One of Thatcham’s best known celebrities is the world famous astronomer Francis Baily, who was born on the 28th April 1774 in Newbury, but having strong ties with Thatcham. He braved many hazards charting huge tracks of unexplored land in America, later returning home to become a successful stockbroker. His interest in astronomy led him to take a prominent part in the foundation of the Astronomical Society, of which he held various posts including Secretary, Vice President and President. He also held posts in the Royal Society. He died in Italy in 1844AD, and was buried at his own request, in Thatcham Church, despite the fact that he was offered burial in Westminster Abbey.