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Francis Hauksbee

(1687—1763) instrument maker and lecturer on science


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According to an obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine, Francis Hauksbee the younger died on 11 January 1763 at the age of seventy-five. He was probably the son or nephew of Francis Hauksbee the elder, although this is not certain. Little is known of his life. He was appointed ‘clerk and housekeeper’ to the Royal Society on 9 May 1723, that is, during Isaac Newton's presidency. He never became a Fellow although he has been mistakenly so described. He was an experimentalist and assistant to J.T. Desaguliers, who became curator of experiments in 1714 on the death of Hauksbee the elder. He devised and wrote various courses of lectures in collaboration with Peter Shaw and William Whiston, who were to deliver the lectures while Hauksbee illustrated them with the appropriate experiments. Augustus De Morgan credits him with being the first person to adopt this method of teaching (A Budget of Paradoxes, p. 93). His published works were thus mainly syllabuses for such courses. He was also an instrument-maker of some ingenuity and sold air pumps, hydrostatic balances, barometers, thermometers and reflecting telescopes from premises in Crane Court, Fleet Street, where the Royal Society was then situated.

From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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