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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 Folio E

Date(s)

c1692-c1708

Extent and medium of the unit of description

71

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

Folio E is not the same as the often-cited 'workbook E', in Christ Church, Oxford, which is primarily a collection of worked examples from the Leipzig periodical Acta Eruditorum. This is instead a collection of material along the lines of Quarto A and Folios B, C, and D, only tending to come from a little later in David Gregory's career. It was pulled together shortly after 1700. Unlike the quarto and three folios before it, this batch of material was never indexed by Gregory.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

The constitution of the Folio E papers of David Gregory follows:

  • The documents' order is random, but the collection has several foci. One is David Gregory the academic's need for books. Numerous shopping lists for titles abroad reflect this, (one of which also includes a requirement for tea), as do inventories of other people's libraries nearer to home. Another focus in the collection is Gregory's public role as professional arbiter of things. He was concerned with an Oxford town-gown property dispute, and with general religious and pecuniary rights in Scotland, and he had to make addresses from time to time to august bodies like the Royal Academy. His scientific self had moved away from preoccupation with Newton's work by the time this collection was assembled, but these papers do contain one list of problems in Newtonian physics, and 3 diagrams actually attributed to Newton himself. He was more interested in book production of his own, however. Thus Folio E contains notes and editorial quibbles on optics, and a draft preface to the Elementa Opticae. It also contains much about higher maths, from quadradure, tangents, parabolas, and cone sections, to large amounts of plane geometry, which culminates in part of the ms. of the Elementa Physicae et Geometricae (1702), along with a draft dedication of that book to the patron Prince of Denmark. The papers contain giant amounts of tables and corrigenda for the great Astronomiae, and a musing on whether astronomy is physics or 'philosophy'. From the end of his academic career appear a draft of the agreement with the University of Oxford to publish all the Greek geometers, and a portion of an offprint copy of Halley's account of translating Apollonius from Arabic, with some demonstration in Greek. There are 1705 corrigenda for the volume, and notes on collation of a planned Euclid work. There are curiosities in the collection too, by Gregory and others: a print advertisement for an improved mercury barometer, a discussion on how to know things mathematically, a short satire on the Franciscans, some 1705 thoughts on the death of the archbishop of St Andrews, and a list of lofty things to investigate, on the same page as a household expense list.

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