Digges anticipated the invention of the telescope is fully justified, as well by the above particulars as by the additional details given by his son in the ‘Preface to the Reader.’ He states elsewhere that his father's proficiency in optics was in part derived from an old written treatise by Friar Bacon, which, ‘by strange adventure, or rather destiny, came to his hands’ (Encycl. Metropolitana, iii. 399, art. ‘Optics’).
‘An Arithmeticall Militare Treatise, named Stratioticos: compendiously teaching the Science of Numbers … and so much of the Rules and Aequations Algebraicall, and Arte of Numbers Cossicall, as are requisite for the Profession of a Soldier,’ was begun by Leonard Digges, but augmented, digested, and published with a dedication to the Earl of Leicester, by Thomas in 1579 (2nd ed. 1590). Digges wrote besides: ‘A Prognostication Everlasting: Contayning Rules to judge the Weather by the Sunne, Moone, Starres, Comets, Rainbows, Thunder Clouds, with other extraordinary Tokens, not omitting the Aspects of the Planets’ (London, 1553, 1555, 1556, &c., corrected by Thomas Digges, 1576, &c.). This little manual of astrological meteorology gives the distances and dimensions of sun, moon, and planets, according to the notions of the time, and includes tables of lucky and unlucky days, of the fittest times for blood-letting, &c., and of the lunar dominion over the various parts of man's body. Digges's writings show an inventive mind, and considerable ingenuity in the application of arithmetical geometry.
[Biog. Brit. (Kippis); Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 414; Fuller's Worthies (1662), ‘Kent,’ p. 82; Hasted's Hist. of Kent, iii. 130, 756, 762; Harris's Hist. of Kent, p. 35, &c.; Philipott's Villare Cantianum, p. 60; Stow's Survey of London (1720), iii. 71; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus (1619), i. 751; Bale's Scriptt. Brit. Cat. x. 110; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Poggendorff's Biog. Lit. Handwörterbuch; Companion to Brit. Almanac, 1837, p. 40, 1839, p. 57, 1840, p. 27 (A. De Morgan); Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iv. 282, x. 162, 6th ser. x. 368, 515; Brit. Mus. Cat.]
DIGGES, LEONARD (1588–1635), poet and translator, son of Thomas Digges [q. v.], by Agnes, daughter of Sir Warham St. Leger, was born in London in 1588, and went to University College, Oxford, in 1603, aged fifteen. He proceeded B.A. 31 Oct. 1606, and travelled abroad, studying at many foreign universities. In consideration of his continental studies he was created M.A. at Oxford on 20 Nov. 1626, and allowed to reside at University College. He died there 7 April 1635. Digges was well acquainted with both Spanish and French, and was a good classical scholar. He published in 1617 a verse translation from Claudian entitled ‘The Rape of Proserpine’ (printed by G. P. for Edward Blount). It is dedicated to Digges's sister (1587–1619), wife of Sir Anthony Palmer, K.B. (1566–1630), who had recently nursed him through a dangerous illness. In 1622 he issued a translation of a Spanish novel, entitled ‘Gerardo, the Unfortunate Spaniard,’ by G. de Cespedes y Meneses, and dedicated it to the brothers William, earl of Pembroke, and Philip, earl of Montgomery. It was republished in 1653. Verses by Digges are prefixed to Aleman's ‘Rogue’ (1623), and to Giovanni Sorriano's ‘Italian Tutor’ (1640). Greater interest attaches to two pieces of verse by Digges in praise of Shakespeare, one of which was prefixed to the 1623 edition of Shakespeare's plays, and the other to the 1640 edition of his poems. Few contemporaries wrote more sympathetically of Shakespeare's greatness.
[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ii. 592–3; Wood's Fasti, i. 316, 428; Shakespeare's Century of Prayse (New Shaksp. Soc.), 157, 231; Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum in Addit. MS. 24488, ff. 181–2.]
DIGGES, THOMAS (d. 1595), mathematician, son of Leonard Digges (d. 1571) [q. v.], by his wife, Bridget, daughter of Thomas Wilford, esq., was born in Kent, probably at the residence of his father. He says he spent his youngest years, even from his cradle, in the study of the liberal sciences. Wood's statement that he received his education at Oxford appears to be wholly without foundation. He matriculated in the university of Cambridge, as a pensioner of Queens' College, in May 1546, proceeded B.A. in 1550–1, and commenced M.A. in 1557 (Cooper, Athenæ Cantab. ii. 184). He became very proficient in mathematical and military matters, having spent many years ‘in reducing the sciences mathematical from demonstrative contemplations to experimental actions,’ in which he was aided by his father's observations, and by conferences with the rarest soldiers of his time. His intimacy with Dr. John Dee was doubtless of considerable advantage to him. In a letter written in December 1573 Dee styles him ‘charissimus mihi juvenis, mathematicusque meus dignissimus hæres’ (Addit. MS. 5867, f. 25).He sat for Wallingford in the parliament which met 8 May 1572. On 14 April 1582 the privy council informed the commissioners of Dover Haven that they had appointed Sir William Wynter, Digges, and Burroughs to confer with the commissioners on the choice of a plan for the repair of the harbour, adding