Honoured & Dear Sir

I have sent you according to my promise, some memoirs of the life of our great friend Sir Isaac Newton, such as I could pick up here at Grantham & Colsterworth where he was born: among antient people, from their own knowledg or unquestionabl tradition, some are alive that were his schoolfellows, several are but lately dead from whom, I apprehend, a larger information might have been expected. but I omitted no opportunity left, to contribute what I can, in doing justice to the memory & history of so illustrious a person, the ornament of his country, or rather of human nature. & if it chance that I should be any way serviceabl therein, it will be a particular addition to the pleasure I have reap'd, in chusing this for the place of my abode, & that so opportunely; whilst tis not altogether too late: it being the place where he spent the early part of his life, & near that of his nativity. You will observe that I have been very circumstantial, perhaps now & then descended too low for the dignity of the subject, in the subsequent account but I was willing that you might know the nature of the credit upon which I took it, nor would I omit any thing that was not absolutely improper. I have added a few things from my own knowledg, or what I have formerly heard. Mr Conduit, no doubt, will have many accounts from other hands. his judgment will direct him what to make use of, & comparing them together will clear up some circumstances, & perhaps overthrow others. for my part I took what care I could to find out & relate the truth.

Apr. 15. 1726. I pass'd the whole day with Sir Isaac alone, at his lodgings Orbels building, Kensington: which was the last time I saw him. he told me then that he was born on Christmas day 1642. I have made enquiry at Colsterworth for the old Registers which have been very ill kept, the bare name of a person being commonly noted without fathers & mothers, or such other marks as are necessary to ascertain descents & the like. but what is worse, they are for the most part, lost & destroyed, or obliterated thrô carelessness, Mr Mason the present minister searching in the old town chests met with a few leaves, being the parish register from Anno 1571 to 1642 inclusive, the year Sir Isaac was born. but there is intermitted, not lost, from Anno 1630 to 1640, inclusive, which is a space of time wherein his fathers marriage happened, & doubtless, other circumstances in his family or relations, which would have assisted us in the present affair. however very luckily upon the last leaf, which has been miserably abused, is this memorable account. Under the title Baptizd Anno Domini 1642.

Isaac sonne of Isaac & Hanna Newton Ian. 1.

Tis probabl that the civil wars then beginning, may be the reason why it ends here. from these leaves I have extracted an account of all the Newtons therein, which are numerous, but for the reasons aforementioned, they are of no great service in drawing out his genealogy, as was my intention. Sir Isaac had been curious himself formerly in this enquiry. for at Colsterworth in posession of Iohn Newton his heir at Law, I saw a half sheet of paper of Sir Isaac's own hand writing, being a draught thereof; as far as he knew it, with orders for searching Registers to make it more perfect. this was when he lived in Iermyn Street. but I believe his orders were never answered, & that he never saw thes leaves of the reigster. I send you here a copy of this writing, with my additions to it, as far as I could do it with any certainty.


The Pedigree of Sir Isaac Newton copy'd from his own hand writing, at Colsterworth. 15 Iune 1727.

N.B. what has a line drawn immediately under the writing, is of my addition.

Figure < insertion from p 6 >

a paragraph to be inserted next to the genealogy in the first sheet. p.2.

It has been observ'd by some that many considerabl men were born about the same time as Sir Isaac & its reckon'd an Æra fruitful of great genius's. {illeg} tis probabl this family has its name from Newton a boroughtown in Lancashire. I have set down in the genealogy one Isaac Newton born in 1578. from the register, which does not particularize his father but undoubtedly of this family, & seems to be great uncle to Sir Isaac, i.e. brother. to his grandfather I mention him as the first of the name of Isaac I can meet with. another Isaac Newton dy'd somewhat above 20 year agoe at Colsterworth. whose line ended with a daughter the ayscoughs family whence Sir Isaacs mother. has been very considerable in this country. one of them built great Paunton steeple, a curious fabric between Grantham & Colsterworth where was the old roman city Causennis. Sir Michael Newtons family are of the younger branch, & was first rais'd by that coheiress of Hickson who was very rich. the other sister raisd the Welbys an antient & wealthy family in our neighborhood.

< text from p 2 resumes > <3>

Sir Isaac was born at Wolsthorp, a hamlet of Colsterworth, 6 mile South of Grantham in the great road from London into the north. Wolsthorp is a pleasant little hollow or convallis in the west side of the valley of the river Witham which arises near there one spring thereof in this hamlet. it has a good prospect eastward toward Colsterworth. the country hereabout is thought to be the Montpelier of England, the air is exceeding good, the sharpness of the mediterranean being tempered by the softness of the low parts of Lincolnshire, which makes a fine medium agreabl to most constitutions. I have seen many parts of England & think none of a pleasanter view than about Colsterworth. & nothing can be imagind sweeter than the ride betweeen it & Grantham. this country consists much of open heath oregrown with the fragrant serpyllum much like the downs in Wiltshire; differing chiefly in this, that our soil lyes upon a white limestone good for building, that upon chalk. the valleys are gravelly, very delightful. woods plentiful, springs & rivulets of the purest water abound.

Such is the place that produc'd the greatest genius of human race. he was born in the Mannor houe which was the family estate, where they hold a Court leet & Court baron. the old copys & records of this Court have been lost thro' negligence. but they say, it has been in the Newton family ever since Queen Elizabeths time which probably was upon their first coming hither from Westby. that it was purchasd of the Cecils to whom Queen Elizabeth gave it, among other lands hereabouts that fell to the crown, when the Lord Rochford was beheaded by Henry VIII. & that he is buryd at Stoke Rochford hard by. this Mannor which is Sir Isaacs paternal estate is about £30 per annum, but he has another Estate at Sustern adjacent which came by his mother. so that the whole was near £80 per annum, & descends to his next heir Iohn Newton, who is derivd from his fathers second brother. I visited this place 13 Oct. 1721. & took a prospect of the church of Colsterworth, & of his house at Wolsthorp. tis built of stone as is the way of the country hereabouts, & a reasonably good one. they led me up stairs, & showd me Sir Isaacs study, where I suppose, he study'd when in the country in his younger days, as perhaps, when he visited his mother from the University. I observd the shelves were of his own making, being pieces of deal boxes, which probably he {sent} his books & clothes down in, upon those occasions. there were some years agoe 2 or 300 books in it, of his father in law Mr Smiths, which Sir Isaac gave to Dr. Newton of our town.

Sir Isaacs father dyd when he was but nine months old, leaving him the only child. his Mother was marryd again to a neighboring clergyman Mr Barnabas Smith Minister of Northwitham by whom she had three children, as I have noted in the genealogy. the decendants of these all come in for a share of Sir Isaacs personal estate. he was sent at proper age to Grantham school which was founded & well endow'd by Richard Fox Bishop of Winchester, born at Ropesly near here, the same person as founded           College in Oxford. the people of Grantham have a common opinion, that Mr Walker the famous author of the book of particles, was his master & they led me into that mistake in my Itinerar. page 49. but since upon enquiry I find Mr         Stokes was schoolmaster at that time, who was succeeded by Mr Sisson & he by Mr Walker. the last was an intimate acquaintance of Sir Isaacs being minister of Colsterworth where he dy'd 1684. Mr Stokes was reputed to be a very good scholar, & an excellent schoolmaster.

Sir Isaac whist he went to this school boarded at Mr Clarks house, an apothecary, grandfather to Mr Clark now an apothecary here. 'twas the next house to the George


P.S. I know not what hast Mr Conduit might be in, which made me send you this sheet as soon as I could; the remainder, you shall have with convenient speed. but now I am in the road of this enquiry, I frequently meet with more matter; that enlarges or corrects the account. If any thing of that sort happens to be material you shall have it. I took notice of your seal of Hercules's head which is a very fine one. I am with my most humble service to your good family

Your most obedient

humble servant

Wm. Stukeley

Grantham 24 Iun. 1727.

Pray favor me to remind Mr William Iones to speak to Lord Macclesfield for 2 guineas due to me.

To Dr Mead

Ormond Street



George Inn northward in highstreet, which was rebuilt about 16 year agoe. Dr: Clarke MD. brother to Mr Clark was usher of the school at this time, he was a pupil of the famous Henry Moore of Christs College, born in Mr Bellamys house, over against me. Dr. Clark when he left the school practisd Physick in this town, with success & emolument. Every one that knew Sir Isaac or have heard of him, recount the pregnancy of his parts when a boy, his strange inventions & extraordinary inclination for mechanics. that insted of playing among the other boys, when from school, he always busyd himself in making knick knacks, & models of wood in many kinds: for which purpose he had got little saws, hatchets, hammers & a whole shop of tools, which he would use with great dexterity. in particular they speak of his making a wooden clock. about this time a new windmill was set up near Grantham in the way to Gunnerby, which is now demolished, this country chiefly using watermills. our lads imitating spirit was soon excited & by frequently prying into the fabric of it, as they were making it, he became master enough to make a very perfect model thereof, & it was said to be as clean & curious a piece of workmanship as the original. this sometime he would set upon the house top where he lodg'd, & clothing it with sailcloth the wind would readily take it. but what was most extraordinary in its composition, was, that he put a mouse into it which he calld the miller, & that the mouse made the mill turn round, when he pleasd, & he would joke too upon the miller eating the corn that was put in. some say he tyd a string to the mouses tail, which was put into a wheel like that of turnspit dogs, so that pulling the string made the mouse goe forward by way of resistance, & this turn'd the mill. others suppose there was some corn plac'd above the wheel, this the mouse endeavoring to get to, made it turn. moreover Sir Isaac's waterclock is much talkd of. this he made out of a box, he beg'd of Mr Clarks (his landlord) wives brother. as describ'd to me, it resembled pretty much our common clocks & clockcases, but less: for it was not above 4 foot in height & of a proportionable bredth. there was a dyal plate at top with figures of the hours. the index was turnd by a piece of wood, which either fell or rose by water dropping. this stood in the room where he lay, & he took care every morning to supply it with its proper quantity of water. & the family upon occasion would goe to see what was the hour by it. & it was left in the house long after he went away to the University.

I remember, once when I was deputy to Dr: Halley Secretary at the Royal Society: Sir Isaac talked of thes kind of instruments. that he observd the chief inconvenience in them, was that the hole thrô which the water is transmitted, being necessarily very small, was subject to be furr'd up by impuritys in the water, as those made with sand will wear bigger: which at length causes an inequality in time.

These fancys sometime engrossed so much of his thoughts that he was apt to neglect his book, & dull boys were now & then put over him in form. but this made him redouble his pains to overtake them; & such was his capacity that he could soon doe it & outstrip them when he pleas'd. & it was taken notice of by his master. still nothing could induce him to lay by his mechanic experiments: but all holydays & what time the boys had allowd to play, he spent intirely in knocking & hammering in his lodging room, pursuing that strong bent of his inclination, not only in things serious but ludicrous too, & what would please his schoolfellows as well as himself. yet it was in order to bring them off from trifling sports, & teach them, as we may call it, to play philosophically, & in which he might willingly bear a part. <5> & he was particularly ingenious at inventing diversions for them above the vulgar kind. as for instance, in making paper kites, which he first introduced here. he took pains, they say, in finding out their proportions & figures, & whereabouts the string should be fastned to greatest advantage, & in how many places. likewise he first made lanthorns of paper crimpled which he us'd to goe to school by, in winter mornings with a candle. & ty'd them to the tails of the kites in a dark night, which at first affrighted the country people exceedingly, thinking they were comets. its thought he first invented this method, I can't tell how true. they tell us too how diligent he was in observing the motion of the sun, especially in the yard of the house where he liv'd, against the walls & roofs, wherein he would drive pegs, to mark the hours & half hours made by the shade. which by degrees from some years observations, he had made very exact. & any body knew what a clock it was by Isaacs dyal, as they ordinarily calld it. thus in his youngest years did that immense genius discover his sublime imagination, that since has filld or rather comprehended the world.

The lad was not only very expert with his mechanical tools, but he was equally so with his pen. for he busyed himself very much in drawing, which I suppose he learnt from his own inclination & observation of nature. by inquiry, I was inform'd that one old Barley (as he was calld) was his writing-master, who livd where now is the millstone alehouse in Castlestreet, but they don't remember that he had any knack in drawing. however by this means Sir Isaac furnished his whole room with pictures of his own making, which probably he copyd from prints, as well as from the life. they mention particularly several of the kings heads, Dr. Donn & likewise his master Stokes. under the picture of king Charles I. he wrote these verses, which I had from Mrs. Vincent, by memory, who fancys he made them; if that be true, its most likely he design'd the print too, which is common to this day.

A secret art my soul enquires to try

if prayers can give me what the wars deny.

Three crowns distinguished here in order doe

present their objects to my knowing view.

earths crown thus at my feet I can disdain,

which heavy is & at the best but vain.

but now a crown of thorns I gladly greet,

sharp is this crown, but not so sharp as sweet.

the crown of glory that I yonder see,

is full of bliss & of eternity.

these pictures he made frames to, himself & color'd them over workmanlike.

Mrs. Vincent is a widow gentlewoman living here aged 82. her maiden name was Storey sister to Dr. Storey a physician at Buckminster near Colsterworth. her mother who was a handsom woman was second wife to Mr Clark the Apothecary where Sir Isaac lodgd. so that she liv'd with him in the same house all the time of his being at Grantham, which was 7 years. her mother & Sir Isaacs mother were intimately acquainted, which was the reason of his lodging at Mr Clarks. she gave me much of the foregoing account. she says Sir Isaac was always a sober, silent, thinking lad & never was known scarce to play with the boys abroad at their silly amusements, but would rather chuse to be at home even among the girls, & would frequently make little tables, cupboards & other utensils for her & her playfellows, to set their babys & trinkets on. she mentions likewise a cart he made with four wheels <6> wherein he would sit, & by turning a windlas about he could make it carry him around the house whither he pleasd. Sir Isaac & she being thus brought up together, its said that he entertaind a love for her, nor dos she deny it. but her portion being not considerabl, & he being fellow of a College, it was incompatibl with his fortunes to marry, perhaps his studys too. tis certain he always had a kindness for her, visited her whenever in the country, in both her husbands days, & gave her forty shillings upon a time, when it was of service to her. she is a little woman, but we may with ease discern that she has been very handsom.

Mr Clark tells me that the room where Sir Isaac lodgd, was his lodging room too when a lad, & that the whole wall was still full of the drawings he had made upon it with charcole, & so remain'd till pulled down about 16 year agoe, as I said before. there were birds, beasts, men, ships & mathematical schemes. & very well designd.

We must understand all this while that his mother had left Wolsthorpe & liv'd with her second husband at North Witham. but upon his death after she had three children by him, she returned to her own house, which likewise as it ought to be remembered, was rebuilt by him. she upon this was for saving expence as much as she could, & recalld her son Isaac from school. intending to make him serviceabl to her in managment of the farming & country business at Wolsthorp. & I doubt not but she thought it would turn more to his own account, than being a scholar. accordingly we must suppose him attending the tillage, grazing & the like. & they tell us he frequently came on saturdays to Grantham mercat with corn & other commoditys to sell. & to carry home what necessarys were proper to be bought for a family at mercat towns. but being young his mother usually sent a trusty old servant along with him, to put him into the way of business. their inn was at the Saracens head in Westgate. where as soon as they had set up their horses, Isaac generally left the man to manage the mercatings & retired instantly to Mr Clarks garret, where he usd to lodg, near where lay a parcel of old books of Mr Clarks, which he entertaind him self withal whilst it was time to goe home again. or else he would stop by the way between home & Grantham & lye under a hedg studying, whilst the man went to town, & did the business & calld upon him in his return. no doubt, the man made remonstrances of this to his mother.

likewise when at home, if his mother orderd him into the fields, to look after the sheep, the corn, or upon any other rural employment, it went on very heavyly thro' his manage. his chief delight was to sit under a tree with a book in his hands. or to busy him self with his knife, in cutting wood for models of somwhat or other that struck his fancy. or he would get to a running stream & make little millwheels to put into the water, some in the nature of overshot mills, as they call


You shall have another sheet as soon as conveniently I can. I had a letter today from Mr Conduit, & I refer'd him to You for the papers.   I am

Dear Sir

Your most obedient

humble Servant

Wm: Stukeley

Grantham 26. Iun. 1727.

I got t'other day an old edition in octavo of Plinys epistles, Panegyric, Iulius Obsequens prodig. & some other small pieces, put out by Aldus pius Manutius Paris. 1518.

To Dr Mead

Ormond Street



call them, some undershot mills, the dams, sluices & other like hydrostatic experiments, were his care without regarding the sheep, corn or such matters under his charge, or even remembring dinner time.

his mother could not but observe this. & even the servants would pronounce the lad foolish & say that he would never be good for any thing, meaning in their own way. in the mean time Mr Stokes who had a great value for him, often & strongly sollicited his mother to return him to his learning, the proper channel of his inclinations. he told her, it was a great loss to the world as well as a vain attempt, to bury so promising a genius in rustic employment, which was notorriously opposite to his temper, that the only way whereby he could either preserve or raise his fortune, must be by fitting him for the University: that if she sent him to school again he would remit his salary, which is 40s. a year for those boys not born in the town or a mile distant, which would alleviate the charge. in short, he prevaild upon her, & he remain'd at school till he went to the University. thus in the main, the world is indebted to Mr Stokes, for the incredibl advances in philosophy, which this age has reapd from the studys of Sir Isaac Newton. & upon sending him away, we are told, that his master set him in a conspicuous place in the school, & made a speech to the boys in praise of him, with tears in his eyes.

At this time Dr. Babington was senior fellow of Trinity College in Cambridg, a person of learning & worth. he was own uncle to Mrs. Vincent i.e. brother to her mother Mr Clarks wife where Sir Isaac lodgd, & that seems to be the reason why he went to this College. the Doctor is said to have had a particular kindness for him, which probably was owing to his own ingenuity. I have very little to say about Sir Isaacs life whilst he lived in the university, nor any opportunity of informations here about it. I suppose Dr. Bently may be able to procure those. I have heard that Dr. Coleback may doe it. Mr Newton of this town, was five year under Sir Isaacs tuition there. he says Sir Isaac at that time busy'd himself much in chymistry. & that he admired his nicety & constancy in making his experiments. in weighing things he would be scrupulously exact, & that his fires were almost perpetual. he says like wise all the time he was with him, he never observed him to laugh but once. 'twas upon occasion of asking a friend to whom he had lent Euclid to read, what progress he had made in that author, & how he liked him? he answerd, by desiring to know what use & benefit in life that study would be to him? upon which Sir Isaac was very merry. he adds that he constantly went to church on Sundays, tho' not often to the College chappel. he supposes the reason to be because he could not rise soon enough in the mornings, seldom going to bed at that time till 2 or 3 in the morning. the attachment to his studys equally hinderd him frequenting the chappel in the evening too. likewise he seldom went to the hall to dinner, but had his victuals brought into his chamber, & then he was so deeply engagd in study, that he often never thought of it till supper time. the same reason is to be given for several other pieces of inadvertency he was frequently guilty of & which are in every bodys mouth. as that he would sometime put on his surplice to goe to Saint. Marys church. that when he had friends to entertain, if he went into his study to fetch a bottle of wine, there was danger of his forgetting them. when he has been at dinner in the hall, the victuals have been taken away without his eating any thing; & the like. & in the country such storys have been told me, as that going home to Colsterworth from Grantham, he <8> once led his horse up Spittlegate hill at the town end. when he design'd to remount, his horse had slipt the bridle & gone away without his perceiving it, & he had only the bridle in his hand all the while.

I have heard it as a tradition whilst I was student at Cambridg that when Sir Isaac stood for his batchelor of Arts degree, he was put to second posing, or lost his groats, as they call it, which is lookd upon as disgraceful. I cant vouch for the truth of it, but it seems no strange thing, notwithstanding Sir Isaacs great parts. for we may well suppose him too busy in the solid parts of learning, to allow of much time to be master of words only, or the trifling nicetys of logic, which the universitys still make the chief test of a lads qualification for a degree.

The famous Dr. Barrow Master of Trinity, was Sir Isaacs tutor. & tis likely he took a byass in favor of mathematical studys from him. the Dr. had a vast opinion of his pupil, & would frequently say that he himself truly knew somewhat of the mathematics, still he reckon'd himself but a child in comparison of Newton. & he faild not upon several occasions to give a prognostic of his superlative eminence. it seems very likely that Sir Isaacs early use & expertness at his mechanical tools & his faculty of drawing were of great service to him, in his experimental way of philosophizing. in making experiments there is a certain knack if we may so call it, which depends not upon learning only, but a mechanical art & invention in this kind. & we may well suppose that for want of this handycraft, many people of good learning have contented themselves to sit down in their studys & invent hypotheses, thinking they have perform'd their parts egregiously. but philosophers, like great conquerors or ministers of state must take to their assistance arts low & sordid. as succcess in war depends upon the arm of the scum of mankind, as well as the head of the general. doubtless drawing was no little furtherance to him in his studys. such as are masters of that qualification, see farther into things than others, they take the ideas of things stronger & more perfect, & it enlarges their invention. tis however of particular assistance in geometry. I have thought likewise that being brought up in an apothecarys shop, might in some measure, inspire him with a love of natural enquirys & promote his rising genius. Mrs. Vincent says in particular, he was a great simpler. when he was at Cambridg he made speaking trumpets, polished glasses to make telescopes. & that famous reflecting telescope, of his, now in the repository of the royal society, which he ground & made him self, as well as invented, is an instance of his curiosity in workmanship, equally as in optics.

I have heard that he had gone considerabl lengths in his experiments upon sounds, which doubtless he would have brought to as great perfection as his optics. but they say he left it off, when he came to live at London. & perhaps saw sufficiently that study impaired his health, & that it alone is not the readiest way for a man to raise himself in an age where few Mecænass are to be found, that are able to distinguish merit, or willing to reward it.


I wrote to Mr Leneve Norroy, to send me what account they had in the heralds office relating to Sir Isaacs family. & I have just now receivd the following, which he says Sir Isaac himself desired to be entered there, this is the copy of it. it differs in nothing from the foregoing but in the name of the first Newton, here William, in Sir Isaacs own writing Iohn Newton of Westby &c. it ought to be enquir'd after.

William Newton of Westby in Basingthorp parish in Lincolnshire, mentiond in the visitation of Lincolnshire in the College of arms, taken in the year 1634=
Iohn Newton of Westby aforesaid, son & heir of Iohn purchased an estate at Wolsthorp in Colsterworth parish in that County, by deed dated 19 day of Dec. 1562. he was buryd in Westby church on the 22. of Dec. 1563=William Newton 4th. son, baptizd at Westby 30. aug. 1541. was of Gunnerby in Lincolnshire grandfather of Sir Iohn Newton of Hather who was created baronet
Richard Newton of Wolsthorp aforesaid inherited the said purchased lands. as appears by a recital in a deed dated 30. Dec. 15. Car. I. buryed in Colsterworth church 20 Ap. 1588.=
Robert Newton of Wolsthorp aforesaid inherited the same purchasd lands, after the death of his father, as is mentiond in the aforesaid deed, dated 15. Car. I. by which deed he settled the Mannor of Wolsthorp by him purchas'd upon his eldest son Isaac. he was buryd in Colsterworth church. 20. sep. 1641=
Isaac Newton of Wolsthorp aforesaid son & heir of Robert was baptizd at Colsterworth 21. sept. 1606. mentiond in the deed of 15. Car. I. buryd in that church 6 oct. 1642.=Hannah daughter of Iames Ayscough of Mercat Overton in Rutlandshire gent. she was remarried to Barnabas Smith rector of North Witham in Lincolnshire by whom she had several children, she dy'd at Stamford in Lincolnshire 1689. buryd at –
Isaac Newton only child of Isaac & Hannah born 25. Dec. baptizd at Colsterworth on the 1. Ian. 1642-3. Lord of the manor of Wolsthorp aforesaid Master of Arts, late fellow of Trinity College in Cambridg. Warden of the Mint by Patent, dated 13 Apr. 1696. Master & worker of the Mint by patent dated 3. feb. 1699. & President of the Royal Society. Knighted by Queen Anne at Trinity College Cambridg 16 Apr. 1705. dy'd at his house in Saint. Iames's Westminster parish.     day of March 1726-7. buryd in Westminster Abby 28 of the same month, unmarryd.

N.B. here are difficultys to be cleard. Iohn Newton is said to be son & heir of Iohn, which seems to indicate the first name ought to be Iohn as in the first genealogy. Robert Newton settles his Mannor of Wolsthorp by him purchasd upon his eldest son Isaac, where Robert is said to inherit it. the deeds refer'd to, will settle these matters.


Supply the blank, Corpus Christi College in Oxford founded by Bishop Fox.

Hannah Smith = Carrier Thompson, in the genealogy.

I shall send you another sheet as soon as conveniently I can & am

Dear Sir

Your most obedient servant

Wm: Stukeley

Grantham 1 Iuly 1727.


Dr: Mead

Ormond Street




Dr: Mead

Ormond Street



Sir Isaacs mother dyed at Stanford, whither she casually went to visit her son Benjamin Smith, & was brought to Colsterworth to be buryed in the north isle of the church, where this family is generally interr'd.

Sir Isaac was fellow of Trinity College, & Lucasian professor of mathematics, wherein he succeeded Dr. Barrow. at this time he put out a new edition of that curious piece Varenius's geography, whose method he has some measure imitated in his own works. he wrote likewise a piece of chymistry, explaining the principles of that mysterious art upon experimental & mathematical proof, & he valu'd it much. but it was unluckily burnt in his laboratory which casually took fire, he would never undertake that work again. a loss much to be regretted. Mr Newton of this town tells me likewise, that several sheets of his optics were burnt, by a candle left in his room, but I suppose he could recover them again.

he left the university, upon being calld to town in King Williams time, by the Earl of Hallifax, who with Lord Somers undertook the great affair of the coynage. & then Sir Isaac was made Master of the mint. I have heard him say he came to London in the year 1696.

when I was in the university, Sir Isaac came thither to make interest for representing them in parliament. at which time the Queen visited them & knighted him. twas said one of her views in coming thither was to recommend him.

I was with him in the year 1720. when he sat for his picture to Sir G. Kneller to be sent into France, twas pleasant to hear Sir G. in his wild way of discourse sifting Sir Isaac about his notions of religion, & with what caution & modesty he was answerd. In august that year he went to Oxford in company with Dr. Iohn Kiel, he having not been there before. 23 feb. 1721. I breakfasted with him in company with Dr. Halley. Sir Isaac mentioned the poverty of the materials he had for making his theory of the moons motion. Mr Flamsted would not communicate any of his observations to him. that he could as then finish it, if he would goe about it, but that he left for others. he showd us at that time the famous Hygenian glass of 170 foot radius, which he had lately bought & since presented to the royal society. he complaind of the custom house officers making him pay £20 for the duty. he bought soon after, the great maypole set up in the Strand & had it carryd to Wansted for Mr Pound to use this glass upon, in astronomical observations.

I discoursd with him christmas was twelvemonth, about Solomons temple, having studyd that affair. I find he had formerly drawn it out & considerd it. we were not very particular, but both agreed in this, that it was nothing like any drawings or descriptions yet publick, he says it was older than any other great temple. that Sesostris from this model built his temples in Egypt, one in each nomos. & that from thence the Greeks borrowd their architechture, as they had their religious rites. I have likewise had some small conference with him about the first plantation of thes western parts of the world, after the flood, & had the satisfaction to find I had fallen into the same notion as he. twas surprizing to consider that he was master of every part of curious learning, & equal in particulars to such as had studyd that alone. which confirmd me in a notion, that a man must be well skilled in all, that would excell in any one science.

Sir Isaac was grayheaded when 30, an indication of a hot & dry constitution, I suppose. & the infinit expence of spirits consequent to his severe studys promoted it. So that tis a wonder he liv'd to such an age. tis owing, no doubt, to a great strength of nature conserv'd by great temperance, & understanding. for all long liv'd people may in some sort be pronounc'd wise: it requiring some share of prudence, under any circumstances, to conduct life to long age. the last time I was with him he told me, his <11> breakfast was orange peel boyld in water, which he drank as tea sweetned with sugar, & with bread & butter. he thinks this dissolves phlegm. he drinks more water now than formerly, vizt. morning & night. he drinks wine only at dinner with any kind of freedom. when ever he gets a cold, I heard it from my lord Pembroke, he cures it by lying in bed till its gone, tho' for 2 or 3 days continuance. & this carrys off the illness by perspiration. I have heard him say that during the course of his most intense studys, he learnt to goe to bed at 12. finding by experience that if he exceeded that hour but a little, it did him more harm in his health than a whole days study.

Sir Isaacs eyes were full & protuberant, which rendered him nearsighted in youth, & was the reason of his seeing so well in age, the eye being better'd by growing flatter, whence the visual rays unite at a convenient distance. just before Saint. Andrew's day was twelvmonth, I saw him cast up the treasurers accounts of the royal society, being a whole sheet of paper full, without spectacles or pen & ink, an argument of the strength of his memory as well as sight. at the same time he wrote down a new list of the council for the year ensuing, among whom he put me. I have the paper still by me in a fair & smallish hand.

infinite instances may be given of the extensiveness of his charity. Mr Clark of this town says he gave £100 bank bill into his hands for one of the Pilkingtons, as a portion when she marryd. Mr Newton says he maintaind her mother & her children, when her husband was dead. his next heir Iohn Newtons father he bought & gave land to of £30 per annum 4 or 5 year agoe. for Robert Newton he bought a farm. {to} one Ayscough clark to Mr Calcroft of this town, he gave £100, & other benefactions, he was a relation of his mothers, & Sir Isaac was his godfather. his relations in general & numerous enough have partaken largely of his bounty. he was generally present at the womens marriages with a present of £100. the men he set up in trade or procur'd places for them, I heard Mr Short of Keal who was a relation of Sir Isaacs, say that when he & his family visited Sir Isaac in the tower, he entertained them very splendidly & gave each a gold medal. he gave a sum of money toward the repairs of Colsterworth church, & promised them more. many donations he made to the royal society from time to time, & when I was last in the council, he would have given them £100, but we persuaded him against it, as not needing it.

in conversation he was good humor'd pleasant & witty. in discourse of my lord Pembrokes busts, Statues & antiquitys of that nature, Sir Isaac would pleasantly call them my lords old-fashioned babys.

I have heard that when Dr. Woodward quarreld with Sir H. Sloan at the royal society, & was so troublsom that they were obligd to turn him out of the council, Sir Isaac told the Dr. we allow you to have natural philosophy but expell you for want of moral.

once I met him at a Lincolnshire club feast at the ship tavern without temple bar. where he appeard mightily pleasd to be in company with his countrymen, & set his name down in their books. he told me at that time, speaking of operas. that he never saw but one, there was <12> too much of a good thing, twas like a surfiet at dinner. the first act, said he, I heard with pleasure, the 2d. stretched my patience – at the 3d. I ran away.

I have heard from Dr. Harwood, that upon admitting a learned foreigner into the royal society, who made a speech in latin to thank him for that honor, Sir Isaac answerd it in the same language off-hand, with a good grace & fluency.

This Sir is the sum of what I can contribute at present toward the work. I am making what further enquirys are likely to be to any purpose, & you shall hear of them. I know not how to fill the paper up as usuall, unless I should give you an account of a wall I lately built between my garden, & a lesser garden filld with all sorts of odoriferous herbs. next the garden it is made after the manner of the front of a greek temple within upon the wall which is plaisterd, I have painted Sir Isaac Newtons profile, which I had taken very exactly, it is done in the manner of your Cæsar's head. it stands upon a pedestal somewhat like a tomb or cenotaph, with this inscription GENIO LOCI NEWTONO MAGNO. on both sides ivy climbs up the wall. next my herb garden it represents the ruins of some old religious house, & there is made in the wall a cell or grotto, which I call the hermitage, like those I have frequently seen in travels. upon the top of it, is plac'd an iron cross with a fane which I pulld off the remains of Oseney abby, before it, is a stone globe upon a pedestal, painted with the geography, & set in its due elevation & regard to the heavens, corresponding exactly with the true globe, & when the sun shines, is affected in a similar manner, showing where it rises, sets, is in its meridian &c. the whole is overgrown with moss, camamile, ivy, phyllitis, & such sort of plants, to make it more natural, & in the wall is this inscription cut in a handsom stone & in imitation of roman letters BEATAE TRANQVILLITATI P. W. STVKELEY. 1727.

I am Sir

Your most obedient humble servant

Wm. Stukeley

Grantham 15 Iuly 1727.

© 2017 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

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