Concept

Jesse Ramsden

Summary
Jesse Ramsden FRS FRSE (6 October 1735 – 5 November 1800) was a British mathematician, astronomical and scientific instrument maker. His reputation was built on the engraving and design of dividing engines which allowed high accuracy measurements of angles and lengths in instruments. He produced instruments for astronomy that were especially well known for maritime use where they were needed for the measurement of latitudes and for his surveying instruments which were widely used for cartography and land survey both across the British Empire and outside. An achromatic eyepiece that he invented for telescopes and microscopes continues to be known as the Ramsden eyepiece. Ramsden was born at Salterhebble, Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, England the son of Thomas Ramsden, an innkeeper and his wife Abigail née Flather. Having attended the free school at Halifax from 1744 to 1747, he was sent at the age of twelve to his maternal uncle, Mr Craven, in the North Riding, and there studied mathematics under the Rev. Mr. Hall. After serving his apprenticeship as a cloth-worker in Halifax, he went to London where, in 1755, he became a clerk in a cloth warehouse. In 1758 he was apprenticed to a mathematical instrument maker and he proved so proficient that he was able to set up his own business only four years later. The quality and accuracy of his instruments established his reputation as the most able instrument maker in Europe for the next forty years until his death in 1800. In 1765 Ramsden married Sarah Dollond, daughter of John Dollond, the famous maker of high quality lenses and optical instruments. Ramsden received a share in Dollond's patent achromatic lens as dowry. Little is known of their life together but Sarah did not accompany him when he moved his workshop (and home). In 1773, Ramsden moved to 199 Piccadilly but Sarah and her son lived at Haymarket at a home belonging to her father's family. At the time of her death on 29 August 1796 she lived at Hercules Buildings, off Westminster Road, Lambeth.
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