Forums History Goodacres

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    I am looking at adding more information to the Nottinghamshire pages of the Survey of Astronomical History:

    There is very little on the page about a Robert Goodacre (1777-1835), and so I thought I’d have a dig and try to learn more about him. I then remembered the Goodacre Award and wondered if there was any connection between Robert Goodacre and Walter Goodacre who the award is named after.

    As usual, the internet is an amazing source of information, and I have found a fascinating article about Robert written by Ian Inkster:…90..245I

    Also found a picture of Robert’s grave, which I’m planning to visit tomorrow (if the weather olds out) to get a crayon rubbing of the bottom bit to read what it says:

    There are also electronic copies of his works online, inclduing a fascinating book of technical words in astronomy which presumabely he would sell to accompany the lectures he delivered as he travelled around the country and North America.

    I’ve found a short bit of information about Walter, and identified his grandfather was a Jogn Goodacre, probably born circa 1801.

    So what I am interested in ascertaining is what relation Robert was to Walter; they were both born in the East Midlands and both had the surname Goodacre, and both had very influential roles in promoting and advancing astronomy. Was John Goodacre a cousin of Robert, or a more distant relative?

    Does anyone have any further information to help link Robert and Walter?


    James Dawson


    Bill Leatherbarrow

    Hi James,

    As you know, I have  tried to reply to your query via the BAA Forum, but every time I reached this post, the website logged me out! Don’t know what the problem was, but it only affected your post, so I replied via e-mail. However, things seem to be working today, so in case others are interested, here is my response:

    As far as I am aware there is no link between Robert and Walter, but it certainly merits further investigation and I shall be very interested in what you discover. There is an entry on Walter G. in the Biographical Dictionary of Astronomers, but personal information is sparse (see below). There is also an obituary by W.H. Steavenson in the MNRAS, 99(4), 1939. pp. 310-11, but again it gives little away about Walter’s personal life: born in Loughborough in 1856, moved to Finsbury Park when he was seven, joined his father’s business (William Goodacre & Sons) on leaving school, married Frances Elizabeth Evison in 1883.
    I think you will have to go to to investigate further, if you have not done so already.
    Sorry not to have more concrete leads.
    Very best,
    PS: here is the  relevant passage from the Biographical Dictionary:

    “Goodacre was born at Loughborough, but in 1863 the family moved to London, where his father founded a carpet manufacturing business.Walter Goodacre established a branch of the family business in India and visited there frequently for 15 years. He succeeded his father as head of the firm in London, remaining in that position until his retirement in 1929.”



    Thanks for this. I’m already making contacts on the family history websites and doing some digging.

    I went to look at Robert’s grave on Tuesday, but the writing at the bottom remains elusive to me, even after trying a wax crayon rubbing. I’m waiting on the cemetery people to get back to me to say if they have a written archive of what was originally engraved on the head stone.

    I think I have found Walter and his father on the mid 1800s censuses, and it looks like I’ve also found Walter’s paternal grandfather, John, on the 1841 census. I am still trying to work out what link, if any, exists between Walter and Robert.

    Professor Ian Inkster who wrote this article about Robert in 1980 (…90..245I) is coming to Nottingham in October, so I am hoping to catch up with him then for a coffee and a chat – even if I don’t learn any more about either Goodacre, it will be a great opportunity to just chat with a fascinating academic.


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