Richard Waller (d. 1715)

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etching by T. Murray, based on a painting by Godfrey Kneller (1711)

Richard Waller FRS (d. 1715) was an English naturalist, translator and illustrator, long-time member and secretary of the Royal Society.

Nothing is known about his early life (older reports of a birth in Horsham and a bachelor's degree from Christ College 1667 were due to a confusion with another person of the same name). He became a member of the Royal Society on 27 April 1681, acting as secretary from 1691 to 1693, and again from 1710 to 1714, and member of its council from 1686 to 1699. Waller edited the Philosophical Transactions from 1691 to 1693, also acting as translator for submissions from abroad.

His Essays of Natural Experiments, a translation of the collection of essays Saggi di naturali esperienze of the Accademia del Cimento is one of the important early publications by the Royal Society. The archive of the Royal Society also holds a number of plant illustrations by Waller, possibly intended for a publication by John Ray. In 1705, Waller posthumously edited a number of works by Robert Hooke with a short biography. Waller most likely died at his residence in Northaw, Hertfordshire, at some point between 23 December 1714 and 13 January 1715.


Philosophical Transactions
  • Observations on the Cicindela Volans, or Flying Glow-Worm, with the Figure Thereof Made, and Dsiegned by Richard Waller Esq. F. of the R. S. Band 15, 1685, 841–845, doi:10.1098/rstl.1685.0003.
  • A Catalogue of Simple and Mixt Colours, with a Specimen of Each Colour Prefixt to Its Proper Name. vol. 16, 1686, 24–32, doi:10.1098/rstl.1686.0005.
  • Some Observations Made on the Spawn of Frogs, and of the Production of Todpoles therein. vol. 16, 1686, 523–524, doi:10.1098/rstl.1686.0096.
  • Observations in the Dissection of a Paroquet. vol. 18, 1694, 153–157, doi:10.1098/rstl.1694.0031.
  • Some Observations Sent from the East-Indies; Being in Answer to Some Queries Sent Thither. vol. 20, 1698, 273–277, doi:10.1098/rstl.1698.0053.
  • Part of a Letter from Richard Waller, Esq; S R. S. to Dr. Hans Sloane, R. S. Secr. concerning Two Deaf Persons, Who can Speak and Understand What is Said to Them by the Motion of the Lips. vol. 25, 1706, 2468–2469, doi:10.1098/rstl.1706.0060.
  • A Description of That Curious Natural Machine, the Wood-Peckers Tongue, etc. vol. 29, 1714, 509–522, doi:10.1098/rstl.1714.0067.
as translator
  • Essayes of Natural Experiments made in the Academie del Cimento. Benjamin Alsop, London 1684, (online).
  • The Measure of the Earth In: Perrault Claude: Memoir's for a natural history of animals : containing the anatomical descriptions of several creatures dissected by the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris. 1688, (online).
as editor
  • The posthumous works of Robert Hooke. London 1705, (online).


  • Luciano Boschiero: Translation, Experimentation and the Spring of the Air: Richard Waller's Essayes of Natural Experiments. In: Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 64.1, 2010, 67–83, doi:10.1098/rsnr.2009.0026
  • Margaret J. M. Ezell: Richard Waller, SRS: „In the Pursuit of Nature“. In: Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 38, 1984, 215–233, doi:10.1098/rsnr.1984.0013.
  • H. G. Lyons: Richard Waller (About 1650 to 1715). In: Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 3, 1940, 92–94, doi:10.1098/rsnr.1940.0010.
  • Lotte Mulligan: Waller, Richard (c.1660–1715). In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004 doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/48707