A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists/Airy, Sir George Biddell

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Airy, Sir George Biddell, K.C.B., D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S., Astronomer Royal. B. July 27, 1801. Ed. Colchester Grammar School and Cambridge University (Trinity). After a brilliant course of study Airy was in 1826 appointed professor of mathematics at Cambridge, and two years later he became professor of astronomy and Director of the Observatory. He was Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881, President of the Royal Society in 1872-73, and President of the Royal Astronomical Society for a quarter of a century. He was a man of exceptional industry and profound know ledge, and his services to the science of astronomy in England were very consider able. In 1872 he was made a Knight Commander of the Bath. He received also Russian, Prussian, Swedish, and Brazilian decorations, besides innumerable honours and diplomas from learned societies. His two hundred and seventy-seven papers and numerous volumes deal with mathematical and astronomical subjects; but in 1876 he startled the orthodox by the publication of his Notes on the Earlier Hebrew Scriptures, in which, while retaining Theism, he rejects revelation and miracles and accepts all the results of advanced critics. In the Preface he says: "It is scarcely necessary to say that I regard the ostensible familiarity of the [Biblical] historian with the counsels of the Omnipotent as mere oriental allegories" (p. vii). D. Jan. 2, 1892.