Hester Periam Hawkins was the wife of the famed five times Mayor of Bedford, Joshua Hawkins. She was born in Wantage, Oxfordshire on 18th. November 1846. They had married at Wantage in August 1869 and came to Bedford when Hawkins resigned (for doctrinal reasons) as a Methodist Minister and purchased part ownership of the Bedfordshire Times newspaper. The family lived first in Ashburnham Road, then Linden Road and after the death of her husband Mrs. Hawkins moved to Landsdowne Road before finally leaving the town to reside in Surrey with a married daughter.
Joshua is part of the history of Bedford being responsible for many of the improvements in the town which took place during his leadership, among these the clearances of Waterloo, the redevelopment of the Embankment area and of course the provision of Bedford Park. He was also instrumental in the re constitution of the Harpur Charity.
Joshua’s wife Hester was the least qualified of the Bedford astronomers but her contributions to the Royal Astronomical Society are well documented and acknowledged and she certainly succeeded in making her mark in the male dominated world of astronomy. Although she was purely an amateur astronomer she wrote and published , ‘’ABC Guide To Astronomy,’’ ‘’Astronomy For Busy People’’ and ‘’The Stars From Year To Year – With Charts For Every Month’’ all still available in print and on the internet. She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in January 1921 and was a great supporter of the theories expounded by Charles Smyth.
Mrs. Hawkins was a follower of the Liberal cause and remained in Bedford with her six young children for a number of years after the early death of her husband in 1892. She was a committed member of the Methodist faith contributing to a new Methodist Hymn Book ‘’The Home Hymn Book.’’ Although she died in Surrey in May 1928, she is buried with her husband in Bedford Cemetery.
Kindly submitted by Trevor Stewart