Authorised form of nameBaily; Francis (1774 - 1844); astronomer
Dates1774 - 1844
Dates and placesBirth:
Newbury, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom, Europe (28 April 1774)
London, England, United Kingdom, Europe (30 August 1844)
St Mary's Church, Thatcham, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom, Europe
Grammar School, Newbury.

Apprenticeship (1788-1795) at a mercantile house based in City of London. Travelled to North America (1796). Became an active stockbroker (c.1798) and published multiple works on life-contingencies. Gave up working in the stock market and became a full-time astronomer (1825). He contributed and edited catalogues, including Joseph de Lalande's and Nicolas de Lacaille's star catalogues, and compiled the British Association's 'Catalogue of 8377 stars' (1845).

Research Field:
Astronomy, metrology
FRAS (founding member; later president); Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Royal Society activityMembership:
Election Date:
Sworn into Council 1 December 1832.
Treasurer 1835-1838; VP 1832-1834, 1835-1840, 1842-1843
Committee appointments include the Catalogue Committee (appointed 9 February 1832); the Telescope Committee (appointed 8th December 1831); the Meteorological Committee (appointed 22 December 1831); the Medal Committee (appointed 9 December 1830); the Excise Committee; the Report of the Hydrometer Committee; Committee of Mathematics (31 May 1837); Committee of Physics (31 May 1837); Committee of Astronomy (31 May 1837)
RelationshipsParents: Richard Baily (1744-1814); Sarah Head (1745-1823)
Siblings: Elizabeth Baily
Published works'On the solar eclipse which is said to have been predicted by Thales' (1811) (Phil Trans, 1811, Vol. 101)
'A New Chart of History' (1812)
'Epitome of Universal History' (1813)
'On the correction of a pendulum for the reduction to a vacuum' (1832) (Phil Trans, 1832, Vol. 122)
'Description of a new barometer' (1837) (Phil Trans, 1837, Vol. 127)
General contextBaily's journey to North America stemmed from both commerical and personal interest - he wanted to expand the international interests of the mercantile house in London that he had worked at, and in addition he shared republican views and wanted to initiate the process to obtain American citizenship. This, however, failed. Baily documented his travels in journals which were posthumously published under the title 'Journal of a Tour in Unsettled Parts of North America in 1796 and 1797', edited by Professor De Morgan. In these journals he expresses his views on the value of education and his opposition to slavery. After returning to the UK in early 1798, he volunteered to travel for the African Association [Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa] for an expedition of Niger. However, the funds for this trip could not be raised so he remained in England.
Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB; ODNB
Proc Roy Soc 1844 No 60 pp 524-525
Patricia Rothman, 'By "the light of his own mind": the story of James Ferguson, astronomer' in NR 2000 vol 54 pp 33-45
Alex D D Craik, 'James Ivory's last papers on the 'Figure of the Earth' (with biographical additions) in NR 2002 vol 56 pp 187-204
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA6486
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
EC/1820/23Baily, Francis: certificate of election to the Royal Society
MM/9/43Letter from Francis Baily, 37 Tavistock Place, to Edward Cooper16 September 1835
DM/4/102Copy of a letter from Davies Gilbert, President, Royal Society, to Francis Baily1830
MM/12/35Letter from Francis Baily to P M Roget6 December 1837
AP/8/3On a new method of calculating the value of Life-Annuities14 May 1812
DM/1/19Letter from Francis Baily, 37 Tavistock Square, to James Hudson, Assistant Secretary, Royal Society9 March 1831
DM/3/143Summation of a report of the Pendulum Committee 11 June 1829
DM/4/101Letter from Francis Baily to Davies Gilbert, President, Royal Society5 November 1830
DM/4/96Letter from Charles Rumker to Davies Gilbert, President, Royal Society25 June 1830
DM/2/39Report of the Lottery Office Committee21 March 1828
AP/23/24Description of a Calculating Machine, invented by Mr Thomas Fowler of Torrington in DevonshireJune 1840
CMB/42/2/7Minutes, meeting of the Royal Medal Committee25 November 1834
CMB/42/2/1Minutes from the Medal Committee10 December 1832
IM/000187Baily, Francisnd
MS/123/2Letter from the Duke of Sussex to John George Children, British Museum, London30 October 1832
MC/1Volume 1 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1800-1832
RR/1/56Referee's report by Francis Baily and Richard Sheepshanks, on a unnamed paper by Demouville25 July 1833
RR/1/252Referee's report by Francis Baily, on two papers 'On the span of exchange' and 'On the English standards' by Trevor11 January 1833
RR/1/28Referee's report by Francis Baily, on a paper 'Proposal for a new method of determining the longitude, by an absolute altitude of the moon' by John Christian Bowring31 March 1838
RR/1/74Referee's report by Francis Baily, on a paper 'Experiments on the vibration of the pendulum' by William James Frodsham9 July 1838
MS/426/215Copy letter from [Charles Richard Weld, the Assistant Secretary of] the Royal Society; to Miss Baily21 July 1846
CMP/1/2Minutes of a meeting of Council of the Royal Society13 December 1832
DM/2/34'Memorandum about rooms being set aside by the Royal Society for the use of the Royal Astronomical Society'20 September 1834
CMB/42/2/4Minutes, meeting of the Royal Medal Committee in Astronomy13 April 1833
NLB/15/177Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, to the Government Astronomer, the Observatory, Madras 8 July 1897
RR/1/8Referee's report by Francis Baily and Richard Sheepshanks, on a paper 'An account of the construction of a fluid lens refracting telescope of eight inches aperture, and eight feet and three quarters length, made for the Royal Society by George Dollond, Esq. F. R. S' by Peter Barlow 29 January 1833
CMP/1/1Minutes of a meeting of Council of the Royal Society1 December 1832
MM/12/24Letter from J G Children, British Museum, to Francis Baily18 July 1836
MC/1/39Letter from Francis Baily, Grays Inn, to the Royal Society 28 March 1811
MC/1/139Letter from Rev. George Fisher, Stansted Vicarage, Essex, to Captain Edward Sabine20 February 1826
MC/1/155Letter from [George Biddell] Airy, Trinity College Cambridge, to Francis Baily, 37 Tavistock Place22 January 1828
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