Humphrey Ditton was born in Salisbury and died in London. His father was a strong supporter of the non-conformists, and Ditton himself studied theology and became a dissenting preacher. He abandoned this role after the death of his father, concentrating instead on the study of mathematics. He was a friend of both Whiston and Newton, and it was the patronage of the latter that gained him the post of master of the new school of mathematics at Christ's Hospital, a position he held until his death. Ditton collaborated with Whiston on Whiston's proposal for determining longitude by firing explosive shells a fixed distance into the air from set points; the latter would then serve as marker points from which ships at sea could determine their own precise longitude (New Method for Discovering the Longitude …, 1714). This proposal was in the process of being examined by the Board of Longitude when Ditton died; it was rejected shortly thereafter.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.