Biography of Sir Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton was one of the greatest scientists in the world establishing the general rules of physics.

When and Where was he Born?

25th December 1642. Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England.

Family Background:

Isaac Newton was the son of Isaac and Hannah Newton of Woolsthorpe. His father died three month’s before his birth.

Education:

King’s School, Grantham.
Trinity College, Cambridge.

Timeline of Isaac Newton:

1646: His mother Hannah marries the 63 year old Rector from North Witham, Barnabas Smith. Hannah leaves to live with Smith and leaves young Newton in the care of her mother.

1653: Death of Barnabas Smith. Hannah moves back to Woolsthorpe a fairly wealthy woman.

1655: Newton goes to live with the apothecary Mr Clarke so that he can attend Grantham Grammar School.

1659: He returns home to his mother.

1660: Newton returns to Grantham School and lives with the Headmaster John Stokes.

1661: He moves up to Cambridge University.

1664: Newton is elected as a Scholar at Trinity. He moves temporarily back to Woolsthorpe to escape the plague then in Cambridge. He continues with his mathematical work.

Newton Statue, Grantham
Newton Statue outside the Town Hall in Grantham, Lincolnshire (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1665: He contemplates the falling of an apple in his garden which leads him to formulate his theories of gravitation.

1667: Newton returns to Cambridge. He is elected a Minor Fellow of Trinity College.

1668: He is elected as a Major Fellow of Trinity College and granted his Master’s Degree. He makes his first visit to London in August.

1669: Newton describes his reflecting telescope in a letter to Henry Oldenburg the first Secretary of the Royal Society in London. In October he is created the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. On his second visit to London in November he meets John Collins who was to give great support to his mathematical endeavours.

1670: He gives the first of his lectures on optics.

1671: The Newtonian Reflecting Telescope is sent to the Royal Society.

1672: Newton is elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. His first letter on light and colours is read out by the Royal Society and harshly criticised by Robert Hooke, the Curator of Experiments there. On February 8th his letter on the subject is published in the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society” and becomes arguably the first scientific paper ever published.

Statue of Isaac Newton
Statue of Newton in Leicester Square Gardens, London, 
somewhat ravaged by pollution. (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1675: Newton attends his first meetings of the Royal Society where he meets Robert Boyle. His hypothesis on the properties of light is read to the Society in December.

1676: “Discourse of Observations” is read to the Society.

1679: Death of Newton’s mother and he spends much of the year at Woolsthorpe. In November he corresponds with Hooke on planetary motion.

1682: Newton observes Halley’s Comet.

1684: There is a series of Coffee House meetings between Newton, Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren on the motions of the earth and the problem of the inverse square relation. In August he meets up with Edmond Halley at Cambridge. He begins work on his famous book “Principia”. He demonstrated to the world that the force of gravity between two bodies such as the sun and the earth is directly proportional to the product of the masses of such bodies and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.

1686: Book one of “Principia” is presented to the Royal Society in which he states his three laws of motion. Halley instructs the Society to publish it.

1687: Newton begins lecturing on “De Mundi Dystemate”.

1689: He meets the philosopher John Locke for the first time.

1691: Newton visits Locke at Oates.

1692: He attends the funeral in London of Robert Boyle.

Statue of Isaac Newton
Statue of Isaac Newton on the rear facade of 
the Royal Academy in London (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1693: Newton suffers a nervous breakdown which is illustrated in his letters to John Locke and Samuel Pepys.

1694: He visits John Flamstead at Greenwich.

1696: Newton is offered a post of Warden of the Royal Mint and he departs Cambridge for London where he lives in Jermyn Street.

1699: He is elected Foreign Associate of the Academie Des Sciences in Paris. He is also elected to the Council of the Royal Society of London.

1700: Newton is appointed Master of the Mint.

1701: Newton is elected as a Member of Parliament by the Cambridge Senate and resigns his chair as Lucasian Professor of mathematics.

1703: Death of Robert Hooke. Newton is elected President of the Royal Society.

1705: He recommends publication of the “Observations” by John Flamstead, the Royal Astronomer at Greenwich.

1705: Newton is knighted by Queen Anne in Cambridge on 16th April.

1709: He moves to a new house in Chelsea, London.

1710: Newton moves to a new house in St Martin’s Street.

1712: A committee is established to examine the priority dispute between Newton and the german philosopher Leibniz on who first had ideas on a universal differential calculus.

1716: Death of Leibniz.

1720: Publication of the first english edition of “Universal Arithmetic.”

Statue of Isaac Newton
Statue commemorating Isaac Newton outside the British Library, London (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1722: Newton moves to Kensington, London.

1727: He attends the Royal Society for the last time on 2nd March due to his failing health. He dies on 20th March and then is lain in State at Westminster Abbey on the 28th and buried there on 4th April.

When and Where did he Die?

20th March 1727, Kensington, London, England.

Age at Death:

84.

Written Works:

1667: “Enumericaio Curvarum”.
1671: “De Methodis”.
1680: “Geometrica Curvilinea”.
1684: “De Moto Corporum”, “De Compositi Serierum”, “Mathesos Universalis”.
1686: “Principia Mathematica”.
1695: “Tabula Refractionum”.
1702: “Lunae Theoria”.
1704: Opticks”.
1707: “Arithmetica Universalis”
1710: De Natura Acidorum”, “Enumeratio”, “De Quadratura Lexicon Technicum”.
1711: “Analysis per Quantitatum”.
1713: “Principia” (Second Edition),”Commercium Epistolicum”.
(1728): “Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended”, “Short Chronicle”, “The system of the World”, “De Mundis Systemate”.
(1729): “Lectiones Opticae”.
(1733): “Observations upon the Prophecies”.

Marriage:

Never married.

Site of Grave:

Nave, Westminster Abbey, London, England.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey, London
(copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:

CAMBRIDGE:

Trinity College.

LINCOLNSHIRE:

Grantham Museum, St Peters Hill, Grantham, NG31 6PY.
Grantham School.
Statue outside Town Hall, Grantham.
Woolsthorpe Manor, 23 Newton Way, Woolsthorpe.

LONDON:

Royal Greenwich Observatory.

Royal Observatory
Royal Observatory, Greenwich (copyright Anthony Blagg)

Science Museum.
National Portrait Gallery.
Westminster Abbey.