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Mathematical Treasure: The Trevelyon Miscellany

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

The Trevelyon Miscellany is a large compendium of facts: history, chronologies, calendrical tables and calculations, and other topics related to British life in the 17th century. It was compiled by a London craftsman, Thomas Trevelyon. Little else is known about him other than that he compiled several such informative works. Trevelyon also illustrated the text with abundant watercolor renderings. This book is a wonderful source of information on life in England at this time. The whole work can be viewed in the World Digital Library, the source for the images below.

An illustrated page introduces each month. Below is the page for March.

Page of information concerning March from the Trevelyon Miscellany

A page of explanations is given on popular weights and measures.

Page of common measurements and unit conversions from the Trevelyon Miscellany

In Christian Europe at this time, all Church holidays were based on the date of Easter, which changed every year. To compute the date for Easter, one had to know and use the "Golden number." Tables of golden numbers were compiled and published, usually in almanacs. Trevelyon included a “Table for the Golden number” for his readers.

Table for the Golden Number from the Trevelyon Miscellany

Astrology and the interaction of the planets were used to predict the weather.

Page of information concerning astrology and the weather from the Trevelyon Miscellany

The Earth-centric model of the universe was held in popular belief.

A diagram showing the universe centered around the Earth from the Trevelyon Miscellany

For more information and to view the entire manuscript, see the Folger Shakespeare Library's Word & Image: The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608.

Index to Mathematical Treasures 

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: The Trevelyon Miscellany," Convergence (February 2018)