Person: Molyneux (2), Samuel
Samuel Molyneux was an English astronomer who produced some new telescope designs.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- This, of course, was now a topic of great interest to William Molyneux and he enthusiastically followed Locke's ideas in bringing up Samuel.
- When he was sixteen years old, Samuel Molyneux matriculated at Trinity College, Dublin and there he became friendly with George Berkeley who was four years his elder.
- Berkeley clearly had great respect for Molyneux, both as a man and as a scientist, and dedicated Miscellanea mathematica (1707) to his friend who was still an undergraduate at this time.
- The position of secretary to the Prince of Wales was only one of Molyneux's many roles.
- Before this Molyneux had a comfortable financial position, but now he was wealthy.
- Bradley was, like Molyneux, a fellow of the Royal Society and, after being appointed to the Savilian chair of astronomy at Oxford in 1721, moved from being an amateur astronomer to a professional one.
- Also in 1721, on the death of Lady Capel of Tewkesbury, a relation of Molyneux's wife, the Molyneuxs inherited Kew House.
- Molyneux and Bradley collaborated in innovative designs for reflecting telescopes from 1723 to 1725 and Molyneux set up an observatory at his home in Kew House.
- The main aim, as far as Molyneux was concerned, was to produce a design of telescope which could be made relatively cheaply and so allow a far wider range of people to become astronomical observers.
- It was mounted in November 1725 at Molyneux's home on Kew Green, by boring holes through the ceiling and roof.
- Bradley went on to use the method developed by him and Molyneux to discover the aberration of starlight which he announced in 1728.
- By this time, however, Molyneux had ceased to work with him for he was on the Privy Council having been appointed as one of the lords of the Admiralty on 29 July 1727.
- Molyneux had been returned as a member of the London parliament in 1726 and again in 1727, and also to the Irish parliament in 1727 as representing the University of Dublin.
- Robert Smith had been given access to Molyneux's papers and instruments a short time before Molyneux died and he took over the publication of a partially written book by Molyneux on optics.
- This was published as A Compleat System of Opticks (1738), and had chapters written by Molyneux on the grinding and polishing of telescope lenses and mirrors.
- In these chapters he explained the theories of Huygens who had visited the Royal Society in 1685, Molyneux being his host on this occasion.
- Huygens had kept in contact with Molyneux and had sent him his experimental results on lens before his death in 1695.
- Another chapter which was essentially due to Molyneux was entitled Sir Isaac Newton's Reflecting Telescope Made and Described by the Honourable Samuel Molyneux Esquire, and Presented by Him to His Majesty John V King of Portugal: with Other Kinds of Mechanisms for This and for Mr Gregory's Reflecting Telescope.
- On his death Molyneux had around 700 instruments, mostly for astronomical use.
Born 18 July 1689, Chester, Cheshire, England. Died 13 April 1728, Kew, Surrey, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive