James Gregory was a Scottish astronomer and mathematician. His name is occasionally spelled as Gregorie, possibly the original Scottish spelling of the name. His most famous work, the world’s first map of the equator was published by him. In 1495 James Gregory produced what we call today the world maps, these maps have become the basis for many cartographers, including the Italian cartographer Father di Campo.
James Gregory was born in the town of Auchindrain, also known as Auchindrain in Scotland. Auchindrain is also where the great Scottish explorer John Balliol began his voyage of discovery. Balliol is also said to have learned mathematics from his mentor, Father Gregory. Thus, James Gregory might have learned his mathematics from a teacher during his youth in Auchindrain. However, it is more likely that he learned this skill while serving as a soldier in Scotland’s army during the days of King James I.
There is little doubt that James Gregory possessed the basic skills necessary to be a successful mathematician, perhaps the one who made it to the level of genius known as James Clerk Maxwell. Like many of the greatest mathematicians before him, however, James Gregory’s contributions were far less vast than Maxwell’s. His key contribution to mathematics, however, was in the areas of optics and hyperbola.