John Colson

(1680—1760) mathematician and translator

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John Colson died at Cambridge on 20 January 1760. He was the son of Francis Colson, vicar-choral of the cathedral at Lichfield. John was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, but did not graduate. From 1709 to 1739 he was a teacher of mathematics in a mathematical school in Rochester. In 1713 he was elected FRS. In 1707, 1726 and 1736 he contributed rather uninteresting papers to the Philosophical Transactions. In 1736 there appeared his most important contribution to mathematics: a translation into English of a manuscript Latin tract on the calculus of fluxions (the Newtonian equivalent of Leibniz's differential and integral calculus) that Newton had written in 1670–71. Notwithstanding this rather meagre curriculum vitae, in 1739 Colson was elected Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. After 1739 he did not produce any original work, devoting himself to the translation of scientific books. He translated works by Musschenbroek, Nollet and Agnesi. Colson became a minister in 1724 in Chalk, Kent, and when he died he was rector of Lockington, Yorkshire.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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