From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Jeremy [Jeremiah] Shakerley (November 1626 – c. 1653) was an English astronomer who came from astrological traditions but followed an observational approach which led him to critique several works of his time.
Shakerly was born in Halifax, Yorkshire to William Shakerley and Judith Brig (Briggs/Brigge). He was educated at a free school and then studied in Ireland before returning due to the unrest there. He concentrated on studies in mathematics from 1647 and began to correspond with the astrologer William Lilly. He believed that astrology could be improved by astronomical practice and sought to predict eclipses. He worked under John Stephenson and made calculations based on Kepler's tables. For a while he lived under the patronage of Christopher Towneley at Carre Hall. In 1649 he began to critique the work of Vincent Wing which he published as The anatomy of Urania practica: … laying open the errors and impertinencies delivered … by Mr Vincent Wing, and Mr William Leybourne, under the title of Urania practica (1649). He had examined the work of Jeremy Horrocks and found better explanation of the dynamics of the moon. Shakerley's predictions were published by Robert and William Leybourne as Tabulae Britannicae: the British Tables (1653). He travelled to India to make observations on a transit of Mercury predicted to occur in 1651. While in India, he calculated the latitude of Surat as "21 degrees and betwixt 10' and 15' North" writing to Henry Osborne in London. He observed that Indian astrologers were able to make predictions of lunar eclipses with little error and sought to examine the methods used. Nothing further was heard of him and it is thought that he died in India.
- Shakerley's chief claim to distinction is as the second observer of the transit of Mercury. The first transit was observed in 1631 (Chambers, Astronomy, 1889, p. 341). According to Vincent Wing [q. v.] (Astronomia Britannica, London, 1669, p. 312), Shakerley foretold the transit of 1651 in a colloquy or disputation entitled ‘De Mercurio in sole videndo.’ No trace of this tract seems extant. Wing asserts that Shakerley went to India to observe the phenomenon, and that he made his observations by means of a telescope at Surat on the morning of 24 Oct. 1651.
- While still absent, apparently in India, there appeared in London Shakerley's ‘Tabulæ Britannicæ, the British Tables; wherein is contained Logistical Arithmetick, the Doctrine of the Sphere, astronomicall chronologie, the ecclesiasticall accompt, the Equation and Reduction of Time, together with the Calculation of the Motions of the Fixed and Wandering Stars, and the Eclipses of the Luminaries. Calculated for the Meridian of London from the hypothesis of Bullialdus and the Observations of Mr. Horrox’ (pp. 92 and tables), London, 1653, R. & W. Leybourn. Wallis wrote to Collins on 13 Feb. 1671–2, ‘What Shakerley's tables are I know not;’ but Flamsteed, addressing the same correspondent on 13 Aug. 1672, seemed to be better informed. ‘The precepts,’ Flamsteed wrote, ‘I found translated by the ingenuous (sic) Mr. Shakerley, which I transcribed from him because I thought them clearer expressed than the English ones in Crabtree's letter, though they are in substance the very same’ (Rigaud, Corresp. of Scientific Men, ii. 157, 351).