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Distributed for University of Wales Press

William Morgan

Eighteenth-Century Actuary, Mathematician and Radical

Distributed for University of Wales Press

William Morgan

Eighteenth-Century Actuary, Mathematician and Radical

To meet William Morgan is to encounter the eighteenth-century world of finance, science and politics. Born in Bridgend in 1750, he claimed Welsh heritage, but his influence went far beyond national borders and the legacy of his work continues to shape life in the twenty-first century. This biography, which draws on archival research and a cache of unpublished Morgan family letters, tells the story of his life and intellectual contributions.

At the age of twenty-five—and with no formal training—Morgan became an actuary at the Equitable, then a fledgling life insurance company. It was the first step on a path that would lead him to be dubbed “the father of actuarial science” and earn him the Copley Medal, the most prestigious award given by the Royal Society. His interests went far beyond actuarial tables, however—his papers on his electrical experiments reveal that, albeit unwittingly, he constructed the first X-ray tube. And as a political radical, his outspoken views put him at risk of imprisonment during Pitt’s Reign of Terror. This accessible biography introduces readers to a fascinating polymath whose influence is still being felt today.

272 pages | 45 halftones | 5 1/4 x 8 1/4

Scientists of Wales

History of Science

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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
William Morgan Family Tree
Chapter 1: Bridgend
Chapter 2: Newington Green
Chapter 3: Blackfriars
Chapter 4: 1780 – Flaming June
Chapter 5: At War
Chapter 6: A Beautiful Green Light
Chapter 7: Risk and Reward
Chapter 8: Verbal Fisticuffs
Chapter 9: Stamford Hill
Chapter 10: A Stupendous Event
Chapter 11: Bushill Fields
Chapter 12: A Radical Friend
Chapter 13: A Trumpet of Liberty
Chapter 14: Trial for High Treason
Chapter 15: Pitt’s Gagging Acts
Chapter 16: Invasion, Panic and Mutiny
Chapter 17: The Reign of Terror
Chapter 18: Diaspora
Chapter 19: The Price of Success
Chapter 20: Family, Celebrations and Calamities
Chapter 21: A Costly Peace
Chapter 22: Rise, Progress, Misrepresentation
Chapter 23: A Fragment
Chapter 24: Final Years
Chapter 25: Afterwards
Chapter 26: Epilogue

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