Lawson, John (1723-1779) (DNB00)

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LAWSON, JOHN (1723–1779), mathematician, born in 1723, was eldest son of Thomas Lawson, vicar of Kirkby, Lincolnshire. After attending Boston grammar school he was, on 15 Dec. 1741, admitted sizar of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and was elected chapel clerk on 14 Jan. 1741-2, foundation scholar on 16 Jan. 1745-6, fellow on 3 Dec. 1747, mathematical lecturer in 1749, and tutor in 1751 (College Register). He graduated B.A. in 1745, M.A. in 1749, and B.D. in 1756 (Graduati Cantabr.) In 1759 he was presented to the rectory of Swanscombe, Kent, by the college (Sparvel-Bayly, Hist. of Swanscombe, p. 29). He died unmarried at Chislehurst on 13 Nov. 1779 (Gent. Mag. 1. 50).

In 1774 Lawson printed anonymously at Canterbury a 'Dissertation on the Geometrical Analysis of the Antients, with a Collection of Theorems and Problems without Solutions.' A general desire was expressed that the solutions should be also published, and Lawson announced on a flyleaf attached to some copies of the work that he would be glad to correspond with mathematicians. Among his correspondents Ainsworth, Clarke, Merrit, and Power appear to have furnished him with original solutions. A portion, if not the whole, of the solutions in manuscript was in Ainsworth's possession in 1777; but it was never printed, and its fate appears to be unknown (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vii. 526-7). A compilation based on the above work, entitled 'An Introduction to the Geometrical Analysis of the Ancients.' appeared in 1811.

Lawson published also: 1. 'The Two Books of Apollonius Pergaeus concerning Tangencies, as they have been restored by franciscus Vieta and Marinus Ghetaldus; with a Supplement.' 4to, Cambridge, 1764; 2nd edit., with M. Fermat's 'Treatise on Spherical Tangencies, and two Supplements.' 4to, London, 1771. 2. 'Occasional Sermons on the Office and Duty of Bishops.' 8vo, London, 1765. 3. 'A Synopsis of all the Data for the Construction of Triangles, from which Geometrical Solutions have hitherto been in print.' 4to, Rochester, 1778; a specimen of which had previously appeared in 'The British Oracle.' 4. 'A Treatise concerning Prisms by Robert Simson, M.D., translated from the Latin.' 4to, Canterbury, 1777.

[Notes kindly supplied by the master of Sidney Sussex; Lawson's "Works; Watt's BibL Brit.]

G. G.