John Napier or Neper (1550-1617), laird of Merchiston (now swallowed up in the enlarged Edinburgh of to-day, although the old castle still stands), and the inventor of logarithms. He published his “Rabdologiae seu numerationis per virgulas libri duo” in 1617, and the work was reprinted and translated into Italian (1623) and Dutch (1626). In 1667 William Leybourn published “The Art of Numbering by Speaking Rods, vulgarly termed Napier’s Bones.”
This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.
John Napier's bones and other interests in maths were spurred by his desire to calculate the date of the Apocalypse.
"Napier had an interest in the Book of Revelation, from his student days at St Salvator's College, St Andrews. Under the influence of the sermons of Christopher Goodman, he developed a strongly anti-papal reading. He further used the Book of Revelation for chronography, to predict the Apocalypse, in A Plaine Discovery of the Whole Revelation of St. John (1593), which he regarded as his most important work; he also applied the Sibylline Oracles, to calculate the date of the end of the world. Napier believed that would occur in 1688 or 1700. He dated the seventh trumpet to 1541.
"In his dedication of the Plaine Discovery to James VI, dated 29 Jan 1594, Napier urged the king to see "that justice be done against the enemies of God's church," and counselled the King "to reform the universal enormities of his country, and first to begin at his own house, family, and court." The volume includes nine pages of Napier's English verse. It met with success at home and abroad. In 1600 Michiel Panneel produced a Dutch translation, and this reached a second edition in 1607. In 1602 the work appeared at La Rochelle in a French version, by Georges Thomson, revised by Napier, and that also went through several editions (1603, 1605, and 1607). A new edition of the English original was called for in 1611, when it was revised and corrected by the author, and enlarged by the addition of A Resolution of certain Doubts proponed by well-affected brethren; this appeared simultaneously at Edinburgh and London." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Napier#Theology
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.