Francis Henry Egerton Bridgewater, 8th Earl of (1756-1829), was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, and became fellow of All Souls in 1780, and F.R.S. in 1781. He held the rectories of Middle and Whitchurch in Shropshire, but the duties were performed by a proxy. He succeeded his brother (see above) in the earldom in 1823, and spent the latter part of his life in Paris. He was a fair scholar, and a zealous naturalist and antiquarian. When he died in February 1829 the earldom became extinct. He bequeathed to the British Museum the valuable Egerton MSS. dealing with the literature of France and Italy, and also £12,000. 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.
The Bridgewater treatises were published as follows: - 1. The Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Condition of Man, by Thomas Chalmers, D.D. 2. The Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Condition of Man, by John Kidd, M.D. 3. Astronomy and General Physics considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Whewell, D.D. 4. The Hand, its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as evincing Design, by Sir Charles Bell. 5. Animal and Vegetable Physiology considered with reference to Natural Theology, by Peter Mark Roget. 6. Geology and Mineralogy considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Buckland, D.D. 7. The Habits and Instincts of Animals with reference to Natural Theology, by William Kirby. 8. Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion, considered with reference to Natural Theology, by William Prout, M.D. The works are of unequal merit; several of them took a high rank in apologetic literature. They first appeared during the years 1833 to 1840, and afterwards in Bohn's Scientific Library.