Son of a respected merchant, Robert Recorde was born in the small port of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, circa 1510. Following graduation at Oxford, he obtained a license to practise medicine. This he did for 12 years and was made a Doctor of Physicke by Cambridge University in 1545. By this time he had begun to move in circles close to the Crown and in 1549 received the first of a number of Crown appointments involving him successively as iron-founder, comptroller of three Royal Mints and extraction metallurgist. Starting in 1543, over a period of some 15 years he produced a succession of books written in English, one on Urology and four on mathematical topics. These latter formed the foundation of the English school of practical mathematics whose influence extended well into the next century. His interests as an antiquary made him one of a select band of intellectuals who saved collections of manuscripts by English authors from potential destruction during the Reformation. Fluent in Greek and Latin he was also an Anglo-Saxon scholar. His introduction of the mathematical sign for equality is well recognised: he also introduced a sizeable mathematical vocabulary still in current use. His theological texts have not survived. He died in a debtor’s prison in 1558 following imposition of a massive fine for libelling William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.