Meldrum, Charles (DNB12)

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MELDRUM, CHARLES (1821–1901), meteorologist, born at Kirkmichael, Banffshire, in 1821, was son of William Meldrum, farmer, of Tomintoul, Banffshire. Educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen, he was lord rector's prizeman, and graduated M.A. in 1844. In 1846 he was appointed to the education department, Bombay, and two years later was transferred to the Royal College of Maruitius as professor of mathematics. There later (Sir) Walter Besant [q. v. Suppl. II] was a colleague and intimate friend. In 1851 Meldrum founded the Mauritius Meteorological Society, which he served for many years as secretary.

In 1862 he was appointed government observer in charge of the small meteorological observatory then maintained at Port Louis. Here he devoted himself to the examination of ships' logs, and worked out the laws of cyclones in the Indian Ocean, work of great practical benefit to navigators, which brought considerable credit to the Mauritius observatory. The site at Port Louis was unsuitable for a meteorological observatory, and with the support of Sir E. Sabine he was able to obtain the erection of a new station at Pamplemousses—a site unhappily marshy and fever-stricken. Here the foundation stone of the Royal Alfred Observatory was laid in 1870 by the Duke of Edinburgh. The principal work of the observatory was as before the study of the movement of storms, but from 1880 photographs of the solar surface have been taken daily to supplement the series made at Greenwich and Dehra Dun for a continuous record of the number of spots on the sun.

In 1876 Meldrum was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and in the same year the degree of LL.D. was conferred en him by the university of Aberdeen. He was made C.M.G. in 1886, and was a member of the governor's council from 1886 until his retirement from service in 1896, when he returned to England, settling at Southsea. He died at Edinburgh on 28 August 1901. He married in 1870 Charlotte, daughter of Percy Fitzpatrick.

[Monthly Notices, Royal Astron. Soc. lxii. 243, 1902; P. J. Anderson, Records of Marischal College, ii. 510; Proc. Roy. Soc. 1905; Who's Who, 1901.]

A. R. H.