Farish, William 1759 - 1837

English; British

(1759-1837) Natural Philosopher

William Farish, born in 1759, known for the development of the method of isometric projection and development of the first written university examination. He was educated at Carlisle grammar school, before being admitted as a sizar at Magdalene College, Cambridge, in March 1774 and graduated BA in 1778, when he was senior wrangler and first Smith's prizeman. He was elected fellow and appointed tutor of his college, graduated MA in 1781, and was ordained deacon in 1780 and priest in 1782.

Farish became professor of chemistry in 1794 and, finding that his colleague F. J. H. Wollaston, Jacksonian professor, dealt ably with the principles of chemistry, chose to concentrate on its practical application. His Plan of a course of lectures on arts and manufactures, more particularly such as relate to chemistry (1796, with later editions) commences with mining and outlines the production and working of metals, ceramics, glass, dyes, and other manufactures; the several annotated volumes that survive hint at his coverage of these topics. Farish enjoyed displays of mechanical ingenuity, manipulating his interchangeable cogwheels, shafts, and clamps to demonstrate the machinery he was describing. He also set up over the pulpit at St Giles a paraboloidal sounding board. He succeeded Wollaston as Jacksonian professor of natural and experimental philosophy in 1813.

Farish was one of the serious evangelicals who came to dominate Magdalene College in the 1770s and 1780s. He was vicar of Clifton, Nottinghamshire (1797–1802), vicar of St Giles, Cambridge (1800–37), and rector of Norton under Hampdon, Somerset (1806). Farish was popular with the undergraduates, while as junior proctor in 1792 he exerted strict discipline. He resigned his fellowship to marry, on 24 June 1801 at Cambridge, Hannah Stephen (1766/7–1844). Their four sons, James (1801/2–1853), Henry (1802/3–1856), William Milner (1804/5–1863), and George (1809/10–1836), all graduated at Cambridge University. In 1820 Farish took the degree of BD, and in 1836 he was instituted to the rectory of Little Stonham, Suffolk, where he died on 12 January 1837.