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II.—The Astrolabe of Queen Elizabeth

  • R. T. Gunther

During the past summer a number of parts of ancient English astronomical instruments were found in the University Observatory at Oxford, during the refitting of certain rooms for the new programme of work of Professor Plaskett, the Savilian Professor of Astronomy. Professor Plaskett was kind enough to draw my attention to the find, and, on my expressing the opinion that it was of historic value, was gracious enough to present the instruments to the Oxford Museum of the History of Science in the Old Ashmolean.

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page 65 note 1 The head of the branch of the family with which we are concerned was the Rev. John Greaves, who held the living of Colmore, Hants, and had been tutor to George Wither, the poet. The possible existence of a son Nicolas is obscurely hinted in the Greaves pedigree in Nash's Worcester i, 179, by the phrase ‘four sons’. But the Victoria County History of Hampshire definitely restricts his progeny to three, namely, (1) John, b. 1602, traveller and astronomer, and our Savilian professor; (2) Edward, b. 1608, Fellow of All Souls and physician to Charles II; (3) Thomas, b. 1612, deputy professor of Arabic and Fellow of Corpus Christi College. Yet Nicolas was hardly less eminent. He matriculated at St. Mary Hall in February 1624–5, aged 19, and would therefore have come between John and Edward. He, too, became a Fellow of All Souls, in 1627, seven years before Edward. He was proctor in 1640, D.D. in 1643, rector of Tankersly, Yorks., 1634, and of Welwyn until ejected for non-conformity in 1662. John died in London 8th October 1652, when apparently his astronomical instruments passed to his brothers Nicholas and Thomas, who seven years later gave them to the University, from which they may never have been moved.

page 66 note 1 Presumably a contraction for Nicolai fratris.

page 68 note 1 Colvin, , Early Engraving and Engravers in England, 1905, fig. 7.

page 69 note 1 Dr. Philip Fox, the director of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, informs me that he is fortunate enough to have in his keeping in the Mensing collection an English astrolabe, by John Blagrave, that exhibits this feature, as well as two smaller instruments. In the Blagrave instrument (Astrolabes of the World, pi. 141) the stars are not chased in full relief.

page 70 note 1 Archaeologia, lxxvii, 309

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The Antiquaries Journal
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