Antiquary and Linguist
Recorde’s collection of books by British authors was one of the three largest collections listed by Bale in his Index Scriptorum. Their titles, mainly of manuscripts, covered a wide range of interests, religion, medicine, alchemy, prophesy, heraldry, geography, history, arithmetic and astronomy and law. The largest group concerned astronomy, a roll call of past English authors writing on this subject. The greatest number were from the collection of Lewis of Caerleon, an archive of documents of the important English astronomers of the fourteenth century still extant, Recorde having provided a safe haven during a perilous period in their history. The only example of Recorde’s writing is as comments in Anglo-Saxon on an early medieval manuscript. This together with other examples of his scholarship in this tongue suggests strongly that Recorde was part of a group of the earliest Tudor antiquarians. His linguistic interests did not end there. One consequence of his decision to write his books in the vernacular was the practice he eventually adopted with respect to the etymology of English scientific terms. Having failed to introduce terms having Old English roots into the geometrical vocabulary, using Latin roots he introduced a wide vocabulary of terms necessary for number theory, cossike arithmetic and algebra, which are still in use today.