Astronomers: Suffolk

Airy, George Biddell [KCB] (1810-1892), seventh Astronomer Royal, from the age of 13 spent much time with his uncle in Playford, Suffolk.  Airy maintained a home in Suffolk and spent vacations and maintained friendships in the county (see  County of London [ROG]ODNB).

Biddell, George Arthur (1824-1901), cousin of G.B. Airy, worked as an engineer at Rasomes Sim &  Head. Superintended the erection of their Orwell works and the Great Airy Transit Circle at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.  After retirement he followed his interest in astronomy, being elected in 1892 to the newly founded  British Astronomical Association (see Grace’s Guide).

Barnes, J.B., [Colonel] ( ? ), resided in 1930s at North Cottage, Maybush Lane, Felixstowe. Kept meticulous notes on Astronomical terms and mathematical problems. Amassed his notes on voyages around the world in 1903 and 1908, subsequently added to on further voyages 1924 to 1927. 12.06.07. – now in possession of Mrs Wragg of Coddenham.

Bennett, Arthur Frederick [FRAS] (1871–1937), resided at Leiston (Obit. MNRAS(1938),  245-6; Obit.: JBAA47 [9] 1937, 333-4).

Blackall, Samuel  [Revd.] (1816–1899).

Boreham,William Wakeling (1804-1886), born Haverhill, Suffolk.  Educated in Saffron Walden he showed great talent in mathematics and Music.  Later he followed his father’s occupation becoming a brewer first in London then Manchester and then returned to Haverhill.  Here he erected an observatory to make observations of comets and minor planets.  An admirer of science, later in life, he promoted it locally along with higher education.  In addition to being a member of the Royal Astronomical Society he was also a fellow of the Anthropological Society (See Obit. MNRAS, 47 (4 ), 135).

Bower, George Noel (1885-1951), born Norwich, son of James Garton Bower (see Norfolk) who worked for the colonial customs service in India for most of his life.   He joined the British Astronomical Association in 1913 and was the first to see Nova Aquilae 1918 (JBAA28 (1918), p.243). Before Indian independence he moved back to England to reside at Eye, in Suffolk.

Bransby, John  (1760-1835), Land surveyor, instrument maker and bookseller.  based in Ipswich, he published on the use of globes in astronomy and geography.  A fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, he was described as astronomer and mathematician in burial records.

Brown, Basil John Wait (1888-1977), born Bucklesham near Ipswich, an archaeologist most famous for excavating the Sutton Hoo, who had an interest in astronomy.

Buckton, Harold [Revd.] (1864-1944/8) Resided at Bury St Edmunds. See Mobberley & Goward,’The Bury St Edmunds Athenaeum Observatory’, JBAA, 115 (5), Oct. 2005, 251-61.

Calver, George (1834-1927) – see Essex page

Chevallier, Temple [Revd.] (1794-1873), born Badingham, Suffolk – see Durham

Clarkson, Roland Lebeg Towley [FRAS] (1889-1954), had a lifelong interest in astronomy from childhood.  By 1922 he was active in the Ipswich section of the Chaldean  Society.  Later by the 1950s he resided at Trimley where he was the founder and president of the Ipswich and District Astronomical Society (IDAS). A keen lunar observer his observing book are held by the BAA. In recognition of his observing skills a crater,  now Gassendi A, was named in his honour. (see details on Orwell Astronomical Society site; Clarkson, R. L. ‘The Origin and History of the Formations on the Surface of the Moon’, JBAA, 64 (5) April 1954, 202-5).

Cook, Alice Grace  [FRAS] (1877-1958), resided at Stowmarket (‘Death of.., 68 (1958), p.302; Larsen 2006; Barton 2019a)

Collinson, Edward Howard [FRAS] (1903-1990), resided at Westfield, Culpho and Playford (Obit.: JBAA101 (1991), 12-3Obit., QJRAS32 (1991),  p.207).

Cowell, Philip Herbert (1870-1949), retired to Aldeburgh (see County of London page).

Crickmore, Thomas (1782-1822), optical instrument maker, Ipswich, with an interest in astronomy, known to have made reflecting telescopes (Webster).

Eld, Francis [Revd.; FRAS] (1830-1922), born Foleshill, Warwick.  Head Master of the Grammar School at Worcester.  After retirement he moved to Lowesoft, taking the living of Polstead (see Worcestershire)

Hardy, Samuel [Revd.] (1720-1793) Rector of Little Blakenham. Author of books on the Moon and Telescopes. Kept Meteorological observations from his Rectory (see: Obit.: Gentleman’s Magazine, Dec. 1793, p966).

Irving, Ronald Nicholas (1915-2005), born Teddington, Middlesex.  Lived briefly (1925-7) in Hitcham, Suffolk (see Middlesex for more details).

Kersey, Henry Earnest (1876-1948), born Bentley, Suffolk, who traded as an Ipswich watchmaker.  Active in the Ipswich Scientific Society, elected to both the British Astronomical Association and the Royal Astronomical Society.  In 1949 his 9-inch With-Browning reflector was bequested to the BAA.

Ledger, Edmund (1841–1913), resided at Barham as Rector (1877-98).  Appointed Prof. of Astronomy at Gresham College (1875-1908), he authored The Sun, Planets and their Satellites (Obit.: MNRAS, 74 (1914), p274).

Lofft, Capel (1751-1824), born London, educated at Cambridge, he trained as a lawyer and first practised at Lincoln’s Inn in 1775. Later he inherited an estate at Troston Hall near Bury St. Edmunds.  Better known as a radical writer and editor he was a polymath with an interest in astronomy.  He is known to have possessed a private observatory and published observations in The Monthly Magazine, or, British Register.  Due to criticism Lofft spent his last years in self-exile at Montcalieri, near  Turin where he died (ODNBWIKI).

London, William (b. 1833 – d. Jun. 16 1916), bank clerk and then manager who lived his entire life in Woodbridge, at ‘Quay House’.  Used a 3 1/4-inch Wray refracting telescope and then a 15 1/2-inch reflector which was donated to a local school on his death.  An ‘Original Member’ of the BAA and went on eclipse expedition to Vadso, Lapland in 1896.

May, Charles [FRAS] (1800-1860), born Alton, Hampshire and  resided in Ipswich [1840/50s] (see William Barton ‘Building steps to the stars’, Astronomy Now, Dec. 1999, 54-5 & Obit.,MNRAS21 (1861), 101-2).

Plummer, John Isaac  [FRAS] (1845-1925), resided at the Astronomer’s House, Nacton (Whiting 2006).

Prentice, John Philip Manning [FRAS] (1903-1981), residing at ‘Redcroft’ in Stowmarket and working in the legal profession he a active observer of meteors. He was director  (1923-54) of the BAA meteor section (Obit.,JBAA, 92 [3] (1982), 138-9; Obit. QJRAS, 23 (3), (1982), 452-51; Stroobant 1931).

Stuart, Charles (1795-1872), born Ipswich, a printer/compositor who lived at 20 Elm Street, Ipswich from 1841.  Reported observations of the 1852 solar eclipse frpm Ipswich using a small refracting telescope.

Stevens, Charles (1852-1918), born Dalston, East London where he lived until 1900 and worked as a civil servant living at Wemyss Road, Blackheath. Stevens then started working for the Post Office in London and in 1906 moved to Peterborough as Postmaster. He then located to Ipswich in 1909, still as Postmaster. Here he retired in 1914 and where he died (1 Dec. 1918) at Constable Road, Ipswich. He was married twice and had two -daughters and one son.  Elected (10 Feb. 1899) fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society at the invitation of a Percy Davis who worked at the Nautical Almanac Office and was supported by the Superintendent (NAO), A. M. W. Downing. To quote from his obituary (MNRAS, 80, p.359), ‘Apart from his official duties, he was most interested in music and astronomy.

Tomline, George  [Colonel] (1813 – 1889), resided at Orwell Park House, Nacton (see ‘Suffolk’s Great Eccentric:See: Colonel George Tomline 1813 – 1889’ David Allen. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol XL1 Part 1 (2005) pp 79 to 101; Colonel George Tomline).

Vince, Samuel (1749-1821), born Fressingfield, Suffolk – see Cambridgeshire page.

Walker, Anne (b. 1864) born in Wickham – see Cambridgeshire page.

Wilson, Fiammetta, (nee Worthington)  [FRAS] (1864 – 1920), born in Lowestoft and Meteor Observer (Obit., MNRAS, 81 (1921), 266-9; Barton 2019b)