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Astronomical and Meteorological Workers in New South Wales


Lieutenant Dawes

Captain Flinders

Admiral Phillip Parker King

Sir Thomas MacDougall Brisbane

Dr. Charles Stargard Rumker

James Dunlop

P. E. De Strzelecki

Captain J. C. Wickham

Rev. W. B. Clarke, M.A.

Rev. A. Glennie

E. C. Close

Sir William Macarthur

J. Boucher

S. H. Officer

John Wyndham

William Stanley Jevons

Establishment of Meteorological Observatories

Votes and Proceedings, N.S.W., 1848.

Appendix A.

Appendix B.

Appendix C.

Appendix D.

Appendix E.

Appendix F.

Appendix G.

Appendix H.

Appendix I.

Appendix J.

Appendix K.

Appendix L.

Appendix M.

Appendix N.

Appendix O.

Appendix P.

Appendix Q.

Appendix R.

Appendix S.

Appendix T.

Appendix U.



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Rev. W. B. Clarke, M.A.

It is not my intention to say anything of the life work of the late Rev. W. B. Clarke, of that I am not in a position to speak, and it is moreover in abler hands; but I cannot pass over the very important contributions which came from his busy brain and pen. Meteorology with him was but the amusement for the leisure moments snatched from his favourite study, and from the time he landed in the colony in 1839 until 1847 he kept a careful diary, and very frequently recorded his results in the public press, and it is quite true to say that the number of these contributions on this subject no man knows. Even his own record in the sketch of his life published in the Sydney Mail, July 13, 1872, he said was very incomplete, and I know that several important papers are not mentioned. In 1842 upwards of twenty-one papers on Meteorology were published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
1844.—On Paragreles or Hail Guards.
1848.—On the Conditions of June and July, 1846.
1850.—Investigations of Hurricanes.
1857.—Influence of Monsoons and the Climate of Sydney,
1857.—Meteorological Observation during and Eclipse.
1864.—On Australian Storms.
1877.—Effects of Forests on Climate

To our own Royal Society he read eighteen papers.

In all there are twenty-nine papers on Meteorology, and I feel sure there were many more, from what I have heard Mr. Clarke say, and from references to them, but I have no idea at what time they were written; they would however probably be found in the Sydney Morning Herald.

In the Royal Astronomical Society's Notices I find three contributions—

  1. Remarks on the Great Comet of 1843.

  2. Observations made at Parramatta during the Solar Eclipse, February 1, 1851.

  3. Observations made at Sydney during the Solar Eclipse, March 26, 1857.

But Mr. Clarke was not content to work single-handed, he felt that a storm must be viewed from more than one point if he wanted to see it properly, and therefore meteorological observatories were established at his own expense at Castle Hill near Parramatta, in February, 1842, and kept up to September, 1844; at Dooral, near Parramatta, in November, 1841, and kept up April, 1846; at Campbelltown, in November, 1845, and kept up to November, 1947: also, at Naas Valley, near Queanbeyan, in November, 1843, and kept up to June, 1847. Returns were regularly forwarded to Mr. Clarke and are now in the Sydney Observatory in manuscript, only the rainfalls have been published. In 1852 also, Mr. Clarke induced the late Mr. Boucher, B.A., of Bukelong, Bombala to keep a meteorological record, and that record was kept continuously until the time of Mr. Boacher's death in 1885. The record of rain prior to 1858 was made with a rain gauge which Mr. Boucher thought not satisfactory and he would not give a copy of them. The record in the Observatory given at my request begins in 1858. Mr. Clarke kept his own record most carefully from the time of his arrival in the colony in 1839 until 1857; at first, at Parramatta, from 1839 to 1847; and subsequently at St. Leonards, North Shore, Sydney. He took particular interest in the thunderstorms at Parramatta, and worked out their life history if I may so speak, which he detailed in a series of valuable letters to the Sydney Morning Herald; later he turned his attention to the storms on the coast and studied them most carefully, recognising their cyclonic character as far back as 1848. In Meteorology as in all that he did, Mr. Clarke was a most indefatigable worker and painstaking investigator, and it is very much to be regretted that in those days there was no Scientific Society to receive and publish such work, and hence it was given to the daily paper, and is therefore not so accessible as we could wish.

Mr. Clarke was called away from his labours before he had time to carry out his intention of putting all this work into a book and making it generally available. All through there is evidence that every opportunity was seized to compare his instruments with standards in ships of the Navy commissioned for surveys and others, and an amount of labour was given to investigations in reference to the temperature and pressure of the atmosphere that seems almost incredible to me when I know that his life's work was in Geology and Mineralogy, and that Meteorology was only an amusement in his leisure moments.

Yet every page of it bears evidence of careful study and a wide acquaintance with the writings of others on the same subject. Each subject of enquiry presented to his mind was worked out until he felt he had clearly mastered it. On one occasion, speaking to me of thunderstorms, he said, "I have followed them through every stage of their existence, and now I could make them."

People in Bright Sparcs - Russell, Henry Chamberlain

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Russell, H. C. 1888 'Astronomical and Meteorological Workers in New South Wales, 1778-1860,' Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science vol. 1, 1888, pp. 45-94.

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