ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Drawing after a bust of Davies Gilbert (1767-1839), English mathematician and politician. Gilbert was born Davies Giddy in Cornwall and educated at Penzance and at Pembroke College Oxford. He married in 1808 and in 1816 took his wife's maiden name, Gilbert, in order to inherit a family estate. He served as a Member of Parliament, first for Helston then for Bodmin, and was an outspoken parliamentary supporter of engineering and scientific inquiry. Ironically he opposed Babbage's application for funds to build his difference engine (an early computer), possibly because he was unconvinced by Babbage's mathematics. Gilbert served as president of the Royal Society and he commissioned the Bridgewater Treatises that attempted to reconcile science and the religious view of creation.
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