Cecilia Louisa Glaisher [née Belville] 1828-1892 was born on April 20th, in Greenwich, Kent, a daughter of John Henry Belville (1795-1856), an assistant observer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, under George Biddell Airy (1801-1892) the 7th astronomer royal. Little is known about her early life or education except for a pencilled note in one of her father's workbooks dated April 17th 1841 saying that she had begun taking painting lessons. She married James Glaisher (1809-1903), superintendent of the Meteorological and Magnetic department at the Royal Observatory, on December 31st 1843.
James Glaisher became a prominent Victorian scientist. He is remembered today mainly for a series of experiments during balloon ascents, which he undertook in the 1860s in order to investigate and analyse the properties of the upper atmosphere for the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1841, a fellow of the Royal Society in 1849, and helped to initiate the founding of the British Meteorological Society in 1850, serving as a Secretary until 1873 and as President in 1867-68. He worked to organise meteorology into an exact science, promoting the use of accurate, standardised instruments. He was a fellow of the Microscopical Society, and its President in 1865-8. A member of the Photographic Society from 1854, its President between 1869-1874, and again between 1875-1892, interested mainly in the practical, technical, and scientific applications of photography.
The Glaishers had three children: Cecilia Appelina (1845-1932), who emigrated with her family to New Zealand in 1880; James Whitbread Lee (1848-1928), a mathematician at Trinity College, Cambridge, and collector of pottery and porcelain; and Ernest Henry (1858-1885), Curator of the British Guiana Museum in Georgetown, 1883-5, and author of "A Journey on the Berbice River and Wieroonie Creek" (Demerara: Argosy Press, 1885).
For further information see:
DNB entry on James Glaisher and on-line DNB entry on Cecilia Louisa Glaisher.
DNB entry on James Whitbread Lee Glaisher.
Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography entry on Glaisher (Routledge 2007).
Glaisher, James 'Scientific Experiments in Balloons' in Proceedings of the Royal Institution, 4 (1863) pp. 65-72.
Glaisher, J., Flammarion, C., De Fonvielle, W., and Tissandier, G. (1871) Travels in the Air. London: Richard Bentley.
Marten, C. 'Photographed from nature by Mrs. Glaisher: the fern photographs by Cecilia Lousia Glaisher', MA diss, University of the Arts, London, 2002.
Poole, Julia E. 'James Whitbread Lee Glaisher, ScD, FRS (1848-1928), A Cambridge Mathematician and Collector', English Ceramic Circle Transactions, 15, Part 2, (1994), pp. 160-83.
Cecilia Glaisher's work as known at present appears to have been made between 1853 and 1858 and consists of three main bodies of work: photogenic drawings of ferns, coloured nature-prints of leaves, and illustrations of the structure of snow crystals made in mixed media (pencil sketches, pen and ink drawings, magnified photographic copies, some of which have been hand coloured). The material came to the Fitzwilliam Museum after the death in 1928 of the Glaishers' eldest son, James Whitbread Lee, along with the bequest of his pottery and porcelain collection to the Museum. A collection of J.W. L. Glaisher's letters to Miss Parsons were given to the Museum in 1957. These include details of his collecting activities.