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Papers of David Gregory

Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Division

David Gregory Papers

Series Summary

Reference Code

GB 0237 David Gregory Dk.1.2.2 and Dc.1.75 Folio B

Date(s)

c1669-c1708

Extent and medium of the unit of description

33

Manuscripts

Name of creator

Gregory | David | 1659-1708 | professor of mathematics, University of Edinburgh, and Savilian Professor of Astronomy, University of Oxford

Biographical History

Biographical History

David Gregory appears to have indexed Folio B (along with Folio C and Quarto A) in Oxford in late 1699 or early 1700, when he was gradually completing his magnum opus, the Astronomiae. His editorial rationale for these apparently random collections is not clear. The descriptions on the index represent a scattering of items, chiefly notes and papers of his own in mathematics and astronomy, and of others, including Apollonius of Perga (262 BC-190 BC), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Jean Bernoulli (1667-1748), and Jean Domenique Cassini (1625-1712), with correspondence among Gottfried Willhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), Cassini, Isaac Newton (1642-1727), his father, David Gregory Sr., and his uncle, James Gregorie (1638-1675). Non-scientific professional papers that he meant to include cover, among other things, the 1690 visitation, Scottish ecclesiastical matters, and business and agriculture. As well, he included a pair of curiosities: 'figures of Louis XIV' and some poems, 'good, bad, and burlesque'. Their dates tend toward his later professional life, from the visitation onward. Because paleographic evidence suggests that these pages were not stored carefully, Gregory may have meant them to be more a stack of back files than an orderly documentary record of anything.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

The papers of David Gregory consist of:

  • Most of the scientific content of Folio B comes from early in Gregory's career. It includes an index of later letters of John Collins (1625-1683) to James Gregorie (1638-1675), a number of Edinburgh lectures in geometry, mechanics, and optics, and some tables and manuscript pieces of 'Elementa Catoptricae et Dioptricae', the 'Institutes of Astronomy', and the 'Elementa Astronomica'. There are as well several learned papers by other people. These include an extract from a 1669 planetary orbit paper by Cassini, a copy of a 1676 paper by Edmund Halley 1656-1742on the geometry of orbital eccentricities, an outline of a Kepler volume on astronomy, a probability treatise by John Arbuthnot (1667-1735), and some problems in Apollonius, with a Latin translation of this geometer from Arabic by Edward Bernard (1638-1696), along with a fair copy of the same by David Gregory. A paper of Gregory's own is an evaluation of Hipparchus' ancient explanation of the solstice. The rest of the collection is a record of Dr Gregory's wider life as an academic and a government consultant. Six items relate to his woes surrounding the College visitation. Others consist of the 1692 inaugural speech of his brother James (Gregory-not Gregorie), also a mathematician, upon his own appointment to the faculty in Edinburgh, a pair of drafts of job vacancy notices for Glasgow College, an anonymous printed lampoonery of Cassini, and an Oxford book list on horticulture. Traces of his official self remain in some 1697 correspondence between the King of Great Britain and the Senate of Hamburg, regarding trade with the 'Indian' venture of Scotland, and in the acts of three Scots provincial synods; of his personal self there are still a pair of poems from the handful he originally collected in the Folio. A curiosity, penned on the back of item 6, is a short song in English, with its music; it is not in Gregory's hand.

Index

Subjects

  • Astronomy
  • Church of Scotland, Establishment and Disestablishment
  • Mathematics
  • Optics
  • Politics
  • PeopleApollonius of Perga | 262-190 BC | Greek mathematicianAnne | 1665-1714 | Queen of Great Britain and IrelandArbuthnot | John | 1667-1735 | Scottish physician and satiristBernard | Edward | 1638-1696 | professor of astronomy, University of OxfordBernoulli | Jean | 1667-1748 | Swiss mathematicianCassini | Giovanni Domenico | 1625-1712 | Italian astronomerCollins | John | 1625-1683 | mathematicianGregory | David | 1659-1708 | professor of mathematics University of Edinburgh, and Savilian Professor of Astronomy at University of OxfordGregory | James | 1638-1675 | professor of mathematics, University of EdinburghHalley | Edmund | 1656-1742 | astronomer Kepler | Johannes | 1571-1630 | German mathematician and astronomer Leibniz | Gottfried Willhelm | 1646-1716 | German mathematician and philosopherNewton | Sir | Isaac | 1642-1727 | mathematician and astronomerWilliam III | 1650-1702 | King of Great Britain and Ireland

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