Sir John Leslie (1766-1832)

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John Leslie was born in Largo, Fife, on 16 April 1766. He studied at St. Andrews University until 1783 or 1784 after which he studied Divinity at Edinburgh University. With strong interests in science however, in 1787 he abandoned the intention of going into the Church. In 1788 his paper entitled On the resolution of indeterminate problems was published by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1789, Leslie was tutoring in Virginia, North America. On his return to Britain he stayed for a time in London before going to Etruria, Staffordshire, between 1790 and 1792. There he translated The natural history of birds by Comte de Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon (1707-1788), and also published Observations on electrical theories. A short stay in the Netherlands followed, after which he returned to Largo where he studied and conducted experimental research. Leslie invented instruments for use in the study of heat and for meteorology. During his stay in Largo he also travelled to London and in Europe - to Germany and Switzerland, observing glaciers in the latter. In 1805, he was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at Edinburgh University, and in 1819 he was elected to the Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University. His publications include Experimental inquiry into the nature and properties of heat (1804), Elements of geometry, geometrical analysis and plane trigonometry (1809), Geometry of curve lines (1813), Philosophy of arithmetic (1817), Elements of natural philosophy (1823), and Mathematical treatises. Leslie was knighted in early 1832, and Sir John Leslie died the same year at his estate, Coates, in Fife, on 3 November 1832.

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