BornKent, England, circa1546
DiedLondon, England, 24 August 1595
Thomas Digges’s reputation among historians rests largely on the fact that he was the leader of the English Copernicans. Among astronomers, he is remembered as among the first to advocate an infinite stellar universe far outside the orbit of Saturn, populated by stars that might themselves have planets.
Thomas was the son of Leonard Diggesand Bridget Wilford. He received his mathematical training from his father, who died while Thomas was in his early teens, and from John Dee, who described Thomas as his most worthy mathematical heir. Digges and his wife Agnes Saint Leger had six children, including Sir Dudley Digges and Leonard Digges the younger.
There is no record that Thomas attended any university; his proficiency in mathematical and military matters was derived from his father’s and Dee’s tutoring. He served the government in various capacities. Digges was one of the officers designated in 1582 to repair the...
- Cooper, Thompson (1921–1922). “Digges, Thomas.” In Dictionary of National Biography, edited by Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee. Vol. 5, pp. 976–978. London: Oxford University Press. (The article is inaccurate about Thomas’s early years because of a confusion with another Thomas Digges who matriculated at Cambridge University in 1546. It is a useful source for his nonmathematical publications and reports in MS.)Google Scholar
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- Digges, Thomas (1571). “A Mathematical Discourse of Geometrical Solids.” In Pantometria, byLeonard Digges. London: Henrie Bynneman.Google Scholar
- — (1573). Alae seu scalae mathematicae. London: Thomas Marsh.Google Scholar
- — (1576). “A Perfit Description of the Caelestiall Orbes.” In A Prognostication Everlastinge, by Leonard Digges. London: Thomas Marsh.Google Scholar
- — (1579). Stratioticos. London: Henrie BynnemanGoogle Scholar
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- — “Thomas Digges.” Letter to the Times Literary Supplement, 5 April 1934, p. 244. (Corrects Cooper’s article in the Dictionary of National Biography.)Google Scholar
- Johnson, Franics R. and Sandford V. Larkey (1934). “Thomas Digges, the Copernican System, and the Idea of the Infinity of the Universe in 1576.” Huntington Library Bulletin, no. 5: 69–117. (Reproduces the 1576 edition of “A Perfit Description” from a copy of A Prognostication everlastingein the Huntington Library.)Google Scholar
- Koyré, Alexandre (1957). From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe. New York: Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. (See esp. pp. 35–39 where he also corrects Johnson on Digges’s conception of an infinite space, which Digges conceived in theological terms.)Google Scholar
- Neale, J. E. (1958). Elizabeth I and Her Parliaments. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
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- Westman, Robert S. (2011). The Copernican Question. (See esp. pp. 268–280 where he explains the astrological context for the reception of the Copernican theory.)Google Scholar