Search the Collection

Sir Francis Ronalds (1788-1873), Inventor of the electric telegraph and meteorologist

Sitter in 4 portraits
Joined the family firm of cheesemongers at fifteen. Always interested in experimenting with electrical and scientific apparatus, by 1816 he had created a primitive electric telegraph that sent messages through eight miles of wire in his garden. He offered it to the Admiralty, but was declined. In 1818 he left England for a tour of Europe and the Mediterranean and began collecting books on electricity and magnetism. He was appointed Director of the Kew Meteorological Observatory in 1843, where he devised a system of registering meteorological data. He spent the last years of his life adding to his library on electricity, magnetism and the electric telegraph, collecting over 1500 books and 5000 pamphlets.

List Thumbnail

1075

Men of Science Living in 1807-8

by Sir John Gilbert, and Frederick John Skill, and William Walker, and Elizabeth Walker (née Reynolds)
pencil and wash, 1858-1862
NPG 1075

1075a

Engraving after 'Men of Science Living in 1807-8'

by George Zobel, and William Walker
engraving, 1862
NPG 1075a

1095

Sir Francis Ronalds

by Hugh Carter
oil on canvas, circa 1870
NPG 1095