Robert Recorde 1510-1558

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Robert Recorde is credited with devising the equal sign and is hailed by many as 'The Father of British Mathematics'. 
Born in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, he attended Oxford University at the age of 15 and was appointed Fellow at All Souls college six years later.  He became a Tudor courtier and civil servant, and was apointed to oversee the king's mines in Ireland at one time.

However, he enjoyed a much more accomplished career as an academic and matematician and was responsible for writing a number of English language text books, making mathematics more widely accessible as all texts were previously only available in Latin. In 1551 he introduced Algebra to the English language for the first time in his work, 'Pathway of Knowledge' published in 1551, and in 1557 he introduced the idea of using two hyphens, one above the other, to convey the equilibrium of the equation in his book on 'The Whetstone of Witte'.
Despite his brilliance he died in a debtor's jail in 1558. He, unwisely, made an enemy of the influential Duke of Pembroke, and was eventually charged with defamation and issued with a hefty fine of £1,000, which he was unable to pay.