TONSTALL (Cuthbert)

, a learned English divine and mathematician, was born in the year 1476. He entered a student at the university of Oxford about the year 1491; but afterwards, being driven from thence by the plague, he went to Cambridge, and shortly after to the university of Padua in Italy, which was then in a flourishing state of literature, where his genius and learning acquired him great respect from every one, particularly for his knowledge in mathematics, philosophy, and jurisprudence.

Upon his return home, he met with great favours from the government, obtaining several church preferments, and the office of secretary to the cabinet of the king, Henry the 8th. This prince, having also employed him on several foreign embassies, was so well satisfied with his conduct, that he first gave him the bishopric of London in 1522, and afterwards that of Durham in 1530.

Tonstall approved at first of the dissolution of the marriage of his benefactor with Catherine of Spain, and even wrote a book in favour of that dissolution; but he afterwards condemned that work, and experi- enced a great reverse of fortune. He was ejected from the see of Durham for his religion in the time of Edward the 6th, to which however he was restored again by queen Mary in the beginning of her reign, but was again expelled in 1559 when queen Elizabeth was settled in her throne, and he died in a prison a few months after, in the 84th year of his age.

Tonstall was doubtless one of the most learned men of his time. “He was, says Wood, a very good Grecian and Ebritian, an eloquent rhetorician, a skilful mathematician, a noted civilian and canonist, and a profound divine. But that which maketh for his greatest commendation, is, that Erasmus was his friend, and he a fast friend to Erasmus, in an epistle to whom from Sir Thomas More, I find this character of Tonstall, that, “As there was no man more adorned with knowledge and good literature, no man more severe and of greater integrity for his life and manners; so there was no man a more sweet and pleasant companion, with whom a man would rather choose to converse.”

His writings that were published, were chiefly the following:

1. In Laudem Matrimonii, Lond. 1518, 4to.—But that for which he is chiefly entitled to a place in this work, was his book upon arithmetic, viz,

2. De Arte Supputandi, Lond. 1522, 4to, dedicated to Sir Thomas More. This was afterwards several times printed abroad.

3. A Sermon on Palm Sunday before king Henry the 8th, &c. Lond. 1539 and 1633, 4to.

4. De Veritate Corporis & Sanguinis Domini in Eucharistia. Lutet. 1554, 4to.

5. Compendium in decem Libros Ethicorum Aristotelis. Par. 1554, in 8vo.

6. Contra impios. Blasphematores Dei prædestinationis opera. Antw. 1555, 4to.

7. Godly and devout Prayers in English and Latin. 1558, in 8vo.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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* TONSTALL (Cuthbert)
TORRICELLI (Evangeliste)