Edward James STONE (1831–1897)
His wife Mrs Grace STONE, née Tuckett (1844–1920)
Their daughter Dora Magdalene Wordsworth STONE (1886–1891)
St Giles section: Row 21, Grave F26

Edward Stone grave

[Two sides of blocks under cross]





[Reverse of three blocks under cross]


BORN JAN. 17TH 1844

DIED MAY 9, 1897


For the full academic career of the astronomer Edward James Stone, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He also has a short entry in Wikipedia, and a long obituary in the The Observatory, Vol. 20 (1897)

Edward James Stone was born in Notting Hill, London on 28 February 1831, the elder son of Edward and Sarah Stone. He was educated at the City of London School, and then enrolled at King’s College, London, from where he won a scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge in 1856. He graduated as fifth wrangler in 1859 and was immediately elected a Fellow of his College. In 1860 he succeeded Robert Main as chief assistant at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and spent ten years there.

Grace Tuckett was born in Ide, Devon in on 17 January 1874, the daughter of John Tuckett and his wife Ann, who were born in Stockleigh Pomeroy in Devon in 1813 and 1811 respectively. At the time of the 1851 census the family was living at Great Marshall in Ide, where John Tuckett was a farmer of 200 acres employing five labourers, and Grace, who appears to have been their only child, was seven years old. The situation was little changed in 1861.

On 12 September 1866 at Ide in Devon, Edward John Stone married Grace Tuckett, and they had the following children:

  • Kathleen Annie Stone (born at Marshall Villa, Vanbrugh Park Road West, Blackheath, Kent in 1869 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Tulse Hill on 11 December)
  • Rupert Edward John Stone (born at the Cape of Good Hope in 1872/3)
  • Mabel Grace Stone (born at the Cape of Good Hope in 1874/5)
  • Annot Louisa Stone (born at the Cape of Good Hope in 1877/8)
  • Dora Magdalene Wordsworth Stone (born at the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford in 1886 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 5 November).

Edward and Grace Stone began their married life in Greenwich, where Stone was still Observer, but in 1870 they moved to South Africa for nine years after he was appointed Royal Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1878 Stone was appointed Radcliffe Observer, once again following in the footsteps of Robert Main, and in 1879 the family came to live at the Observatory in Oxford. He was incorporated at the University of Oxford from Christ Church on 26 November 1879, aged 47.

Observatory from BlavatnikRadcliffe Observatory, viewed from the top of the Blavatnik Building in Walton Street

At the time of the 1881 census Edward Stone (50), described as an Astronomer and Fellow of the Royal Society, was living at the Observatory with his wife Grace (37) and their children Kathleen (11), Rupert (8), Mabel (6), and Annot (3). They had a cook, housemaid, and nurse. They were were still there in 1891 with the girls, who now numbered four, while Rupert (18) was boarding at Sherborne School. They now employed a governess and two servants.

Their youngest daughter died in 1891:

† Dora Magdalene Wordsworth Stone died at the Radcliffe Observatory at the age of four in 1891 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 3 July (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

Edward Stone himself died suddenly in 1897 from cardiac failure following pneumonia:

† Edward James Stone died at the Radcliffe Observatory at the age of 66 on 9 May 1897 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 13 May (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

His wealth at death was £27,019 7s. 3d. His inscription on the family grave is in a lowly position: on the third block down on the plinth of the cross:

Edward Stone detail

The following obituary appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 15 May 1897:


Mr Edward J. Stone, F.R.S., Observer and Director of the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford, died at his residence on Saturday, after a short illness. Edward James Stone was the only [?surviving] son of Edward Stone, of London, where he was born February 28, 1831. The family came from Devonshire. Although his higher education began only when he was 20, he took in 1856 a scholarship at Queens’ College, Cambridge, whence he graduated as fifth Wrangler in 1859, and was immediately elected to a fellowship. In 1860 he was appointed chief assistant at Greenwich; ten years after he succeeded Sir Thomas Maclear as her Majesty’s Astronomer at the Cape; then, in 1879, returned home to fill the post of Radcliffe Observer in Oxford. His work lay entirely apart from popular apprehension; but how thoroughly it was done may be gathered from his early notices of the “variation of latitude” at Greenwich. For his rediscussion of the observations of the transit of Venus in 1769 he received, in February 1869, the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. He deduced from them, however, a value for the sun’s distance of 91,700,000 miles, now known to be at least 1,000,000 miles too small. Throughout the whole of his varied labours regarding the great unit of space measurement he erred on the side of some unduly diminishing the value. On December 8th, 1874, he watched, with the Cape 7 in. Equatorial, the first of the greatly anticipated 19th century transits of Venus; and ably organized the Government expeditions to observe the second of the pair eight years later. His report, presented in 1887, contained an elaborate inquiry into the baffling phenomena of “contacts,” and gave as the upshot a parallax of 8’ 85, corresponding to a distance of the earth from the sun of 92,560,000 miles. Stone was one of the few expert observers of the total eclipse of the sun, April 16, 1874. He took up a station at Klipfontein in Namaqualand, and was rewarded with a spectroscopic glimpse, during the second before totality, to the dazzling flash of the “reversing layer.” He also witnessed at the Cape, February 4, 1872, an auroral display as none but the “oldest inhabitants” remembered. It spread as far as Blomfontein, within 28 degrees of the Equator, and was noted by a worldwide number. In his two star catalogues Stone conferred a lasting benefit upon science. His first, for the epoch 1880, includes catalogued 12,300 southern stars. This merit was acknowledged by the bestowal of the Lalande Prize by the French Academy in 1881. The second, termed the “Radcliffe Catalogue for 1890,” gave the places of 6,424 stars situated between the Equator and 20 degrees of south latitude, thus completing the most useful survey of the astral skies. It was distributed in 1894. The Radcliffe Observer was naturally a member of the Royal Society, and sat on its council. He presided for the customary two years over the Royal Astronomical Society, and the University of Padua conferred upon him a degree of Doctor of Science. He was a strenuous and efficient worker; and a curious misconception, lying outside the field of his general activity, was to be regretted only because of injustice done to it to the powers of his mind. Through some years he defended against all Professor Newcomb’s arguments a paradoxical notion regarding the measurement of solar mean time, and although he carried on the controversy with excellent temper, he was unable to the last to perceive that he had got hold of the cracked end of the stick. But this casual bit of unwisdom may readily be forgiven to the author of the Cape and Radcliffe Catalogues.

The funeral took place on Thursday, at St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street; the first part of the service was conducted in St. Giles’s Church by the Vicar, the Rev. H. J. Bidder, who concluded it at the grave. The mourners were Mrs Stone (the widow), Mr. R. E. Stone (son), Miss Stone, Miss M. Stone, and Miss L. Stone (daughters), Mr Tuckett and the gardener and servants. Amongst those who joined the procession were Admiral Wharton, Sir Robert Ball, F.R.S., Professor Turner, Mr. Christie (Astronomer Royal), Mr. H. S. Newall (secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society), Mr. Knobel (treasurer of the Royal Astronomical Society), the Revs. R. H. Kennett and W. H. Langhorne, Worton Rectory, Oxon (Queens’ College, Cambridge), and Mr. Lamb, and the Vice-Chancellor and about sixty members of the University also attended. Floral wreaths were sent by the President and Fellows of Queen’s [sic] College, Cambridge, Dr. and Mrs Gray, Dr. and Mrs. Varley Roberts, Professor and Mrs Burdon Sanderson, Prof. and Mrs Clifton, Mrs Rhys (Jesus College), Mr.  and Mrs. Wingfield, Mr. Roger C. Parr (Christ Church), Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, Mrs. Egerton and daughters, Mrs. and Miss Finch, Mr. Wickham, Mr. McClellan, Miss Swann, Misses E. and H. Wharton, Mr. W. J. Morris, and the gardener and servants. The arrangements were in the hands of Messrs. Elliston and Cavell.

His widow and children moved to 78 Woodstock Road, and at the time of the 1901 census Grace (57) can be seen living there with Kathleen (31), Rupert (28), Mabel (26), Annot (23), plus a cook and housemaid.

By 1911 the family had moved to 2 St Margaret’s Road, Oxford. Kathleen and Annot were still living with their mother; Mabel (36) was a patient at Kingwood House Sanatorium (a chest hospital) at Rotherfield Peppard; and Rupert is hard to find: it is possible that he had already been admitted to the Warneford Asylum.

Mrs Stone died in 1920:

† Mrs Grace Stone née Tuckett died at 2 St Margaret’s Road at the age of 76 on 23 March 1920 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 26 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

Her effects came to £11,598 7s.

Surviving children of Edward and Grace Stone
  • Kathleen Annie Stone (born 1869) never married. She and her two sisters remained at 2 St Margaret’s Road following their mother’s death in 1920. She was the last sister to remain in the house, and died there at the age of 78 on 25 May 1948. Her effects came to £39,841 11s. 4d.
  • Rupert Edward John Stone (born 1872/3) vanishes after the 1901 census (when he was aged 28 and living with his mother), and it seems likely that he was an inmate of a mental asylum for many years. He outlived all his siblings and died at the Warneford Asylum (which was given as his home address) at the age of 83 on 14 March 1856, and a notice was inserted in the London Gazette asking his next of kin to apply to the Probate Registry. His effects came to £11,005 2s. 11d.
  • Mabel Grace Stone (born 1874/5) never married. She died at the age of 42 on 20 August 1917 at Northleigh, although her home address was 2 St Margaret’s Road. Her effects came to £7,935 1s. 10d., and probate was granted to her two sisters.
  • Annot Louisa Stone (born 1877/8) married the Australian architect William Nelson at St Margaret’s Church on 3 April 1923 when she was aged about 43, and they do not appear to have had any children. She went to live with him in Australia, and she died at Lindfield in New South Wales on 6 September 1945 and was buried at the Maquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium on 7 September 1945. Her effects came to £20,806 8s. 5d.



Please email stsepulchres@gmail.com
if you would like to add information

These biographies would not have been possible without the outstanding transcription services
provided by the Oxfordshire Family History Society

© Friends of St Sepulchre’s Cemetery 2012–2017