Corresponding Member: Bishop J.A. Newnham


Jervois Arthur Newnham was an Anglican bishop in Canada from 1893 to 1921.
Born into an ecclesiastical family in 1852, he was educated at McGill University and began his ordained ministry as a curate at Christ Church Cathedral, Montréal after which he was the incumbent of Onslow. Later he was the rector of St Matthias' Montréal. He became the Bishop of Moosonee in 1891 and was translated to Saskatchewan in 1904. He returned to England in 1921, becoming the rector of Clifton, Bedfordshire. Newnham died on 12 January 1941.

At a meeting of the Astronomical and Physical Society of Toronto on 1895-04-02, on motion of Mr. G.E. Lumsden, seconded by Rev. C.H. Shortt, M.A., the Right Reverend Jervois Arthur Newnham, D.D., of Moose Factory, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Moosonee, was duly elected a corresponding member of the Society.

Mr. Lumsden said it had been his privilege, in another place, to hear Dr. Newnham describe the meteorological conditions which, especially in the winter season, prevail in the neighbourhood of St. James' Bay. These descriptions included accounts of aurorae, some of which had been rather remarkable. Not infrequently, displays lasting through several nights are witnessed, the supposition being that they really are active day and night during the time, but, as suitable instruments for detecting evidence of this are not yet in the country, the fact cannot be established, As a rule, the aurorae belong to the ordinary type, the whitish glow being however intensified to a degree far in excess of that to which we, in southern Canada, are accustomed. The light, which is said to be at times, quite equal to that of the full Moon, is often very steady, a feature of which it is His Lordship's intention to take advantage during the coming winter, to ascertain whether the landscape can be photographed by its means. At times, the skies are made gorgeous by the splendidly hued fan-like streamers, or rays, and by curtains with golden draperies whirling, or in rapid undulatory motion, and by tints, more or less strongly defined, of blue, yellow, green, white, and red, everywhere apparent over the violently agitated heavens. Though the prospects of success are not assured, it is the Bishop's intention, as special occasion offers, to expose some very rapid dry-plates for the purpose of ascertaining whether any of the auroral effects can be reproduced by photography. Dr. Newnham had more than once heard the crepitating or rustling sound associated by some observers with brilliant displays, and described it as being quite distinct at times. The intensity of the aurorae reported, is confirmatory of Humboldt, who, during an aurora witnessed by him, on the 7th of January 1831, was able to read printed characters, and of Bravais who states that in Finmark he could read by the auroral light "a page of small print almost as easily as by the light of the full Moon." The Bishop evinced a great interest in the work of the Society, and promised to send to it, from time to time, an account of such noteworthy observations as he was able to make during his residence at Moose Factory and during his journeyings through his vast Diocese in the performance of the duties of his office.

His Lordship corresponded further with the Society in a letter about the aurorae on 1896-02-21.

Title/Given Name: 
Right Rev. Jervois Arthur
United Kingdom/Canada