Open main menu

HANN, JAMES (1799–1856), mathematician, was born in 1799 at Washington, near Gateshead, where his father was a colliery smith. After being fireman at a pumping-station at Hebburn, he was for several years employed in one of the steamers used on the Tyne for towing vessels. At the same time he studied mathematics, and was on one occasion found reading the works of Emerson the fluxionist. He afterwards became a teacher, and when keeping a school at Friar's Goose, near Newcastle, he published in 1833 (as joint author with Isaac Dodds of Gateshead) his first work, 'Mechanics for Practical Men.' An acquaintanceship with Woolhouse the mathematician led to his obtaining a situation as calculator in the Nautical Almanac Office. A few years later he was appointed writing-master, and then a little later mathematical master at King's College School, London; the latter post he held till his death. Among his pupils was Henry Fawcett [q. v.] He published several works on mechanics and pure mathematics, the chief of which are: 'Analytical Geometry' (a book which was afterwards greatly improved by J. R. Young), 'Treatise on Plane Trigonometry,' 'Spherical Trigonometry,' 'Examples of the Integral Calculus,' 'Examples of the Differential Calculus.' In applied mathematics he wrote 'Mathematics for Practical Men,' published 1833; 'The Theory of Bridges,' 1843; 'Treatise on the Steam Engine, with Practical Rules,' 1847; 'Principles and Practice of the Machinery of Locomotive Engines,' 1850. In 1841, with Olinthus Gregory [q. v.], he drew up and published 'Tables for the Use of Nautical Men.' He also contributed papers to the 'Diaries' and other mathematical periodicals. Hann was elected a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1843, and was an honorary member of the Philosophical Society of Newcastle-on-Tyne. He died in King's College Hospital 17 Aug. 1856, aged 57 years. He married as a young man, and had several children.

[Latimer's Local Records of Newcastle, p. 384; Lady and Gentleman's Diary for 1857, p. 69; Proc. Inst. Civ. Engineers, vol. ii.(1843); Gent. Mag. 1856, pt. ii. pp. 513-15, 521; Ann. Register, August 1856.]

R. E. A.