Sir John Napier, 8th Lord of Merchiston

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Sir John Napier, 8th Lord of Merchiston's Geni Profile

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John Napier

Birthplace: Merchiston Castle, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Death: Died in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Archibald Napier, 7th Laird of Merchiston and Janet Bothwell
Husband of Anne Chisholm and Elizabeth Sterling, Lady of Merchistoun
Father of Robert Napier of Boquhopple and Drumhony; Elizabeth Cunninghame; William Napier of Ardmore and Archibald Napier, Lord Napier of Merchiston
Brother of Francis Napier and Janet Napier
Half brother of Anna Napier; Susannah Napier; Archibald Napier of Woolmet; Sir Alexander Napier of Lauriston, Kt.; Abellina Napier and 3 others

Occupation: Mathematician, Inventor of Logarithms, 8th Lord of Merchiston
Managed by: Oliver Marcus Stedall
Last Updated:

About Sir John Napier, 8th Lord of Merchiston

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, 8th Lord of Merchiston's Timeline

Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Age 26
Age 30
April 3, 1617
Age 67
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Mathemathician, Philosopher