Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 52, 1920


Charles William Adams, 1840–1918.

Charles William Adams was born at Bucklands, Tasmania, on the 7th July, 1840. His parents, the Rev. Henry Cay Adams and his wife (née Maiden), were early settlers in Tasmania. He was educated at the Campbelltown Grammar School under Dr. W. Carr Boyd, of Trinity College, Dublin.

After some experience in land-surveying in Victoria and Tasmania he came to New Zealand in 1862 and entered the Provincial Survey Department of Otago, being appointed in 1865 to the Wellington Provincial Survey Department. In 1867 he returned to the Otago Survey Department, and on the abolition of the provinces in 1876 he was appointed Geodesical Surveyor in the General Government.

In 1877, when engaged in latitude observations on the west coast of the South Island, Mr. Adams discovered an error in the British Admiralty Nautical Almanac. His programme included observations to eight stars—four north and four south of the zenith—and at each of three stations Alpha Centauri was one of the stars observed to the south of the zenith. The observations were made in April, May, and June, and when reduced the observations on Alpha Centauri were not consistent with the others. It is to be remembered that the observations were made with a portable field theodolite with 8 in. circles, and not with the large instruments of an observatory.

The difference disclosed was of the order of 12″, whilst his probable error of each of the other results was about 1″. Mr. Adams thereupon corresponded with the Astronomer Royal (Sir G. B. Airy), Greenwich, and the Government Astronomer (Mr. R. L. J. Ellery), Melbourne, with the result that the error was admitted, and the declination of Alpha Centauri was afterwards corrected.

It should be stated that the Nautical Almanac position of Alpha Centauri depended on Herschel's observations at the Cape of Good Hope in 1834–38, and that a small proper motion had been accumulating for about forty years, and, not being taken into account, the position in 1877 was some 11″ in error.

In 1882 a temporary observatory was built at-Mount Cook, Wellington, to prepare for the observation of the Transit of Venus on the 7th December, 1882. Previous to this event, and in preparation for it, Mr. Adams undertook extensive observations for time and azimuth, and exchanged time signals with the British and other astronomers who observed the Transit of Venus in New Zealand.

In 1883 Mr. Adams observed over one hundred pairs of stars with the zenith telescope for latitude at Wellington. In September he visited the observatories at Melbourne and Sydney to prepare for the exchange of time signals by the submarine cable between Sydney and Wellington for the determination of the difference of longitude. The astronomical observations were made and the time signals exchanged in December, 1883. Mr. Adams was the astronomer at the Wellington Observatory, whilst Mr. Russell, Government Astronomer of New South Wales, was in charge at Sydney.

– viii –

Twenty years later another determination of the difference of longitude between Sydney and Wellington was obtained by the Canadian Astronomer, Dr. Otto Klotz, and by Mr. Thomas King, the New Zealand Astronomer, and so accurately was the work performed by all the astronomers that the two determinations differed only some 17 ft. in a distance of over 1,200 nautical miles.

Mr. Adams was engaged in other astronomical work until 1885, and took part in the observations of the total solar eclipse on the 8th September, 1885. In that year he was appointed Chief Surveyor of Otago; in 1896 he was transferred to Marlborough; and he retired from the Public Service in May, 1904.

His scientific activities were wide and varied. For twenty years he was the editor of the New Zealand Surveyor, and almost every number of that periodical contains some scientific article from his pen. He was a life member of the New Zealand Institute, and was a past President of the Otago Institute.

He addressed the Wellington Philosophical Society on “Daylight-saving,” a device to which he strongly objected; but he was an energetic advocate for a permanent alteration of the clock of half an hour, so as to make New Zealand standard time twelve hours in advance of Greenwich mean time.

He was connected with the Hector Observatory, and was in charge of the time service during the interval when the Observatory was being moved from Bolton Street to Kelburn. It was during this period that he developed the almucantar method of time observation with a 12 in. transit theodolite.

His ripe experience in astronomy was invaluable to the Hector Observatory, to which institution he acted as honorary scientific adviser. It is interesting to note that the transit instrument and astronomical clock used by Mr. Adams in 1883 are now in use at the Observatory.

The above details of Mr. Adams's scientific activities were supplied by his son, Dr. C. E. Adams, of the Hector Observatory; and whilst the writer, during his twenty-five years in the Lands and Survey Department, knew Mr. Adams through such papers as those dealing with the sag of steel bands and calculations in connection therewith, and other like technical papers, it was not until comparatively recently that he came into personal contact with him, and then it was in an entirely different department of mental activity, the department of poetry and literary criticism, where again his bent of original thought gave value to such acute observations as he occasionally made: this side of his nature is well represented in his son Arthur H. Adams.

Those who knew him characterize him as a hard and conscientious worker, methodical and orderly; a rugged personality, who lived intensely in the present. His life and work taught the lesson—do everything in the best way possible, and by unremitting labour improve upon it the next time. He was always good company, his tenacious and ready memory supplying him with a fund of anecdotes, so that he was always able to introduce one or more, quite apropos, whatever the subject of conversation.

He retained his scientific activities right to the end, and less than a month before he died he read a paper on a novel star atlas before the Astronomical Section of the Wellington Philosophical Society.

Mr. Adams died at his residence, Bellevue Road, Lower Hutt, on Tuesday, the 29th October, 1918, from heart-failure, his widow (sister of the late E. T. Gillon) and a family of six (five sons and one daughter) surviving him.

Johannes C. Andersen.

Picture icon

Major Thomas Broun.

– ix –

Major Thomas Broun, 1838–1919.

Major Thomas Broun, a member of an old titled Scottish family, was born in Edinburgh on the 15th July, 1838, and died in Auckland on the 24th August, 1919. Both his father and an uncle (Captain Thomas Broun) were naturalists of considerable repute in their day, and no doubt it was from them that he inherited his scientific tastes.

Intended for the Army, he was educated by a private tutor in Edinburgh, and received his first commission at the age of sixteen, during the Crimean War. After the close of that war he accompanied his regiment (the 35th Royal Sussex Infantry) to Burma. Here the large size and brilliant colours of many of the tropical insects attracted his attention, and he commenced to form a collection for the British Museum. But the outbreak of the Indian. Mutiny in May, 1857, put an end to this project, and his regiment was despatched to Calcutta. Immediately on arrival it was sent to succour the French settlement of Chandernagore, whose existence was then threatened by a large body of mutineers; and for services rendered during this expedition he many years afterwards received the distinction of Knight of the Legion of Honour. He served in India during the whole period of the Mutiny. He was present at the assault and capture of Delhi, at the relief of Lucknow, and was attached to Lord Clyde's main force through most of his campaigns. He received the Indian Mutiny medal and other decorations. Towards the close of 1861 he was struck down with cholera, and narrowly escaped death. He was invalided home in 1862, and retired from the Army in the same year.

In 1863 he married, and after a brief stay in Scotland emigrated to New Zealand. He brought with him letters of introduction from the Duke of Hamilton to Sir George Grey, who at once offered him a commission as Captain in the 1st Waikato Regiment, then being formed for service during the Maori War. He served through the whole of the war, partly in the Waikato and partly on the East Coast, and was awarded the New Zealand medal. Shortly afterwards he took up land in the Opotiki district, and remained there for some years. His attempts at farming, however, did not prove remunerative, and on the advice of the Hon. Colonel Haultain, who, as Defence Minister, was well acquainted with him, he in 1876 accepted educational work under the Auckland Board of Education, and remained in the service of the Board until 1888. He was appointed Government Entomologist in 1890, a post which he held for several years.

Major Broun's active work in New Zealand entomology commenced immediately after the close of the Maori War, and continued to within a few weeks of his death. Although he collected a considerable number of Hemiptera and Orthoptera for various correspondents, and had a good working knowledge of most other families, his chief efforts were always devoted to the Coleoptera. When the writer first met him, in 1875, he stated his desire to prepare a general work on the New Zealand species, and described the preparations he had already made in amassing material and obtaining works of reference. A few years later he applied to the Auckland Institute for assistance in publishing his work. The Institute, having no funds that it could devote to such a purpose, forwarded his application to Sir James Hector, as Director of the Colonial Museum and Geological Survey. After some little delay the publication of the work

– x –

was authorized, and it appeared in 1880. An opinion given by Captain Hutton to Sir James Hector may be appropriately quoted here: “I regard this as a most excellent work, containing 1,140 species, a large part of which are described for the first time. No country outside Europe and the United States has produced such a catalogue.” Sir James Hector refers to it as “a monument of the zeal and industry of an ardent naturalist.”

The publication of the Manual not only spurred the author to renewed efforts, but brought to the front collectors in all parts of the Dominion. Five supplementary parts were issued between 1881 and 1893. Seven memoirs of considerable length appeared in volumes 41 to 45 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, while six Bulletins have since been separately printed. In these publications the author has increased the 1,140 species of the Manual to 3,979; and it is understood that much additional manuscript remains in the hands of the Institute. There are few countries, if any, where a single individual has so fully and completely described a branch of the fauna equivalent in numbers to that of the Coleoptera of New Zealand:

Major Broun devoted himself to his work with a conscientious single-mindedness, and with inexhaustible energy; and it was not until he had long passed the ordinary span of life that he knew what it was to be tired either in body or in mind. As for his character, he was mainly distinguished by being thoroughly honest and outspoken; and, from his naturally independent spirit and bearing, he was sometimes misunderstood. He had a warm and feeling heart, and to his friends he was a genial companion, full of anecdotes, which he often related with much felicity of expression.

T. F. Cheeseman.

Picture icon

George Hogben.

– xi –

George Hogben, 1853–1920.

George Hogben, whose death occurred on the 26th April, 1920, will be remembered for two things: as being one of the most eminent educationists the Dominion has produced, and as being the outstanding pioneer of seismology in the Southern. Hemisphere.

Born in Islington, London, in 1853, the son of a Congregational minister, he was educated at the Congregational School, Lewisham, Kent (now Caterham School), from 1864 till 1868, and at the University School, Nottingham, where he held a scholarship from 1869 to 1871. (In the interval he was a pupil-teacher in a private school for boys.) He then entered the English Civil Service, and attained the high position of junior auditor in the Accountant and Controller-General's Department. He left the Service to enter at Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1877 and M.A. in 1881, after fighting the battle of the non-conformists with the sectarian conservatism of the old university. He was Mathematical Scholar and Prizeman at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge, with the added distinction of Exhibitioner of the Goldsmiths' Company. While at Cambridge he rowed on the Cam three years for his college, and proved himself a good exponent at cricket and football, besides achieving the distinction of being president of the College Debating Society. After graduating with first-class mathematical honours, he took post-graduate work in physics. He entered the teaching profession as mathematical and science master at Oldenham Grammar School, to which appointment he went immediately after leaving Cambridge.

In 1881 he was selected by commissioners in England as mathematical and science master in the Christchurch Boys' High School. Five years later he was appointed by the North Canterbury Education Board to the position of Inspector of Schools, and he held this post till 1889, when he was appointed headmaster of the Timaru Boys' High School, where he remained for ten years. During all this time he had taken a keen interest in all matters pertaining to education, being for three years president of the North Canterbury Educational Institute, and in 1886 president of the New Zealand Educational Institute.

In 1899 he was appointed to the position of Inspector-General of Schools under the New Zealand Education Department, and he held this post until his retirement in 1915. During his tenure of office were carried out very many important educational reforms, for most of which he was directly responsible. It has been said by a teacher who was much associated with him, especially in the fixing of the scale of salaries of primary-school teachers, and in the drawing-up of the teachers' superannuation scheme, “No other man who has ever been associated with the administration of the education system of this Dominion has left a deeper and more permanent impression upon it, nor can any other man of his time lay claim to have done more to further the cause of educational progress than did the late George Hogben.” His plans were all most carefully thought out and most thoroughly presented; he would justify and defend has schemes with skill and vigour, but would accept his occasional defeats with unfailing good spirit. The same teacher has said of him, “He was a hard fighter, but a fair fighter, and was absolutely without vindictiveness.” This was, indeed, one of the most charming features in his character.

– xii –

He represented New Zealand at the Empire Educational Conference in London in 1907, at the International Conference of School Hygiene, the International Conference on the Teaching of the Deaf, and the International Conference on Moral Education — all in the same year. On his return his valuable report on “Schools and other Educational Institutions in Europe and America” was published as a parliamentary paper.

Upon his retirement from the Public Service Mr. Hogben continued to render good service as a member of the Council of Education. He was also a member of the University Senate for some years, and was always radical in his idea of reforms. He was largely responsible for the introduction of the degree of Bachelor of Science in Home Science, and this is one of the reforms which has already justified itself. His public services were acknowledged by the bestowal of the C.M.G. in 1915.

His activity in the educational sphere did not prevent his indulging an original bent in mathematics and physical science.

His first contribution to the New Zealand Institute was a paper, read before the Canterbury Philosophical Society on the 7th October, 1886, entitled “Transcendental Geometry: Remarks suggested by Mr. Frankland's paper ‘The Non-Euclidian Geometry vindicated.’” His last paper was “A Note on East Coast Earthquakes, 1914–17,” contributed to the Wellington Philosophical Society on the 12th December, 1917. Of his numerous papers published in volumes 20 to 40 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, eighteen dealt with earthquakes, and he was the recognized authority on seismology in the Dominion. It should be noted that the last paper from his pen actually published appeared in the New Zealand Journal of Science and Technology in the very month of his death—April, 1920. It dealt with the subject he had made peculiarly his own, and was entitled “The Interpretation of a Typical Seismogram.” This shows that the keenness of his mental faculties was unimpaired to the last.

He was President of the Canterbury Philosophical Institute in 1887. From 1891 he was Secretary of the Seismological Committee of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science. For many years he was correspondent for Australasia of the American journal Science. He was a Fellow of the Geological Society of London, and in 1919 was elected one of the original Fellows of the New Zealand Institute.

He was a strong advocate of proportional representation, and in September, 1913, read a paper before the Wellington Philosophical Society on “Preferential Voting Single-member Constituencies, with Special Reference to the Counting of Votes.” When some time later the Christchurch City Council held an election under that system he went there to conduct the election for the authorities.

During the war he wrote a valuable little paper, which was printed in November, 1916, on “Night Marching by the Stars.” Two methods were given, one of which was recommended to members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, who were provided with copies of star-maps and brief directions how to use them.

In 1917, when the question of the relation of scientific and industrial research to national efficiency was under serious consideration, a committee (the New Zealand Institute's Scientific and Industrial Research Committee) was set up, and Mr. Hogben was appointed chairman by a unanimous vote. He was a joint author of a report on “The Organization of Scientific and Industrial Research,” published as a parliamentary paper. The report of the committee which owed much to Mr. Hogben's care and fairness to

– xiii –

all views, both provincial and departmental, was adopted by the Board of Governors of the New Zealand Institute, and, with slight amendment, by the National Efficiency Board, and was forwarded to the Government.

Of his best-known publications, the following might be mentioned: A French text-book, Méhode naturelle; Four-figure Logarithms; and Notes on the Teaching of Mathematical Geography. Since his retirement he had been revising a Table of Logarithms, and this work is now in the press.

Mr. Hogben was happy in his marriage with a daughter of the late Mr. Edward Dobson, C.E., of Christchurch, who, with her two sons, survives him. Six sons were born to them, two of whom died in childhood. Of the four remaining, three gave their services and two gave their lives to the Empire during the Great War; and there is little doubt that their loss, borne without murmuring, contributed to his final illness.

George Hogben was a man of wide reading and scholarship, a thorough and indefatigable worker. He was a true and warm friend, and, through his fairness and broadmindedness, a benefactor to his fellow-men.

G. M. Thomson.