People: William Bossley

Name Bossley, William
Place of work Bakewell, Derbyshire
Employment date

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In a letter to Newton, dated 2 March 1694/5, Flamsteed informs him that he has had the help of ‘a Couple of very Ingenuous men’ who were living at a great distance from the Observatory. The two individuals concerned were William Bossley, an apothecary, and Luke Leigh, both of whom lived in Bakewell in Flamsteed’s home county of Derbyshire. They had, like Flamsteed, an interest in the construction of accurate tables of the planetary motions. Unlike Leigh, there is no clear evidence that Bossley did any calculations for Flamsteed on anything other than a voluntary basis, or after his tables of the planetary motions had been constructed. He did however keep up a correspondence with Flamsteed for a period of around 15 years.

Bossley was the executor of Leigh’s will, and following his death, designed himself a window sundial. Although Flamsteed corresponded directly with Leigh, he also sometimes used Bossley to pass on money or messages to him. Following Leigh’s death at the start of 1706/7, there is only one surviving letter from Bossley to Flamsteed and two from Flamsteed to him, the last of which is dated 28 March 1710. Why the correspondence petered out at this time can at the moment only be speculated upon.


Further reading

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)