Open main menu

CODDINGTON, HENRY (d. 1845), mathematician, graduated in 1820 from Trinity College, Cambridge, as senior wrangler and first Smith's prizeman; proceeded M.A. in 1823, and obtained a fellowship and sub-tutorship in his college. Thence he retired to the college living of Ware in Hertfordshire, and in the discharge of his clerical duties burst a blood-vessel, thereby fatally injuring his health. Advised to try a southern climate, he travelled abroad, and died at Rome 3 March 1845. He married a daughter of Dr. Batten, principal of Haileybury College, and left seven children. His attainments were various. Besides taking the first place in the mathematical tripos, he had competed successfully for classical honours; he was a good modern linguist, an excellent musician and draughtsman, and a skilled botanist. His published works on science, with the exception of an anonymous tract on 'The Principles of the Differential Calculus,' were exclusively devoted to optics. The first of these, entitled 'An Elementary Treatise on Optics' (Cambridge, 1823, 2nd edit. 1825), made little pretension to originality. Based on Dr. Whewell's lectures, it was, however, the first attempt to make English students acquainted with modern methods of investigation in the subject treated. His next work, entitled 'A System of Optics,' published at Cambridge, in two parts, 1829-1830, raised higher his claims as an independent inquirer in mathematical physics. The first part, 'A Treatise on the Reflection and Refraction of Light,' contained a very complete investigation of the paths of reflected and refracted rays; while in the second, styled 'A Treatise on the Eye and on Optical Instruments,' were explained the theory and construction of the various kinds of telescope and microscope. On 22 March 1830 he read a paper 'On the Improvement of the Microscope' before the Cambridge Philosophical Society (Transactions, iii. 421), the strong recommendation contained in which of the 'grooved sphere' lens, first described by Brewster in 1820 (Edin. Phil. Jour. iii. 76), brought it into general use under the designation of the 'Coddington lens' (Encyc. Brit. xiv. 769, 8th edit.) He wrote besides, 'A few Remarks on the New Library Question, by a Member of neither Syndicate' (Cambridge, 1831), and 'The Church Catechism explained, enlarged, and confirmed by quotations from Holy Scripture' (London, 1840). His name occurs on the first list of members of the British Association. He was one of the earliest members of the Royal Astronomical Society, was a fellow of the Geological and Royal Societies, and sat on the council of the latter body in 1831-2.

[Mem. R. A. Soc. xvi. 484; Annual Eeg. (1845), p. 257; Gent. Mag. (1845), ii.90; Monthly Notices, vii. 48; Encyc. Brit. xvi. 260, 9th edit.]

A. M. C.