Andrew Crosse

Born 17 June 1784

6 Jul 1855



Andrew Crosse
as a young man and aged 52

Andrew Crosse was born on the 17th of June 1784. When he was 6 he was sent to school in Dorchester, then three years later he went to the Rev. Mr Seyer's School at the Fort, Bristol. Andrew's interest in electrical matters started when he attended a public lecture in Bristol. He later went to Brasenose College, Oxford, but did little real work. He graduated in 1806, and after a half-hearted attempt to take up the Law he returned to Somerset. In May 1809, Andrew married Mary Anne Hamilton. Andrew and Mary Anne had seven children over the next ten years, but three died in infancy.

Andrew's electrical experiments continued for years. He had 1,600 feet of wire strung round the trees at Fyne Court to collect atmospheric electricity. In 1837 he observed that a piece of porous rock in a strong caustic solution through which a current was being passed developed "whitish excrescences" and grew into tiny insects. When this became generally known there was an outcry - Andrew Crosse was described as a "reviler of his holy religion", an atheist, a blasphemer. He was so annoyed at the misrepresentation of his work in the press that, to a large extent, he withdrew from public life and remained at Fyne Court more or less as a recluse. Gradually the controversy died down, but it has never been satisfactorily explained.

On 27 January 1846 Andrew's brother Richard died, followed only four days later by Andrew's wife, Mary Anne, after many years of poor health. Three years later he met the young woman who was to become his second wife, Cornelia Berkeley. On 22 July 1850 Andrew married Cornelia at Marylebone. He was 66, she was 23. On 6 July 1855, only five years after his marriage to Cornelia, Andrew Crosse died at Fyne Court, in the room where he had been born 71 years earlier.