Astronomers: Berkshire

Bacon, Gertrude (1874-1949) – see Foggitt below.

Bacon John Mackenzie [Rev.; FRAS] (1849-1904), born Woodlands nr. Lambourn, who later studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. Ordained into the CoE he never gained a living, due to poor health, instead he undertook clerical tutorial duties in Cambridge. His continuing health-issues forced him to leave, moving to Cold Ash nr. Newbury, where he spent the rest of his life engaged in his scientific interests and social schemes. Married twice, his daughter and son to his first wife, Gertrude and Frederic shared his interest in astronomy. His daughter joined him in joining the photographic section of the BAA using a 12-inch reflector and 4.1-inch refractor at Cold Ash. Members of both the BAA and RAS they also participated in solar eclipse expeditions to Norway, India and the USA (Obit., MNRAS, 65 (1905), p.334).

Baily, Francis (1774-1844) born at Newbury, April 28 1774, was a stockbroker by profession, but from early years studied astronomy. He equipped a small observatory in 1825 and revised the star catalogues of earlier astronomers. In 1836, during the annular eclipse  of the sun he detected the phenomenon known as Baily’s Beads. He died August 30 1844 (ODNB).

Blagrave, John (c.1561-1611), born in Earley near Reading and studied at Reading School and St. John’s College, Oxford. He wrote on mathematical topics, including the use of the cross-staff and astrolabe (ODNB).

Brown, Arthur Neville (1864-1935), born Nayland Suffolk and educated in Canterbury and Oxford University. A classics master at preparatory schools at Mortimer and Ludgrove.  He followed an interest in astronomy by observing variable stars using a 5-inch refracting telescope  on an altazimuth mount in the open from his home,  Brackenhurst at Bucklebury Common near Reading (Stroobant 1931; Obit. MNRAS, 95 (1935), 318-9).

Cammell, Bernard Edward (1850-1932), born Wadsley, Sheffield, steel manufacturer and farmer resided Norton Hall, Derbyshire (1881) them moved to Folly Court, Wokingham, gentleman of independent  means (1891) Joined the BAA in 1982 and contributed some very artistic drawings of the planets using a  12-inch reflector.  Acted as director of the Mars Section of the BAA from 1893-1895, and was succeeded by EM Antoniadi. (see family tree; BAA website; ODNB)

Davis, Gideon Turner (1844-1925), born Reading, joined Liverpool Astronomical Society in 1884 and founder member of the British Astronomical Association in 1890. Author of manuscript vol., Astronomical sketches by Gideon Turner Davis of Reading and others.  Compiled in 1891 by G. Turner Davis of 13 Donnington Gardens, Reading, as a guide for novice astronomers, ‘to show what a small telescope can show in Reading’. Includes sketches of observations of the Moon, planets, comets, sunspots, stars and a nova in the Andromeda nebula, made 1877-1891, with additional observations, 1896-1897(see D/EX 1808: Berkshire Records Office).

Dunn, George (1865-1912), born Bath House, Newcastle was educated at Beaumont and Stonyhurst Colleges. Although trained in law he never practised the profession.  Inheriting large estates in both Northumberland and Berkshire from his father and he settled at Woolley Hall near Maidenhead.  Dunn  developed a taste for collecting scholarly works and pursued an interest in astronomy.  To this end he established an observatory at his Berkshire home equipped with a 15-inch refracting telescope by Howard Grubb in 1893 – later transferred to Woodside, Hepple in Northumberland under Dr Wilfred Hall (see obit. The Tablet,16 Mar.,1912,15).

Evans, Lewis  [Revd.] (1755-1827), born Bassaleg, Monmouthshire (see County of London).

Evans, Thomas Simpson (1777-1818), the eldest son of the mathematician Lewis Evans (1755–1827), the curate of Ashbury (see County of London).

Foggitt [nee Bacon], Gertrude (1874-1949), born Cambridge, she was the daughter of the Rev. Jon M Bacon.  Home educated she becme a journalist and popular lecturer who married in 1929. She shared her father’s interest in astronomy as well as being a female aeronautics pioneer. A founder member of the BAA she was active in the photographic and lunar sections and was an early female fellow of the RAS, elected in 1921. In conjunction with her father, she attended solar eclipse expeditions to Norway, India and the USA (Haines 2001).

Hardcastle, Joseph A. (1868-1917), born Harrow, he was the great grandson of Wm. Herschel. With independent means, he was a lecturer in astronomy for Cambridge and Oxford extension studies and worked as a volunteer for periods with Professor Turner at the Oxford Observatory. In 1903 he moved to Crowthorne, Berks, at the invitation of S.A. Saunder, to help him with his lunar map. Here he made 20,000 micrometer measurements with an instrument loaned by Turner. In 1916 he was appointed Director of the Armagh Observatory, dying the following year (‘Obit.’, MNRAS, 78 (1918), 246-8; Stroobant 1907; Bennett 1990, 172-3, see MiddlesexArmagh)

Hardcastle, Joseph A. (1868-1917), born Harrow, Middlesex (see Armagh)

Owen, Arthur Edwin Brisco [Revd.] (1858-1925), born Remenham, nr. Henley-on-Thames, being educated at Harrow and Oxford University before being ordained as an Anglican in 1881. After spending some years abroad he took the living of several parish in England before settling at Ufton Nervet nr. Reading.  Here in later life he set-up a 6-inch refractor with observatory for variable star observation (Obit., MNRAS, 86 (1926), 184-5).

Saunder, Samuel A. (1852-1912), born in London, educated at St Paul’s School, then Trinity College, Cambridge. Mathematics master at Wellington College, Crowthorne where he taught until his death. He was a selenographer who catalogued the position of 3,000 points on the Moon. In 1908 he was made Gresham Professor of Astronomy. The crater Saunder on the Moon is named after him. After marrying in 1888 he set up home in Crowthorne in Berkshire, and purchased a 7-inch Troughton & Simms refractor for his selenography. He designed his own observatory shed with sliding roof, which served as a pattern for many other modest observatories (Turner 1913; Hockey 2007; see Mary Blagg Staffordshire page).

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