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Hutton, Charles

HUTTON, CHARLES (1737-1823), English mathematician, was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne on the 14th of August 1737. He was educated in a school at Jesmond, kept by Mr Ivison, a clergyman of the church of England. There is reason to believe, on the evidence of two pay-bills, that for a short time in 1755 and 1756 Hutton worked in Old Long Benton colliery; at any rate, on Ivison's promotion to a living, Hutton succeeded to the Jesmond school, whence, in consequence of increasing pupils, he removed to Stote's Hall. While he taught during the day at Stote's Hall, he studied mathematics in the evening at a school in Newcastle. In 1760 he married, and began tuition on a larger scale in Newcastle, where he had among his pupils John Scott, afterwards Lord Eldon, chancellor of England. In 1764 he published his first work, The Schoolmaster's Guide, or a Complete System of Practical Arithmetic, which in 1770 was followed by his Treatise on Mensuration both in Theory and Practice. In 1772 appeared a tract on The Principles of Bridges, suggested by the destruction of Newcastle bridge by a high flood on the 17th of November 1771. In 1773 he was appointed professor of mathematics at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and in the following year he was elected F.R.S. and reported on Nevil Maskelyne's determination of the mean density and mass of the earth from measurements taken in 1774-1776 at Mount Schiehallion in Perthshire. This account appeared in the Philosophical Transactions for 1778, was afterwards reprinted in the second volume of his Tracts on Mathematical and Philosophical Subjects, and procured for Hutton the degree of LL.D. from the university of Edinburgh. He was elected foreign secretary to the Royal Society in 1779, but his resignation in 1783 was brought about by the president Sir Joseph Banks, whose behaviour to the mathematical section of the society was somewhat high-handed (see Kippis's Observations on the late Contests in the Royal Society, London, 1784). After his Tables of the Products and Powers of Numbers, 1781, and his Mathematical Tables, 1785, he issued, for the use of the Royal Military Academy, in 1787 Elements of Conic Sections, and in 1798 his Course of Mathematics. His Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, a valuable contribution to scientific biography, was published in 1795 (2nd ed., 1815), and the four volumes of Recreations in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, mostly a translation from the French, in 1803. One of the most laborious of his works was the abridgment, in conjunction with G. Shaw and R. Pearson, of the Philosophical Transactions. This undertaking, the mathematical and scientific parts of which fell to Hut ton's share, was completed in 1809, and filled eighteen volumes quarto. His name first appears in the Ladies' Diary (a poetical and mathematical almanac which was begun in 1704, and lasted till 1871) in 1764; ten years later he was appointed editor of the almanac, a post which he retained till 1817. Previously he had begun a small periodical, Miscellanea Mathematica, which extended only to thirteen numbers; subsequently he published in five volumes The Diarian Miscellany, which contained large extracts from the Diary. He resigned his professorship in 1807, and died on the 27th of January 1823.

See John Bruce, Charles Hutton (Newcastle, 1823).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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