Wales, William

, a mathematician and astronomer of great talents, was born about 1734, and rose from a low situation, little connected with learning, to some of the first ranks in literary pursuits. His early labours contributed to the “Ladies Diary,” a useful little work which has formed many eminent mathematicians. In 1761) he was deemed a fit person to be sent to Hudson’s Bay to observe the transit of Venus over the sun; and the manner hi which he discharged that trust did honour to his talents.

On his return he communicated to the royal society an excellent paper of observations made at that station, which was inserted in their Transactions; and the year following, his general observations made at Hudson’s Bay were published in a large quarto volume. He next, in the character of astronomer, accompanied capt. Cook in his first voyage. 1772 1774, and again iti his other voyage of 1776 1779. In 1777 appeared his “Observations on a Voyage with captain Cook;” and in 1778, “Remarks on Dr. Fovster’s Account of the Voyage,” in which he showed considerable talents as a controversial writer. Soon after his return from his last voyage he was elected a fellow of the royal society, and proved a very useful member; and on the death of Mr. Daniel Harris he was appointed mathematical master to Christ’s Hospital, London, and some years after, secretary to the board of longitude, both which offices he held till the time of his death, which happened in 1798, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. In 1781 he published an “Enquiry into the state of the Population in England and Wales,” and in 1794 his treatise on the longitude by time-keepers. He published also an ingenious restoration of one of the lost pieces of Apollonius; and it has been said, was author of one of the dissertations on the achronical rising of the Pleiades, annexed to Dr. Vincent’s Voyage of Nearch us. Besides these he wrote some ingenious papers in the Philosophical Transactions, and in various periodical publications, particularly the “Ladies Diary,” sometimes signed with his own name, and sometimes under certain fictitious signatures. T2