Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)

The World’s First Computer Programmer

Ada, Countess of Lovelace, 1839, engraving by William Henry Mote, after Alfred Edward Chalon (By permission of the National Portrait Gallery)

Ada, Countess of Lovelace, 1839, engraving by William Henry Mote,
after Alfred Edward Chalon
(By permission of the National Portrait Gallery)

Ada Lovelace is recognised as the world’s first computer scientist. She was an English mathematician, famous for writing a description of Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer the Analytical Engine.

She was the first to recognise that the machine had uses beyond pure calculation, creating the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine that Babbage had not yet even invented. As such she is regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of a ‘computing machine’ and the first computer programmer.

Following her marriage to William King-Noel, Earl of Lovelace, in 1835, Ada lived at Sandown House in Esher and Ada’s mother lived nearby at Moore Place. Ada and William later moved to Ockham Park, near East Horsley, where they lived until 1846, after which they lived at Horsley Towers.

Ada died of uterine cancer aged 37, and at her own request was buried next to her father, Lord Byron, in the family vault at Newstead Abbey, Hucknall Torknard, near Nottingham.

Read about Ada Lovelace’s marriage settlement (SHC ref G165/1/43) in Surrey History Centre’s March 2019 Marvel of the Month feature – ‘Romance and red tape: the Lovelace marriage settlement of 1835‘.

Ada Lovelace is just one of the talented Surrey Women featured in Surrey Museums Month 2017. To find out more about the event and other celebrated Surrey Women click here.

For the Oxford DNB entry for Ada Lovelace see https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-37253#

For details of the Lovelace Mausoleum see http://easthorsleychurch.org.uk/about-us/lovelace-mausoleum-2/.

For the ‘Surrey Life‘ magazine article with local historian and East Horsley expert, Pam Bowley, see https://www.surreylife.co.uk/people/victorian-visionary-ada-lovelace-a-pioneer-of-the-computer-age-from-surrey-1-4437520.

Extract courtesy of Elmbridge Museum with additional information from Surrey History Centre.

2 thoughts on “Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)”

  1. Garry Walton says:

    As I have pointed out previously to you.
    Ada did not live at Sandown House Esher.
    Her mother Lady Byron lived at Moore Place.
    Ada lived at Ockham Park and Horsley Towers.
    Please correct your mistake or offer proof.
    Many Thanks
    Cllr. Garry Walton
    Ockham

    1. ESP Admin says:

      Dear Cllr Walton

      We always appreciate feedback as this helps us ensure that the information we provide is correct.

      Following your original enquiry of 14th March we checked our sources and found that this information was provided to us by Elmbridge Museum as part of Surrey Museums Month 2017. We may well have fallen foul of either trusting another source without checking the provenance or paraphrasing more detailed research and losing the context.

      We contacted Elmbridge Museum and they promised to look back through their sources to try to find the reference to the connection between Ada Lovelace and Sandown House in Esher.

      Shortly afterwards many organisations went in to lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic and this restricted access to buildings and collections. The staff at Elmbidge Museum appologised for not being able to report back to you with an answer and asked for forebearance. Their ‘retired’ Local Studies Research volunteers did not visit the Museum the week before lockdown and subsequently neither they nor the Museum staff returned to the Civic Centre.

      The curator looked at their Collections database and what other few Museum electronic resources they could access whilst working from home but to no avail.

      Until they can physically access the Civic Centre to view both the local studies area files and the Elmbridge Hundred project documentation, they cannot really make any progress with the enquiry.

      As the COVID lockdown restrictions have only recently been relaxed, Elmbridge Museum staff have still not had a chance to check their records. As soon as the records are checked we will make any necessary changes to the web page.

      Please be assured, this hasn’t been forgotten but, as I am sure you can appreciate, recent circumstances have made normal working difficult.

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