Jeremiah Dixon

Jeremiah Dixon (Cockfield, County Durham July 27 1733 – Cockfield, County Durham January 22 1779) was an English surveyor and astronomer who is perhaps best known for his work with Charles Mason, from 1763 to 1767, in determining what was later called the Mason-Dixon line.

Dixon was born in Cockfield, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham in northern England in 1733, the fifth of seven children, to George Dixon and Mary Hunter. His father was a wealthy Quaker coal mine owner. Dixon became interested in astronomy and mathematics during his education at Barnard Castle; early in life he made acquaintances with mathematician William Emerson, and astronomers John Bird and Thomas Wright.

Jeremiah Dixon served as assistant to Charles Mason in 1761 when the Royal Society selected Mason to observe the transit of Venus from Sumatra. However, their passage to Sumatra was delayed, and they landed instead at the Cape of Good Hope where the transit was observed on June 6, 1761. Dixon returned to the Cape once again with Nevil Maskelyne's clock to work on experiments with gravity.

Dixon and Mason signed an agreement in 1763 with the proprietors of Pennsylvania and Maryland, Thomas Penn and Frederick Calvert, seventh Baron Baltimore, to assist with resolving a boundary dispute between the two provinces. They arrived in Philadelphia in November 1763 and began work towards the end of the year. The survey was not complete until late 1766, following which they stayed on to measure a degree of Earth's meridian on the Delmarva Peninsula in Maryland, on behalf of the Royal Society. They also made a number of gravity measurements with the same instrument that Dixon had used with Maskelyne in 1761. Before returning to England in 1768, they were both admitted to the American Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge, in Philadelphia.

Dixon sailed to Norway in 1769 with William Bayly to observe another transit of Venus. The two split up, with Dixon at Hammerfest Island and Bayly at North Cape, in order to minimize the possibility of inclement weather obstructing their measurements. Following their return to England in July, Dixon resumed his work as a surveyor in Durham. He died unmarried in Cockfield, January 22, 1779.

It is possible that Dixon's name was the origin for the nickname "Dixie" used in reference to the U.S. Southern States.

Jeremiah Dixon is one of the two titular characters of Thomas Pynchon's 1997 novel "Mason & Dixon". The song "Sailing to Philadelphia" from Mark Knopfler's album of the same name, also refers to Mason and Dixon, and was inspired by Pynchon's book.

External links

* [http://masondixon.pynchonwiki.com/wiki/ Thomas Pynchon's "Mason & Dixon" (novel)]
* [http://www.mdlpp.org Mason and Dixon Line Preservation Partnership - Information about Jeremiah Dixon and the Mason and Dixon Line]
* [http://www.hyperarts.com/pynchon/mason-dixon/extra/dixon_bio.html Biography of Jeremiah Dixon] from the Oxford "National Dictionary of Biography"


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jeremiah Dixon — (Cockfield, Comté de Durham 27 juillet 1733 – Cockfield, Comté de Durham 22 janvier 1779) est un géomètre et astronome anglais. Il est essentiellement connu pour ses travaux entre 1763 et 1767 avec Charles Mason dans le tracé de ce qui deviendra… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jeremiah Dixon — (27 de julio de 1733 – 22 de enero de 1779) fue un geógrafo y astrónomo inglés que es conocido sobre todo por su trabajo con Charles Mason, desde 1763 a 1767, para determinar lo que más tarde se llamó Línea Mason Dixon. Dixon nació en Cockfield,… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Jeremiah Dixon — (* 27. Juli 1733 in Cockfield, Bishop Auckland, County Durham; † 22. Januar 1779, ebenda) war ein englischer Geometer, der in den Jahren 1763 und 1769 mit seinem Partner Charles Mason die so genannte Mason Dixon Linie vermaß. Nach einer Anekdote… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jeremiah Dixon — n. (1733 1779) English astronomer and surveyor, member of the team that measured the border known today as the Mason Dixon line …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Dixon (surname) — Dixon is a surname, and may refer to Aaron Dixon, American activist Adrian Dixon, Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge Alan J. Dixon, American senator Alesha Dixon, British singer Alice Dixon, English photographer Alfred Dixon, mathematician Arthur… …   Wikipedia

  • Dixon (Familienname) — Dixon ist ein Familienname. Bekannte Namensträger Inhaltsverzeichnis A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dixon — n. family name; Jeremiah Dixon (1733 1779), English astronomer and surveyor, member of the team that measured the border known today as the Mason Dixon line; city in Illinois (USA) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Jeremiah E. O’Connell — Jeremiah Edward O’Connell (* 8. Juli 1883 in Wakefield, Middlesex County, Massachusetts; † 18. September 1964) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Zwischen 1923 und 1927 und nochmals von 1929 bis 1930 vertrat er den dritten Wahlbe …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dixon H. Lewis — Dixon Hall Lewis Dixon Hall Lewis (* 10. August 1802 im Dinwiddie County, Virginia; † 25. Oktober 1848 in New York City) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker (Demokratische Partei), der den …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dixon Lewis — Dixon Hall Lewis Dixon Hall Lewis (* 10. August 1802 im Dinwiddie County, Virginia; † 25. Oktober 1848 in New York City) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker (Demokratische Partei), der den …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”