Moore, Sir Jonas

, a very respectable mathematician, fellow of the royal society, and surveyor-general of the ordnance, was born at Whitlee, or Whitle, in Lancashire, Feb. 8, 1617. After enjoying the advantages of a liberal education, he bent his studies principally to the mathematics, to which he had always a strong inclination, and in the early part of his life taught that science in London for his support. In the expedition of king Charles the First into the northern parts of England, our author was introduced to him, as a person studious and learned in those sciences; and the king expressed much approbation of him, and promised him encouragement; which indeed laid | the foundation of his fortune. He was afterwards, when the king was at Holdenby-house, in 1647, appointed mathematical master to the king’s second son James, to instruct him in arithmetic, geography, the use of the globes, &c. During Cromwell’s government he appears to have followed the profession of a public teacher of mathematics; for he is styled, in the title-page of some of his publications, “professor of the mathematics;” but his loyalty was a considerable prejudice to his fortune. In his greatest necessity, he was assisted by colonel Giles Strangeways, then a prisoner in the Tower of London, who likewise recommended him to the other eminent persons, his fellow- prisoners, and prosecuted his interest so far as to procure him to be chosen surveyor in the work of draining the great level of the fens’. Having observed in his survey that the sea made a curve line on the beach, he thence took the hint to keep it effectually out of Norfolk. This added much to his reputation. Aubrey informs us, that he made a model of a citadel for Oliver Cromwellto bridle the city of London,” which was in the possession of Mr. Wild, one of the friends who procured him the surveyorship of the Fens. Aubrey adds, what we do not very clearly understand, that this citadel was to have been the crossbuilding of St. Paul’s church.

After the return of Charles II. he found great favour and promotion, becoming at length surveyor-general of the king’s ordnance, and receiving the honour of knighthood. He was a great favourite both with the king and the duke of York, who often consulted him, and were advised by him upon many occasions; and he often employed his interest with the court to the advancement of learning and the encouragement of merit. Thus he got Flamsteed house built in 1675, as a public observatory, recommended Mr. Flamsteed to be the king’s astronomer, to make the observations there: and being surveyor-general of the ordnance himself, this was the reason why the salary of the astronomer royal was made payable out of the office of ordnance. Being a governor of Christ’s hospital, it was by his interest that the king founded the mathematical school there, allowing a handsome salary for a master to instruct a certain number of the boys in mathematics and navigation, to qualify them for the sea-service. Foreseeing the great benefit the nation might receive from a mathematical school, if rightly conducted, he made it his utmost care to | promote the improvement of it. The school was settled; but there still wanted a methodical institution from which the youths might receive such necessary helps as their studies required: a laborious work, from which his other great and assiduous employments might very well have exempted him, had not a predominant regard to a more general usefulness engaged him to devote al the leisure hours of his declining years to the improvement of so useful and important a seminary of learning.

Having thus engaged himself in the prosecution of this general design, he next sketched out the plan of a course or system of mathematics for the use of the school, and then drew up and printed several parts of it himself, when death. put an end to his labours, before the work was completed. He died at Godalming, in his way from Portsmouth to London, August 27, 1679. Pieces of cannon, amounting to the number of his years, were discharged at the Tower, during his funeral. He was buried in the chapel of the Tower, where is a monument and inscription, which has enabled us to correct the mistakes 6f his biographers as to his age, place of birth, &c. In 1681, his great work was published by his sons-in-law, Mr. Hanway and Mr. Potinger. Of this work, the arithmetic, practical geometry, trigonometry, and cosmography, were written by sir Jonas himself, and printed before his death. The algebra, navigation, and the books of Euclid, were supplied by Mr. Perkins, the then master of the mathematical school. And the astronomy, or doctrine of the sphere, was written by Mr. Flamsteed, the astronomer royal. He always intended to have left his collection of mathematical books to the Royal Society, of which he was a fellow, but he died without a will. His only son, Jonas, had the honour of knighthood conferred on him, and the reversion of his father’s place of surveyor- general of the ordnance; “but,” adds Aubrey, “young sir Jonas, when he is old, will never be old sir Jonas, for all the gazette’s eulogie.1


Birch’s Hist, of the Royal Society. Biop:. Brit, new edit. vol. VI. parti, unpublished. —Hutton’s Dictionary. Granger. Letters by eminent Persons, 3 vols. 1813, 8vo. For an account of some of his surveys/see Gough’s Topography, vol. I.