- 19 February 1908 - 16 December 1922 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
Born: 18 September 1858, Dundrum, Dublin
Entered: 10 June 1885, Loyola House, Dromore, County Down
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.
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
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 :
- The photography of the heavens.
- Photographs of sunspots
- Study of variable stars.
- 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
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.
Name of creator
Born: 27 October 1849, County Limerick
Entered: 22 April 1879, Sevenhill, Australia - Austriaco-Hungaricae Province (ASR-HUN)
Ordained: 1872, Rome, Italy - pre Entry
Professed: 15 August 1890
Died: 14 July 1922, Malvern, Melbourne, Australia
Superior of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia Mission : 30 September 1894; 11 February 1901-1908; 09 April 1913-1917
Part of the St Ignatius College, Manresa, Norwood, Adelaide, Australia community at the time of death.
◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University online :
Ryan, John (1849–1922)
by Daniel A. Madigan
Daniel A. Madigan, 'Ryan, John (1849–1922)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ryan-john-8314/text14581, published first in hardcopy 1988
Died : 15 July 1922, Malvern, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
John Ryan (1849-1922), Jesuit priest, was born on 27 October 1849 at Limerick, Ireland, only child of Thomas Ryan and his wife Catherine, née Butler. He was educated at The Crescent, Limerick, and, having begun in 1869 his ecclesiastical studies at the Irish College, Rome, was ordained there on 1 November 1874. The training Ryan received there under Monsignor Tobias Kirby rooted him firmly in the tradition of Ireland's Cardinal Cullen and gave him much in common with Australia's Irish episcopacy. Early in 1872 he had been recruited for the diocese of Maitland, New South Wales, by Bishop Murray, but soon after his arrival there in August 1875, he was appointed president of the new St Charles' Seminary at Bathurst. To the delight of its founder, Bishop Matthew Quinn, he set about recreating his Roman Alma Mater in Bathurst. Ryan, who since 1873 had been considering joining the Society of Jesus, was accepted as a novice on 27 March 1879. He made his first vows on 27 April 1881.
By temperament and training Ryan had a concern for order and a talent for administration which proved a windfall for the Jesuit mission in Australia. Considerable expansion in the late 1870s, a shortage of capable manpower from Ireland and the financial burdens brought about by the depression of the 1890s all contributed to the poor state of the mission at the turn of the century. Quite soon after becoming a Jesuit, he was put in positions of authority and responsibility as rector of St Patrick's College, East Melbourne (1886-90), of St Ignatius' College, Riverview, Sydney (1890-97) and of Xavier College, Melbourne (1897-1900). He was often exasperated by the careless administration of his predecessors. During his two terms (1901-08, 1913-17) as superior of the Australian Jesuits his competent administration proved crucial to the survival of their enterprise.
At the same time Ryan continued to serve the Australian Catholic Church at large, which was also facing a period of consolidation. He shared Cardinal Moran's vision of a firmly established and organised Church in which the clergy were well trained and obedient to their bishops, and the laity were adequately cared for and regular in their religious practice—a similar transformation to that wrought by Cullen in Ireland after the famine. With Michael Watson, S.J., Ryan began a devotional magazine, the Australian Messenger of the Sacred Heart, in 1887. His help was enlisted by the Presentation Sisters and later by the Sisters of Mercy in attempts to amalgamate their disparate convents, which the bishops had founded rather haphazardly with sisters recruited ad hoc from Ireland. He was committed to the spiritual formation of the clergy and the religious, through an extensive retreat ministry, and of lay people through the fostering of sodalities and popular devotions. Although Ryan and Daniel Mannix held very different views, Ryan won the respect of the wily prelate in negotiations for the foundation of Newman College at the University of Melbourne. 'Ripe in years and ripe in work', said Mannix, he died at Malvern on 15 July 1922 and was buried in Boroondara cemetery, Kew.
U. M. L. Bygott, With Pen and Tongue (Melb, 1980)
Argus (Melbourne), 17 July 1922
Advocate (Melbourne), 20 July 1922
D. A. Madigan, John Ryan, S.J.—a Contribution to Australian Catholicism 1875-1922 (B.A. Hons thesis, Monash University, 1977), and for bibliography.
◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Taken from the “Advocate” 20 July 1922
“Born in Limerick 1849, Father Ryan studied at the Irish College Rome, and on the completion of his ecclesiastical studies he came to Australia. There he was appointed President of St Stanislaus College Bathurst before that was handed over to the Vincentians. In April 1879 he was admitted to the Society of Jesus. While Rector in St Patrick’s College Melbourne in 1886, he took charge of a flourishing Sodality there, which included among its members many of the prominent Catholic laymen of the day. During his Rectorate he also established the :Messenger of the Sacred Heart”, which he supervised for many years, which owes much of its success to his careful management.
In 1890 he was transferred to Riveview, and was Rector there until 1897. In June of 1897 he was appointed to take charge of Xavier College, Kew. His period of office there coincided with the difficult times of the land boom, but he triumphed ..... by his sound administration and careful financing.
From 1901-1907 and again 1913-1917 he was Superior of the Australian Mission, and he carried out this office with conspicuous success.
When he finished as Mission Superior he worked in Parishes at Sydney and Adelaide.
In failing health he returned to Melbourne, and he died at Malvern. His friendliness and unfailing kindness won him many friends, and he commanded the respect of all with whom he came in contact. His long experience and Theological attainments made his opinion of Church, education and general matters much sought for, and he was able to be of great service to the work of the Religious Orders and Church in Australia.
Dr Daniel Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne, presided at the Requiem in Richmond, and at the conclusion said ‘If Father Ryan had his own wish, no words would be uttered over his coffin but the words of the Liturgy. I am not going to violate the spirit of his desire. In Father Ryan we feel that we have all lost a wise counsellor and a trusted and faithful friend. He was well known to the people and Priests of Melbourne, and wherever he was known his character was revered and he was respected. He was not a man to seek popular applause or to attract attention, but, like his Master, he went about doing good unostentatiously and unselfishly, wholly devoted to the work to which his life was consecrated.
He was not an Australian by birth, yet I think that never have I come across any Australian who loved Australia more, or who had more hop in Australia’s future. He was not a Jesuit in the first years of his Ministry, yet I have never come across anyone more truly a Jesuit in heart, mind and soul, and more devoted to the interests of his Society. Were Archbishop Thomas Carr presiding here in my place, I can imagine the words of tender affection in which he would speak of his departed friend. Father Ryan and Archbishop Carr were closely united in their work for many years, and they were closely united in affection. I hope they have now met in a better land where there is no parting. Several times Father Ryan was raised by his own Superiors to the highest position in his Order here in Australia, and when the time came to lay down the burden of Office, he went back into the ranks, the humblest and most zealous of the Priests of the Society.
And so when the last call came for Father Ryan, there was no clinging to life. There was no desire to linger upon the stage when his part had been played. He felt that his work for his Master was done. .......... May we all, but especially the priests of the Society and Melbourne always revere his memory and profit by his example’.”
Note from John Francis O’Brien Entry :
1902 He succeeded Carl Dietel as Superior at Sevenhill. John Ryan Sr wrote “He is very kind and gentle and will look after the old men. He was Superior until 1906.
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Among the outstanding Jesuits who established the Society in Australia during its early years was John Ryan, a former priest of the Bathurst diocese who joined the Jesuits on 22 April 1879 at the age of 30. He had been principal of St Stanislaus' College and St Charles Seminary and had studied for the priesthood at the Irish College, Rome.
In his earlier days he had been educated at the Crescent, Limerick, and studied for the secular priesthood at the Irish College, Rome, where he was ordained in 1872. and then returned to Ireland. In 1875, Dr Matthew Quinn, bishop of Bathurst, being in Ireland looking for priests persuaded Ryan to volunteer for Bathurst and to be principal of his projected college and seminary.
Ryan did his noviceship at Sevenhill, 1880-81and then taught at Riverview 1881-1883. After a year living in the parish of North Sydney preparing for his ad grad examinations, he returned to to Riverview teaching Latin, Greek and Italian. However his administrative and financial talents were quickly recognised and he was appointed rector of St Patrick's College, East Melbourne, 1885-90, where he was also prefect of studies and director of the Apostleship of Prayer and the Sodality of Our Lady He also founded the “Australian Messenger of the Sacred Heart, a periodical that continued until the 1970s, and the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary for gentlemen.
He was next appointed rector of Riverview1890-97where he taught for the public examinations and was a mission consultor. From there he went as rector to Xavier College, Kew 1897-1901, and was then appointed superior of the mission1901-08, living at Richmond. After five years working in the parish of Richmond he was appointed superior of the mission for a second time, 1913-17, and then returned to Richmond and parish duties for a second time.
His final residence was in the parish of Norwood where he worked during 1921-22. During his administrative years he also controlled the finances of the college or mission. Few men in the Society were given so many administrative responsibilities.
Ryan's leadership of St Ignatius' College Riverview which coincided with the 1890s Depression, was a time of academic achievement and sporting success. He founded the debating society in 1881. However, there were declining numbers and in 1890 a debt of£25,000 which lasted for many years.
The transfer of Ryan to Xavier College came at one of the most difficult periods in the history of the school. There were only 34 boarders and 40 day boys in June 1897, as well as a debt of £204,000, and an annual deficit of£2000. In a short time the debt was reduced and the number of students increased. He avoided the mistake that a smaller man might have made. He did not check development in the pursuit of economy The grounds were improved and a new pavilion was built. The college joined the Public Schools of Victoria at this time displacing St Patrick’s College. Ryan also launched a new school journal the Xavierian and began the Old Xaverians' Association.
In dealing with the boys, we are told that he was “firm but urbane”. He impressed all by the quiet strength of his manner and though he made a point of leaving details to his subordinates, when he saw fit to act he was determined and unswerving in his decisions. He kept contact with former students, and had a sound knowledge of their future careers.
As superior of the Irish Mission he negotiated due amalgamation of the Austrian and Irish missions, established the Jesuits in the parish of Toowong, Brisbane and founded Newman College, The University of Melbourne. In addition, he moved St Aloysius' College from Bourke Street, Sydney, to Milsons Point, and negotiated very complex and sensitive questions with the Cardinal-Archbishop of Sydney without making an enemy of Cardinal Moran, which showed great wisdom and tact.
Ryan never considered himself suitable for work in schools and asked to be relieved of his leadership position several times. He preferred parish work and enjoyed a fine reputation as a preacher. At these times he particularly worked as a canonist for various religious orders, especially the Sisters of Mercy. He gave retreats and missions as often as the demands of his position permitted.
His main skills were administrative and financial. He was an extremely meticulous person, and even considered himself “fussy” by insisting on correct procedures and religious discipline among the Jesuits. Ryan capably dealt with the financial problems in every house, and highlighted the problems of manpower and staffing. His work contributed significantly to the consolidation of the Irish Mission at the turn of the 20th century.
As a person he defended those in need and, while even severe with himself, was generally large-hearted with others. He was also a man of great faith and devotion. Finally, he had an eye to history, leaving excellent diaries and notes, encouraging Michael Watson to write a history of the mission. He, himself, wrote the narrative of the Richmond Mission. He was a priest of no mean stamina.
Note from Patrick Keating Entry
John Ryan, mission superior, did not lavish praise upon him. He believed him to be good at administration, but not with finances, not overly strict in discipline; firm and decisive, but easily influenced by anyone of strong mind, cool of temper, but not fatherly or sympathetic, somewhat superficial, cold and at times sarcastic, discouraging more than encouraging.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 6th Year No 1 1931
From 23 to 27 August, Riverview celebrated the Golden Jubilee of its foundation... The College was founded in 1880 by Fr. Joseph Dalton, He was “wisely daring enough” to purchase a fine property on Lane Cove from Judge Josephson, The property consisted of a cottage containing eight or nine rooms with substantial out offices, and 44 acres of land, at a cost of £4 500. 54 acres were soon added for £1 ,080, and an additional 20 acres later on completed the transaction. This little cottage was the Riverview College of 1880. The modesty of the start may be measured by the facts, that the founder of Riverview, and its first Rector, shared his own bed-room with three of his little pupils , and when the College played its first cricket out match, it could muster only ten boys to meet the opposing team. By the end of the year the number had increased to 15.
In addition to Fr. Dalton's, two other names are inseparably connected with the foundation of Riverview. The first is that of His Grace, Archbishop Vaughan, who invited the Jesuits to Sydney, formally opened the College and gave the Fathers every encouragement.
The second is the name of the great Australian pioneer, the Archpriest Therry. “One hundred years ago”, says one account : “Fr Therry was dreaming of a Jesuit College in Sydney... and when he went to his reward in 1865 he gave it a special place in his final testament”. Fr Lockington called Frs. Dalton and Therry the “co-founders” of Riverview, and added
that it was the wish of the latter to see Irish Jesuits established at Sydney.
An extract from the Catalogue of 1881 will interest many. It is the first time that Riverview is mentioned as a College in the Catalogue :
Collegium et Convictus S. Ignatius
R. P, Josephus Dalton, Sup a die 1 Dec 1879, Proc_ Oper
P. Thomas Gartlan, Min, etc
P. Joannes Ryan, Doc. 2 class. etc
Henricus O'Neill Praef. mor. etc
Domini Auxiliairii duo
Fr. Tom Gartlan is still amongst us, and, thank God, going strong. Soon a brick building (comprising study hall, class rooms and dormitories) wooden chapel, a wooden refectory, were added to the cottage, and in three years the numbers had swelled to 100, most of them day-boys.
The first stage in the history of Riverview was reached in 1889, when the fine block, that up to a recent date served as the College, was opened and blessed by Cardinal Moran.
The second stage was closed last August, when, amidst the enthusiastic cheering of a great gathering of Old Boys, the splendid building put up by Fr. Lockington was officially declared ready to receive the ever increasing crowd of boys that are flocking into Riverview. The College can now accommodate three times as many students as did the old block finished in 1889. Not the least striking part of the new building is the Great Assembly Hall erected by the Old Boys as a memorial to their school-fellows who died during the Great War.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father John Ryan 1849-1922
Born in Limerick on October 27th 1849, Fr John Ryan studied in the Irish College Rome, and on the completion of his theological studies, came to Australia. He was appointed President of St Stanislaus College Bathurst, before that institution was handed over to the Vincentian Fathers.
In April 1879 he was admitted to the Society of Jesus. While Rector of St Patrick’s College Melbourne in 1886, he took charge of a flourishing Sodality there, which included among its members, many of the prominent Catholic laymen of the day. During his Rectorate he also established the “Messenger of the Sacred Heart”. He became successively, Rector of Riverview and Xavier Colleges. He was Superior of the Mission for two periods, 1901-1907 and 1913-1917. On relinquishing office he returned to parochial work at Richmond and Adelaide.
His geniality and unfailing kindness won him many warm friends, and he commanded great respect in all ranks of society. His long experience and theological attainments made his opinion on Church, educational and general matters much sought for, and he was of great service to the work of the Religious Orders anf the Catholic Church in Australia.
Archbishop Mannix said of him in his funeral oration : “He was not a Jesuit in the first years of his ministry, yet I have never come across anyone more truly a Jesuit in heaty, mind and soul, and more devoted to the interests of the Society”.
He died at Melbourne in July 1922.
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A file relating to the seismological observatory at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, Sydney. Includes letters and reports by Fr Edward Pigot SJ concerning the observatory and his work there to Irish Fr Provincial; Letter from and Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David,
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- St Ignatius’ College, Riverview, Sydney, Australia, 1880- (Subject)
- Pigot, Edward Francis, 1858-1929, Jesuit priest, teacher, astronomer and seismologist (Subject)
- David, Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth, 1858-1934, geologist (Subject)
- Ryan, John, 1849-1922, Jesuit priest (Subject)
- Ryan, Wilfred, 1878-1949, Jesuit priest (Subject)
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