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Material relating to William Baird, being 'Some principles of Arithmetique'

Identifier: Coll-1236

Scope and Contents

The manuscript forming the collection looks at Some principles of arithmetique containing all the parts thereof and the severall ways of working.

The manuscript includes three parts: mathematics, law and astronomy. The notes and the exlibris inscription suggest that this volume, which is bound in contemporary calf, was the work of William Baird of Dysart - 'Ex libris Gulielmi Baird'.

The first part, titled 'Some principles of arithmetique containing all the parts thereof and the severall ways of working' includes multiplication and division with examples together with 'decimall arithmetique' and 'logarithmeticall arithmetique.

The second part consists of notes on legal matters in Latin.

The third part - consisting of forty-five pages on geometry and astronomy includes such headings as 'the equator', 'the horizone', 'the eclyptick', 'the terrestriall globe', 'longitude terrestriall', 'the celestiall globe', 'the uses of Gunters quadrant', 'the generall horologicall ringe' and 'astronomie'.

There are three folding plates which illustrate the cosmological systems of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe and Ptolemy.


  • Creation: 1676


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of any visit.

Biographical / Historical

William Baird possibly had an association with Dysart in Fife, Scotland, in the seventeenth century. Within the manuscript, in its first part, there are a number of clues that supply a date to his life and indicate the Scottish origin of the item. Under an explanation of the Dominical Letter system for discovering the day of the week corresponding to any date is included a mnemonic beginning, 'At Dysart dwells George Bronn Esquire'. The inclusion of this mnemonic suggests that Baird was engaged in teaching mathematics to others and that he was doing so in Scotland. In addition to the reference to Dysart, there is also mention of Scottish money - 'Lib Scotts' - and a date of 1676 is supplied in another calculation.

Dysart is a small town on the River Forth, on the northern shore of its large estuary. Dating from the 13th century, the town established itself in the middle of the 15th century as a trading port, exporting salt and coal to the Low Countries. In the 16th and 17th centuries, trade expanded to the Baltic Countries. It had been towards the end of the 16th century that the first coal pit in the town was sunk - known as Lady Blanche. By the middle of the 17th century when coal began to surpass the salt trade, two new pits followed - Frances and Randolph. Two hundred years later, in 2009, there was no coal trade and no salt trade, and the community was a suburb of Kirkcaldy.


1 volume

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material purchased June 2009. Accession no: E2009.29

Processing Information

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library.

Material relating to William Baird, possibly of Dysart (fl. 1670-1680)
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
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