Philip Herbert Cowell

Philip Herbert Cowell

b: 1870
d: 1949
From autobiographical notes by Edward Holroyd Pearce (Lord Pearce) 1989:

"When I was nine my younger sister was born. Just before her birth my elder sister and I were sent off for a few weeks to stay with our mother's sister at Blackheath. She was a charming gay Aunt, far more sophisticated than my mother, and we felt that she was sometimes a little shocked by our lack of polish. She had no children, but she mothered her queer brilliant husband, who had been a senior wrangler. I was told by a contemporary fellow that he was the most brilliant of his kind. He was all intellect to the finger-tips and he would not pretend to the slightest interest in the many matters to which he did not apply his mind. We were kept out of his way, given a lot to eat and spoiled a good deal Our craze at that time was making model theatres with marionette figures taken from Fred Terry's 'Henry of Navarre' or Oscar Ashe's 'Count Hannibal' to which our aunt had taken us."

"My sweet but ineffective Aunt Mildred came with us [to France, in 1924] as a vine rather than a prop. Jack was then twelve, clever, bright eyed, and temporarily very naughty. He had reached the stage at which he felt it necessary to assert his manhood against petticoat government. It was arranged that I should go with them, see them safely installed on their holiday in the little Rouen boarding house and then return home after a few days, since I had to join Uncle Philip in the Lake District. His wife had just died and he was desperately unhappy, lonely and uncontrolled. So, emotionally daunting as the prospect was. I could not in decency refuse his plea for my company...... When I arrived at the hotel at Ullswater I thought I must have got pneumonia. I examined myself to see if there were any symptoms and found a large ring of pimples all round my middle. So my Uncle and I set off for the local doctor. He said that I had shingles and prescribed good food, rest, and not much exercise. Uncle Philip was not a man to be deflected by trifles. "I" he said to the doctor, fixing him with a glassy stare, "am a middle-aged man. My nephew is young and fit. I presume that any exercise I take would not be too much for him". "I suppose not", said the doctor uncertainly. "That's excellent", said Uncle Philip firmly as soon as we got outside the doctor's house "I thought we would just walk to the top of Helvellyn, taking it very quietly, and get back to the hotel for lunch. We must get back because I've arranged inclusive terms"
We got to the top of Helvellyn after losing our way once, and it came on to rain. We had to run part of the way down because we were almost late for the hotel lunch which ended at two. I spent the rest of the day lying down feeling bad. Next morning Uncle Philip with a glassy beaming smile suggested a climb somewhere. I said wearily that I did not feel up to a climb "No, I think you're right", he said brightly, "We'll just walk along Hawes Water and be back for lunch". We did.
Next day I felt that I could not go on and we both went south. "


Philip Ray-Jones says:

Uncle Philip turned down the opportunity to be Astronomer Royal because he preferred to be Director of the Nautical Tides Office (which produces the tide tables). He was Senior Wrangler (?) at Trinity College Cambridge and a Fellow at 21, and was a nephew of Elizabeth Garett Anderson. He is best known for working out the cycle of Haley's Comet.

From The Atheneum, 30 April 1910:

Mr P H Cowell, well known for his papers on the lunar acceleration and discussions of ancient eclipses as bearing upon the lunar theory, also for his recent work (in conjunction with Mr Crommelin) on Halley's Comet, has been appointed Superintendent of 'The Nautical Almanac.'

Extract from the Harold Jeffrey's Lecture 2002 'Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation', see www.ras.org.uk:

"No significant progress in the analysis of early eclipse observations was acheived until Philip H Cowell in 1905 announced his discovery of a solar acceleration in addition to a lunar acceleration. Although some of the observations on which Cowell's discovery were based were of dubious reliability, he had made a major breakthrough. Cowell suggested that the solar acceleration was purely apparent and arose from a gradual increase in the adopted unit of time: the mean solar day. He further noted that the observed ratio of the lunar and solar accelerations (2.7:1) was much less than the ratio of the mean motions (13.37:1). He correctly explained this discrepancy as due to the gradual retardation of the Moon's orbital motion arising from the reciprocal action of tides. However, the response to Cowell's work by Newcomb and others was far from encouraging".


From the BCHM Gazetteer (British Society for the History of Mathematics):

Philip Cowell (1870-1949) was a nephew of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Millicent Garrett Fawcett and cousin of Philippa Fawcett. Senior Wrangler in 1892. Chief Assistant at Royal Greenwich Observatory from 1896. Devised new techniques for computing orbits which significantly improved the results. In 1910, Cowell and Crommelin used new numerical quadratures to predict the perihelion of Halley's comet, getting an answer off by only three days. They were able to extrapolate backward and identify all its appearances back to -240. FRS, 1906. Gold Medal of RAS, 1911. Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac Office from about 1911 to 1930.
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was an aunt of Phyllis Chaplin’s husband Philip Cowell (see Family Tree Maker, Philip Cowell). She died in 1917 and a printed obituary is pasted in to Ann Mendell’s copy of the Chaplin and Skinner family book. An account of her work is in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Obituary published in 1917 (date not included), probably from The Times.:

“ELIZABETH GARRETT ANDERSON DEAD.
First Woman Doctor and First Woman Mayor.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the famous woman doctor and pioneer of women's rights, died yesterday at the age of 81. Elizabeth Garrett studied at Aldeburgh, Suffolk, where she was born, the town which, 72 years later, was to distinguish itself by electing her as Mayor, the first lady to receive that dignity in any English town.

When she was two-and-twenty and began to think of taking up medicine as a profession all doors were closed against her. The story of her struggles against male prejudice is too long to tell here, and need only be recorded. At last, however, the Society of Apothecaries consented to admit Miss Garrett if she were willing to meet the whole cost of the lectures (intended for 10 or 20 students) for herself alone. Happily Miss Garrett's parents were rich and generous enough to pay fees on this preposterous scale, but owing to the opposition of male students she could get no hospital practice in England and had to take her MD in Paris, which she did in 1870 with high honours. She was not only London's first woman doctor, but one of the most eminent in her profession. She retired in 1903.

The first petition for women's suffrage presented by John Stuart Mill in 1866 bore her signature with those of Miss Betham-Edwards, Miss Frances Power Cobbe, Mrs Josephine Butler, and Miss Frances Buss. The year after taking her degree she married Mr J. G. S. Anderson, a ship-owner and managing director of the Orient Line. They had one son, Sir Alan Garrett Anderson, who succeeded Sir Eric Geddes as Controller of the Navy in August last -- and one daughter, Major Louisa Garrett Anderson, who took the first women's hospital to the front.

Mrs Garrett Anderson's sister is Mrs Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the widow of the blind Postmaster-General. Through her husband's family she was related to Sir Eric and Sir Auckland Geddes.”

I think that Miss Buss may be the lady of whom it was written:
“Miss Buss and Miss Beale Cupid’s darts do not feel,
How different from us are Miss Beale and Miss Buss”.
I have not yet found the connection between Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Philip Cowell except that he was a nephew of hers and her younger sister Millicent, who married the MP Henry Fawcett. Uncle Philip lived in Aldeburgh where I visited him with my mother possibly in about 1947; living alone in a house just behind the shingle, and full of ticking and chiming clocks. EGA was born in Aldeburgh.

Alan Ray-Jones.
Biography
From autobiographical notes by Edward Holroyd Pearce (Lord Pearce) 1989:

"When I was nine my younger sister was born. Just before her birth my elder sister and I were sent off for a few weeks to stay with our mother's sister at Blackheath. She was a charming gay Aunt, far more sophisticated than my mother, and we felt that she was sometimes a little shocked by our lack of polish. She had no children, but she mothered her queer brilliant husband, who had been a senior wrangler. I was told by a contemporary fellow that he was the most brilliant of his kind. He was all intellect to the finger-tips and he would not pretend to the slightest interest in the many matters to which he did not apply his mind. We were kept out of his way, given a lot to eat and spoiled a good deal Our craze at that time was making model theatres with marionette figures taken from Fred Terry's 'Henry of Navarre' or Oscar Ashe's 'Count Hannibal' to which our aunt had taken us."

"My sweet but ineffective Aunt Mildred came with us [to France, in 1924] as a vine rather than a prop. Jack was then twelve, clever, bright eyed, and temporarily very naughty. He had reached the stage at which he felt it necessary to assert his manhood against petticoat government. It was arranged that I should go with them, see them safely installed on their holiday in the little Rouen boarding house and then return home after a few days, since I had to join Uncle Philip in the Lake District. His wife had just died and he was desperately unhappy, lonely and uncontrolled. So, emotionally daunting as the prospect was. I could not in decency refuse his plea for my company...... When I arrived at the hotel at Ullswater I thought I must have got pneumonia. I examined myself to see if there were any symptoms and found a large ring of pimples all round my middle. So my Uncle and I set off for the local doctor. He said that I had shingles and prescribed good food, rest, and not much exercise. Uncle Philip was not a man to be deflected by trifles. "I" he said to the doctor, fixing him with a glassy stare, "am a middle-aged man. My nephew is young and fit. I presume that any exercise I take would not be too much for him". "I suppose not", said the doctor uncertainly. "That's excellent", said Uncle Philip firmly as soon as we got outside the doctor's house "I thought we would just walk to the top of Helvellyn, taking it very quietly, and get back to the hotel for lunch. We must get back because I've arranged inclusive terms"
We got to the top of Helvellyn after losing our way once, and it came on to rain. We had to run part of the way down because we were almost late for the hotel lunch which ended at two. I spent the rest of the day lying down feeling bad. Next morning Uncle Philip with a glassy beaming smile suggested a climb somewhere. I said wearily that I did not feel up to a climb "No, I think you're right", he said brightly, "We'll just walk along Hawes Water and be back for lunch". We did.
Next day I felt that I could not go on and we both went south. "


Philip Ray-Jones says:

Uncle Philip turned down the opportunity to be Astronomer Royal because he preferred to be Director of the Nautical Tides Office (which produces the tide tables). He was Senior Wrangler (?) at Trinity College Cambridge and a Fellow at 21, and was a nephew of Elizabeth Garett Anderson. He is best known for working out the cycle of Haley's Comet.

From The Atheneum, 30 April 1910:

Mr P H Cowell, well known for his papers on the lunar acceleration and discussions of ancient eclipses as bearing upon the lunar theory, also for his recent work (in conjunction with Mr Crommelin) on Halley's Comet, has been appointed Superintendent of 'The Nautical Almanac.'

Extract from the Harold Jeffrey's Lecture 2002 'Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation', see www.ras.org.uk:

"No significant progress in the analysis of early eclipse observations was acheived until Philip H Cowell in 1905 announced his discovery of a solar acceleration in addition to a lunar acceleration. Although some of the observations on which Cowell's discovery were based were of dubious reliability, he had made a major breakthrough. Cowell suggested that the solar acceleration was purely apparent and arose from a gradual increase in the adopted unit of time: the mean solar day. He further noted that the observed ratio of the lunar and solar accelerations (2.7:1) was much less than the ratio of the mean motions (13.37:1). He correctly explained this discrepancy as due to the gradual retardation of the Moon's orbital motion arising from the reciprocal action of tides. However, the response to Cowell's work by Newcomb and others was far from encouraging".


From the BCHM Gazetteer (British Society for the History of Mathematics):

Philip Cowell (1870-1949) was a nephew of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Millicent Garrett Fawcett and cousin of Philippa Fawcett. Senior Wrangler in 1892. Chief Assistant at Royal Greenwich Observatory from 1896. Devised new techniques for computing orbits which significantly improved the results. In 1910, Cowell and Crommelin used new numerical quadratures to predict the perihelion of Halley's comet, getting an answer off by only three days. They were able to extrapolate backward and identify all its appearances back to -240. FRS, 1906. Gold Medal of RAS, 1911. Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac Office from about 1911 to 1930. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was an aunt of Phyllis Chaplin’s husband Philip Cowell (see Family Tree Maker, Philip Cowell). She died in 1917 and a printed obituary is pasted in to Ann Mendell’s copy of the Chaplin and Skinner family book. An account of her work is in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Obituary published in 1917 (date not included), probably from The Times.:

“ELIZABETH GARRETT ANDERSON DEAD.
First Woman Doctor and First Woman Mayor.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the famous woman doctor and pioneer of women's rights, died yesterday at the age of 81. Elizabeth Garrett studied at Aldeburgh, Suffolk, where she was born, the town which, 72 years later, was to distinguish itself by electing her as Mayor, the first lady to receive that dignity in any English town.

When she was two-and-twenty and began to think of taking up medicine as a profession all doors were closed against her. The story of her struggles against male prejudice is too long to tell here, and need only be recorded. At last, however, the Society of Apothecaries consented to admit Miss Garrett if she were willing to meet the whole cost of the lectures (intended for 10 or 20 students) for herself alone. Happily Miss Garrett's parents were rich and generous enough to pay fees on this preposterous scale, but owing to the opposition of male students she could get no hospital practice in England and had to take her MD in Paris, which she did in 1870 with high honours. She was not only London's first woman doctor, but one of the most eminent in her profession. She retired in 1903.

The first petition for women's suffrage presented by John Stuart Mill in 1866 bore her signature with those of Miss Betham-Edwards, Miss Frances Power Cobbe, Mrs Josephine Butler, and Miss Frances Buss. The year after taking her degree she married Mr J. G. S. Anderson, a ship-owner and managing director of the Orient Line. They had one son, Sir Alan Garrett Anderson, who succeeded Sir Eric Geddes as Controller of the Navy in August last -- and one daughter, Major Louisa Garrett Anderson, who took the first women's hospital to the front.

Mrs Garrett Anderson's sister is Mrs Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the widow of the blind Postmaster-General. Through her husband's family she was related to Sir Eric and Sir Auckland Geddes.”

I think that Miss Buss may be the lady of whom it was written:
“Miss Buss and Miss Beale Cupid’s darts do not feel,
How different from us are Miss Beale and Miss Buss”.
I have not yet found the connection between Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Philip Cowell except that he was a nephew of hers and her younger sister Millicent, who married the MP Henry Fawcett. Uncle Philip lived in Aldeburgh where I visited him with my mother possibly in about 1947; living alone in a house just behind the shingle, and full of ticking and chiming clocks. EGA was born in Aldeburgh.

Alan Ray-Jones.
Facts
  • 1870 - Birth -
  • 1949 - Death -
  • FROM 1911 TO 1930 - Occupation - astronomer, Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac
Ancestors
   
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Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (U) ?
Birth
Death
Father?
Mother?
PARENT (U) ?
Birth
Death
Father?
Mother?
CHILDREN
MPhilip Herbert Cowell
Birth1870
Death1949
Marriage24 JUN 1901to Phyllis Chaplin
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Philip Herbert Cowell
Birth1870
Death1949
Marriage24 JUN 1901to Phyllis Chaplin
Father?
Mother?
PARENT (F) Phyllis Chaplin
Birth7 JUN 1879Kensington, London (1881 Census)
Death27 JUL 1924
Marriage24 JUN 1901to Philip Herbert Cowell
FatherHolroyd Chaplin
MotherEuphemia Isabella Skinner
CHILDREN
Picture Gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 
Evidence
[S9164] Effie Ray-Jones by word of mouth or in writing
Descendancy Chart
Philip Herbert Cowell b: 1870 d: 1949
Phyllis Chaplin b: 7 JUN 1879 d: 27 JUL 1924