Sir John Napier

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John Napier

Birthplace: Merchiston Castle, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, (Present UK)
Death: Died in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, (Present UK)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Archibald Napier, 7th Laird of Merchiston and Janet Napier (Bothwell)
Husband of Elizabeth Sterling, Lady of Merchistoun and Anne Napier (Chisholm)
Father of Archibald Napier, Lord Napier of Merchiston; Robert Napier, of Boquhopple and Drumhony; Elizabeth Cunninghame and William Napier of Ardmore
Brother of Francis Napier and Janet Adamson
Half brother of Susannah Hepburn; Sir Alexander Napier, of Lauriston; Archibald Napier, of Woolmet; Abellina Wardlaw; Agnes Napier and 2 others

Occupation: 8TH Lord Of Merchiston/Mathematician-Inventor Of Logarithms
Managed by: Oliver Marcus Stedall
Last Updated:

About Sir John Napier

The Scots peerage : founded on Wood's ed. of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland; containing an historical and genealogical account of the nobility of that kingdom; Page 417 (

John Napier of Merchiston, the renowed inventor of logarithms, eldest son of the foregoing, was born at Merchiston Castle in 1550, and entered as student at the University of Saint Andrews 1563, though it is probable that he did not complete his academic career at that city. After spending some time on the continent of Europe he settled, about the year 1574, at Gartnes, co. Stirling, where for many years he devoted himself to the study of pure mathematics and the Holy Scriptures ; it is probably a mistake to connect him in any special degree with Merchiston, excepting during the last eight years of his life. His Plain Discovery of the whole Revelation of St. John, which appeared in 1593, and was dedicated to King James vi., largely influenced the Protestant movement in Europe, passing through several editions in English, Dutch, French, and German. Of his minor works mention may be made of De Arte Logistica, which deals with the sciences of Algebra and Arithmetic, but was not published until long after his death. His skill and ingenuity found expression also in various contrivances for the improvement of agriculture and the invention of new and powerful engines of warfare, though the last he refused to divulge. His claim to undying fame rests, however, upon his sublime discovery of the correspondence between arithmetical and geometrical progression, and the logarithmic canon, which after years of intense study he founded upon it. From a letter addressed to Tycho Brahe in the year 1594, it appears that Napier had already at that time discovered the abstract law, but the practical application of it to the construction of those tables which have revolutionised the whole method of calculating, and have rendered possible the modern sciences of Astronomy and Navigation, was the work of something like twenty years. He himself says that it 'ought to have been accomplished by the labour and assistance of many computers, but had been completed by the strength and industry of himself alone.' In the year 1614 he submitted to the learned world his Description of the marvellous Canon of Logarithms, which was dedicated to Charles, Prince of Wales, afterwards Charles i.

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Sir John Napier's Timeline

Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, (Present UK)
September 1572
Age 22
Age 29
Age 30
April 3, 1617
Age 67
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, (Present UK)
Mathemathician, Philosopher