Sir Ernest Marsden

Sir Ernest Marsden was born in Manchester, England in 1889. He excelled at school and joined the Physics Department of Manchester University where he became involved in assisting Ernest Rutherford and Hans Geiger undertake a series of extraordinary experiments which revealed to Rutherford the structure of the atom. 

In his early 20’s Rutherford proposed he take a senior physics post at Victoria University Wellington.  Marsden came to NZ and stayed here for the rest of his life.  He quickly became involved in university management and then on to become a senior manager in government of the education systems and the science system. 

He made a substantial contribution to science and education over many decades, and the significant Marsden Fund, the premier fund for long term science research, is named after him.

Ernest was married twice – first to Margaret Sutcliffe in 1913. They had two children. Margaret died in 1956 and her ashes are in the columbarium at Karori Cemetery, fronting the main drive.  Ernest married Joyce Chote in 1958. Ernest died in 1970 and Joyce in 1990. Their ashes are together in the lawn section by the Seaforth Terrace gate, plot Ch Eng/A/673.

Ernest Marsden. Photo courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library.
Marsden plot. Photo courtesy of Find a Grave