Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Norwood, Richard

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NORWOOD, RICHARD (1590?–1675), teacher of mathematics and surveyor, born about 1590, was in 1616 sent out by the Bermuda Company to survey the islands of Bermuda, then newly settled. He was afterwards accused of having, in collusion with the governor, so managed that, after assigning the shares to all the settlers, eight shares of the best land remained over, for the personal advantage of himself and the governor (Historye of the Bermudaes, p. 104). His map was published in London in 1622, and the same year he married, in London, Rachel, daughter of Francis Boughton of Sandwich. In 1623 he patented lands in Virginia, but it does not appear that he ever went there. He is said to have resided at that date in the Bermudas (Brown, ii. 958). He may have made several visits to the islands, but according to his own statements he was, for some years before 1630 and after, up to 1640, resident in London, near Tower Hill, in pursuit of his calling as a teacher of mathematics. Between June 1633 and June 1635 he personally measured, partly by chain and partly by pacing, the distance between London and York, making corrections for all the windings of the way, as well as for the ascents and descents. He also, from observations of the sun's altitude, computed the difference of latitude of the two places, and so calculated the length of a degree of the meridian. Considering the roughness of his methods and the imperfections of his instruments, it is not surprising that his result was some 600 yards too great; but, even so, it was the nearest approximation that had then been made in England. During the civil war he seems to have resided in Bermuda, where he had a government grant as schoolmaster, and where, in 1662, he conducted a second survey. He was in England in 1667, probably only on a visit. He died at Bermuda in October 1675, aged about eighty-five, and was buried there.

His published works are: 1. ‘Trigonometrie, or the Doctrine of Triangles,’ 4to, 1631. 2. ‘The Seaman's Practice,’ 4to, 1637. 3. ‘Fortification, or Architecture Military,’ 4to, 1639. 4. ‘Truth gloriously appearing,’ 4to, 1645. 5. ‘Considerations tending to remove the Present Differences,’ 4to, 1646. 6. ‘Norwood's Epitomy, being the Application of the Doctrine of Triangles,’ 8vo, 1667. He had a son Matthew, who in 1672–4 commanded a ship carrying stores to Bermuda.

[The prefaces and dedications to his books give some indications of Norwood's career. Other authorities are Brown's Genesis of the United States; Lefroy's Memorials of the Discovery of the Bermudas, and Historye of the Bermudaes, ed. for the Hakluyt Soc.]

J. K. L.