Ada Lovelace Day
The 2nd Tuesday of October is Ada Lovelace Day. Launched in 2009, it is an international celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Ada Lovelace (or in full Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace) is the brilliant British mathematician and writer of the very first computer program. What an amazing woman of her time! As a history lover, I was thrilled to realise the connection between our little village and this trailblazing mathematician.
Ada Lovelace and Kirkby Mallory
In the southern corner of our village churchyard, you will find a grade II listed memorial to Ada. Her mother, Lady Anne Isabelle Noel Byron, erected this elaborate memorial after Ada’s death. The memorial can be accessed from the churchyard. The story goes, that the church refused permission for the memorial to be built within their grounds. Apparently due to her father, Lord Byron’s flamboyant and notorious reputation. We got quite excited when we realised it actually fell inside the boundary of Mallory Meadows!
Augusta Ada Byron was born in London on 10th December 1815. Her parents were the famed poet George Gordon Byron 6th Baron Byron & Anne Isabella Noel (nee Milbanke).
The Noel family had been connected to Kirkby Mallory for over 370 years. Ada’s Grandparents, Lady Judith Milbanke (nee Noel) & Sir Ralph Milbanke, inherited the Kirkby Hall estate from Lady Judith’s brother, Lord Wentworth in 1815. Following his death and to comply with the terms of his will, they changed their surname from Milbanke to Noel.
Lord and Lady Byron
Anne Isabella, Ada’s mother a religious woman with strict morals, met Lord Byron whilst on the social scene in London in 1812. They were an unlikely match and he proposed later that year. But Annabella (as she was known to her friends) refused him. Lord Byron asked again in 1814, and in January 1815 they were married at Seaham Hall, County Durham. Lord and Lady Byron had a turbulent relationship. Because of this, the breakdown of their marriage saw Annabella with Ada, just 5 weeks old, move to her parent’s home. Lord Byron didn’t visit his estranged wife and daughter at Kirkby Hall. He left the country in 1816, travelled extensively across Europe and died in Greece in 1824.
Much of Ada’s early childhood was spent at Kirkby Hall with her grandmother. Kirkby Hall was demolished in 1952, but you can find a blue plaque in her honour located on the corner of the old coach house within Mallory Park. A very bright and able child, Ada was educated at home by tutors with an emphasis on science and mathematics. Illness struck her at 8 years old, she had vision-obscuring headaches. And caught measles when she was 13 which left her paralyzed for almost a year. But despite these serious illnesses she still went on to achieve remarkable things.
Ada Lovelace – Adult Life
Ada married William 8th Baron King on 8 July 1835 and they had 3 children, Byron (born 1836); Anne Isabella (Born 1837); Ralph Gordon (Born 1839). In 1838 Ada inherited the extinct Barons Lovelace titles making her and William Countess and Earl of Lovelace.
During Ada’s time working with Charles Babbage 1842-43 (Inventor and mathematician), she described an algorithm for his Analytical engine to compute numbers. Her published algorithm explained how Babbage’s engine could perform a sequence of calculations. And this is why Ada is referred to as the first computer programmer! More information on Ada’s life and remarkable achievements can be found here.
Ada sadly died of cancer on 27th November 1852 aged 36. And is buried, at her request, next to her father at the church of St Mary Magdalene in Hucknall Nottinghamshire.
Do add on a visit to Ada’s Memorial during your stay at Mallory Meadows.