Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Christie on the Census

Flamsteed House, Royal Observatory, Greenwich in 1908 © NMM.RH says..... While there is a break in the journals, I have been trying to get an idea of Christie's domestic life at the ROG. He married Violette Mary, daughter of the iron manufacturer and MP Sir Alfred Hickman, shortly after becoming Astronomer Royal in 1881, but she died in 1888. They had two sons: the younger one died in childhood but the elder, who became a barrister, lived with his father. However, he is not included on the census records for 1891 or 1901, perhaps being away at school.

The 1881 census shows Christie - still Chief Assistant and still a bachelor - living at 12 Royal Parade in Blackheath with his siblings Faraday H. Christie (29) and Mary M.E. Christie (27), both described as artists and painters. By 1891 Christie would have been well established in Flamsteed House, but must have been away on the day the census was taken as the only residents listed are Annie Dean (24), housemaid, and Mary Ann Copin (27), cook. He was at home in 1901, this time with two different female servants - Eliza Levey (31), cook, and Jessie Gillingham (25), housemaid - but still no son. It was a very different home life to that of his predecessor George Airy, who in the 1851 census is listed as living in Flamsteed House with 12 other individuals - his wife, six of his children, four staff and his sister. A tight squeeze!

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