John Colson

John Colson FRS (1680–1760) was an English clergyman and mathematician, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.

John Colson

John Colson by John Wollaston.jpg
John Colson by John Wollaston
Died20 January 1760(1760-01-20) (aged 79–80)
NationalityUnited Kingdom
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
Known forSigned-digit representation
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge


John Colson was educated at Lichfield School before becoming an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, though he did not take a degree there. He became a schoolmaster at Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School in Rochester, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1713. He was Vicar of Chalk, Kent from 1724 to 1740. He relocated to Cambridge and lectured at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. [1] From 1739 to 1760 he was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. He was also Rector of Lockington, Yorkshire.[2]


In 1726 he published his Negativo-Affirmativo Arithmetik advocating a modified decimal system of numeration. It involved "reduction [to] small figures" by "throwing all the large figures   out of a given number, and introducing in their room the equivalent small figures   respectively".

John Colson translated several of Isaac Newton's works into English, including De Methodis Serierum et Fluxionum in 1736.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Cooper 1887.
  2. ^ "Colson, John (CL728J2)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.