Historical records matching Henry Briggs, I
About Henry Briggs, I
Henry Briggs (February 1561 – 26 January 1630) was an English mathematician notable for changing the original logarithms invented by John Napier into common (base 10) logarithms, which are sometimes known as Briggsian logarithms in his honour.
He was born at Warley Wood, near Halifax, in Yorkshire, England. After studying Latin and Greek at a local grammar school, he entered St John's College, Cambridge, in 1577, and graduated in 1581. In 1588, he was elected of Fellow of St. John's. In 1592 he was made reader of the physical lecture founded by Thomas Linacre; he would also read some of the mathematical lectures as well. During this period, he took an interest in navigation and astronomy, collaborating with Edward Wright. In 1596, he became first professor of geometry in the recently founded Gresham College, London; he would lecture there for nearly 23 years, and would make Gresham college a center of English mathematics, from which he would notably support the new ideas of Johannes Kepler. He was a friend of Christopher Heydon, the writer on astrology. At this time, Briggs obtained a copy of Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio, in which Napier introduced the idea of logarithms. Napier's formulation was awkward to work with, but the book fired Briggs' imagination - in his lectures at Gresham College he proposed the idea of base 10 logarithms in which the logarithm of 10 would be 1; and soon afterwards he wrote to the inventor on the subject. Briggs was active in many areas, and his advice in astronomy, surveying, navigation, and other activities like mining was frequently sought. Briggs in 1619 invested in the London Company, and he had two sons: Henry, who later emigrated to Virginia, and Thomas, who remained in England. The lunar crater Briggs is named in his honour.