Interesting Monuments

 

Pead Survey: C1.086                Charles Louis Christian Rümker          D: 21.12.1862   Bur: 23.12.1862

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Charles Louis Christian Rümker was born on 18th May 1788 in Burg Stargard, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Germany. He was the son of J F Rümker, a court councillor. In 1807 he passed the state examination as a master builder at the Builder's Academy in Berlin but seems not to have wanted to follow that profession. Instead he became a teacher of mathematics in Hamburg. This did not seem to take his fancy either because in 1809 he travelled to England and served as a midshipman in the East India Company until 1811 when he joined the merchant navy. Unfortunately in July 1813 he was press ganged into the Royal Navy and accepted the post of teacher to sea cadets and given officer's rank. He initially served on board HMS Benbow, Montague and Albion.

 

In 1816 he too part in the bombardment of Algiers under Lord Exmouth and whilst in this campaign met the Baron Franz-Xaver de Zach, an Austrian astronomer who introduced Rümker to the science of astronomy which was to dominate the rest of his life.His first publication on the sunject came in 1819 in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal on his observations in Malta.

 

He was discharged from the navy in 1819 and took up the position of teacher at the Hamburg School of Navigation. His wander lust took over again in 1821 when he travelled to Australia to take up a position at the private observatory in Brisbane. In 1822 he rediscovered Encke's comet for which he was granted 1000 acres of land at Stonequarry Creek ( Picton ) by Governor Brisbane. Unfortunately he quarreled both with Lord Brisbane and with a colleague at the obvervatory ( James Dunlop ) and was forced to retire to his land in 1823.

 

Even so he was awarded the Royal Astronomical Silver Medal in 1824 for rediscovering the comet, closely followed by the award of the Institu de France's  Gold Medal.

 

His luck changed in 1826 when the then Colonial Secretary, Alexander McLeary, recalled him to the observatory and he subsequently discovered a new comet in the constellation of Orion. He was appointed Government Astronomer by Sir Ralph Darling in 1827.

 

In 1828 he was elected as the Director of the School of Navigation in Hamburg but he did not even answer the letter !

 

Again, troubles erupted in 1830 and he was dismissed from government service in Australia after a quarrel with Sir James South who was President of the Royal Astronomical Society.

 

So, he returned to Hamburg and took up the position to which he had been elected in 1828.

 

In 1848 he married Mary Ann Crockford of Clerkenwell in Middlesex, England but they had no children.

 

In 1850 he was awarded the Gold Medal for Arts & Sciences by the King of Hanover and in 1854 the Royal Astronomical Society's Gold Medal. He was made a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.

 

Like so many buried in the British Cemetery, he came to Lisbon in 1857 for the sake of his worsening health and must have found some benefit as he did not die till 21st December 1862. On the 23rd he was buried in the tomb, photographs of which, are here displayed.

 

Inscription:

 

TO THE MEMORY OF THE LATE CHARLES LOUIS CHRISTIAN RUMKER

BORN IN NEU BRANDENBURG MECHLENBURG STREELITZ

DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON THE 21  DEC 1862 AGED 73 YEARS

MANY YEARS IN HMS  ASSISTED AT THE CLOSE OF THE FRENCH WAR

AS OFFICER IN THE FLEET THEN STATIONED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

ALSO UNDER LORD EXMOUTH AT THE BOMBARDMENT OF ALGIERS

AND SERVED AS NAVAL TEACHER IN THE BENBOW MONTAGUE

QUEEN CHARLOTTE AND ALBION

AND 9 YEARS COLONIAL ASTRONOMER AT AUSTRALIA

25 YEARS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE HAMBURG OBSERVATORY

AND NAUTICAL SCHOOL

THIS STONE WAS ERECTED BY HIS WIDOW

 
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Location of Monument