Vote, vote, vote for William Pearson

Forums History Vote, vote, vote for William Pearson

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    Can I ask for your support, please?

    One of my “dead astronomers” is the Revd Doctor William Pearson, co-founder of the Royal Astronomical Society. His portrait hangs in the Fellows Room at Burlington House, where he can be seen demonstrating one of his inventions, an orrery or clockwork model of the solar system, to his wife and daughter. Pearson was originally a school teacher, who owned a preparatory school attended by the children of the rich and famous. But, having made his fortune, and founded the Astronomical Society of London, which became the RAS, he retired from London life to become the rector of South Kilworth, a small village in South Leicestershire. From this quiet rural location he carried out decades of observations, specialising in meridian timings and observations of Sun and Moon. His first observatory was in the Rectory; but, troubled by smoke rising from the houses in the village, he built a second observatory on the south side of the village. Both houses are now private dwellings – the Observatory had fallen into disrepair, but has been renovated in recent years; the Rectory is a central building in the village.

    Leicestershire Country Council operates a green plaque scheme, inviting nominations for significant figures from the history of the county. As the 200th anniversary of the RAS is coming up, I felt it was about time to nominate Revd Dr Pearson. I wasn’t the only one! Pearson received three independent nominations – from myself, from Carolyn Bedwell, a member of the Society for the History of Astronomy, and from Teresa Hawtin, the senior planning archaeologist for Leicestershire County Council. The owner of the Rectory would be very happy to have a green plaque on the gates of the house.

    We are delighted to report that Pearson has made a shortlist of twelve, from which six will be honoured with plaques.

    I know we have had far too many elections recently!

    But I’d invite you to go and make your selection at:

    You don’t have to live in Leicestershire to vote – I live across the border in Warwickshire.

    It’s a rare opportunity to get recognition for a significant figure in British astronomy.

    Vote, vote, vote for William Pearson! 

    Mike Frost, Historical Section Director

    Jeremy Shears

    That’s a great initiative by Leicestershire Council, Mike.

    I’ve submitted my vote!

    I see last year the site of the Barwell Meteorite fall was marked with a green plaque.

    All the best,



    Yes, I’ve cast my vote. Good luck Revd Pearson!


    Listen to Mike talking about the Reverend, 2 hours 42 minutes in:


    Jeremy Shears

    That’s a great interview, Mike. You made a very good case for William Pearson and covered some fascinating anecdotes about him.

    Well done!



    Results are in for the Leicestershire County Council vote for Green Plaques – and my candidate, Revd Dr William Pearson, co-founder of the Royal Astronomical Society, was successful. Yeahhhh!!!!!

    Thanks to everyone who voted for Revd Dr Pearson – Team Pearson (BAA/RAS/SHA/South Kilworth Village/Market Harborough Historical Society/Leicester AS) got him over the line.

    I will keep you posted on when the unveiling of the plaque will happen – it won’t be for a while yet.

    Jeremy Shears

    Great news Mike – glad he was successful.


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