WILLIAM WHISTON 1667 - 1752

William Whiston was born at Norton.-juxta-Twycross, Leicestershire in 1667. He studied first at home and later at Tamworth Grammar School and in 1686 was admitted to Clare Hall, Cambridge where he qualified as B.A. (1690), and MA. (1695), and was elected Fellow in 1691. William Lloyd ordained Whiston at Lichfield in 1695 and he married Ruth Antrobus in 1699. Whiston's ~ Earth (1696) attracted considerable attention, where he postulated the origin of the earth from the atmosphere of a comet and all major changes in the earth's history were attributed to the action of comets. Successively chaplain to Bishop John Moore at Norwich and rector of Lowestoft, Whiston succeeded Newton as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics 1702-1710.

William Whiston
William Whiston

The printed version of Whiston' s astronomical and mathematical lectures comprised a commentary on the Principia and were widely used as textbooks during the eighteenth century. He was deprived of his Chair at Cambridge because of his heretical tenets and went to London where he continued his activities in religious and scientific fields. In 1714, Whiston was instrumental in the establishment of the Board of Longitude and for the next forty years made persevering efforts to solve the longitude problem. He gave courses of demonstration lectures on astronomical and physical phenomena and engaged in many religious controversies. Much of his time was devoted to a revival of Primitive Christianity based on the Apostolical Constitutions. Whiston mistakenly believed this work to be an authentic document of the early Church. It was in fact a compilation from the period 340-380. Whiston's remarkable output of printed works spans the last fifty years of his life. Although one must concede areas of stubbornness in his religious beliefs, the total picture is of a man of integrity, ceaseless activity and considerable achievement. He had a happy family life and died in Lyndon Hall, Rutland, in 1752, at the home of his son-in-law, Samuel Barker.

 

William Whistons signature
William Whistons signature

 

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