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Doncaster Features: Famous Doncastrian: George Boole
George, at 16 after his education, had to seek employment. He took a post as usher at Mr William Heigham's school on South Parade in Doncaster (a very respectable Methodist establishment). He was much respected for his attainments, but parents learned of his religious views. They prayed for the sacrilegious master at prayer meetings, and the Headmaster was forced to ask George to convert to Methodism or resign. George resigned.
He now began a more serious study of Applied Maths. It is considered he had the advantage over university students, as he read and reread every article until it was fully understood; this without a tutor to keep his research in the appointed channels. By this time he was the sole support of his family (mother, father, sister and two brothers).
He enjoyed walking and thinking and developed this on Town Fields, where he came up with a theory of algebraic logic that formed the basis of the binary system that all computer systems are based on.
He then moved away to Liverpool where he developed his career in mathematics, developing his algebraic and logic studies. The results of which formed the initial ideas for computing.
In 1850 he met Mary Everest for the first time. She was visiting her uncle, the Vice-President. George was 35, Mary 18. Her interest in science had been sparked by another uncle, George Everest the explorer, and she studied maths with her father. When she was in Cork, Boole was asked to give her a little instruction in acoustics. After she returned home, they corresponded and the friendship grew.
In 1855 her father died and Mary was left destitute. George proposed to take over her care and they were married that year. George suggested that Mary might like to attend college lectures, which she did. Local ladies disapproved and Mary desisted, but ..... the senior class migrated to the Boole home.
In 1857 George was elected Fellow of the Royal Society.
The marriage was blessed with five daughters and the family moved to a larger property further from the College. George was a modern husband and father, sharing shopping and children. He planned an emancipated education for his girls.
From the start Mary had been concerned with his health, both the eye disease and the hereditary disease of the lungs, which was aggravated by the damp climate. On 24th November 1864 George walked to college in heavy rain, lectured in his wet clothes and caught cold. This infected his lungs and he died on 8th December 1864.
The College erected a great east window to his memory and in modern times there is a great Boole library and Mathematics Scholarship.
In 1967 a moon crater was named after him.
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