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Jean Theophile Desaguliers

(1683—1744) natural philosopher and engineer


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Francis Hauksbee (c. 1670—1713) natural philosopher and scientific instrument maker

John Keill (1671—1721) mathematician and natural philosopher

Stephen Gray (1656—1736) experimental philosopher

Maurice Johnson (1688—1755) antiquary and barrister

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Jean Theophile Desaguliers was born at La Rochelle in France on 12 March 1683, and died in London on 10 March 1744. His father, a Huguenot pastor, fled with his family from France to England after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. They settled first in Guernsey (1686) and then at Islington, North London (1694). Jean Theophile was educated at his father's school in Islington and then at Christ Church, Oxford, from 1705 to 1710, when he took his BA and became a deacon. In the same year he succeeded his teacher John Keill as a lecturer in experimental philosophy at Hart Hall, now Hertford College. He lectured on hydrostatics, mechanics and optics until 1712, when he took his MA and moved to London, continuing his lectures at his house in Channel Row, Westminster. In 1714 he was elected FRS and became demonstrator and curator of experiments to the Society in succession to Francis Hauksbee the elder. He was assisted by Stephen Gray and Hauksbee's son or nephew Francis Hauksbee the younger. Desaguliers was greatly admired by Newton, then President of the Society, many of whose experiments he repeated. In 1717 Desaguliers was ordained priest and in the same year he lectured before George I who, in consequence, found him a clerical sinecure in Norfolk. In 1718 he became a Doctor of Laws of Oxford. He was a Freemason and by 1719 he was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England. He received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society three times. He was a member of the Gentlemen's Society of Spalding (see Maurice Johnson). His lectures in London were attended by the most learned men of the day and on a lecture tour of Holland his audience included Boerhaave.

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From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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