Stephen Demainbray

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Stephen Charles Triboudet Demainbray, Esq. of Richmond (1710 – 20 February 1782) was an English natural scientist and astronomer, who served during 1768-1782 as Superintendent of the King's Observatory (or King's Astronomer) at the Kew Observatory.

Life and work[edit]

Stephen Charles Triboudet Demainbray was born in the parish of St. Martins, London in 1710.[1]

His father had come to England from France, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, but died soon after the birth of his son, who was brought up by his uncle, who placed him at Westminster School. There he studied under Dr. Desaguliers, who taught him mathematics and natural philosophy. After that he went to the Leiden University.[1]

In 1727 he married; his wife died in 1750.[1]

In the year 1740, he began lecturing in experimental philosophy in Edinburgh, until 1742, and the 1745 Jacobite rising brought him to take arms for the government for four years, and he was a volunteer at the battle of Preston-pans.[1]

In 1746 he resumed his lectures, and worked on the influence of electricity on vegetables. Three years later, he began traveling throughout Britain and Europe, lecturing in Dublin and Paris. In 1753, he was invited to London by the Prince of Wales, later George III, and the Duke of York, on his return to England he married his second wife, Sarah Horne who was a sister of John Horne Tooke. In 1755 he read a public course of lectures in the concert-room in Panton-street, and after gave private courses to members of the royal family, including the future King George III.[1]

In 1768, he was appointed Superintendent of the King's Observatory (or King's Astronomer) at the Kew Observatory, in Richmond, which King George II had commissioned from Sir William Chambers. He arranged for George III to see the Transit of Venus on 3 June 1769.[2] He held that appointment until his death on 20 February 1782.[3]

His instruments were combined with the King's collection and given to the King's College London and then, in 1927 to the Science Museum.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lysons, D.: The Environs of London: volume 3: County of Middlesex, entry "Northall (Northolt)", pp. 306–319; 1795. URL last accessed 2010-02-17.
  2. ^ Science Museum, London: Silhouette portrait of Stephen Charles Triboudet Demainbray (1710-1782) (Image description for image number 10195772). URL last accessed 2010-02-17.
  3. ^ N.N.: "History of the royal observatory of Kews". URL last accessed 2010-02-17.
  4. ^ Science Museum, London: The King George III Collection. URL last accessed 2010-02-17.