Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rowning, John

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ROWNING, JOHN (1701?–1771), mathematician, born about 1701, was son of John Rowning of Ashby-with-Fenby, Lincolnshire. He was educated at the grammar school in Glanford Brigg. Entering Magdalene College, Cambridge, he graduated B.A. in 1724 and M.A. in 1728. He obtained a fellowship at his college and was subsequently appointed rector of the college living of Anderby in Lincolnshire. He was a constant attendant of the meetings of the Spalding Society. A brother was a great mechanic and watchmaker, and he is said himself to have had ‘a good genius for mechanical contrivances.’ ‘Though a very ingenious and pleasant man, he was of an unpromising and forbidding appearance—tall, stooping at the shoulders, and of a sallow, down-looking countenance.’ He died at his lodgings in Carey Street, near Lincoln's Inn Fields, in November 1771. An epitaph, by Joseph Mills of Cowbit, is quoted in Nichols's ‘Literary Anecdotes’ (vi. 109). Rowning was married and had one daughter.

Rowning's chief work was ‘A Compendious System of Natural Philosophy,’ in four parts, which went through seven editions between 1735 and 1772. He also wrote a ‘Preliminary Discourse to an intended Treatise on the Fluxionary Method,’ 1756, which is largely argumentative (see a notice in Monthly Review, 1756, i. 286); and published two papers in the ‘Philosophical Transactions:’ (1) ‘A Description of a Barometer, wherein the Scale of Variation may be increased at Pleasure,’ 1733; (2) ‘Directions for making a Machine for finding the Roots of Equations universally,’ 1770.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd.; Hutton's Math. Dict.; New and General Biogr. Dict.; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; Allibone.]

W. F. S.