The Gregory material includes: the works Optica promota, Geometriae pars universalis, Vera circuli et hyperbolae quadratura, and Exercitationes geometricae with figures and introductory essay; manuscripts including those of his nephew David Gregory (1661-1708), some complete, some fragments; mathematical papers and other material by both James Gregory and David Gregory with items by or referring to Isaac Newton, Flamsteed, Halley, Boyle, Huygens, Craig, Wallis, and Pitcairne; J. Gregorii oratio in collegio S. Salvatoris Academiae St. Andreanae and Trigonometriae quinque canones; notes from works or lectures, 1694-1705; material showing the content of correspondence between Gregory and Mr. Collins; and, an account of Gregory's papers by W. Sanders.
Papers of Professor James Gregory (1638-1675), the Elder
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- ReferenceGB 237 Coll-348
- Dates of Creation17th century-18th century
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish, and Latin.
- Physical Description2 manuscript volumes, 3 boxed folders (parts of), 1 manuscript note.
- LocationDc.1.4/1/129; Dc.1.61; Dk.1.2/1-2; Gen. 1958
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
The mathematician James Gregory was born at the Manse of Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, in November 1638. He was educated in Aberdeen and then studied at Marischal College in the city. His scientific talent was encouraged by his inventor brother, David Gregory (1627-1720) and at the age of twenty-four he published Optica promota (1663) which was a description of a reflecting telescope which he had invented in 1661. Between 1664 and 1667, Gregory studied mathematics in Padua, Italy, and while there he published Vera circuli et hyperbolae quadratura (1667) in which he showed how to find the areas of the circle, ellipse, and hyperbola. After his return to Britain, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 1668. The same year he published his Exercitationes geometricae. Also in 1668 he was appointed Professor of Mathematics at St. Andrews University. In 1672-73 he communicated with Isaac Newton (1642-1727) on the merits or otherwise of their own telescopes. Towards the end of his life he was also absorbed with the theory of equations. In July 1674 he was elected as the first exclusively mathematical professor at Edinburgh University, and earlier that year the first Gregorian telescope - the type of instrument that would be used universally throughout the eighteenth century - was presented to the Royal Society in February 1674. Professor James Gregory, the Elder, died in October 1675.
Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.
Works, purchased 1974, Accession no. E74.18.
The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 8. Glover-Harriott. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.
Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.
Other Finding Aids
Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.
Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.