Hardman, Edward Townley (1845–87), geologist in Ireland and Australia, was born 6 April 1845 in Drogheda, Co. Louth, into a well connected merchant family; a forebear had been MP for Drogheda (1797–1800, 1801–6). His father's name is not known. He could have been the Edward Townley Hardman who married in Dublin (1838) Sarah Irwin (alias Walker), a widow, and who may have been the same Edward Townley Hardman (b. c.1816 in Drogheda) who graduated (Dubl.) in 1838. Townley William Hardman from Drogheda, who entered King's Inns in 1837, could have been (if not father) an uncle to Edward Townley Hardman, the subject of this essay.
Hardman attended Drogheda grammar school, and in 1867 entered the Royal College of Science for Ireland on a scholarship. In July 1870, just after he graduated with a qualification in mining, he was recruited by Edward Hull (qv), who had been his teacher in RCSI, to become a temporary assistant geologist in the Geological Survey of Ireland. He worked on the final stages of the initial mapping of Ireland, and published a number of papers on various aspects of Irish geology, chiefly in the RIA Proceedings and in the journal of the Royal Geological Society of Dublin, of which he was made a fellow in 1871. His interests included the Co. Tyrone coalfield and the chemical analysis of minerals, and he was elected a fellow of the Chemical Society of London in 1874. In 1883 he was seconded to the government of Western Australia on special colonial duty as a temporary government geologist; his sketches of Irish scenes, of the journey to Perth, and of his travels in Australia survive in Western Australia. With a survey team he explored (1883, 1884) the Kimberley mountains, which had been pointed out by another geologist as a likely gold-bearing location, and where traces of gold had already been reported. Hardman published the first geological reports stating that gold was present; prospectors immediately set out to seek for deposits, and a large goldfield was developed in the area after 1885. Hardman hoped to become state geologist, and also hoped to receive some of a promised reward for finding gold. Since he was refused further leave of absence by his UK employers, and since the legislative assembly was initially unwilling to provide funds for his salary, Hardman in October 1885 returned to work on the Geological Survey of Ireland. He planned to return permanently to Australia, and was appointed in 1887 to the hoped-for post in Western Australia. However, after exposure to bad weather while on fieldwork in Co. Wicklow, he contracted typhoid fever, and died in the Adelaide hospital, Dublin, on 30 April 1887. He had married Louisa Gilholy; she and two children survived him. She was eventually awarded £500 to mark his services to the government of Western Australia. Hardman's name was given to a mountain range in Western Australia, but his family profited relatively little from his involvement in the discovery of one of the richest goldfields in Australia, and in 1955 his surviving child (a daughter, then 77 years old) sought financial assistance from the Geological Survey of Ireland.