Francis Aston and Tancred Robinson abruptly resigned as the secretaries of the Royal Society, just a week after they had been reelected

December 19, 1685

Because of the uncompensated workload, Francis Aston and Tancred Robinson abruptly resigned as the secretaries of the Royal Society on 9 December 1685 O.S., just a week after they had been reelected. At the next meeting, on 16 December 1685, they were replaced as secretaries by John Hoskyns, who had served as president in 1683, and Thomas Gale.

According to Edmond Halley, in a letter of 27 March 1686 O.S. to William Molyneaux, Aston and Robinson did not feel as though they were adequately compensated for the amount of work involved. The Society decided that the secretary positions should be honorary and that the real work would be done by a paid, full-time, unmarried clerk. At the meeting of the council on 27 January 1685/6 O.S., the Society’s leaders set out the qualifications and duties for the clerk. He would do the paperwork and correspondence, though the letters would always be signed by a secretary. At the full meeting later that day, in the second round of voting, Halley beat out Hans Sloane and Dennis Papin for the job by getting sixty percent of the votes.

At the following week’s meeting, the council members laid out in detail how Halley should fulfill the duties of clerk. It was not until the meeting of 3 March 1685/6 O.S. that they decided that Halley should also be responsible for Philosophical Transactions. See Birch, History of the Royal Society of London, pp. 449-462 and Letter L-170 of 12 March 1686 from Edmond Halley.

Hoskyns never wrote to L., Gale wrote two letters to Leeuwenhoek, and Halley wrote two letters and probably two more known only by reference in other letters. After that, Leeuwenhoek did not get another letter from the Royal Society until five years later, Letter L-215 of 12 February 1692 from Richard Waller, dated 2 February 1692 O.S. During those five years, Leeuwenhoek sent 18 letters to the Royal Society and two to Robert Boyle, all unanswered. None of them was published in Philosophical Transactions. As a result, Leeuwenhoek began publishing his letters in Dutch and Latin translation.