Richard Bentley: Letter to John Evelyn

Scope and Content

Letter to John Evelyn from Richard Bentley, 23 October 1697, with a draft of a letter from Evelyn to Bentley, 29 October 1697.

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Bentley (1662-1742), classical scholar, was born on 27 January 1662, in Oulton, Yorkshire, the son of Thomas Bentley, by his second wife, Sarah Willie. He attended Wakefield Grammar School, before entering St John's College, Cambridge, in 1676 (B.A., 1680; M.A., 1683). He was made headmaster of Spalding School, Lincolnshire, in 1682, but resigned at the end of the year to become the domestic tutor of James, son of Dr Edward Stillingfleet, dean of St Paul's. He took deacon's orders in 1690, and served as chaplain to the Bishop of Worcester until 1699. He corresponded with Isaac Newton, and expounded Newton's ideas in his Boyle Lectures of 1692. He was Keeper of the Royal Library, 1694-1742, and Master of Trinity College 1700-1742, and was made Fellow of the Royal Society in 1695. Bentley died on 14 July 1742 at Cambridge.

John Evelyn (1620-1706) was born on 31 October 1620 at Wotton, Surrey, the son of Richard Evelyn and Eleanor, daughter of John Standsfield. He was admitted a student at Middle Temple in 1637, and that year became a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He was a royalist, and travelled through France and Italy between 1643 and 1647 in order to avoid the disturbances in England. During this time he engaged in a lengthy period of study, developing a great knowledge of classical literature and science. On returning to England he settled at Sayes Court, Deptford, where he pursued gardening. After the Restoration he was a founding member of the Royal Society. In 1692 he appointed Richard Bentley to the Boyle lectureship, and later corresponded with him about Evelyn's Numismata: A discourse of medals (1697). He died on 27 February 1706.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Stanley Hawley, 1915.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Richard Bentley in Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds, Dictionary of national biography, Vol. III (London, 1908), pp. 306-314, and the entry on John Evelyn in Vol. VI, pp. 943-946 (London, 1908).

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