Date: 03 Sep 2014
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Ferguson, James

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Bornnear Keith, (Grampian), Scotland, 25 April 1710

DiedLondon, England, 16 November 1776

Ferguson, James. Courtesy of History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries

James Ferguson was an astronomical and philosophical lecturer, modelmaker, and clockmaker. Ferguson came from a large family that scratched a meager living off a few acres of rented land. Money was scarce and education a low priority. With a little help from a neighbor, James taught himself to read, and received instruction in writing from his father. Apart from 3 months at the grammar school in Keith, he had no formal education. The first half of his life was spent in Scotland, earning a living by drawing miniature portraits. He married Isabella Wilson on 31 May 1739, and had four children.

Although Ferguson is usually labeled an astronomer, his interests were many and included electricity, mechanics, horology, and chronology. He was never a practical astronomer; other than his extensive writings, his contri ...