Hugh Godfray

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Hugh Godfray


Hugh Godfray (1827-1877) was a navigation mathematican and astronomer. Born in St Helier he was the son of Hugh Godfray, master of a vessel in the Labrador trade


He was educated at Denziloe's Academy, St Helier, then in France at St Servan College, and Paris University, where he studied mathematics. After a year as tutor to a nobleman's son in the south of France, he returned to Jersey and in 1842 he opened a school of navigation mathematics, which became very successful.

In 1845 he married Jane, daughter of Charles Gruchy of Trinity and sister of Jurat Gruchy, by whom he had four sons and one daughter.


During 1846 and 1847 he surveyed the island for his Map of Jersey, published in 1849. He frequently contributed articles to the Mathematician and other scientific periodicals, and so became known to scientists in England. One of these, Professor Davis of Woolwich, persuaded him to go to Cambridge, where he entered St John's College in 1848. He was Third Wrangler in 1852, the year in which another Jerseyman, James Lempriere Hammond, was Senior Classic. Being a married man he was ineligible for a fellowship, but in 1852 he was elected Esquire Bedell of the University, a post which he held until his death.

He was Lecturer at Corpus Christi and Pembroke Colleges and at Trinity Hall, and was famous as a most successful private coach in mathematics. He took a leading part in starting the Cambridge Local Examinations, and for many years was responsible for all the French papers. In 1852 he published his Elementary Treatise on the Lunar Theory, which became a text book at Oxford and Cambridge. He followed this in 1867 with his book on Plane Astronomy.

In 1858 he made maps and diagrams for facilitating Great Circle Sailing and a diagram for determining the sun's true azimuth. These were engraved and published by the Admiralty for use in the Navy. His last work was the long and elaborate article on Dialling in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which he dictated to his youngest son from his deathbed.

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