People: Edward Beresford Hanson

Name Hanson, Edward Beresford
Place of work Greenwich
Employment dates
17 Jan 1842 – 30 Nov 1844 & 25 Feb 1856 – 1860

Observatory posts 1841, Aug 1

Computer (Planetary & Lunar Reductions)
  1854, June
Computer (general astronomical work)

Born 1826, Jun 24

Baptised 1827, Jan 15 at St Alphage, Greenwich
Died ?


Family Links Father, Edward Hanson employed on the Planetary & Lunar Reductions in the 1840s and as an astronomical computer in the 1850s

1845, Oct 20

Charlotte Couldery (1828–1861). One known son: Edward Beresford Hanson (b.1849)

Known Addresses 1841–1849
Royal Circus Street, Greenwich (census & son’s baptism record)
1851 census

? 1 Monmouth Place, Deptford (New Cross). Thought to be the present 157 New Cross Road
  1861 census

Kender Street, Deptford (New Cross)


Edward Beresford Hanson was the eldest son of Edward Hanson. He was born in Greenwich and brought up in the neighbourhood. In August 1841, when he was 44, his father was taken on at the Observatory by Airy to work as a computer on the historic Planetary and Lunar Reductions. The following year, when he was 15 years old, Edward Beresford was also taken on as a computer to work on the same reductions. Although his father stayed in post until 1848, Edward (Jnr) left at the end of November 1844. He was married the following year to Charlotte Couldery whose father had been a butcher in Turnpin Lane in the centre of Greenwich.

When a second phase of Lunar Reductions started in 1855, Edward (Jnr) was one of the new computers taken on. He started work in February 1856. His exact date of leaving however is not known. He was still employed on 1 January 1860, but by April 1861, when the census was taken, he had left and was working as a Bleacher’s Clerk.

In 1842, Airy was paying Hanson £36 a year and his father £66 a year. The following Year, Hanson (Jnr) was given a rise (as was normal at that time for the less experienced computers) and paid £42 a year. By 1860, the salaries Airy paid to his computers were generally lower. In that year Hanson (Jnr) was paid £51 a year and his father £54 (RGO6/535 & RGO6/75/176).

What Hanson did before between 1844 and 1856 is somewhat at odds with his work at Greenwich. His marriage certificate seems to indicate that in 1845 he was some kind of merchant whilst the 1849 baptism record for his son (also called Edward Beresford) and the 1851 census both record his occupation as a veterinary surgeon.

On the domestic front, the 1841 census indicates that Hanson was living with his parents in the house of his maternal grandmother, who is listed as head of household. He is also listed as being with his parents and grandmother on the night of the 1851 census, though his wife is not. By 1861, he was widowed and still apparently residing with his parents and a 12 year old boy, Edward, who is assumed to be his son.

On a different note, the first of his brothers to be born after he began working at the Observatory was given the unusual name of Henry Belville Hanson (1842–76), perhaps in honour of the Second Assistant at the Observatory, John Henry Belville who was a similar age to his father and lived nearby in Prior Street.