Francis Ysidro Edgeworth

Francis Ysidro Edgeworth

A Portrait with Family and Friends

Lluís Barbé

Lluís Barbé has recreated the background and life of Francis Ysidro Edgeworth through a fascinating exercise of reconstruction that succeeds in shaping the first detailed biography ever published of this major economist and statistician. Originating from previously unexplored letters and documents kept in archives and registers of Ireland, England and Catalonia, Edgeworth’s relationships with his academic fellows – including Sully, Jevons, Marshall, Galton, Pearson, Walras, Pantaleoni, I. Fisher, Pareto, Keynes – are thoroughly depicted. Stemming from undiscovered primary sources, this book also reveals a close insight into the academic world of the period 1875–1925 in the fields of economics and statistics.

Chapter 1: Edgeworth’s Background

Lluís Barbé

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought

Extract

Blest be thou, Triunal Deity! That hast such favour in my seed vouchsafed. (Paradise, Canto XV, vv. 47–48). Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, English translation by Henry F. Cary. Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, economist and statistician, was born on 8 February 1845 in Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland. His name was actually Ysidro Francis Edgeworth, but his family and friends called him Francis or Frank, and when he started publishing in 1876 he transposed his Christian names. He was the sixth son and seventh child of Francis Beaufort Edgeworth and Rosa Florentina Eroles.1 His father came from an Anglo-Irish family of Protestant descent and his mother from a Catalan family with a liberal and constitutionalist penchant. Both families played an important role in moulding Edgeworth’s personality: the Edgeworth ancestry accounts for most of his intellectual development and his scientific leanings, while some of the peculiarities of his character can be traced to the Eroles side. One of these peculiarities, which became more prominent as he grew older, was his passion for learning about his own ancestors and deceased relatives. Therefore, we shall pay special attention to both families, the Edgeworths and the Eroles. 1.1 EDGEWORTH ANCESTORS The story of the Edgeworths2 in Ireland starts in the sixteenth century during the reign of Elizabeth I, when the two sons of Roger Edgeworth, a former monk who had married, emigrated from England and came to be landowners in central Ireland. One of the brothers, Edward, became Bishop of Down and Connor and died...

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