Authorised form of nameJones; William (1675 - 1749); mathematician
Dates1675 - 1749
Dates and placesBirth:
Llanfihangel Tw'r Beird, Anglesey, Wales (1675)
London (01 or 03 July 1749)
ActivityResearch Field:
Entered merchant's counting house in London; travelled to West Indies; taught mathematics on board a man-of-war; Present at the capture of Vigo (1702); Teacher of mathematics in London; tutor in mathematics to Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (FRS 1753), Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield (FRS 1712) and George Parker, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield (FRS 1722); Secretary for Peace; Deputy-Teller of the Exchequer; Governor of the Foundling Hospital; in 1711 appointed a member of the committee set up by the Royal Society to investigate the invention of calculus, and with John Machin and Halley, he was responsible for the preparation of the printed report. Introduced the Greek letter for pye to use as a symbol for the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. Gained popularity once Leonard Euler adopted it in 1739. Died of heart disease; his library, considered to be the finest mathematical library in England, and his papers were left to the 2nd Earl of Macclesfield
Royal Society activityMembership:
Election Date:
Council (1717-1718, 1721, 1723, 1725-6, 1728, 1730); VP (1749)
RelationshipsSon of John George Jones, farmer, and his wife, Elizabeth Rowland; married Maria, daughter of George Nix, Cabinet-maker, of London
Father of Sir William Jones (FRS, 1772)
Published works'Synopsis palmariorum matheseos', (London, 1706); 'A New Compendium of the Whole Art of Navigation' (London, 1702) with tables by J Flamsteed; Discourses of the Natural Philosophy of the Elements', 1731;
General context'Synopsis palmariorum mathestos' 1706 , famous for using symbol for pye with the modern meaning of the ratio of the circumference of a cirde to the diameter.
Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB; Thomas
Death date from Ruth Wallis (index to BR)
Obituary, 'Gentleman's Magazine' 1749, p331; obituary, 'London Magazine' 1749, p336
H G Lyons, 'Two Hundred Years Ago: 1739' in NR 1939 vol 2 pp 34-42
DNB and DSB give date of death as 03 July 1749.
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA7728
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
MS/65Apollonii Pergaei Conica
MS/29Mathematical works of Pappus Alexandrinus
L&P/1/299Letter, 'The calculates values on annuties on lives' from Abraham de Moivre to William Jones1744
L&P/1/238Letter, 'On the transits of Mercury of 31 October 1736 and 25 October 1743' from John Bevis to William Jones1743
DM/5/100A list of benefactors to the Library, to the value of £5 or upwards at one time c.1737
CLP/3ii/9Paper, 'A letter from the Revd [Reverend] Father Felix Bernard's to the Royal Society, consider'd' by [William Jones][1713]
Add to My Items

    Collection highlights

    Browse the records of some of our collections, which cover all branches of science and date from the 12th century onwards. These include the published works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society's activities since our foundation in 1660.

    The Royal Society

    The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of
    the world's most eminent scientists and is the
    oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.
    Registered charity number 207043

    Website design ©CalmView


    + 44 207 451 2500
    (Lines open Mon-Fri, 9:00-17:00. Excludes bank holidays)

    6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

    Email Us →


    Subscribe to our newsletters to be updated with the
    latest news on innovation, events, articles and reports.

    Subscribe →

    © CalmView