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John Reynolds of the Mint: a mathematician in the service of King and Commonwealth

Biggs, Norman (2018) John Reynolds of the Mint: a mathematician in the service of King and Commonwealth. Historia Mathematica. ISSN 0315-0860

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Identification Number: 10.1016/


In his youth, John Reynolds showed a talent for arithmetic and was destined for a career as a mathematician at the Tower Mint in London. He became skilled in the algorithms needed to determine the correct relationship between the weight and purity of coins and their values. This was a matter of national importance, and his work came to the attention of King James I, who reigned from 1603 to 1625, and his chief ministers, including Robert Cecil and Francis Bacon. It seemed that John might attain high office himself, but the murky administration of the early Stuart period cast its shadow over his career. Nevertheless, for the next forty years he continued to play a major part in the nation's affairs. He produced books of tables for the valuation of coins in the commercial world, and for the highly technical work of the assayers. Also, he was actively involved in the production of standard measures and instruments used by the excise officers. His life and works illustrate how mathematical ideas were employed by the English government in the period of the early Stuart kings and the Commonwealth.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Elsevier Inc.
Divisions: Mathematics
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2019 14:37
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2021 13:09

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