The astronomer John Drew (c.1809-1857) was baptized in Bower Chalk, Wiltshire in 1809, and was the step-brother of Richard Laishley.

He taught in Melksham originally but came back to Southampton in c.1830 and set up his own school, initially in New Road and later in Windsor House at the west end of Cumberland Terrace (not to be confused with the Windsor House in Windsor Terrace). Besides being a dedicated schoolmaster and member of Above Bar Congregational Chapel, he earned increasing recognition as an author and astronomer, setting up an astronomical observatory in his garden. His first papers on astronomy were published in 1835, followed ten years later by his major work Manual of Astronomy. When the British Association met in Southampton in 1846 Drew was secretary of its mathematical section. He was elected to the Royal Astronomical Society in 1846.

Drew began to research meteorology in an attempt to find a correlation between the weather and cholera outbreaks in Southampton. He was a founder member of the Meteorological Society in 1850 and wrote several papers on instruments and observations. He published his book Practical Meteorology in 1855. Shortly before his death in December 1857 he moved to Surbiton in Surrey.

His son Frederick (see above) was a noted geologist.

Newspaper clippings (available online or accessible through the Local Studies Library):

"Schoolmaster Acclaimed as Astronomer" (Southern Daily Echo 14/03/1986). Article describes Drew's career.

see also

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, Volume 16


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