Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DOWNES, John, author, born in Brooklyn, New York, 4 September 1799; died in Washington, D. C., 30 September 1882. His father, John Downes, of New Haven, Connecticut, a descendant of one of the regicides of that name, died when his son was a few months old, and the mother removed to Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. After his marriage, John removed to Boston and adopted music as a profession. He afterward became proficient as a wooden graver and as a mathematician. After serving for a time on the board of the U. S. commission for the northeast boundary survey, he resided for a year or two in Worcester, and was engaged in making wood engravings for John W. Barber's historical collections. In 1842 Mr. Downes removed to Philadelphia, where he published the "U. S. Almanac," and other astronomical and mathematical works. He removed to Washington, D. C., in 1856, and for more than twenty years was employed as a computer for the U. S. coast survey. When the " U. S. Nautical Almanac" was established, Mr. Downes was the first to receive an appointment as a computer, and retained it till his death. He collected many rare books. He was the author of "Peter Parley's Almanacs for Old and Young" (1836'7): "Botany" (Boston, 1840); United States "Almanac Complete, or Ephemeris" (Philadelphia, 1843'4). He also calculated mathematical tables, but only a part of them have been published.
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