Person: Bonnycastle, John
John Bonnycastle was an English teacher of mathematics and prolific writer. He wrote for the early volumes of Rees's Cyclopædia, about algebra, analysis and astronomy.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- We have given 29 December 1751 as John Bonnycastle's date of birth but this is actually the date on which he was baptised (no record of his birth exists).
- John was brought up in Hardwick and there he attended the school in the hamlet of Weedon run by the Rev Dr John Bridle, the rector of Hardwick.
- After being educated in Hardwick, Bonnycastle went to London before he was eighteen years old and there he taught for two days a week at two different schools, one run by the Rev Dr James of Greenwich Academy and the other at Chiswick run by a Dr Crawford.
- Bonnycastle began contributions to the mathematical department of the London Magazine soon after this department was founded in October 1774.
- Alexander Chalmers tells us that in 1777 Bonnycastle noticed that there were mathematical contributions to the London Magazine from George Anderson, a young labourer from Buckinghamshire.
- Mr Bonnycastle, accordingly, on his next visit in Buckinghamshire, procured an interview with the young genius, whom he found threshing in a barn, the walls of which were covered with triangles and parallelograms.
- Such was young Anderson's bashfulness, however, that Mr Bonnycastle could not draw him into conversation, until he won his heart by the loan of Simpson's 'Fluxions', and two or three other books.
- In 1782 Bonnycastle acted as a tutor to the two sons of the Second Earl of Pomfret, in Easton Neston, Northamptonshire.
- Bonnycastle remained in this position in Woolwich for the rest of his career.
- Mr Bonnycastle, Mathematical Master of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and Mr Hommey, continue, with proper Assistants, to instruct young Gentlemen, designed for the army, in the various Branches of the Military Education.
- The partnership between Bonnycastle and Hommey was ended on 3 March 1810, and Hommey continued to run the Academy without Bonnycastle.
- Richard Henry Bonnycastle studied at the Royal Military Academy and joined the Royal Engineers.
- Charles Bonnycastle became a professor of natural philosophy and mathematics at the newly opened University of Virginia in the United States.
- Let us now look at what surely must be Bonnycastle's greatest mathematical contribution, namely the books which he has written.
- This was not the only book Bonnycastle published in 1782 for in the same years Introduction to Mensuration and Practical Geometry appeared in print.
- Bonnycastle's Elements of geometry (1789) contains the propositions from Euclid's Elements books, 1-6, 11 and 12 with "critical and explanatory notes" by Bonnycastle.
- (There may be further editions of this, and other works, by Bonnycastle and we have simply given the last edition we could find for each book.) He published another geometry book nearly 20 years later, A Treatise on Plane and Spherical Geometry (1806).
- We should mention some of Bonnycastle's friends.
- Bonnycastle was passionately fond of quoting Shakespeare, and telling stories; and if the Edinburgh Review had just come out, would give us all the jokes in it.
- But the delusion was not only pardonable, but desirable, in a man so zealous in the performance of his duties, and so much of a human being to all about him, as Mr Bonnycastle was.
- We have mentioned some of Bonnycastle's influential friends; others include his publisher Joseph Johnson, Joseph Priestley, William Cowper, Erasmus Darwin and the mathematician Charles Hutton.
- Bonnycastle was buried in St Luke's, Charlton, Kent, a week after his death.
Born 29 December 1751, Hardwick, Buckinghamshire, England. Died 15 May 1821, Woolwich, Kent, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive