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Wharton, George

1. Dates
Born: Strickland, near Kendal, Westmorland, 4 April 1617
Died: London, 12 August 1681 datcode:
Dateinfo: 64
2. Father
Occupation: Gentry
There are two conflicting stories--his father was either a gentleman of means or a blacksmith who died when Wharton was young so that he was reared by a genteel relative. From the story of an inherited estate worth 50 per annum I conclude that gentry is meant.
In either case, it is clear that he grew up in prosperous surroundings.
3. Nationality
Birth: English
Career: English
Death: English
4. Education
Schooling: Oxford
Oxford University, 1633. Apparently he did not take a degree. Wood says that he was again a student, a member of Queen's College, in 1644, while he was there will the royalist forces. He could have received a degree, but did not take the trouble.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Anglican
Nothing is said about his religion, but he fought for Charles in the Civil War.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Astrology
After the first turn at Oxford, Wharton studied mathematics in the north country with William Milbourne. He was known as a mathematician and calculator of almanacs, though he made no contribution to mathematics. He became virtually the official astrologer of the royalist cause, producing partisan almanacs that got him into trouble with the Parliamentary officials.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Government, Calendars
Secondary: Personal Means, Military, Estate Administration
He inherited an estate from his father (or relative) of 50 per year. He sold it to raise a troop of horse for the King in 1642.
Wharton began to publish almanacs in 1641 and continued, possibly interrupted by the repression of the Puritan regime, until 1666.
Paymaster to the magazine and artillery, 1644.
Captain of horse, 1645.
He served as Ashmole's agent on his estate, 1650-7.
With the Restoration Wharton received his reward; he was named Treasurer and Paymaster to the Office of Royal Ordnance, 1660-81.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Gentry
Although I do not list the position with Ashmole as patronage above, I think I need to include it here--very definitely a favor received. I hardly know what category, but I think Ashmole was essentially gentry after he married money.
Wharton owed his governmental position after the Restoration to the King, who created him a baronet in 1677.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Informal Connections: Battle over astrology with W.Lilly and John Booker. Lifelong friendship with Ashmole, beginning in 1645.
  1. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-50), 20 1313-14. Anthony Wood, Athenae oxonienses (Fasti oxonienses is attached, with separate pagination, to the Athenae), 4 vols. (London, 1813-20), 4, 5-9.
  2. Allan Chapman, Three North Country Astronomers, (Manchester, 1982), pp. 35-6.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Edward Sherburne, "Catalogue of Astronomers", Appendix to The Sphere of Marcus Manilius, (London, 1675).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

1995 Al Van Helden
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