S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Taylor, Mr Charles Clemment Jennings (astronomy)

Born: 1861, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
Died: 30 June 1922, Cape Town, South Africa.

[Charles] Clement Jennings Taylor (his first given name was seldom used) came to South Africa as a young man, as the representative of a British commercial firm. He soon settled on the diamond fields at Kimberley, but returned to the Cape Peninsula in the early eighteen-nineties and carried on business as a cloth merchant.

Taylor was a keen amateur astronomer and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS). He resided at 'Herschel View', Claremont, where he erected a small observatory, equipped with a 260 mm reflecting telescope. In 1910, just before the return of Halley's Comet, he published a chart of that portion of the comet's orbit near perihelion, dated at appropriate intervals. In 1913 he delivered a paper on the astronomical work at the Cape of John F.W. Herschel*, at a meeting of the Cape Astronomical Association. He then joined the association and became an enthusiastic member, serving as its president for 1916/7. His annual papers to members on the 'Progress of astronomy' were much appreciated, being accurate, up-to-date and delivered with quaint humour. On 2 December 1915 he discovered a comet in the constellation Orion, which was named Taylor 1916a. On 8 December 1920 he discovered another comet, but he was ill at the time and recorded the wrong position for it. As a result credit for its discovery went to John F. Skjellerup*, who found it three days later.

Taylor was a Freemason and a seriously religious person. On entering his private observatory one was confronted with the motto 'The heavens declare the glory of God'. He was listed as a brother of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 (London) in 1890, then residing in Kimberley. He was also a British patriot: Clement J. Taylor, FRAS, of Cape Town, proposed in 1910 that gifts be collected at each post office throughout the British Empire on Victoria Day or Empire Day, the proceeds to be presented to Britain in token of practical patriotism. He and his wife lost their only child in infancy. After his death his telescope was bought from his estate by Major George C. Fox*.

List of sources:

Ars Quatuor Coronatorum: Being the Transactions of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, London, Vol. 3, 1890. Consulted via internet, April 2015.

Clement Jennings Taylor, FRAS, 1861-1922. Journal of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, 1923, Vol. 1(2), pp. 30-31.

Long, A.W. The foundation and development of the Astronomical Society of South Africa. Journal of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, 1930, Vol. 2(4), pp. 153-180.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Document relating to Clement J. Taylor, FRAS.

Obituaries: Major George C. Fox. Journal of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, 1937, Vol. 4(2), pp. 74-76.

Skjellerup, John Francis. In Hockey, T. et al (eds), The biographical encyclopedia of astronomers. New York: Springer, 2007. Online version consulted via Springer website, 2015-3-18.

Compiled by: C. Plug