Observing a Wedding

Although it is now commonplace for weddings to take place in all manner of locations in England, and the tradition of them being held in the bride’s home long-established in Scotland, this one remains unusual.

It is the 22nd Nov 1875 and we are at The Observatory, Dunecht, Parish of Echt in Aberdeenshire.

The groom is 25 year-old William Milne, a Commercial Traveller (in 1881 an Agent with the Singer Machine Company), from the Parish of St Nicholas, Aberdeen and his bride is 22 year-old Jeannie Cairns, a Domestic Servant, from the Observatory.

A brief history of the Observatory is given below:

Lord Lindsay’s new Observatory at Dun Echt, which was 12 miles from Aberdeen.
David Gill was invited to became directory of the observatory in 1872. Gill was given the task to equip and supervise the construction of this new Observatory, which Lindsay insisted on being the very best possible.
Dun Echt Observatory flourished for almost twenty years but, in 1888, on learning that Scotland’s modest Royal Observatory in the city of Edinburgh was under threat of closure Lindsay, now 26th Earl of Crawford, saved the day by magnanimously donating the entire contents of his observatory including its by now priceless library to the nation.
The whole was housed in a new Royal Observatory building, completed in 1896, which remains the home of Edinburgh astronomy with Edinburgh University’s IfA (Institute for Astronomy) and, the UKATC (United Kingdom Astronomy Technology Centre).
Brück, H.A., 1992. Lord Crawford’s Observatory at Dun Echt 1872-1892. Vistas in Astronomy 35: 81-138.
Lindsay, [Lord] and Gill, David, 1877. Dun Echt Observatory Publications, Volume 2. Dun Echt Observatory.
Dun Echt Observatory Publications (Vol 1, 1876 Vol 2, 1877 Vol 3, 1885) at http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/

In addition, a year before the nuptials, Lord Lindsay organised an expedition to Mauritius to observe the 1874 Transit of Venus, a vital observation in accurately calculating the distance from the Earth to the Sun:

Transit of Venus

I do not know whether Jeannie lived in accommodation associated with the Observatory or in Dunecht House; whether she was employed wholly in household duties or also assisted with the instruments and associated astronomical paraphernalia; but I do know that the location was an unusual one…

…and that the young couple were my father’s maternal grandparents.

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