Bonnycastle was born on November 6, 1796, in Woolwich, England, the son of John Bonnycastle and his second wife, Bridget Newell Bonnycastle. His father was a professor of mathematics at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. Following in his father's footsteps, Bonnycastle was educated at Woolwich and soon distinguished himself through his contributions to the thirteenth edition of his father's noted mathematics textbook, An Introduction to Algebra, which was published in 1824, three years after John Bonnycastle's death.
After this inauspicious beginning Bonnycastle enjoyed a fruitful association with the University of Virginia. He served as professor of natural philosophy from the time of his arrival in 1825 until he succeeded Thomas Key in 1827 as professor of mathematics. Bonnycastle continued in the latter post until his death in 1840 and served as chair of the faculty senate from 1833 to 1835. As one of the first professors at the university, Bonnycastle helped shape the curricula of the schools with which he was associated. In his natural philosophy course he taught standard Newtonian physics sprinkled with discussions of some of the more recent but elementary advances in the subject. Bonnycastle also emphasized laboratory work and introduced raised benches in his classroom so that his students might better observe the demonstrations.
Bonnycastle also published several articles on mathematical and physical topics in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. In 1836 he acted to supplement the university's course offerings in the pure sciences with applied subjects by instituting the Department of Civil Engineering. Bonnycastle's interests outside of these scholarly fields included philosophy, metaphysics, ancient languages, and modern literature.
On January 10, 1826, Bonnycastle married Ann Mason Tutt, of Loudoun County. They had one son and two daughters. Charles Bonnycastle died in Charlottesville on October 31, 1840, and was buried in the University of Virginia Cemetery. His estate was valued at more than $23,000, including a library of more than 1,000 volumes.
- Inductive Geometry, or, An Analysis of the Relations of Form and Magnitude: Commencing with the Elementary Ideas Derived Through the Senses, and Proceeding by a Train of Inductive Reasoning to Develop the Present State of the Science (1834)
November 6, 1796 - Charles Bonnycastle is born in Woolwich, England.
1824 - The thirteenth edition of An Introduction to Algebra by John Bonnycastle is published posthumously and includes contributions by Bonnycastle's son Charles.
September 1824 - Charles Bonnycastle meets with Francis Walker Gilmer, of the University of Virginia, to discuss joining the faculty.
March 1825 - Charles Bonnycastle begins teaching at the University of Virginia.
January 10, 1826 - Charles Bonnycastle and Ann Mason Tutt, of Loudoun County, marry. They will have one son and two daughters.
1827 - Charles Bonnycastle succeeds Thomas Hewitt Key as professor of mathematics at the University of Virginia.
1833–1835 - Charles Bonnycastle serves as chairman of the faculty at the University of Virginia, a revolving elected post that makes him the school's chief administrator.
1834 - The textbook Inductive Geometry by Charles Bonnycastle is published.
1836 - Charles Bonnycastle helps establish the curriculum for the University of Virginia's new school of engineering.
October 31, 1840 - Charles Bonnycastle dies in Charlottesville. He is buried in the University of Virginia Cemetery.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Parshall, K. H., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Charles Bonnycastle (1796–1840). (2016, March 1). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Bonnycastle_Charles_1796-1840.
- MLA Citation:
Parshall, Karen Hunger and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Charles Bonnycastle (1796–1840)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 1 Mar. 2016. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: January 29, 2016 | Last modified: March 1, 2016
Contributed by Karen Hunger Parshall and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography.