<1r>

Sr Isaac Newton was born on Xmas day in the 25th of Decr 1642. O. S. at Woolstrope in the parish of Colsterworth {sic} in the County of Lincoln about two \near three/ months after the death of his father Isaac Newton who was descended from the eldest branch of the family of Sr Iohn Newton of Lincolnshire, Bartt, & was Lord of the said Manor of Woolstrope wch appears by authentick deeds to have been near 200 years in the \his/ family |which came thither from Westby in the same County but originally from \Newtown in/ Lancashire| His mother was Hannah Ascough of the antient family of the Ascoughs of Market Overton in the County of Rutland, who \she/ was married {sic} a second time, to the Reverend Mr Benjamin Smith Rector of North Witham & had by him a son & two daughters from whom are descended the four nephews & \four/ nieces who inherit Sr Isaac's personal estate

<1v>

Sr Isaac was sent at \when/ 12 years old to the great school at Grantham where he {sic} \whilst a boy he shewed a great \strong/ disposition towards mechanicks &/ gave early tokens of an uncoon genius. After he had been there about four years & a half his father in law \mother/ took him home, intending he should apply himself to the management of his own estate as his ancestors had done for several generations before him but his genius could not brook un metier si bas \such an employment/ & the strong inclination he shewed for reading & inattention to every thing else induced his father \in law/ \mother/ to send him to Grantham school again for nine months & thence he went to Trinity College at Cambridge where he was admitted the 5th of Iune in 1660, under Mr \under Mr Benjamin/ Pulleyn – Bef He always informed himself before hand of the books his tutour intended to read, & when he came to the lectures found he knew more \of them/ than his tutour, the first books he read for that purpose were Sanderson's logick & Kepler's opticks, what put L

<2r>

Having lit on some books relating to Iudicial Astrology

Being, like Cassini, \A/ desire {sic} to know wether there was any thing in judicial Astrology put him \(as well as Cassini)/ first upon the Mathematicks, & finding he could not make a figure make no judgement of it till he could make a figure i.e. see how all the Planets bear at a certain time |he bought for that purpose an English Euclid with an Index at the end & only turned to two or 3 problems wch he wanted to| he soon \& immediately/ found out the emptiness of that science

A desire to know wether there was any thing in judicial astrology put him as it did Cassini upon studying Mathematicks, but he immediately \discovered he/ discovered the emptiness of that science – He bought an English Euclid with an Index at the end & only turned to two {sic} or three problems wch he wanted to make use of in casting a figure, & despised all the rest as a trifling book. |the moment he made a figure for wch purpose he made use of two or three problems in Euclid wch he turned to by means of an Index & never read the rest but despised it upon the whole as a trifling book| He despised Euclid as a trifling & vulgar \book/ & only turned from \by/ the Index to two or three problems wch he wanted to make use of to see wether there was any thing in

He at once Without the usual steps he went at once upon Des Cartes's Geometry & made himself Master of it \by dint of genius & application/ without \going throu the usual steps or/ the assistance of any other person, & it may with truth be said of him that {illeg}

<2v>

In 1664 he bought a prism to try {sic} some experiments upon Des Cartes's book of colours & immediately \soon/ found out his own Hypothesis & the erroneousness of Des Cartes's, about this time he began to haue the first hint of his method of fluxions & solved several difficult problems to & in the year 1665 when he was retired to his own estate on account of the Plague, he fell discovered his system of gravity \he took the first hint of it from seeing an {loose} apple fall from a tree/|As to the treatise he sent to the Royal Society|

In 1667 he was chosen fellow of Trinity College in \{illeg} In 1667 he was elected fellow of Trinity College/ & in 1669 Mathematical professor upon Dr Barrows resignation – In 1675 he had a particular dispensation from K. C. 2d to continue fellow without taking orders —–

In 1687 – I He made all his discoveries before he was 28 year old, he left some papers When {sic} he was in the midst of them he left a candle upon his table amongst his papers & going down \wch burnt/ a great many relating both to his fluxions & opticks wch he never could recover – and obliged him to begin again \wch he could never recover/ – As to the loose tracts \wch/ he sent to the Royal Society & counicated in letters & they {sic} works he publi are so so \an/ ample account is giuen of them in the Coercium Epistolicum |& now I am on that subject giue me leaue to observe to you that as every day many new lights have appeared relating to that dispute it is expected from your candour & equity that you will do justice to Sr I. N. correct several passages in your former works printed before those discoveries were made – In the Eloge upon Monr l'Hopital you say – le calcul differentiel inventé par Monr Leibnitz et en meme tems par Monr Newt{on}| <3r> & nothing but the most pressing instances of his friends & powerfull sollicitations of \learned men/ could ever have prevailed with him to have printed any in a p |I am confident you are perswaded, as I am credibly informed the Germans are now, that Sr I. made this discovery many years before Leibnitz & by it appears by a chain of circumstances & that he took it Leibnits took it from him, if there wanted any further proofs – Leibnits's manner of defending himself is sufficient – he lived many years after the dispute was began & never offered the least proof in his own justification, where & since his death that Coercium Epistolicum has never appeared, & I have seen a letter from Bernoulli to Sr I. N. as I beleive you did wherein he absolutely denies that he was the author of the Charta volans fathered upon him by Leibnitz, & proves what was always suspected that he himself was the authour of it & that his cause was so bad as to reduce oblige him to haue recourse to shifts & practices below very unworthy of a great man – give me leave to {illeg} for that memory made us| and you are so well acquainted with the books he published that I need say nothing /You are so well acquainted with the books he published that I need not say any thing\ to you on that subject nor of the general applause & approbation they have met with — |as to the famous problem wch was sent to puzzle all the Mathematicians – Sr I. recd the letter abou enclosing it about 4– a clock after he had been tired all day with the business of the Mint where he had been employed all day, & solved it before he went to bed.|

In 1667 he was Elected fellow of Trinity College & in 1669 Dr Barrow resigned the Mathematical professorship to him —

|In 1671 he was Elected fellow of the Royal Society|

In 1675 he had a dispensation from K. C. the 2d to continue fellow without taking orders –

In 1687 he was chosen one of the Delegates to represent the University of Cambridge before the High Coission Court to answer for the University's refusing to admitt Father Francis Master of Arts upon the K's mandamus without taking the oaths, & was a great means instrument in perswading his collegues to persist in the maintenance of their rights & priviledges – In 1688 he was chosen \by the University of Cambridge/ member of the Convention which \Parliament/ <3v> was called by the P. of Orange

In 1696 – the late E. of Halifax then Chancellour of the Exchequer that great Patron of the learned writt him a letter to Cambridge acquainting him the K. had he had prevailed wth the King to make him Warden of the Mint in wch office he was of great \did signal/ service in the great recoinage which happened immediately after — \he soon after quitted his professorship at Cambridge./ In 1699 – he was made Master & Worker of the Mint in wch he continued to the his death — |& behaved himself with an universal character of integrity & disinterestedness & had frequent opportunities of employing his skill in Chy numbers particularly in his table of Assays of foreign coins wch are printed in the book of coins lately printed by Dr Arbuthnott|

In 1701 \he made W. Whiston his deputy professor —/ of Mathematicks /& allowed him all the salary from that time thou he did not resign the professorship to him till 1703\ upon the choice of a new Part he was reelected member of Part for the University of Cambridge – In 1705 he stood again with the Earl of Godolphin \the Lord Treasurers only son/ \{sic} only son of the Lord High Treasurer Godolphin/ but was {sic} not chosen, after wch he was offered himself no more – The same year he was Knighted by the Queen at Cambridge

In 1703 he was Elected President of the Royal Society being & continued so to his death, |being above 23 years, he| was the first who was President for so long, & was neuer removed after once \never removed but/ continued President from their first Election to their {sic} death

<4r>

At the University he spent the greatest time in his close \Study \closet// & his when he was spent \tired/ with his severer studies \of the Mathematicks/ his only releif \& amusement/ was going to \some other as/ History & Chronology or Divinity & Chymistry in all wch I beleive he he examined & searched thoroughly, after his coming to London he all the time he had to spare from his employment office & the civilities of life were employed in the same way, but he was so courteous & humane even to the lowest people that he would \with great patience/ quitt the most engaging study for\rather than be {uncivill} to/ the most trifling visiter – He left His method was \He used/ to write down his \any/ thoughts wch occurred upon the books he was reading, & make large abstracts of them, particularly those relating to History & Chronology & has left behind him many rheams of loose papers being foul draughts of his Mathematical treatises & Chronology & abstracts of the history – & the volumes of \foul/ papers he has left behind \besides many he burnt/ shew his {sic} patience & perseverance in the several studies he was pursuing, qualities very seldom joined with so much penetration & {lively} invention – & had a patience & perseverance in any study he was pursuing, equal to his sagacity & penetration invention, talents wch seldom go together but without both necessary to the completing one great instance of this are the rheams <4v> of \foul & loose/ papers he has left behind in his own hand \besides many he burnt not long before he died/ on some of wch are the same thing writt over six or seven times, the only part of them unpublished wch \I could find/ he had any thoughts of printing was the Chronology, & that he was often doubtful about after the translation of the abstract of it had been printed in France \& attacked in so extraordinary a way odd manner as you know/ he seemed resolved to print as privately as possible & keep the copies in his own possession – The answer he gaue to the remarks upon it you have seen, which the \produced/ Pere Souciet's book \treatise/ as soon as I saw it \that came to my hands/ I was \being/ apprehensive the manner in wch he treats it \writes/ might affect Sr I. more than the argument, & unwilling to engage one of his years in a contest had an extract made of all the real objections stript of that {suff} without any & shewed them to Sr Isaac, & had the pleasure of finding they had no weight with him & convinced him the only the only effect they had upon him was to convince him of the ignorance of the authour, he was \saw/ afterwards the whole book without altering his opinion |in wch he was not single as you will perceive by Dr Halley's \a/ little tract published by Dr Halley who never saw Sr I.s great work|

The Chronology is in the press & will be out before I hope before {yo} the 12th Novr – I will do my self the honour to send you one of the {sic} first that are printed

<5r>

He was highly honoured & respected in all reigns & under all administrations, even by those he opposed, for in every station he shewed an inflexible attachment to the cause of liberty, & our present happy establishment. Their present Majesties always shewed him particular marks of their favour & esteem, & often did him the honour to admitt him to their Royal presence for hours together. The Queen, whose great entertainment is hearing arguments concerning matters of Philosophy & Divinity, frequently desired to see him & always expressed great satisfaction in his conversation. She was graciously pleased to take part in the disputes he was engaged in during his life, & has shewn a great regard for every thing that concerned his honour & memory since his death. I must not omitt telling you, that I have often had the honour to hear Her Majesty say before the whole circle, that she kept <5v> the abstract of Chronology Sr Isaac gave her written in his own hand among her choicest treasures, & that she thought it a happiness to have lived at the same time, & have known so great a man.     I conjure you, Sr to insert this in the Eloge because I am perswaded you can say nothing that will do him more honour, than such a coendation from a Queen, who is the Minerva of her age.

<7r>

Their present Majesties always shewed him particular marks of their favour & esteem, & often did him the honour to admitt him to their Royal presence for hours together. The Queen, whose great entertainment is hearing arguments upon matters of Divinity & Philosophy, frequently desired to see him & always expressed great satisfaction in his conversation. She was graciously pleased to take part in the disputes he was engaged in during his life, & has shewn a great regard for every thing that concerned his honour & memory since his death. I must not omitt telling you that I have often had the honour to hear her Majesty say before the whole circle that she kept the abstract of Chronology Sr Isaac gave her written in his own hand among her choicest treasures, <7v> & that she thought it a happiness to have lived at the same time & have known so great a man. I conjure you Sr to insert this in the Eloge because I am perswaded you can say nothing that will do him more honour than such a commendation from a Queen, who is the Minerva of her age.

<9r>

He lived at London ever since the year 1696 when he was made Warden of the Mint, no body ever lived with him but my wife who was \in the/ with him near twenty years, he always lived in a very handsome, generous manner thou without ostentation very \always/ hospitable, & upon \proper/ occasions gave splendid entertainments, he was \generous &/ charitable without bounds, I beleive n he used to say, that they who gave nothing away till they dyed, never gave, wch perhaps was one reason of his not making a will, I beleive no man of his circumstances ever gave away so much during his life time \in alms in encouraging ingenuity & learning & to his relations/, nor upon all occasions shewed a greater contempt of his own money, nor & frugality of that wch belonged to the publick or any society he was entrusted for – He refused pensions & additional employments that were offered him, & thou in all reigns & under all \the different/ administrations that have governed here during these last 30 years he \was/ always highly honoured & respected \even by those he opposed for/ thou \in all places where he had any thing to do in all stations/ he always shewed an inflexible attachment to the Cause of liberty

<9v>

He was so far from being elated with the extraordinary honours paid him by all mankind \modest & humble notwithstanding/ that he was too often \sometimes/ apt to think those who shewed him that respect \& applause/ wch was due to him look upon \take/ the applause wch was so deservedly paid him as in a quite contrary sense from what it was intended

He was of {sic} so \exceedingly affable to all/ mild & meek & of such a sweetness of temper that a melancholy {sic} melancholy story would often fetch tears from him, & he had the greatest abhorrence & detestation of any act of cruelty to man or beast, mercy to both being a darling topick he used to Dwell upon — Whilst his {math} He was

As to his sentiments of religion

So far from having any views He was exceed very temperate & sober in his diet thou without ever observing any rules or strict regimen, & was so far from having any vice that he knew none of the pla

As He very {free} He was certainly a firm beleiver of revealed religion wch appears by the many volumes he has left on that subject as well as by the exemplariness of his life & constantly frequented the divine service \according to the Church of England/, thou at the but his \opinion of the Xtian/ religion was not founded on so <10r> narrow a bottom as to confine it to this or that particular sect, nor his charity & morality so scanty as to allow of persecution for shew a coldness to those who differed \of another opinion/ in matters indifferent much less admitt of persecution of wch he always shewed the strongest abhorrence & detestation —

He was very temperate & sober in his diet but neuer observed any regimen \The greatest modesty & simplicity/ |a native modesty & simplicity a greatest modesty & {sic} simple simplicity appeared in all| appeared {sic} his express behaviour actions & expressions he had he shewed – He was very temperate & sober in his diet but never observed any regimen \& was very averse to taking of Physick/ he was blessed with a very happy \& vigorous/ constitution, & knew very little sickness he never used spectacles nor lost a \but one/ tooth to the day of his death – About {sic} years before he died he was troubled with an \Incon {sic} of bladder/ irretention of urine \from a weakness of sphincter/ upon wch Dr Mead advised him to leave off his chariot, & that continued upon him more or less according to the motion he used, about two years before he died he voided \without any pain/ a stone about the bigness of a pea broke |wch came away| in two pieces at seve \one/ at some days distance from the other — From the time of Soon after the indisposition abovementioned he left off dining abroad or in much company <10v> at home, & drank \had/ constantly for his breakfast some tea of orange chips & saffron prescribed by Dr Mead & bread & butter, & some broth of for supper some broth & at dinner eat not seldom \of meat/ above the wing of a chicken but of vegetables & fruit very & sweet meats very heartily wch agreed very well with him — At           he had a violent cough upon wch my wife he was with much ado perswaded him to take a lodging at Kensignton {sic} where he had for the first time in his 84 year a fit of the gout \except one in his 80 year/ & found himself so much better that he kept the lodging till he died, it was visible that whilst he staied at Ken In the winter Decr \the winter/ 1725 – he told me, was very desirous & pressing to resign his employment to me, his indisposition disabling him from officiating himself, & he soon a \& his old deputy being confined by a dropsy/ & as it was an office of the greatest trust \confidence/ & exactness & I knew how uneasie he would be to entrust it with a stranger at I offered to act for him wch I did for about a twe a year before he died & made his mind <11r> so easie on that subject that he went but 3 or 4 ti thô he never failed being a he never went to the tower above 3 or 4 times afterwards & t \& then did not then act himself/ He was always so well at Kensington that wee took all methods to keep him there & \but/ thou I had eased him of his uneasie journeys to the Tower \wch was his only real call/ wee {sic} could not \by any means/ prevail with him not to come to town to stay not to come to town – \On Tuesday/ The last day of Febry 17267 |he| came to town in order to go to \a meeting at/ the Royal Society & on the 1st of March I thought I had not seen him better in many years & he was fully sensible of it himself & told me smiling that he had slept the Sunday before from 11 at night till 8 in the morning without waking, but his great fatigue \going to the Society \&/ making & receiving visits/ in town brought his old complaint upon him how & he was very ill of it on Friday the 3d of March but however went on Saturday \the 4th/ to Kensington where he continued ill, but he returned to Kensington where he continued ill Dr Mead & Cheselden immediately said it was the stone in his \there were symptoms of {illeg} stone {within} {illeg}/ his bladder & gaue no hop little hopes of him, it \the stone/ was probably stirred from the place where it lay quiet by his great <11v> motion in town, |there coming away \{illeg}/ matter, in his {illeg} wch {shook} that {illeg} {became an ulcer on wch} {illeg}| he seemed easier on Wednesday the 15th of March & gave us some hopes, but he grew worse & weaker & on Friday had a violent looseness on Saturday morning he seemed easier read all the news papers & was perfectly sensible held a \a tolerable/ long discourse with Dr Mead & had all his senses perfect, he had from time to time during his last return to Kensington violent fits of pain & thou the drops of sweat ran down from his face \with anguish/ would hardly cry out, more patience was never shewn by any mortal – From Saturday night at six a clock & all Sunday he lay insensible, & died on Monday the 20th at between one & two in the morning —– In the 17 days in wch he Sr was free from the most {illeg} pain \Torture/ above a quarter of an hour he never once groaned or {illeg} \uttered/ one peevish \{word}/ or {illeg} and ye only sign of impatience he showd was on Saturday evening {illeg} when his {illeg} <12r> was to ask often what a clock it was

His humillity was so great that he never despised any man for want of capacity but was shocked at bad morals, and want of due veneration to Religon {sic} was the only discours could make him rebuke his {acquaintance} & wch he wd not bear from those who were upon other accounts {men} of singular {merit}

He was never marryed His life was a continued series of {Labour} of Vertue of patience & all {illeg} Vertues wth out any mixture of Vice from wch he was pure & unspotted in thought word &

<13r>

He was the admiration not only of his own country men of the highest reach & capacity but of all foreigners who visited England and as the Young Nobillity who were going to {illeg} endeavour to be introduced in order to say when the{y} were {asked} after him they knew him {illeg} strangers of {illeg} try all possible ways of seeing him. Vi Senr Bianchini the Popes chamberlain declared he came from Ais la Chapelle on purpose

© 2019 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

Privacy Statement

  • University of Oxford
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • JISC