Henry Briggs 1561-1630

From Book Owners Online

Henry BRIGGS 1561-1630

Biographical Note

Born at Daisy Bank, Halifax, son of Thomas Briggs, farmer. BA St John's College, Cambridge 1582, MA 1585, fellow 1588, where he lectured in mathematics and physic through the 1590s. Professor of geometry at Gresham College, 1597. During the 1610s he worked with John Napier in developing logarithms, and is credited with computing the first set of base 10 logarithms, first published by him in 1617. Professor of geometry at Oxford 1619, where he lived (in Merton College) for the rest of his life, publishing his main work, Arithmetica logarithmica (1624), and other mathematical books (some of his papers were published posthumously).


In his will, Briggs directed that all his books and bedding be sold with the proceeds divided amongst members of his family, except for a number of named books specifically bequeathed: "Thuarius his Historie in five volumes and Sir Wal[ter] Raleigh his Historie which I give to my ... friend Mr Henrye Gellybrand who gave them to me ... Ptolomye his Geographie and a part of Mercator his great Atlas and Petavius de emendatione temporu[m] in two volumes and ... my own Logarithmes bound and Vlackes Logarithmes all which I give to the Mathematicall Librarie here at the publique schooles. I give likewise to my brother Richarde my English Byble in folio to my cosyn Abraham my little Byble". We do not know the size of his library, but books with his inscription are found in various libraries; he gave a 3 volume set of Jacques Auguste de Thou, Historia sui temporis (Paris, 1606) to Halifax Parish Library in 1627. Examples: Bodleian 4to L.81(21) Art; Merton 111.B.2(3); York Minster III.o.4; Robinson cat 83 (1953)/Copernicus.

Characteristic markings

The 1566 Copernicus in the 1953 Robinson catalogue is noted as inscribed by Briggs on the titlepage, and annotated by him.