Brown, George (1650-1730) (DNB00)

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BROWN, GEORGE (1650–1730), arithmetician, was born in 1650, and was appointed minister of the parish of Kilmaurs, in the presbytery of Irvine and county of Ayr, about 1680 (Scott, Fasti, ii. pt. i. p. 178), having been ‘translated from Stranraer’ (ibid. p. 384). ‘About 1700 he was frequently charged for exercising discipline and marrying without proclamation’ (ibid. p. 178). ‘He invented an instrument called Rotula Arithmetica, to teach those of very ordinary capacity who can but read figures to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, on which the privy council, 13 Dec. 1698, recommended the lords of the treasury “to give a reasonable allowance to be ane encouragement to him”’ (ibid. p. 384). In explanation of this instrument he published ‘Rotula Arithmetica, with an Account thereof,’ 12mo, Edinburgh, 1700, and in the same year produced ‘A Specie Book serving at one View to turn any pure Number of any Pieces of Silver, current in this Kingdom, into Pounds Scots or Sterling,’ 12mo, Edinburgh, 1700. He next published ‘A Compendious, but a Compleat System of Decimal Arithmetick, containing more Exact Rules for ordering Infinites than any hitherto extant,’ 4to, Edinburgh, 1701, which he dedicated ‘to John Spotiswood, Baron of Spotiswood, Advocate;’ on the title-page he described himself as ‘minister of Killmarice.’ His last work was ‘Arithmetica Infinita; or the Accurate Accomptant's Best Companion, contriv'd and calculated by the Reverend George Brown, A.M., and printed for the Author,’ sq. 12mo, Edinburgh, 1718. This work, which was commended by Dr. Keill, F.R.S., Savilian professor of astronomy at Oxford, was published by subscription. Brown died in 1730.

[Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Sinclair's New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1845; Scott's Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ, 1868.]

A. H. G.