Maria Edgeworth remains one of the most influential and famous novelists of the English language, her most famous and cherished work being the novel Castle Rackrent. Born near Oxford on 1st January 1767, she spent most of her life in Ireland and she was deeply loved in the locality of Edgeworthstown in Co. Longford. Maria had a number of family connections to county Meath and was a regular visitor to the county.
John Ruxton Fitzherbert lived at Black Castle, Navan, and married Margaret Edgeworth in 1770. Margaret was sister to Richard Edgeworth and aunt of the novelist Maria Edgeworth. Maria regularly visited Black Castle.
Maria’s father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, married for a fourth time Frances Ann Beaufort, daughter of Daniel Augustus Beaufort, Rector of Navan. Fanny Beaufort, an accomplished artist, created some illustrations for “The Parents’ Assistant,” one of his daughter’s Maria educational works.
Their daughter, a step sister to Maria, was Harriet Edgeworth who travelled extensively with Maria Edgeworth and acted as an editor and consultant to her. Harriet was born in 1801 and married Rev. Richard Butler in 1826. In the 1840s Maria Edgeworth visited Harriet and Dean Richard Butler many times in Trim and built him a greenhouse on the north side of his lawn. He was very upset when Maria died in 1849.
Richard Lovell Edgeworth was an inventor and while Francis Beaufort, the second son of Daniel August Beaufort, was recovering from wounds in Navan, the two men devised a telegraph system to send a message from Dublin to Galway. Francis took as his second wife Honora, a daughter of R.L. Edgeworth, by his third wife, Elizabeth Sneyd. Thus he became both son-in-law and brother-in- law to Edgeworth.