Butler: The Black Book of Edgeworthstown

Pdf Butler, Harriet and Butler, Harold. The black book of Edgeworthstown and other Edgeworth memories, 1587-1817. London: Faber & Gwyer, 1927.
Size:27.8MbytesModified: 7 July 2009, 14:27

The Black Book Of Edgeworthstown And Other Edgeworth Memories edited by Harriet & Harold Butler was published in 1927 is a history of Edgeworthstown or Mostrim ('"frontier of the elder tree") County Longford and a biography of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817), a member of the Edgeworth dynasty, Anglo-Irish politican, inventor and write who was the father of writer Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849), the botanist Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (1812–1881), and at least twenty other children by a total of four wives. He was also the grandfather of Francis Ysidro Edgeworth (1845-1926) the philosopher and political economist.

The family of Edgeworths first appeared in Ireland about the year 1585, having their origin in a market town named Edgeworth in Middlesex. In 1619 approximately 600 acres of land which had been confiscated from the O'Farrells were granted to Francis Edgeworth in the neighbourhood of what was then called Mostrim by James I. Francis was then succeeded by two Johns, Protestant Frank, who fought at Aughrim and Limerick, and Richard MP, who married Jane Lovell in 1732. Richard was father to Richard Lovell Edgeworth.

Richard Lovell Edgeworth was born in Pierrepont Street , Bath , England and was the grandson of Sir Salathiel Lovell, an English judge and Baron of the Excequer, through his daughter, Jane Lovell. He studied at Trinity College , Dublin and Oxford . He became an inventor and created among other things, a machine for measuring the size of land and worked on a prototype of the caterpillar track. He was fascinated by telegraphy, carriage construction and is said to have attempted to build a wooden horse that could jump the stone walls of his Longford estate. He was committed to education and was a founding member of the Royal Irish Academy established in 1785.

In the late 18th century the Irish Parliament or 'Grattan's Parliament' secured legislative freedom and Edgeworth served as MP for St Johnstown ( County Longford ). Like Henry Grattan he supported Catholic Emancipation. During the 1798 United Irishmen rebellion, Edgeworth, his family and Edgeworth House were in danger from both Irish rebels who saw him as part of the Protestant Ascendancy and vengeful loyalists who suspected him of rebel sympathies due to his liberal outlook. He opposed the Act of Union in 1800 following the defeat of the rebellion and refused a substantial bribe to vote in favour. Nonetheless the Irish Parliament was abolished and merged with the British House of Commons.

Unlike many of his contemporaries who were absentee landlords, Edgeworth lived in Ireland on his estate at Edgeworthstown and supervised the draining of bogland, the improvement of roads and was a keen agriculturist. He eliminated middlemen on his estate, often collected rents himself and through interacting with his tenants became appalled at the poor level of education in rural Ireland . In 1806 he was a member of a commission tasked with enquiring into the improvement of the education system. He died in 1817.

previousPrevious - Longford
Next - Farrell: History of the County Longfordnext