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Craig [Craige], John

1. Dates
Born: Hoddam, Dumfries, Scotland, late 1662 or early 1663
Died: London, 11 Oct. 1731
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 69
2. Father
Occupation: Cleric
James Craig was the Vicar of Hoddam when John Craig was born, and moved on during the years ahead to several other livings. He was a distant relative of Bishop Gilbert Burnet.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Scottish
Career: English
Death: English
4. Education
Schooling: Edinburgh
Craig matriculated in the University of Edinburgh in 1684 and graduated M.A. in 1687. He was David Gregory's student in mathematics there. The M.A. was the basic degree in a Scottish university; I count it as equivalent to a B.A.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Anglican
There is ambiguity here. Craig was descended from John Craig, the Scottish reformer. In 1679 his father was deprived of his living for refusing to submit to the Sacramental Test, that is, for refusing to take the sacrament according to the Anglican rite. He received a new position only in 1687. This certainly sounds like a Scottish Presbyterian to me. However, Nash calls John Craig a Scottish Episcopalian. Certainly he travelled in such circles there (e.g., David Gregory), and certainly he made his career in the English church after the Revolution. I strongly suspect that I should list him as a Calvinist initially.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics
Subordinate: Optics
Craig was one of the first in Britain to realize the importance of the new calculus. Already in 1685, while he was still an undergraduate and only a year after Leibniz's initial publication, Craig published Methodus figurarum lineis rectis et curvis comprehensarum quadraturas determinandi, in which he employed Leibnizian notation. Tractatus mathematicus de figurarum curvilinearum quadraturis et locis geometricis, 1693--still employing the Leibnizian notation and acknowledging his debt to Leibniz. There were also several papers in the Philosophical Transactions and the Acta eruditorum on it. According to one source, his De calculo fluentium, 1718, was a republication of the early work. In 1718 it had a supplement, De optica analytica.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
Secondary: Schoolmastering
Craig migrated to England in 1689 seeking preferment. His distant relation, Gilbert Burnet, was named Bishop of Salisbury for his support of the Revolution. Craig received a curacy in Burnet's see in the summer of 1689, and he pretty well made his career in the see. 1692, Vicar of Potterne. 1696, Vicar of Gillingham Major (40/17/6). 1708, Prebend of Durnford (30). 1726, Prebend of Gilligham (54). Burnet had died in 1715, but Craig's brother, who had also started an ecclesiastical career in the same see, had other influential connections.
Craig also took into his home students in mathematics.
8. Patronage
Types: Eccesiastic Official, Government Official
See the references to Burnet above. Craig dedicated Theologiae christianae principia mathematica to him in 1699. A letter of Sir Richard Howe, a Tory and thus a political enemy, in 1714 referred to Craig as a "creature of the Bishop of Salisbury."
Craig dedicated De calculo fluentium, 1718, to James Stanhope, who was then Secretary of State. Unfortunately for Craig, Stanhope soon lost out to Walpole and died not long thereafter.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Navigation
In the early 18th century he worked on a method of determining longitude.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Royal Society
Informal Connections: Extensive correspondence with many Scottish mathematicians, including Gregory, Colin Campbell, Colin Maclaurin. As a result of his articles in the Acta, he was engaged in an extended controversy with Tschirnhaus in the late 1680's.
Royal Society, 1711.
Sources
  1. Introduction (anonymous) to a translation of Craig's Theologiae christianae principia mathematica (the translation is labelled Craig's Rules of Historical Evidence, Beiheft 4 (1964) of History and Theory. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-1950), 4, 1373. Alexander Chalmers, The General Biographical Dictionary, new ed. (London, 1813), 10, 451-2. Richard Nash, John Craige's 'Mathematical Principles of Christian Theology', (Carbondale, IL, 1991). The still brief life of Craig in this volume is much the most extensive.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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1995 Al Van Helden
Last updated
 
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