BSHM Gazetteer -- LONDON People A-C

Main Gazetteer A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | London | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Bibliography & Acknowledgements


Written by David Singmaster (zingmast@sbu.ac.uk ). Links to relevant external websites are being added occasionally to this gazetteer but the BSHM has no control over the availability or contents of these links. Please inform the BSHM Webster (A.Mann@gre.ac.uk) of any broken links.

[When the gazetteer was edited for serial publication in the BSHM Newsletter, references were omitted since the bibliography was too substantial to be included. Publication on the web permits references to be included for material now being added to the website, but they are still absent from material originally prepared for the Newsletter - TM, August 2002]

Because of its size, the London section of the Gazetteer is divided into eight pages: the main index page; scientific institutions and societies; the British Museum, British Library and Science Museum; other institutions and places; and mathematical people: A - C (this page), D - G, H - M, N - R and S - Z. Inevitably these categories are somewhat arbitrary so use of the index page and / or the Search facility is recommended.

Contents of this page

A

B

B (continued)

C


Return to the top.


Edwin Abbott Abbott (1838-1926), author of Flatland (1884), was a student at, and then Headmaster (1865‑1889) of the City of London School, which recently vacated its 1883 site facing the Thames by Blackfriars Bridge in 1883. The School has a portrait, a plaque and other mementoes of him, but I don't know if the plaque has been moved to the new site on the other side of the bridge. His house, at Wellside, Well Walk, Hampstead, has a plaque, but it commemorates the site of the Hampstead Wells. He is buried in the West Hampstead Cemetery, Fortune Green, West Hampstead, where his grave has been recently found by Tom Banchoff. [Ian Stewart (author of The Annotated Flatland, 2002) gave a talk about Abbott to the BSHM at the University of Greenwich, 4th May 2002 TM]


Sir George Biddell Airy (1801-1892) was Astronomer Royal, 1835‑1881, but I don't know where he lived - possibly at the Royal Observatory ?? Copley Medal RS, 1831. PBAAS, 1851. PRS, 1871-1873. Commemorative plaque in the vestibule of Greenwich Parish Church (St. Alfege's). [Doron Swade gave a talk to the BSHM about Airy at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 29th June 2002 TM]


Prince Albert was tutored by Quetelet (where?).


Elias Allen (early 17C) was the leading instrument maker of his day. He was at the 'Sign of the Horse Shoe, near Essex Gate, over against St. Clement's Church, Strand'. [Wray]


There was a nude statue of Archimedes at Lombard Road & York Road, Battersea [Ash, p.154], but it had been removed when I went to look for it in 1988.


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


The birthplace of Charles Babbage (1791-1871) has been recently determined - it is about where Larcom St., SE17, enters Walworth Road in south London [Hyman, pp.5 & 10-11].. Following suggestions of Hyman and myself, a 'Historic Southwark' plaque was erected on the site in 1991. Baptised at St. Mary Newington on 6 Jan 1792. The Babbages move to 10 George Street, Adelphi, later called 10 York Buildings, in late 1799. In 1803, Charles's father and the family retire to Totnes, Devon.

After Cambridge and marriage, he moves to 31 Arundel Street, Strand, in 1814, then 46 Lucas Street, Brunswick Square, before settling at 5 Devonshire Street, Portland Place, in 1815. In 1815, he lectures on astronomy at the Royal Institution.

FRS, 1816; FRSE, 1820. Helps found RAS, RSS, BAAS.

c1820, he begins work on his Difference Engine. In 1822, he has a prototype Difference Engine. In 1823, he is awarded one of the first Gold Medals of the Astronomical Society for the Difference Engine. In 1823, Babbage employs Joseph Clement at 21 Prospect Place, now 63 St. George's Road, near Elephant and Castle, and begins work on the Difference Engine to have 20 figures and constant 6th differences. The first three columns would have 6 extra places. It would have been 9' x 9' x 3'6" deep, have had 25,000 parts and have weighed c4 tons.

In 1824, he calculates life assurance tables for The Protector Life Assurance Company, which doesn't start. These tables remain in wide use until superseded by those calculated on the copy of the Scheutz Difference Engine in 1864. In 1826, he publishes A Comparative View of the Various Institutions for the Assurance of Lives - the first treatise on actuarial theory.

In 1827, his second son, his wife and a newly born son die, leading to a breakdown and he is advised to travel, which he does for a year. In 1828, Babbage is unanimously elected Lucasian Professor though he had not applied for the post - indeed as he was travelling, he probably didn't know the post was vacant. He resigned the post in 1839 without ever lecturing at Cambridge. After his return to England in 1828, he leases Dorset House, 1 Dorset Street, Manchester Square (formerly the home of W. H. Wollaston), where he remains until his death. (St. Marylebone plaque unveiled on 2 Oct 1996.)

In 1830-1834, Babbage moves the construction of the Difference Engine from Clement's workshop to fireproof buildings erected at 2-4 Dorset Street, adjacent to Dorset House. Clement assembles a portion of the Difference Engine as a test piece in 1833. This is the portion now in the Science Museum. It was moved to Dorset Street and extensively demonstrated. It has 6 (or 5) figures and constant 3rd differences. Actually the first and second difference columns have only 5 figures, and the second difference column was modified to have only 3, the other 3 being used to count steps. (Or the constant 3rd difference could only be one digit.) Clement becomes extortionate over expenses in moving to Dorset Street and on 10 April, 1833, Babbage refuses to pay. Clement sacks the men working on the Engine, including Whitworth(?), refuses to hand over parts or drawings until he is paid in full, and generally is as difficult as possible. He had made about 12,000 of the 25,000 parts needed.

His On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures of 1832, is generally considered the beginning of operational research and a significant contribution to political economy, influencing Mill and Marx. He analyses the cost of letter post and suggests a uniform rate - the degree of dependence of Rowland Hill's later proposal of a penny post upon Babbage's work is a matter of contention. By 1833, a 3rd ed. was necessary.

In 1834, he has the first idea of the Analytical Engine, which he develops over the next few years into a general purpose computer. At this time, the government declined to provide any more funding for the Difference Engine and only minimal mechanical work on both Engines is ever done after this time.

In 1838-1839, Babbage carries out a five month study of railway performance and gauges for the GWR. He develops chart recorders and suggests automatic speed recorder for each engine (this ides has evolved into the tachyometer used in lorries and the 'black box' used in airplanes, etc.). His 1839 report to the GWR proprietors demonstrates conclusively the superiority of the wide gauge and it is continued.

In 1845-1846, Babbage, with assistance from Faraday, develops coloured lighting for theatres. He devises a demonstration ballet, performed at the Italian Opera House (now Her Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket). The proprietor felt the lighting was too hazardous and did not continue with it.

Invented ophthalmoscope in 1847 and gave it to a surgeon friend to try out and the surgeon never did so. Re-invented and exploited by Helmholtz in 1851.

In 1851, he develops and demonstrates his system of occulting lights for lighthouses, now in wide use. Publishes Notes Respecting Lighthouses. The idea was adopted by the US Lighthouse Board in 1861

His autobiographical Passages from the Life of a Philosopher appears in 1864.

Buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in northwest London (I have a photo of the grave), but his brain is on display in the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln's Inn Fields. Victor Horsley published a "Description of the brain of Mr. Charles Babbage, F.R.S." in the Phil. Trans., Ser. B, 200 (1908) 117‑131.

After his death, his son Henry attempts to assemble pieces and build his own version of an Analytical Engine - these are in the Science Museum.


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was born in York House, on the south side of the Strand, roughly on the NE side of Charing Cross Station, adjacent to the present York Buildings. The Water Gate of York House remains, now separated from the river by Victoria Embankment Gardens. He was baptised in St. Martin-in-the-Fields. He lived at York House until his father's death in 1579 and later returned in 1618-1621. After his downfall in 1622, he had to sell the lease and the house was demolished in 1626. [Eastman, p.234.] He lived intermittently at Twickenham Park (now demolished) in 1595-1605, where he produced The Advancement of Learning, 1605. Lived in Canonbury Tower 1616-1625, where he produced Novum Organum, 1620. ([Eastman, p.234] asserts this was written at York House.) He was a student at Gray's Inn, and had rooms at 1 Gray's Inn Square from 1577 to 1622 - the site has now been covered by Verulam Buildings. (Other sources say he had the rooms until 1606 and then after c1620.) Died at Arundel House, Highgate, on 9 Apr 1626 after catching a chill in experimenting with stuffing a chicken with snow to preserve it. (Being put into a damp bed didn't help matters.) While dying, he dictated a letter saying that the experiment had "answered excellently well". Arundel House stood until 1825 on the site of the present St. Michael's Church, which incorporates parts of the earlier foundations. He laid out much of the gardens at Gray's Inn [see under entry for Grays Inn]. Statue in South Square of Gray's Inn, erected in 1912. [Eastman, pp.234-235.] Bust on front of library in Holloway Road.


John Logie Baird (1888-1946) is best known for his development of television, but in the process he made some other inventions or proposals which are less well known but perhaps of greater interest to mathematicians. He came to London in 1924 (or 1925??) and lived at 'Green Gables', Middle Road, Harrow (plaque). He established a lab at 22 Frith Street (Blue Plaque), where he made his first successful TV experiment on 2 Oct 1925 and was so pleased he rushed out and grabbed a 15-year old boy named William Taynton to move in front of the camera - so Taynton was the first person to ever be on TV! [Elson, pp.22-23]. First demonstrated his television to members of RI at 22 Frith Street on 26 Jan 1926. In 1926, he patented the basic ideas of radar which he had developed by 1923 (though Richardson had the basic idea some years earlier and Hertz had observed the basic effect about 1888; see Sections under National Physical Laboratory). In 1927 he used a radar to detect an aircraft over London. [McArthur.] In 1926, he suggested using a tube with reflecting sides to act as a light guide - the first idea of fibre optics - but he was not able to make any practical version [Storer, p.131]. Makes first video recording, on a disc, in 1928. c1928, he develops Noctovision, a forerunner of radar. Some of his equipment is in The Museum of the Moving Image.

Lived at 84 Lawn Road, Belsize Park, Hampstead, in the 1930s [Wade (3), p. 29]. Had laboratories in Crystal Palace in 1929-1936. After marriage in 1931, he lived at 3 Crescent Wood Road, Sydenham, from 1934 till his death (Blue Plaque) (photo in [Darby, opp.p.81]).

He patented thermostatic socks and successfully sold them in his youth, as well as several unsuccessful ideas - a safety razor (that wasn't); pneumatic shoe soles (that burst) and a machine for making imitation diamonds (which blew up). [Elson, p.81.]

There is a 'John Baird' public house in Fortis Green Road near Alexandra Palace and a Baird Gardens in Dulwich.

[Dakers, pp.9-10. Hutchinson.]


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Walter William Rouse Ball (1850-1925) was born in Hampstead, presumably at his father's house, 3 St. John's Park Villas, now in Parkhill Road [Alumni Cantabrigiensis].


Isaac Barrow (1630-1677) was born in London and was Gresham Professor of Geometry in 1662‑1664. He died while on a visit to London from Cambridge, staying 'in mean lodgings over a saddler's shop near Charing Cross'. But [Eves (6), p.16] says he died in Cambridge.


The Rev. Thomas Bayes (1702-1761), of Bayes' Theorem, is buried in the famous nonconformists' cemetery of Bunhill Fields, City Road. Bayes' monument was restored in 1969 "with contributions received from statisticians throughout the world". Richard Price (1733-1791), who published Bayes' paper in 1764, is also buried here, just to the right of the City road entrance where his surname has eroded away. There are a number of other restored monuments nearby, including John Bunyan, William Blake and Daniel Defoe. A map in the middle of the Fields shows the locations of all these monuments. Bayes was minister to the Presbyterian Meeting House, Little Mount Sion, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, from about 1728 to 1752 and lived there until his death. [Dale, personal visit]


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Eric Temple Bell (1883-1960) lived briefly as a boy at 'Pen y Bryn' (or 'Penbryn') at 15 Fox Hill, at the junction of Fox Hill and Tudor road overlooking Crystal Palace Park. He was greatly impressed by the famous replica dinosaurs in the Park. After emigrating to America in 1902 and becoming a mathematician, he also was a pioneer science fiction writer under the name of John Taine. His 1934 novel Before the Dawn is one of the earliest examples of 'dinosaur' fiction and, with Conan Doyle's Lost World (1912), is an ancestor of Jurassic Park etc. This entry previously suggested that Pen y Bryn had disappeared, but a correspondent writes, "Though back in the 1970s someone did indeed attempt to get permission to demolish Pen y Bryn, I can assure you that it is still standing -and is still on the corner of Fox Hill and Tudor Road. not very near the Park, however... in fact, I'm there now.... I've owned it for the last 15 years." It appears on the right of Camille Pissarro's painting 'Fox Hill'. [Savage. John Coulter; Norwood Past; Historical Publications, London, 1996, p.122, mentions the building]


Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was born in Houndsditch. [Eastman, p.235] identifies it more specifically as Red Lion Yard (now vanished), at the NE corner of Creechurch Lane and Duke's Place. At 18, he was a student at the Court of King's Bench, London. In 1766-1792, he lived at Lincoln's Inn, at 1 Elm Court and at 6 Old Buildings [Eastman, p.235]. He lived at The Bird Cage, Queen's Square Place, now Queen Anne's Gate, from 1792. He had a country house, Barrow Green, near Godstone, Surrey (then far south of London). He coined the words 'maximize' and 'minimize' [Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue: The English Language, Penguin, 1991, p.167].

It is often stated that he was a principal founder of UCL and left his entire estate to it, but the UCL leaflet says he was not a founder, though he influenced several of the founders and he only left some of his books to UCL. His 'auto-icon', prepared by Southwood Smith, is in a glass case at UCL and is often on display, but the head had to be replaced by a wax mask very early on [Welfare & Fairley, p.96 with photo on cover and p.97; Lambton, pp.138-139, with photo of the dried head]. The effigy was at Southwood Smith's house for seven years before he gave it to UCL in 1850. The UCL leaflet says it was in Smith's consulting rooms and its arrival at the College is recorded in the Minutes for 23 Mar 1850. When last examined in 1939, the clothes had been somewhat damaged by moths and were cleaned and the vest replaced.[B. N. Morton, pp.75-76. Nicholas, p.84. Greenwood, p.133 with poor photo on p.135. University College London, The 'Auto-Icon' of Jeremy Bentham at University College London, leaflet, nd (obtained in 1998).] Bust in the University Library in Senate House.


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753), of The Analyst, lies in St. Clement Danes, Aldwych. However, I recently visited the church, which was heavily damaged in the last war. No monuments and no records survived, so the Church has no knowledge of Berkeley. A crypt of coffins was cleared after the war and the churchyard is now under the roadway, so it seems unlikely that he can be found. But Houghton says he was buried in Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford, and [Hammond, p.110] says he was buried at Oxford. Berkeley set out on his trip to the New World from Gravesend in Sep 1728 [Houghton].


John Desmond Bernal (1901-1971) spent most of his working life at Birkbeck College and pioneered the use of x-rays to study crystals and molecular structures, showing that even large organic molecules could be analysed in 1934. Dorothy Hodgkin and Max Perutz were his students and went on to earn Nobel Prizes in the field in 1964 and 1962. (But apparently Hodgkin was Bernal's student while Bernal was at Cambridge in the early 1930s.) Bernal and Hodgkin carried out the initial studies which showed that x-ray crystallography of proteins was feasible, but Perutz was the first to determine the structure of a protein, haemoglobin. Bernal and R. H. Fowler elucidated the structure of water in 1933. [Klotz, pp. 73-75]


Paul Bernays (1888-1977) was born in London.


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


George Parker Bidder (1806-1878), 'The Calculating Boy', briefly attended Wilson's Grammar School, Camberwell, c1816-1817, and appeared before Queen Charlotte. He settled in London, c1824, married in St. Martin-in-the-Fields in 1835 and moved to Lower Cottage, South Lambeth Road (site unknown) in c1837. A bit later, he was at Rose Hall, 8 Saville Row, Walworth. In 1836, he bought Mitcham Hall with 30 acres on each side of the Wandle. The Hall stood on the S. side of London Road, Mitcham, opposite two blocks of council flats, one called Gedge Court. It seems he later demolished this and built Ravensbury Park House, later demolished by his grandson [Wandle Industrial Museum, Vestry Hall, London Road, Mitcham, An Hour Passed at Ravensbury Park, London Borough of Merton, nd, (c1990)]. In 1877, he sold Mitcham Hall and retired to his native Devon.

Resident Engineer on Brunswick Wharf, East India Dock, in 1832-1834. Joined Robert Stephenson on London & Birmingham RW in 1834. In 1842, Stephenson & Bidder was established at 35 Great George St., then at no. 24, adjacent to the Institution of Civil Engineers, from 1844. This may just be a renumbering of the street?? [Clark, p.113] says they were at no. 24 from the late 1830s, but p.37 says they were at 35 in 1842. No formal partnership records exist, but they were working together from 1835 and are listed as Stephenson & Bidder in postal directories from 1842. In 1845, he formed the Electric Telegraph Co. In 1850‑1855, he proposed, designed and built Victoria Docks. On 19 & 26 Feb 1856, he gave his lectures 'On mental calculation' to the Institution of Civil Engineers. [Clark.]


Henry Billingsley (c1545-1606) first translated Euclid into English (1570). Later he was Lord Mayor of London and he was buried in St. Catherine (or Katherine) Coleman, Church Lane, south of Fenchurch St., but the church and the lane have vanished. There is a City plaque commemorating the church at 66a Fenchurch St., near St. Katherine's Row. [Corporation of London]


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett, (Lord Blackett) (1897-1974) was Professor of Physics at Birkbeck College, 1933-1937. On the 'Tizard Committee' to develop radar from its formation in 1935. During WW2, he developed the ideas of operational research and convinced the Admiralty in 1941 that it could be useful. It was first applied to the control of anti-aircraft fire, but soon spread to Coastal Command. Prof. E. J. Williams analysed the performance of depth charges against German U-boats and showed they would be much more effective if set to explode at 25 feet instead of 100 feet. This was done and the improvement was so spectacular that the Germans thought a new secret weapon was being used [G. R. Taylor, pp. 55-56]. Nobel Prize in Physics for work on cosmic rays and mesons, etc., 1948. Professor of Physics at Imperial College, 1953-1965. Copley Medal RS, 1956. Senior Research Fellow at Imperial, 1965-1974. CH, 1965. PRS, 1965-1970. OM, 1967. Baron, 1969.


Sir Hermann Bondi (1919- ) came to London as Professor of Applied Mathematics at King's College London in 1954. A secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1956-1964. FRS 1959. From 1967, he became a leading scientific adviser. Director General of the European Space Research organization, 1967-1971. Fellow of King's College, 1968. Chief Scientific Adviser, Ministry of Defence, 1971-1977. Chief Scientist, Department of Energy, 1977-1980. Hon. FIEE, 1979. Lived at Reigate. Master of Churchill College, Cambridge, from 1983.


Mary Boole came to London in 1865 as Librarian at Queen's College. She and her five daughters lived in the top of the one of the College buildings, 68 Harley Street, which she ran as a boarding house for students until 1873. The Boole daughters attended the College. She then became secretary to James Hinton, father of Charles Howard Hinton (1853-1907), the early proponent of other-dimensional worlds who married the eldest Boole daughter, also named Mary. The elder Mary Boole then lived at 16 Ladbroke Grove [MacHale, p.265]. She developed the idea of curve stitching. The second Boole daughter, Margaret, married an artist and was the mother of Geoffrey Ingram Taylor, the mathematical physicist. The third daughter, Alicia Boole Stott, made remarkable contributions to the study of four-dimensional polyhedra - see under Cambridge. The fourth daughter, Lucy, became a chemist. The fifth daughter, Ethel Lilian, married Wilfrid Michail Voynich and became a revolutionary and then a noted novelist, author of The Gadfly.


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was a student at Eton from age 8 for about 4 years. Moved to London about 1663. He lived near the Fulham Road in Chelsea and with his sister, Lady Ranelagh, in Pall Mall. Declined PRS and the Provostship of Eton. Buried in the chancel of St. Martin's in the Fields (but the church has since moved). There is a silver memorial cup commemorating Boyle in the silver collection at the Courtauld Institute. There was a bust at Kew, later moved to Kensington Palace [A. Q. Morton, pp.29-30].


James Bradley (1695-1762), 3rd Astronomer Royal, studied with his uncle Joseph Pound, Vicar of Wanstead, qv. After Pound's death in 1724, he took over the Wanstead observatory, which he used until becoming Astronomer Royal in 1742. He also made observations from Samuel Molyneux's (qv) house at Kew Green and it was there that they began observations of Gamma Draconis and found an anomalous displacement. He continued the observations from Wanstead. In 1728, he was in a group sailing on the Thames and observed that the wind apparently changed direction each time the boat put about, but the boatman said the wind was constant and the change was only due to the boat's changing direction. Bradley recognised that his astronomical anomaly was due to the same process, discovering the aberration of light which he announced to the RS in 1729. This demonstrated the finite speed of light and that the earth moves around the sun - being the first proof of the earth's movement around the sun. He determined the distances of the sun and moon by correlating with observations made at the Cape of Good Hope. He found that light takes 8 min 13 sec to reach the earth from the sun. In 1831 or 1834 William IV had a sundial erected on the Kew site - this is now in front of the Dutch House in Kew Gardens. Bradley also used Wanstead to verify Newton's prediction of the nutation of the earth, announced in 1748 after an 18 year sequence of observations. He received the 1748 Copley Medal for this. [Low, pp.33-36. Hackmann, p.25.]


Thomas Bradwardine (c1290-1349) died at Lambeth, [Ball (5), p.6], but is buried at Canterbury. He had come to London shortly after being invested as Archbishop of Canterbury but contracted the Black Death and died two days after arriving.


William Henry Bragg (1862-1942) came to London as Quain Professor of Physics at UCL in 1915, the year he and his son won the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1923, he became Director of the Royal Institution, until his death. He brought several co-workers with him to UCL - Astbury, Bernal and Lonsdale - establishing a major centre of crystallography. They determined the structure of naphthalene crystals, the first organic crystal to be analysed. PBAAS, 1928. His son, William Lawrence Bragg (1890-1971), was Director of the Royal Institution in 1953-1965. There are some memorabilia at the Royal Institution.


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974) worked on statistical analysis of bombing losses in WW2. Scientific Deputy to British Chiefs of Staff Mission to Japan and wrote The Effects of the Atomic Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was statistician at the Ministry of Works in 1946-1950. Director of Coal Research Establishment, 1950-1963. The Common Sense of Science, 1951. Went to US in 1964. The Ascent of Man, 1974. Died in USA, buried in Highgate West Cemetery. [Culbertson & Randall, pp.209-210.]


William, 2nd Viscount Brouncker (c1620-1684), corresponded with Fermat and introduced continued fractions to solve the misnamed Pell's equation - cf Pell, below. He also found a (the first?) series for the logarithm and proposed a new musical scale with 17 notes. MP for Westbury in the convention parliament of 1660. A founder FRS and President from the first Charter, 1662-1677. President of Gresham College, 1664-1667. Later a high official in the Admiralty and hence a good friend of Pepys who saw him several times a week. Lived in St. James's Street, Westminster, and died there. Buried in the chapel of St. Catherine's Hospital (Katharine?), near the Tower, of which he had been Master since 1681. Portrait by Lely in the RS. [DNB]

[I had recalled that he nearly bankrupted himself to buy his Irish peerage, but it was his father who paid '1200 to be made an Irish lord, and swore the same day that he had not 12d. left to pay for his dinner' [Pepys, 24 Mar 1666/7]. A source says Pepys described our man as 'a pestilent rogue, an atheist, that would have sold his king and country for 6d. almost' [Pepys, 29 Aug 1667], but this refers to his brother Henry (1624?-1688), the third Viscount, who is buried at Richmond Parish Church with a large monument which says he died on 4 Jan 1687/8, age 63.]


Robert Brown (1773-1858), who discovered Brownian motion in 1827, was a botanist and librarian to Sir Joseph Banks, PRS. After Banks' death, his collections and Brown went to the British Museum. Brown lived in Banks' house at 32 Soho Square where a plaque commemorates the site. There is a portrait of Brown in the Linnean Society.


Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) spent 1583-1585 in England and taught the art of memory to Queen Elizabeth's court [Rory Carroll; Vatican on defensive as Italian atheists honour their martyr; The Guardian (17 Feb 2000) 18].


William Burnside (1852-1927) was (probably?) born at his father's house, 7 Hawley Place, Paddington. He was a student at Christ's Hospital until 1871. After studying at Cambridge, he became Professor at the Royal Naval College in 1885. FRS in 1893. Theory of Groups of Finite Order, 1897. [Lived in Hither Green and Catford, retired in 1919 to Cotleigh, High St, West Wickham, now the HSBC Bank. TM] He died and is buried at West Wickham, Kent (now in the London Borough of Bromley).


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) is best known as a historian, but started life as a teacher of mathematics and made an influential translation of Legendre's Elements de Geometrie which went through 33 editions in America. He came to London in 1831 and in 1834, he settled at 24 Cheyne Row, which leads off the Thames in Chelsea. The house is now operated by The National Trust. There is a statue of him in the nearby Chelsea Embankment Gardens facing the Thames - this was unveiled by his friend John Tyndall. [Blackwood, pp.126-127]


George Shoobridge Carr (1837-??), author of A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics (1880 & 1886), was a private tutor in London, living in nearby Hadley (just north of Barnet). He had been at University College School. [Kanigel, pp.39-40]


In Aug 1868, Lewis Carroll was thinking about Through the Looking Glass when he visited his uncle Skeffington Lutwidge at his house in Onslow Square. There he met Alice Raikes, who later related that Carroll put an orange in her right hand and then asked her to stand in front of a mirror and say which hand the reflection had the orange in. She said the left hand and Carroll asked her to explain. She finally said "If I was on the other side of the glass, wouldn't the orange still be in my right hand?" Carroll said this was the best answer he had had and later said it was the idea for Through the Looking Glass. [Raikes. Green, pp.53-53]


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Henry Cavendish (1731-1810), the eccentric natural philosopher, had a house at 11 Bedford Square (plaque) but lived mostly at his house on the south side of Cavendish Road at Clapham Common Southside. It was at the latter that he measured the universal gravitational constant G by use of a torsion balance, working at night so traffic did not jiggle the balance, obtaining a mean density of the earth of 5.48, which he reported in 1798. (The idea and the apparatus were devised by John Michell, qv under Thornhill. Hutton later reworked the calculations, obtaining 5.32. [Proctor]. [Stewart] describes the apparatus and later versions of the experiment.) He also determined the composition of water and made other fundamental discoveries in electricity and chemistry. He was related to the Cavendish family which are Dukes of Devonshire, one of whom (his great-nephew) donated the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge while Chancellor of Cambridge University. Part of the duties of the first Cavendish Professor, J. C. Maxwell, was to edit Henry Cavendish's papers. These appeared as The Electrical Researches of the Honourable Henry Cavendish in 1879 and showed that Cavendish had developed the ideas of capacitance and specific inductive capacity - even measuring them by estimating the strength of shock he experienced - and had anticipated Ohm's Law [Smith-Rose, p.23]. The Cavendishes owned (own??) a fair section northwest of Oxford Circus, where there are a Cavendish Square, Cavendish Street, Old Cavendish Street, Cavendish Place as well as a number of streets bearing other family names such as Holles Street and Chandos Street.


Arthur Cayley (1821-1895) was born in Richmond, now part of SW London [Ball (5), p.134]. His father was a Russia merchant and had a business in Great Winchester Street. He was a student at King's College London, 1834-1838. After Cambridge, he returned to London as a student at Lincoln's Inn in 1846. FRS 1852. He lived in several houses in Blackheath, south of Greenwich. He probably spent his early life at 59 Lee Road (demolished), then lived at Cambridge House, The Grove (now West Grove), from 1847 to 1852 (burnt down later), and later at 5 Montpelier Road (still standing) from 1852 to 1871. He practised at 2 Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn (qv under London Inns of Court) in 1849-1863. [Tony Crilly; A Victorian mathematician - Arthur Cayley (1821-1895); Math. Gaz. 79 (No. 485) (Jul 1995) 259-262]


George Cayley (1773-1857), the aeronautical pioneer, lived at 20 Hertford Street, Mayfair, 1840‑1848 (Blue Plaque) while he was an MP. A founder of the Polytechnic Institution in Regent Street in 1838. There is a Cayley Close on the site of Croydon Airport. In 1808, he invented the wire-spoked wheel. [Storer, p.12, Dakers, p.42, Rivett & Matthew, p.12]


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340-1400) was born around Whittington Gardens and Thames Street, Vintry Ward. He sent his son, Lewis, "litell Lowis", age ten to study the astrolabe at Oxford, leading to his composing an English treatise on the astrolabe - the first scientific work in English and the standard English treatise on the device for over 500 years [Gunther (4), pp.12-13]. He lived in the Gate House at Aldgate in 1374-1386, when he was controller of customs for the port of London. There was a City plaque on the Post Office at 2 Aldgate High Street, but this has been demolished. The actual lease survives and is excerpted in [Meade & Wolff, p.60]. Chaucer actually wrote a poem The House of Fame about his life here [Meade & Wolff, p.61]. He was Clerk of Works for Shene (now Richmond) under Richard II [Anon.: Heritage of Richmond upon Thames]. He was Clerk of the Works at Eltham Palace [Hamilton, p.149]. He lived at the Palace of the Savoy as part of the household of John of Gaunt [Montizambert (2), p.56]. He had married the sister of John's third wife. In 1389-1391, he was Clerk of the King's Works at Westminster and supervised the building of Westminster Hall [Ackermann, pp.404-405] - see under Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament. He lived in a house in the gardens of the Abbey in 1399-1400, now covered by the Chapel of Henry VII, and died there. Buried in Westminster Abbey, where Poets' Corner has accumulated around him. He was buried in the Abbey not for his writing but because he had been Clerk of Works to the King, and perhaps because he lived nearby and was related to John of Gaunt. His monument was not erected until 1556. Isaac Disraeli [Amenities of Literature; 1841, vol. I, p.159] observes that Chaucer used a "suspicious shield, which the heralds opined must have been blazoned out of the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth propositions of the first book of Euclid" - I don't know if this is on his monument here or elsewhere.

The Canterbury Tales start at the Tabard Inn, Talbot Yard, Borough High Street, a bit further down the yard than the present Old Tabard Inn. There was a Southwark plaque in Borough High Street, but it has been missing for some years as of 1994. Chaucer is commemorated in Southwark Cathedral and this is recorded on a Southwark plaque [Southwark]. The first stop on the journey to Canterbury was at the shrine of St. Thomas A'Watering, now the site of the Thomas A'Becket Public House, Old Kent Road (Southwark plaque) [Southwark]. The Tales are based on Chaucer's own pilgrimage in 1388. There are several references to astronomy in the Tales.

[Greenwood, pp.216-218 with photo on p.218]


The Earl of Chesterfield was annoyed at receiving letters from his son in Europe dated several days after he received them in England. He then investigated the situation and determined to reform the English calendar. His principal associate was the Earl of Macclesfield (astronomer, elected PRS later in the year), who largely wrote the "Bill for Regulating the Commencement of the Year and for Correcting the Calendar Now in Use" which Chesterfield introduced and Macclesfield seconded in the Lords on 25 Feb 1751 (OS). The Astronomer Royal, James Bradley, was also instrumental. (Watkins says most of the bill was drawn up by one Davall, a barrister of the Middle Temple, who was an eminent amateur astronomer, assisted by Bradley and Martin Ffolkes, the current PRS.) The oratorical powers of Chesterfield and the scientific powers of Macclesfield were so convincing that the bill passed through both houses without opposition! Many listeners thanked Chesterfield for explaining the situation so clearly, but Chesterfield commented that he had completely avoided any explanations! The Royal Assent was given on 25 May, referring to the Bill "for correcting the Style, and regulating the Calendar now in use" - Watkins says this was the first use of the word 'style' with this spelling. When Bradley was dying in 1762, 'many people ascribed his sufferings to a judgment from heaven for having taken part in the "impious undertaking"'. [Harold Watkins, Time Counts The Story of the Calendar, Neville Spearman, London, 1954]

Chesterfield lived in Chesterfield House (now Ranger's House), Chesterfield Walk, Greenwich Park, in 1749-1773.


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879), was a student at KCL, 1860-1863, then went to Cambridge. Due to his loss of faith, he left Cambridge and became Professor of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics at UCL, 1871-1877. His health broke down in 1877. He went to Madeira for his health and died there in 1879. He is buried in the New Cemetery, Highgate Cemetery, in north London. He composed his own epitaph: "I was not, and was conceived. I loved and did a little work. I am not and grieve not." Clifford lived at 26 Colville Road, Bayswater, which is still standing. [Karl Marx, George Eliot, Herbert Spencer and John Galsworthy also lie in the New Cemetery. Michael Faraday is in the Old Cemetery across the road.] In the Ball albums at Cambridge is a letter from Clifford at 17 Old Quebec Street, near Marble Arch, on 1 Nov 1878. Portrait in RS with copy in National Portrait Gallery. [Barker & Gay, p.18; Ash, p.173; Letter from Roy Chisholm, 28 Nov 1996.]


Edward Cocker (1631-1676), whose Arithmetick of 1678 went into over a hundred editions and inspired the catch phrase 'according to Cocker', lived at various places in London, including Gutter Lane, Cheapside, c1664. Shortly before his death, he had to move to be 'within the rules' of the King's Bench Prison off Borough High Street, which meant he was technically in prison for debt, but had paid for the right to live outside the actual prison. His school was then at the west end of the church. He was buried in St. George the Martyr, Borough High Street, Southwark, better known as 'Little Dorrit's Church'. Plaque in the vestibule of the Church. An exterior Southwark plaque disappeared some years ago [Southwark]. (As with many inner London churches, the actual remains have been removed to cemeteries outside London [Pinder].) The Arithmetick asserts it was edited for publication by John Hawkins. But De Morgan asserts "I am perfectly satisfied that Cocker's Arithmetic is a forgery of Hawkins" and then spends several pages detailing this charge and showing that the book is a rather poor compilation from several better books [Augustus De Morgan, Arithmetical Books from the Invention of Printing to the Present Time, Taylor and Walton, London, 1847, pp.56-62; reprinted in: D. E. Smith; Rara Arithmetica; 4th ed., Chelsea, NY, 1970, pp.635-641]. However, Ruth Wallis [Wallis] has examined the case and finds De Morgan's arguments generally unfounded and sees no reason not to accept Hawkins' assertions at face value.

[John Timbs, The Romance of London, Warne, nd (c1890), vol. II, pp. 222-224] mentions De Morgan's observations and relates an explanation of De Morgan in the Athenaeum of 1862 for the popularity of this rather feeble book. Arthur Murphy's popular farce, The Apprentice, of 1756, has an old merchant, named Wingate, who constantly exhorts a young man to "get Cocker's Arithmetic! ... best book that ever was wrote!" Had the names been reversed, we might have 'according to Wingate' as Wingate was the other leading arithmetic of the day and much the better book according to De Morgan. Timbs notes that Cocker was the first arithmetic "which entirely excluded all demonstrations and reasoning, and confined itself to commercial questions only, which is stated as the secret of its extreme circulation."


Return to the top of this page or go back to the main London index


Zerah Colburn (1804-1840), the American calculating prodigy, came to London in 1812 and was exhibited. Later he was a student at Westminster School in 1816-1817, but his father withdrew him because of the fagging. He worked for a while for Thomas Young, doing astronomical calculations in 1823-1824. He returned to America in 1824. [S. B. Smith, pp.181-210.]


Humphrey Cole (late 16C) was the leading instrument maker of his day and was located near the north door of St. Paul's. Produced instruments for Frobisher's attempt on the North-West Passage in 1576. Instrument maker to Sir Francis Drake and maker of the first theodolites to Digges' design in 1574 and 1586. [Gunther (4), pp.43 & 62-63; G. L'E. Turner, p.43]


A statue of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was erected in Belgrave Square, near the Spanish Embassy, in 1992, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of his discovery of the New World [Metro (11 Aug 2000) 6].


Leslie John Comrie (1893-1950) was born in New Zealand and went to St. John's College, Cambridge, as a graduate student. He spent some time at UCL, where he recalled first learning about the Brunsviga calculating machine from Karl Pearson on Armistice Day. After a few years in America, he became Deputy Director of the Nautical Almanac Office from 1926, then Director from 1930 to 1936. He introduced punched card computing equipment. His work encouraged the use of computing devices in scientific research. By 1928, he had combined a Brunsviga-Dupla calculator with other punched-card equipment to produce a computing centre. The effect was similar to Babbage's Difference Engine, but he observed that this was short of Babbage's ideal in that the machine did not print its results. By 1931, he adapted a National Accounting Machine into a Difference Engine. In 1937-1938, he founded the Scientific Computing Service in London - the first company devoted to doing computing. It is still operating. He was living in Blackheath at the time of his death. [Tee.]


Philip Cowell (1870-1949) was a nephew of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Millicent Garrett Fawcett and cousin of Philippa Fawcett. Senior Wrangler in 1892. Chief Assistant at Royal Greenwich Observatory from 1896. Devised new techniques for computing orbits which significantly improved the results. In 1910, Cowell and Crommelin used new numerical quadratures to predict the perihelion of Halley's comet, getting an answer off by only three days. They were able to extrapolate backward and identify all its appearances back to -240. FRS, 1906. Gold Medal of RAS, 1911. Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac Office from about 1911 to 1930.

 



Return to the top.


Written by David Singmaster. Last updated on 28th February 2003 by TM (A.Mann@gre.ac.uk). Copyright © BSHM and David Singmaster 1998 - 2003. All rights reserved.


Google Custom Search

The British Society for the History of Mathematics is registered as a company limited by guarantee, no. 3326816, and as a charity, no. 1061229. Its registered office is c/o Andrew Thurburn & Co, 38 Tamworth Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 1XU, UK.