Henry Essex Edgeworth

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Edgeworth, Henry Essex, Abbe, cousin of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, was born at Edgeworthstown in 1745. His father, Essex Edgeworth, "who took the name of "de Firmont" from a neighbouring hill (Fairy Mount), became a Catholic and emigrated to France when Henry was but six years of age. The lad was educated for the priesthood at the Sorbonne, and after ordination became distinguished among the Parisian clergy for his talents and piety. In 1789 he was appointed confessor to Madame Elizabeth, and was justly esteemed the friend and adviser of the royal family. When Louis XVI. was condemned to the guillotine, he sent for the Abbe Edgeworth, then in concealment at Choisy, who immediately repaired to his master. The Abbe attended the unfortunate King to the scaffold, 21st January 1793, and has left a minute account of the execution. He makes no mention of the exclamation usually attributed to him as the knife fell — "Son of St. Louis, ascend to heaven!" After encountering many dangers, he escaped to England in 1796, where he is stated to have declined a pension offered him by Pitt. He afterwards joined Louis XVIII. at Blankenburg, and accompanied him to Mittau. He was from time to time intrusted with several important missions for the Bourbons. He fell a victim to a virulent fever, caught in his ministrations amongst French prisoners of war at Mittau, and died 22nd May 1807, aged about 62. In his last moments he was attended by the Princess, daughter of Louis XVI.; the exiled French royal family went into mourning, and Louis XVIII. composed his epitaph.

Sources

34. Biographie Générale. 46 vols. Paris, 1855-'66. An interleaved copy, copiously noted by the late Dr. Thomas Fisher, Assistant Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin.

121. Edgeworth de Firmont, Memoires de M. l'Abbé: C. Sneyd Edgeworth. Paris, 1815.

146. Gentleman's Magazine. London, 1731-1868.
Gilbert, John T., see Nos. 110, 335.

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