Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Torporley, Nathaniel
TORPORLEY, NATHANIEL (1564-1632), mathematician, was born in Shropshire in 1564, probably at Shrewsbury, as he was admitted to Shrewsbury free grammar school as an 'oppidan' in 1571 (Calvert, Shrewsbury school Regestum Scholarium, p. 41). He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, 17 Nov. 1581, as a 'plebeian,' and graduated B.A. on 5 Feb. 1583-4, and proceeded M.A. from Brasenose College (so Wood) on 8 July 1591. Entering into holy orders, he was appointed rector of Salwarpe in Worcestershire on 14 June 1608, which living he held until 1622 (Nash, Worcestershire, 338-9). He also occurs as rector of Liddington, Wiltshire, in 1611, though he seems to have resided chiefly at Sion College, London.
Torporley acquired a singular knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, and attracted the notice of that 'generous favourer of all good learning,' Henry Percy, ninth earl of Northumberland [q. v.], who for several years gave him an annual pension from his own purse. On 27 Nov. 1605, just after the discovery of the gunpowder plot, Torporley was examined by the council for having cast the king's nativity (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1603-1610, p. 263). For two or more years he resided in France, and was amanuensis to the celebrated mathematician François Viète of Fontenay, against whom he published a pamphlet under the name of Poulterey. He died in Sion College, London, and was buried in St. Alphege's Church on 17 April 1632. He left a nuncupative will, dated 14 April 1632, by which he bequeathed to the library of Sion College all his mathematical books, astronomical instruments, notes, maps, and a brass clock. Among these books were some manuscripts which still remain in Sion College. These include 'Congestor: Opus Mathematicum,' 'Philosophia,' 'Atomorum Atopia demonstrata,' 'Corrector Analyticus Artis posthunc.' Administration with the will was granted on 6 Jan. 1633 to his sister, Susanna Tasker (65 Awdley).
He published 'Diclides Coelometricae; seu Valuae Astronomicae universales, omnia artis totius munera Psephophoretica in sat modicis Finibus Duarum Tabularum methodo Nova, generali et facillima continentes,' London, 1602, 4to. With this was presented a preface, entitled 'Directionis accuratae consummata Doctrina, Astrologis hactenus plurimum desiderata;' and 'Tabula praemissilis ad Declinationes et coeli meditationes,' in five parts.
[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. 1815, ii. 524; Wood's Fasti, i. 223; Oxford Historical Society, xii. 118; Foster's Alumni Oxon. early ser. iv. 1497.]