Emerson, William

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Emerson, William Gender: M
born on 14 May 1701 Jul.Cal. (25 May 1701 greg.) at 01:40 (= 01:40 AM )
Place Hurworth-on-Tees, England, 54n2913, 1w3142
Timezone LMT m1w3142 (is local mean time)
Data source
Quoted BC/BR
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_gemcol.18.gif 03°29' s_mo.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 11°13 Asc.s_piscol.18.gif 22°44'

William Emerson


English mathematician, was born at Hurworth, near Darlington, where his father, Dudley Emerson, also a mathematician, taught a school. William himself had a small estate in Weardale called Castle Gate situated not far from Eastgate where he would repair to work throughout the Summer on projects as disparate as stonemasonry and watchmaking. Unsuccessful as a teacher, he devoted himself entirely to studious retirement. Possessed of remarkable energy and forthrightness of speech, Emerson published many works which are singularly free from errata.

In The Principles of Mechanics (1754) he shows a wind-powered vehicle in which the vertically-mounted propeller gives direct power to the front wheels via a system of cogs. In mechanics he never advanced a proposition which he had not previously tested in practice, nor published an invention without first proving its effects by a model. He was skilled in the science of music, the theory of sounds, and the ancient and modern scales; but he never attained any excellence as a performer. He died on 20 May 1782 at his native village, where his gravestone bears epitaphs in Latin and Hebrew.

Emerson dressed in old clothes and his manners were uncouth. He wore his shirt back to front and his legs wrapped in sacking so as not to scorch them as he sat over the fire. He declined an offer to become FRS because it would cost too much after all the expense of farthing candles he had been put to in the course of his life of study. Emerson rode regularly into Darlington on a horse like Don Quixote's, led by a hired small boy. In old age, plagued by the stone, he would alternately pray and curse, wishing his soul 'could shake off the rags of mortality without such a clitter-me-clatter.'

He died on 20 May 1782 (greg. Calendar).

Link to Wikipedia biography

Source Notes

birth quotation

Sy Scholfield points to the quote from his father's prayer book, published in Gentleman's magazine 1787, page 775. The prayer book says: "born, Wednesday, May 14, at one o'clock in the morning and 40 minutes." It is sure that the date 14 May 1701 quoted from the prayer book is in Julian calendar, as England introduced the Gregorian calendar only in 1752. 14 May 1701 (jul.) is a Wednesday, while 14 May 1701 (greg.) would be Saturday.


  • Vocation : Science : Mathematics/ Statistics