John Worthington (academic)

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John Worthington (1618–1671) was an English academic. He was closely associated with the Cambridge Platonists.[1][2][3] He did not in fact publish in the field of philosophy, and is now known mainly as a well-connected diarist.


He was born in Manchester, and educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.[4] At Emmanuel he was taught by Joseph Mead; he described Mead's teaching methods, and later edited his works.[5] Another teacher was Benjamin Whichcote.[6]

He was Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, from 1650 to 1660, and Vice-Chancellor in 1657.[7] At the English Restoration he was replaced by Richard Sterne, apparently willingly.[8] Subsequently he held various church positions, being lecturer at St Benet Fink in London until burnt out in the Great Fire of London in 1666. He then was given a living at Ingoldsby. At the end of his life he was a lecturer in Hackney.[9]


He married Mary Whichcote, in 1657. She was niece to Benjamin Whichcote.[10][11][12]

Hartlib correspondence[edit]

Worthington was an active correspondent of Samuel Hartlib, the "intelligencer", in the period 1655 to 1662.[6] At Worthington's request, Hartlib's close collaborator John Dury searched in the Netherlands for the lost papers of Henry Ainsworth.[13] He shared with Hartlib and Dury (and both Henry More and John Covel) an interest in the Karaites.[14]

After Hartlib's death, Worthington took on the task of organising his archive of correspondence, which had been bought by William Brereton, 2nd Baron Brereton.[15] After a period of nearly 300 years, the bundles into which he sorted it were rediscovered, and his system for the archive persists.[16]


  • The Christian's Pattern: a translation of the De Imitatione of Thomas à Kempis (1654)
  • John Smith, Selected Discourses (London, 1660) editor
  • Life of Joseph Mede with third edition of Mede's Works (1672)
  • The Great Duty of Self-Resignation to the Divine Will (1675)
  • Diary and Correspondence of Dr. John Worthington 2 vols. (1847–86, Chetham Society) editor James Crossley


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Worthington, John (WRTN632J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Andrew Pyle (editor), Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers (2000), pp. 914-5.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs.The Foundations of Newton's Alchemy: Or "The Hunting of the Greene Lyon" (1983), p. 112.
  11. ^ Robert Crocker, Henry More, 1614-1687: A Biography of the Cambridge Platonist (2003), note p. 260.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Matt Goldish, Judaism in the Theology of Sir Isaac Newton: International Archives of the History of Ideas (1998), p. 23.
  15. ^ Michael Hunter, Archives of the Scientific Revolution: The Formation and Exchange of Ideas in Seventeenth-century Europe (1998), p. 40.
  16. ^



External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Young
Master of Jesus College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Richard Sterne