Crosbie, Richard (1756?–1800?), balloonist, was born in Co. Wicklow, second son among five children of Sir Paul Crosbie, 4th baronet and barrack master at Bray, Co. Wicklow, and Mary Crosbie (née Daniel), an Englishwoman. His elder brother was (Sir) Edward Crosbie (qv), and they had three sisters. Crosbie was educated by a Mr Franklin, and entered TCD 3 November 1773, when his age was recorded as 17. He was noted for his mechanical skills as a student; he acted as second to Jonah Barrington (qv) in a duel with Richard Daly (qv), and worked all night to repair pistols for the purpose. Leaving without a degree, he was an army officer for a time; then, fascinated by the newly developed hot-air and hydrogen balloons, he began experimenting with them in 1784, shortly after Riddick, a Scotsman and nephew of James Dinwiddie (d. 1815), released a small balloon in Dublin in February 1784. Although an ascent by a Monsieur Rosseau was reported from Navan in April, Crosbie had ambitious plans to cross the Irish Sea by balloon; to raise money, he charged admission to his exhibition of balloons at Ranelagh, Dublin (August 1784), where he released several balloons carrying animals. Crosbie's scheme was severely criticised by Dinwiddie in a lecture (September 1784), and the two became involved in an increasingly bitter newspaper controversy over the design of large balloons, Crosbie's proposed steering mechanisms, and his status as a scientist. Dinwiddie's efforts to ascend in a hot-air balloon were unavailing, and after several setbacks and failed attempts, Crosbie successfully ascended in the elaborately decorated gondola of his hydrogen balloon in front of more than 30,000 people at Ranelagh on 19 January 1785. He landed safely at Clontarf, and was carried in triumph to the house of James Caulfeild (qv), Lord Charlemont; this, as the first flight of an Irishman, has been accorded the status of first flight in Ireland.
On a later occasion (May 1785), when Crosbie was forced to proceed with a flight against his better judgement, he asked for a volunteer to ascend in his place; he himself was a tall stout man, too heavy for the balloon. Richard McGwire, a TCD undergraduate, took off, but had to puncture the balloon and land in the sea. After his rescue, McGwire was knighted by the lord lieutenant, the duke of Rutland (qv). The lord mayor of Dublin banned further flights because ballooning mania was interfering with the life and work of the city, but Crosbie, still hoping to fly across the Irish Sea, ascended from Leinster Lawn on 19 July 1785. The balloon was forced down in the sea, probably about mid-channel, after a hair-raisingly adventurous flight, and Crosbie was rescued by a specially despatched barge. He received a rapturous reception, and made at least one further flight, from Limerick (April 1786), but he was always short of money to develop his designs and pay for supplies. Little is known of Crosbie's later life; his old friend Barrington at first believed that Crosbie died abroad shortly after his flights, but later heard that he had survived for many years. Barrington also claimed to have many papers on Crosbie's later activities, but gave no details. Some sources say that Crosbie died around 1800. He married (13 December 1780) Charlotte Margaret Armstrong of King's Co. (Offaly) in St Peter's church, Dublin; they had a son and daughter.