Gibson, William (1720-1791) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 21
Gibson, William (1720-1791)

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GIBSON, WILLIAM (1720–1791), self-taught mathematician, born at Boulton, near Appleby, Westmoreland, in 1720, worked on a farm from childhood, and afterwards obtained a farm of his own at Hollins, near Cartmel Fell, Lancashire. He received no education whatever in youth, but in early manhood taught himself to read a book on arithmetic, and developed an extraordinary power of working out sums of all kinds in his head. He afterwards taught himself writing, and studied geometry, trigonometry, algebra, and astronomy, in all of which he proved himself an expert. He finally acquired a knowledge of the higher mathematics in all their branches, and answered correctly for many years the problems propounded in the ‘Gentleman's Diary,’ the ‘Ladies' Diary,’ the ‘Palladium,’ and similar publications. His fame spread, and he was consulted by mathematicians in various parts of England. About 1750 he opened a school at Cartmel for eight or ten pupils, who boarded at his farmhouse. He also obtained a good practice as a land-surveyor. He died from a fall at his house at Blawith, near Cartmel, on 4 Sept. 1791, leaving a widow and ten children. A son of the same name, employed at the Bank of England, died at Pentonville on 13 Feb. 1817, aged 64.

[Gent. Mag. 1791 pt. ii. 1062–4, 1817 pt. i. 188; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.]