Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wollaston, Francis John Hyde

WOLLASTON, FRANCIS JOHN HYDE (1762–1823), natural philosopher, eldest son of Francis Wollaston [q. v.] and brother of William Hyde Wollaston [q. v.], was born in Charterhouse Square, London, on 13 April 1762, and educated at the Charterhouse. On 5 May 1779 he was admitted a pensioner of Sidney-Sussex College, Cambridge. He was elected to a scholarship in 1780, and proceeded B.A. in 1783, when he was senior wrangler. In the same year he was elected to the mathematical lectureship founded by Samuel Taylor in 1726, which he held until 10 Dec. 1785; and on 21 Oct. 1785 he accepted a fellowship at Trinity Hall, where he was also tutor. He graduated M.A. in 1786, B.D. in 1795.

In 1792 Wollaston succeeded Isaac Milner [q. v.] as Jacksonian professor at Cambridge, polling 35 votes against 30 for William Farish [q. v.] He began by lecturing alternately on chemistry and experimental philosophy, and is said to have exhibited ‘not less than three hundred experiments annually’ (Cambr. Cal. 1802, p. 32); but after 1796, when Samuel Vince [q. v.] was elected Plumian professor, he lectured on chemistry only. He published ‘A Plan of a Course of Chemical Lectures’ in 1794, of which a second edition appeared in 1805. He resigned his professorship in 1813.

In 1793 Wollaston vacated his fellowship by marriage, and in 1794 the bishop of London instituted him to the vicarage of South Weald, Essex. On 6 July 1802 he was appointed to a stall in St. Paul's Cathedral, London; and on 18 Feb. 1807 was made master of Sidney-Sussex College. But in rather less than a year the election was declared invalid by the visitor on the ground that Wollaston had never been a fellow, and his successor was appointed 31 Jan. 1808. On 12 May 1813 Wollaston became rector of Cold Norton, Essex, on 14 Dec. archdeacon of Essex, and on 2 Dec. 1815 rector of East Dereham. He usually resided at South Weald. He died on 12 Oct. 1823. On 13 Aug. 1793 he married Frances Hayles, by whom he had a son and two daughters. A portrait of Wollaston in chalks is in the possession of F. W. Trevor, esq., and a marble medallion is in the church at South Weald.

Besides the two schemes of lectures referred to above, Wollaston published:

  1. ‘Charge to Clergy of Archdeaconry of Essex,’ London, 1816, 8vo.
  2. ‘Description of a Thermometrical Barometer for measuring Altitudes’ (Phil. Trans. 1817).
  3. ‘On the Measurement of Snowdon by the Thermometrical Barometer’ (Phil. Trans. 1820).

[Luard's Graduati, 1884; Cambr. Univ. Calendar, 1802; Cooper's Memorials, iii. 30; Cambr. Chronicle, 1823; Le Neve's Fasti; Foster's Index Eccles.; private information.]

J. W. C-k.