Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family

Alfred Ronalds: Angler, Artisan and Australian Pioneer

This silhouette of Alfred Ronalds was included in the eleventh edition of The Fly-Fisher's Entomology (1913)

Alfred Ronalds. From the Fishing Gazette (1913)

Alfred Ronalds (1802-1860) was the youngest brother of the inventor Sir Francis Ronalds and is arguably the most recognised of the family today, especially in the international fly-fishing community. With their father dying when Alfred was just four years old, Sir Francis was a very important influence for Alfred. They worked together closely over three decades, and Alfred took on many of Sir Francis’ skills and attributes.

In 1829 Alfred left home to become a gentleman farmer in Staffordshire, where he met his wife Margaret Bond (1813-1847) and researched his book on fly fishing. The family then moved to Wales and, after Margaret's death, to Australia in 1848 where he married Mary Ann Harlow (c.1816-1895). They initially lived in Geelong and he worked as a artisan. In 1851 he joined the Victorian gold rush, meeting with success. The family settled in the new goldfields township of Ballarat and he established the first garden nursery there with the help of his son Nathaniel. He died in Ballarat, having had twelve children, and with the youngest being a baby.

Fortunately Mary Ann was a strong and accomplished woman who was able to cope with being left with a large family but no monetary assets. She set up as a milliner and dressmaker and introduced her children into the trade as they became older. Her daughters later continued the business in Melbourne. Mary Ann was a widow for nearly 35 years.


Further Information

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

Alfred Ronalds and John Corrie Carter in Radnorshire (2019)
- published in the Transactions of the Radnorshire Society

Mary Ann Ronalds: Goldfields Pioneer (Jul 2021)
- published by the Ballarat Historical Society, Lamplight, Vol. 11, No. 4

Alfred Ronalds' Family Tree

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

Alfred Ronalds (1985) - written by A F Ronalds
Note: This pioneering biography of Alfred Ronalds has been superseded in part by more recent research