Part I. 3. Hooke’s death and the descent of his papers

Hooke died on 3 March 1703. In his last years he had apparently let it be known that he planned to bequeath most of the value of his estate towards the building of a proper headquarters for the Royal Society, complete with a laboratory, repository, library, and endowed lectureships. But Hooke procrastinated, and as his friend, editor, and biographer Richard Waller lamented, such plans ‘vanish’d into nothing’, Hooke dying intestate.1Waller, ‘Life’, p. xxvii. See [Michael Hunter et al.], ‘Hooke’s Possessions at His Death: A Hitherto Unknown Inventory’, in Hunter and Schaffer, Robert Hooke: New Studies, pp. 287-94. A draft will has recently been recovered, but it was not legally valid. Initially Hooke’s estate therefore passed to his closest kin, one Elizabeth Stephens, probably a paternal cousin of Hooke’s (she signed with a hook the inventory of Hooke’s possessions), her daughter Mary, and a maternal cousin, Ann Hollis. Mary, along with one Joseph Dillon, who either was or was shortly to become Mary’s husband, appears subsequently to have taken control of the administration. Hooke’s inventory was drawn up by five men, four of whom were involved in the London book trade, those four being Edward Millington, John Bagford, Jacob Hooke, and Edward Cooper.2‘Hooke’s Possessions’, pp. 288-289. The inventory is National Archives, PROB 5/1324. Millington, the most experienced auctioneer of his time, was soon to preside over the auction of Hooke’s own books. Bagford was a well-known dealer and book-runner, and a later letter from Richard Waller to Bagford suggests that he had initially helped Mary Dillon with Hooke’s papers.3BL, MS Harley 4966, fol. 69, letter of August 1704; printed in Felicity Henderson, ‘Robert Hooke’s Archive’, Script and Print 33 (2009), pp. 92-108 (p. 94). Jacob Hooke was a Cambridge-based bookseller and auctioneer, whose name appears after the ‘conditions of sale’ notice in many auction catalogues at the time (he may possibly have been a relative of Hooke’s);4Perhaps also related to the bookseller and auctioneer Nathaniel Hooke, from whose auctions Robert occasionally purchased, e.g. Memoranda, 2 November 1689. and Cooper was a London book- and print-seller.5Henry R. Plomer, et al., A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers who were at work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1668 to 1725 (London, 1922); Giles Mandelbrote, ‘The Organization of Book Auctions in Late Seventeenth Century London’, in Under the Hammer: Book Auctions since the Seventeenth Century London, eds. Robin Myers and Michael Harris (London, 2001), pp. 15-50. As Hooke’s relatives, who barely knew him in life, realised just how wealthy Hooke had become, there was some legal wrangling over his estate, of uncertain outcome.6Eleanor Naughtie, ‘A Dying Life: The Last Days of Robert Hooke, and the Fate of his Estate’ (unpub. M.Res. diss., Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, Queen Mary, University of London, 2003); Jardine, Curious Life, pp. 305-10.

Upon Hooke’s death, the authorities in charge of Gresham College were anxious for the Royal Society to clear out their repository and library, and seek new rooms; and the society had to act fast by petitioning the Mayor of London for more time to absorb the practical ramification for the society of the demise of so central a figure. Meanwhile, the sifting of Hooke’s chattels unsurprisingly turned up many items belonging to the society. On 3 March, ‘Mr Hunt related, that Dr Hooke being dead, he had received some of the Societies books from his Friends’. This must mean that Hooke had himself lent out books from the society’s library. On March 31, ‘Mr Hunt brought the Index to the Books of the Society, a Journal Book, Council-Book, & Register-book’; these had been delivered to Hunt by Hooke’s administrators. Thereafter, throughout 1703 there are references in the society’s journal book to a trickle of material from Hooke’s estate: in April Mary Dillon returned to the society a deed concerning rents ‘together with some other bookes’. She was thanked and petitioned for such ‘Natural Curiosities’ of Hooke’s as she did not value; and later in the month she accordingly presented a large snakeskin and a formed stone found in Hooke’s lodgings. A second consignment soon followed: ‘Several Natural things were presented to the Society, together with some MSS. in divers Languages, by Mrs Dellon Administratrix to Dr Hooke’. In June, Hunt brought in some betel-nuts with husks found among Hooke’s rarities. Then, in November, Waller displayed Hooke’s lectures on light as well as his ‘Scheme’ of Hooke’s ‘for Improving Philosophy’, and was encouraged to publish. This was the genesis of the Posthumous Works.7RS, Minutes for 17 February; 3, 31 March; 7, 14, 28 April; 30 June; 17 November 1703.

The fate of Hooke’s own papers, as distinct from his printed books, is a convoluted story.8See Henderson, ‘Hooke’s Archive’. Unlike his printed books, Hooke’s own papers and manuscripts were not mentioned in his inventory. Through Mary and Joseph Dillon,9As Waller noted on Hooke’s ‘Memoranda’ manuscript, London Metropolitan Archives CLC/495/MS01758, note printed in Hooke, Diary, 1672-80, p. v. Hooke’s friend Richard Waller later obtained many of Hooke’s professional papers and his diaries, from which he edited the thick folio volume of Hooke’s Posthumous Works, published in 1705, prefaced by his life of Hooke.10For some remarks on Waller, see Margaret J. M. Ezell, ‘Richard Waller, SRS: “In the Pursuit of Nature”’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 38 (1984), pp. 215-33. In 1708 he received the folio manuscript of Hooke’s earlier memoranda from Joseph Dillon; it seems therefore that he only held some of the later, small format diaries when editing the Posthumous Works.11Diary, ed. Robinson and Adams, p. v. Waller was the secretary of the Royal Society when Hooke died, and it was presumably in this capacity that he examined and sorted Hooke’s papers; at any rate, many papers at this point entered the Royal Society’s archives. Indeed, miscellanea from Hooke’s papers, furnished by Waller, supplied frequent occasion for presentation and discussion before the society; apparently between 1711 and 1714 there were over twenty occasions on which individual Hooke papers received such attention.12Henderson, ‘Hooke’s Archive’, p. 97, fn. 25, information from Sachiko Kusukawa. On Waller’s death in 1715 ‘a Part of the Papers’ passed from Waller’s widow and his brother-in-law to William Derham (1657-1735), clergyman and FRS, author of The Artificial Clockmaker (1696, in which Hooke’s achievements are celebrated; it is listed in the BH, see auct_BH_2415), and editor of a further, smaller volume of Hooke’s papers, as well as some editions of the Nachlass of John Ray. Derham’s edition of Hooke’s Experiments and Observations appeared in 1726, a rather miscellaneous volume not unlike an issue of the Philosophical Transactions itself. Derham’s papers in turn passed to his son William, and eventually to his nephew George Scott FRS, who edited some further Select Remains (1760) of Ray from the remaining papers. Since the time of the older Derham, the family had lived at Woolston Hall, Chigwell, and the Scott family also owned nearby Moor Hall, where Hooke’s earlier diary was eventually rediscovered in 1891. That manuscript then passed to the Guildhall Library, and with it travelled a bundle of Hooke’s papers mostly not in his hand.13These manuscripts are now located in the London Metropolitan Archives, with reference numbers CLC/495/MS01758 (memoranda) and CLC/495/MS01757 (papers). Then in 2005 in Moor Hall once again the Hooke Folio was rediscovered, being Hooke’s autograph copy of the society’s minutes between 1661 and 1677, with his original minutes from then up to 1682.14For the provenance of the Derham papers and the recovery of these MSS, see the Bonham’s sale catalogue ‘Printed Books and Manuscripts: Including the Hooke Folio’ for 28 March 2006, pp. 20-21. The Hooke Folio is now Royal Society Archives MS 847. Alongside this large manuscript were recovered some extremely important manuscripts by or concerning John Ray too, auctioned in 2006 as separate lots alongside the Hooke Folio.15‘Printed Books and Manuscripts …’, lots 184-88; Robyn Adams and Lisa Jardine, ‘The Return of the Hooke Folio’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 60 (2006), pp. 235-39.

This was far from the only line of descent. As we noted, many of Hooke’s papers were absorbed into the Royal Society’s own archive, and indeed the volume now shelf-marked as Classified Papers 20 consists of a very large agglomeration of unpublished lectures and papers, as well as several items not in fact authored by Hooke but which he nevertheless acquired. The voracious Hans Sloane, FRS, also managed to acquire some Hooke materials that never therefore descended down the Waller-Derham line, for among the MSS Sloane today there is at least one large collection of Hooke papers (MS Sloane 1093), and also Hooke’s later, now incomplete memoranda, in the form of a small pocket diary (MS Sloane 4024).16Hooke’s later ‘diary’ is really a set of three pocket-books written initially only on the recto pages, and then retrograde on the versos. The chronological extent of the missing portion and the resuming of the journal in December 1692 in exactly the same codicological format strongly suggest that Sloane 4024 preserves fascicles 1, 2, and 8 of an original sequence, which then appears to have extended beyond the close of August 1693, as Waller could cite from a 1696 entry in his life of Hooke prefaced to his edition of the latter’s Posthumous Works (xxv). Did Waller then hold some of these missing fascicles? Sloane also acquired some drawings in Hooke’s hand, as examples were passed to Waller for the Posthumous Works, and he acquired many printed books from the auction of Hooke’s library.17Hooke, Posthumous Works, pp. ‘149’ (recte 194; John Woodward conveys images to Waller which he had found in the pages of Hooke’s copy of Bayer’s Uranometria), 281 (Hooke’s illustrations of fossils, supplied by Hans Sloane); both discussed by Henderson, ‘Hooke’s Archive’, p. 95. The fossil illustrations have now been located: see Sachiko Kusukawa, ‘Drawings of Fossils by Robert Hooke and Richard Waller’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society 67 (2013), pp. 123-138. Hooke’s inventory notes that the library contained several volumes of pamphlets, seemingly not included in the auction, and Sloane may have found his way to some of these volumes, as a few pamphlets bearing his ownership marks have turned up in the Bodleian Library, among duplicates given by Sloane to the Bodleian, and in the company of various pamphlets once owned by Hooke’s friend and fellow bibliophile Francis Lodwick.18William Poole, ‘Francis Lodwick, Hans Sloane, and the Bodleian Library’, The Library, 7th Series, 7 (2006), pp. 377-418; Poole, ‘Antoine-François Payen, the 1666 Selenelion, and an unnoticed letter to Robert Hooke’, Notes & Records of the Royal Society of London 61 (2007), pp. 251-63. Sloane also laid his hands on several of Hooke’s manuscripts, as there are several among the MSS Sloane today with clear Hookian provenances (see below). A further extensive volume of Hooke’s papers is now in Trinity College, Cambridge, MS O.11.a.1.19Trinity’s Hooke-Newton material was largely purchased from Sotheby’s in the late nineteenth century.

The line between ‘papers’ and ‘manuscripts’ is of course a permeable one, but in addition to what we might think of as Hooke’s ‘archive’, that is to say his own scientific, administrative, and personal papers, and such of his friends’ or colleagues’ papers as he had acquired by one means or another, Hooke also possessed many manuscript books. These could be rather fine. The auction catalogue, for instance, lists no manuscripts other than one, a Koran in elegant script on fine paper (‘pulcherrime exaratus in nitidissimam Chartam’, Bibliotheca Hookiana, p. 22; auct_BH_990), current whereabouts unknown. But we can trace several MSS evidently once in the hands of Hooke, ranging from a very fine Hero of Alexandria in the hand of the sixteenth-century Cretan scribe Angelus Vergecius or Bergikios now in the Royal Society’s library;20It is now Royal Society MS 31. Hooke himself had received the MS from Robert Wood, FRS, in 1678 (diary for 14 January 1678; Henderson, ‘Robert Hooke’s Archive’, p. 104). This was one of the MSS presented by Mary Dillon ‘in various languages’ noted above; at the same meeting Humfrey Wanley learnedly identified the scribe and commented on other exemplars known to him in the Bodleian Library of the same scribe’s work: today these are MSS Auct. F 4. 15 and F 4. 16. See P. L. Heyworth, Letters of Humfrey Wanley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), p. 168. Wanley noted that Bergikios MSS were often illuminated by his daughter. to a manuscript translation by the Taiwan factor Samuel Griffith of Louis de la Forge’s Traitte de l’Esprit de l’Homme (Paris, 1666);21Royal Society, MS 76. to a set of geometrical diagrams sent to Hooke by the Cambridge academic George Hough, who hoped Hooke might see them into print accompanying a new edition of the Dutch geographer Varenius.22British Library, MS Sloane 917. Many such manuscripts have now been traced, chiefly in the Royal Society and among the MSS Sloane in the British Library;23They are discussed in Henderson, ‘Hooke’s Archive’, pp. 104-7. one particularly elusive item, however, is John Ray’s translation into Latin of the famous Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668) of John Wilkins. We know from Royal Society minutes that this was received by the society from Hooke’s estate on the last day of March 1703, the month in which Hooke had died, but it has not been sighted since.24Royal Society, Journal Book, 31 March 1703. On the evidence of his journal and inventory, Hooke also collected prints, and in June 1677 (see the entries for the 9th and 10th) Hooke wrote out an index or ‘table’ of them; his collection appears to have consisted chiefly of architectural prints, although Hollar gave him an engraving of Tangier.25LRH, pp. 9 (sometime in 1678), 133. For such prints and other architectural materials, see Anthony Geraghty, ‘Robert Hooke’s Collection of Architectural Books and Prints’, Architectural History 47 (2004), pp. 113-25. Likewise Hooke purchased various maps, including one of Surinam.26LRH, p. 135. But these too are not mentioned in the Bibliotheca Hookiana. Nor are printed ephemera, such as another of Hooke’s purchases, his friend Joseph Moxon’s geographical playing cards.27Note by Hooke in January, March of 1676; see LRH, p. 135.

 

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footnotes   [ + ]

1. Waller, ‘Life’, p. xxvii. See [Michael Hunter et al.], ‘Hooke’s Possessions at His Death: A Hitherto Unknown Inventory’, in Hunter and Schaffer, Robert Hooke: New Studies, pp. 287-94.
2. ‘Hooke’s Possessions’, pp. 288-289. The inventory is National Archives, PROB 5/1324.
3. BL, MS Harley 4966, fol. 69, letter of August 1704; printed in Felicity Henderson, ‘Robert Hooke’s Archive’, Script and Print 33 (2009), pp. 92-108 (p. 94).
4. Perhaps also related to the bookseller and auctioneer Nathaniel Hooke, from whose auctions Robert occasionally purchased, e.g. Memoranda, 2 November 1689.
5. Henry R. Plomer, et al., A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers who were at work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1668 to 1725 (London, 1922); Giles Mandelbrote, ‘The Organization of Book Auctions in Late Seventeenth Century London’, in Under the Hammer: Book Auctions since the Seventeenth Century London, eds. Robin Myers and Michael Harris (London, 2001), pp. 15-50.
6. Eleanor Naughtie, ‘A Dying Life: The Last Days of Robert Hooke, and the Fate of his Estate’ (unpub. M.Res. diss., Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, Queen Mary, University of London, 2003); Jardine, Curious Life, pp. 305-10.
7. RS, Minutes for 17 February; 3, 31 March; 7, 14, 28 April; 30 June; 17 November 1703.
8. See Henderson, ‘Hooke’s Archive’.
9. As Waller noted on Hooke’s ‘Memoranda’ manuscript, London Metropolitan Archives CLC/495/MS01758, note printed in Hooke, Diary, 1672-80, p. v.
10. For some remarks on Waller, see Margaret J. M. Ezell, ‘Richard Waller, SRS: “In the Pursuit of Nature”’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 38 (1984), pp. 215-33.
11. Diary, ed. Robinson and Adams, p. v.
12. Henderson, ‘Hooke’s Archive’, p. 97, fn. 25, information from Sachiko Kusukawa.
13. These manuscripts are now located in the London Metropolitan Archives, with reference numbers CLC/495/MS01758 (memoranda) and CLC/495/MS01757 (papers).
14. For the provenance of the Derham papers and the recovery of these MSS, see the Bonham’s sale catalogue ‘Printed Books and Manuscripts: Including the Hooke Folio’ for 28 March 2006, pp. 20-21. The Hooke Folio is now Royal Society Archives MS 847.
15. ‘Printed Books and Manuscripts …’, lots 184-88; Robyn Adams and Lisa Jardine, ‘The Return of the Hooke Folio’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 60 (2006), pp. 235-39.
16. Hooke’s later ‘diary’ is really a set of three pocket-books written initially only on the recto pages, and then retrograde on the versos. The chronological extent of the missing portion and the resuming of the journal in December 1692 in exactly the same codicological format strongly suggest that Sloane 4024 preserves fascicles 1, 2, and 8 of an original sequence, which then appears to have extended beyond the close of August 1693, as Waller could cite from a 1696 entry in his life of Hooke prefaced to his edition of the latter’s Posthumous Works (xxv). Did Waller then hold some of these missing fascicles?
17. Hooke, Posthumous Works, pp. ‘149’ (recte 194; John Woodward conveys images to Waller which he had found in the pages of Hooke’s copy of Bayer’s Uranometria), 281 (Hooke’s illustrations of fossils, supplied by Hans Sloane); both discussed by Henderson, ‘Hooke’s Archive’, p. 95. The fossil illustrations have now been located: see Sachiko Kusukawa, ‘Drawings of Fossils by Robert Hooke and Richard Waller’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society 67 (2013), pp. 123-138.
18. William Poole, ‘Francis Lodwick, Hans Sloane, and the Bodleian Library’, The Library, 7th Series, 7 (2006), pp. 377-418; Poole, ‘Antoine-François Payen, the 1666 Selenelion, and an unnoticed letter to Robert Hooke’, Notes & Records of the Royal Society of London 61 (2007), pp. 251-63.
19. Trinity’s Hooke-Newton material was largely purchased from Sotheby’s in the late nineteenth century.
20. It is now Royal Society MS 31. Hooke himself had received the MS from Robert Wood, FRS, in 1678 (diary for 14 January 1678; Henderson, ‘Robert Hooke’s Archive’, p. 104). This was one of the MSS presented by Mary Dillon ‘in various languages’ noted above; at the same meeting Humfrey Wanley learnedly identified the scribe and commented on other exemplars known to him in the Bodleian Library of the same scribe’s work: today these are MSS Auct. F 4. 15 and F 4. 16. See P. L. Heyworth, Letters of Humfrey Wanley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), p. 168. Wanley noted that Bergikios MSS were often illuminated by his daughter.
21. Royal Society, MS 76.
22. British Library, MS Sloane 917.
23. They are discussed in Henderson, ‘Hooke’s Archive’, pp. 104-7.
24. Royal Society, Journal Book, 31 March 1703.
25. LRH, pp. 9 (sometime in 1678), 133. For such prints and other architectural materials, see Anthony Geraghty, ‘Robert Hooke’s Collection of Architectural Books and Prints’, Architectural History 47 (2004), pp. 113-25.
26. LRH, p. 135.
27. Note by Hooke in January, March of 1676; see LRH, p. 135.