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Commercializing Arithmetic: The Case of Edward Hatton

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Part of the Annals of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics/ Société canadienne d’histoire et de philosophie des mathématiques book series (ACSHPM)


For a period of some 40 years from 1695 onwards, Edward Hatton was a dominant author in the burgeoning world of commercial arithmetic publishing in London. Hatton was a prolific as well as successful author, selling some 40,000 copies across a dozen titles, some of which went through many editions. In this paper, we offer a survey of his works with emphasis on those that were key to his commercial success.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-95201-3_2
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  1. 1.

    For a general orientation to English history of the period, see, for example, Hoppit (2000).

  2. 2.

    The literature on the development of astronomy, astronomical tables, navigation, and navigational instruments in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is voluminous. For a recent access point, see several of the chapters in Flood (2020), and the references therein.

  3. 3.

    The boundaries between what we might consider as the professions of printer, publisher, and bookseller were much more fluid and complex in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. If we think of a printer as someone with a printing press, a publisher as someone who (typically) holds the copyright to a printed work, and a bookseller as someone who sells printed material, it is clear that there is plenty of room for overlap. In particular, booksellers were often publishers in order to have books to sell and to trade to other booksellers in return for more stock. A good guide to navigating the world of London publishing is Raven (2007).

  4. 4.

    Many of Hatton’s publications have now been digitized and are available from Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), HathiTrust, and Google Books, as well as derivative print-on-demand publishers. Others are available on microfilm. The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) has a nearly complete listing of his works, including information on accessible digital or microfilm versions.

  5. 5.

    For a recent paper on authors of practical mathematics in London in the period just before Hatton was publishing, see Beeley (2019).

  6. 6.

    Baptized 19 Jun 1664 in Standish, Lancashire Lancashire Baptisms (2012); Will: PROB 11/686/333.

  7. 7.

    Both Hooke and Wren have been the subject of numerous studies and have extensive literature on all aspects of their lives and work. See, for example, the twin biographies Jardine (2002) and Jardine (2004).

  8. 8.

    For a collection of early documents concerning early fire insurance, including some relating to the Friendly Society, see Jenkins and Yoneyama (2000). The business of fire insurance in eighteenth-century London, including the Hand in Hand, but not the Friendly Society, is addressed in Pearson (2002).

  9. 9.

    In his will, Hatton left a small legacy to “my very good friend Daniel Midwinter…in consideration of his friendship which I have enjoyed near forty years”. PROB 11/686/333.

  10. 10.

    For a survey of London publishers in the early eighteenth century, see Dugas (2001); for an overview of Hatton’s kind of instructional publishing, see Raven (2014), Chapter 9.

  11. 11.

    Raven claims that it was, “by far the most successful of the early guides [to accounting]” (Raven 2014, 184), while also noting some of Hatton’s competitors.

  12. 12.

    Christopher Coningsby’s last publication of Hatton’s was the 7th impression of the Merchant’s Magazine in 1719; he died in 1720 (London Burials, 2010).

  13. 13.

    The main English currency units were the pound (denoted £, l., or li.), shilling (s.), and penny (d.). There were 12 pence (pennies) in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound. Additionally, there were 4 farthings in a penny. Actual coinage was much more complicated.

  14. 14.

    The system of (averdupois) weights had 16 ounces in a pound (lb.) and 112 pounds in a hundred-weight (C.). A quarter (Qr.) was a quarter of a hundred-weight, or 28 lbs.

  15. 15.

    On late seventeenth-century coinage and Newton’s work at the Mint, see, for example, Craig (1963), Westfall (1980), Belenkiy (2013).

  16. 16.

    On the question of interpreting booksellers’ claims of sales, and the related issue of comparing sales and readers, see Glaisyer (2006): 105.

  17. 17.

    For a discussion of annuities, reversions, and interest computations in the eighteenth century and Hatton’s place in the developing field, see Bellhouse (2017).

  18. 18.

    On the subject of endorsements and other techniques of gaining credibility, especially in ready reckoners of interest rate calculations where the reader must implicitly trust the author’s accuracy, see Glaisyer (2007).

  19. 19.

    First edition, 1677. For the question of authorship, see Wallis (1997).

  20. 20.

    For a more detailed analysis of this work, see Cherry (2001).


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Correspondence to Duncan J. Melville .

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1 Appendix: A Summary Hatton Bibliography

  • The Merchant’s Magazine or Tradesman’s Treasury, 1695; 2nd edition 1697; 3rd edition 1699; 4th edition 1701; 5th edition 1707; 6th impression 1712; 7th impression 1719; 8th impression 1726; 9th impression 1734.

  • An Exact Table of the Weights of Gold and Silver, 1696.

  • The Assessors and Collectors Companion, 1697.

  • Arithmetick; or The Ground of Arts, by Robert Recorde, ed. E. Hatton, 1699.

  • Comes Commercii; or The Trader’s Companion, 1699; 2nd edition 1706; 3rd edition 1716; 4th edition 1723; 5th edition 1727; 6th edition 1734; 7th edition 1740; 8th edition 1747; 9th edition 1754; 10th edition 1759; 12th edition 1766; 13th edition 1783; 14th edition 1794.

  • A New View of London, 1708.

  • An Index to Interest, 1711; 2nd edition 1714; 3rd edition 1717.

  • An Intire System of Arithmetic, 1721; 2nd edition 1731; 3rd edition 1753.

  • A Supplement to the Review of London, 1722.

  • The Practical Measurer His Pocket Companion, by Isaac Keay, 3rd edition, ed. E. Hatton, 1724; 4th edition 1730; 5th edition 1736; 6th edition 1750; 9th edition 1764; 10th edition 1777.

  • Arithmetick made Easie, for the Use and Benefit of Trades-men. By John Ayres. To which is added, A Short and Easie Method … of Accompts. By Charles Snell. The Whole perused, and many Errors corrected by E. Hatton, Gent., 1726.

  • Arithmetick Both in Theory and Practice, by John Hill, 4th edition, ed. E. Hatton, 1727; 5th edition 1733; 6th edition 1736; 7th edition 1745; 8th edition 1750; 9th edition 1754; 10th edition 1761; 11th edition 1772.

  • A Mathematical Manual: or, Delightful Associate, 1728.

  • The Gauger’s Guide; or Excise-Officer Instructed, 1729.

  • A New Treatise of Geography, 1732.

  • The Irish Comes Commercii: or, The Trader’s Companion, 1739; 3rd edition 1752; 4th edition 1758; 5th edition 1765; 6th edition 1781.

  • The Merchant and Trader’s Daily Companion, 1763; 2nd edition 1765; 4th edition 1765; 5th edition 1783; 6th edition 1790; 12th edition 1799.

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Melville, D.J. (2022). Commercializing Arithmetic: The Case of Edward Hatton. In: Zack, M., Schlimm, D. (eds) Research in History and Philosophy of Mathematics. Annals of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics/ Société canadienne d’histoire et de philosophie des mathématiques. Birkhäuser, Cham.

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