People: Thomas Weston





Name Weston, Thomas
 
Place of work Greenwich
 
Employment dates
2 Feb 1698/9 – 12 May 1706
 


Posts Servant & Assistant (to Flamsteed)




Died 1728 (before 29 August)
 



Flamsteed (right) with Thomas Weston at the eye-piece of the Mural Arc. Detail from the ceiling of the Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich by Sir James Thornhill. Commissioned in 1707 the painting of the ceiling was completed in 1712

 

Thomas Weston by John Faber Jr, after Michael Dahl, mezzotint, 1723. Frontispiece to A copy-book written for the use of the young-gentlemen at the Academy in Greenwich (1726) © National Portrait Gallery, London. Reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) licence (see below)

Like James Hodgson, Thomas Weston worked for Flamsteed as an indentured servant. He was contracted for a period of seven years and overlapped with Hodgson for roughly half that time. He arrived at the Observatory on 2 February 1698/9 (RGO1/15/166v), completing his seven years on 2 February 1705/6 (RS MS/798/43, letter to Sharp). Weston was a skilled draughtsman and assisted Flamsteed in the preparation of his Atlas Coelestis. Frequently under the weather, he was described by Flamsteed as ‘an ingenious but sickly youth’.

It seems that in around 1702/3, Thomas Plume considered Weston for the new Plumian chair of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy that he was about to establish at Cambridge, but had dropped the idea when Flamsteed pointed out that he had only a moderate knowledge of Latin and none of Greek (RGO1/33/130).

Willmoth (The correspondence of John Flamsteed, vol 3), gives the date of Weston’s departure from the Observatory as 12 May 1706. In 1715 he established an Academy at Heyton (formerly Copped) Hall, Greenwich. Amongst his pupils were the sons of pensioners at Greenwich Hospital who were supported from entry charges to the Hospital’s Painted Hall, pensioners’ fines and proceeds from the sale of stores. He was the author of several books, including one that contained his portrait (right). In 1719, he succeeded Flamsteed as the Examiner of the Royal Mathematical School at Christ’s Hospital, retaining the position until his death in 1728 when his brother John took over not only this post, but the running of the Academy. He left behind a widow.

 

Further reading

The teaching of non-professional artists in eighteenth-century England. Kimberly Mae Sloan (1986). Downloads as pdf

An account of the Revd. John Flamsteed, Francis Bailey, (London, 1835)

 The correspondence of John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, ed. E. G. Forbes and others, 3 vols. (1995–2001)

 


 

Image licensing information

Thomas Weston by John Faber Jr, after Michael Dahl, mezzotint, 1723. © National Portrait Gallery, London. Reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) licence. National Portrait Gallery Object ID: NPG D27605.