People: John Hellins

Name Hellins, John
Place of work Greenwich
Employment dates
29 Sep 1773 – 25 Mar 1776

Posts Assistant

Born c.1749


Died 1827, Apr 5


Born in Devon to a poor family, Hellins started his working life as an apprentice cooper. By the time he was about twenty, he had taught himself mathematics and became master of a small school at Bishop’s Tawnton where he made the acquaintance of Malachy Hitchins. It was on Hitchin’s recommendation that Hellins was taken on by Maskelyne as his assistant in succession to Reuben Burrow in 1773. While at Greenwich, he qualified for holy orders, becoming curate of Constantine in Cornwall (1779–83), and afterwards at Greens Norton. In 1790, he was presented the living of Potterspury in Northamptonshire, where in the North Aisle of the parish church of St. Nicolas there is a small marble tablet in his memory. He matriculated (started as a student) at Trinity College Cambridge in 1789, graduating in 1800. Following his departure from the Observatory, he worked for Maskelyne as a Computer on the 1780 edition of the Nautical Almanac. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1796, being one of two of Maskelyne’s assistants to be so honoured. The other was John Brinkley.


Further Reading

Hellins, John (d. 1827). R. E. Anderson, rev. Adrian Rice, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004

John Hellins (from Wikipedia)

Obituary (from The philosophical magazine or annals of chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, natural history, and general science, 1827)

Obituary (from The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, 1828)