The Sussex Calculator

Extract from Horsfield’s History of Sussex

George Watson, the Sussex Calculator, was a ’singular being, who, in every thing but his extraordinary powers of memory and calculation, is almost idiotic, was born at Buxted, in Sussex, in 1785, and followed the occupation of a labourer. He is ignorant in the extreme, and uneducated, not being able to read or write; and yet he can with facility perform some of the most difficult calculations in arithmetic. The most extraordi nary circumstance, however, is the power he possesses of recollecting the events of every day, from an early period of his life. Upon being asked what day of the week a given day of the month occurred, he immediately names it, and also mentions where he was, and what was the state of the weather. A gentleman who had kept a diary, put many questions of this kind to him, and his replies were invariably correct. Watson has made two or three tours into Hampshire, Gloucestershire, and Somersetshire, and has exhibited his singular powers in the principal towns in those counties; is familiar with every town, village, and hamlet in Sussex; can tell the number of churches, public-houses, etc., in each. Phrenologists, who have examined George’s skull, state the organ of numbers to be strongly developed.