Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,355 pages of information and 245,904 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Abraham Sharp

From Graces Guide

1653 - 1742

Short biography here[1]

Fuller online autobiography: 'Abraham Sharp 1653-1742' by Elizabeth O'Connor[2]

For in-depth information on his life and work, see 'The Life and Correspondence of Abraham Sharp' [3]

1742 'On Sunday the 28th ult. died, at Horton, near Bradford, in the County of York, Mr Abraham Sharp, aged 91. He was a Relation to the late Archbishop of that Name, and was intimately acquainted with the late great Mathematicians, Mr Flamstead, Sir Isaac Newton, and others; and allow'd by them to have a Head to contrive, and a Hand to execute, beyond any one Man of the Age; and is stiled in their Works, the indefatigable and ingenious Mr Sharp. He published Mr Flamstead's Manuscripts after his Death, and drew all the Maps of the Stars according to his Tables; a very curious and elaborate Work. Several Tracts of his own are also in Print, but without his Name at Length, and many exact and valuable Instruments were invented and made by him; and he was as great in Modesty, Charity and Piety, as he was in Mathematical Learning.'[4]

John Smeaton wrote that Sharp was taken on to assist John Flamsteed at Greenwich Observatory. Flamsteed described him as being a very skilled mathematician, and exceedingly expert in mechanical operations. He was principally employed in the construction of the mural arc, 'which, in the compass of fourteen months he finished, so greatly to the satisfaction of MR. FLAMSTEED that he speaks of him in the highest terms of praise.' Smeaton continued: 'I have been the more particular relating to Mr. Sharp, in the business of constructing this mural arc ; not only because we may suppose it the first good and valid instrument of the kind, but because I look upon Mr. Sharp to have been the first person that cut accurate and delicate divisions upon astronomical instruments; of which, independent of Mr.FLAMSTEED's testimony, there still remain considerable proofs : for, after leaving Mr. Flamsteed, and quitting the department above-mentioned, he retired into Yorkshire, to the village of Little Horton, near Bradford, where he ended his days about the year 1743 ; and where I have seen not only a large and very fine collection of mechanical tools (the principal ones being made with his own hands), but also a great variety of scales and instruments made therewith, both in wood and brass, the divisions whereof were so exquisite, as would not discredit the first artists of the present times : and I believe there is now remaining a quadrant, of four or five feet radius, framed of wood, but the limb covered with a brass plate ; the subdivisions being done by diagonals, the lines of which are as finely cut as those upon the quadrants at Greenwich. The delicacy of Mr. Sharp's hand will indeed permanently appear from the copper-plates in a quarto book, published in the year 1718, intituled, Geometry improved By A. Sharp, Philomath whereof not only the geometrical lines upon the plates, but the whole of the engraving of letters and figures, were done by himself, as I was told by a person in the mathematical line, who very frequently attended Mr. Sharp in the latter part of his life. I therefore look upon Mr. Sharp as the first person that brought the affair of hand division to any degree of perfection.'[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Ref link
  2. [1] 'Abraham Sharp 1653-1742' by Elizabeth O'Connor, provided online by The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) Digital Library
  3. [2] 'The Life and Correspondence of Abraham Sharp' by William Cudworth, 1889
  4. Newcastle Courant, 31 July 1742
  5. [3] Observations on the Graduation of Astronomical Instruments; With an Explanation of the Method Invented by the Late Mr. Henry Hindley, of York, Clock-Maker, to Divide Circles into any Given Number of Parts. By Mr. John Smeaton, F. R. S.; Communicated by Henry Cavendish, Esq. F. R. S. and S. A Hindley, H.; Smeaton, J.; Cavendish, H. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (1776-1886). 1786-01-01. 76:1–47. Read 17 November 1785