Robert Boyle

Birth or Baptism date: 
January 25, 1627
Death or Burial date: 
December 31, 1691

Boyle was Oldenburg's patron. While his science, like Newton's, was rooted in alchemy, he was one of the developers of the modern scientific method. Now, Boyle is known as the first chemist. He had what Shapin calls a "house of experiment".

See the Robert Boyle Project based at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Lost letters to Boyle

William Wotton made a list of Boyle's letters, for a biography that Wotton never wrote. He noted letters written by Leeuwenhoek to Boyle some time in 1677, 1678, and 1688. See The Correspondence of Robert Boyle. There is no evidence that Boyle ever wrote to Leeuwenhoek.

The Correspondence of Robert Boyle, 1636-1691, incorporating the unpublished work on Boyle’s correspondence by William Wotton (1666-1727), notes six letters from L. to Boyle and none in return. The first letter, Letter 25 [17] L-039 of 28 July 1676, and the final letter, Letter 112 L-203 of 12 January 1689, are in Collected Letters, vol. 2 and vol. 8. Letter L-191 of 6 August 1687 and the three lost letters, the present Letter L-049 of 1677, Letter L-064 of 1678, and Letter L-195 of 1688, are in this volume. See the Royal Society Boyle Papers 36.111, pp. 180-189 for Wotton’s work, a chronological inventory of Boyle’s letters.

Even though Boyle, a founding fellow of the Royal Society, did not write directly to L., he regularly asked others to pass along his reactions and suggestions. L. mentions Boyle and returns his compliments in the following letters, all but the final one written to Henry Oldenburg:

Letter L-011 of 1 June 1674:

Mr. Boyle advises me to continue them and especially to pay attention to the red, florid colour which blood acquires as soon as it is drawn from the veins and exposed to the air, and also to the blood under the surface, as being distinct from the other blood in colour, which has encouraged me to prosecute such observations.

Letter L-014 of 7 September 1674:

I am very much obliged to you and to Mr. Boyle for his undeserved affection towards me.

Letter L-016 of 19 October 1674:

Yours of the 20th August, from which I learned of the undeserved affection of Mr. Boyle and yourself towards me, which leaves me under great obligation.

Letter L-018 of 4 December 1674:

Please remember me to Mr. Boyle and thank him for not forgetting me.

Letter L-043 of 30 October 1676, referring to Letter L-039 of 28 July 1676:

p>I was also pleased to learn that Mr. Boyle agreed with my observations which I sent him with some misgiving. Please give this gentleman my humblest regards.

Letter L-054 of 23 March 1677:

I was not a little pleased to see that Mr. Boyle and Mr. Grew sent me their remembrances.

Letter 39 [25] L-073 of 31 May 1678 to Nehemiah Grew:

You showed my letters to Lord Brouncker, the president, Mr. Boyle and other gentlemen.

Letter 105 [60] L-194 of 28 November 1687 to the Royal Society:

Mr. Anthonie Heinsius ... wrote to me from Westminster on 24th July/3rd August, 1685 that the Right Honourable Robert Boyle would be pleased if I examined, among other things, cochineal.

Related images: