ireland to take care of an estate near Edgeworthstown. William Edgeworth's practical interests initially followed those of his father, such as surveying; he moved into cartography.

Edgeworth was involved in the construction of the Church of Ireland parish church at Collon in County Louth, where he worked with Daniel Augustus Beaufort (father of Richard Lovell Edgeworth's fourth wife). Others were William Fletcher (killed there in the building work), and Samuel Jones, brought up by William Edgeworth.

Edgeworth's surveying work in Ireland included soundings in the River Inny and the mapping of bogs. Irish Bogs Commission was active in the period 1809 to 1814, and under an Act from 1774 there was funding for county maps from grand juries; Edgeworth reported on issues of bog drainage and reclamation. His 1813 map of County Longford was noted, and was followed by a map of County Roscommon with Richard Griffith. He worked also with William Hampton and John Brinkley. Unlike some other surveyors in Ireland at the time, he encountered little opposition to his work; he took a tactful and communicative line with local people.

William Strutt, a connection of his father's through Lunar Society who became a close friend, gave William Edgeworth introductions to Peter Ewart and George Augustus Lee. He paid a visit to Lee's mills in Manchester.

Later Edgeworth was employed by Alexander Nimmo. This took him to County Galway and County Waterford. He worked on the Glengariff road. Henry Habberly Price engaged him to do a survey of the River Tees, in north-east England, in 1825–7, on behalf of the Tees Navigation Company; this work was later used by the Stockton & Darlington Railway, and for conservancy by William Bald. He carried out an early railway survey of 1828 in Ulster (Armagh to Newry), done in fact two years before that.

Edgeworth was elected a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1829, and was a member of the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Astronomical Society. He corresponded with William Rowan Hamilton.

Edgeworth died, unmarried, at Edgeworthstown, 21 April 1829.

Charles Babbage wrote, as illustration of economic doctrine, about a "money pump" devised by Edgeworth.