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Bridgwater, Francis Egerton, 3rd duke of

Bridgwater, Francis Egerton, 3rd duke of (1736–1803). Bridgwater succeeded his brother as duke in 1748 at the age of 11. His education was neglected and he grew up slovenly and uncouth. After the collapse of his proposed marriage to the widowed duchess of Hamilton (one of the Gunning sisters) in 1758, he devoted almost all his time to exploiting the coal resources on his Lancashire estates. To this end he employed Brindley in 1761 to construct a 6-mile canal from Worsley to Salford, with a famous aqueduct at Barton over the river Irwell and followed it with the Manchester to Liverpool canal, of 28 miles, along which he ran a passenger service taking nine hours. Though his enterprises imposed vast financial burdens on him, in the end they paid off and made him one of the richest men in the kingdom. He died unmarried and was buried at Little Gaddesden (Herts.), near his Ashridge estate, where his memorial inscription read: ‘he sent barges across fields the farmers formerly tilled.’

J. A. Cannon

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