Stephen Peter Rigaud

12th Aug 1774 - 16th Mar 1839


Oxford mathematician and astronomer, interested in the claims of his brother-in-law Joseph William Jordan in Barbados: Rigaud signed at the National Debt Office for the compensation for the enslaved people on three estates in Barbados.

  1. Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, in 1806 and Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Exeter College in 1821. Stephen Peter Rigaud married Christian Walker Jordan in St Margaret, Westminster, 08/06/1815. Rigaud's father-in-law was Gibbes W[alker] Jordan, 'a barrister' according to the ODNB but also a slave-owner in Barbados. Rigaud's wife, Christian Walker, died in 1827. Their son, Stephen Jordan Rigaud, was bishop of Antigua and is himself in the ODNB. Gibbes Walker Jordan had left Christian Walker Rigaud £2000, apparently over and above an unspecified amount under her marriage settlement, in his will provide in 1823.

  2. Memorial inscription in St James's Churchyard, Piccadilly: "Near this spot lie the remains of Stephen Peter Rigaud, MA Professor of Astronomy in the University of Oxford and Radcliffe Observer. Born August 12th 1774. Died March 16th 1839. His surviving children have placed this tablet to his memory." The will of Stephen Peter Rigaud, Master of Arts and Savilian Professor of Astronomy in the University of Oxford.

  3. The papers of Stephen Peter Rigaud are held at the Bodleian Library.

  4. There is a portrait of Stephen Peter Rigaud and Mary Anne Rigaud as children by their uncle John Francis Rigaud, now in the Ashmolean, Oxford. 'This portrait, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1778, shows the children of the artist's brother, James Stephen Rigaud, Astronomer Royal: Stephen Peter Rigaud (1774–1839), who was four, and his elder sister, who was seven. They are seen playfully embracing each other in Richmond Park; the building in the background is Kew Observatory, where their father was employed. S. P. Rigaud spent his later years at Oxford, where he was Savilian Professor of Geometry, 1810–1827 and of Astronomy, 1827–1839.

    A copy of the painting can be seen here.


NB letter to Commissioners from 'J. Duckworth' [this must in fact have been Samuel Duckworth, a barrister who was himself one of the non-salaried Commissioners] received 31/12/1835: 'will you have the goodness to enable me to answer the accompanying question from the Professor of astronomy at Oxford' re claim for an estate of Joseph Jordan in Barbadoes: 'I know there are no counterclaims but you do not proceed upon the counterclaims in Barbadoes till March, is that all I can say to Rigaud?

  1., UK, Poll Books and Electoral Registers, 1538-1893 [database online];, London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932 [database online]; ODNB online, Roger Hutchins, 'Rigaud, Stephen Peter (1774-1839), astronomer'; C. A. Harris, ‘Rigaud, Stephen Jordan (1816–1859)’, rev. H. C. G. Matthew, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008 [, accessed 28 Sept 2013].

  2. [accessed 07/01/2021]; PROB 11/1911/155.


We are grateful to Peter Selley for his assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

Christian Walker Jordan

PROB 11/1911/155 - precis.

Stephen Peter Rigaud, Master of Arts and Savilian Professor of Astronomy in the University of Oxford.

My friend John David Macbride, Doctor in Civil Law and Principal of Magdalen Hall to be executor.

To my uncle Stephen George Francis Cribondet Demainbray, Clerk, and John David Macbride, £800 three per cent consolidated bank annuities in trust for the following purposes. To pay all the dividends to my sister Mary Ann Rigaud during her life and after her death to divide the said sum of £800 equally among such children as shall be living.

All my manuscripts and all my written papers together with my mother's bible in which are entries of the births of all my children to my eldest son Stephen Jordan Rigaud.

All rest and residue to be divided equally among all my children. John David Macbride and his wife Mary Macbride to be guardians of my children.

Signed 29/05/1833.

Proved at London 09/05/1839.

Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (3)

£6,497 14s 5d
Other association
£2,837 3s 4d
Other association
£5,427 14s 1d
Other association

Legacies Summary

Cultural (1)

Royal Society...... 
notes →
For the full record of Rigaud's membership of the Royal Society see Royal...

Relationships (2)

Son-in-law → Father-in-law

Addresses (1)

Oxford, Oxfordshire, Central England, England