BURROW, Reuben

BURROW, Reuben. Hoberley, near Shadwell, Leeds 30.12.1747 — Baxar, Bihar 7.6.1792. British Mathematician in India. “Son of a farmer, educated at Leeds. Became a clerk, usher, schoolmaster, assistant astronomer and schoolmaster at Greenwich, arithmetical teacher at the Tower, edited the Royal Almanack. Went to India in 1782, learnt Sanskrit.” In fact, he had quarreled with colleagues and had to get living from private pupils, but as his family increased, he accepted the appointment in India. He taught mathematics to engineers, and was employed in the trigonometrical survey of Bengal. An early member of the A.S.B. Married 1772 Anne Purvis, three daughters and one son (then officer of E.I.C.), in 1782 left his family in London.

As mathematician Burrow made some important things, but did not fare well with his colleagues, who were mainly upper class and considered him rude and unpolished. He was also prone to bold speculating, e.g. explaining Stonehenge as Buddhist temple and druids as Brahmans. For his historical studies he learned Sanskrit and collected Sanskrit and Persian manuscripts.

Publications: “A Proof that the Hindus had the Binominal Theorem”, As. Res. 2, 1790, 8° repr. 1799, 487-497; “A Demonstration of one of the Hindoo Rules of Arithmetic”, As. Res. 3, 8° repr. 1799, 145-147; “Memorandum concerning an Old Building. In the Hadjipore District, near the Gunduc River”, As. Res. 3, 8° repr. 1799, 477-481

Contributed further papers on astronomy and mathematics to the A.S.B., publ. in As. Res., also wrote on classical Greek geometry.

A Short Account of the late Mr. Burrow’s Measurement of a Degree of Longitude and another of Latitude near the tropic in Bengal. 21 p. 1796 (ed. by his friend I. Dalby).

Sources: Burn & Chatterjee 44; Buckland, Dictionary; L.S[tephen], D.N.B. 7, 1886, 448f.; Wikipedia with more detail.

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