Who left these traces?

While collecting the instruments for the exhibit, a question often crossed our minds: “Who are the people who left traces on these objects?”  For some of the objects, it is unknown who left the traces while others are associated with specific individuals. In our search to find out more about the people who may have left these traces, we were able to locate information on one person in particular, Mr. Frank Arthur Bellamy (initials F.A.B. on the instruments).

F.A. Bellamy  was born in Oxford in 1863 to a family that later became very involved with the Radcliffe Observatory. Two of his brothers worked as assistants at the Observatory as did Mr. Bellamy. While working at the Observatory under E.J. Stone, Mr. Bellamy focused on meridian work as well as meteorology. The initials F.A.B appear on two of our exhibit items. The first is the Euclidian geometric model that was most likely part of a group of instruments used by the Savilian Professor of Astronomy. Mr. Bellamy, after his time at the Radcliffe observatory, worked with H.H. Turner who was a Savilian professor of Astronomy at Oxford. Perhaps it was during his time working with Professor Turner that Bellamy became acquainted with this instrument and allowed him to identify it and have it restored (interestingly, it was restrung by his niece, Ethel F. Bellamy who also worked in the Radcliffe Observatory). The other trace left by Mr. Bellamy was on the unidentified piece of wood that only reads “Keep/of historical interest/F.A.B.”  In addition to working with Professors at Oxford, Bellamy was, himself, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and published his own articles in scholarly journals.

These traces help us understand the history of some of the objects (such as the Geometric model) while also allowing us to learn about the man, F.A. Bellamy, who wrote them. In this way, traces can ensure not only that instruments will be remembered and kept but that people who create the traces can be remembered as well.


Sources for this post can be found in obituaries for F.A. Bellamy here and here. He was also in a list of recently deceased fellow in the monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, which can be found here.  An Obituary for Ethel F Bellamy, F.A. Bellamy’s niece, can be found here.

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