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Abbott, Francis (1799–1883)

On Sunday last there passed from among us, at the advanced age of 84, one whose valuable and voluntarily rendered meteorological services, extending over a period of 35 years, entitled him to the well-earned gratitude of the colony in whose behalf those observations were made. It is now about 40 years since Mr. Francis Abbott, then a man in the prime of life, left his native town of Derby in England, and started in business as a watchmaker in Hobart. Always fond of philosophical pursuits, the deceased collected round him during his lengthy career a library of valuable philosophical and other works, and an assortment of scientific instruments which may well be called unique in this colony. His compilation of meteorological tables, extending over 35 years, made from observations taken at his own expense in his private observatory, is a standard work of reference for the Tasmanian climate, and has for many years been printed by the Government for its own use. The deceased, in fact, acted practically as meteorological observer for this colony during the whole of that long period, and it was only when his strength began to give way a year or two ago owing to old age that an independent observer was appointed by the Government, to continue a work so faithfully carried out by the deceased. Besides being a life member of the Royal Society of Tasmania he was a member of the Royal Society of England, Fellow of the Astronomical Society, as well as a member of several other scientific societies in the old country. The volumes of the local society are enriched by numerous contributions from the pen of the deceased, principally on astronomical and meteorological subjects. Indeed only those who have had the opportunity of watching Mr. Abbott's career know how valuable the services he rendered were. He was a very careful and painstaking observer, and was the first to draw attention to the since much disputed but now thoroughly established fact that the star of Argus has been undergoing considerable changes in form and position since the observations made of it by Sir John Herschell at the Cape. Space fails, however, to point out the nature of the conclusions arrived at by a thorough examination of the points involved in these changes. Suffice it to say that the importance of the services rendered to science by the deceased during his long life are thoroughly recognised and appreciated by scientific men. With the exception of a perceptible failing of his mental faculties during the last six months, the deceased retained his faculties up to Saturday, when he had what may almost be called the first day's illness he ever had in his life. He was very strong and hearty, and could eat and drink with an appetite, so that his death was unexpected. He wandered slightly in his mind the day before his death, speaking of old names and old places, and he was apparently again living over in thought the days of long ago. Three sons and a daughter, all comfortably settled in this colony, live to mourn the old man's loss. The simple inscription on the deceased's coffin is as follows:
Francis Abbott,
Died 
18th February, 1883,
In his 84th year

Original publication

Citation details

'Abbott, Francis (1799–1883)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/abbott-francis-4/text4, accessed 19 November 2019.

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