Updated 25 Mar 2008

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 574


Sir Frank Watson Dyson FRS 1868-1939.

Astronomer Royal.

Frank Watson DYSON 1868-1939.

    Frank Dyson lived in St Johns Street, Wirksworth from the age of 1 to 3 years. He was born in Measham to Watson and Frances Dyson, and moved out of Wirksworth in 1871.

    He went on to become Astronomer Royal and the man who proved Einstein was right by looking at the stars during an Eclipse in 1919. Today he is best known as the man who introduced the six pips on the radio, the Greenwhich Time Signal.

    His father Watson was a Nonconformist minister who preached for a time at the Baptist chapel in Wirksworth. Later the family moved to Halifax, where Frank won a scholarship to Bradford Grammar school and studied mathematics at Cambridge University. In 1924, as Astronomer Royal at Greenwhich and with the help of the BBC he introduced the Greenwich Time Signal. He died in 1939, 4 years after retiring from Greenwich, on a sea trip to Australia and was buried at sea.

    He has a crater on the moon named after him, and an asteroid too. Einstein's General Theory of Relativity predicted that the mass of the sun would warp space-time sufficiently to bend light from distant stars. This effect, though very small, was first seen and measured at the 1919 eclipse in Brazil. Sir Frank declared: "After a careful study of the plates, I am prepared to say that there can be no doubt that they confirm Einstein's prediction."

    Honours and memorials
    Fellow of the Royal Society - 1901
    President, Royal Astronomical Society - 1911 - 1913
    Knighted - 1915
    President, British Astronomical Association, 1916 - 1918
    Royal Medal of the Royal Society - 1921
    Bruce Medal - 1922
    Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society - 1925
    KBE - 1926

    Entry in 1871 Census for Wirksworth

    #25---St John Street---[Wirksworth]---
    Watson       DYSON   Head M 33  M  Baptist minister Stalybridge LAN
    Frances      DYSON   Wife M 31  F                   Long Breadon BKM
    Frank Watson DYSON   Son     3  M                   Measham
    Ethel Mary   DYSON   Dau     2  F                   Measham
    Edgar Hamew  DYSON   Son     9m M                   Wirksworth
    Harriett     GORDIONI     U 13  F  General servant  Wirksworth

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