Lyons, Israel

, son of a Polish Jew, who was a silversmith, and teacher of Hebrew at Cambridge, was born there, in 1739. He displayed wonderful talents as a young man; and shewed very early a great inclination to learning, particularly mathematics; but though Dr. Smith, then master of Trinity-college, offered to put him to school at his own expence, he would go only for a day or two, saying, “he could learn more by himself in an hour than in a day with his master.” He began the study of botany in. 1755, which he continued to his death; and could remember, not only the Linniean names of almost all the English plants, but even the synonyma of the old botanists, which form a strange and barbarous farrago of great bulk; and had collected large materials for a “Flora Cantabrigiensis,” describing fully every part of each plant from the life, without being obliged to consult, or being liable to be | misled by, former authors. In 1758 he obtained much celebrity by publishing a treatise “on Fluxions,” dedicated to his patron, Dr. Smith; and in 1763 a work entitled “Fasciculus plantaruui circa Cantabrigiam nascentium, quae post Raium observatae fuere,” 8vo. Mr. Banks (now sir Joseph Banks, bart. and president of the royal society), whom he first instructed in this science, sent for him to Oxford, about 1762 or 1763, to read lectures; which he did with great applause, to at least sixty pupils; but could not be induced to make a long absence from Cambridge. He had a salary of a hundred pounds per annum for calculating the “Nautical Almanack,” and frequently received presents from the board of longitude for his inventions. He could read Latin and French with ease; but wrote the former ill; had studied the English history, and could quote whole passages from the Monkish writers verbatim. He was appointed by the board of longitude to go with captain Phipps (afterwards lord Mulgrave) to the North pote in 1773, and made the astronomical and other mathematical calculations, printed in the account of that voyage. After his return he married and settled in London, where, on May 1, 1775, he died of the measles. He was then engaged in publishing a complete edition of all the works of Dr. Halley. His “Calculations in Spherical Trigonometry abridged,” were printed in “Philosophical Transactions,*' vol. LXI. art. 46. After his death his name appeWed in the title-page ofA Geographical Dictionary,“of which the astronomical parts were said to be” taken from the papers of the late Mr. Israel Lyons, of Cambridge, author of several valuable mathematical productions, and astronomer in lord Mnlgrave’s voyage to the Northern hemisphere.“It remains to be noticed, that a work entitled” The Scholar’s Instructor, or Hebrew Grammar, by Israel Lyons, Teacher of the Hebrew Tongue in the University of Cambridge: the second edition, with many Additions and Emendations which the Author has found necessary in his long course of teaching Hebrew,“Cambridge, 1757, 8vo, was the production of his father; as was a treatise printed at the Cambridge press, under the title of” Observations and Enquiries relating to various parts of Scripture History, 1761," published by subscription at two shillings and six-pence. He died in August 1770, and was buried, agreeably to his own desire, although contrary to the Jewish principles, in Great St. Mary’s Church-yard, | Cambridge. He was on this occasion carried through the church, and his daughter Judith read some form of interment-service over his grave. He had resided near forty years at Cambridge. 1


Nichols’s Bowyer. Cole’s ms Athenae in Brit. Mus.