SHA County Co-ordinator: Mike Leggett
No of SHA members resident in the county – 0


The Greenwich list of Observatories for the years 1670 – 1850 does not include any observatories in Rutland with instruments with fixed mountings, or other noteworthy observatories [Howse 1986]


(Note: This includes individuals who have made contributions in related fields, e.g. mathematics, geography, exploration, cartography, surveying)

Barker, Thomas (1722-1809), meteorologist and astronomer, wrote An Account of the Discoveries Concerning Comets (1757). However, he was more famous as a meteorologist and in his journals he recorded the weather at Lyndon Hall for over 60 years, including barometric pressure, temperature, clouds, wind and rainfall [Lyndon Estate; Mayhew]. He was a grandson of William Whiston (1667 – 1752), natural philosopher and theologian [Snobelen] [See also Kington].

Robert Billingsley, a Rutland neighbour of Vincent Wing (1619 – 1668) (see below), he contributed astronomical observations, which were included in Wing’s Harmonicon coeleste [Capp].

Boys, Charles Vernon, Sir  (1855-1944), physicist and inventor, was born in Wing, Rutland [Mullay & Mullay]. He designed an improved torsion balance in 1895, which he used to determine Newton’s constant of gravitation and the mean density of the Earth. His micro-radiometer enabled him to measure the heat radiation from the Moon and the planets [Millar et al].

Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727), natural philosopher and mathematician, was born in Lincolnshire, but his mother, Hannah (c.1610?) was from Rutland, the daughter of James Ayscough, of Market Overton, Rutland. Furthermore, it was Hannah’s brother, Rev William Ayscough who urged his sister to let Isaac Newton prepare for university [Westfall].
See the survey pages for Lincolnshire for further information about the life and work of Sir Isaac Newton.

“The Wing Dynasty” was a remarkable family of astronomers, astrologers, instrument makers and land surveyors spanning some 6 generations [Capp; Twickenham Museum]. The principal members of the Wing family with astronomical interests were, in chronological order:

Wing, Vincent (1587 ?), a small farmer in North Luffenham, Rutland [Galileo Project], he also had an interest in astronomy. This included astronomical observations in 1621 and it may have been his interest in astronomy that kindled his son’s interest [Capp].

Wing, Vincent (1619-1668), astronomer, astrologer and land surveyor, was born in North Luffenham and was the eldest son of Vincent Wing (1587 – 1660) [Clerke; Capp]. His fame was based on his achievements in astronomy, especially as a champion of the new astronomical systems of Copernicus and Tycho Brahe.

With the mathematician William Leybourn, he wrote Urania practica, or, Practical Astronomie, which was published in 1649. It included a description of the planetary system as devised by Tycho Brahe [Capp]; this was probably Tycho Brahe’s model in which the planets other than the Earth orbited the Sun and this system as a whole orbited the Earth.

Wing then wrote Harmonicon coeleste, the first significant treatise on planetary astronomy since the Copernican revolution, which was published in 1651 [Capp]. It reflects his conversion to Copernicanism and Keplerian astronomy [Columbia University]. It included an explanation of the application of logarithms to astronomical problems and a description of the Copernican model of the solar system. There were tables based on observations by Tycho Brahe and Kepler, supplemented by Wing’s own observations, together with observations by William Leybourn and Robert Billingsley (see above) [Capp]. Wing’s Harmonicon coeleste has been cited as one of the books, which influenced Newton’s ideas on astronomy as presented in the third book of Principia (1687) [Columbia University].

In 1669, shortly after his death, Wing’s most important work was published, Astronomia Britannia, which was a large-scale Latin treatise on the size, distance and motions of the planets in accordance with the Copernican model. The most significant English astronomical work of its time, it had considerable impact at home and abroad [Capp].

Wing also published Ephemerides; John Flamsteed regarded them as the best in print [Capp].

Wing, John (bap. 1662 – d.1726), see Authors, lecturers, broadcasters below

Wing, John (c.1673 – 1715), see Telescope/equipment manufacturers below

Wing,Tycho (1696 – 1750), see Authors, lecturers, broadcasters below

Wing,Tycho (1726 – 1776), see Telescope/equipment manufacturers below

Wing,Tycho (1794 – 1851), land surveyor, grandson of John Wing (1723 – 1780), whom he succeeded as agent at the Duke of Bedford’s estates at Thorney, Cambridgeshire. He became known as “King of the Fens” [Capp] and he surveyed the River Nene outfall and surrounding marshes, sometimes with John Rennie and Thomas Telford. The mouth of the River of Nene is known as Tycho Wing’s Channel and the land on the East side of the river is known as Central Wingland or Wingfield [Twickenham Museum].
Click here to see the WING FAMILY TREE

Astronomy Groups

Societies and Organisations

Oakham School Observing Society (OSOS), was listed in the Yearbook of Astronomy in 1990 [Moore, 1989] and 1992 [Moore, 1991], but did not appear in the Yearbook for 1993 [Moore, 1992].

Rutland Astronomical Society (RuAS), founded(?).  Members meet at Wilson Pavilion,  Oakham School, Ashwell Road, Oakham (LE15 7QH).

Associated Groups

Ketton Institute and Reading Room, Ketton, Stamford [Kelly, 1881]

Oakham Institute, High Street, Oakham [Kelly, 1881]


Authors, lecturers and broadcasters

Thomas Barker (1722 – 1809), see Astronomers above

Robert Grosseteste (c.1170 – 1253), Bishop of Lincoln (1235 – 1253), may have used his small manor house at Liddington in Rutland for study and probably also for housing his translators of ancient Greek texts [Southern].
See also survey pages for Lincolnshire.

Robert of Ketton (fl. 1141- 1157), astronomer and translator, was based in Spain and translated several astronomical, astrological and Islamic texts from Arabic. The identification of Ketton is based on the form Rodbertus Ketenensis and the toponym is usually identified with Ketton in Rutland. He is thought to be identical to Robert, archdeacon of Pamplona [Burnett]. According to his co-worker, Hermann of Carinthia, Robert made available the tables and other materials of Albeteni (al-Battani, the C10th astronomer from Baghdad). It was with some reluctance that Robert performed the translation of astrological and other non-astronomical texts, as astronomy and geometry were his main interests and Robert makes this clear in the preface to his translation of al-Kindi’s Judicia (“Astrological judgements”) [Burnett].

Vincent Wing (1619 – 1668), see Astronomers above

John Wing (bap. 1662 – d.1726), surveyor and almanac maker, was the nephew of Vincent Wing (1619 -1668); John Wing’s father was Moses Wing, Vincent Wing’s brother. John Wing was a surveyor at North Luffenham and in 1683 he moved to Pickworth, Rutland, where he practised and taught surveying, all branches of mathematics and music, and was also a farmer. He published Heptarchia mathematica (1693), a textbook of pure and applied mathematics, which was aimed at a broad audience including masons, carpenters, glaziers, astronomers and others. He also compiled a series of almanacs, which he also used as a means to popularize astronomy; he explained and defended Copernicanism and wrote brief essays on tides, gravity, periodicity of comets and plurality of worlds (the possibility of other planetary systems as well as inhabited planets within the universe) [Capp].

Tycho Wing (1696 – 1750) was an astronomer, philosopher, teacher of mathematics and music, as well as serving as coroner of Rutland (1727 – 1742) [Twickenham Museum]. He practised as a surveyor and boarded pupils to whom he taught mathematics, surveying and navigation [Capp]. He continued his father’s almanac, initially under the name John Wing until 1739, though Tycho signed the prefaces [Capp]; certainly by 1741 they appeared under Tycho Wing’s own name [Library Company of Philadelphia]. He was a friend of the antiquary Rev Dr William Stukeley [Capp; Clerke]. In his later years, he worked in partnership with his elder son, John Wing (1723 – 1780) [Capp].

Tycho Wing (1726 – 1776), see Telescope/equipment manufacturers

Academics and associated professionals

None identified at present


Rutland Local History and Record Society/Rutland Record Society: See Useful addresses above

Telescope / equipment manufacturers

John Wing (c.1673 – 1715) was an instrument maker from Pickworth, Rutland, who made sundials and designed a portable plane table [Websters].
NOTE: So far, I have no information about how this John Wing was related to the other members of the “Wing Dynasty”.

Tycho Wing (1726 – 1776), instrument maker, astronomer and astrologer, was born in Pickworth, Rutland [Twickenham Museum] and was a son of Tycho Wing (1696 – 1750) [Capp]. In May 1741, he was apprenticed to Thomas Heath, an instrument maker in London. In 1749 he married Hypatia Heath, daughter of Thomas Heath and from 1753 to 1773, he was in partnership with his father-in-law, Thomas Heath. Their instruments included an equinoctial sundial and dialling instrument as well as a universal inclining dial [Twickenham Museum]. The Heath and Wing catalogue of instruments for 1765 can be viewed online [Manthey] and there are many examples of instruments by Heath and Wing, which are held in museums in the UK and abroad. There are several websites that can be used to identify the location of Heath and Wing instruments in museums [Websters; ISIN]. Thomas Heath and Tycho Wing presented to the Royal Society in 1766, a reflecting telescope, which was probably made by Newton in 1671 [Work by Hand and Brain]. The Company of Stationers published an almanac written by Tycho Wing with the title OLNMPIA DWMATA [sic] or an Almanack for the year of our Lord 1775 wherein is contained Lunations, Conjunctions, Aspects and Effects of the Planets [Russell].

Useful addresses

Local History Centre

Leicestershire and Rutland Family History Society
Rutland Group

Rutland Local History and Record Society
Rutland County Museum, Catmose Street, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6HW England
Formed in 1991 from the merger of the Rutland Record Society, the Rutland Local History Society and the Rutland Field Research Group for Archaeology and History [Rutland Local History & Record Society website]

County Record Office

The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland,
Long Street, Wigston Magna, Leicester, LE18 2AH
Telephone: 0116 2571080



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