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John Napier Baron of Merchiston , also called Neper or Nepair (/ neɪpɪər / Edinburgh, 1550 – ibid, 4 April 1617 ), was a Scottish mathematician, recognized for being the first to define logarithms. He also made common the use of the decimal point in arithmetic operations.
Napier’s father was Sir Archibald Napier of Merchiston Castle and his mother was Janet Bothwell (daughter of politician and judge Francis Bothwell, Lord of Session and sister of Adam Bothwell, who would become Bishop of Orkney).
At 13 he started attending the University of Saint Andrews, in Fife. He stayed there less than a year. His mother died during that period of time, his uncle Adam Bothwell recommended in a letter to John’s father that he travel to Europe to educate himself: Sir, I beg you to send John to the school in France or the school in Flanders because You can learn nothing good at home. It is believed likely that the council has been followed and that Napier traveled through the Netherlands, France and Italy to train.
Back in Merchiston in 1571 he married the following year with Elizabeth Stirling, with whom he had two children. They lived in a castle in Gartland (Stirling). She died in 1579. Napier soon married Agnes Chisholm, with whom she had ten children.
When his father died in 1608, John went on to live in Merchiston Castle until he died nine years later.
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