Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition | Public Domain via Project Gutenberg |

(1556-1630), English mathematician, was born at
Warley Wood, near Halifax, in Yorkshire. He graduated at St John's
College, Cambridge, in 1581, and obtained a fellowship in 1588. In 1592
he was made reader of the physical lecture founded by Dr Thomas Linacre,
and in 1596 first professor of geometry in Gresham House (afterwards
College), London. In his lectures at Gresham House he proposed the
alteration of the scale of logarithms from the hyperbolic form which John
Napier had given them, to that in which unity is assumed as the logarithm
of the ratio of ten to one; and soon afterwards he wrote to the inventor
on the subject. In 1616 he paid a visit to Napier at Edinburgh in order
to discuss the suggested change; and next year he repeated his visit for
a similar purpose. During these conferences the alteration proposed by
Briggs was agreed upon; and on his return from his second visit to
Edinburgh in 1617 he accordingly published the first chiliad of his
logarithms. (See Napier, John.) In 1619 he was
appointed Savilian professor of geometry at Oxford, and resigned his
professorship of Gresham College on the 25th of July 1620. Soon after his
settlement at Oxford he was incorporated master of arts. In 1622 he
published a small tract on the *North-West Passage to the South Seas,
through the Continent of Virginia and Hudson's Bay*; and in 1624 his
*Arithmetica Logarithmica*, in folio, a work containing the
logarithms of thirty thousand natural numbers to fourteen places of
figures besides the index. He also completed a table of logarithmic sines
and tangents for the hundredth part of every degree to fourteen places of
figures besides the index, with a table of natural sines to fifteen
places, and the tangents and secants for the same to ten places; all of
which were printed at Gouda in 1631 and published in 1633 under the title
of *Trigonometria Britannica* (see Table,
Mathematical). Briggs died on the 26th of January 1630, and was
buried in Merton College chapel, Oxford. Dr Smith, in his *Lives of the
Gresham Professors*, characterizes him as a man of great probity, a
contemner of riches, and contented with his own station, preferring a
studious retirement to all the splendid circumstances of life.

His works are: *A Table to find the Height of the Pole, the
Magnetical Declination being given* (London, 1602, 4to); "Tables for
the Improvement of Navigation," printed in the second edition of Edward
Wright's treatise entitled *Certain Errors in Navigation detected and
corrected* (London, 1610, 4to); *A Description of an Instrumental
Table to find the part proportional, devised by Mr Edward Wright*
(London, 1616 and 1618, 12mo); *Logarithmorum Chilias prima*
(London, 1617, 8vo); *Lucubrationes et Annotationes in opera posthuma
J. Neperi* (Edinburgh, 1619, 4to); *Euclidis Elementorum VI. libri
priores* (London, 1620. folio); *A Treatise on the North-West
Passage to the South Sea* (London, 1622, 4to), reprinted in Purchas's
*Pilgrims*, vol. iii. p. 852; *Arithmetica Logarithmica*
(London, 1624, folio); *Trigonometria Britannica* (Goudae, 1663,
folio); two *Letters* to Archbishop Usher; *Mathematica ab
Antiquis minus cognita*. Some other works, as his *Commentaries on
the Geometry of Peter Ramus*, and *Remarks on the Treatise of
Longomontanus respecting the Quadrature of the Circle*, have not been
published.