Witchell, George

, a good astronomer and mathematician, was born in 1728. He was maternally descended from the celebrated clock and watchmaker, Daniel Quare, in which business he was himself brotignt up, and was educated in the principles of the Quakers, all his progenitors for many generations having been of that community, whose simplicity of manners he practised through life. It appears that he cultivated the study of astronomy at a very early age, as he had a communication on that subject in the “Gentleman’s Diary” for 1741, which must have been written when he was thirteen years of age. Soon after this he became a frequent writer both in the Diaries and in the Gentleman’s Magazine, sometimes under his own name, but oftener with the initials G. W. only. In 1764 he published a map, exhibiting the passage of the moon’s shadow over England in the great solar eclipse of April 1, that year; the exact correspondence of which to the observations gained him great reputation. In the following year he presented to the commissioners of longitude a plan for calculating the effects of refraction and parallax, on the, moon’s distance from the sun or a star, to facilitate the discovery of the longitude at sea. Having taught mathematics in London for many years with much reputation, he was in 1767 elected F. R. S. and appointed head master of the royal naval academy at Portsmouth, where he died of a paralytic stroke in 1785, aged fiftyseven. 2


Hutton’s Djct. new edit.