Sir George Howard Darwin, FRS


1845-1912. George Howard DarwinPlumian Professor of Astronomy; FRS; President of the British Association. Royal Society Medal winner.

Sir George Darwin was the fifth child of Charles Darwin. He studied under Charles Pritchard, and entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1863, though he soon moved to Trinity, where his tutor was E.J. Routh. He graduated as second wrangler in 1868, when he was also placed second for the Smith's Prize and was appointed to a fellowship. He was admitted to the bar in 1872, but returned to science. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1879 and, like his father, won its Royal Medal and Copley Medal. He delivered the Royal Society's Bakerian Lecture in 1891 on the subject of tidal prediction.

In 1883 he became Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He studied tidal forces involving the sun, moon and earth, and formulated the fission theory of moon formation.

He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1892, and later served as its president. 



Memorial inscription Translation


Huius collegii socius et in academia
Astronomiae et philosophiae experimentalis
Professor Plumianus
Insignissimi patris filius insignis
Illius modestiam suauitatem fortudinem secutus
Mira pro valetudine industria
Physicorum nodos ut ipse aiebat potius
Gladio scindere quam digitis soluere maluit
Et a scriptoribus nouissimis de cosmogonia
Dux et princeps salutatur

Natus IXo die Iul. MDCCCXLV ob. VIIo die Dec. MDCCCCXII
Sir George Howard Darwin, M.A., F.R.S., was a Fellow of the College and Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy in the University.  Famous son of a very famous father, he followed his father’s example of modesty, charm and courage; despite ill health he worked with remarkable industry.  As he himself said, he preferred to cut the Gordian Knots of physics rather than to untie them.  Recent writers on the origins of the universe acknowledge him as the foremost figure in his field.  He was born on 9th July 1845 and died on 7th December 1912.

George Howard Darwin

Brass located on the south wall of the Ante-Chapel. 
Memorial text by Henry Francis Sandbach.


Darwin brass.  Click for enlarged view





Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.


William Cecil Dampier Dampier


Full index of



Harold Davenport
Brasses A-B Brasses C-G Brasses H-K Brasses L-P Brasses R-S Brasses T-W