Nathaniel Nye

Nathaniel Nye

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Nathaniel Nye was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

, astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

, cartographer and gunner.


Nye was baptised in St Martin in the Bull Ring
St Martin in the Bull Ring
The church of St Martin in the Bull Ring in Birmingham 5, England is a parish church in the Church of England.-Background:It is the original parish church of Birmingham. It stands between the Bull Ring shopping centre and the markets. The church is a Grade II* listed building. The current Rector...

, Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 on the 18 April 1624, and was probably the son of a governor of the town's King Edward's School
King Edward's School, Birmingham
King Edward's School is an independent secondary school in Birmingham, England, founded by King Edward VI in 1552. It is part of the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham, and is widely regarded as one of the most academically successful schools in the country, according to...


In 1642 he published A New Almanacke and Prognostication calculated exactly for the faire and populous Towne of Birmicham in Warwickshire, where the Pole is elevated above the Horizon 52 degrees and 38 minutes, and may serve for any part of this Kingdome, in which he described himself as a "Practitioner of Astronomy". The dedication to this book suggests that he must have issued and earlier almanac
An almanac is an annual publication that includes information such as weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, and tide tables, containing tabular information in a particular field or fields often arranged according to the calendar etc...

 in 1640, possibly from Arnhem
Arnhem is a city and municipality, situated in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of Gelderland and located near the river Nederrijn as well as near the St. Jansbeek, which was the source of the city's development. Arnhem has 146,095 residents as one of the...

 in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, when he would have been aged 17. A further almanac was published in 1643, in which he was described as "Mathematitian, Practitioner of Astronomy", and two more were forthcoming in 1645.

Nye also developed an interest in guns – Birmingham's principal trade during the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 – and he is recorded as testing a Birmingham cannon in 1643 and experimenting with a saker
Saker (cannon)
The saker was a medium cannon slightly smaller than a culverin developed during the early 16th century and often used by the English. It was named after the Saker Falcon, a large falconry bird native to the Middle East....

 in Deritend
Deritend is an historic area of Birmingham, England, built around a crossing point of the River Rea. It is first mentioned in 1276. Today Deritend is usually considered to be part of Digbeth.-History:...

 in 1645. From 1645 he was the master gunner to the Parliamentarian
"Roundhead" was the nickname given to the supporters of the Parliament during the English Civil War. Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against King Charles I and his supporters, the Cavaliers , who claimed absolute power and the divine right of kings...

 garrison at Evesham
Evesham is a market town and a civil parish in the Local Authority District of Wychavon in the county of Worcestershire, England with a population of 22,000. It is located roughly equidistant between Worcester, Cheltenham and Stratford-upon-Avon...

 and in 1646 he successfully directed the artillery at the Siege of Worcester, detailing his experiences and in his 1647 book The Art of Gunnery. Believing that war was as much a science as an art, his explanations focused on triangulation
In trigonometry and geometry, triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline, rather than measuring distances to the point directly...

, arithmetic
Arithmetic or arithmetics is the oldest and most elementary branch of mathematics, used by almost everyone, for tasks ranging from simple day-to-day counting to advanced science and business calculations. It involves the study of quantity, especially as the result of combining numbers...

, theoretical mathematics, and cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

 as well as practical considerations such as the ideal specification for gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

 or slow match
Slow match
Slow match or match cord is the very slow burning cord or twine fuse used by early gunpowder musketeers, artillerymen, and soldiers to ignite matchlock muskets, cannons, and petards...

es. His book acknowledged mathematicians such as Robert Recorde
Robert Recorde
Robert Recorde was a Welsh physician and mathematician. He introduced the "equals" sign in 1557.-Biography:A member of a respectable family of Tenby, Wales, he entered the University of Oxford about 1525, and was elected a fellow of All Souls College in 1531...

 and Marcus Jordanus as well as earlier military writers on artillery such as Niccolò Tartaglia and Thomas Malthus
Thomas Malthus
The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus FRS was an English scholar, influential in political economy and demography. Malthus popularized the economic theory of rent....


Nothing is known of Nye's life after 1647, though further editions of The Art of Gunnery were produced in 1648 and 1670.