Catalogue Entry: ALCH00022

'Manna': transcript (1675?) of an anonymous alchemical treatise, in another hand with additions and notes by Newton.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 33, King's College, Cambridge, UK

[Normalized Text (at Chymistry of Isaac Newton)]

Custodial History

Bought by Maggs Brothers at the Sotheby sale for £6.10s. and sold to Keynes on 13 August 1936 for the sale price plus 20%: see Spargo, '1936 sale', 127.

Sotheby Lot



A disquisition on the nature of alchemy, stressing that making gold is the most trivial of its aims. Followed by recipes 'To make all pretious stones better then the Natural', 'To make a Diamant', etc. On f. 5r, in Newton's hand, two further recipes under the headings 'Praxis Lapidis' and 'Multiplication', and then a series of notes on the foregoing text headed 'Here follow several notes & different readings collected out of a M.S. communicated to Mr F. by W.S. in 1670, & by Mr F. to me 1675'. Finally (f. 6r), 'An epitome of the practise of the work', also in Newton's hand.


'Mr F' may be Ezekiel Foxcroft, Fellow of King's College and translator of J.V. Andreæ's Chymische Hochzeit: see Dobbs, Foundations, 111-12 (though the suggestion is disputed by Figala, 'Newton as Alchemist', 103). There is another reference to 'Mr. F.', unequivocally meaning Foxcroft, in 'De Scriptoribus Chemicis', Stanford University Library Ms.: see Figala et al., 'De Scriptoribus', 146-7. Newton's notes clearly date from no earlier than 1675 (the year in which the manuscript was communicated to him), and the handwriting suggests not much later: the preceding text could of course be earlier.

See Figala, 'Exakte Alchemie', 161, including a partial transcript of Newton's comments. A similar version of the text, but without Newton's additions and commentaries, was published by William Cooper in the anthology Aurifontana Chymica (London, 1680: H103).

© 2024 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 -

Privacy Statement

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