Sir Robert Stawell Ball

Sir Robert Stawell Ball

Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland
Death 25 Nov 1913 (aged 73)
Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Burial Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Plot 4I36
Memorial ID 96738641 · View Source
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He was number 4# in "A Cambridge Necropolis" by Dr. Mark Goldie from March 2000 for Friends of The Parish of The Ascension Burial Ground, total of 49.

Sir Robert Stawell Ball was an astronomer and mathematician. His background was Irish Protestant, his father a civil servant at Dublin Castle. He acquired his interest in astronomy when tutor to the sons of the Earl of Rosse whose six-foot reflecting telescope was the largest in the world. He became Professor of Mathematics at the newly founded Royal College of Science in Dublin, and was elected FRS in 1873. Though in fact undistinguished as an astronomer, he became Professor of Astronomy first at Dublin (and Royal Astronomer of Ireland, and then (from 1892 intil his death) at Cambridge, where he succeeded John Couch Adams at the University Laboratory. His forte was popularising astronomy for he published a string of books. He lectured widely, including tours of America, and Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution. His other pursuit was geometry.

He was knighted in 1886. He and his wife Francis (nee Steele) had six children: Frances Amelia, Robert Steele [after his mother's maiden name], William Valentine (later Sir), Mary Agnetta, Charles Rowan Hamilton, and Randall Gresley (later Colonel).

Fellow of King's College, Cambridge.
Buried 29th November 1913.

Ball, Sir Robert Stawell, Knt.
Adm. at KING'S, July 15, 1892, as a professorial fellow.
S. of Robert, LL.D., of Dublin (for whom see D.N.B.). B. there July 1, 1840.
(honoris causa) 1892.
Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry, and Director of the Observatory, 1892-1913.
F.R.S., 1873.
F.R.A.S. Formerly Professor of Astronomy at Dublin University, and Astronomer Royal of Ireland, 1874-92.
LL.D. (Dublin). Knighted, 1886.
Author, astronomical and mathematical.
Died Nov. 25, 1913, at Cambridge.
Father of William V. (1892), Randal G. (1900) and Charles R. H. (1894).
(King's Coll.
Adm. Reg.; D.N.B.)


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  • Created by: Martin Douglas Packer
  • Added: 8 Sep 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 96738641
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Robert Stawell Ball (1 Jul 1840–25 Nov 1913), Find A Grave Memorial no. 96738641, citing Ascension Parish Burial Ground, Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England ; Maintained by Martin Douglas Packer (contributor 47912178) .