Horner, William George (DNB00)

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HORNER, WILLIAM GEORGE (1786–1837), mathematician, son of the Rev. William Horner, a Wesleyan minister, was born in 1786. He was educated at Kingswood School, near Bristol, and at the age of sixteen became an assistant master. In four years he rose to be head master (1806), and in 1809 left to establish a school at Grosvenor Place, Bath, which he kept until he died there 22 Sept. 1837. He left a widow and several children, one of whom, William Horner, carried on the school. Horner was the discoverer of a mode of solving numerical equations of any degree, which is of the highest importance and is still known by his name. He first made it known in a paper read before the Royal Society, 1 July 1819, by Davies Gilbert [q. v.], headed ‘A New Method of Solving Numerical Equations of all Orders by Continuous Approximation,’ and published in the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ for the same year. It was republished in the ‘Ladies' Diary’ for 1838, and a simpler and more extended version appeared in vol. i. of the ‘Mathematician,’ 1843. Horner also published: 1. ‘A Tribute of Friendship,’ a poem addressed to his friend Thomas Fussell, appended to a ‘Funeral Sermon on Mrs. Fussell,’ Bristol, 1820, 8vo. 2. ‘Natural Magic,’ a pamphlet, London, 1832, 8vo. 3. ‘Questions for the Examination of Pupils on … General History,’ Bath, 1843, 12mo. A complete edition of Horner's works was promised by Professor T. S. Davies [q. v.], but never appeared.

[Information kindly supplied by W. P. Workman, esq.; De Morgan's arithmetical books; De Morgan's article on ‘Involution and Evolution’ in Penny Cyclopædia, vol. xiii.; Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, 1837, p. 957; Bath and Cheltenham Gazette, 3 Oct. 1837; Bath Journal, 2 Oct. 1837.]

W. A. J. A.