Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 920-921


Hay, William Thomson

  • Patrick MooreAffiliated with

BornStockton-on-Tees, (Cleveland), England, 6 December 1888

DiedChelsea, (London), England, 18 April 1949

William Hay was an accomplished amateur astronomer who made one major discovery – the white spot on the planet Saturn – in 1933. To the public, however, he will be better remembered as Will Hay, the stage and screen comic actor.

Hay’s father, William Robert Hay, an engineer from Aberdeen, Scotland, married Elizabeth Ebdon in 1884; their union produced six children. The Hay family moved to England and a few years after William, the future astronomer, was born at Stockton-on-Tees, the family relocated to Manchester. It was there, when he was 15, that Hay met Gladys Perkins; they were married in 1907. Hay became an engineer apprentice, but was never really comfortable in that role. He had a great aptitude for languages, and having taught himself French, German, and subsequently Italian, he became an interpreter for a printers’ association in Manchester.

Meanwhile, Hay had taken part in ch ...

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