Sophia Kingdom, Lady Brunel (c. 1775 – 1855) was the daughter of William Kingdom, a contracting agent for the Royal Navy, and the army. She was born in Plymouth, England.[1][2] She was the youngest of sixteen children. When she was eight years old, her father William died (1783).

Sophia was sent to France to improve her knowledge of the language. While working there as a governess she met Marc Isambard Brunel (1769–1849) at Rouen in the early 1790s. In 1793, Brunel had to flee the revolution, going to the United States, but Sophia remained in Rouen. During the Reign of Terror, she was arrested as an English spy, and daily expected to be executed. She was only saved by the fall of Robespierre in June 1794. In April 1795 Sophia was able to leave France and travel to London.[3]

Brunel remained in the United States for six years, sailing for England in February 1799. He immediately searched for and found Sophia in London. They married on 1 November 1799.

They had two daughters, Sophia and Emma, followed by a son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, born on 9 April 1806. Isambard was one of the greatest engineers of the 19th century.[4]

Sophia's sister, Elizabeth Kingdom (1761–1856), married Thomas (1760–1843) the son of the eponymous Thomas Mudge, the horologist.


  1. ^ http://tracingancestors-uk.com/genealogies-of-the-famous/isambard-kingdom-brunel-family-history
  2. ^ http://www.wikitree.com/php/SummaryGet.php?FindGo=Kingdom-1
  3. ^ Bagust, Harold, "The Greater Genius?", 2006, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN 0-7110-3175-4, (pages 22–50)
  4. ^ "One of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history,"

    "one of the 19th century engineering giants."