SOME HISTORICAL ASTRONOMICAL POSTS IN
BRITAIN AND IRELAND

Bryn Jones



Introduction

This page lists the people who held various historic astronomical posts in Britain and Ireland. The emphasis is on state, observatory and university postions to the end of the nineteenth century, but the lists have been continued to the present date for the sake of completeness in some of these cases. As such, many important university positions created in the twentieth century are not included; for example the Perren chair at University College London or the Napier chair at St. Andrews.

Positions in private observatories are not included. There are many instances of wealthy patrons establishing their own observatories and employing staff to perform observations. It is on that basis that there is no mention here of, for example, the observatory of the Earls of Rosse at Birr in the Irish Midlands or that of the Earl of Crawford at Dun Echt near Aberdeen.




Posts associated with the Royal Greenwich Observatory

 

Flamsteed House, Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Flamsteed House at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, the site of the Royal Greenwich Observatory between 1675 and 1948.

 
The Royal Greenwich Observatory employed a very large number of people from its foundation in 1675 to its closure in 1998, firstly at Greenwich, at Herstmonceux in Sussex between 1948 and 1990, and then in Cambridge between 1990 and 1998. The most significant posts were those of the Astronomer Royal, later the Director, the Chief Assistants, and assistants.

Astronomer Royal, 1675-1971

The title Astronomer Royal was given to the director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory until 1971. From 1972 the title was an honorary position not associated with the Royal Observatory. The term Astronomer Royal for England is sometimes used to distinguish the title from that of the Astronomer Royal for Scotland or the historic title of Royal Astronomer of Ireland (or "Astronomer Royal for Ireland"), but this title is informal.


     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Rev. John Flamsteed, F.R.S. (1646-1719) 1675-1719
Dr. Edmond Halley, F.R.S. (1656-1742) 1720-1742
Rev. James Bradley, F.R.S. (1692-1762) 1742-1762
Rev. Nathaniel Bliss, F.R.S. (1700-1764) 1762-1764
Rev. Nevil Maskelyne, F.R.S. (1732-1811) 1765-1811
John Pond, F.R.S. (1767-1836) 1811-1835
Sir George Biddell Airy, F.R.S. (1801-1892) 1835-1881
Sir William Henry Mahoney Christie, F.R.S. (1845-1922) 1881-1910
Sir Frank Watson Dyson, F.R.S., F.R.S.E. (1868-1939) 1910-1933
Sir Harold Spencer Jones, F.R.S. (1890-1960) 1933-1955
Sir Richard van der Riet Woolley, F.R.S. (1906-1986) 1956-1971

See below for a list of holders of the honorary title Astronomer Royal after 1971.

Reference sources:
E. G. Forbes, Greenwich Observatory, Volume 1: Origins and Early History (1675-1835), publ. Taylor & Francis, London, 1975.
A. J. Meadows, Greenwich Observatory, Volume 2: Recent History (1836-1975), publ. Taylor & Francis, London, 1975, Appendix 1.
W. H. McCrea, The Royal Greenwich Observatory, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.
Individual entries for all incumbents in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
H. P. Hollis, The Astronomers Royal, The Observatory, vol. 22, no. 284, pp. 353-358, 1899 (ADS scan).
G. A. Wilkins, A Personal Review of the History of the Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux Castle, 1948-1990, The Antiquarian Astronomer, Issue 4, January 2008, publ. the Society for the History of Astronomy.
Obituary note about Pond, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 31-37, 1837.
M. Wilson, Ninth Astronomer Royal: The Life of Frank Watson Dyson, publ. W. Heffer & sons Ltd., Cambridge, 1951.



Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory: 1972-1998

The Astronomer Royal held the directorship of the Royal Observatory until 1971. The executive head of the Royal Greenwich Observatory had the title Director from 1972 until the observatory was closed by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council in 1998. For completeness, the holders of this post are listed here.


     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Eleanor Margaret Burbidge 1972-1973
Alan Hunter (1912-1995) 1973-1975
Francis Graham Smith 1976-1981
Alexander Boksenberg 1981-1996
Jasper Wall 1996-1998

Reference sources:
W. H. McCrea, The Royal Greenwich Observatory, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.
G. A. Wilkins, A Personal Review of the History of the Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux Castle, 1948-1990, The Antiquarian Astronomer, Issue 4, January 2008, publ. the Society for the History of Astronomy.
Obituary of A. Hunter, Q.J.R.A.S., 37, 457, 1996 (ADS scan).



Chief Assistant

The position of Chief Assistant became a very important post in British astronomy in the late nineteenth century. It was held by a number of distinguished scientists, some of whom moved to even more prestigious positions.


     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Rev. Robert Main, F.R.S. (1808-1878) 1835-1860 (as senior assistant)
Edward James Stone, F.R.S. (1831-1897) 1860-1870
William H. M. Christie (1845-1922) 1870-1881
Edwin Dunkin, F.R.S. (1821-1898) 1881-1884
Herbert Hall Turner, F.R.S. (1861-1930) 1884-1894
Frank Watson Dyson (1868-1939) 1894-1905
Philip Herbert Cowell, F.R.S. (1870-1949) 1896-1910
Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) 1906-1913
Sydney Chapman (1888-1979) 1910-1914,1916-1918
Harold Spencer Jones (1890-1960) 1913-1923
John Jackson (1887-1958) 1914-1933 (released for war work 1917-1919)
William Michael Herbert Greaves, F.R.S.E. (1897-1955) 1924-1938
Richard v. d. R. Woolley (1906-1986) 1933-1937
Donald Harry Sadler (1908-1987) 1936-1937
Robert d'Escourt Atkinson (1898-1982) 1937-1964 (released for war work 1940-1946)
Henry Rainsford Hulme (1908-1991) 1938-1945 (released for war work 1940-1945)
Thomas Gold (1920-2004) 1952-1956
Olin J. Eggen (1919-1998) 1956-1961,1965-1965
Alan Hunter (1912-1995) 1961-1967

[This list may not be exhaustive for the later twentieth century.]

Reference sources:
A. J. Meadows, Greenwich Observatory, Volume 2: Recent History (1836-1975), publ. Taylor & Francis, London, 1975, Appendix 1.
W. H. McCrea, The Royal Greenwich Observatory, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Main, Stone, Christie, Dunkin, Turner, Dyson, Cowell, Eddington, Chapman, Spencer Jones, Jackson, Greaves, Woolley, Sadler).
Resignation of Turner in February 1894 in MNRAS, vol. 55, p. 208, 1895.
H. P. Hollis, The Greenwich Assistants during 250 Years, The Observatory, vol. 48, no. 619, pp. 388-398, 1926 (ADS scan). (The article gives fuller information of Assistants between 1675 and c.1880.)
H. P. Hollis, Jeremiah Dixon and Others, The Observatory, vol. 49, no. 630, pp. 330-333, 1926 (ADS scan).
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
M. Wilson, Ninth Astronomer Royal: The Life of Frank Watson Dyson, publ. W. Heffer & sons Ltd., Cambridge, 1951.
A. V. Douglas, The Life of Arthur Stanley Eddington, publ. Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., 1956.
Obituaries of Dunkin, M.N.R.A.S, 59, 221, 1899 (ADS scan);   The Observatory, 22, 49, 1899 (ADS scan).
Obituary of D. H. Sadler, Q.J.R.A.S., 32, 59, 1991 (by G. A. Wilkins) (ADS scan).
Obituary of R. d'E. Atkinson, Q.J.R.A.S., 25, 100, 1984 (ADS scan).
Obituary of H. R. Hulme, Q.J.R.A.S., 32, 313, 1991 (ADS scan).
Obituary of A. Hunter, Q.J.R.A.S., 37, 457, 1996 (ADS scan).
Obituary of O. J. Eggen, P.A.S.P., 113, 131, 2001 (ADS reference, but needs journal subscription for access).
G. A. Wilkins, A Personal Review of the History of the Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux Castle, 1948-1990, The Antiquarian Astronomer, Issue 4, January 2008, publ. the Society for the History of Astronomy.



Assistant / Other Positions

A middle-ranking post at the Royal Greenwich Observatory during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was that of Assistant. This was beneath the rank of Chief Assistant. Some of the more prominent Assistants are listed here, but this is intentionally a very incomplete list.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
       
Abraham Sharp (c.1653-1742) 1684-1685,1688-1690 Occasional assistant to Flamsteed
James Hodgson (c.1678-1755) 1695-1702 Assistant to Flamsteed
Joseph Crosthwait (1681-1719) Assistant to Flamsteed
Charles Mason (1728-1786) 1756-1760 Assistant
Charles Green (1734-1771) 1760-1765 Assistant, later astronomer on James Cook's transit expedition to Tahiti
John Brinkley (1766/1767-1835) 1787-1788 Assistant; later Andrews' Professor in Dublin
William Richardson (c.1796-?) 1824-1845 Assistant; forced to resign post as the result of a scandal; later stood trial for murder, but acquitted
James Glaisher, F.R.S. (1809-1903) 1835-1874 Assistant; authority on meteorology
John Russell Hind (1823-1895) 1840-1844 Assistant
William Ellis, F.R.S. (1828-1916) 1853-1893 Assistant; served as a non-tenured computer at Greenwich (1841-1852); observer at the Durham University Observatory (1852-1853)
Edwin Dunkin, F.R.S. (1821-1898) 1845-1881 Served as an arithmetical computer at Greenwich, 1838-1845; Assistant, 1845-1881 (First Class from 1856); Chief Assistant, 1881-1884
William Thynne Lynn (1835-1911) 1856-1880 Assistant
James Carpenter (1840-1899) 1859-1872 Assistant
Arthur Matthew Weld Downing (1850-1917) 1873-1891 Assistant
Edward Walter Maunder (1851-1928) 1873-1913 Assistant
Thomas Lewis (1856-1927) 1881-1917 Assistant
Henry Park Hollis (1858-1939) 1881-1920 Assistant
Andrew C. D. Crommelin (1865-1939) 1891-1927 Assistant
Philibert Jacques Melotte (1880-1961) 1900-1948 Assistant

Reference sources:
W. H. McCrea, The Royal Greenwich Observatory, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.
A. Chapman, Airy's Greenwich Staff, The Antiquarian Astronomer, issue 6, pp. 4-18, January 2012. This includes a useful discussion of working conditions and salaries.
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, and online edition for updates (for Sharp, Hodgson, Mason, Green, Brinkley, Richardson, Hind, Glaisher, Dunkin, Downing, Crommelin, Maunder).
H. P. Hollis, The Greenwich Assistants during 250 Years, The Observatory, vol. 48, no. 619, pp. 388-398, 1926 (ADS scan).
H. P. Hollis, Jeremiah Dixon and Others, The Observatory, vol. 49, no. 630, pp. 330-333, 1926 (ADS scan).
M. Croarken, Astronomical labourers: Maskelyne's assistants at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, 1765-1811, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, vol. 57, no. 3, pp. 285-298, 2003.
Obituaries of Lynn: M.N.R.A.S., 72, 249, 1912 (ADS scan);   The Observatory, vol. 35, no. 444, p. 47, 1912, by H. P. Hollis. ( ADS scan).
Obituary of Carpenter, M.N.R.A.S., 60, 316, 1900.
Article about Carpenter in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Vol. 1, eds. T. Hockey, V. Trimble, T. R. Williams, K. Bracher, R. A. Jarrell, J. D. Marché, F. J. Ragep, J. Palmeri, M. Bolt, publ. Springer, 2007, p. 202.
Obituaries of William Ellis: The Observatory, vol. 40, pp. 90-93, 1917; M.N.R.A.S., vol. 77, no. 4, pp. 295-299, 1917, by H. P. Hollis. These also provide information about his father, Thomas Ellis.
Obituaries of Dunkin, M.N.R.A.S, 59, 221, 1899 (ADS scan);   The Observatory, 22, 49, 1899 (ADS scan).
Who Was Who article about Dunkin.
Obituary of Melotte, Q.J.R.A.S., 3, 48, 1962.
Obituaries of Lewis, M.N.R.A.S., 94, 284, 1934; P.A.S.P., 39, 330, 1927; biographical article by D. Wright in J.B.A.A., 102, 95, 1992.
Obituaries of Crommelin, M.N.R.A.S., 100, 234, 1940; The Observatory, 63, 11, 1940.
Obituaries of Hollis, M.N.R.A.S., 100, 249, 1940; The Observatory, 62, 297, 1939.




Posts associated with the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Astronomer Royal for Scotland: 1834-1990

The title Astronomer Royal for Scotland was given to the director of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh between 1834 and 1990. The post was based initially at the observatory on Calton Hill, and from 1896 at Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, following the relocation of the Royal Observatory. The post was combined with that of the Regius professor of astronomy in the University of Edinburgh between 1834 and 1990: see below for fuller details of the Regius Chair at Edinburgh.

After 1990 the title Astronomer Royal for Scotland became an honorary position not associated with the Royal Observatory.


     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Thomas Henderson, F.R.S. (1798-1844) 1834-1844
Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900) 1845-1888
Ralph Copeland (1837-1905) 1889-1905
Frank Watson Dyson (1868-1939) 1905-1910
Ralph Allen Sampson, F.R.S., F.R.S.E. (1866-1939) 1910-1937
William Michael Herbert Greaves, F.R.S.E. (1897-1955) 1938-1955
Hermann Alexander Brück, F.R.S.E. (1905-2000) 1957-1975
Vincent Cartledge Reddish 1975-1980
Malcolm Sim Longair 1980-1990

The post was left empty between 1990 and 1995. See below for a list of holders of the honorary title Astronomer Royal of Scotland from 1995.

Further information about holders of the title Astronomer Royal for Scotland is available at the website of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

Reference sources:
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Henderson, Smyth, Copeland, Dyson, Sampson, Greaves).
Obituary of T. Henderson, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 6, no. 13, pp. 157-180, 1845.
M. Wilson, Ninth Astronomer Royal: The Life of Frank Watson Dyson, publ. W. Heffer & sons Ltd., Cambridge, 1951.
Obituary of H. A. Brück, Astronomy & Geophysics, 41, 35, 2000.
A. G. Gunn, Brück, Hermann Alexander, in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Vol. 1, eds. T. Hockey, V. Trimble, T. R. Williams, K. Bracher, R. A. Jarrell, J. D. Marché, F. J. Ragep, J. Palmeri, M. Bolt, publ. Springer, 2007, pp. 176-177.

Further information can be found at

the website of the Library of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh;
Prof. John Brown's account of the office of Astronomer Royal for Scotland.



Assistants at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

The Astronomer Royal for Scotland was supported by one or more assistants. Some of the assistants from the period 1834 to 1920 are listed here.

     Holder of office         Dates in office
 
Alexander Wallace, M.A. 1834-1880
Peter Williamson 1860s
Thomas Heath, F.R.S.E.   (1850-1926) 1874-1910
Ludwig Wilhelm Emil Ernst Becker, F.R.S.E.   (1860-1947) 1889-1893
Andrew James Ramsay   (1862-1899) 1893-1899
Jacob Karl Ernst Halm, Ph.D., F.R.S.E.   (1866-1944) 1895-1907
George Clark 1899-1909
John Storey 1908-1915,1919-
Ruric Whitehead Wrigley, F.R.S.E.   (1883-1979) 1910-1915,1919-
Harold Jameson 1910-1914
Edwin Arthur Baker, F.R.S.E.   (1891-1980) 1914-

Reference sources:
Astronomical Observations made at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, volume 9 for 1843, pp. 245-248, 1850; Astronomical Register, vol. 16, no. 189, p. 226, 1878; M.N.R.A.S., vol. 41, no. 4, p. 199, 1881 (about Wallace).
Transactions of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts, vol. 7, appendix A, p. 78 and p. 126, 1866 (about Williamson).
Astronomical Register, vol. 16, no. 189, p. 226, 1878; MNRAS, 68, 267, 1908; list of deceased fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2002); H. A. Brück, Irish Astronomical Journal, vol. 16, p. 62, 1983 (about Heath).
Obituary of Becker, MNRAS, 108, 41, 1948.
MNRAS, 54, 215, 1894; MNRAS, 60, 340, 1900; obituary in JBAA, 9, 275, 1898 (for Ramsay).
MNRAS, 56, 221, 1896 (appointment of Halm); obituary of Halm, MNRAS, v.105, n.2, p.92, 1945; obituary of Halm, Monthly Notices of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, vol. 3, p. 95, 1944.
MNRAS, 68, 267, 1908; MNRAS, 70, 319, 1910 (for Clark).
MNRAS, 69, 270, 1909; Edinburgh Gazette, 5 May 1908, p. 512; Edinburgh Gazette, 6 Apr 1909, p. 390; MNRAS, 70, 319, 1910; MNRAS, 76, 299, 1916; MNRAS, 80, 373, 1920 (for Storey).
Edinburgh Gazette, 12 Aug 1910, p. 930; MNRAS, 70, 319, 1910; MNRAS, 76, 299, 1916; MNRAS, 80, 373, 1920 (for Wrigley).
MNRAS, 71, 295, 1911; Edinburgh Gazette, 6 Jan 1911, p. 23; MNRAS, 74, 293, 1914 (for Jameson).
MNRAS, 75, 278, 1915; Edinburgh Gazette, 6 March 1914, p. 301; list of deceased fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2002) (for Baker).



Recent Management of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

The Astronomer Royal for Scotland held the directorship of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh until 1990. Following reorganisation of the Royal Observatories by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the closure of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in 1998, technological support was rationalised in the Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh. The Astronomy Technology Centre and the Institute for Astronomy of the University of Edinburgh today together form the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, with the overall operation of the institution under the auspices of the University of Edinburgh.






Holders of Honorary Astronomer Royal Titles

In 1972 the title Astronomer Royal was disconnected from the position of Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory: the Astronomer Royal had been director of the Observatory from the origin of the title.

The title Astronomer Royal for Scotland was disconnected from the position of Director of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh in 1990.

The two positions became titles without any administrative roles.


Astronomer Royal, 1972-present


     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Sir Martin Ryle (1918-1984) 1972-1982
Sir Francis Graham Smith 1982-1990
Sir Arnold Wolfendale 1990-1995
Martin Rees, Lord Rees of Ludlow 1995-present


Astronomer Royal for Scotland: 1995-present


     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
John Campbell Brown, F.R.S.E. 1995-present

Prof. Brown was appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland whilst Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Glasgow. Since 1996 he has been Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Glasgow.

Further information can be found at

the website of the Library of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh;
Prof. John Brown's account of the office of Astronomer Royal for Scotland.




Andrews Professor of Astronomy in Dublin, the Royal Astronomer of Ireland, and Dunsink Observatory

The Andrews chair of astronomy was established at Trinity College Dublin using a bequest by Francis Andrews, provost of Trinity College, following his death in 1774. Henry Ussher was appointed the first Andrews professor in 1783. Ussher founded the Dunsink Observatory in 1785 and acted as its first director.

The title Royal Astronomer of Ireland was conferred on the Andrews professor in 1792. The title was combined with the position of Director of the Dunsink Obervatory, Dublin, and the Andrews' Chair of Astronomy at Trinity College Dublin/University of Dublin from 1792 to 1921. No replacement title to the Royal Astronomer of Ireland was conferred by the Irish Free State in 1921.

The position was sometimes called "Astronomer Royal for Ireland", adopting the title as a parallel to the that of the Astronomer Royal for Scotland. This title was even used occasionally by holders of the post in formal contexts. For example, Franz Brünnow described himself in the Dunsink Observatory publications of 1870 as the Astronomer Royal for Ireland, rather than Royal Astronomer of Ireland. However, the title Royal Astronomer of Ireland is correct.



Andrews Professor of Astronomy (to 1792)

First we list the holders of the Andrews chair of Astronomy at Trinity College Dublin, and director of Dunsink Observatory, before the title Royal Astronomer of Ireland was created.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Rev. Henry Ussher (1741-1790) 1784-1790
John Brinkley (1766/1767-1835) 1790-1826



Royal Astronomer of Ireland and Andrews Professor of Astronomy (1792-1921)

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
John Brinkley (1766/1767-1835) 1792-1826
Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865) 1827-1865
Franz Friedrich Ernst Brünnow (1821-1891) 1865-1874
Sir Robert Stawell Ball, F.R.S. (1840-1913) 1874-1892
Arthur Alcock Rambaut, F.R.S. (1859-1923) 1892-1897
Charles Jasper Joly, F.R.S. (1864-1906) 1897-1906
Sir Edmund Taylor Whittaker, F.R.S. (1873-1956) 1906-1912
Henry Crozier Keating Plummer, F.R.S. (1875-1946) 1912-1921



Andrews Professor of Astronomy (from 1984)

The Andrews chair was reinstated as an honorary title in the 1980s.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Patrick Arthur Wayman (1927-1998) 1984-1998
Luke Drury 1999-present



Director of Dunsink Observatory (1921-1937 and from 1947)

Charles Martin served as acting director of the Dunsink Observatory from 1921 until his death in 1936 when the observatory was temporarily shut as a research institution. The Observatory remained closed until 1947.

Dunsink Observatory was reopened in 1947 when the ownership transferred from Trinity College, Dublin, to the School of Cosmic Physics of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, on an initiative by the Irish Government. Herman Brück (1905-2000) served as the new Director, 1947-1957, and Hugh Butler as Chief Assistant, 1947-1953.

     Director of Dunsink Observatory    Dates in office
 
Hermann Alexander Brück (1905-2000) 1947-1957
Mervyn Archdall Ellison (1920-1963) 1958-1963
Patrick Arthur Wayman (1927-1998) 1964-1998
Luke Drury 1999-present



Assistants at Dunsink Observatory (to 1937)

Dunsink Observatory had a post of assistant whose duties included conducting the observing schedule and the mathematical reduction of observations.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
     
Charles Thompson 1817-1873
Ralph Copeland (1837-1905) 1874-1876
Charles Edward Burton (1846-1882) 1876-1878
John Louis Emil Dreyer (1852-1926) 1878-1882
Arthur Alcock Rambaut, F.R.S. (1859-1923) 1882-1892
Arthur E. Lyster 1892-1896
Charles Martin (d.1936) 1896-1936 Acting Director, 1921-1936
Frederick O'Connor (1907-1987) 1924-1937

O'Connor was later employed as a part-time assistant at Dunsink between 1947 and 1955, in parallel with his main work lecturing at Trinity College Dublin.



Reference sources
P. A. Wayman, The Andrews' Professors of Astronomy and Dunsink Observatory, 1785-1985, Irish Astronomical Journal, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 167-184, 1986.
Web page about the Andrews Professor of Astronomy at the Astrophysics website of Trinity College Dublin.
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Ussher, Brinkley, Hamilton, Ball, Rambaut, Joly, Whittaker, Plummer, and also for the assistants Copeland, Burton, Dreyer and Rambaut).
P. A. Wayman, Franz Freidrich Ernst Brünnow - A Link between Dunsink and Ann Arbor, Irish A.J., vol. 19, p. 119, 1990 (biographical article about Brünnow).
P. S. Whitesell, Brünnow, Franz Friedrich Ernst, in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, vol. 1, eds. T. Hockey, V. Trimble, T. R. Williams, K. Bracher, R. A. Jarrell, J. D. Marché, F. J. Ragep, J. Palmeri, M. Bolt, publ. Springer, 2007, pp. 179-180.
Obituary of W. R. Hamilton, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 26, pp. 109-118, 1866.
W. M. Smart, obituary of Plummer, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 107, pp. 56-59, 1947.
H. A. Brück, Report of the Dunsink Observatory, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 108, p. 69, 1948 (about the reopening of the Dunsink Observatory).
H. A. Brück, obituary of Hugh Butler, Q.J.R.A.S., vol. 20, p. 221, 1979.
A. G. Gunn, Brück, Hermann Alexander, in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Vol. 1, eds. T. Hockey, V. Trimble, T. R. Williams, K. Bracher, R. A. Jarrell, J. D. Marché, F. J. Ragep, J. Palmeri, M. Bolt, publ. Springer, 2007, pp. 176-177.
Who Was Who online articles (about Dreyer and Rambaut).
Dunsink Observatory reports: for 1873, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 34, p. 163, 1874, and for 1874, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 35, p. 188, 1875 (about the departure of Thompson); for 1892, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 53, p. 246, 1893 (about the departure of Rambaut and the appointment of Lister in October 1892); for 1895, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 56, p. 231, 1896 (about the departure of Lyster and the appointment of Martin)
Obituaries of Ellison, Q.J.R.A.S., vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 56-59 (by H. W. Newton), and Irish Astron. J., vol. 6, p. 152, 1963 (by J. H. Reid).
Obituary of O'Connor, Irish Astron. J., vol. 18, no. 2, p. 132, 1987 (by P. A. Wayman).
P. A. Wayman, Collaboration Between Armagh and Dunsink Observatories Over 200 Years, 1790-1990, Irish Astron. J., vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 251-263.
N. P. J. O'Hora, The Dunsink Observatory, The Observatory, vol. 81, no. 924, pp. 189-195, 1961.
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.


Acknowledgements
Dr. Ian Elliott is thanked for providing useful information and for correcting errors.




Superintendent of His/Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Thomas Young (1773-1829) 1818-1829
John Pond (1767-1836) 1829-1831
William Samuel Stratford, Lieutenant R.N. (1790-1853) 1831-1853
John Russell Hind (1823-1895) 1853-1891
Arthur Matthew Weld Downing (1850-1917) 1892-1910
Philip Herbert Cowell (1870-1949) 1910-1930
Leslie John Comrie (1893-1950) 1930-1936
Donald Harry Sadler (1908-1987) 1937-1970
George A. Wilkins 1970-1989
Bernard D. Yallop 1989-1996

The post was replaced in 1996 with that of Head of H.M. Nautical Almanac Office.

Further details are available at the website of the Nautical Almanac Office.

Reference sources:
A. J. Meadows, Greenwich Observatory, Volume 2: Recent History (1836-1975), publ. Taylor & Francis, London, 1975, Appendix 1.
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Young, Pond, Stratford, Hind, Downing, Cowell, Comrie, Sadler).
Obituary of D. H. Sadler, Q.J.R.A.S., 32, 59, 1991 (by G. A. Wilkins) (ADS scan).
Obituary of L. J. Comrie, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 113, no. 3, pp. 294-304, 1953 (by W. M. H. Greaves) (ADS scan).




His/Her Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope

The British government committed itself in 1820 to establishing an observatory at the Cape of Good Hope to survey the southern skies. The observatory, constructed in the 1820s, was initially managed by the Director of the Royal Cape Observatory, and the formal title His/Her Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope was conferred on the post in the 1850s.

The post was maintained by the British government as a fundamental part of British scientific activities. Therefore, despite being an overseas position, it deserves a position in this list of British and Irish posts.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Rev. Fearon Fallows (1788-1831) 1821-1831
Thomas Henderson (1798-1844) 1831-1833
Sir Thomas Maclear (1794-1879) 1833-1870
Edward James Stone, F.R.S. (1831-1897) 1870-1879
Sir David Gill (1843-1914) 1879-1907
Sydney Samuel Hough, F.R.S. (1870-1923) 1907-1923
Harold Spencer Jones, F.R.S. (1890-1960) 1923-1933
John Jackson, F.R.S. (1887-1958) 1933-1950
Richard Hugh Stoy (1910-1994) 1950-1968

The Royal Observatory at the Cape was amalgamated with other institutions to form the South African Astronomical Observatory at Sutherland in 1972. George Harding was the officer in charge of the Royal Observatory during the amalgamation process.

Further information can be found at the website of the South African Astronomical Observatory.

Reference sources:
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Fallows, Henderson, Maclear, Stone, Gill, Spencer Jones, Jackson).
Obituary of Fallows, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 2, no. 10, pp. 63-66, 1832.
Obituary of Henderson, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 6, no. 13, pp. 157-180, 1845.
Obituary of S. S. Hough, M.N.R.A.S., 84, 216, 1924.
Entry in Who Was Who for Stone.




Armagh Observatory

Director of the Armagh Observatory:

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
James Archibald Hamilton (1745-1815) 1790-1815
William Davenport (1782-1823) 1815-1823
John Thomas Romney Robinson (1793-1882) 1823-1882
John Louis Emil Dreyer (1852-1926) 1882-1916
Joseph Alfred Hardcastle (1868-1917) 1917 *
William Frederick Archdall Ellison (1864-1936) 1918-1936
Eric Mervyn Lindsay (1907-1974) 1937-1974
Mart de Groot 1976-1994
Mark Bailey 1994-present

* Alfred Hardcastle died shortly after his appointment, before arriving in Armagh.

Ernst Julius Öpik was Acting Director, 1974-1976.

Further information can be found at the website of the Armagh Observatory.

Reference sources:
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Hamilton, Robinson, Dreyer, Lindsay).
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
Entry for Davenport in the Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics, ed. P. Murdin, publ. Nature Publishing Group, 2000.
Obituary of Hardcastle in M.N.R.A.S., 78, 248, 1918.
Obituary of Ellison in M.N.R.A.S., 97, 266, 1937.
A. G. Gunn, Lindsay, Eric Mervyn, in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Vol. 1, eds. T. Hockey, V. Trimble, T. R. Williams, K. Bracher, R. A. Jarrell, J. D. Marché, F. J. Ragep, J. Palmeri, M. Bolt, publ. Springer, 2007, p. 699.




Oxford Positions

Savilian Professor of Astronomy, University of Oxford

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
John Bainbridge (1582-1643) 1620-1643
John Greaves (1602-1652) 1643-1648
Seth Ward, F.R.S. (1617-1689) 1649-1660
Sir Christopher Wren, F.R.S. (1632-1723) 1661-1673
Edward Bernard, F.R.S. (1638-1697) 1673-1691
David Gregory, F.R.S. (1659-1708) 1691-1708
John Caswell (or Carswell) (d.1712) 1708-1712
John Keill, F.R.S. (1671-1721) 1712-1721
Rev. James Bradley, F.R.S. (1692-1762) 1721-1742
Thomas Hornsby, F.R.S. (1733-1810) 1763-1810
Abram Robertson, F.R.S. (1751-1826) 1810-1826
Stephen Peter Rigaud, F.R.S. (1774-1839) 1827-1839
George Henry Sacheverell Johnson, F.R.S. (1808-1881) 1839-1842
William Fishburn Donkin, F.R.S. (1814-1869) 1842-1869
Rev. Charles Pritchard, F.R.S. (1808-1893) 1870-1893
Herbert Hall Turner, F.R.S. (1861-1930) 1894-1930
Harry Hemley Plaskett, F.R.S. (1893-1980) 1932-1960
Donald Eustace Blackwell (1921-2010) 1960-1988
George Petros Efstathiou, F.R.S. 1988-1999
Joseph Ivor Silk, F.R.S. 1999-2012
Steven Balbus 2012-present

A list of the holders of the Savilian Chair of Astronomy can also be found at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive.

The Savilian Chair of Astronomy has existed in parallel with the Savilian Chair of Geometry. The Chair of Geometry has been filled by some people who had strong astronomical interests, such as Edmond Halley (between 1704-1742), Nathaniel Bliss (1742-1764), Abraham Robertson (1797-1810) and Stephen Rigaud (1810-1827). A list of the Savilian Professors of Geometry can be found at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive.

Reference sources:
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Bainbridge, Greaves, Ward, Wren, Bernard, Gregory, Keill, Bradley, Hornsby, Robertson, Rigaud, Johnson, Donkin, Pritchard, Turner, Plaskett).
Obituray of Blackwell, A&G, vol. 52, p. 3.37, 2011.
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
Obituary note about S. P. Rigaud, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 22-24, 1840.
Election of Turner in December 1893, MNRAS, vol. 54, p. 214, 1894; start as Savilian professor in March 1894, MNRAS, vol. 55, p. 208, 1895.



Radcliffe Observer

The Radcliffe Observatory was founded in 1772. The responsibility for the observatory had rested with the Savilian professor until the death of S. P. Rigaud in 1839. The position of Radcliffe Observer was created in 1839 when G. H. S. Johnson, who had no astronomical observing experience, was appointed Savilian professor of astronomy.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Manuel John Johnson, F.R.S. (1805-1859) 1839-1859
Rev. Robert Main, F.R.S. (1808-1878) 1860-1878
Edward James Stone, F.R.S. (1831-1897) 1879-1897
Arthur Alcock Rambaut, F.R.S. (1859-1923) 1897-1923
Harold Knox-Shaw (1885-1970) 1924-1939

Harold Knox-Shaw became Director of the Radcliffe Observervatory, Pretoria, in 1939 (until 1950), following the relocation of the Radcliffe Observatory from Oxford to South Africa.

Reference sources:
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Johnson, Main, Stone, Rambaut).
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
Obituary of Knox-Shaw, Q.J.R.A.S., 12, 197, 1971.




Solar Physics Observatory, London

The Solar Physics Observatory was established at South Kensington, London, in 1885 on a site adjacent to Imperial College. It was relocated in 1913 when the London site was required for redevelopment, with Cambridge controversially being selected as the new site.


Director of the Solar Physics Observatory, London

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer (1836-1920) 1885-1913

Reference sources:
The Observatory, vol. 36, no. 465, p. 356, 1913 (about the Solar Physics Observatory at South Kensington and its removal to Cambridge).
Obituaries of Lockyer in: The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 53, no. 4, p. 233, 1921; M.N.R.A.S., vol. 81, no. 4, p. 261, 1921; The Observatory, vol. 43, no. 557, p. 358, 1920.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (article about Lockyer).




Cambridge Positions

Plumian Professor, University of Cambridge

The Plumian Chair of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy was established at the University of Cambridge in 1707.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Roger Cotes (1682-1716) 1707-1716
Robert Smith (1689-1768) 1716-1760
Anthony Shepherd (c.1721-1796) 1760-1796
Samuel Vince (1749-1821) 1796-1821
Robert Woodhouse (1773-1827) 1822-1827
George Biddell Airy (1801-1892) 1828-1835
James Challis (1803-1882) 1836-1882
Sir George Howard Darwin (1845-1912) 1883-1912
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) 1913-1944
Sir Harold Jeffreys, F.R.S. (1891-1989) 1946-1958
Sir Fred Hoyle, F.R.S. (1915-2001) 1958-1972
Sir Martin Rees, F.R.S. (Lord Rees of Ludlow) 1973-1991
Richard S. Ellis, F.R.S. 1993-2000
Jeremiah Ostriker 2001-2004
Robert Kennicutt 2005-

Reference sources:
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Cotes, Smith, Shepherd, Vince, Woodhouse, Airy, Challis, Darwin, Eddington, Jeffreys, Hoyle).
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
W. Airy (ed.), The Autobiography of Sir George Biddell Airy, K.C.B., publ. Cambridge University Press, 1896.
A. V. Douglas, The Life of Arthur Stanley Eddington, publ. Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., 1956.
G. S. Mumford, Jeffreys, Harold, in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Vol. 1, eds. T. Hockey, V. Trimble, T. R. Williams, K. Bracher, R. A. Jarrell, J. D. Marché, F. J. Ragep, J. Palmeri, M. Bolt, publ. Springer, 2007, pp. 593-595.



Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry

The Lowndean Chair of Astronomy and Geometry in the University of Cambridge has been occupied mostly by mathematicians, rather than astronomers, and as such a complete listing is beyind the scope of these pages.

Some Lowndean professors who made significant contributions to astronomy were:

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
John Couch Adams (1819-1892) 1859-1892
Sir Robert Stawell Ball, F.R.S. (1840-1913) 1892-1913

Reference sources:
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.

Similarly, the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge has been filled by people who have contributed significantly to astronomy and cosmology, such as Isaac Newton, William Whiston, Sir George Airy, Charles Babbage and Stephen Hawking. A full list of Lucasian professors of mathematics can be found at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive at the University of St Andrews.



Professor of Astrophysics

A chair of astrophysics was established at the University of Cambridge in the early twentieth cenury.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Hugh Frank Newall, F.R.S. (1857-1944) 1909-1928
Frederick John Marrian Stratton, F.R.S. (1881-1960) 1928-1947
Roderick Oliver Redman, F.R.S. (1905-1975) 1947-1970
Donald Lynden-Bell, F.R.S. 1972-2001

Reference sources:
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Newall, Stratton, Redman).
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.



Director of the Solar Physics Observatory, Cambridge

The Solar Physics Observatory was established at South Kensington, London, in 1885. It was relocated controversially to Cambridge in 1913 when the London site was required for redevelopment.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Hugh Frank Newall, F.R.S. (1857-1944) 1913-1928
Frederick John Marrian Stratton, F.R.S. (1881-1960) 1928-1947
Roderick Oliver Redman, F.R.S. (1905-1975) 1947-1970

Reference sources:
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (Newall, Stratton, Redman).
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.




University of Edinburgh

Regius Professor of Astronomy

The Regius Chair of Astronomy was founded in 1785. Between 1834 and 1990 it was combined with the position of Astronomer Royal for Scotland, listed above. The full list of holders of the Regius Chair is presented here, repeating the Astronomer Royal for Scotland given above.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Robert Blair, F.R.S.E. (1748-1828) 1785-1828
Thomas Henderson, F.R.S., F.R.S.E. (1798-1844) 1834-1844 Also Astronomer Royal for Scotland
Charles Piazzi Smyth, F.R.S.E. (1819-1900) 1845-1888 Also Astronomer Royal for Scotland
Ralph Copeland, F.R.S.E. (1837-1905) 1889-1905 Also Astronomer Royal for Scotland
Sir Frank Watson Dyson, F.R.S., F.R.S.E. (1868-1939) 1905-1910 Also Astronomer Royal for Scotland
Ralph Allen Sampson, F.R.S., F.R.S.E. (1866-1939) 1910-1937 Also Astronomer Royal for Scotland
William Michael Herbert Greaves, F.R.S.E. (1897-1955) 1938-1955 Also Astronomer Royal for Scotland
Hermann Alexander Brück, F.R.S.E. (1905-2000) 1957-1975 Also Astronomer Royal for Scotland
Vincent Cartledge Reddish 1975-1980 Also Astronomer Royal for Scotland
Malcolm Sim Longair 1980-1990 Also Astronomer Royal for Scotland
Andrew Lawrence 1994-present

Reference sources:
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Blair, Henderson, Smyth, Copeland, Dyson, Sampson, Greaves).
Obituary of Henderson, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 6, no. 13, pp. 157-180, 1845.
M. Wilson, Ninth Astronomer Royal: The Life of Frank Watson Dyson, publ. W. Heffer & sons Ltd., Cambridge, 1951.
Obituary of H. A. Brück, Astronomy & Geophysics, 41, 35, 2000.
A. G. Gunn, Brück, Hermann Alexander, in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Vol. 1, eds. T. Hockey, V. Trimble, T. R. Williams, K. Bracher, R. A. Jarrell, J. D. Marché, F. J. Ragep, J. Palmeri, M. Bolt, publ. Springer, 2007, pp. 176-177.




University of Glasgow

Regius Professor of Astronomy (previously Regius Professor of Practical Astronomy)

The Regius Chair of Practical Astronomy was founded in 1760. Its title was changed to the Regius Chair of Astronomy in 1893.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Alexander Wilson, F.R.S.E. (1714-1786) 1760-1784
Patrick Wilson, F.R.S.E. (1743-1811) 1784-1799
William Meikleham (1771-1846) 1799-1803
James Couper (c.1752-1836) 1803-1836
John Pringle Nichol, F.R.S.E. (1804-1859) 1836-1859
Robert Grant, F.R.S. (1814-1892) 1860-1892
Ludwig Wilhelm Emil Ernst Becker, F.R.S.E. (1860-1947) 1893-1935
William Marshall Smart, F.R.S.E. (1889-1975) 1937-1959
Peter Alan Sweet, F.R.S.E. (1921-2005) 1959-1982
John Campbell Brown, F.R.S.E. 1996-present

Prof. Brown was previously Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Glasgow, and since 1995 has also been Astronomer Royal for Scotland (see above).

Reference sources:
J. B. Hay, Inaugural Addresses by Lords Rectors of the University of Glasgow; to which are prefixed, an Historical Sketch and Account of the Present State of the University, publ. David Robertson, Glasgow, 1839, pp. xliv-xlvii & p. 176. (A scanned copy is available at the Google Books resource.)
M. Moss, M. Rankin and L. Richmond, Who, Where and When: the History and Constitution of the University of Glasgow, publ. University of Glasgow, 2001.
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Alexander Wilson, with a note about his son Patrick Wilson who succeeded him; for Nichol (with a note about Meikleham); for Grant).
Obituary of Grant, M.N.R.A.S., 53, 20, 1893 (ADS scan)
Obituary of Becker, M.N.R.A.S., 108, 41, 1948.
Obituary of Smart, Q.J.R.A.S., 18, 140, 1977.
List of deceased Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (http://www.ma.hw.ac.uk/RSE/fellowship/all_fellows.pdf), Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2002.
Information for William Meikleham from the catalogue of the archives of the University of Glasgow.




Kew Observatory

An observatory was established by King George III in 1768 in the old deer park in Richmond, southwest London, to observe the 1769 transit of Venus. The institution continued under the direct patronage of the king and was known as the King's Observatory until 1840, when it closed for a short period. The observatory was reopened by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and was managed by the Association between 1842 and 1871. Responsibility for the observatory was transferred to the Royal Society in 1871. It was operated for a period in the twentieth century by the Meteorological Office.

The observatory was used for astronomical, meteorological and magnetic observations from the outset. It provided the main time service for London at the end of the 18th century and in the early 19th century, before Greenwich took over this role. The astronomical activities declined through the nineteenth century, although it remained a centre for solar research in the second half of the 19th century, making daily observations of the Sun if the weather allowed. The observatory performed much research in physics, while providing a service for testing and calibrating meteorological and timekeeping instruments. The observatory turned exclusively to meteorological work in the 20th century and astronomical activities ceased. It eventually closed in 1980.

A superintendent was in charge of the observatory from its start through the 19th century, with a number of other staff members employed under his direction. (One assistant, John Little, was hanged for a double murder in 1795, and was suspected of another murder, that of a workman found dead in the observatory.)

The superintendents are listed here for the period when the observatory carried out significant astronomical activities.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Superintendent:
  Stephen Charles Triboudet Demainbray (1710-1782) 1768-1782
  Stephen George Francis Triboudet Demainbray (1759-1854) 1782-1840
Honorary Director and Superintendent:
  Sir Francis Ronalds, F.R.S. (1788-1873) 1843-1852
Superintendent:
  John Welsh (1824-1859) 1852-1859
  Balfour Stewart (1828-1887) 1859-1871
  Samuel Jeffery 1871-1876
  George Mathews Whipple (1842-1893) 1876-1893

Of these, S. C. T. Demainbray, S. G. F. T. Demainbray, and Balfour Stewart carried out significant astronomical work (rather than physical, magnetic, meteorological or geophysical research).

The Demainbrays were assisted by their relatives Stephen Rigaud and Stephen Peter Rigaud (1774-1839) in their astronomical observations.

Regular solar observations were made at Kew between 1858 and 1872. Warren de la Rue (1815-1889), Balfour Stewart (Superintendent, see above) and Benjamin Loewy (observatory assistant) led the observations.


Reference sources:
R. H. Scott, The History of the Kew Observatory, Proceedings of the Royal Society, vol. 39, pp. 37-86, 1885.
G. Rigaud, The Observatory magazine, vol. 5, no. 66, pp. 279-285, 1882 (about the Demainbrays)   (ADS scan).
Obituary of S. G. F. T. Demainbray, Gentleman's Magazine, August 1854, pp. 193-194   (with a scan available at Google Books).
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography articles about: S. C. T. Demainbray; S. P. Rigaud; F. Ronalds; J. Welsh; B. Stewart; G. M. Whipple. Plus article about W. de la Rue.
Annual reports of the Kew Observatory in M.N.R.A.S., 1870s-1880s.
E. A. Beet, J.B.A.A., vol. 98, no. 1, p. 40, 1987   (about the closure of the observatory)   (ADS scan).
J. Weale, The Pictorial Handbook of London, publ. by Henry G. Bohn, London, 1854, pp. 667-670 (with an Internet Archive scan).
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
M. E. W. Williams, Astronomy in London, 1860-1900, Q.J.R.A.S., vol. 28, pp. 10-26, 1987   (ADS scan).
Obituary of F. J. W. Whipple, by David Brunt, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 104, no. 2, p. 93, 1944 [F. J. W. Whipple was the son of G. M. Whipple, and himself Superintendent of the Kew Observatory, 1925-1939].




Liverpool Observatory / Bidston Observatory

The Liverpool Observatory was opened on Waterloo Dock, Liverpool, in 1845 by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board; it was relocated to Bidston Hill, Wirral, in 1863. The emphasis switched from astronomy to tidal and oceanographic research in the early 20th century, and astronomical activities were discontinued.

Director

The directors of the Liverpool / Bidston Observatory who specialised in astronomy (rather than meteorology or oceanography) were the following.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
John Chapman Hartnup (1806-1885) 1843-1885
John Hartnup (1841-1892) 1885-1892
William Edward Plummer (1849-1928) 1892-1928

Plummer held the position of Reader in Astronomy at the University of Liverpool simultaneously with his directorship of the observatory.

Reference sources:
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
Entry for Hartnup senior in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, with a note about Hartnup junior, his son.
Obituary of W. E. Plummer, M.N.R.A.S., 89, 320, 1929.




University of Durham

Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy

A chair of Mathematics and Astronomy existed at the University of Durham between 1841-1871 and again between 1908-1912. At other times the chair took the title of Mathematics alone. The professor took overall responsibility for the university observatory, with daily work being carried out by an Observer.

The three holders of the chair of Mathematics and Astronomy were:

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Rev. Temple Chevallier (1794-1873) 1841-1871
Ralph Allen Sampson, F.R.S., F.R.S.E. (1866-1939) 1908-1910
Percy John Heawood (1861-1955) 1911-1912

The Chair of Mathematics and Astronomy effectively existed through a temporary renaming of the Chair of Mathematics. R. J. Pearce, Professor of Mathematics, held overall responsibility for the observatory from 1871 to 1895. R. A. Sampson was appointed Professor of Mathematics in 1896, taking the restored title Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy in 1908. The Chair reverted to Mathematics in 1912 when Heawood was the incumbent.



Observer

The University of Durham Observatory was built in 1840. An Observer was responsible for the everyday operation.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Rev. Temple Chevallier (1794-1873) 1840-1841
J. S. Brown 1841-1843
Arthur Beanlands 1843-1847
Rev. Robert Anchor Thompson 1847-1849
Richard Christopher Carrington (1826-1875) 1849-1851
William Ellis (1828-1916) 1852-1853
George Friedrich Wilhelm Rümker (1832-1900) 1853-1855
Albert Marth (1828-1897) 1855-1863
E. Gleadowe Marshall 1863-1866
M. R. Dolman 1866-1868
John J. Plummer 1868-1875
Gabriel A. Goldney (c.1849-1905) 1875-1886
Henry James Carpenter (1850-1899) 1886-1899
Frederick Charles H. Carpenter 1899-1919
Frank Sargent 1919-1939



Honorary Director of the Observatory

An Honorary Director of the Observatory existed in the early twentieth century to carry out the management of the institution.

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Edmond Herbert Grove-Hills, F.R.S. (1864-1922) 1913-1923
Harold Thomson (1874-1962) 1923-1930



Reference sources:
G. D. Rochester, The History of Astronomy in the University of Durham from 1835 to 1939, Q.J.R.A.S., 21, 369, 1990.
R. A. Sampson, Proceedings of the University of Durham Philosophical Society, vol. 2, pp. 1-7, 1907 (with a scan at the Internet Archive).
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Chevallier, Ellis, Marth, Sampson and Grove-Hills).
Obituary of Chevallier, M.N.R.A.S., 34, 137, 1874.
J. L. E. Dreyer & H. H. Turner, eds., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1820-1920, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1923 (with an Internet Archive scan).
I. Elliott, Sampson, Ralph Allen, in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Vol. 2, eds. T. Hockey, V. Trimble, T. R. Williams, K. Bracher, R. A. Jarrell, J. D. Marché, F. J. Ragep, J. Palmeri, M. Bolt, publ. Springer, 2007, pp. 1009-1011.
W. Sheehan, Carrington, Richard Christopher, in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Vol. 1, eds. T. Hockey, V. Trimble, T. R. Williams, K. Bracher, R. A. Jarrell, J. D. Marché, F. J. Ragep, J. Palmeri, M. Bolt, publ. Springer, 2007, pp. 202-203.
Obituary of Carrington, M.N.R.A.S., 36, 137, 1876.
Obituary of Rümker, The Observatory, 23, 183, 1900.
Obituary note for Carpenter, The Observatory, 23, 68, 1900.
Obituaries of Ellis: The Observatory, vol. 40, pp. 90-93, 1917; M.N.R.A.S., vol. 77, no. 4, pp. 295-299, 1917, by H. P. Hollis.
Information about Goldney from A. Chapman, Airy's Greenwich Staff, The Antiquarian Astronomer, issue 6, pp. 4-18, January 2012; see pp. 11-12 for Goldney.
Obituary of H. Thomson, Q.J.R.A.S., 4, 255, 1963.
R. J. Tayler, ed., History of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 2, 1920-1980, publ. Royal Astronomical Society, London, 1987.
MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive, School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, University of St. Andrews (about Heawood).




Stonyhurst College Observatory

Stonyhurst College, located in the Ribble Valley between Clitheroe and Blackburn in Lancashire, was (and remains) an important Catholic educational establishment. It served as a boarding school providing a general education to boys, and also as a college training men for the priesthood.

The college included an Observatory, founded in 1838 for meteorological, seismological and astronomical work. Significant astronomical research was carried out there in the second half of the nineteenth century, particularly under the direction of Father Stephen Perry. Its specialisms included monitoring the Sun. The Observatory closed as a research institution in December 1947.

The Directors of Stonyhurst Observatory included:

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Alfred Weld, Father, S.J. (1823-1890) 1848-1851;1857-1860
Stephen Joseph Perry, Father, S.J. (1833-1889) 1860-1863;1868-1889
Walter Sidgreaves, Father, S.J. (1837-1919) 1863-1868;1889-1919
Aloysius Laurence Cortie, Father, S.J. (1859-1925) 1919-1925
Edward D. O'Connor (1874-1954) 1925-1932
James Peter Rowland, Father, S.J. (1875-1948) 1932-1947



Reference sources:
A. Udías, Serving God and Science, Astronomy and Geophysics, 42, 2.23, 2001 [concerning Jesuit members of the Royal Astronomical Society].
Observatory annual reports in M.N.R.A.S., 1919-1947.
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Perry and Sidgreaves).
J. P. Rowland, M.N.R.A.S., 108, 69, 1948 (about the closure of the Observatory as a research institution).
Obituary of Weld, M.N.R.A.S., 51, 198, 1891.
H. H. Turner, obituary of Cortie, M.N.R.A.S., 86, 175, 1926.
P. J. Treanor, obituary of O'Connor, M.N.R.A.S., 115, 129, 1955.
P. J. Treanor, obituary of Rowland, M.N.R.A.S., 109, 149, 1949.
Obituary of Rowland, Obs., 69, 61, 1949.




Professor of Astronomy, Gresham College, City of London

Sir Thomas Gresham (c.1518-1579) endowed funds to establish Gresham College in the City of London, including chairs in Astronomy, Divinity, Geometry, Law, Music, Physic (medicine) and Rhetoric. The College and chairs came into being on the death of Gresham's wife in 1596. The professors had the responsibility to give public lectures, but the College did not have students and therefore there were not normal teaching duties.

Some Gresham professors were leading figures in astronomy such as W. H. Steavenson, Sir Martin Ryle and Roger Tayler. Some others have been less notable. A few, such as William Romaine and William Cockayne, made no contribution to astronomy or science of any note whatsoever: the reason for their appointment to the post is obscure.

The Gresham professor has been strongly associated with a public education role. In recent decades people have been appointed to the title in recognition of their abilities in lecturing to a broad audience as well as their eminent standing in their field. The post today involves giving a series of six public lectures a year in London, and participating in other popular educational activities. The chair today covers "astronomy (and other physical sciences)". Position holders are now appointed for four-year terms.

The holders of the Gresham Chair of Astronomy have been:

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Edward Brerewood (c.1565-1613) 1596-1613
Thomas Williams 1613-1620
Edmund Gunter (1581-1626) 1620-1626
Henry Gellibrand (1597-1637) 1627-1636
Samuel Foster (c.1600-1652) 1636-1636
Mungo Murray (1599-1670) 1637-1641
Samuel Foster (c.1600-1652) 1641-1652
Laurence Rooke (c.1619-1662) 1652-1657
Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) 1657-1660
Walter Pope (c.1627-1714) 1660-1687
Daniel Man 1687-1691
Alexander Torriano (1667-1717) 1691-1713
John Machin (c.1686-1751) 1713-1751
William Romaine (1714-1795) 1751-1752
William Cockayne (1717-1798) 1752-1795
Peter Sandiford 1795-1833
Joseph Pullen 1833-1875
Edmund Ledger (1841-1913) 1875-1908
Samuel Arthur Saunder (1852-1912) 1908-1912
Arthur Robert Hinks (1873-1945) 1913-1941
William Herbert Steavenson (1894-1975) 1946-1964
Sir John Carroll (1899-1974) 1964-1968
Sir Martin Ryle (1918-1984) 1968-1969
Roger John Tayler (1929-1997) 1969-1975
Martin Rees (Lord Rees of Ludlow) 1975-1976
David W. Dewhirst 1976-1980
Michael Rowan-Robinson 1981-1982
Andrew C. Fabian 1982-1984
Raymond Hide 1984-1990
George Porter, Lord Porter of Luddenham (1920-2002) 1990-1993
Heather Couper 1993-1996
Colin Pillinger 1996-2000
Frank Close 2000-2003
John D. Barrow 2003-2007
Ian Morison 2007-2011
Carolin Crawford 2011-



Reference sources:
The old website of Gresham College (no longer available at that site, but a copy is available on the Internet Archive), where a full list of past professors was given.
David Hughson, London; Being an Accurate History and Description of the British Metropolis and its Neighbourhood, to Thirty Miles Extent, from an Actual Perambulation, Vol. 2, publ. J. Stratford, London, 1805: see pages 437 to 445   (with a scan at Google Books).
A Brief Memoir of Sir Thomas Gresham; with an Abstract of his Will, and of the Act of Parliament, for the Foundation and Government of Gresham College, published by J. F. and G. Rivington, London, 1833 (no author given). (A scanned copy is available at the Google Books resource.)
Individual entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (for Brerewood, Gunter, Gellibrand, Foster, Rooke, Wren, Pope, Machin, Romaine, Cockayne, Hinks, Ryle and Tayler). (There is also information on Williams in the ODNB article on Edmund Gunter; on Murray in the article on Samuel Foster; on Pullen in the article about E. S. Shuckburgh).
Information on Mungo Murray at the University of St. Andrews Library web page about the Murray Collection.
Information on the Royal Society membership of Torriano and Lord Porter at the Royal Society Library and Archives.
Obituaries of Ledger (M.N.R.A.S., 74, 276, 1914), Saunder (M.N.R.A.S., 73, 214, 1913), Steavenson (Q.J.R.A.S., 18, 147, 1977) and Carroll (Q.J.R.A.S., 16, 100, 1975).


Acknowledgements:
Prof. Barrow is thanked for clarifying the current responsibilities of the Gresham professor.



Corporation of Manchester

The Corporation of Manchester engaged an astronomer in the second half of the nineteenth century to provide a time service to the city.

Astronomer to the Manchester Corporation:

     Holder of office    Dates in office
 
Rev. Henry Halford Jones (1787-1858) c.1854-1858
Joseph Baxendell, F.R.S. (1815-1887) 1859-1887



Reference sources:
Obituary of Jones, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 199-120, 1859.
Obituary of Jones, Proceedings of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 124-127, 1859.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article about Baxendell.
Obituary of Baxendell, M.N.R.A.S., vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 157-160, 1888.
Obituary of Baxendell, Obs., vol. 10, no. 129, pp. 399-400, 1887.
J. Bottomley, obituary of Baxendell, Memoirs and Proceedings of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, 4th series, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 28-58, 1888.
Balfour Stewart, obituary of Baxendell, Nature, vol. 36, p. 385, 20 Oct. 1887.
Balfour Stewart, obituary notice of Baxendell, Proceedings of the Royal Society, vol. 43, pp. iv-vi, 1887.







Abbreviations

The following abbreviations have been used:

     M.N.R.A.S.     Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Q.J.R.A.S. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
Obs. The Observatory magazine
F.R.S. Fellow of the Royal Society [with possible biographical and obituary information]
F.R.S.E. Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh [with possible biographical and obituary information in the Society's publications]
P.A.S.P. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
J.B.A.A. Journal of the British Astronomical Association








 
   
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