Treatises collected by Hobbes and Robert Payne

Scope and Content

This series comprises manuscripts collected by Thomas Hobbes and his friend the clergyman and mathematician Robert Payne, written by other people. They are scribal copies or copies made by Payne. Whilst most relate to scientific and mathematical published works of the period, including those by William Oughtred, Edmund Gunther, Pierre de Fermat, Walter Warner and Jean de Beaugrand, HS/B/1 is an unpublished manuscript by an unknown author on the study and teaching of languages.

Most of the manuscripts in this collection can be linked to Hobbes through his connections with mathematicians whilst in Paris or through Payne - who Hobbes sought mathematical expertise from when tutoring members of the Cavendish family and when revising drafts of his own works. However, HS/B/1 is seemingly unrelated to either and it is not clear whether there is any connection to Hobbes or Payne. This manuscript's provenance remains an unanalysed conundrum.

This small series provides insight into the works that Payne and Hobbes had exposure to and were influenced by. A number of the works in Payne's hand were for many years assumed to be the notes of Hobbes, but it is now clear that any influence Hobbes gained from these authors was through his possession (probably after Payne's death in 1651) of these extracts of their works by Payne.

The copies made in the hand of the Parisian scribe (Hobbes's amanuensis in Paris) however, can be assumed to have been in Hobbes's possession earlier, whilst in Paris and shed light on the works he was exposed to whilst living there.


The current arrangement is based on that in 1977 RCHM report and does not appear to have been arranged with a particular rationale in mind within the series. The series is recorded in the 1977 RCHM report as: "Treatises and other systematic writings collected by Hobbes or transcribed for him, but not by him", and was likely arranged in its current form by 1936.

Custodial History

These manuscripts were likely extant in the archive on Hobbes's death in 1679. Whilst some of the manuscripts were probably brought back to Derbyshire with Hobbes from Paris, a number of the papers in this collection probably came into Hobbes's possession after Payne's death in 1651. Noel Malcolm suggests Payne's sister (his executor) may have sent the papers belonging to Payne to Hobbes after considering the close relationship between the two men.

Related Material

Notes on works by William Oughtred and Walter Warner by Payne can be found in HS/C.