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British Mathematical Biobibliography

  • P. J. Wallis

The publication of a new impression of Professor E. G. R. Taylor's first volume of Mathematical Practioners so soon after the appearance of her second volume makes it a particularly appropriate time to take stock and consider the next steps. Despite various criticisms, some of which will be discussed below, all reviewers agree that her volumes mark a great advance in this field and will be of ‘immense service to scholars’. Our debt to the author is all the greater when we realize that these books followed on a whole series of standard works in her own subject of geography, and that she was neither a mathematician nor a bibliographer. The best tribute to Professor Taylor is to continue the work recorded in these two volumes, but there are few who have the detailed knowledge and expertise to follow her in such a wide field. This article will, for example, offer little comment on instrument-makers who form such a large section of her practitioners and who left records of their work in museums and private hands all over the country; here we shall be much more concerned with the written work, with the bibliography of the subject.

Reviewers of her volumes have found it difficult to define the practitioners of whom she wrote and to decide in what sense they differ from mathematicians in the normally accepted sense of this country or overseas.

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The Mathematical Practitioners of Tudor & Stuart England (1485–1714), 1954, and The Mathematical Practitioners of Hanoverian England 1714–1840, 1966, both published by Cambridge University Press for the Institute of Navigation. The abbreviations MPi(ii) are used subsequently. In MPi the narrative Part I is followed by nearly six hundred short biographies in Part II and brief details of just over six hundred works in Part III; it should be remembered that not all the mathematicians in Part II published books, and also that this Part does not contain biographies of quite all the authors given in Part III. In MPii the list of works is combined with the biographies of appreciably more than two thousand subjects.
The Institute has collected many reviews; those of MPii are still appearing as this article is being prepared. Some reviews are quite brief, some merely factual and descriptive, many comment on the author's good style and insight into fellow humans; some suggest a false completeness and others are critical about presentation, lack of documentation and details of particular entries. The quotation is from Hall's, A. R. review in the Cambridge Review of 23 April 1955.
Professor Taylor's, view is indicated in her ‘epilogue’ MPii 105–6.
Hill, J. E. C., Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution, Oxford, 1965.
Arithmetical Books, London, 1847.
For details of Walkingame's book, first published in 1751, see Mathematical Gazette, October 1963, 199208; Colenso's appeared in 1843.
See Accounting in England and Scotland, 1543–1800…, Yamey, B. S., Edey, H. C., and Thomson, H. W., London, 1963, and especially the latter author's Bibliography, with other works quoted there.
Bibliotheca Britannica, Watt, R., 4 vol. London, 1824; A Critical Dictionary of… British and American Authors…, S. A. Allibone, from 1859, reprinted 8 vol., 1965; Bibliotheca Mathematica (1830–1854), L. A. Sohncke, Leipzig, 1854.
The reference is to The Birth of Modern Education…, Smith, J. W. Ashley, London, 1954, which mentions earlier relevant works.
At first the writer attributed a number of school books to Hardwick, John of Grantham, who gave no indication that all had been earlier issued by his uncle, Thomas Espin of Louth.
These are listed by the London University Institute of Historical Research Register of the Universities, Colleges and Schools of Great Britain and Ireland, 2nd edition by Jacobs, Phyllis M., 1964.
Notes on Some Minor English Mathematical Serials, Archibald, R. C., Mathematical Gazette, April 1929, 379400, is the general reference article. For the Scientiflcal Repository see The North Carolina Historical Review, October 1953, 561–3.
Doncaster Museum Publications no. xxiii, 1960.
Guide to the National and Provincial Directories of England and Wales…, Norton, Jane E., London, 1950.
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The Journal of Navigation
  • ISSN: 0373-4633
  • EISSN: 1469-7785
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-navigation
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