1753 - 2014
Statesman, Soldier, Spy, Scientist
Adventurer, Writer, Philanthropist
Born in Woburn Massachusetts in 1753. Married society heiress in 1772 with one child a daughter Sarah born 1774. Thompson left his family for England in 1776. His experiments with Gunpowder had him elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. Served as a Colonel in the British Army and returned to the colonies in America on the British side during the War of Independence. Returned to England in 1783 but seeking new adventures Thompson crossed to the Continent in the same year and ensconced in Bavaria part of the Holy Roman Empire. There he found favour with The Elector of Bavaria, who appointed him Colonel of a Cavalry Regiment and his aide-de-camp. However, whilst living in Munich he carried out much social work providing for the soldiers welfare. For his good work improving the social conditions of soldiers and the poor of Munich he was rewarded in 1792 by the Elector who made him a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. He chose as his title Rumford the town of his youth in Massachusetts. As Count Rumford he was knighted in 1794 by George III for his services to King and Country. Returning to England in 1796 he was reunited with Sarah his daughter. In that same year he founded and funded the historic medal that still bears his name.
After returning again to Bavaria this time accompanied by his daughter, it became a period when he suffered a long spell of ill health requiring recuperation in Italy. On their return to England in 1799 he became actively engaged in the foundation of the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London that received its Royal Charter in 1800.
His final move was to France in 1804
where he took residence in Paris, and made
acquaintance with the wealthy widow of the
illustrious chemist Lavoisier. They were soon
married in 1805, but the marriage proved to be a
disaster which resulted in a separation followed by
a divorce in 1809. Rumford’s final years were spent
in quiet solitude before his sudden death in 1814.
His funeral was a lonely affair attended by only a
few people. His daughter and ex-wife didn’t attend
the funeral in Antenil Cemetery Paris.
Rumford's scientific achievements were
many, his experiments with the transfer of heat,
several inventions which he chose never to patent,
the redesign of the domestic fireplace, and his
prolific writing of essays on a variety of
engineering and scientific subjects.
His statue in Woburn Massachusetts
The plaque was unveiled on 9th September 1999 at
168 Brompton Road London. It is to record that
Count Rumford lived at this address.
record of the life of
1753 - 1814 is the book
written by G I Brown
and published in 1999
that happens to be 200
years after he was
instrumental in the
founding of the Royal
The foreward to the
book was written by
who was Director of the
Royal Institution of Great
Britain in 1999 the time
of the book's publication
The English Garden in Munich
1759 - 1795
Originally a derelict area of swampy
ground that was drained and intended
for use as a private garden.
However, after the intervention of
Thompson in 1789 it was transformed
into an open park similar in character
to Kew Gardens in London.
It was formally opened in 1790 and
later opened to the Public in 1795.