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Horner, William George

Schoolmaster and gifted mathematician, the son of an Irish itinerant, William Horner (e.m. 1770; d. 1826). Educated at Kingswood School 1794-1800, he was promoted to the teaching staff that year, at the age of 14, and to headmaster in 1804. In 1809 he left to set up his own school in Bath and ran it until his death in 1837. He was a strict disciplinarian, but his more intelligent pupils benefitted by his considerable gifts as a teacher. From 1815 on his reports as an external examiner helped Kingswood to improve its standards. His mathematical bent led him to develop what became known as 'Horner's method' as a way of estimating a solution to a polynomial equation, though this had been anticipated by others. He published several papers on mathematical topics which were later taken up by Charles Babbage and John Herschel. He died at Bath on 22 September 1837.


  • WM Magazine, 1837 p.957
  • A.G. Ives, Kingswood School in Wesley's Day and Since (1970) pp.116-18, 121
  • Oxford DNB

Category: Person


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