Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,487 pages of information and 233,925 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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Pocket globe made by J. and W. Cary, on display at Honiton Museum
Cary Compass, possibly an earlier model only repaired by this company.
Early 19thC. pocket sextant, used for producing maps for the Duke of Wellington. On display at the London Science Museum
Engraving dated 1811
Engine-divided scale rule

William Cary of The Strand, London.


Traded at 272 Strand (1789-90), 182 Strand (1794-1822) & 181 Strand. Sold globes and other philosophical & mathematical instruments. In partnership with John Cary (1791-1816), but also traded independently for some work until William's death in 1825. The Science Museum has many examples of Cary instruments in its collection, many being illustrated online[1]

1802 The East India Co commissioned a large theodolite from William Cary. It was used in India from 1802, remaining in use until 1874.[2]

1825 Died, 16 November, 'Mr. W. Cary, mathematical instrument maker, of the Strand.'[3]

1834 Advert: 'To MECHANICAL MILLWRIGHTS. WANTED, a Foreman and Manager an extensive Concern in the above line : a person who has worked his way up from the bench through the different branches of his business,and is in every way qualified for such a situation, will find it well worth his notice.—Letters, (post paid) with real names and references, may be addressed to A. B. at Messrs. Cary’s. Mathematical Instrument Makers, Strand, London, on or before the ninth day of January, will be immediately attended to.'[4]

William Cary was responsible for marketing much of the malleable platinum produced by William Hyde Wollaston. Customers included Thomas Young. In 1788 W H Wollaston's father, Rev Francis Wollaston, wanted a transit circle made to his own design, and tried without success to have it made by Jesse Ramsden and then Edward Troughton. Three years later, William Cary was recommended to Wollaston, and he produced the instrument and installed it at Rev. Wollaston's home in Chislehurst. Cary had served an apprenticeship under Ramsden.[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Science Museum Group - Collections Online -People
  2. [2] Ramsden surveying instruments - Wikipedia
  3. Oxford Journal - Saturday 26 November 1825
  4. Gore's Liverpool General Advertiser, 2 January 1834
  5. 'William Cary and his Association with William Hyde Wollaston, by John A. Chaldecott, Platinum Metals Review, 1979, 23, 3