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Chevallier, Temple

Chevallier, Temple

(b. Bury St. Edmunds (?),

England, 19 October 1794; d. D. Durham, England, 4 November 1873), astronomy, education.

After attending grammar schools at Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich, Temple Chevallier proceeded to Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he was successively Bell scholar (1814), second wrangler and second Smith’s prizeman (1817), and fellow of Pembroke College and Catharine Hall. He was ordained in 1818, remaining in Cambridge until 1835 when he moved to Durham, where he held various offices in the cathedral and university. He was made professor of mathematics (1835), professor of astronomy (1841), and reader in Hebrew (1841). His wide learning enabled him to publish translations from authors such as Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and Tertullian, besides many sermons and religious works, and his Halsean Lectures (1827) are said to have suggested to Whewell the idea of his Bridgewater treatise.

Chevallier wrote about thirty astronomical papers. The observatory at Durham University was largely planned by him. He made use of its facilities, including the Fraunhofer equatorial telescope, in his work on the sun’s diameter, solar eclipses, the planets, and meteorological phenomena.

Chevallier seems to have enjoyed calculating the elements of the orbits of objects within the solar system, and some of his most useful writings, although very brief, concern simple graphical and other approximative computing methods. He showed little research interest in physics, although he offered a paper “On an Analogy Between Heat and Electricity” to the British Association (1855). His Easy Lessons on Mechanics (written for the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge) is perhaps a better guide to Chevallier’s merits than his more strictly scientific writings, for he was fervent in wishing to introduce science into education. He founded a class at Durham for mining and civil engineering in 1838, and later a department of physics. In the year of his retirement (1871), he helped to found the College of Science at Newcastle (Armstrong College), which was long associated with the University of Durham. The college has since become part of the University of Newcastle.


1.Original Works. Apart from works referred to in the text, eighteen of Chevallier’s papers on astronomy may be found in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society. Others appear in Astronomische Nachschrift, some written jointly with G. Rumker. His firm beliefs in the desirability of the study of mathematics are set down in The Study of Mathematics as Conducive to the Development of the Intellectual Powers (Durham, 1836).

II. Secondary Literature. For additional details of Chevalliers’s career see the entry in the Dictionary of National Biography by Robert Hunt, whose sources included private information.

J. D. North

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