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The Geek Atlas by John Graham-Cumming

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037

Albury Church, Albury, England

gkat_037.pdf51° 13 11.83 N 0° 28 44.26 W

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William Oughtred

For almost 50 years (until his death in 1660), the British mathematician and clergyman William Oughtred was rector of Albury Church near Guildford, England. During that half-century, Oughtred volunteered his time to teaching mathematics to interested students. These students included mathematician John Wallis (who later became a cryptographer and was involved in the invention of calculus) and Sir Christopher Wren (celebrated architect, astronomer, and founder of the Royal Society).

Prior to becoming a clergyman, Oughtred was a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, which he had attended since he was 15 years old. He became a fellow at the age of 21. Oughtred’s dedication to mathematical education led him to provide not only free tuition, but free lodging as well. Accounts of his life indicate that he liked to study late into the night, and was often still in bed the next day at noon. His church salary of £100 per year seems to have adequately provided for Oughtred and his wife, leaving him free to study, publish, and teach (when he was not busy tending to his congregation).

Oughtred published books designed to help students of mathematics, and that brought together his knowledge of the subject in ...

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