Nathaniel Bowditch (pronounced bau-ditch) was born to parents Dr. Henry Ingersoll and Olivia Jane Yardley Bowditch on December 6, 1839. As noted in the memoir written by his father, Memorial of Nathaniel Bowditch, he “received his grandsire’s name because he was the first grandson born.” His grandfather was a renowned early American mathematician who specialized in maritime navigation. More on Nathaniel the grandfather in this week’s Surname Saturday article.
Nathaniel, a well-behaved child, began school between the ages of four and five. His teacher remembered his “pleasant deportment, his affectionate disposition, his thoughtfulness of the comfort of others, his obedience, and his gentleness.” At one point, however, his mother thought his gentle spirit would prevent him from being able to defend himself later in life – after one incident he had run to his mother and said, “I hate to fight.”
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