Mudge, William (1762-1820) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

MUDGE, WILLIAM (1762–1820), major-general royal artillery, son of Dr. John Mudge [q. v.] of Plymouth, by his second wife, and grandson of the Rev. Zachariah Mudge [q. v.], was born at Plymouth on 1 Dec. 1762. He entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich on 17 April 1777, and while he was there his godfather, Dr. Johnson [q. v.], paid him a visit, and gave him a guinea and a book. On 9 July 1779 he received a commission as second lieutenant in the royal artillery, and was sent to South Carolina to join the army under Lord Cornwallis. He was promoted first lieutenant on 16 May 1781. On his return home he was stationed at the Tower of London, and studied the higher mathematics under Dr. Hutton, amusing himself in his spare time with the construction of clocks. He became a first-rate mathematician, and was appointed in 1791 to the ordnance trigonometrical survey, of which he was promoted to be director on the death of Colonel Williams in 1798. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society the same year. He was promoted brevet major on 25 Sept. 1801, regimental major 14 Sept. 1803, and lieutenant-colonel 20 July 1804. While at the head of the survey he resided first, until 1808, at the Tower of London, and afterwards at 4 Holles Street, London, which he purchased; there he resided for the rest of his life. He was appointed in addition and quite unexpectedly, on 29 July 1809, by Lord Chatham, to be lieutenant-governor of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich; and when in 1810 it was decided to move the Indian cadets to Addiscombe, Mudge was appointed public examiner to the new college. He took great pains to see that both the Woolwich and the Addiscombe cadets were well trained in surveying and topographical drawing, and for this purpose placed them before leaving college under Mr. Dawson of the ordnance survey for a course of practical study. Mudge's management of the cadets was so successful that in 1817 Lord Chatham wrote to express his high satisfaction at the result.

In 1813 it was determined to extend the meridian line into Scotland. Mudge superintended the general arrangement of the work, and in some cases took the actual measurement. It is to Mudge that Wordsworth alludes in his poem on 'Black Combe,' written in 1813. On the extension of the English arc of meridian into Scotland, the French Bureau des Longitudes applied for permission for Jean Baptiste Biot to make observations for them on that line. These observations were carried out by Biot, with the assistance of Mudge and of his son Richard Zachariah [q. v.], at Leith Fort on the Forth, and Biot assisted Mudge in extending the arc to Unst in the Shetland islands.

On 4 June 1813 Mudge was promoted brevet-colonel, and on 20 Dec. 1814 regimental colonel. In 1817 he received from the university of Edinburgh the degree of LL.D. In 1818 he travelled in France for the benefit of his health, and on his return was appointed a commissioner of the new board of longitude. In 1819 the king of Denmark visited the survey operations at Bagshot Heath, and presented Mudge with a gold chronometer. In May of this year he commenced the survey of Scotland, and on 12 Aug. he was promoted major-general. He died on 17 April 1820. With an amiable disposition and an even temper he was a careful and economical administrator.

Mudge's portrait was painted in 1804 by James Northcote, R.A., and the picture is in the possession of his granddaughter, Sophia Elizabeth, widow of the Rev. John Richard Bogue. Mudge married Margaret Jane, third daughter of Major-general Williamson, R.A., who survived him four years. He left a daughter, two sons in the royal engineers, one in the royal artillery, and one in the royal navy.

Mudge contributed to the Royal Society's 'Transactions:' 1. 'Account of the Trigonometrical Survey made in 1797, 1798, and 1799.' 2. 'Account of the Measurement of an Arc of the Meridian from Dunnose, Isle of Wight, to Clifton in Yorkshire.' 3. 'On the Measurement of Three Degrees of the Meridian conducted in England bv William Mudge.'

Besides the maps of the survey published under his direction, he published: 1. 'General Survey of England and Wales,' pt. i. fol. 1805. 2. ' An Account of the Trigonometrical Survey carried on by Order of the Master-General of H.M. Ordnance in the years 1800-1809, by William Mudge and Thomas Colby.' 3. 'An Account of the Operations carried on for accomplishing a Trigonometrical Survey of England and Wales from the commencement in 1784 to the end of 1796. First published in, and now revised from, the "Philosophical Transactions," by William Mudge and Isaac Dalby. The Second Volume, continued from 1797 to the end of 1799, by William Mudge. The Third Volume, an Account of the Trigonometrical Survey in 1800, 1801, 1803 to 1809, by William Mudge and Thomas Colby,' 3 vols. 4to, London, 1799-1811. 4. ' Sailing Directions for the N.E., N., and N.W. Coasts of Ireland, partly drawn up by William Mudge, completed by G. A. Fraser,' 8vo, London, 1842.

[Survey Memoirs; Royal Artillery Proceedings; Kane's List of the Officers of the Royal Artillery; Mudge Memoirs, by Stamford Raffles Flint, Truro, 1883; Annual Biog. and Obit. for 1820; Official Records.]

R. H. V.