Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 22: Robert Torrens (c. 1780–1864)

Christian Gehrke


Robert Torrens was born in Ireland around 1780 (the exact date of birth is not known) into a family with clergymen ancestry, received a classical education at Derry Diocesan School in his home parish of Tamlaght O’Crilly, and joined the Marines as an ensign at age 16. He married in 1801 and fathered five children, but later “divorced” his Irish wife in order to marry a minor English heiress. He died in London on 27 May 1864. Torrens led a long and busy life with several distinguished careers. He was a professional soldier – a Lieutenant-Colonel and later Major in the Marines, who was decorated for gallantry at the battle of Anholt – from 1796 to 1834 (though only on half pay after 1823). In 1821 he became the editor and principal proprietor of The Traveller, which he merged with The Globe a year later, making it England’s second-largest daily and dominant evening paper. He retired as managing editor in 1826, but continued to influence the paper’s policy and management until at least 1858. Torrens briefly entered Parliament for the Borough of Ipswich in 1826–27, and then again in 1831 as Member for Ashburton. After the Reform Bill of 1832 he was re-elected as Member for Bolton. Shortly after he had lost the next election in 1835 he became Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the Colonialization of South Australia, a post he held until 1841, when after South Australia’s bankruptcy he was forced to resign. Torrens was a Fellow...

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