File 304 - Letters from Fr Edward Francis Pigot SJ to Irish Fr Provincial Thomas V. Nolan SJ

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IE IJA MSSN/AUST/304

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Letters from Fr Edward Francis Pigot SJ to Irish Fr Provincial Thomas V. Nolan SJ

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  • 20 May 1913 - 11 August 1914 (Creation)

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4 items

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Name of creator

(18 September 1858-22 May 1929)

Biographical history

Born: 18 September 1858, Dundrum, Dublin
Entered: 10 June 1885, Loyola House, Dromore, County Down
Ordained: 1899
Professed: 01 March 1901
Died: 22 May 1929, St Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney, Australia

by 1893 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
by 1894 at Enghien Belgium (CAMP) studying
by 1895 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
by 1900 at St Joseph, Yang Jin Bang, Shanghai, China (FRA) teaching
by 1904 in St Ignatius, Riverview, Sydney (HIB)
by 1905 at ZI-KA-WEI Seminary, Shanghai, China (FRA) teaching
by 1910 in Australia

◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University online
Pigot, Edward Francis (1858–1929)
by L. A. Drake
L. A. Drake, 'Pigot, Edward Francis (1858–1929)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pigot-edward-francis-8048/text14037, published first in hardcopy 1988

astronomer; Catholic priest; meteorologist; schoolteacher; seismologist

Died : 22 May 1929, North Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Edward Francis Pigot (1858-1929), Jesuit priest, astronomer and seismologist, was born on 18 September 1858 at Dundrum, near Dublin, son of David Richard Pigot, master of the Court of Exchequer, and his wife Christina, daughter of Sir James Murray, a well-known Dublin physician. Descended from eminent lawyers, Edward was educated at home by tutors and by a governess. The family was very musical and Edward became a fine pianist; he was later complimented by Liszt. He studied arts and medicine at Trinity College, Dublin (B.A., 1879; M.B., B.Ch., 1882) and also attended lectures by the astronomer (Sir) Robert Ball. After experience at the London Hospital, Whitechapel, he set up practice in Dublin.

In June 1885 Pigot entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Dromore, County Down. He began to teach at University College, Dublin, but in 1888, on account of ill health, came to Australia. He taught at St Francis Xavier's College, Melbourne, and from August 1889 at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, Sydney. Returning to Europe in 1892 he studied philosophy with French Jesuits exiled in Jersey, and theology at Milltown Park, Dublin. He was ordained priest on 31 July 1898. In 1899 he volunteered for the China Mission and was stationed at the world-famous Zi-Ka-Wei Observatory, Shanghai. In 1903, again in poor health, he spent some months working in Melbourne and at Sydney Observatory, and taught for a year at Riverview before returning to Zi-Ka-Wei for three years. Tall and lanky, he came finally to Sydney in 1907, a frail, sick man. He had yet to begin the main work of his life.

On his way back to Australia Pigot visited the Jesuit observatory in Manila: he was beginning to plan an observatory of international standard at Riverview. He began meteorological observations there on 1 January 1908. As terrestrial magnetism could not be studied because of nearby electric trams, he decided to set up a seismological station as the start of the observatory. The Göttingen Academy of Sciences operated the only fully equipped seismological station in the southern hemisphere at Apia, Samoa: a station in eastern Australia would also be favourably situated to observe the frequent earthquakes that occur in the south-west Pacific Ocean. Assisted by the generosity of L. F. Heydon, Pigot ordered a complete set of Wiechert seismographs from Göttingen, and visited the Apia observatory. Riverview College Observatory opened as a seismological station in March 1909. Seismological observations continue to be made there.

A great traveller despite his teaching duties, Pigot visited Bruny Island, Tasmania (1910), the Tonga Islands (1911) and Goondiwindi, Queensland (1922), to observe total solar eclipses; and observatories in Europe in 1911, 1912, 1914 and 1922 and North America in 1919 and 1922. He made observations of earth tides in a mine at Cobar (1913-19), collaborated with Professor L. A. Cotton in measurements of the deflection of the earth's crust as Burrinjuck Dam filled (1914-15) and performed Foucault pendulum experiments in the Queen Victoria Market building, Sydney (1916-17). On 1 September 1923 F. Omori, a leading Japanese seismologist, observed with Pigot a violent earthquake being recorded in the Riverview vault; it turned out to have destroyed Tokyo, with the loss of 140,000 lives.

Fr Pigot was a member of the Australian National Research Council from 1921, president of the State branch of the British Astronomical Association in 1923-24 and a council-member of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1921-29. On his way back from the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Tokyo (1926), he visited the observatory at Lembang, Java, where he planned a programme of study at Riverview Observatory of variable stars. Between 1925 and 1929 Pigot measured solar radiation at Riverview and Orange, particularly in relation to long-range weather forecasting. He was seeking a site of high elevation above sea-level for this work, when he contracted pneumonia at Mount Canobolas. He died at North Sydney on 22 May 1929 and was buried in Gore Hill cemetery.

Sir Edgeworth David paid tribute to Pigot:
It was not only for his profound learning that scientists revered him. They could not fail to be attracted by his magnetic personality, for though frail and often in weak health, he ever preserved the same charming and cheerful manner, and was full of eagerness and enthusiasm in discussing plans for the better pursuit of scientific truth. Surely there never was any scientific man so well-beloved as he.

Select Bibliography
Royal Society of New South Wales, Journal, 49 (1915), p 448
Riverview College Observatory Publications, 2 (1940), p 17
S.J. Studies, June 1952, p 189, Sept-Dec 1952, p 323.

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Paraphrase/Excerpts from an article published in the “Catholic Press” 30/05/1929
“The late Father Pigott, whose death was announced last week in the ‘Press’, was born at Dundrum Co Dublin 18/09/1858, of a family which gave three generations of judges to the Irish Bench. He himself adopted the medical profession, and having taken his degree at Trinity, he practiced for a few years in Dublin and at Croom, Co Limerick. While studying at Trinity he made his first acquaintance with astronomy, when he heard a course of lectures by the famous Sir Robert Ball, then head of the Observatory at Dunsink, and Astronomer Royal of Ireland.
In 1885 the young Doctor, already noted for his charming gentleness and self-sacrificing charity entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Dromore. he made his first visit to Australia as a Scholastic in 1888, and he taught for four years at Xavier College Kew, and Riverview Sydney. Naturally his department was Science.
In 1892 he was sent to St Helier in Jersey to study Philosophy with the French Jesuits who had been expelled from France. It was here that he began his long battle with frailty and illness, during which he achieved so much for scientific research over his 70 years. He did his Theology at Milltown and was Ordained 1899. Two years later he volunteered to join the French Jesuits in China, and this required of him not only his scientific zeal, but also his spiritual and missionary ones. he did manage to master the Chinese language for his work, and he used to tell amusing stories of his first sermons against himself and his intonations. His health was always threatening to intervene, and so he went to work at the Zi-Kai-Wei Observatory near Shanghai. The work he did here on the Chinese Mission was to reach his fulness in the work he later did over many years in Australia, and where he went to find the climate which suited his health better. He received much training at Zi-Kai-Wei and in photography and study of sunspots at Ze-se, which had a twin 16 inch telescope.
1907 saw him back in Australia and he set about founding the Observatory at Riverview, while teaching Science. By his death, this Observatory had a range and capacity, in terms of sophisticated instruments, which rivalled the best Government-endowed observatories throughout the world. Whilst he had the best of equipment, he lacked the administrative personnel necessary to record all the data he was amassing. His great pride towards the end was in his spectroscope for the work on Solar Radiation where he believed that ‘Long-distance weather forecasts will soon be possible, though not in my time’ (Country Life, 29/04/1929). Current farmers and graziers will owe him a lot in the future.
The scientific work at Riverview has received recognition in Australia. Edward’s interests in the Sydney Harbour Bridge, his experiments in earth tremors at the construction of the Burrenjuck Dam, geophysics at the Cobar mines, pendulum experiments in the Queen Victoria Markets of Sydney. In 1910 he took part in a solar eclipse expedition to Tasmania, and in 1911 on the ship Encounter a similar trip to the Tongan Islands, and the Goondiwindi Expedition of 1922.
In 1914 he was appointed by the Government to represent Australia at the International Seismological Congress at St Petersburg, though war cancelled that. In 1921 he was a member of the Australian National Research Council and sent to represent them to Rome at the 1922 first general assembly of the International Astronomical Union and the International Union of Geoditics and Geophysics. He was president of the NSW branch of the British Astronomical Association, and a member of the Royal Society of NSW. In 1923 the Pan-Pacific Science Congress was held in Australia, and during this Professor Omori of Japan was at Riverview watching the seismometers as they were recording the earthquake of Tokyo, Dr Omori’s home city. In 1926 he went to the same event at Tokyo, and later that year was elected a member of the newly formed International Commission of Research of the Central International Bureau of Seismology.
From an early age he was a passionate lover of music, and this came from his family. he gave long hours to practising the piano when young, and in later life he could play some of the great pieces from memory. He was said to be one of the finest amateur pianists in Australia. It often served as a perfect antidote to a stressful day at the Observatory."

Many warm-hearted and generous tributes to the kindness and charm for Father Pigott’s personal character have been expressed by public and scientific men since his death. Clearly his association with men in all walks of life begot high esteem and sincere friendship. Those who knew him in his private life will always preserve the memory of a kindly, gentle associate, and of a saintly religious.”

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Edward Pigot's family was of Norman origin and settled in Co Cork. Ireland. The family was a famous legal family in Dublin. He was the grandson of Chief Baron Pigot, son of judge David Pigot, brother of Judge John Pigot. He was the fourth of eight children, and was educated at home by a governess and tutors. The family was very musical, Edward playing the piano.
Pigot went to Trinity College, Dublin, and graduated BA in science in 1879. His mentor at the university in astronomy was Sir Robert Ball, then Royal Astronomer for Ireland and Professor of Astronomy. Pigot then studied medicine and graduated with high distinction in 1882, and after postgraduate studies practiced in Baggot Street, Dublin.
However, Pigot gave up this practice to join the Society of Jesus, 10 June 1885, at the age of 27.
After a short teaching period at University College, Dublin, Pigot was sent to Australia in 1888 because of constant headaches, and he taught physics and physiology principally at St Ignatius College, Riverview, 1890-92. He returned to Europe for further studies, philosophy in Jersey with the French Jesuits, 1892-95, and theology at Milltown Park, Dublin, where he was ordained priest in 1898. Tertianship followed immediately at Tullabeg.
At the age of 41 and in ill health, Pigot volunteered for the Chinese Mission in 1899, and was stationed at Zi-ka-Wei, near Shanghai, working on a world famous observatory, where
meteorology, astronomy and terrestrial magnetism were fostered. Pigot specialised in astronomy and also studied Chinese. Like other missionaries of those days, he grew a beard and a pigtail. However, his health deteriorated and he was sent to Australia in 1903 for a few years. He then returned to Shanghai, 1905-07, before returning to Riverview in 1908.
After visiting the Manila Observatory, he formulated plans for starting an observatory at Riverview, an activity that he believed would bring recognition for the excellence in research that he expected at the Riverview observatory He believed that seismology was best suited to the location. Pigot obtained the best equipment available for his work, with the gracious benefaction of the Hon Louis F Heydon, MLC. He personally visited other observatories around the world to gain ideas and experience, as well as attending many international conferences over the years. One result of his visit to Samoa was the building and fittings for the instruments in the half-underground, vaulted, brick building at Riverview. Brs Forster and Girschik performed the work. Some instruments, called the Wiechert Seismographs, came from Germany.
He became a member of the Australian National Research Council at its inception in 1921, and foundation member of the Australian Committee on Astronomy, as well as that on Geodosy and Geophysics. He served on the Council of the Royal Society of NSW, and was President of the British Astronomical Association (NSW Branch), 1923-24.
The upkeep of the Riverview observatory was borne by the Australian Jesuits and Riverview. Family and friends also gave funds for this work. When he died from pneumonia, he left at the Riverview observatory five double-component seismometers, two telescopes fully equipped for visual and photographic work, a wireless installation, clocks specially designed for extreme accuracy, an extensive scientific library, a complete set of meteorological instruments, and a solar radiation station, possessing rare and costly instruments.
Pigot's work at Riverview included working on scientific problems of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, experiments at the construction of the Burrenjuck Dam, geophysics at the Cobar mines, and pendulum experiments in the Queen Victoria Market Buildings in Sydney In 1910 he took part in a solar eclipse expedition to Tasmania. In April 1911 he went with the warship Encounter on a similar expedition to the Tongan Islands in the Pacific, and was prominent in the Goondiwindi Solar Eclipse Expedition in 1922.
Pigot was appointed by the Commonwealth Government to represent Australia at the International Seismological Congress at St Petersburg in 1914. He was secretary of the seismo-
logical section of the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Sydney, 1923, and in 1926, once more represented the Commonwealth Government as a member of the Australian Delegation at the Pan-Pacific Congress, Tokyo. In 1928 he was elected a member of an International Commission of Research, which was part of the International Bureau of Seismology, centered at Strasbourg.
He was highly esteemed by his colleagues for his friendship, high scholarship, modest and unassuming demeanour, and nobility of character. Upon his death the rector of Riverview received a letter from the acting-premier of New South Wales, describing Pigot as one of the state's “most distinguished citizens”, and Sir Edgeworth David praised his magnetic personality and eagerness and enthusiasm in discussing plans for the better pursuit of scientific truth.
Edward Pigot, tall and lanky, frail and often in weak health, was also a fine priest, always helper of the poor, and exemplary in the practice of poverty. He did pastoral work in a quiet way. On his scientific expeditions, he was always willing to help the local clergy and their scattered flocks. He was genuinely modest, humble, and courteous to all. Yet he was naturally a very sensitive and even passionate man, with a temperament that he did not find easy to control. He disagreed strongly with Dr Mannix on the issue of conscription - the Pigots were decidedly Anglo-Irish - and positively refused to entertain the idea of setting up an observatory at Newman under the archbishop's aegis.
His extremely high standards of scientific accuracy and integrity made it difficult for him to find an assistant he could work with, or who could work with him. George Downey, Robert McCarthy, and Wilfred Ryan, all failed to satisfy. However, when he met the young scholastic Daniel O'Connell he found a man after his own heart. When he found death approaching he was afraid, not of death, but because O’Connell was still only a theologian and not ready to take over the observatory. Happily, the Irish province was willing to release his other great friend, William O'Leary to fill the gap.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 2nd Year No 2 1927
Fr Pigot attended the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Tokyo as a delegate representing the Australian Commonwealth Government. He was Secretary to the Seismological Section, and read two important papers. On the journey home he spent some time in hospital in Shanghai, and later touched at Hong Kong where he met Frs. Byrne and Neary.

Irish Province News 3rd Year No 1 1927

Lavender Bay, Sydney :
Fr. Pigot's great reputation as a seismologist was much increased during the present year by his locating of the Kansu earthquake within a few hours of the first earth tremors. “Where he deserted medicine,” the Herald writes, “that profession lost a brilliant member, but science in general was the gainer. Dr Pigot is one of the world's leading authorities on seismology, and can juggle azimuths and seismometers with uncanny confidence”.

Irish Province News 4th Year No 4 1929

Obituary :
Fr Edward Pigot
Fr Pigot died at Sydney on May 21st. He caught a slight cold which in a few days developed into T. B. pneumonia. He was very frail, and had no reserve of strength left to meet the attack. The Archbishop presided at the Requiem. The Government sent a representative. The papers were all very appreciative.

Fr Pigot was born at Dundrum, Co. Dublin on the 18th September 1858, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied medicine, and took out his degrees - MB, BCh, in 1882. For the three following years he was on the staff of Baggot St Hospital, Dublin, and was Chemist with his uncle, Sir James Murray, at Murray's Magnesia works. He entered the Society at Loyola House, Dromore, Co. Down on the 10th June 1885. He spent one year at Milltown Park as junior, and then sailed for Australia. One year at Kew as prefect, and three years at Riverview teaching chemistry and physics brought his regency to an end. Fr. Pigot spent three years at Jersey doing philosophy, as many at Milltown at theology, and then went to Tullabeg for his tertianship in 1898. At the and of the year a very big event in his life took place. He applied for and obtained leave to join the Chinese Mission of the Paris province. For a year he worked in the Church of St. Joseph at Yang-King-Pang, and for two more at the Seminary at Zi-Kai-Wei, but the state of his health compelled a rest, and in 1913 we find him once more at Riverview teaching and trying to repair his shattered strength. He seems to have, in some measure, succeeded, for, at the end of the year he returned to his work at Zi-kai-wei. The success however was short lived. He struggled on bravely for three years when broken health and climatic conditions forced him to yield, and he asked to be received back into the Irish Province. We have it on the highest authority that his reasons for seeking the Chinese Mission were so a virtuous and self-denying, that he was heartily welcomed back to his own province. In 1907 he was stationed once more at Riverview, and to that house he belonged up to the time of his happy death in 1929.
It was during these 22 years that Fr. Pigot's greatest work was done - the founding and perfecting of the Riverview Observatory. The story is told by Fr. Dan. O'Connell in the Australian Jesuit Directory of 1927.
Fr. Pigot's first astronomical training was at Dunsink Observatory under the well known astronomer “Sir Robert Ball”. Then, as mentioned above, many years were passed at the Jesuit Observatory at Zi-kai-wei.
For some years previous to his return to Riverview, earthquakes had been receiving more and more attention from scientists, Excellent stations had been established in Europe and Japan, but the lack of news from the Southern Hemisphere greatly hampered the work of experts. It was the very excellent way in which Fr. Pigot supplied this want that has won him a high place amongst the worlds scientists.
Thanks to the kindness of relatives and friends, and to government help, Fr. Pigot was able to set up at Riverview quite a number of the very best and most up-to-date seismometers, some of which were constructed at government workshops under his own personal supervision. At once, as soon as things were ready, Fr Pigot entered into communication with seismological stations all the world over. When his very first bulletins were received in Europe, Riverview was gazetted as a “first-order station”, and the work done there was declared by seismologists everywhere as of first-rate importance. At the time of his death Fr Pigot had established telegraphic communication with the International Seismological Bureau at Strasbourg.
The study of earthquakes was only one of Fr. Pilot's activities, He was able, again through the generosity of his friends, to put up at Riverview, a first class astronomical observatory. It has four distinct lines of research :

  1. The photography of the heavens.
  2. Photographs of sunspots
  3. Study of variable stars.
  4. Micrometre measurements of double stars.
    Fr Pigot also took part ill a number of solar eclipse expeditions to Tasmania in May 1910, in April 1911 to Tonga, and to Goondiwindi in 1922.
    Finally, and perhaps most difficult of all, he established at Riverview a solar radiation station. The object of such a station is to determine the quantity of heat radiated out by the sun. This quantity of heat is not constant, as was thought but variable. The work is expensive, and of a highly specialised nature. It was hoped that in course of time it would have very
    practical results, amongst them being the power of being able to forecast changes in climate and weather over much longer periods than is at present possible. The necessary funds were collected by a Solar Radiation Committee formed at Sydney, Supplemented by a legacy from a relative of Fr Pigot's.
    Fr Pigot's ability as a scientist is shown by the number of important positions he held, and by the number of missions entrusted to him. He was elected President of the N. S. W. branch of the British Astronomical Association in 1923 and 1924.
    He was a member of the Council of the Royal Society of NSW for several years. On the occasion of the International Seismological Congress to be held at. St. Petersburg in l914 he was appointed by the Commonwealth Government as delegate to represent Australia. Owing to the war the Congress was not held. It was on this occasion that Fr Pigot was sternly refused permission as a Jesuit to enter Russia. Even the request of the British ambassador at St Petersbourg for a passport was of no avail. It was only through the intercession of Prince Galitzin the leading Seismologist in Russia and a personal friend of the Russian Foreign Minister that the permit was granted.
    He went to Rome in 1922 as delegate from the Australian National Research Council to the first General Assembly of the Astronomical Union.
    He was Secretary of the Seismological Section at the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Australia 1923.
    He was appointed by the Commonwealth Government as one of an official delegation of four which represented Australia at the Pan-Pacific Congress in Tokyo 1926.
    Fr Pigot was a great scientist he was also a fine musician an exquisite pianist and a powerful one. He was said Lo be amongst the finest amateur pianists in Australia. Once during a villa he was playing a piece by one of the old masters. In the same room was a card party intent on their game. Fr Pigot whispered to a friend sitting near the piano “mind the discord
    that's coming”. It came, and with it came howl and a yell from the card players. In the frenzy of the moment no one could tell what was going to come next. But, as Fr Pigot continued to play a soothing bit that followed, a normal state of nerves was restored, and the players settles down to their game.
    He was a great scientist, and a fine musician, but, above all and before all, he was an excellent religious. In the noviceship too much concentration injured his head, and he felt the effects ever afterwards. It affected him during his missionary work and during his own studies. His piety was not of the demonstrative order, but he had got a firm grip of the supernatural, and held it to the cud. He knew the meaning of life, the meaning of eternity and squared his life accordingly.
    His request for a change of province was in no way due to fickleness or inconstancy. He had asked a great grace from Almighty God, a favour on which the dearest wish of his heart was set, and he made a supreme, a heroic sacrifice to obtain it. That gives us the key note to his life, and it shows us the religious man far better than the most eloquent panegyric or the longest list of virtues that adorn religious life could do. Judged by that sacrifice he holds a higher and a nobler place in the world of our Society that that which his genius and unremitting hard work won for him in the world of science.
    A few extracts to show the esteem if which Fr. Pigot was held by externs :
    Father Pigot's death “removes a great figure not only from the Catholic world but also from the world of science. His fame was world-wide. He was one of the worlds' most famous seismologists”.
    “By his death Australian science and the science of seismology have sustained a loss that is almost irreparable. He initiated what now ranks among the very best seismological observatories in the world”.
    “He was able to secure the best instruments for recording the variations in heat transmitted from the sun to the earth for his Solar observatory at Riverview, and to make observations, which science in time will rely upon to put mankind in the possession of long range forecasts as to future rainfall and weather in general”.
    “Dr. Pigot told me that after some years it would be possible to forecast the weather' two seasons ahead”.
    “ Dr. Pigot was one of the brightest examples of simple faith in a Divine purpose pervading all the universe”.
    “It was not only for his profound learning that scientists reverenced him. They could not fail to be attracted by his magnetic personality, for though frail and often in weak health he ever preserved the same charming and cheerful manner, and was full of eagerness and enthusiasm in discussing plans for the pursuit of scientific truth. Surely there never was any scientific man so well beloved as he”
    “Those who knew him in his private 1ife will always reserve the memory of a kindly, gentle associate, and of a saintly religious”.

Irish Province News 5th Year No 1 1929

Obituary : Fr Edward Pigot
The following items about Fr. Pigot's youth have been kindly supplied by his brother.
“He was born the 18th Sept. 1858 at Meadowbrook, Dundrum, Co. Dublin His first tuition was at the hands of governesses and private tutors, after which he attended for some years a day school kept by H. Tilney-Bassett at 67 Lower Mount St.
Concurrently, under the influence of his music Master, George Sproule, his taste for music began to develop rapidly. Sproule had a great personal liking for him, and took him on a visit to Switzerland. Many years afterwards Fr. Pigot heard that Sproule (who had taken orders in the Church of England) was in Sydney. He rang him up on the telephone, without disclosing identity, and whistled some musical passages well known to both of them. Almost at once Sproule knew and spoke his name.
Even as a schoolboy, I can recall how he impressed me by his superiority, by his even temper, command of himself under provocation, his generosity, his studiousness and his steadiness generally.
He entered Trinity about 1879. In the Medical School, he had the repute of a really serious student. He was especially interested in chemistry and experimental physics. Astronomy was outside his regular course, but I remember visits to Dunsink observatory, His studies seemed to he regulated by clockwork.
Before setting up as a doctor in Upper Baggot Street, he was resident medical attendant at Cork Street Fever Hospital, and the Rotunda Hospital, and at the City of Dublin Hospital. When in private practice at Baggot Street, he was not financially successful. I have the impression that his serious demeanour and grave appearance were against him, But I have better grounds for believing that his work amongst the poor, his unwillingness to charge fees to the needy, operated still more in the same direction. We often heard, but not from him, of his goodness to the poor. This was the time that he announced to us his desire to join the Jesuit Order. May I add that if there was one event in Ned’s life for which I have long felt joy and thankfulness, it was his desire to enter your Order.
Years after he had left Dublin, one of his prescriptions had become locally famous, and was ordered from the chemist as “a bottle of Kate Gallagher, please”, Kate having been one of his poor friends”.

Irish Province News 22nd Year No 1 1947

Australia :

Riverview :

In 1923 Fr. Pigot built a Solar Radiation Station at Riverview, and started a programme of research on the heat we receive from the sun. This work has now been finally wound up. The valuable instruments, which are the property of the Solar Radiation Committee, were offered on loan to Commonwealth Solar Observatory, Mt. Strombo, Canberra. The offer was accepted and the instruments were sent by lorry to Mt. Strombo on February 7th. The results of the work have been prepared for publication and are now being printed. This will be the first astronomical publication to be issued by the Observatory since December 1939. Shortage of staff and pressure of other work during the war were responsible for interrupting that branch of our activities. Another number of our astronomical publications is now ready and about to be sent to the printer. We have started a new series of publications: Riverview College Observatory Geophysical Papers." The first three numbers are now being printed and will be sent to all seismological Observatories and to those scientists who may be interested.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Edward Pigott 1859-1929
Fr Edward Pigott was born in Dundrum Dublin on September 18th 1858, of a family which gave three generations to the Irish Bench. Edward himself became a Doctor of Medicine, taking a degree at Trinity College, and practising first in Dublin, then in Croom County Limerick. In 1885, the young doctor entered the Society at Dromore, and made his first visit to Australia in 1888, where he spent four years teaching at Xavier College.

Ordained in 1899, two years later he volunteered for the Chinese Mission. He learned the Chinese language in preparation for his work, and for a while tested the hardships of active service with the French Fathers of the Society. He used recall afterwards with a wry smile his efforts to preach in Chinese, and how he hardly avoided the pitfalls on Chinese intimation. I;; health, which dogged him all his life, sent him to the less arduous work of Assistant at Zi-Kai-Wei Observatory, near Shanghai. This was the beginning of his brilliant career as an astronomer.

After six years in Shanghai, during which he mastered his science, he returned to Australia in 1907 and started the Observatory at Riverview. He started with a small telescope and a few elementary instruments for recording weather changes, and finally made of Riverview, one of the leading Observatories of the world. Honours and distinctions were showered on him. He was appointed by the Government to represent Australia at St Petersburg in 1914, in Rome in 1922, at the International Astronomical Union, and the Pan Pacific Science Congress in 1923, held in Australia.

In spite of his prominence in the scientific world, Fr Pigott remained always to his brethren a kindly and gentle associate and a saintly religious.

He died on May 22nd 1929, aged 70 years, battling with ill health all his life. A strong spirit housed in a frail body.

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A file of letters from Fr Edward Francis Pigot SJ to Irish Fr Provincial Thomas V. Nolan SJ concerning the death of Fr Patrick Keating and his own brother's illness and imminent death.

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2000

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