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Gregory family

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0117 MS 210
Held at: Royal Society
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Full title: Gregory family
Date(s): 1658-1860
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: Two bound albums
Name of creator(s): Gregory | family | scientists


Administrative/Biographical history:

David Gregory of Kinnairdie (1627-1720), inventor: apprenticed by his father to a mercantile house in Holland; returned in 1655, and succeeded to the estate of Kinnairdie on the death of an older brother; highly regarded in medicine, having a large gratuitous practice both among the poor, and people of standing; first man in Aberdeenshire to possess a barometer, and his weather forecasts exposed him to suspicions of witchcraft; moved to Aberdeen and investigated artillery; with the help of an Aberdeen watchmaker constructed an improved model of a cannon, forwarding it to his eldest son David, and to Sir Isaac Newton, who held it was 'for the diabolical purpose of increasing carnage', and who urged him to break it up.

David Gregorie (1661-1708), astronomer: son of David Gregory (1627-1720); Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University in 1683; first professor to lecture publicly on Newtonian philosophy, and enthusiastic promoter of Newton's 'Principia'; in 1691 went to Oxford where he was introduced to Newton, who became an intimate friend and who with John Flamsteed influenced his appointment as Savilian Professor of Astronomy in Oxford; Fellow of the Royal Society, 1692; his principal work Astronomiae Physicae et Geometricae Elementa in 1702 was the first text book composed on gravitational principles and remodelling astronomy in conformity with physical theory; approved by Newton, who had included in it his lunar theory, and for which he wrote a preface; Gregory was a skilful mathematician who left manuscript treatises on fluxions, trigonometry, mechanics and hydrostatics, and who was also known for his printing in 1703 of all the writings attributed, with any show of authority, to Euclid.

James Gregory (1638-1675), mathematician: younger brother of David Gregory (1627-1708); his scientific talent was discovered and encouraged by his brother, and in 1673 at the age of 24 he published his Optica Promota, containing the first feasible description of a reflecting telescope, his invention of it dating from 1661, and inspiring Newton to make his own reflecting telescope; studied mathematics in Padua, 1664-1667, publishing Vera Circuli et Hyperbolae Quadratura in 1667, showing how to find the areas of the circle, elipse, and hyperbole by means of converging series, and applying the same new method to calculation of logarithms; Fellow of the Royal Society, 1668; friendly debate with Newton, 1672-1673, as to merits of their respective telescopes; from 1674 first exclusively mathematical professor at Edinburgh.

Charles Gregory was one of the 32 children of David Gregory (1627-1720) and brother of the second David Gregory (1661-1708).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Gregory family. Volume One includes writings by Sir Isaac Newton, entitled 'Notae in Newtonii Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis' and his 'Theory of the Moon', which was incorporated in the Astronomia Physica published by the Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford. Volume Two contains letters and papers of the Gregory family: David Gregory of Kinnairdie; James Gregorie; David Gregorie; and Charles Gregory (Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University); also including some papers of Sir Isaac Newton.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to Archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

Volume Two contains a table of contents, and all the items are catalogued in the Archive card catalogue.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented to the Royal Society in 1866 by John Gregory.

Allied Materials

Related material:

David Gregory (1661-1708): Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library, holds miscellaneous correspondence and papers, 1683-1708; St Andrews University Library holds treatise and lecture notes; Christ Church Archives, Oxford University, holds notes and tables; University of Toronto Library holds papers (copies); Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, Cambridge University Library, holds letters to Sir Isaac Newton, 1684-1702; Manuscript Collections, British Library, holds letters mainly to Sir Hans Sloane, 1695-1704.

James Gregory (1638-1675): Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections, holds papers; British Library, Manuscript Collections, holds papers; St Andrews University Library holds correspondence with John Collins, 1668-1675; correspondence with John Collins, 1667-1675, is privately held.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Description produced by the Royal Society and revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Source: National Register of Archives.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Created 17/05/2002, modified 24/06/2002, revised Sep 2002

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