Astronomers: Cumberland

Fallows, Fearon (1788-1831), born in Cockermouth, Cumberland, from a humble background. After basic training in mathematics, and as a local schoolmaster, he received financial support to study mathematics at St John’s College, Cambridge, graduating in 1816.  Elected a fellow he went on to teach mathematics at the University of Cambridge. In 1820, through his connections with John Herschel, was elected as fellow of the Astronomical Society and also granted a fellowship to the Royal Society.  He was appointed as astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa by the Admiralty.  Between 1821 and 1829 he worked on the development of the first southern hemisphere observatory. The Royal Society published his ‘Catalogue of 273 Stars’ in 1824.Fallows and all his observatory staff contracted scarlet fever in 1830, and despite partial recovery Fallows died in 1831 (Obit MNRAS, 2 (1832), 63; ODNB).

Fletcher, Isaac (1827-79), established the Tarn Bank Observatory, 1848. He made many observations, and contributed 16 papers to Monthly Notices of the RAS, on double stars, star positions, Jupiter, saturn and the Sun.  For a good biographical note, see Peter D. Hingley, ‘The Shuckburghs of Shuckburgh, Isaac Fletcher, and the history of the English Mounting’, AntAs, Issue 7 (Spring 2013).

Hills, Edmond Herbert Grove (1864-1922), born at High Head Castle, Cumberland. A man of wide scientific interests including optics, photography, and surveying. His main astronomical interest was solar physics, and he attended eclipse expeditions and befriended leading astronomers. In June 1911 he was appointed honorary director of Durham university Observatory, and first proved that its novel almucantar telescope of 1900 was unreliable. He then designed a suspended zenith telescope, and was rigorously testing this instrument at the time of his death. Hill’s gift of his valuable spectroscopes, heliostat and 12-inch mirror in 1909 to Newall’s Cambridge Observatory helped to consolidate Cambridge’s dominance of British observational astrophysics.  As Treasurer of the RAS, Hills identified a crisis in the post-World War One finances, and instituted a fund which saved the Society.

Housman, William Bradshaw [FRAS](1878-1955), born Kensington, London, who worked as an engineering draughtsman.  Elected a member of both the RAS (1937) and BAA (1955) he observed both aurora and zodiacal light from his Seaton Observatory at his home in Worthington (Stroobant 1931; Obit., MNRAS, 178 (1956), 151-2; Obit., JBAA, 65 (1955), 169).

Miller, John Fletcher [FRS; FRAS] (1816-1856), born Whitehaven who from an early age exhibited an avid interest in the sciences.  In addition to an interest in meteorology, he was a keen astronomer, erecting a private observatory in Whitehaven to measure double stars. He was a cousin of Issac Fletcher (1827-79) of Tarn Bank, Cumberland (Obit. MNRAS, 17 (1857), 99-100).

Pattinson, Hugh L. (1796-1858), born at Alston, Cumberland (see Durham).

Pearson, William [Dr; Revd] (1767-1847), born at Whitbeck, a small village at the extreme south-west limit of the old county of Cumberland (see Leicestershire).

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