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About Francis Henry Egerton
Francis Henry Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgewater (11 November 1756 – 11 February 1829), known as Francis Egerton until 1823, was a noted British eccentric, and supporter of natural theology.
He was a son of John Egerton, Bishop of Durham and Anne Sophia Grey. His maternal grandparents were Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent and his second wife Sophia Bentinck. Sophia was a daughter of William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland and Anne Villiers. Anne was a daughter of Sir Edward Villiers and his first wife Frances Howard. She was also a sister of Edward Villiers, 1st Earl of Jersey.
Egerton was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, and became fellow of All Souls in 1780, and Fellow of the Royal Society in 1781. He inherited his title and a large fortune in 1823.
Egerton was known for giving dinner parties for dogs, where the dogs were dressed in the finest fashions of the day, down to fancy miniature shoes. Each day Egerton wore a new pair of shoes and he arranged the worn shoes into rows, so that he could measure the passing time. An animal lover, Egerton kept partridges and pigeons with clipped wings in his garden, allowing him to shoot them despite failing eyesight. Egerton never married, and upon his death, his title became extinct. He was buried at Little Gaddesden.
He bequeathed to the British Museum the valuable Egerton Manuscripts, consisting of 67 manuscripts dealing with the literature of France and Italy, and £12,000 to establish the Egerton Fund from which the Museum could purchase additional manuscripts. More than 3800 manuscripts have been purchased using the Egerton fund. He also left £8000 at the disposal of the president of the Royal Society, to be paid to the author or authors who might be selected to write and publish 1000 copies of a treatise "On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation". Mr Davies Gilbert, who then filled the office, selected eight persons, each to undertake a branch of this subject, and each to receive £1000 as his reward, together with any benefit that might accrue from the sale of his work, according to the will of the testator.
These Bridgewater treatises first appeared during the years 1833 to 1840, and afterwards in Bohn's Scientific Library
- Hogg, Bruce; Freemasons and the Royal Society ed 2; Library and Museum of Freemasonry; January 2012; page 38