Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 July 2017
During the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, English men and women replaced their existing oral and object-based arithmetical practices with literate practices based on Arabic numerals. While the adoption of Arabic numerals was incentivized by continental commercial developments, this article argues that England's increasing literacy rates and the development of vernacular arithmetic textbooks enabled changing arithmetical practices. By exploring the qualities of printed books, analyzing marginalia in arithmetic textbooks, and examining changing educational advertisements and curricula over time, we can demonstrate the importance of literacy and literature to early modern arithmetical education.
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14 High-profile examples of the survival of other symbolic systems include the use of tallies in the British exchequer until the beginning of the nineteenth century as well as the continuing use of Roman numerals in regnal titles and to paginate the prefaces of printed books.
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36 Harkness, Jewel House, 104–5; Meskins, “Mathematics Education,” 152; Simon Schaffer, “Science,” in Raymond, ed., Oxford History, 1:398–416, at 399.
37 Worsop, Edward, A Discouerie of sundrie errours and faults daily committed by Lande-Meaters, ignorant of Arithmetike and Geometrie (London, 1582), A2vGoogle Scholar. While Keith Thomas's reference to this passage carries with it a strong implication that arithmetic is too difficult to learn, the context of the full list makes it clear that Worsop is referring to Recorde's far less heralded geometry textbook, The Pathway to Knowledge. Thomas, “Numeracy,” 118.
38 Schaffer, “Science,” 399–400.
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43 For further analysis of the influences, structures, and authorships of these early arithmetic textbooks, see Williams, “Earliest English Printed,” 164–84.
44 These new arithmetics included bestsellers by James Hodder, Edmund Wingate, and especially Edward Cocker.
45 Didactic books, in general, often had long “afterlives” in the early modern period. Natasha Glaisyer, “Popular Didactic Literature,” in Raymond, ed., Oxford History, 1:510–19, at 514.
46 21793, fol. 2v, Huntington Library, San Marino (hereafter HEH).
47 Harkness, Jewel House, 118.
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51 Recorde, Robert, The Ground of Artes Teachyng the Worke and Practise of Arithmetike (London, 1543), 8r–vGoogle Scholar. The work was officially dedicated to a landowner and royal official named Richard Whalley, who had at least five children of an age to be learning arithmetic at that time. Alan Bryson, “Whalley, Richard (1498/9–1583), administrator,” ODNB, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29161.
54 Mellis's accounting textbook was also a newly revised edition of an earlier book, Profitable Treatyce by Hugh Oldcastle, but in this case the original is no longer extant. Yamey, Edey, and Thomason, eds., Accounting, 155–59; Oldcastle, Hugh, A Briefe Instruction and maner how to keepe bookes of Accompts after the order of Debitor and Creditor, & as well for proper Accompts particle, &c., ed. Mellis, John (London, 1588)Google Scholar.
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63 646/A, Wellcome Library, London; 8506.aa.34, BL; M.6.58, CUL; and C.115.n.43, fol. A2r, BL.
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76 For more on the breakdown of textbooks by libraries and first author, see the appendix.
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79 BL Add. MSS. 4239, fol. 18r. The inclusion of Hill in this list is curious, as the ESTC only records one edition of his arithmetic textbook, as opposed to Recorde and Baker's frequently reprinted textbooks. It is possible that other editions have been lost to the historical record or that Martindale had personal experience with Hill's arithmetic that made him highly value the book despite its failure to be reprinted. Hylles, Thomas, The arte of vulgar arithmeticke (London, 1600)Google Scholar.
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120 Although the grammar school was teaching Arabic numerals and ciphering as early as 1597, the school's various accountants used Roman numerals to record monetary entries and sums until 1669/70. Stocks, George Alfred, ed., The Records of Blackburn Grammar School, Remains, Historical and Literary, connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancashire and Chester, n.s., 66 (Manchester, 1909), 1:73Google Scholar.
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125 Ruth Wallis, “Hodder, James (fl. 1659–1673), arithmetician,” ODNB, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13416.
126 Ruth Wallis, “Cocker, Edward (1631/2–1676), calligrapher and arithmetician,” ODNB, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/5779.
128 Lilly, Merlini Anglici Ephemeris, F8v.
129 Sarah Powell and Paul Dingman, “Arithmetic Is the Art of Computation,” http://collation.folger.edu/2015/09/arithmetic-is-the-art-of-computation.
130 Green, Humanism, 310.
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135 Willis and Merson, Calendar, 86.