WHISTON, (WILT-IAN!), an English divine, philosopher, and mathematician, of uncommon parts, learning, and extra ordinary character, was born the 9th of December 1667, at Norton in the coun ty of Leicester, where his father was rec tor, He was educated under his father till he was seventeen years of age, when he was sent to Tamworth school, and two years after admitted of Clare-hall, Cam bridge, where he pursued his studies, and particularly the mathematics, with great diligence.
In 1693, he was made Master of Arts, and Fellow of the College, and soon af ter commenced one of the tutors; but ais ill state of health soon after obliged On to relinquish this profession. Having entered into orders, in 1694, he became chaplain to Dr. More, Bishop of Nor wich ; and while in this station he pub lished his first work, entitled " A New Theory of the Earth, Etc." in which he un dertook to prove that the }Mosaic doc trine of the earth was perfectly agreeable to reason and philosophy ; which work, having much ingenuity, brought consi derable rep to the author.
In the yrar 1698, Bishop More gave him the Jiving of Lowestoft' in Suffolk, where he immediately went to reside, afid devoted himself with great diligence to the discharge of that trust. In the be ginning of the last, century he was made Sir Isaac Newton's deputy, and after wards his successor in the Lucasian pro fessorship of mathematics, when he re signed his living at Lowestoft', and went to reside at, Cambridge. From this time his publications became very frequent, both in theology and mathematics. By his researches into the writings of the Fathers, he led to embrace the Arian hypothesis respecting the person of Christ ; on account of which he was, in October 1710, deprived of his professor, ship, and expelled the University of Cambridge, after he had been formally Convened and ihterrogated for some days together. At the conclusion of this year hie wrote his " Historical Preface," after. wards prefixed to his " Primitive Chris tianity Revived," containing the reasons for his diSsent from the comMonly re. ceived notions of the Trinity, which work he published the next year, in 4 vols. 8vo. for which the Cotivocation fell Upon him most vehemently.
In 1713, he and Mr. Ditton composed their scheme for finding the longitude, which they published the year following, a method which consisted in 'measuring distances by means of the velocity of sound.
On Mr. Whiston's expulsion from Cam bridge, he went to London, where he conferred with Doctors Clarke, Hoadly, and other learned men, who endeavour ed to moderate his zeal, but he was not to be intimidated ; he continued to write, and to propagate his opinions with as much ardour as if he had been in the most flourishing circumstances ; which, however, were so bad, that in 1721, a subscription was made for the support of his family, which amounted to 4701. For though he drew some profits from reading astronomical and philosophical lectures, and also from his publications, which were very numerous, yet these of themselves were very insufficient nor, when joined with the benevolence and charity of those who loved and esteemed him for his learning, integrity, and piety, did they prevent his being frequently in great distress.
In 1739, Mr. Whiston put in his claim • to the mathematical professorship at Cam. bridge, then vacant by the death of Dr. Saunderson, in a letter to Dr. Ashton, the Master of Jesus College ; but no re gard was paid to it. Among a variety of works, he published Memoirs of his own Life and Writings, which are'very curi ous.
Whiston continued many years a ber of the established Church ; but at length forsook it on account of the read ing of the Athanasian Creed, and went over to the Baptists ; which happened while he was at the house of Samuel Bar ker, Esq. at Lindun in Rutlandshire, who had married his daughter ; where he died after a week's illness, the 22d of August, 1752, at upwards of eighty-four years of age.
The character of this conscientious and worthy man has been attempted by two very able personages, who were well ac quainted with him, namely, Bishop Hare, and Mr. Collins, who unite in giving hiM the highest applauses for his integrity, piety, &c. Mr. Whiston left some chil dren behind him ; among them, Mr. John Whiston, who was for many years a very considerable bookSeller in Lon don.