Biography of Robert Hooke Scientist 1635-1703

On 28 Jul 1635 Robert Hooke Scientist was born in Freshwater Isle of Wight.

Evelyn's Diary. 04 Mar 1664. Came to dine with me the Earl of Lauderdale (age 47), his Majesty's (age 33) great favorite, and Secretary of Scotland; the Earl of Teviot (age 38); my Lord Viscount Brouncker (age 53), President of the Royal Society; Dr. Wilkins (age 50), Dean of Ripon; Sir Robert Murray (age 56), and Mr. Hooke (age 28), Curator to the Society.

Pepy's Diary. 02 Jan 1665. Thence to my bookseller's and at his binder's saw Hooke's (age 29) book of the microscope1, which is so pretty that I presently bespoke it, and away home to the office, where we met to do something, and then though very late by coach to Sir Ph. Warwicke's (age 55), but having company with him could not speak with him.

Note 1. "Micrographia: or some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by Magnifying Glasses. London, 1665", a very remarkable work with elaborate plates, some of which have been used for lecture illustrations almost to our own day. On November 23rd, 1664, the President of the Royal Society was "desired to sign a licence for printing of Mr. Hooke's microscopical book". At this time the book was mostly printed, but it was delayed, much to Hooke's disgust, by the examination of several Fellows of the Society. In spite of this examination the council were anxious that the author should make it clear that he alone was responsible for any theory put forward, and they gave him notice to that effect. Hooke made this clear in his dedication (see Birch's "HISTORY", vol. i., pp. 490-491).

Pepy's Diary. 21 Jan 1665. To my office till past 12, and then home to supper and to bed, being now mighty well, and truly I cannot but impute it to my fresh hare's foote. Before I went to bed I sat up till two o'clock in my chamber reading of Mr. Hooke's (age 29) Microscopicall Observations, the most ingenious book that ever I read in my life.

Pepy's Diary. 15 Feb 1665. Thence with Creed to Gresham College, where I had been by Mr. Povy (age 51) the last week proposed to be admitted a member1 and was this day admitted, by signing a book and being taken by the hand by the President, my Lord Brunkard (age 45), and some words of admittance said to me. But it is a most acceptable thing to hear their discourse, and see their experiments; which were this day upon the nature of fire, and how it goes out in a place where the ayre is not free, and sooner out where the ayre is exhausted, which they showed by an engine on purpose. After this being done, they to the Crowne Taverne, behind the 'Change [Map], and there my Lord and most of the company to a club supper; Sir P. Neale (age 52), Sir R. Murrey, Dr. Clerke, Dr. Whistler, Dr. Goddard, and others of most eminent worth. Above all, Mr. Boyle (age 38) to-day was at the meeting, and above him Mr. Hooke (age 29), who is the most, and promises the least, of any man in the world that ever I saw. Here excellent discourse till ten at night, and then home, and to Sir W. Batten's (age 64), where I hear that Sir Thos. Harvy intends to put Mr. Turner out of his house and come in himself, which will be very hard to them, and though I love him not, yet for his family's sake I pity him. So home and to bed.

Note 1. According to the minutes of the Royal Society for February 15th, 1664-65, "Mr. Pepys was unanimously elected and admitted". Notes of the experiments shown by Hooke and Boyle are given in Birch's "History of the Royal Society", vol. ii., p. 15.

Pepy's Diary. 01 May 1665. Thence to the Duke of Albemarle (age 56), where I was sorry to find myself to come a little late, and so home, and at noon going to the 'Change [Map] I met my Lord Brunkard (age 45), Sir Robert Murry (age 57), Deane Wilkins (age 51), and Mr. Hooke (age 29), going by coach to Colonell Blunts (age 61) to dinner. So they stopped and took me with them. Landed at the Tower-wharf, and thence by water to Greenwich, Kent [Map]; and there coaches met us; and to his house, a very stately sight for situation and brave plantations; and among others, a vineyard, the first that ever I did see. No extraordinary dinner, nor any other entertainment good; but only after dinner to the tryall of some experiments about making of coaches easy. And several we tried; but one did prove mighty easy (not here for me to describe, but the whole body of the coach lies upon one long spring), and we all, one after another, rid in it; and it is very fine and likely to take. These experiments were the intent of their coming, and pretty they are.

Pepy's Diary. 01 May 1665. Thence back by coach to Greenwich, Kent [Map], and in his pleasure boat to Deptford, Kent [Map], and there stopped and in to Mr. Evelyn's (age 44)1, which is a most beautiful place; but it being dark and late, I staid not; but Deane Wilkins (age 51) and Mr. Hooke (age 29) and I walked to Redriffe [Map]; and noble discourse all day long did please me, and it being late did take them to my house to drink, and did give them some sweetmeats, and thence sent them with a lanthorn home, two worthy persons as are in England, I think, or the world.

Note 1. Sayes Court [Map], the well-known residence of John Evelyn (age 44).


Evelyn's Diary. 04 Aug 1665. I went to Wotton, Surrey [Map] with my Son and his tutor, Mr. Bohun, Fellow of New College (recommended to me by Dr. Wilkins (age 51), and the President of New College, Oxford), for fear of the pestilence, still increasing in London and its environs. On my return, I called at Durdans, where I found Dr. Wilkins (age 51), Sir William Petty (age 42), and Mr. Hooke (age 30), contriving chariots, new rigging for ships, a wheel for one to run races in, and other mechanical inventions; perhaps three such persons together were not to be found elsewhere in Europe, for parts and ingenuity.

Pepy's Diary. 11 Jan 1666. So ended the matter, and back to my company, where staid a little, and thence away with my Lord Bruncker (age 46) for discourse sake, and he and I to Gresham College to have seen Mr. Hooke (age 30) and a new invented chariott of Dr. Wilkins, but met with nobody at home! So to Dr. Wilkins's, where I never was before, and very kindly received and met with Dr. Merritt, and fine discourse among them to my great joy, so sober and so ingenious. He is now upon finishing his discourse of a universal character. So away and I home to my office about my letters, and so home to supper and to bed.

Pepy's Diary. 22 Jan 1666. At noon my Lord Bruncker (age 46) did come, but left the keys of the chests we should open, at Sir G. Carteret's (age 56) lodgings, of my Lord Sandwich's (age 40), wherein Howe's supposed jewells are; so we could not, according to my Lord Arlington's (age 48) order, see them today; but we parted, resolving to meet here at night: my Lord Bruncker (age 46) being going with Dr. Wilkins, Mr. Hooke (age 30), and others, to Colonell Blunts, to consider again of the business of charriots, and to try their new invention. Which I saw here my Lord Bruncker (age 46) ride in; where the coachman sits astride upon a pole over the horse, but do not touch the horse, which is a pretty odde thing; but it seems it is most easy for the horse, and, as they say, for the man also.

Pepy's Diary. 21 Feb 1666. Thence with my Lord Bruncker (age 46) to Gresham College, the first time after the sicknesse that I was there, and the second time any met. And here a good lecture of Mr. Hooke's (age 30) about the trade of felt-making, very pretty. And anon alone with me about the art of drawing pictures by Prince Rupert's (age 46) rule and machine, and another of Dr. Wren's (age 42)1 but he says nothing do like squares, or, which is the best in the world, like a darke roome, [The camera obscura.] which pleased me mightily.

Note 1. Afterwards the famous Sir Christopher Wren (age 42). He was one of the mainstays of the Royal Society.


Pepy's Diary. 04 Jun 1666. Thence back with Mr. Hooke (age 30) to my house and there lent some of my tables of naval matters, the names of rigging and the timbers about a ship, in order to Dr. Wilkins' book coming out about the Universal Language.

Pepy's Diary. 08 Aug 1666. Up, and with Reeves walk as far as the Temple [Map], doing some business in my way at my bookseller's and elsewhere, and there parted, and I took coach, having first discoursed with Mr. Hooke (age 31) a little, whom we met in the streete, about the nature of sounds, and he did make me understand the nature of musicall sounds made by strings, mighty prettily; and told me that having come to a certain number of vibrations proper to make any tone, he is able to tell how many strokes a fly makes with her wings (those flies that hum in their flying) by the note that it answers to in musique during their flying. That, I suppose, is a little too much refined; but his discourse in general of sound was mighty fine.

Pepy's Diary. 16 Nov 1666. At noon to the 'Change [Map], and thence back to the new taverne come by us; the Three Tuns [Map], where D. Gawden did feast us all with a chine of beef and other good things, and an infinite dish of fowl, but all spoiled in the dressing. This noon I met with Mr. Hooke (age 31), and he tells me the dog which was filled with another dog's blood, at the College the other day, is very well, and like to be so as ever, and doubts not its being found of great use to men; and so do Dr. Whistler, who dined with us at the taverne.

Pepy's Diary. 16 Feb 1667. Thence away to my Lord Bruncker's (age 47), and there was Sir Robert Murray (age 59), whom I never understood so well as now by this opportunity of discourse with him, a most excellent man of reason and learning, and understands the doctrine of musique, and everything else I could discourse of, very finely. Here come Mr. Hooke (age 31), Sir George Ent, Dr. Wren (age 43), and many others; and by and by the musique, that is to say, Signor Vincentio, who is the master-composer, and six more, whereof two eunuches, so tall, that Sir T. Harvey (age 41) said well that he believes they do grow large by being gelt as our oxen do, and one woman very well dressed and handsome enough, but would not be kissed, as Mr. Killigrew (age 55), who brought the company in, did acquaint us. They sent two harpsicons before; and by and by, after tuning them, they begun; and, I confess, very good musique they made; that is, the composition exceeding good, but yet not at all more pleasing to me than what I have heard in English by Mrs. Knipp, Captain Cooke (age 51), and others. Nor do I dote on the eunuches; they sing, indeed, pretty high, and have a mellow kind of sound, but yet I have been as well satisfied with several women's voices and men also, as Crispe of the Wardrobe. The women sung well, but that which distinguishes all is this, that in singing, the words are to be considered, and how they are fitted with notes, and then the common accent of the country is to be known and understood by the hearer, or he will never be a good judge of the vocal musique of another country. So that I was not taken with this at all, neither understanding the first, nor by practice reconciled to the latter, so that their motions, and risings and fallings, though it may be pleasing to an Italian, or one that understands the tongue, yet to me it did not, but do from my heart believe that I could set words in English, and make musique of them more agreeable to any Englishman's eare (the most judicious) than any Italian musique set for the voice, and performed before the same man, unless he be acquainted with the Italian accent of speech. The composition as to the musique part was exceeding good, and their justness in keeping time by practice much before any that we have, unless it be a good band of practised fiddlers.

Pepy's Diary. 02 Apr 1668. Thence with Lord Brouncker (age 48) and several of them to the King's Head Taverne by Chancery Lane, and there did drink and eat and talk, and, above the rest, I did hear of Mr. Hooke (age 32) and my Lord an account of the reason of concords and discords in musique, which they say is from the equality of vibrations; but I am not satisfied in it, but will at my leisure think of it more, and see how far that do go to explain it. So late at night home with Mr. Colwell, and parted, and I to the office, and then to Sir W. Pen (age 46) to confer with him, and Sir R. Ford (age 54) and Young, about our St. John Baptist prize, and so home, without more supper to bed, my family being now little by the departure of my wife and two maids.


Pepy's Diary. 04 May 1669. Up, and to the office, and then my wife being gone to see her mother at Deptford, Kent [Map], I before the office sat went to the Excise Office, and thence being alone stepped into Duck Lane [Map], and thence tried to have sent a porter to Deb.'s, but durst not trust him, and therefore having bought a book to satisfy the bookseller for my stay there, a 12d. book, Andronicus of Tom Fuller, I took coach, and at the end of Jewen Street next Red Cross Street I sent the coachman to her lodging, and understand she is gone for Greenwich, Kent [Map] to one Marys's, a tanner's, at which I, was glad, hoping to have opportunity to find her out; and so, in great fear of being seen, I to the office, and there all the morning, dined at home, and presently after dinner comes home my wife, who I believe is jealous of my spending the day, and I had very good fortune in being at home, for if Deb. had been to have been found it is forty to one but I had been abroad, God forgive me. So the afternoon at the office, and at night walked with my wife in the garden, and my Lord Brouncker (age 49) with us, who is newly come to W. Pen's (age 48) lodgings; and by and by comes Mr. Hooke (age 33); and my Lord, and he, and I into my Lord's lodgings, and there discoursed of many fine things in philosophy, to my great content, and so home to supper and to bed.

Pepy's Diary. 05 May 1669. Up, and thought to have gone with Lord Brouncker (age 49) to Mr. Hooke (age 33) this morning betimes; but my Lord is taken ill of the gout, and says his new lodgings have infected him, he never having had any symptoms of it till now. So walked to Gresham College, to tell Hooke that my Lord could not come; and so left word, he being abroad, and I to St. James's, and thence, with the Duke of York (age 35), to White Hall, where the Board waited on him all the morning: and so at noon with Sir Thomas Allen (age 36), and Sir Edward Scott, and Lord Carlingford (age 66), to the Spanish Embassador's, where I dined the first time. The Olio not so good as Sheres's. There was at the table himself and a Spanish Countess, a good, comely, and witty lady-three Fathers and us. Discourse good and pleasant. And here was an Oxford scholar in a Doctor of Law's gowne, sent from the College where the Embassador lay, when the Court was there, to salute him before his return to Spain: This man, though a gentle sort of scholar, yet sat like a fool for want of French or Spanish, but [knew] only Latin, which he spoke like an Englishman to one of the Fathers. And by and by he and I to talk, and the company very merry at my defending Cambridge against Oxford: and I made much use of my French and Spanish here, to my great content. But the dinner not extraordinary at all, either for quantity or quality.

Evelyn's Diary. 11 May 1676. I dined with Mr. Charleton, and went to see Mr. Montague's (age 37) new palace, near Bloomsbury, built by Mr. Hooke (age 40), of our Society, after the French manner.

Evelyn's Diary. 05 Nov 1679. I was invited to dine at my Lord Teviotdale's, a Scotch Earl, a learned and knowing nobleman. We afterward went to see Mr. Montague's new palace near Bloomsbury, built by our curator, Mr. Hooke (age 44), somewhat after the French; it was most nobly furnished, and a fine, but too much exposed garden.

On 03 Mar 1703 Robert Hooke Scientist (age 67) died.