Houghton-le-Spring, Durham

Francis Blake, FRS (1708-1780) is buried here, 6 miles NE of Durham, in the Parish Church [Ransom]. His memorial plaque, erected by his son, mentions his work on mathematics, particularly fluxions and conic sections and other works in the Transactions of the Royal Society :
He was a very close and acute Reasoner, Sparing of Words, not through want of them, but from an Aversion to Redundancy, as necessarily begetting a Confusion of Ideas. ... Indefatigable in his Search after Knowledge, when Difficulties came in his Way, he assailed them Day and night till they fell before his persevering Spirit. The Study in which he took most delight and chiefly excelled was Mathematics;
William Shanks was the calculator who produced the famous value of π to 707 places in 1853-1857, unfortunately discovered to be erroneous from the 528th place in 1945. Peter Ransom's letter says he has been told that Shanks also is buried in this church, but he has not been able to find him. However, Roger Webster gave me the name Houghton le Willows and said it was south of Durham. I can't find this in my atlas, but there are a Houghton-le-Side and a Houghton Bank in Co. Durham about 13 miles S of Durham.

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An extract from The Mathematical Gazetteer of the British Isles created by David Singmaster

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