One as his father, Benjamin Oughtred, was a scholar

One of the most famous English mathematicians, William Oughtred, was born on March 5, 1572 in Eton, England. He was raised in an academic environment, as his father, Benjamin Oughtred, was a scholar who taught writing. Through his father’s connections he was able to attend in at Eton College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1596 and then moved on to King’s College, Cambridge to receive his masters of arts degree in 1600. Although, his studies during this time mainly consisted of philosophy and theology, since the age of twelve he showed interest and skills in mathematics. As a college student, it is said that from his basic mathematical learnings he received from Eton, he would stay late up at night after being done with his required regular studies. He finished his first work titled Easy Method of Mathematical Dialing,by the time he graduated from Cambridge. At the age of 29, in 1603, William Oughtred was ordained as an Anglican priest. Although there is not much information on why he decided to take this path, it is known that during this time period this was a common option and well respected career for an educated man. One year later after his involvement with the church, he became appointed as vicar of Shalford in 1604. At this point of his life, William Oughtred had already designed and or improved several instruments and works that would not be published until later in his life. Six years later, in 1610, Oughtred was promoted and appointed as rector of Abbury in where he was paid an annual salary of 100 pounds. In the first years of holding this position, Oughtred tends to the parish and  marries Christgift Caryll, daughter of William and Doryty Caryll. There isn’t much information on Oughtred’s family life, however there are sources that claim he had twelve children. All that is actually been verified is that he had two sons, who also were interested in mathematics and became watchmakers. This position was very important for Oughtred, as even when he gained fame for his accomplishments as a mathematician, as he continued to keep his position as the rector of Albury until they day he died. Interestingly, William Oughtred was never actually formally educated in mathematics, yet he was able to develop his own learning. Thanks to his written works, he soon gained fame as mathematician. At this point of his life, after he was done with his church’s obligations, he would use the time for his personal study. Later, in the 1620’s, he also used his free time to instruct others as he began to privately tutor young men, who like him shared the love for mathematics. The students lived in his house while he taught them mathematics, and were soon to become famous mathematicians themselves. Among these students was Christopher Wren, who was the architect that would end up building St. Paul’s Cathedral. The most interesting part of his time tutoring was how kind he was and the joy he found in teaching as not only did he share his home but also refused to charge or receive any payment for his teaching, as he believed his salary as a clergyman was more than enough. Being able to share his knowledge to the young minds of the future was satisfactory for him, which says a lot about who he has. His love for mathematics can also be seen in his nightly routines, it wasn’t unusual to find him working on trying to solve a math problem in the middle of the night. Many night were like this in which he needed to find the solution before he could fall asleep, he even had to permanently fix an ink container and a candle next to his bed.


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