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Sydney Mary Thompson (also known as Madame Christen) (1847 – July 1923) was an Irish geologist, botanist and artist[1]. She was born in Whitehouse, County Antrim and studied art at the Belfast Government School of Art, beginning in 1870.

She was born in Belfast. In 1900, she married Swiss artist Rodolphe Christen. The couple then moved to Scotland.


An active member of the Belfast Naturalists' Club, Thompson organised lectures and practicals, showing a particular interest in stratigraphy and petrography. Her original fieldwork mostly concerned sources of material in the glacial deposits of Northern Ireland.

She was a friend and collaborator of northern Irish geologist Mary Andrews and together they worked on glacial erratics[2], collecting samples with the aim of finding out the direction of ice flow. As the secretary of the Belfast Field Club, her reports were published in the Club's Proceedings[3].


Thompson won many prizes for her art[4], and was a member of the Belfast Ramblers' Sketching Club and the Belfast Art Society, where she became patron in 1921.


SM Thompson: A Plea for Irish Glaciology, Irish Naturalist, vol. iii, 1894, p30. The Belfast Field Club Donegal, ibid, vol iii, 1894, p 226. Geology (of Co. Galway), ibid, vol iv, 1895, p225. Glacial Geology of Kerry (note on): ibid, vol viii, 1899, p61. The Supposed Occurrence of White Lias at Macedon Pt., ibid, vol ix, 1900, p154. Madame Christen: Investigations into the Glacial Drifts of the Northeast of Ireland, Irish Naturalist, vol xi, 1902, p275. A summary of the [BNF] Club's recent Glacial Work, ibid, vol xv, 1906, p 80.


  1. ^ G. A. J. C. (30 April 2009). "Madame Christen (Sydney Mary Thompson)". Geological Magazine. 60 (10): 478. doi:10.1017/S0016756800088415.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  2. ^ ESK2 Magazine (PDF) (12): 2. 2005/2006 Retrieved 19 October 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Botanical Resources". National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Newmann, Kate. "Sydney Mary Thompson". Ulster Biography. Retrieved 19 October 2012.