Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
James Maurice Wilson
He entered King William's College on the Isle of Man in August 1848, where he had a rather unhappy time as a schoolboy. He later studied at St. John's College of Cambridge University and was Senior Wrangler.
He was a major figure in the development and reform of Victorian public schools, and promoted the teaching of science which had until then been neglected. He was Maths and Science Master at Rugby School from 1859 to 1879 and then was Headmaster of Clifton College from 1879 to 1890.
He made astronomical observations (particularly of double stars) at Temple Observatory at Rugby with his former student George Mitchell Seabroke. Temple Observatory was named after Frederick Temple, headmaster of Rugby School who later became Bishop of Exeter and then Archbishop of Canterbury.
With Joseph Gledhill and Edward Crossley, he co-wrote Handbook of Double Stars in 1879, which became a standard reference work in astronomy. His astronomical observations seem to have come to an end after he left Rugby and went to Clifton.
While at Clifton College, he successfully pushed for the creation of St. Agnes Park in Bristol, as part of a plan to improve the lives of the urban poor.
After his teaching career, he became Vicar of Rochdale, Archdeacon of Manchester from 1890–1905, and after 1905 was Canon of Worcester and Vice-Dean of the Cathedral. He was referred to as "Rev. Canon J.M. Wilson, DD". He was Hulsean lecturer at Cambridge in 1898; Lady Margaret Preacher at Cambridge in 1900; and Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at Cambridge in 1902.
He wholeheartedly accepted the theory of evolution and its implications for the literal interpretation of the Bible. He gave two lectures in 1892 in which he accepted Darwinism and argued that it was compatible with a higher view of Christianity; the lectures were published by the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge , which had a few years earlier bitterly attacked Darwinian ideas.
In 1921, he served one year as president of The Mathematical Association of the UK.
In 1925 he wrote an essay entitled "The Religious Effect of the Idea of Evolution". He wrote a number of books, including Life after Death "with replies by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" in 1920, and James M. Wilson: An Autobiography (London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1932). In addition to spiritual works, he also co-wrote an astronomy book on double stars (mentioned above) and mathematical books on geometry and conic sections. He contributed the article "On two fragments of geometrical treatises found in Worcester Cathedral" to the Mathematical Gazette (March 1911, p. 19).
- Extract from autobiography
- One-paragraph biography
- One-paragraph biography
- King William's College Register
- UK National Archives links
- Mention of an obituary in 1932 QJ 88 (Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of the UK), not online
- The 8 1/4-inch refractor of the Temple Observatory, Rugby
- Index of Mathematical Gazette articles, 1909–1919
- Cambridge lectureships
- From Creation to Evolution
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