Dr Edward Bancroft

Dr Edward Bancroft

Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 7 Sep 1821 (aged 77)
Margate, Thanet District, Kent, England
Burial Iden, Rother District, East Sussex, England
Memorial ID 100965162 · View Source
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Physician, chemist, botanist and zoologist, author, scientist, spy

1773 elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and his sponsors for this election were the Astronomer Royal, the King's Physician, and Benjamin Franklin; leading expert on dyes obtaining a patent in 1775 which gave him a monopoly in the manufacture, use and sale of certain dyes that he had discovered; founding member 1773 of Medical Society of London;

Double secret agent spy during American Revolution for Benjamin Franklin in Britain before the Revolution, and while serving as secretary to the American Commission in Paris. During the latter period, he was also a spy for Britain, reporting on dealings between France and the United States, which was not discovered until 70 years after his death, when in 1891 British papers were made available to the public, many years after the Revolution when all participants had been dead for years. He feared that the French would force a European conflict on the British, to split the British power and resources, which could bring about an end to Britain. In his book " Edward Bancroft" author, Dr. Thomas Schaeper says
"Until then, Americans viewed him as a loyal patriot, one who for several years aided Franklin, Adams, Jones and others in their work in France"

Silas Deanewas his tutor,who was a member of the Continental Congress from Connecticut.
Suspicions of poisoning Silas Deane by Dr. Bancroft, an authority on poisons, have not been proved. Deane returned to Paris, intending to obtain his account books to prove his loyalty to the cause. But the books had been destroyed; by whom it was not clear. Dejected and angry, Deane swore he would never return to America. He moved to London, where he re-newed his connections to Dr. Edward Bancroft, and struck up a friendship with that other disabused American patriot, Benedict Arnold. That friendship did nothing to help Deanes' cause in America.

Arthur Lee, considered the 1st American spy, who gathered information in France and Britain, tried to convince Benjamin Franklin that Bancroft was a double agent without success. Lee was not liked by Deane and Franklin. It was later discovered that Lee's personal secretary, Major John Thornton, was working for the British. Was accused by Arthur Lee of passing confidential information, including the approaching Franco-American treaty, to his friends the Whartons so that they could use it to speculate in stocks.

Edward speculated on the London Stock Exchange,where he used information gained from his post with the Commissioners to further his own interests or that of his friends. In the first, he delayed reporting the news of General Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga so that he could make a "killing" on the Stock Exchange, writing instead to his London broker. Unfortunately, George III learned of this and never really trusted his intelligence reports again, fearing that they were designed simply to manipulate the market.

He is said to have had a business venture in France in partnership with John Paul Jones, a Scottish naval adventurer who is regarded as the "father" of the United States Navy, being the first to hold a commission in it, and after whom Edward named his third son. They were promoting the use of quercitron for the dyeing of wool and, several years later, the diaries of Gouverneur Morris, the first United States Minister to France and a friend of Edward's, record Morris's assistance to Edward in winding up that partnership in 1790. Paul Jones died two years later.

In 1787 Edward had edited a collection of Benjamin Franklin's Philosophical & Miscellaneous Papers that were published by Dilly, a London printer. Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences of the State Massachusetts Bay.

Friend of American, John Adams, says that he was an excellent French scholar.

Published pamphlet, "Remarks on a Review of the Controversy between Great Britain and Her Colonies," published in 1769; published book (1769), "The Natural History of Guyana"; published in 1770, novel entitled "The History of Charles Wentworth, Esq"; 1794 published "Experimental Researches Concerning the Philosophy of Permanent Colours and the Best Means of Producing them by Dyeing," Calico Printing, &c.

1771 married Penelope Fellows , daughter of William Fellows and Penelope Wells, who were Roman Catholics,and they settled in Marylebone, London, where they started a family. Penelope was born on 26 Nov 1749 14 and died on 10 May 1784

Daughter, Julia, was the wife of Dr. George Lamb, Rector of Iden.


Iden ChurchyardHe was buried in the churchyard at Iden in a plot set aside for members of the Lamb family. The plot and Edward's gravestone were recorded to be intact in 1906 but by 2004 both had disappeared.

his family

According to this information
Matthew Ridley's wife, Ann Richardson was in London at this time. He married her there in 1776
Shakespeare's poems: a bibliography of ..., Issue 2; Issues 4-11; Issues 14-20
By Justin Winsor
2 June 1778 Ridley letter to Arthur Lee Introduction of Rev Hezekiah Ford, afterwards Lee's secretary, news from America

5 June 1778 Ridley letter to Arthur Lee Hartley's motion in the house of commons for recognizing the independence of America, fleet at Toulon, exchange of prisoners

16 May 1778 Major John Thornton London, to Arthur Lee
information about American secret negotiations "from R---'s lady


In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees



  • Created by: civilwarbuff
  • Added: 20 Nov 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial 100965162
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Edward Bancroft (9 Jan 1744–7 Sep 1821), Find a Grave Memorial no. 100965162, citing Iden Burial Ground, Iden, Rother District, East Sussex, England ; Maintained by civilwarbuff (contributor 47049540) .