Pierre Desmaizeaux

(1673—1745) biographer and journalist

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Pierre Desmaizeaux (or Des Maizeaux) was born in France and died on 11 July 1745. He was the son of a Protestant minister whose family took refuge in Switzerland when the Edict of Nantes was revoked. He studied at the Lyceum of Berne and the Academy of Geneva before travelling via The Netherlands to England, where he established himself as a man of letters. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1720. He had met the third Earl of Shaftesbury in Holland and came over with him to England in 1699. He enjoyed the patronage of Lord Halifax, Joseph Addison and Anthony Collins, becoming a close associate of the famous freethinker. He became the English correspondent for some of the leading Dutch and French academic journals and in this capacity played an important role in mediating developments in English intellectual life to readers on the Continent. Desmaizeaux himself was a sceptic and a freethinker. His dispatches related not only to Locke, Newton and Shaftesbury, whom he certainly admired, but also to more radical ‘deists’ such as Toland, Collins and Tindal, with whose cause he was a fellow-traveller.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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