Biographical Index

Mr Acton

Member of Dublin Philosophical Society in 1685


Mr Aland

Of Waterford - correspondent of the Dublin Philosophical Society on subject of longitude in 1685.

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Mr Anderson

Published in Philosophical Transactions on subject of gunnery in 1687.


St George Ashe


Son of Thomas Ashe of county Meath, Ireland, St George Ashe was educated at Trinity College, Ireland and became a fellow there in 1679. In 1685 he became Donegal Lecturer and Professor of Mathematics at Trinity, and in the same year he took over as secretary to the Dublin Philosophical Society. He fled to England during the reign of James II. In 1689 he became chaplain to Lord Paget, William III's ambassador to Vienna and was also elected to membership of the Royal Society. In 1692 he returned to Trinity as Provost and three years later became Bishop of Cloyne. He was subsequently Bishop of Clogher (1697-1717) and shortly before his death became Bishop of Derry.

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Francis Aston

Secretary to the Royal Society in 1685.

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Mr Ballard

Chemical experiments tried by Dublin Philosophical Society in 1685.


John Beale

Somerset clergyman


Robert Boyle


Seventh son of Richard Boyle, earl of Cork, born in Munster, Ireland. He spent several years on the Continent during the civil war, and then settled on his estate at Stalbridge, Dorset, where he devoted himself to science. In the 1650s he was lured to Oxford by John Wilkins and became one of the members of the circle of natural philosophers in Oxford that later formed the nucleus of the Royal Society. During this time he began employing Robert Hooke as an assistant, working on experiments on air, vacuum, combustion and respiration.

In 1661 Boyle published the Sceptical Chymist. In 1668 he took up residence in London with his sister Lady Ranelagh.


William Brouncker, 2nd viscount Brouncker


William Brouncker's father was a rpominent royalist, who had been a member of Charles I's privy council and vice chamberlain to Charles II, when he was Pince of Wales. Brouncker subscribed the declaration in favour of General Monk in 1660 and in 1662 he was appointed chancellor to Catherine of Braganza. This closeness to the king made him a useful patron for the fledgling Royal Society and he became its first President after its formal establishment by royal charter in 1662 and continued to be elected annually to the post until he resigned in 1677.

Brouncker studied mathematics at Oxford and his publications in the Philosophical Transactions reflect this interest, which was also useful in his role as a navy commissioner. He was also proficient in several languages.

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Sir Richard Bulkeley


Son of Sir Richard Bulkeley of Dunlavan, co. Wicklow, Bulkeley was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and became a fellow in 1682. He succeeded his father in 1685 and, leaving Dublinm, became a correspondent of the Philosophical Society. In addition to his Irish estates he also had a house in Ewell, Surrey and was a member of the Royal Society.

He published 'On a New Sort of Calesh' in the Philosophical Transactions in 1685. This carriage had the advantage of being extremely stable and difficult to overturn. Its disadvantages were that it could carry only one person, was extremely noisy and had a tendency to catch fire.

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Charles II


The Royal Society were very keen to attract the interest and patronage of the King and succeeded in 1662 to the extent of obtaining a royal charter (renewed in 1663). However, the Charles's interest was in practical applications of technology which could be used to benefit the economic or military position of England. Although close to some members of the Royal Society, he showed relatively little interest in it and, although the imprimatur of a royal visit was much coveted by the society, it never occurred.

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Mr Clinett

Apparently the actual designer of the calesh associated with Sir Richard Bulkeley.


Dr William Cole


William Cole was educated at Gloucester Hall, Oxford and graduated MD in 1666. He practised in Worcester until moving to London in 1692, by which time his medical writings were well known.


Rene Descartes


French philosopher and mathematician.


M. Dorchaize


Patrick Dun


Born in Aberdeen, where his greatuncle was principal of Marischal College, nothing is known of Patrick Dun's education. By 1676 he was physician to the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin. He was president of the Dublin College of Physicians (1681-7, 1690-3, 1696, 1698 and 1706) and a founder member of the Dublin Philosophical Society.


Robert Edgeworth

Student of Trinity College in 1685 ?



fl. 300 BC

Greek mathematician, whose Elements of geometry, in 13 books, is the earliest substantial Greek mathematical treatise to survive.


Samuel Foley


Samuel Foley, the eldest son of Samuel Foley of Clonmel and Dublin, was educated at Trinity College and ordained in the Church of Ireland in 1678. Installed as chancellor of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin in 1688-9, he was attainted by James II's parliament. He later became bishop of Down and Connor.


Dr Garden

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Edmund Halley


The son of a substantial London soap-boiler, Edmund Halley was educated at St Paul's, London and Queen's College, Oxford, publishing papers on astronomy while still an undergraduate. In 1676-8 he sailed to St Helena to study the stars in the southern hemisphere and on his return he was sent to Danzig by the Royal Society to study the work of Johann Hevelius. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1678 and edited the Philosophical Transactions (1685-93), during which time he paid for the printing of Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica. Subsequently, Newton repaid him by securing his appointment as comptroller of the Mint at Chester. He subsequently became Savilian Professor of Geometry (1703-42), Hydrographer to Queen Anne and Astromer Royal (1720).

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Mr Hern

Author of a pamphlet objected to by George Tollet.


Johann Hevelius


German astronomer, born in Danzig (Gdansk), where he established an observatory in 1641. He catalogued 1500 stars, discovered 4 comets and was among the first to observe the transit of Mercury. He named many lunar features in Selenographia (1647). His observations were made using the traditional open sights system of the sixteenth century Scandanavian astronomer Tycho Brahe, despite the attempts of Robert Hooke to persuade him to adopt telescopic sights in a correspondence that began inn 1668. In 1679 Edmund Halley visited Hevelius to observe his accuracy on behalf of the Royal Society and confirmed that telescopic observations were better.

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Robert Hooke


Born on the Isle of Wight, Hooke was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church College, Oxford. At Oxford he came to the attention of John Wilkins and Robert Boyle, who he assisted in the conduct of experiments. He also formed a friendship with Christopher Wren, which was to last throughout his life. In 1662 he was appointed the first curator of experiments at the Royal Society. In 1665 he was appointed Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, where he lived for the rest of his life and where the Royal Society held its meetings in his rooms. A polymathic experimental scientist of genius, his technical dexterity was invaluable to the early experiments of the Royal Society, although his significance has often been overshadowed by more famous names. In 1665 he published the results of his microscopic obnservations in Micrographia. Following the Great Fire he played an important role as city surveyor in the reconstruction of London. He is known for Hooke's law of elasticity, but was instrumental in developments in a range of scientific fields, including astronomy, mathematics, geology and chemistry.

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Dr Huoglaghan

Member of the Dublin Philosophical Society.


Antony Ingby

Correspondent of the Dublin Philosophical Society.


Anne Jackson

Born c. 1672.

A child from Waterford, born to English parents, whose developmental abnormalities led to her exhibition before the Dublin Philosophical Society.


John Keogh


Irish clergyman, who entered Trinity College, Dublin in 1669 and proceeded MA in 1678. He was a skilled mathematician, read Hebrew and specialised in the application of mathematics to the solution of mystical religious problems.


William King


Irish clergyman educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He became Chancellor of St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin in 1679 and Dean in 1688. He was imprisoned in Dublin castle in 1689 for supporting William III. In 1691 he was appointed Bishop of Derry and from 1703 until his death he was Archbishop of Dublin in succession to Narcissus Marsh.

In 1702 King published De Origine Mali, dedicated to Sir Robert Southwell. THis work attempted a reconciliation of the existence of evil with the idea of an omnipotent and beneficient deity on a Lockean basis.


Athanasius Kircher


Jesuit polymath, born in Germany. He was professor of mathematics at the Jesuit College in Rome and a central figure in European Baroque scientific culture. In over 30 works he dealt with such diverse topics as optics, music, Egyptology and magnetism and he also invented a universal language.

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Johann Kunckel


German chemist, who worked in Sweden. Predominantly an inorganic chemist, he was one of the first to prepare elemental phosphorus.


Antoni van Leeuwenhoek


A Dutch draper with no formal academic training, who made a series of important observations using microscopes he made himself. His most important discovery was the existence of tiny moving creatures in a drop of water. He also discovered sperm cells. He was introduced to the Royal Society in 1673 by the Dutch diplomat Sir Constantijn Huygens and thereafter he regularly communicated his observations to the society.


Charles Leigh


Physician and naturalist, born in Lancashire and educated at Brasenose College, Oxford and Jesus College, Cambridge. He was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1685.


Martin Lister


Nephew of the royal physician Sir Matthew Lister, who directed his education. He entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1655, graduated in 1659 and was elected a fellow by royal mandate in 1660. By 1667 he was corresponding with the naturalist John Ray and in 1671 he was elected to membership of the Royal Society. He settled in York, where he practised medicine and devoted his spare time to natural history and Yorkshire antiquities. He moved to London in 1684, when he was created M.D. by Oxford University at the instigation of the chancellor. In 1687 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

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Narcissus Marsh


Born in Wiltshire, he was admitted to Magdalen Hall, Oxford in 1655 and graduated in 1658. That year he was elected a fellow of Exeter and gained his D.D. in 1671.He was chaplain to Seth Ward, successively bishop of Exeter and Salisbury and afterwards tio Lord Chancellor Clarendon. In 1679 he was appointed to the provostship of Trinity College, Dublin.

An enthusiastic mathematician, he was a founder member of the Dublin Phliosophical Society and the initial meetings were held at his house. In 1683 he was made bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, but was uncomfortable following the accession of James II and in 1689 fled to England, returning after the battle of the Boyne. In 1691 he was translated to the archbishopric of Cashel and in 1694 to Dublin.

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Nicolaus Mercator


Danish astronomer and mathematician. He arrived in England sometime before 1660 and in 1666 was elected a member of the Royal Society after inventing a marine chronometer, as part of the attempt to solve the problem of calculating longitude at sea. In 1682 he moved to France at the instigation of Colbert.


William Molyneux


Wealthy member of the Irish Protestant establishment, who was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and the Middle Temple, London. By 1681, when he obtained a telescope from John Flamsteed, he was making astronomical observations. In 1683 he was a founder member of the Dublin Philosophical Society and became its first secretary. He was elected to membership of the Royal Society in 1685. Questions of optics occupied much of his attention and his best known work is Dioptrica nova (1692).

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Sir Robert Moray

d. 1673

Educated at St. Andrews and in France, he took military service under Louis XIII. Following the outbreak of the Civil War he returned to Britain and was knighted by Charles I at Oxford in 1644. He supported Charles II following the execution of his father and joined the king in exile. After the Restoration he remained close to the king and played an important role in the government in Scotland. He took an active role in the foundation of the Royal Society and presided over most of its meetings from March 1661 to July 1662. He took part in the observations of the comet of December 1664 and took especial interest in geology and natural history.


Allan Mullen


Also known as Allen Molines or Moulin. Born in the north of Ireland and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated B.A> and M.B. in 1676 and M.D. in 1684. He undertook original research in anatomy and became a prominent member of the Dublin Philosophical Society, to which he contributed papers on human and comparative anatomy. In 1683 he was elected a member of the Royal Society. A discreditable love affair forced him to leave Dublin for London in 1686. In 1690 he went to Barbados in the hope of improving his fortune, but died there of intoxication.

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William Musgrave


Educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, where he was a fellow from 1677 to 1692. He spent a short period at the university of Leiden in 1680. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1684, in recognition of his distinction in natural philosophy and medicine. During 1685 he acted as secretary to the society and edited the Philosophical Transactions nos. 167 to 178. In 1685 he was among those who formed a philosophical society in Oxford, where he practised medicine and proceeded M.D. in 1689. In 1692 he was elected to the College of Physicians in London. He settled in Exeter, where he practised until his death.

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Sir Paul Neile


Son of Richard Neile, archbishop of York, he was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge and knighted by Charles I in 1633. During the Commonwealth he was associated with the circle of natural philosophers and mathematicians in Oxford centred on Seth Ward and John Wilkins. He provided the longest and most powerful telescopes that had been produced in England for Ward's observatory at Wadham College, which were used by Christopher Wren in developing his theory of Saturn's rings.

He was a founder member of the Royal Society and played a prominent part in the society's business in the late 1660s and early 1670s. He became a gentleman usher to the Privy Chamber in 1662 and his influence with the king was of continuing benefit to the Royal Society.


Isaac Newton


The foremost theoretical mathematician of his age, who also undertook pioneering experimental work in optics and astronomy. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was elected a fellow in 1667. He was appointed Lucasian professor in 1669 and was elected to membership of the Royal Society in 1672.

By 1684 he had demonstrated the whole theory of gravitation, which he expounded first in De Motu Corporum(1684) and more completely in Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), the latter work being brought to the press by the efforts and expense of Edmund Halley. Thereafter he took a greater part in public affairs and particularly the defence of the privileges of the university against the encroachments of James II. He was appointed warden of the Mint in 1696 and master three years later. In 1703 was elected president of the Royal Society, to which office he was re-elected annually for the rest of his life. The followin gyear he published Opticks, his second masterpiece.


Charles Norman

b. 1666

Irish graduate of Trinity College, who entered Wadham College, Oxford in 1682.


Denis Papin


French physician, educated at the University of Angers, he was an assistant to Christiaan Huygens in Paris before moving to London, where he became an assistant to Robert Boyle between 1676 and 1679. During this time he invented the digester, a device for boiling food under pressure, which was shown to the Royal Society in 1679. He was elected to membership of the Royal Society in 1680. The following year he left England for Venice, where he was curator for a scientific society established there. In 1684 he returned to England and became curator for the Royal Society. In 1685 he became professor of mathematics at the unioversity of Marburg and in 1695 he removed to Cassel, where he assisted his patron the landgrave of Hesse in making experiments. In 1707 he was once more in London, attempting to interest the Royal Society in his steam-navigation projects.


John Pell


Cambridge-educated mathematician, appointed professor of mathematics at Amsterdam in 1643 and lecturer at the New College, Breda in 1646. Employed as an agent by Oliver Cromwell,after the Restoration he became a rector in Essex.


Mr Pleydell


Robert Plot


Educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, he planned a county-based natural history of England and Wales, but only two volumes on Oxfordshire (1677) and Staffordshire (1686) appeared. He was elected to membership of the Royal Society in 1677 and severed as secretary 1682-4. In 1683 he was appointed professor of Chemistry at Oxford and first keeper of the Ashmolean Museum. Four years later he became secretary to the Earl Marshal, Henry Howard, duke of Norfolk and registrar of the Court of Chivalry. In 1688 he became Historiographer Royal and Mowbray herald in 1694. He died ofthe stone two years later.

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John Ray


The son of an Essex blacksmith, educated at Cambridge. He became a fellow of Trinity College in 1649, but lost his post in 1662 after refusing to take the oath of the Act of Uniformity. Subsidized by his former pupil Francis Willughby, he toured extensively in Europe for 4 years, studying botany and zoology. Among his extensive writings on natural history, the major work was Historia Generalis Plantarum (1686-1704).

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van Rhuinhuyse


Dr Tancred Robinson


Yorkshire physician and naturalist, educated at St. John's College,Cambridge. After graduating MB in 1679, he travelled extensively abroad and corresponded with John Ray. He was elected to membership of the Royal Society in 1684 and became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1687. He later became a royal physician and was knighted by George I.


Mr Sandyes

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Dr Silvius

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Mr Smith


Sir Robert Southwell


Diplomat and government official, born in Ireland. He was sponsored for membership of the Royal Society by Robert Boyle in 1682. He was electedpresident of the society in 1690 and re-elected annually until 1695.



c 60B.C. - 20 A.D.

Greek geographer and Stoic. His Historical Studies survives only in fragments, but the 17 books of his Geographica have come down almost complete.


George Tollet

d. 1719

Mathematician and founder member of the Dublin Philosophical Society. He moved to England in 1688 and followed a career as a naval administrator.

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Evangelista Torricelli


Italian scientist, who knew Galileo in the last years of his life and became professor of mathematics in Florence in 1642. To him are owed the fundamental principles of hydromechanics and the first description of a barometer (or torricellian tube).


Dr Turberville


Born in Somerset and educated at Oriel College, Oxford, he fought as a royalist in the civil war. He subsequently practised medicine in Wiltshire and studied the diseases of the eye. He was consulted by Robert Boyle, who tried unavailingly to persuade him to practice in London.




John Wallis


Born in Kent and educated at Cambridge, where he was ordained, he became secretary to the Westminster Assembly in 1644. In 1649 he was appointed Savilian professor of geometry at Oxford. His mathematical skills led to his employment as a cryptographer by both Parliament and the restored monarchy. He was a founder member of the Royal Society.

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Charles Willoughby


A physician educated in Dublin, Oxford, Cambridge and Padua, he practised in Dublin and was a member of the Irish College of Physicians and Dublin Philosophical Society. In 1683 he was elected to membership of the Royal Society.

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Francis Willughby


Naturalist, born in Warwickshire, who studied at both Oxford and Cambridge before embarking on a Continental tour with John Ray. He was a founder member of the Royal Society. After his death Ray edited the 3 volume Ornithologia (1676-78) and Historia Piscium (1686), which were published in his name.

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Christopher Wren


The son of the Dean of Windsor and nephew of Bishop Matthew Wren, he was educated at Westminster and Wadham College, Oxford. He became a fellow of All Souls and distinguished himself in mathematics and physics. In 1657 he was appointed professor of astronomy at Gresham College and in 1661 became Savilian professor of astronomy at Oxford. He was a founder member of the Royal Society and already establishing a reputation as an architect, before the Great Fire of London opened a wide field for his genius.