Astronomers: Warwickshire

Andrews, William (1835-1914), born Coventry, Warwickshire. A silk manufacturer and member of the (short-lived) Observing Astronomical Society and later the British Astronomical Association. He participated in the 1896 and 1900 solar eclipse expeditions organised by the BAA (Howard 1988; Chancellor 1969).

Bird, Frederick [FRAS] (1817-1876), born Abington , Berkshire who was a manager at the Key Hill Cemetery in Birmingham. Published details on the construction of observatories and silver-on-glass reflecting telescopes in the Intellectual Observer magazine in 1863-65 and more generally in the Astronomical Register. (Obit.: EM 24 (1876), p.166).

Clarke, George Thomas Smith [FRAS] (1884-1960), born Bewdley, Worcs., an automotive and medical engineer, and keen amateur astronomer in Coventry.  Building his own telescopes and a spectrohelioscope, he observed from home.  Clarke also gave advice on the building of the proposed 100-inch telescope at the new Royal Greenwich Observatory, Hertsmonceux and was associated with the Jodrell Bank radio telescope through Sir Bernard Lovell ( WorcestershireODNB).

Craig, John [Rev; MA] (1807-1877), born Blackrock, Dublin, he was schooled locally and obtained a degree at Trinity college Dublin. Ordained in 1829 he served in Cambridge, London then Leamington. Craig clearly held an interest in astronomy as in 1852 he commissioned the buiding of a large telescope on Wandsworth Common. Known as the Craig Telescope, it was not a success and was dismantled by 1856 (King 1955, 254-5; Steel 1982).

Foster, Samuel (c.1600-1652), born in the Midlands where he was educated  and then attended Emmanuel College, Cambridge and taught in Coventry (see County of London; Frost 2006a).

Fisher , George  [Rev; FRAS; FRS] (1794-1873), born  Sunbury, Middlesex, retiring to Rugby – see Middlesex; County of London).

Jackson, John (b.1838-fl.1881), born in Nuneaton, former ironship builder and amateur astronomer (see 1881 English census).

Lockyer, Sir Joseph Norman (1836-1920), born Rugby, died  Salcombe Regis, Devon (Surrey; County of London; Devon; ODNB).

Nye, Nathaniel (bap.1624- fl.1647), born Birmingham, mathematician best know for his book, The Art of Gunnery published in 1647. In addition he was copetent observation astronomer and is recorded as having observed solar eclipse and being a student of Samuel Foster (ODNB; Frost 2006a).

Peek, Bertrand Meigh (1891 -1965), born in Dorset and privately educated. After serving in the army during the First World War he followed a career in teaching in Birmingham (1918-) and Canterbury (1946-55) as BAA President (1938-1940) and has a lunar crater named after him.(Hockney 2007, 1672-3).

Reynolds, John Henry (1874-1949), born in Birmingham and educated at King Edward School. His career was in business, but he gave 50 years of outstanding service to astronomy. He established an observatory at his home ‘Low Wood’, Harborne. He is best known for his photometric research on galactic nebulosity and external galaxies; his management of the RAS Treasury 1929-47, notwithstanding his holding the Presidency 1935-37, that saved the Society from possible ruin; and building large reflectors and donating them to other observatories. The 30″ Reynolds telescope at Helawan in Egypt enabled Harold Knox-Shaw to do pioneering work there in nebular photography, and an experience that motivated him after 1924 to move the Radcliffe Observatory to South Africa. Beyond contemporary obituaries, the definitive and nicely illustrated account of Reynolds and his observatory is: Ron Maddison, ‘The Telescopes of John Henry Reynolds of Harborne, Birmingham, England: An Outstanding Grand Amateur’ (Maddison 2011)

Seabroke, George Mitchell (1838-1918), was an early pioneer in measuring the speeds of stars at the Temple Observatory, Rugby School, Warwickshire, in the 1880s (Obid., MNRAS, 79 (1919), 231-3).

Shuckburgh-Evelyn, Sir George Augustus William [6th Baronet] (1751-1804), educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford, graduating in 1772. After travels around Europe he moved to Shuckburgh Hall Warwickshire after inheriting the baronetcy on the death of his uncle in 1773.  Shuckburgh made a series of astronomical observations, publishing an ephemeris, published between 1774 and 1797. In 1791 he installed the Shuckburgh telescope, a 4.1-inch refractor, by Jesse Ramsden at his private observatory at Shuckburgh Hall. In 1774 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society and was co-winner of the Copley Medal in 1778. After his death the Shuckburgh telescope was donated to Royal Observatory, Greenwich (ODNB; Hingley 2013).

Stratton, Frederick John Marrian (1881-1960), born in Birmingham. Educated at King Edward’s, at mason College, then Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, he graduated third wrangler in 1904, and was Isaac Newton student in 1905. Until 1914 he was assistant director of the Solar Physics Observatory after its transfer from Kensington. After the war, he commenced one of the first courses in astrophysics to be given in Britain. On H.F. Newall’s retirement in 1928, Stratton was appointed Professor of Astrophysics and Director of the Solar Physics Observatory, and held these posts until 1947. Apart from his teaching, and useful books, perhaps his greatest contribution to British astronomy was his effective mentoring of outstanding Cambridge talent which filled the leading professional posts at observatories before and after World War II. For this, see: Hutchins (2008); for contemporary appreciations (Obit., QJRAS, 2 [1] (March 1961), 44-9; Obit., QJRAS, 23 (1982), 358-62; ODNB).

Waters, Henry Hayden (1880-1939), born Coventry (see Middlesex).

Wolfendale, Sir Arnold W. [FRS] (1927- 2020) born Rugby, astronomer who graduated from manchester University.   After a career at Durham University and he became Astronomer Royal (1991-5), then prof. Emeritus at Durham University (DurhamLancashireWiki; ‘Profile: Prof. Sir Arnold Wolfendale FRS’, A&G, 49 [4](2008), p.4.11).

Wykes, J. (1831-1910), born Gt. Creaton, Northampton, whose profession was a baker. A member of the BAA, he submitted reports of  meteor, solar, Jupiter and star colour observations using a 4 ½-inch refractor (Stroobant 1907, 36; Report of the Meteor Section, MBAA, 3 (1895), p.11 ).

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