John Ellys (Caius)

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Sir John Ellys or Ellis (1634?–1716) was an English academic, Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge from 1703.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born at Huntingfield, into a well-known East Anglian family; the Ellyses of Great Yarmouth, his relations, are mentioned for example in the Journal of Rowland Davies,[2] and Anthony Ellys was a great-nephew, son of Anthony Ellys who was mayor there.[3] His father was John Ellis or Ellys, of Raveningham or Frostenden, with two brothers, Anthony and Thomas.[4][5] The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth by Charles John Palmer gives his mother as Mary Barre of Syleham.[6]

Fellow and associate of Newton[edit]

After studying in a number of Suffolk schools, Ellys matriculated at Caius in 1648, aged 14. He graduated B.A. in 1652, and M.A. in 1655. He was then a Fellow of Caius from 1659 to 1703 (N.S.), when he became Master.[5]

Ellys was a personal friend of Isaac Newton.[7] He helped Newton with astronomical observations,[8] and was one of the few who knew Newton at Cambridge who visited his rooms.[9]

Ellys was also noted as a leading tutor across the university, popular and distinguished; and was not ordained, but held the degree of M.D.[10][11] A tutorial pupil, Henry Wharton, was taught by Newton,[12] and is thought to have been the only undergraduate student to have seen Newton's mathematical papers.[8] Another tutorial pupil was Samuel Clarke, and Ellys had him translate the Traité of Jacques Rohault (from French to Latin, creating a textbook).[13] It has been argued that Ellys was introducing his pupils to Newtonian thought by the 1690s.[14] William Whiston also claimed credit for the Newtonian edge to Clarke's Rohault translation (which however went to several editions); and Richard Laughton was thought by W. W. Rouse Ball to have been another Newtonian influence on Clarke. Ellys, however, is now considered a more likely source.[15]

After Thomas Plume died in 1704, Ellys, Newton and John Flamsteed were asked to set up the Plumian Chair. Ellys pushed for the initial appointment of Roger Cotes.[16] He then had to pacify Flamsteed and another trustee over the arrangements made for Cotes in Trinity College.[17]

Ellys was Vice-Chancellor of the university at the time of Queen Anne's visit in 1705, and was knighted by her with Newton and James Montagu.[5][18] These honours were intended to help the Whig political cause, and were engineered by Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, brother of James Montagu. Ellys, however, is considered non-political.[19] Apart from his interest in the new Cartesian and Newtonian scientific advances, there is little to indicate Ellys's views: it has been suggested that he was a Tory, and not concerned with Newton's theology.[13] He took no part in the poll in the general election of 1710.[20]

When Whiston was deprived of the Lucasian Chair, Ellys lined up with Richard Bentley in trying to make Christopher Hussey his successor in 1711. Newton remained above the fray, and the outsider Nicholas Saunderson was narrowly elected.[21][22]

Later life[edit]

As Master of Caius Ellys tried, from 1709, to exercise a veto in college business, causing the Visitor to intervene in 1714.[23] His ongoing conflicts in old age with the Fellows earned him the nickname "Devil of Caius".[13] He was quite isolated, his only ally in the college being his nephew John Ellys.[24][25]

Ellys was buried in the Church of St Cyriac and St Julitta, Swaffham Prior.[26] A memorial inscription recorded by Francis Blomefield states he was in his 86th year.[27] He had contributed for the purchase of the rectory of Broadwey in Dorset for the college in his lifetime, but left nothing further in his will.[28][29] His successor Thomas Gooch was a former tutorial pupil of his.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College: 1849–1897. vol i.. CUP Archive. p. 370. GGKEY:EWQCZ82NKW0. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Richard Caulfield (editor), Journal of the Very Rev. Rowland Davies, LL.D. Dean of Ross (1857), p. 30; archive.org.
  3. ^ Aston, Nigel. "Ellys, Anthony". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8727.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ http://archive.org/stream/sepulchralremin00turngoog#page/n50/mode/2up
  5. ^ a b c "Ellys, John (ELS647J2)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  6. ^ greatyarmouthhistory.com, The Perlustration of Great Yarmouth, p. 330.
  7. ^ Milo Keynes, The Personality of Isaac Newton, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London Vol. 49, No. 1 (Jan. 1995), pp. 1–56, at p. 31. Published by: The Royal Society. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/531881
  8. ^ a b John Gascoigne, Politics, Patronage and Newtonianism: The Cambridge Example, The Historical Journal Vol. 27, No. 1 (Mar. 1984), pp. 1–24, at p. 17 note 101. Published by: Cambridge University Press. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2639340
  9. ^ Kevin C. Knox (6 November 2003). From Newton to Hawking: A History of Cambridge University's Lucasian Professors of Mathematics. Cambridge University Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-521-66310-6. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  10. ^ John Venn (President of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.) (1897). Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College. CUP Archive. pp. 110–1. GGKEY:ACPDY7DTQCL. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  11. ^ Le Neve, John; Hardy, Sir Thomas Duffus (1854). Wikisource link to Prebendaries – Fridaythorpe (Chapter). Fasti ecclesiae Anglicanae. 3 (1854 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wikisource. Wikisource page link pp. 678.
  12. ^ Alexander Chalmers (1817). The General Biographical Dictionary Containing an Historical and Critical Account of the Lives and Writings of the Most Eminent Persons; ... a New Ed. by Alex. Chalmers. – London, J. Nichols 1812–1817. J. Nichols. p. 338. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Victor Morgan (1 April 2004). A History of the University of Cambridge:. Cambridge University Press. p. 520. ISBN 978-0-521-35059-4. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  14. ^ A. Rupert Hall, Cambridge: Newton's Legacy, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London Vol. 55, No. 2 (May 2001), pp. 205–226, at p. 219. Published by: The Royal Society. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/532096
  15. ^ John Gascoigne (18 July 2002). Cambridge in the Age of the Enlightenment: Science, Religion and Politics from the Restoration to the French Revolution. Cambridge University Press. pp. 143–4. ISBN 978-0-521-52497-1. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  16. ^ Joseph Edleston; Sir Isaac Newton; Roger Côtes (1850). Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes. Routledge. p. lxxiv note 158. ISBN 978-0-7146-1597-4. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  17. ^ Ronald Gowing (27 June 2002). Roger Cotes – Natural Philosopher. Cambridge University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-521-52649-4. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  18. ^ The life of Richard Bentley: with an account of his writings and anecdotes of many distinguished characters during the period in which he flourished. Printed for J. G. & F. Rivington. 1833. p. 184 note 2. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  19. ^ Milo Keynes, The Personality of Isaac Newton, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London Vol. 49, No. 1 (Jan. 1995), pp. 1–56, at p. 49. Published by: The Royal Society. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/531881
  20. ^ historyofparliamentonline.org, Cambridge University 1690–1715.
  21. ^ Kevin C. Knox (6 November 2003). From Newton to Hawking: A History of Cambridge University's Lucasian Professors of Mathematics. Cambridge University Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-521-66310-6. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  22. ^ Edward Rud; Richard Bentley (1860). The Diary (1709–1720) of Edward Rud, Sometime Fellow of Trinity College, and Rector of North Runcton in Norfolk: To which are Added Several Unpublished Letters of Dr Bentley. Deighton, Bell & Company. p. 7. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  23. ^ Christopher N.L. Brooke (1985). A History of Gonville and Caius College. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-85115-423-7. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  24. ^ Christopher N. L. Brooke (1985). A History of Gonville and Caius College. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-85115-423-7. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  25. ^ "Ellys, John (ELS682J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  26. ^ Samuel Lysons (1808). Magna Britannia;: being a concise topographical account of the several counties of Great Britain. Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies. p. 263. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  27. ^ Francis Blomefield (1751). Collectanea Cantabrigiensa, Or Collections Relating to Cambridge. author. p. 179. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  28. ^ John Venn (President of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.) (1897). Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College. CUP Archive. p. 114. GGKEY:ACPDY7DTQCL. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  29. ^ John Venn (President of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.) (1897). Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College. CUP Archive. p. 281. GGKEY:ACPDY7DTQCL. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  30. ^ Victor Morgan (1 April 2004). A History of the University of Cambridge:. Cambridge University Press. p. 535. ISBN 978-0-521-35059-4. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
James Halman
Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
1703–1716
Succeeded by
Thomas Gooch