Astronomers: Lincolnshire

Andrews, Henry (1743-1820), astronomer, was born at Frieston, near Grantham.  As a ten-year old, he began observing the stars with a telescope in Frieston Green. However, as his parents were poor, he entered domestic service while still a boy, first in Sleaford, then in Lincoln and finally with Mr Verinum, who permitted him some time each day for his studies. He calculated with great accuracy a solar eclipse, which was viewed by a distinguished party at Aswarby Hall on 1 April 1764. He was a teacher in Basingthorpe near Grantham, then became an usher at a school in Stilton, subsequently moved to Cambridge, then spent the remainder of his days as a bookseller and schoolmaster in Royston. He was a calculator on the Nautical Almanac for over 40 years and was employed on several other almanacs (Ketteringham 1995ParsonsODNB).

Dee, John [Dr] (1527-1608), mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, alchemist, Rector of Long Leadenham, Lincolnshire (1566-1608) (ParsonsWestfallODNBCounty of London).

Essam, Edward Iszatt [FRAS] (1855-1931), Born in Aslackby Fen, Lincolnshire in 1855, Essam was employed as a chemist’s assistant in the nearby market town of Billingborough, eventually trading as a chemist and druggist in that town. He developed a keen interest in astronomy and constructed a well-equipped observatory in Billingborough. Essam contributed many observations to the Jupiter and Saturn sections of the BAA during the 1890s. Elected FRAS in 1898, he also became Director of the BAA Star Colour Section in 1902. However, following the failure of his business in 1907 he moved from Billingborough to Luddenden Foot, Yorkshire and eventually to Lancashire (Stroobant 1907, 36).

King, Alphonso (1882-1937) [FRAS],  a schoolmaster and amateur astronomer living at  Ashby, Lincs., who specialised in meteor observations and computation (Stroobant 1931Obit., MNRAS, 97 (1937), 274-5).

Longbottom, Gertrude [FRAS] (1876-1935), born Louth, Lincs., an alumnus of Girton College (high wrangler), Cambridge. Longbottom gained a fellowship at Bryn Mawr in the United States before becoming a teacher of mathematics. Her only published paper (1915), jointly with Dr J. K. Fotheringham (1874-1936), was on the motion of the Moon. She was an early female Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, elected May 1916 (Obit., MNRAS, 96 (1936), p.295).

Merryweather, John (?), governor of  Lincoln Castle prison and  keen astronomer. Sites associated with Merryweather: The Observatory Tower at Lincoln Castle was restored in 1825 for Merryweather.

Tennyson, Alfred, first Baron Tennyson (1809-1892), poet and amateur astronomer, was born in Somersby. Better known as a poet, he was also greatly interested in science and was a keen amateur astronomer. The Tennyson Statue in Lincoln is adjacent to the Chapter House and Medieval Library, northeast of Lincoln Cathedral (Ketteringham, 1995Mullay & Mullay, 2002;.ParsonsWoods, 2006).

Weaver, Edmund (fl. 1754), described by Dr Stukeley as ‘…a very uncommon genius, who had made himself master of astronomy and was scarcely to be accounted the second in the kingdom…’ (Lynn 1900a, 318-9). Very little seems to be known about Weaver, other than a short series of almanacs, including ‘The British Telescope’ (pub. in 1745) and some astronomical tables, which appear not to have been published. Stukeley recorded in his diary that he ‘…spent many agreeable hours at Stamford and Pickworth with Mr Tycho Wing and Mr Edmund Weaver, the great Lincolnshire astronomer’.