William Rutter Dawes (1799-1868)

posted Mar 27, 2017, 5:09 AM by Terry Bird   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 7:31 AM ]

William Rutter Dawes


William lived in a house on this site before Brooms Down, from 1850 to 1856, bringing with him to Wateringbury his private observatory from which he made his major astronomical discovery.  


Born in London, William qualified as a medical doctor, later a clergyman and then developed an interest in astronomy. He worked with two other astronomers, William Lassell and Sir John Herschel, observing double stars (two stars that appear close to each other in the sky). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1830. In 1842 he married into money and was able to pursue his passion of astronomy with a private observatory.

In 1850 he independently discovered the interior dark ring, of Saturn; the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) had a wood-cut of Saturn presented to him showing the ring, inscribed

 as discovered by the Rev W.R. Dawes at Wateringbury.

In 1855 the RAS presented him with their gold medal for “his long-continued devotion to astronomy, his numerous contributions to the science and the excellence of his observations”.

After leaving Wateringbury for Buckinghamshire, he was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society in 1865, three years before he died.