William Parkinson Wilson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

William Parkinson Wilson (circa January 1826 – 11 September 1874) was an astronomer and professor of mathematics who was born in England but spent most of his career in Australia.[1]

Life and career[edit]

William Parkinson Wilson was born in Peterborough, Northamptonshire to John Wilson, a silversmith, and his wife Elizabeth (née Parkinson). He attended Cathedral Grammar School in Peterborough and in 1843 won a scholarship to St John's College, Cambridge where he earned his BA (and was senior wrangler) in 1847. In 1849 he became First Professor of Mathematics at Queen’s College, Belfast (later Queen’s University Belfast). During his six years there he worked tirelessly to establish a Queens College astronomical observatory.[2] In 1850 he published A Treatise on Dynamics (Hodges and Smith).[3]

In 1855 he moved to Australia and, along with William Hearn, became one of the four founding professors of the University of Melbourne.[1] He was active in the Philosophical Institute (founded in 1855) and its successor the Royal Society of Victoria. While at his earlier position in Belfast, Wilson had in 1856 advocated Melbourne as the site for a southern hemisphere observatory––long a goal of the Royal Society. In 1858 he demonstrated a model reflector for the proposed Melbourne Observatory, and lived to see it open in 1863.[1]

He spent the rest of his life as professor of mathematics and astronomy at Melbourne. He died in Mornington, Queensland on 11 September 1874. He was 48 years old.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Wilson, William Parkinson (1826–1874) Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, 1976
  2. ^ a b William Parkinson Wilson Death and Funeral Notices Mornington & District Historical Society
  3. ^ A treatise on dynamics by W. P. Wilson, Cambridge [England] Macmillan and Co. 1850. OCLC No: 4208520

External links[edit]