Issac Newton at Trinity College Cambridge
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Intriguing Intellectuals
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Isaac Newton at Trinity College Cambridge

Isaac Newton at Trinity College Cambridge, one of many great scientific minds to attend the college. Isaac Newton would spend the majority of his life and all his academic life at Trinity. From this august company the Royal Society would also be formed and as today the people you meet as a student often stand the test of longer term relationships both professional and personal. Newton was no exception forming associations with Christopher Wren and the future Chancellor Montagu all from college connections.

Summary of events around Newton and Trinity College

  • 1660, King Charles II was restored to the throne.
  • During the critical period of transition that followed the death of Cromwell, the College was particularly fortunate in its Master’s
  • “Their authority was very great but Wilkins, Ferne and Pearson, who occupied the Master’s Lodge in rapid succession during the years 1659 to 1662, were all moderate in temper, and acted with humanity and tact.”
  •  The ten years of John Pearson’s Mastership were notable for the rapid rise to eminence in the University of the young Isaac Newton.
  • Newton’s whole academic life, from 1661 to 1696, was spent at Trinity College Cambridge, first as an undergraduate and then as a Fellow from 1667.
  • Isaac Barrow later succeeded Pearson as Master. It was Barrow who persuaded his friend Sir Christopher Wren to design the Wren Library (completed in 1695), the finest of the Trinity buildings.

It was Christopher Wren who had a number of connections with Newton, and whilst known by many for his architecture it was as an astronomer of note and a founder of the Royal Society that they were most closely connected.

Newton Statue Trinity College Cambridge

Click on these links more reflections on the connection between the Scientific Revolution and the Newton connection and the Enlightenment and the association with a number of the key intellects and personalities that rought about the climate in which the period of the Enlightenment could thrive.

Research notes: from Cambridge Alumini lists: an extraordinary life…

  • Matric. 1661; Scholar, 1664
  • B.A. 1664-5
  • M.A. 1668.
  • Fellow, 1667.
  • Rooms to the north of the great Gate. T
  • Lucasian Professor, 1669-1702. F.R.S., 1672.
  • The idea of universal gravitation occurred to him at Woolsthorpe in 1665 ‘as he sat alone in a garden.’ He had taken time away from Cambridge due to the plague and was working at home to avoid the health risks of London.
  •  The Principia was published in 1687, the completion and publication of this work being due to Halley, who paid all expenses and corrected the proofs.
  • M.P. for Cambridge University, 1689-90 and 1701-2.
  • Warden of the Mint, 1696
  • Master of the Mint, 1699
  • President of the Royal Society
  • 1703; re-elected annually for 25 years.
  • Knighted, Apr. 15, 1705.
  • Involved in a bitter controversy with Leibnitz as to the priority of the discovery concerning fluxions.
  • Corresponded with John Locke, the ENglish Philosopher on theological subjects.
  • Died at Kensington, Mar. 20, 1726-7.
  • Buried in Westminster Abbey
  • Benefactor to the Chapels of Christ’s and Trinity, to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Cambridge Old Schools.
  • There is a statue to him by Roubiliac in the Ante-Chapel of Trinity College, and a bust in the Library.
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