Hartlib, Samuel

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Epithet: writer of education and husbandry

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000498.0x000268

The collection comprises the papers and correspondence of Samuel Hartlib (?1600-1662), known as 'the Great Intelligencer of Europe', educationalist, natural philosopher and polymath, who dedicated himself to maintaining regular and extensive correspondence with like-minded thinkers around the world, to creating a documentary archive of knowledge and information on many aspects of contemporary life and to communicating that knowledge to others - in effect an encyclopedist of the seventeenth century. He was assisted in his work by close associates and a staff of copyists. The archive, which includes copies of his own letters as well as those sent to him by others, represents the greater part of extant Hartlib material. The seventeenth century was a period of rapid scientific and philosophical development, as well as of social, religious and political crisis, and the Hartlib Papers, as well as providing important insights into the state and the transmission of knowledge of the period also illustrate how intellectual people reacted to the events of the time.

Hartlib was born around 1600 in Elbing in East Prussia, but his mother was English, and his family was involved in an English merchant company in Danzig and Elbing. He was educated at least partly in England, and because of the disruption caused by the Thirty Years War moved permanently to England around 1628. After settling in England he became acquainted with religious leaders (on the reformed side), leading members of universities, men of science, literature, politics, education, agriculture, horticulture, technology and many other areas of knowledge. There is for example an important section of documents relating to the Moravian educationalist and reformer Comenius (Jan Amos Komensk), some of whose works Hartlib published in England before Comenius visited London in 1641 prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. Other notable people with whom he corresponded include John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Robert Boyle, Oliver Cromwell, John Dury, Christopher Wren, Ren Descartes and Blaise Pascal. In addition he corresponded with the English colonies in America. Sadly, despite his eminent connections, Hartlib was always short of money, though his association with the Parliamentary side resulted in a small pension from Cromwell's government, but at the Restoration he fell out of favour, dying in penury two years later in 1662.

The history of the documents after Hartlib's death is obscure, but in more recent times Professor George Turnbull, Professor of Education at the University of Sheffield from 1922 to 1954, was responsible for their rediscovery and transfer to Sheffield, where he carried out transcription and other work on educational papers within the collection, and for their deposit in the University Library.

In late 1987, as a result of British Academy and Leverhulme Trust support, the Hartlib Papers Project was established at the University of Sheffield, and work on the transcription and data-capture of the entire corpus of some 20,000 pages of manuscript, together with a further 5,000 pages of printed ephemera, commenced. The result was the publication in 1995 in cooperation with UMI of a CD-ROM set which enables full searching of the text database together with access to digitised images of all the original documents. New understanding of the advancement of learning in the seventeenth century has been one important outcome of the Project.

A copy of the Hartlib Papers CD-ROM may be consulted in the Main Library at this University or on the campus network, and copies have been acquired by a number of other research libraries world-wide.

From the guide to the Samuel Hartlib Papers, [ca.1620]-1662, (University of Sheffield Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Sloane 1465Paper, in 4to., ff. 235, XVII Century.Copies of various letters and papers, chiefly by Mr. John Dury, respecting the Church.1. 'A memoriall concerning Mr. John Dury.' f. 1.2. 'Copia Instrumenti Theologorum Britannorum, sive, Exemplar Liter... British Library
referencedIn VOL. I.-Letter from George Evelyn to his father, Richard Evelyn; dat. Trin. Coil. Oxon, 30 June, 1634 ; with a draft of the reply, 10 July, 1634, f. 2;-Nicolas Oudart (Secretary to Sir Edward Nicholas) to [Sir Richard Browne?] ; Oxon, 28 Apr. 1644, f..., 1634-1824 British Library
referencedIn Vol. III, ff. 257, XVIII cent.includes:ff.1-3 Royal Society: Dedication to George II by T. Birch of his History of: 1757.ff. 4 -7, 13 -14 William Murdin, Vicar of Shalford: Preface to his 'Collection of State Papers. . . ': 1759.f. 9 John Loc..., 18th century British Library
referencedIn Sloane 1466Paper, 4to., ff. 456, XVII Century.1. Josephi Webb Epistola in imitationem Ciceronis Epistolarum. ff. 1b, 301.Tit. 'Exemplum Imitationis dianocticae Webbianae.'2. Servii Sulpicii Epistola ad M. T. Ciceronem. ff. 2-6.Deficit in verbis, 'apu... British Library
referencedIn Vol. II, 1658-1660. A few documents at the end of Vol. II (ff. 278-283) are subsequent to the Restoration.Thomas Scot, of county Buckinghamshire, regicide (d. 1660): Warrants signed by: 1659, 1660.Samuel Foxley, Deputy Clerk of the Pells: Warrants si..., 1658-1660 British Library
referencedIn THURLOE PAPERS. Vol. III (ff. 206). Viz:-(1) John Owen, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, to the Lord Protector; 20 Oct. 1655. Op. cit. iv, p. 65. ff. 3-4b. (2) Decree of Daniel Searle, Lt.-General and Governor of Barbados, in a suit there between Rober... British Library
referencedIn PELL PAPERS. Vol. III (ff. 325). Miscellaneous; circ. 1631-1681. The latter part of this volume contains Pell's letters to his wife Ithumaria, his son John, and his daughters Elizabeth and Bathshua, as well as papers connected with the rectory of Fob..., approximately 1631-1681 British Library
referencedIn Collection of letters and papers made by Thomas Birch, chiefly transcripts in his autograph but including a few original letters; 17th-I 8th centt. Included are: (a) copies of the correspondence of Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury, made from..., 17th century-18th century British Library
referencedIn Charles I of England: Proceedings in Parliament: 1625-1646.includes:f. 1 Sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford: Articles of his accusation for high treason: 1640.f. 3 Sir Edward Dering, 1st Baronet: Speech in Parliament on the Papist... British Library
referencedIn Vol. II (ff. 399). (1) Johann Heinrich Rahn to J. Pell; Kyburg, near Zurich, 3 March 1658. Latin. ff. 5-6b. (2) John Pell to Theodore Hank, on scientific subjects; 1663, 1664. ff. 13-17b. (3) Ezerel Tonge, D.D., to J. Pell; 8 Oct. 1662. ff. 23-24. (4..., 1654-1714 British Library
referencedIn Vol. I (ff. 170). (1) Instructions to George Downing, Extraordinary Ambassador to Geneva, Basle, etc., John Pell, Resident with the Evangelical Cantons of Switzerland, and Samuel Morland, Envoy to the Duke of Savoy; 28 July 1655. Draft, partly in Sec..., 1653-1661 British Library
referencedIn Vol. II, (ff. i + 390)includes:f. 55 Jan Janszoon Stampioen, Dutch mathematician and inventor: Notes on his 'Nieuwe Tafelen der polus-hooghte' (1618),: 17th cent.f. 88 John Pell, d 1685 DD; mathematician and diplomatist: Correspondence with Sir C... British Library
referencedIn JESSOP PAPERS. Vol. III (ff. 198):-(1) Business and private correspondence, accompts, papers, etc., of William Jessop and other members of his family; 1628-1692. ff. 1-167b. (2) Miscellaneous papers; 1625-(?)1650, n.d. The principal contents are:-(..., 1625-1692 British Library
referencedIn Vol. II (ff. 324). D-Z; circ. 1624-1683. Included are letters of Samuel Hartlib, Marin Mersenne, Sir Samuel Morland, Johann Jacob Stockar, etc.includes:ff. 1, 3, 6, 7 John Davis, of Horndon-on-the-Hill: Correspondence with J. Pell: 1662.f. 5 Eliz..., approximately 1624-1683 British Library
referencedIn Sloane 1519Paper, in folio, ff. 243, XVII century. A collection of letters illustrative of English History, addressed for the most part to Thomas third Lord Fairfax.Index of contents. ff. 1-11.1. Letter of Philip II, King of Spain, to Queen Elizabeth... British Library
referencedIn Vol. III (ff. 225). I-W; circ. 1539-1716.includes:f. 1 James Talbot, DD; Rector of Spofforth 1700: Letter to, from H. James: 1698.f. 1 Henry James, DD, President of Queens' College, and Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University: Letter to J.Talbot:..., approximately 1539-1716 British Library
referencedIn GRAMMATICAL MISCELLANEACollection of notes and treatises on grammatical subjects, the more important being: (1) Extracts, etc., from works on Arabic and Hebrew Grammar, by John Pell. ff. 1-24. (2) Fragment of the Koran. Arabic. f. 27. (3) Guide to th... British Library
referencedIn includes:ff. 1-7, 47-58 b Natural Philosophy: Disputatio philosophica de vacuo: 17th cent.: Two copies.ff. 8-20 David Mylius: Consideratio considerationis Mylianæ; dissertatio de vera inductionis methodo: 17th cent.ff. 21-28 b, 29 40 b Alchemy:... British Library
referencedIn Houghton Library printed book provenance file, E-K. Houghton Library
referencedIn TRANSCRIPT of letters of Samuel Hartlib to John Worthington, D.D., Master of Jesus College, Cambridge; 20 Nov. 1655-14 Feb. 1661[2]. With the printed letters of Dr. Worthington to Hartlib, 29 Nov. 1660-14 Feb. 1661[2], exit from Worthington's Miscell..., 18th century British Library
referencedIn THURLOE PAPERS. Vol. II (ff. 215). Viz:-(1) Ratification by the Parliament of pension of £400 to Sir Archibald Johnston; 16 March 1649/50. Copy. f. 1. (2) Oliver Cromwell to John Cotton, Pastor of Boston, New England; 2 Oct. 1651. Copy. Printed in t... British Library
referencedIn Vol. I, 1656-1658;Gualter Frost, Treasurer to Council of State: Warrants for payments to: 1656-1660.Sir Adam Loftus: Warrants for payments to: 1656-1660.John Lindsay, 17th Earl of Crawford and 1st Earl of Lindsay: Warrants for payments to: 1656-1659..., 1656-1658 British Library
referencedIn SPECIMENS of handwriting, notes and tables of mnemonics, etc., as follows:-(1) 'A Coppie booke of the vsuall hands written: sett foorth by Richard Gething, Master in Writinge: ... Anno 1616'. Engraved. It formed the foundation of his Calligraphotechn..., 17th century British Library
referencedIn PELL PAPERS. Vol. XXIV (ff. 558). A miscellaneous collection of treatises, of Pell's notes on them, problems, tables of logarithms, etc., including the following;-(a) 'Labyrinthus ingenii'; 1629. ff. 1-7;-(b) 'The ground of all the recreations in N..., 1629 British Library
creatorOf Samuel Hartlib Papers, [ca.1620]-1662 University of Sheffield Lbrary
referencedIn Vol. XXIII (ff. 471).includes:f. 8 Henry Oldenburg, Secretary of the Royal Society: Letter to, from G. W. von Leibnitz: 1676.: Lat.f. 8 Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz, d 1716, German philosopher and mathematician: Correspondence with H. Old... British Library
referencedIn PELL PAPERS. Vol. X (ff. 305). Extracts from astronomical works, including 'The Everlasting Tables of Heavenly Motions ... composed by Philip Lansberg ... 1632, now turned out of Latine into English [by Pell?] ... 1634' (ff. 1-3); mathematical proble..., 1652 British Library
creatorOf TRUMBULL PAPERS. Vol. CXCVI (ff.ii+140). Miscellaneous correspondence and papers relating to diplomatic and domestic affairs; 7/17 Apr. 1643-3/13 June 1652, n.d. Partly drafts and copies in Weckherlin's hand. Partly French. Included (ff. i-ii) is a p..., 1643-1652 British Library
referencedIn THURLOE PAPERS. Vol. V (ff. 280. Vil:-(1) The Dutch Commissioners for the treaty with Sweden, to the States General; Copenhagen, 16/26 Apr. 1660. Dutch and English translation. Copies. Op. cit . vii, p. 898. ff. 1-4. (2) Charles Longland, Agent at Le... British Library
referencedIn includes:ff. 1-43 b Franciscus Vieta, d 1603 French geometrician: Zetetica, libb. i.-v.: 16th cent.: Hologr.ff. 44-151 b Geometry: Diagrams for measuring heights and distances, with short notes: 17th cent.: Germ.f. 152 Germany, General: Schemat... British Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Comenius John Amos 1592-1670 person
associatedWith Hartlib Samuel c 1600-1662 person
associatedWith Houghton Library. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
St Justin, France
Turkey, Asia Minor
Venice, Italy
Switzerland, Europe
Croydon, Surrey
Cumberland, England
Switzerland, Europe
Cassel, Germany
Genoa, Italy
Tangier, Morocco
Fobbing, Essex
Diez, Nassau
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Chideock House, Dorset
Norfolk, England
Sherborne Castle, Dorset
Venice, Italy
Grisons, the Netherlands
County Durham, England
Bristol, Gloucestershire
Cheshire, England
Barbados, the Carribean
Gloucestershire, England
Arth, Switzerland
Geneva, Switzerland
Bremen, Germany
Venice, Italy
Chatham, Kent
Jamaica, Central America
Switzerland, Europe
Gibraltar, Spain
St Christopher, West Indies
Jamaica, Central America
London, England
Netherlands, Europe
Portsmouth, Hampshire
Ireland, Europe
Nérac, France
Netherlands, Europe
Galway, county of, Ireland
Breda, the Netherlands
London, England
Payerne, Switzerland
Netherlands, Europe
London, England
Cathay, China
Ireland, Europe
St. Malo, France
Dardanelles, Greece
Colton, Staffordshire
Middlesex, England
Netherlands, Europe
Netherlands, Europe
West Indies, America
Milan, Italy
Maidstone, Kent
Utrecht, the Netherlands
Netherlands, Europe
Nérac, France
Japan, Asia
Fobbing, Essex
Ireland, Europe
Dublin, Ireland
Leicestershire, England
Abingdon, Berkshire
Ireland, Europe
Zurich, Switzerland
Kilkenny, county of, Ireland
Dorchester, Dorset
New Ross, Wexford
Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland
Godshill, Isle of Wght
Hereford, Herefordshire
Zurich, Switzerland
Dunfermline, Fifeshire
Cropredy Bridge, Oxfordshire
Germany, Europe
Algiers, Africa
Netherlands, Europe
London, England
Switzerland, Europe
Canterbury, Roman Catholic Province of, England
Aarau, Switzerland
Virginia, U.S.A.
Cockermouth, Cumberland
Zurich, Switzerland
Pragelato, Italy
Kent, England
Bremen, Germany
Pembroke, Pembrokeshire
Netherlands, Europe
Eton, Buckinghamshire
Ireland, Europe
Orsett, Essex
Intellectual life 17th century


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