Edmund Stone


Born: about 1700 in Inverary, Scotland
Died: 1768


Edmund Stone was born sometime around 1700, the son of a gardener of the Duke of Argyll. He first learned to read at the age of eight and was completely self-taught. He mastered both French and Latin in order to read mathematical works. At the age of eighteen, Stone came to the attention of the duke when the latter found Stone's copy of Newton's Principia in his grounds and assumed that it had been removed from his library. Impressed by the young man, the duke "placed him in a position which afforded him opportunity to pursue his studies".

Stone translated works of the Marquis de l'Hôpital on conic sections (1720) and Bion on scientific instruments (1723). In 1725, he was admitted as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1725 and published A New Mathematical Dictionary. In 1730, he published The Method of Fluxions, both Direct and Inverse: the first part is a translation and reworking in Newtonian notation of De l'Hôpital's Analyse des infinement petits (in fact, written by Johann Bernoulli), and the second part is Stone's own.

In 1736, he independently found two species of lines of the third order which had been overlooked by Newton and Stirling, but these had been discovered by others a few years earlier. He also published some other mathematical works.

Following the death of the Duke of Argyll in 1743, Stone's situation deteriorated and he spent the latter part of his life in poverty.

Article by: Alex D D Craik, University of St Andrews.

January 2004


MacTutor History of Mathematics
[http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Stone_Edmund.html]