Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wingate, Edmund

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584290Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 62 — Wingate, Edmund1900Bertha Porter

WINGATE, EDMUND (1596–1656), mathematician and legal writer, second son of Roger Wingate of Sharpenhoe in Bedfordshire and of his wife Jane, daughter of Henry Birch, was born at Flamborough in Yorkshire in 1596 and baptised there on 11 June (Par. Reg.) He matriculated from Queen's College, Oxford, on 12 Oct. 1610, graduated B.A. on 30 June 1614, and was admitted to Gray's Inn on 24 May. Before 1624 he went to Paris, where he became teacher of the English language to the Princess (afterwards Queen) Henrietta Maria. He had learned in England the rule of proportion recently invented by Edmund Gunter [q. v.], which he introduced into France and communicated to the chief mathematicians in Paris. Being importuned to publish in French, he agreed to do so; but his book had to appear in a hurried and incomplete form in order to obtain priority of appearance, an advocate in Dijon to whom he had communicated the rule in a friendly manner having already commenced to make some public use of it. He was in England on the breaking out of the civil war, sided with the parliament, took the covenant, and was made justice of the peace for the county of Bedford. He was then residing at Woodend in the parish of Harlington. In 1650 he took the ‘engagement,’ became intimate with Cromwell, and one of the commissioners for the ejection of ignorant and scandalous ministers. He represented the county of Bedford in the parliament of 1654–5. He died in Gray's Inn Lane, and was buried in St. Andrew's, Holborn, on 13 Dec. 1656. He left no will. Administration was granted to his son, Button Wingate, on 28 Jan. 1657.

Wingate married, on 28 July 1628, at Maulden, Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Richard Button of Wootton in Bedfordshire, by whom he had five sons and two daughters.

His publications, which were numerous, include: 1. ‘L'usage de la règle de proportion en arithmétique,’ Paris, 1624; in English as ‘The Use of the Rule of Proportion,’ London, 1626, 1628, 1645, 1658, 1683 (rectified by Brown and Atkinson). 2. ‘Arithmetique Logarithmetique,’ Paris, 1626. In English as ‘Logarithmotechnia, or the Construction and Use of the Logarithmeticall Tables,’ London, 1635 (compiled from Henry Briggs [q. v.]) 3. ‘The Construction and Use of the Line of Proportion,’ London, 1628. 4. ‘Of Natural and Artificiall Arithmetique,’ London, 1630, 2 parts. Part i. had been designed ‘onely as a key to open the secrets of the other, which treats of artificial arithmetique performed by logarithms,’ and had therefore not been made sufficiently complete to stand alone as a text-book of elementary arithmetic. This defect was remedied by John Kersey the elder [q. v.] under the superintendence of Wingate, and a second edition appeared in 1650 as ‘Arithmetique made easie.’ Wingate himself re-edited part ii., which was published in 1652 as ‘Arithmetique made easie. The second book.’ The first book ran through many editions, the expression ‘natural arithmetic’ being discarded for that of ‘common arithmetic,’ London, 1658, 1673 (6th edit.); 1678 (7th edit.); 1683 (8th edit. and the last edited by Kersey the elder); 1699 (10th edit. edited by Kersey the younger); 1704 (11th edit. with new supplement by George Shelley); 1708, 1713, 1720, 1753 (edited by J. Dodson), and 1760. 5. ‘Statuta Pacis: or a Perfect Table of all the Statutes (now in force) which any way concern the office of a Justice of the Peace,’ London, 1641, 1644 (under the initials ‘E. W.’). 6. ‘An Exact Abridgment of all the Statutes in force and use from the beginning of Magna Carta,’ London, 1642, 1655, 1663 (continued by William Hughes), 1670, 1675, 1680, 1681, 1684, 1694, 1703, 1704, 1708. 7. ‘Justice Revived: being the whole office of a country Justice of the Peace,’ London, 1644, 1661 (under initials ‘E. W.’). 8. ‘Ludus Mathematicus,’ London, 1654, 1681. The book is the description of a logarithmic instrument, of the nature of which it is difficult to form an idea without even a drawing of it (under initials ‘E. W.’). 9. ‘The Body of the Common Law of England,’ London, 1655 (2nd edit.), 1658, 1662, 1670, 1678. 10. ‘The Use of a Gauge-rod,’ London, 1658. 11. ‘Maximes of Reason,’ London, 1658 (cf. Preston, Popular and Practical Introduction to Law Studies, 1845, p. 579). 12. ‘The Clarks Tutor for Arithmetick and Writing … being the remains of Edmund Wingate,’ London, 1671, 1676. 13. ‘The Exact Constable with his Original and Power in the Office of Churchwardens,’ London, 1660 (2nd edit.), 1682 (6th edit.) (under initials ‘E. W.’).

In 1640 he published an edition of ‘Britton’ [see Breton, John le]. In this he made corrections from some better manuscript than that used in the 1530 publication, but unfortunately placed them in an appendix, reprinting the text in its corrupt form. He supplied an entire chapter (lib. iv. chap. 5) which had previously been omitted, placing it also in the appendix. He also edited the works of Samuel Foster [q. v.], and Wood assigns to him a work entitled ‘Tactometria … or the Geometry of Regulars,’ probably a republication of John Wyberd's book, which appeared under the same title in 1650 (Wood, Athenæ, iii. col. 425; cf. Chalmers, Biogr. Dict.)

[Visitations of Bedfordshire (Harl. Soc.); Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Foster's Admissions to Gray's Inn, p. 134; Wood's Athenæ (Bliss), iii. 423–4; Hutton's Philosophical and Mathematical Dictionary; Willis's Notitia Parliamentaria, iii. 259; prefaces to Wingate's work; De Morgan's Arithmetic Books; Blaydes's Genealogia Bedfordiensis, pp. 2, 3, 196, 204, 329–30, 337; Biographie Universelle; Kennett's Register, p. 787; Worrall's Bibliotheca Legum; Registers of Flamborough parish, per the Rev. H. W. Rigby.]

B. P.