Nicholas Saunderson: Lectures

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

A series of lectures on the tides and other scientific subjects delivered by Professor Saunderson, 125 folios. On fo. iv is an extract relating to Horace Walpole and Saunderson. The versos are mostly blank, but have occasional diagrams.

(Fo. iv) 'T. Aynscough, Coll. Joh. Cant., 1737'; (fo. 1) 'Lectures on the Tides'; (fo. 9) 'Of the Ascent and Suspension of Liquors in Capillary Tubes'; (fo. 19) 'Of the Ascent and Suspension of Mercury in the Barometer'; (fo. 24) 'Of the Prolate Sphaeroidical Figure of the Earth'; (fo. 27) 'Of Thunder and Lightning'; (fo. 34) 'Concerning Winds'; (fo. 39) 'Of the Circulation of the Sap'; (fo. 43) 'Of the Rainbow'; (fo. 46) 'Of Heat and Cold'; (fo. 50) 'The Doctrine of Sounds'; (fo. 60) 'Technical Chronology'; (fo. 69) 'Astronomy'; (fo. 116) 'Of the Horizontal Moon'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Nicholas Saunderson or Sanderson (1682-1739), mathematician, was born in January 1682 at Thurlston, near Penniston, Yorkshire. He lost his eyes when twelve months old as the result of an attack of smallpox. He attended Penniston school, where he learnt classics and developed a knowledge of French, Latin and Greek. Thereafter he studied mathematics at home, before moving to Cambridge in 1707, where he resided at Christ's College with Joshua Dunn, a fellow-commoner. Saunderson gave lectures at Cambridge on the philosophy of Newton, astronomy, hydrostatics, mechanics, optics, sounds, and the tides. He was granted an M.A. by special patent in 1711, and that year became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. He was created doctor of laws in 1728. Saunderson died on 19 April 1739. Algebra (Cambridge University Press, 1740) and his other mathematical writings were published after his death.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Acquisition Information

Purchased 1921.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Saunderson in Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of national biography, Vol. XVII (London, 1909), pp. 821-822.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.


A descriptive catalogue by Edward Donovan was printed, London [?1806].