Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family

Edmund Ronalds

Daguerreotype of Edmund and Eliza's son James Ronalds (1834-1891), who died in Australia

Edmund (1790-1874) was Sir Francis Ronalds' closest brother in age and they together ran the family cheesemonger business in Thames Street, London, until Sir Francis and his mother "retired" in 1814. Edmund continued in business for another 40 years and served as Master of the Drapers' Company, one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies in the City of London. In later life he lost most of his wealth by investing unwisely in the Depot silk mill in Derby, which his cousin Thomas Field Gibson had formerly owned.

Edmund's wife Eliza Jemima (c.1799-1853) was the daughter of Dr James Anderson, who ran a respected school. Their 12 children led diverse lives. Eldest son Dr Edmund Ronalds became a successful chemist and later brought his brother into his business. Two siblings married into the Greg cotton-spinning family and another spent her last years in Algeria. Five migrated to New Zealand, where letters describe their struggle to establish themselves. The two girls wed Atkinson brothers - a third brother, Sir Harry Atkinson, went on to become Premier of the Colony of New Zealand.

Further Information

Depot Silk Mill in Derby and the Gibson and Ronalds Families (2020) - published in the Derby Miscellany, Volume 22:3

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

The Adventures of Agnes: Wartime Nursing in Bulgaria, Poland, Persia and Russia 1912-1919 (2021)
- biography of Edmund and Eliza's granddaughter Agnes Greg

Books about the early years in New Zealand based on surviving letters:

Hope for Luck all in a Lump (2021)

My Hand will Write what my Heart Dictates (1996)

Born to New Zealand (1989)

Tom's Letters (2001)