Madeline Cox with the SHA Library display at the SHA AGM, 2011

SHA Chairman Madeline Cox passes away

Madeline Cox with the SHA Library display at the SHA AGM, 2011

Madeline Cox with the SHA Library display at the SHA AGM, 2011

The Society for the History of Astronomy regrets that we have to announce the passing of our Chairman, Madeline Cox, FRAS, who died in her sleep last night.

The shocking and saddening news came to us from her partner and fellow SHA member, Les Jepson, who contacted the Society’s Treasurer, Roger Hutchins.

Madeline had been a little unwell with a bronchial chesty cough since before Christmas, and yesterday her doctor prescribed antibiotics. Her brother and and wife were staying with her and Les last night at her home in Mansfield, and this morning they found that she had passed away.

Mr Jepson will keep us advised of funeral arrangements via Roger Hutchins, and we will pass on any relevant information in due course.

Madeline was one of the very first supporters of the SHA when it was founded at Wadham College, Oxford, in 2002, and as a professional librarian herself, immediately accepted the position of SHA Librarian on the SHA Council, to which she was elected unanimously.

Working with other Councillors, she went on to set up the SHA Library, including the SHA’s first postal lending library, the Sir Patrick Moore Library, which is now part of the society’s Sir Robert Ball Library at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, the place where we meet every October for our Autumn Conference and AGM.

In later years she oversaw the growing SHA library service as Head Librarian and did a great deal to catalogue, document and promote its collections to members and beyond.

Madeline was a strong-minded, highly intelligent and enthusiastic member of Council, always with a sense of humour and a common sense approach, and when our second Chairman, the late Gilbert Satterthwaite, decided to stand down after years of service in 2010, she also took on the challenge of the Chairmanship, in which she proved herself equally capable.

By her enthusiasm and initiatives, and the pleasure she showed in meeting and dealing with members, she has provided splendid leadership.

The SHA Council plans to compile and publish a suitable obituary for Madeline, and any recollections, appreciation, and anecdotes of her will be most welcome; please email them to our Vice-Chairman or to Roger Hutchins

Any brief comments or tributes to Madeline are also welcome using the comments facility below – thank you.

The Council of the SHA

4 thoughts on “SHA Chairman Madeline Cox passes away

  1. Alan G. Penman

    On behalf of the Plymouth Astronomical Society, we wish to offer our sincere condolences to Madeline’s Husband and family at this sad time.
    We have only been a member of the SHA for just over one year and have never had the privilege of meeting Madeline, however it is obvious that her personality, dynamism and determination to succeed have served the SHA well since its formation. She will I am sure be greatly missed by everyone.

    Alan G. Penman.
    Plymouth Astronomical Society.


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