Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kelly, Patrick

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KELLY, PATRICK (1756–1842), mathematician and astronomer, born in 1756, was for many years master of a successful private school, called the ‘Mercantile School,’ in Finsbury Square, London. He was appointed mathematical examiner at the Trinity House, and in 1813 had the degree of LL.D. conferred upon him by the university of Glasgow. Kelly was acquainted with Dr. Maskelyne, Sir John Herschel, Dr. Hutton, and other men of science, and was occasionally consulted by committees of the House of Commons as an authority on questions of coinage and currency. He died at Brighton, 5 April 1842. A portrait of him by Ashby was engraved by Woolnoth.

Kelly's principal work, ‘The Universal Cambist and Commercial Instructor,’ London, 1811, is a ‘general treatise on exchange, including the monies, coins, weights and measures of all trading nations and colonies, with an account of their banks, public funds, paper currencies, commercial allowances, and other mercantile regulations.’ Certain tables of ‘Assays,’ which were drawn up by Sir Isaac Newton in 1719, are included. A second edition of Kelly's ‘Cambist’ appeared in 1821; a third, with supplements, in 1832; and the last in 1835. McCulloch described it as the most complete work of its class in the English language, although it is now almost entirely out of date. Kelly also published: 1. ‘Practical Introduction to Spherics and Nautical Astronomy,’ 1796 (5th edit. 1832), an endeavour to simplify stereographic projection by the ‘discovery of a projection for clearing lunar distances in order to find the longitude at sea, with a new method of calculating this problem;’ part ii. contains a selection of the chief propositions in nautical astronomy. 2. ‘Elements of Book-keeping, founded on real business, with an Appendix on Exchanges,’ 1802. 3. ‘Metrology, or an Exposition of Weights and Measures,’ 1816, with a synopsis of the parliamentary acts relating to the subject, and some valuable historical notes. 4. ‘Junius proved to be Burke,’ London, 1826, a work of no value. 5. ‘Oriental Metrology, containing the Monies, Weights and Measures of the East Indies reduced to the English Standard,’ 1833. A ‘Dissertation on Weights and Measures,’ with an interesting account of their origin, by Kelly, appeared in the ‘British Review’ in 1817. He was responsible for ‘the commercial and mathematical department’ in D. Steel's ‘Shipmaster's Assistant,’ 1826.

[Gent. Mag. 1842, pt. ii. p. 434; Annual Reg. 1842; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, vol. ii.; m'Culloch's Lit. Polit. Econ. 1845, p. 179.]

R. E. A.