THE TIMELINE SETS GEORGE BOOLE INTO SOME HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CONTEXT. HIS WAS A TIME OF GREAT SOCIAL AND POLITICAL TENSION
1752 Thomas Hardy born (d.1832) This radical shoemaker maintained ‘seditious’ “Corresponding Societies” in London until 1795 four years after John Boole started his shoemaking career. Shoemaking was often associated with radicalism.
1757 William Blake born (d. 1827)
1775 Jane Austen born (d. 1817)
1777 John Boole born (d. 1848) George’s father encouraged George to investigate technology and the natural world. He set an example to him as a gifted autodidact.
1780 Mary Boole (nee Joyce) born. George’s mother knew the ways of the aristocracy and learned churchmen. She passed this on to her family.
1780 The Gordon Riots show the extent to which anti-Catholicism could still be inflamed.
1789 Edward Ffrench Bromhead born (d. 1855) Bromhead lived just outside Lincoln and was an important influence on George Boole. He was a respected Natural Philosopher who knew many key British mathematicians of the time and helped George get recognised.
1789 French Revolution
1791 Paine’s “Rights of Man” is published.
John Boole starts his Shoemaker’s Apprenticeship.
Slaves begin their successful revolt in the French West Indies. This leads in 1804 to the establishment of independent Haiti.
1792 Height of French revolutionary wars
1794 American (Anti) Slave Trade Act
1799 The Combination Act is passed. This outlaws working men organising in defence of their interests.
1802 J.W.M. Turner exhibits his painting of Lincoln Cathedral with The Brayford in the foreground. Now in The Usher Gallery.
1805 Thomas Cooper is born (died in Lincoln in 1892) Trained as a shoemaker like John Boole, he moved to Lincoln in 1833 and married into the Boole family in 1834. Like John and George Boole, he was a prodigious autodidact. He became a journalist and Chartist activist. In 1843 he was prosecuted for sedition.
1807 Booles move to Lincoln. (Anti) Slave Trade Act is passed in the UK.
1809 Charles Darwin Born (d. 1882)
1810 Peter De Wint marries Harriet Hilton from Drury Lane Lincoln and returns in subsequent summers to paint. Many results are housed in The Usher Gallery. He painted Lincoln & Lincolnshire throughout the years George Boole was living in Lincoln.
1811 Nottingham Luddites are active.
1814 Last Frost Fair on the Thames. British invade New York State.
1815 George Boole born (d.1864)
Battle of Waterloo.
Corn Laws enacted, they cause extreme hardship for the poor, especially the urban poor.
Ada Lovelace Born (d.1852) She became a pupil and colleague of Babbage who was a friend of De Morgan and acquaintance of George Boole.
1818 Mary Ann Boole born (d. 1887).
Karl Marx born (d. 1883).
1821 Charles Boole born (d. 1902). Abolitionism begins again in Britain. British economy begins to improve.
1823 Ludwig Van Beethoven (b. 1770, d. 1827) is at the height of his late period.
1825 ‘Suitable’ debtors can apply for bankruptcy. Six years later John Boole was made bankrupt.
1827 Bishop Kaye takes up his position in Lincoln. Not just a reforming cleric, he is also a mathematician able to understand both Boole and Bromhead.
1828 Bromhead works with John Boole on the financial foundations of the Lincoln Savings Bank. George Green publishes his first mathematics paper, read by Bromhead.
1831 John Boole goes bankrupt. It’s not clear whether he took advantage of the ’25 Act or whether he served time in Lincoln Gaol.
George Boole starts work in Doncaster aged 15. He also starts to study advanced mathematics.
This year, Thomas Cooper is thought to have proposed to Susanna Chaloner, prior to a three year engagement.
1832 Lewis Caroll born (d. 1898, real name Charles Dodgson). Dodgson was a mathematics professor at Oxford and developed his own work on symbolic logic. Venn (1834-1923) responded to both Boole and Dodgson’s work in his development of mathematical logic and probability.
The REFORM ACT passed. John Keble’s sermon ignites the “Oxford Movement” and thus another aspect of religious debate which upsets George Boole.
George Boole is sacked from the Methodist School in Doncaster. He takes up another post in Liverpool.
1833 Lincoln Mechanics Institute is opened -some ten years after the first wave of Institutes began in Edinburgh.
George Boole returns to Lincolnshire, to teach at Waddington Academy, just outside Lincoln, a few miles from Bromhead in Thurlby.
The Factory Commission agrees with the earlier Sadler Report about the need for better working conditions -especially for children.
1834 Tolpuddle Martyrs.
Alcohol abuse is rampant at these times, Teetotalism is promoted by Joseph Livesey.
Thomas Cooper becomes Mercury Correspondent in Lincoln (the paper of record at the time) and marries George Boole’s cousin Susanna.
William Morris is born (d. 1896).
E.F. Bromhead starts to help George.
Slavery Abolition Act of the previous year comes into effect.
George Boole opens his first school in Free School Lane.
1835 George Boole gives his lecture on Isaac Newton, Lincolnshire’s most famous man.
Dickens becomes a journalist in the mid 1830s, so he and Thomas Cooper are direct contemporaries until Cooper becomes completely devoted to Chartism in Leicester during the early 1840s.
1837 THE BEGINNING OF THE VICTORIAN ERA
John Constable, much loved landscape painter dies aged 61.
1838 Mary Everest born (d. 1916). Some 20 years later, the mountain was named after her oncle. George Boole is 22, he goes back to Waddington College as Master, taking his whole family with him.
The so-called “Apprenticeship System” which continued to force ex-slaves to work for nothing is abolished in the Caribbean.
George writes his first mathematical paper (not published until after his first publication in 1841).
1839 George Boole submits for publication his first mathematical article. Thomas Cooper is sacked from his Mercury job.
Anti-Corn Law agitation is on the rise.
William Henry Fox Talbot exhibits his negative-positive monochrome photography process. George Boole experiments with this a few years later. In Cork, he exhibits photographic slides of Lincoln Cathedral.
Temperance becomes associated with Chartism.
George Boole visits Cambridge University and Duncan Gregory. Later Cambridge acquaintences included William Thompson.
1840 The Booles move from Waddington to 3 Pottergate, a stone’s throw from Lincoln Cathedral. George sets up another school there, very much modelled on the Academy he had just left. Fees were some £10 p.a. for instruction, with an additional £15 for board.
1841 George Boole has his first mathematical publication in Gregory’s Cambridge Mathematical Journal.
Thomas Cooper returns to Leicester and begins Chartist agitation.
Oxford Movement is at its height with “Tract 90” which deals with the 39 Articles, which were such a problem for George Boole.
Census of 1841 lists John Boole as an “Accountant” -a newly coined profession at the time. His bankruptcy of ten years previously, seems to be forgotten by his fellow citizen clients.
1843 Dickens “Christmas Carol” is published. Thomas Cooper is jailed.
Indian Indenture system ended with the Indian Slavery Act.
George Boole writes his Queen’s Medal winning mathematical paper on calculus.
1844 George Boole publishes paper “On a General Method in Analysis” and is eventually awarded the medal by the Royal Society just after his 29th birthday.
1845 Chartist colony is set up on Brant Road in Lincoln. Thomas Cooper writes his ‘epic’ poem “The Purgatory of Suicides“.
Guano from South America begins to enrich agricultural production in the 1840s
1847 George Boole publishes THE MATHEMATICAL ANALYSIS OF LOGIC and launches “Boolean Logic” into the very small world of his select readership. De Morgan’s book on Symbolic Logic is published at the same time.
“Jane Eyre” is published
George Boole gives his “Right Use of Leisure” address.
The Bands of Hope are established
George Boole helps set up the Female Penitents Home, along similar lines to the now infamous Magdalene Laundries.
Factories Act and the 10 hour day.
George Boole establishes a building society with his good friend E.R. Larken.
1848 John Boole dies.
The Communist Manifesto is written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Europe is in revolt.
George Boole publishes “The Calculus of Logic” in The Cambridge and Dublin Mathematical Journal which reaches a much wider audience than his “Mathematical Analysis…” could ever hope to. It was his 30th mathematical publication since he started, 7 years earlier.
1849 George Boole leaves England, just prior to his 34th birthday, having been confirmed as the first Professor of Mathematics at the new Queen’s College in Cork Ireland during the summer. At the time, Cork City was well over four times the size of Lincoln. County Cork has been very heavily hit by the Great Famine.
Peter De Wint, regular painter of Lincoln & Linconshire, dies.
1850 George meets Mary Everest, niece of John Ryall, the Vice President of The Queen’s College Cork, as the university was then known. Another oncle was Sir George Everest. Her father was one of the first to promote Homeopathy in Britain. He had been a patient of Hahnemann in Paris.
1852 George and Mary meet again.
The New Palace of Westminster is opened after being destroyed by fire in 1834.
1853 The Crimean War begins.
1854 George Boole’s book “AN INVESTIGATION OF THE LAWS OF THOUGHT” is published. It builds upon and corrects his 1847 work as he had promised to do in his 1848 journal article, which had primed the mathematical world for his magnum opus.
Mary Boole, George’s mother dies.
1855 George Boole marries Mary Everest. He’s 39, she is 18. E. F. Bromhead dies.
1856 George & Mary’s daughter Mary Ellen is born.
1857 George Boole is made a Fellow of The Royal Society.
1858 George & Mary’s daughter Margaret is born (d. 1935).
London’s “Great Stink” causes Parliament to be unbearable.
1860 George & Mary’s daughter Alicia is born (d. 1940)
George Boole’s “FINITE DIFFERENCES” is published.
1862 George & Mary’s daughter Lucy is born (d. 1905)
Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Caroll) creates “Alice in Wonderland“. Thought by some to be inspired partly by playing around with logic problems inspired by Boole among others.
1864 George & Mary’s daughter Ethel Lillian is born (d. 1960)
December 8th George Boole dies of pleuro-pneumonia. This is the result of several factors; his weak chest, his commitment to exercise, his commitment to teaching and probably his wife’s peculiar commitment to homeopathic medicine. He insisted on walking to work in torrential rain, taught in wet clothes, returned home and then succumbed to a fever which lasted a fortnight, during which conventional medicine was only tried as a last resort. The usual medical response today, antibiotics, were not to be available for another three-quarters of a century.
1867 Cork’s memorial window for George Boole is erected in the University Great Hall.
Disraeli’s 1867 Reform Act gives votes to some working men -but not women.
Arnold’s “Culture and Anarchy” is first published. It gives voice to the assumed benefits of high culture over that of the masses’.
1869 Lincoln Cathedral’s memorial window for George Boole is erected.
1871 Augustus De Morgan dies.