Person: Bashforth, Francis
Francis Bashforth was an applied mathematician who invented the Bashforth Chronograph and conducted experiments to determine air resistance. He became the leading British authority on ballistics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- John Bashforth, born on 24 May 1792 in Bolton Upon Dearne, Yorkshire, was a farmer who farmed land owned by the church in Thurnscoe.
- Francis attended school in Brampton Bierlow, about 7 km south west of Thurnscoe, before entering Doncaster Grammar School.
- Bashforth matriculated and began his studies of the mathematical tripos at the start of the Michaelmas term in October 1839.
- Bashforth's excellent undergraduate performance led to him becoming a scholar and he was Second Wrangler in the tripos examinations of 1843 when he was awarded a B.A. The Senior Wrangler that year was John Couch Adams whose performance was said to have been one of the best ever.
- Not surprisingly Adams was the 1st Smith's Prizeman but both Bashforth and Adams were elected fellows of St John's College, Bashforth being elected on 26 March 1844.
- After graduating, Bashforth followed two distinct paths.
- As a Tutorial Fellow at St John's College, Bashforth was concerned about the welfare of the undergraduates he was teaching and, in 1849-50, he led a call by twenty-two of the teaching staff of the College for an increase in the number of staff involved in teaching.
- Turton was, like Bashforth, a mathematician who had various clerical appointments.
- When Mr Bashforth arrived at Minting he found the Church in a dilapidated condition.
- In the 1861 Census, Bashforth is recorded as rector and vicar of Minting, living in the parsonage there.
- He invented the Bashforth Chronograph, beginning experiments with it in April 1864.
- He reported on these experiments in a series of works: Description of a Chronograph adapted for measuring the varying velocity of a body in motion through the air and for other purposes (1866), A mathematical treatise on the motion of Projectiles founded chiefly on the results of experiments made with the author's chronograph (1873), and Revised account of the experiments made with the Bashforth Chronograph, to find the resistance of the air to the motion of projectiles, with the application of the results to the calculation of trajectories according to J Bernoulli's method (1890).
- In the 1871 Census, Bashforth is recorded as vicar of Minting, Lincolnshire, but he is living at 15 Campbell Terrace, Plumstead, Kent.
- Bashforth died in Woodhall Spa, aged 93, after three weeks' illness.
Born 8 January 1819, Thurnscoe, near Doncaster, Yorkshire, England. Died 13 February 1912, Brunnen, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, England.
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive