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Brattle, Thomas (20 June 1658–18 May 1713), astronomer and architect, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Brattle, a merchant, and Elizabeth Tyng. The oldest son in one of Boston’s wealthiest families, Thomas early devoted himself to mathematics and science. Harvard College, where he earned an A.B. in 1676, was in disarray because of war and bad leadership during his undergraduate years, so Brattle pursued higher education largely on his own. He wrote to Britain’s royal astronomer, John Flamsteed, in 1703 and 1705 that no one was able to teach him much mathematics at Harvard, and he had relied on whatever books were available. Young Brattle also worked with and learned from scientifically inclined locals, such as the printer-mathematician John Foster and Dr. William Avery....

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Davidson, George (09 May 1825–02 December 1911), surveyor, geodesist, and astronomer, was born in Nottingham, England, the son of Thomas Davidson, and Janet Drummond. His family emigrated to Philadelphia when he was seven, and he attended its public schools. At Central High School, ...

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See Mason, Charles

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Andrew Ellicott. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98345).

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Ellicott, Andrew (24 January 1754–20 August 1820), mathematician, astronomer, and surveyor, was born in Buckingham, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph Ellicott, a millwright and clockmaker, and Judith Bleaker. The family belonged to the Society of Friends. After attending a Quaker elementary school in Solesbury, Ellicott was enrolled at the age of fifteen in ...

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Mason, Charles ( April 1728–25 October 1786), and Jeremiah Dixon (27 July 1733–22 January 1779), British astronomers and surveyors, were responsible for establishing the Mason-Dixon Line. Charles Mason was born at Wherr (now Weir) Farm, Oakridge Lynch, Gloucestershire, England, the son of Charles Mason, a baker and miller, and Anne Damsel Mason. He attended Tetbury Grammar School and received additional tutoring from mathematician Robert Stratford. He lived near the astronomer royal, Dr. James Bradley, and Reverend Nathaniel Bliss, Savilian Professor at Oxford. It was through these local connections that Mason's prowess as a mathematician came to the attention of Bradley, who in 1756 offered him the position of assistant (or “labourer”) at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, with a salary of £26. At about this time Mason married Rebekah (maiden name unknown), with whom he had two sons....