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Esmond Roseburrow

Esmond Roseburrow.

Esmond Roseburrow is a natural philosopher known for discovering the use of whale oil as an energy source, sparking Dunwall's industrial revolution.

Originally, Roseburrow was a natural philosopher whose ideas were rejected throughout the Isles. Forced into poverty, he took shelter in Dunwall's whaling grounds. During those times, whales were being hunted for meat, but their oil went largely unexploited. When Roseburrow observed several commoners throwing whale oil on a fire to fuel it, he deduced its potential as an industrial fuel source. He then invented a processing treatment which enabled the production of a more refined yet volatile whale oil.[1]

His discovery propelled him from obscurity and poverty to leading an industrial revolution, providing the Isles with a wide range of technological advancements, from simple electric lighting to motorized rail cars and ships that utilized on-board motors. He created his own company, Roseburrow Industries, headquartered in Dunwall, now the most industrialized city in the Empire.

Following his success, he met a young Anton Sokolov in 1820 and sponsored his first efforts at developing new cutting-edge technology powered by whale oil. This led to great leaps in weaponry and military technology, all eventually used by the authoritarian government to exert an unprecedented level of control over the city's population through the City Watch.

Roseburrow was "never comfortable with his ultimate legacy and lived the last of his days in despair" over the consequences of his and Sokolov's work. Feeling guilty over the decline of Dunwall and its people, Roseburrow let his company decay. In 1834, he committed suicide in his office with a pistol loaded with a single, whale-oil powered bullet, a year before the beginning of the rat plague.[2][3]


  • Even though the timeline reveals that Roseburrow killed himself three years prior to the events of Dishonored, the first episode of The Tales from Dunwall shows the Lord Regent's reign before his death scene. This is revealed by the appearance of Hiram Burrows' motto "The boldest measures are the safest", towards the end of the video.
  • By 1852, the Royal Conservatory of Karnaca is holding the Roseburrow Collection, an exposition of his revolutionary work.