Charles Hutton

(1737—1823) mathematician

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Charles Hutton was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 14 August 1737 and died in Woolwich on 27 January 1823. The son of a colliery worker, he worked for a while as a ‘hewer’ in a pit, but suffered a dislocated elbow which rendered him unfit for manual labour. After being educated at local schools, he was able to set up his own course, and established himself as one of the most successful mathematics teachers in the region. In 1770 he was asked by the mayor and Corporation of Newcastle to prepare a survey of Newcastle. In 1773 the main event in Hutton's career occurred. In May of that year he was appointed Professor of Mathematics at Woolwich Military Academy, following a public examination by examiners including Samuel Horsley, John Landen and Nevil Maskelyne. In 1779 he was elected Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society. It is not surprising that his publishing career and his teaching at Woolwich did not allow him much time to perform the duties of this additional post and in 1783 he was obliged to resign, after a committee had reported on his case. A squabble ensued between the ‘mathematicians’, Samuel Horsley and Nevil Maskelyne, and the defender of the ‘disciples of Linnaeus’ and president of the Society, Joseph Banks. Banks succeeded in imposing his will, and Hutton did not publish in the Philosophical Transactions until after Banks's death. Hutton retired from teaching in 1807. He spent the rest of his life in Woolwich living on a state pension.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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