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Jeremiah Horrox.


Jeremiah Horrox ranked, according to Sir Isaac Newton, as one of the two or three pioneers of English astronomy. He was born in a farmhouse in the hamlet of Jericho, in the Toxteth district of Liverpool, where many Puritan farmers had settled. He was first taught by a zealous Puritan, Richard Mather, the priest at the predecessor of the Toxteth Chapel at the Dingle. After three years at Cambridge University, where his abilities in mathematics were seen to be outstanding, Horrox came back to Toxteth to take the place of Mather, who had fled to America where his Puritan views were more acceptable. In 1639, Horrox left Toxteth to become curate of Hoole, between Ormskirk and Preston. It was here that he was the first human to knowingly witness the transit of Venus across the face of the sun, having precisely calculated when this should take place and having rigged up a simple mechanism to view it. He returned to Toxteth in ill-health and died there, aged 23, in 1641.

Bibliography: “Horrox, Jeremiah, Venus in Sole”, reproduced in English in “Memoir of the Life and Labours of the Reverend Jeremiah Horrox” by the Revd. Arundell Blount Whatton published by Wertheim, Macintosh and Hunt 1859

Bushell, Warin Foster North West Astronomers: Jeremiah Horrox published by Liverpool Astronomical Society 1992.