BRIEF LIVES AND TIMES: 1 28 020 0 Y – E 20 A20 RS O BR F T IEH F L E R IVA ES S Founders of the RAS: Charles Stokes harles Stokes Captain John Franklin This well-connected (1784–1853) was a named Stokes Point in businessman, Csuccessful stock- the Yukon after him – it Turner’s stockbroker, broker. There is evidence is near Herschel Island. that he travelled to Paris Of Stokes’s origins we was a diligent in 1815 with fellow RAS seem to know nothing collector of art, founder, also a stock- until he appears as a fossils, minerals broker, Francis Baily member of the Geologi- and curios, writes (Edmunds 2017). His cal Society in 1811. For clients included Charles at least the last 30 years Mike Edmunds, Darwin – who regarded of his life he resided and possibly served him as a businessman in Gray’s Inn, London. as Treasurer of of repute and a friend Verulam Buildings, a – and the artist J W M mixture of residential the Astronomical Turner. Stokes was an art dwellings and profes- Society. collector and acquired a sional chambers, had considerable number of been erected in 1803–11. Turner’s works; he was It still exists, and Stokes probably the last person lived at number four. Turner wrote to (on his Charles Dickens wrote financial matters, which in 1860 of “the scowling Stokes seems to have iron-barred prison-like overseen) just before the passage into Verulam artist’s death in 1851. Buildings”, but it was Turner may also have probably a prestigious benet fi ed from Stokes’s address in Stokes’s time. scientic fi interests, Of his family life, which were mainly in 1 Charles Stokes, 1821 etching by Mary Dawson Turner, after again nothing much is geology, mineralogy Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey. (National Portrait Gallery, London) known. The following and fossils. Stokes was description by a visitor AUTHOR an early member of the Geological Society (founded in 1845 hints at a bachelor existence: “His rooms Michael Edmunds, School of Physics and Astronomy, Cardi U ff niversity, UK. 1809) and saw service on its council, including as exhibit a most picturesque confusion of learned secretary and vice-president. Although he obvi- wealth, literary, scientic fi and artistical – books, port - THE RAS BICENTENARY ously must have had an interest in astronomy, there folios, fossils, dried plants, stuffed birds, animals In 2020, the RAS celebrates 200 years is little indication of active involve- preserved in spirits, pictures, busts, since its founding as “the Astronomical Society of London”. It began at a meet- ment. Petrie fi d wood was a speciality, ‘‘He bet bottles of casts, coins, grotesque g fi ures from ing on 20 January 1820, with 14 men as were trilobites and zoophytes. He champagne on how India or Japan, snuff-boxes, and nearly aged 24 to 65. Who were they? What was involved in publications on such long toads would everything that can be conceived.” was their astronomical world like? Why subjects as lead ores in Derbyshire, survive in rock cavities’’ Music and antiquarian studies were start a society then? This series of short articles running up to 2020 aims to Mediterranean limestones with cor- also interests, and he was a member of sketch both the men and their times. als, and the delightfully entitled “Some fossilised the Royal Asiatic Society. He was not above enjoying vegetables of the Tilgate forest in Sussex”. He was “high jinx” at dining clubs, or of betting bottles of FURTHER READING elected to the Royal Society in 1821. An echinoderm champagne with his Geological Society colleague Burn C R 2013 Arctic 66 4:459. A brief account of John Franklin’s naming of (a marine animal related to sea urchins) was named Mr Taylor on how many years toads would survive topographical features after worthies after him: Hemicidaris stokesii. when isolated in rock cavities. including Stokes, Charles Babbage and He was an initial trustee of the Astronomical Soci- the three Herschels – William, John and Caroline Correspondents ety, and RAS ofc fi ers’ lists for the decade after 1820 Edmunds M 2017 Astron. & Geophys. He had a wide range of correspondents, including suggest that he may have acted as a temporary Treas- 58 1.11 the great and the good of the geological world, often urer. He remained a Fellow until his death at the end Obituary 1854 Quarterly Journal of the buying specimens himself and then making them of December 1853, having reached his 70th year. It Geological Society of London 10 xxvi Woodward H B 1908 The History available for study. His obituary records that no was not a happy end. In a letter, Darwin records that of the Geological Society of London expedition started for foreign parts but that “he was “poor old Mr Stokes has lately had a very suffering (Longmans, London). A useful volume in at the commencement to advise and direct the ending to his life”. His friends missed his “pleasant which contains much of the sparse information on Stokes natural history arrangements”. In 1826, the explorer and wise presence”. ● A&G • June 2018 • Vol. 59 • aandg.org 3.13 Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/astrogeo/article-abstract/59/3/3.13/4995432 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 20 June 2018
Astronomy & Geophysics – Oxford University Press
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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