Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/78

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

that Digges was to be overseer of the works and fortifications. A week later the commissioners wrote to the council that after consultation they had finally resolved on a ‘platt’ for the making of a perfect and safe harbour, and had chosen officers to execute it. Digges was engaged on the works at Dover for several years. In the parliament which assembled 23 Nov. 1585 he represented the town of Southampton. In 1586 he was, through the influence of the Earl of Leicester, made muster-master-general of the English forces in the Netherlands (Stratioticos, ed. 1590, p. 237). In that capacity he seems to have made strenuous exertions, and to have evinced marked ability. Writing from London to Lord Burghley on 2 May 1590 he says: ‘I am forced to beseech your favour that I may have my pay so long forborn, after others by whom her majesty has been damaged are fully paid or overpaid, whereas I, that never increased her charge one penny, but have saved her many thousands, am yet unsatisfied by 1,000l., and have for want thereof received such hindrance that I had better have accepted a moiety than my full due now.’ In or about 1590 the queen issued a commission to Richard Greynevile of Stow, Cornwall, Piers Edgecombe, Digges, and others, authorising them to fit out and equip a fleet for the discovery of lands in the antarctic seas, and especially to the dominions of the great ‘Cam of Cathaia.’ Digges was discharged from the office of muster-master-general of her majesty's forces in the Low Countries on 15 March 1593–4, when, as he shortly afterwards complained to the council, the entire moiety of his entertainment, and four or five months of his ordinary imprest, were detained by the treasurer at war. He died in London on 24 Aug. 1595, and was buried in the chancel of the church of St. Mary, Aldermanbury, where a monument was erected to his memory with an inscription which describes him as ‘a man zealously affected to true religion, wise, discreete, courteous, faithfull to his friends, and of rare knowledge in geometrie, astrologie, and other mathematical sciences’ (Stowe, Survey of London, ed. 1720, i. 71, 72).

He married Agnes, daughter of Sir William [Warham?] St. Leger, knight, and of Ursula his wife, daughter of George Neville, lord Abergavenny, and had issue, Sir Dudley Digges [q. v.], Leonard Digges the younger [q. v.], Margaret, and Ursula (who were alive at the date of his decease), besides William and Mary, who died young.

Tycho Brahe had a high opinion of Digges's mathematical talents (Halliwell, Letters illustrative of the Progress of Science in England, p. 33). John Davis, in his ‘Seaman's Secrets’ (1594), speaking of English mathematical ability, asks ‘What strangers may be compared with M. Thomas Digges, esquire, our countryman, the great master of archmastrie? and for theoretical speculations and most cunning calculation, M. Dee and M. Thomas Heriotts are hardly to be matched.’ Mr. Halliwell observes: ‘Thomas Digges ranks among the first English mathematicians of the sixteenth century. Although he made no great addition to science, yet his writings tended more to its cultivation than perhaps all those of other writers on the same subjects put together.’

His works are:

  1. ‘A Geometrical Practise, named Pantometria, divided into three Bookes, Longimetra, Planimetra, and Steriometria, containing Rules manifolde for mensuration of all lines, Superficies, and Solides … framed by Leonard Digges, lately finished by Thomas Digges his sonne. Who hath also thereunto adjoyned a Mathematicall treatise of the five regulare Platonicall bodies and their Metamorphosis or transformation into five other equilater unifoorme solides Geometricall, of his owne invention, hitherto not mentioned by any Geometricians,’ Lond. 1571, 4to; 2nd edition, ‘with sundrie additions,’ Lond. 1591, fol. Dedicated to Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper.
  2. Epistle to the reader of John Dee's ‘Parallacticæ Commentationis Praxeosq. Nucleus quidam,’ 1573.
  3. ‘Alæ seu Scalæ Mathematicæ, quibus visibilium remotissima Cælorum Theatra conscendi, et Planetarum omnium itinera novis et inauditis Methodis explorari: tùm huius portentosi Syderis in Mundi Boreali plaga insolito fulgore coruscantis, Distantia et Magnitudo immensa, Situsq. protinùs tremendus indagari, Deiq. stupendum ostentum, Terricolis expositum, cognosci liquidissimè possit,’ Lond. 1573, 1581, 4to. Dedicated to Lord Burghley, by whose orders he wrote the treatise.
  4. ‘A Prognostication … contayning … rules to judge the Weather by the Sunne, Moone, Stars … with a briefe judgement for ever, of Plenty, Lacke, Sickenes, Dearth, Warres, &c., opening also many natural causes worthy to be knowen,’ published by Leonard Digges, and corrected and augmented by his son Thomas, Lond. 1578, 4to. Other editions, 1596 and 1605.
  5. ‘An Arithmeticall Militare Treatise, named Stratioticos: Compendiously teaching the Science of Numbers. … Together with the Moderne Militare Discipline, Offices, Lawes, and Dueties in every wel governed Campe and Armie to be observed. Long since attempted by Leonard Digges. Augmented, digested, and lately finished by Thomas Digges. Whereto