Anglo-Irish writer, educationalist, and inventor. Edgeworth was born in Bath and studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He educated his 22 children in the spirit of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau's teaching, and wrote on Practical Education (1798) in collaboration with his daughter Maria Edgeworth, the novelist. In Ireland he was centrally concerned with improvements to his estate at Edgeworthstown (now Mostrim), County Longford, as a model to other Anglo-Irish landlords.
Remarkable for his abilities in mechanical invention, he produced an early form of visual telegraphy, the velocipede, the perambulator land-measuring wheel, and various forms of carriage, including a phaeton and a wind-propelled version. He returned to Edgeworthston from England in 1782, following Ireland's legislative independence, and was a member of the last Irish parliament before the Union. He served as aide de camp to the Lord Charlemont, commander-in-chief of the Irish Volunteers in 1783. As member of parliament for Johnston he voted against the Act of Union on account of the corrupt means used to secure its passage, although he accepted it in principle.
Edgeworth became friendly with progressive thinkers such as the physican and naturalist Erasmus Darwin and the writer Thomas Day while studying at university. With Day he embarked on an eccentric and futile educational experiment involving the tuition of two orphan girls, one of whom Day intended to make his wife. His influence on his daughter Maria was profound and he often wrote or altered passages of her novels, adding a pro-Union epilogue to Castle Rackrent (1800), which was otherwise composed in his absence. His Memoirs (1829) were completed by her.
Related Credo Articles
Inventor and father of Maria EDGEWORTH . He was born in Bath and educated at Trinity College Dublin and Oxford. From his four marriages he had...