Halley, Edmond

(1656-1742), astronomer

by Alan Cook

© Oxford University Press 2004 All rights reserved

Halley, Edmond (1656-1742), astronomer, was born probably on 29 October 1656 at Haggerston in the parish of St Leonard, Shoreditch, a country suburb of London, the eldest of the three children of Edmond Halley (d. 1684), a freeman of London, and his first wife, Anne (1628?-1672). The parish records of St Leonard's for that period are missing and the date of Halley's birth cannot be confirmed. His father was a rich soap boiler, a member of the Salters' Company, highly regarded in the City, and a yeoman warder of the Tower of London--to avoid parish duties in the trained bands. Halley's grandfather Humphrey (d. 1672) was prominent in the City and had been an alderman. The Halley family may have come from Derbyshire; there were also relatives and other connections in Peterborough and Alconbury near Huntingdon. Almost nothing is known of Halley's mother; even her maiden name, probably Robinson, is unsure. After she had died in 1672, Halley's father married before 1684 as his second wife a woman known only as Joanne. Halley's paternal grandparents and his parents were buried in St Margaret's, Barking, in Essex.

Early years, 1666-1677
When Halley was a young man, after the great fire of 1666, his father lived in Winchester Street, between London Wall and Broad Street, and owned substantial property there. Among their neighbours in that wealthy district were some who would influence Halley's career. Robert Hooke lived nearby in Gresham College in Broad Street, where the Royal Society had its rooms; two cousins of Samuel Pepys lived in Winchester Street, as did his friend the immensely wealthy merchant James Houblon. Sir Gilbert Roberts, the uncle of Halley's schoolfriend Robert Nelson, was nearby, and so were the Leithullier family, who had property in Barking and owned the East Indiaman on which Halley later took passage to St Helena.

Halley went to St Paul's School, but can have attended for only a very few years, for the school was burnt in the great fire when Halley was not quite ten and reopened only two years before he went up to Queen's College, Oxford, in 1673. The headmaster in his final year was Thomas Gale, later dean of York. Halley is said to have been captain of the school in that year, at the age of fifteen. He began astronomical and magnetic observations at school, and continued them at Oxford in association with a fellow undergraduate, Charles Boucher. When Boucher left England for Jamaica, Halley opened a correspondence with John Flamsteed, whom Charles II was shortly to appoint his 'astronomical observator'. Halley was already known to Christopher Wren, Jonas Moore, and Thomas Street, as well as to Hooke, and was of the party that viewed the site at Greenwich where the royal observatory was to be built. Halley was observing with Flamsteed before the observatory was completed and continued to do so from time to time until about 1684. Through Flamsteed's correspondence he became known to distinguished astronomers abroad, particularly Johann Hevelius in Danzig and Jean Dominique (Giandomenico) Cassini in Paris. He wrote his first three scientific papers while an undergraduate.

Travel overseas
Halley left Oxford without taking a degree, as about half the undergraduates did in those days. He had a particular reason--he was going to St Helena to determine the positions of stars in the southern hemisphere, and wished to be there in time for the forthcoming transit of Mercury across the sun in October 1677, so that he might derive the distance of the sun in the way James Gregory had earlier suggested. Charles II supported him, as did Sir Joseph Williamson, a secretary of state and former provost of Queen's. The East India Company offered to assist him; Sir Jonas Moore and Cassini among others gave him advice. He did not fully achieve his aims because the skies were very cloudy, and Flamsteed criticized his procedures. He published his results soon after his return in 1678 as his Catalogus stellarum australium (1679), shortly afterwards translated into French. It gave him, at the age of twenty-two, a European reputation and led to his election to the Royal Society and to the award of the MA degree of Oxford by command of the king. Halley was the first to use the new instruments then becoming available, with telescopic sights, eyepiece micrometers, and better divided scales. With these, and reliable pendulum clocks, he was able to establish positions of stars in either hemisphere. Flamsteed and Cassini were preparing to use similar instruments in the north but had not done so when Halley returned from St Helena. Halley's catalogue remained the only one for southern stars for many years, and, although Flamsteed justly criticized him for haste and lax procedures, Flamsteed himself had the catalogue revised and reprinted in his posthumous Historia coelestis Britannica of 1725. Halley observed the transit of Mercury successfully, but observers in the north had poor conditions, and so he could make no firm estimate of the distance of the sun. Much later he showed how to find the distance of the sun from transits of Venus, which took James Cook to Tahiti and the exploration of the Pacific after Halley's death.

In 1679 Halley went to Danzig seeking to resolve an acrimonious dispute between Hevelius and Robert Hooke over the use of telescopic sights in the measurement of positions of celestial objects. Hevelius distrusted them; Hooke advocated them strongly. Halley observed with Hevelius and his colleagues, including Hevelius's wife, Elizabeth, from 16 May to 8 July 1679, using both Hevelius's instruments and Halley's small quadrant with telescopic sights. Halley deplored Hevelius's adherence to obsolete methods but recognized the consistency of his observations. There were obviously large systematic differences between the instruments. The visit was agreeable and back in England Halley bought a silk gown and petticoat for Elizabeth; he corresponded with Hevelius for a few years afterwards.

Halley left England at the end of 1680 in company with his schoolfriend Robert Nelson to spend a year in France and Italy. On their way to Paris in December they saw the brilliant comet that had first appeared in November. Halley met Cassini, then director of the Paris observatory, and observed the comet with him. They spent five months in Paris and their journey to Rome took them from August to October. They saw the new Canal du Midi then nearly finished, they visited Montpellier, and Halley observed a lunar eclipse with Père Gallet in Avignon, where his visit is commemorated by the rue Halley. In Rome he would have met astronomers who had observed the comet in November 1680; they were of the circle of Queen Kristina of Sweden, and he may have met the queen herself, for she had observed an earlier comet with Cassini and had offered a prize for a calculation of the orbit of the comet of 1680. Halley discussed many astronomical subjects in the course of his tour; it is likely that comets were a principal topic, for their orbits were of great contemporary interest. Shortly after his return to England early in 1682, Halley met Newton, probably for the first time, and gave him an account of observations of the comet. Newton later discussed its orbit in considerable detail in book 3 of the Principia.

London scientific life
Halley married Mary Tooke (1658-1736) in April 1682. She came of a notable family of lawyers and had inherited property. Three of their children survived beyond childhood: Edmond (1698-1740), who was a naval surgeon, Margaret (1685-1743), who remained unmarried, and Katherine (1688-1765), who married twice. They first lived at Islington, where Halley set up the instruments he had taken to St Helena and observed the moon assiduously for almost two years. In later years they lived in the City of London, in Golden Lion Court, off Aldersgate Street, and later still in Bridgewater Street, Barbican.

In April 1684 Halley's father was found dead on the shore at Stroud in Kent, probably murdered, possibly on account of having been in the Tower as a yeoman warder the day the earl of Essex was found dead there in 1683, and knowing too much of the circumstances--so at least contemporary pamphlets asserted. He had made no will, and Halley became involved in chancery actions with his stepmother. These apparently never came to trial; the parties divided the elder Halley's personal estate of some £4000 about equally. Halley then had an income in excess of £150 per annum from his share. He was active in the Royal Society in those years, in the meetings and in publications. He was a councillor for one period, then was appointed the salaried clerk; as such he brought out the Philosophical Transactions as publisher. About 1686 his friendship with Flamsteed turned sour, for reasons that are not wholly clear, and Flamsteed was ever after hostile to him.

Halley and Newton
Some three months before his father's death, in January 1684, Halley, Robert Hooke, and Christopher Wren, in conversation after a meeting of the Royal Society, asked themselves what the orbits of the planets would be under an inverse square law of attraction to the sun. They could not answer the question, and in August Halley called on Newton in Cambridge and put the problem to him. The delay from January to August is most probably a result of Halley's being involved in the legal matters consequent on his father's death, and he may have been in the neighbourhood of Cambridge in the late summer to deal with business connected with the estate. Halley's question led Newton to take up anew his earlier studies of orbits under an inverse square law attraction, and to go on to write the Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (1687). Halley saw it through the press, and, although it had the imprimatur of the Royal Society, he paid for the printing and received the proceeds of sales. He composed an effusive Latin ode as a preface, distributed presentation copies, and wrote a review. The Principia is one of the most influential works of mathematical science ever written, and has set the agenda for theoretical physics from that day onwards. Halley contributed nothing to its composition. Although he was very impressed by it, he was clearly surprised by each new development as Newton unfolded it, and probably did not fully understand it at the time. None the less, his part in bringing it before the world is arguably his greatest contribution to natural philosophy, as he himself realized when he claimed to be 'the Ulysses that produced that Achilles'. He later made far-reaching applications of some of its results.

In the decade from 1679 to 1689 Halley published many papers on a range of topics, among them his first discussion of the cause of the magnetic declination and how it changed, based on an extensive collection of worldwide data. He drew up a synoptic chart of the trade winds, the first time any such meteorological chart had been produced.

Marine charts and public service, 1689-1703
The Principia was published about a year and a half before William of Orange invaded England at the end of 1688, and for part of that time Halley was working at sea around the coast of the Thames estuary, possibly surveying the approaches. How Halley came by his experience of seamanship is unknown, but he may have learned something on the long voyages on East Indiamen to and from St Helena. He was certainly at sea in the spring of 1689, for that summer he presented to the Royal Society a chart of the Thames approaches, and remarks he had made at earlier meetings of the society indicate that he was familiar with the coast, even while Samuel Pepys was preparing the navy to resist William's invasion. Almost no record remains of those activities. They may have been confidential and may raise questions about his relations with James II and William III. There can be little doubt that he was close to the Stuart courts. Charles II had given support to his expedition to St Helena. Sir Jonas Moore, to whom Halley owed much, had long before been tutor to James II as duke of York. When the Principia was published Halley presented a copy to James, who, as a distinguished admiral, might have been interested in the explanation of the tides. Halley also knew Pepys well. He later enjoyed the confidence of William and Anne. It seems probable that he was willing to serve the navy under whoever held the throne and that, as James had valued his services, so would William and Anne.

When the Guynie, a frigate of the Royal African Company, was lost in April 1691 off Pagham, near Chichester, with a cargo of gold and ivory, the court of the company asked Halley to attempt salvage. He improved the design of the diving bell, and devised a diving suit with its air supplied by a tube from a bell so that a man could work outside a bell. He was disappointed of the Savilian chair of astronomy at Oxford, to which David Gregory was elected in 1691, but Newton, now warden of the Royal Mint, arranged for him to be deputy controller of the country mint at Chester, one of a number set up to assist with the great silver recoinage. He served there from the summer of 1696 to the spring of 1698, a time that was made difficult and unpleasant for him by quarrels between other officers.

In the last decade of the century Halley wrote many papers on a wide range of topics for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: on mathematics, on the rainbow, on optics, on thermometers and their graduation, and on barometers. He studied the bills of mortality of the city of Breslau and constructed tables of life expectancy, forerunners of modern actuarial methods. His study of the observations of the medieval Islamic astronomer al-Batani led him to propose that the moon was speeding up in her orbit around the earth, as has since been amply confirmed. He discussed the account of the landing of Julius Caesar in Britain in relation to the tides in the channel and fixed the site accordingly.

His most influential work at this time was to calculate the orbits of twenty-four comets, and to argue that the comet of 1682 had an elliptical orbit with a period of seventy-five or seventy-six years. Like Newton, he realized that the attractions of Jupiter and Saturn made it difficult to predict the time of the return. After his death French astronomers recovered the comet in 1759, as predicted by the theoretical work of A. C. Clairaut and the numerical calculations of Lalande and Mme Lepaute. Their success in the recovery of what has become known as Halley's comet was widely seen as a forceful confirmation of Newtonian mechanics.

Charting terrestrial magnetism
On 20 October 1698 Halley set sail in command of the pink Paramore to observe the magnetic declination over the Atlantic Ocean. The Paramore was specially built for him as a ship of the Royal Navy, and Halley ranked as a captain RN. His first cruise, to June 1699, was bedevilled by difficulties with his officers, and his lieutenant Edward Harrison was court-martialled on their return. Halley retained the confidence of the Admiralty, and his second cruise from September 1699 to September 1700 was successful. He went south as far as 52° into the ice field north of the site of the modern Halley Bay Geophysical Observatory and was in considerable danger, as he was later from a storm off the coast of Africa. He produced his results as a chart of the magnetic variation over the Atlantic shown by isogonic lines, known at the time as 'Halleyan' lines. It was the first time anyone had published such a representation and was a great advance in cartography. His results remain important for the study of the long-term behaviour of the earth's magnetism. The next year, 1701, Halley took the Paramore to sea from June to September to survey tides in the English Channel. His results and the chart on which he showed them were again a great advance on anything done before, and retained their value for almost a century and a half.

The War of Spanish Succession broke out shortly after the channel cruise, and at the end of 1702 Halley was sent by Queen Anne and her ministers to survey harbours on the Adriatic that might be used by an English fleet should one be sent there to support the Austrian empire in the Blenheim campaign. He surveyed harbours from Trieste to Seng and selected Bakar, just south of Rijeka, as a very suitable base. He set out the positions of batteries to defend it, and on a second visit in the autumn of 1703 saw them built. As a naval captain, the equivalent of a colonel and seen as the queen's personal representative, he gained golden opinions and the favour of the emperor. Every account, however otherwise misleading, mentions the valuable diamond ring that the emperor presented to Halley from his own finger. On the way between London and Vienna, Halley met Leibniz and the future George I at Hanover.

Savilian professor at Oxford
John Wallis, the Savilian professor of geometry at Oxford, died as Halley was on his way back from his second Adriatic visit at the end of 1703. The secretary of state, the earl of Nottingham, to whom Halley sent his reports on his Adriatic missions, was an elector to the Savilian chairs, and Halley was elected. The university press had a programme to publish editions of the Greek geometers, and some, including Euclid, had already been issued. The Conics of the great Greek geometer Apollonius of Perga was still to be done. David Gregory had made a start, but was held up for certain manuscripts. Halley joined Gregory, but Gregory died in 1708, relatively young, and the edition is essentially Halley's. The original text of Conics was in eight books. A Greek text (edited from the original of Apollonius) survives for only the first four books, and an Arabic version of books 5 to 7 is preserved in manuscript in the Bodleian Library and elsewhere. The eighth book is entirely lost but there are references to it in Greek and Islamic texts. Halley edited the Greek and Arabic texts, revised the translations into Latin, and printed his edition of the Greek opposite his Latin translation for the first four books, and his Latin alone for books 5 to 7. He also printed a Latin version of the eighth book that he had recovered from allusions by Greek and Islamic commentators. Although other manuscripts, Greek and Arabic, have since turned up, Halley's edition has stood the test of time and is still highly regarded, although his reconstruction of the final book probably does not well represent what Apollonius wrote. He also published an edition of minor works of Apollonius and of a work of Menelaos.

Gregory left another work unfinished at his death. Newton had long pressed for Flamsteed's results from Greenwich to be published, and at last in 1704 he obtained funds from Prince George of Denmark to do so. He arranged for referees, his nominees, to be appointed to oversee the work, essentially excluding Flamsteed, and they asked Gregory to prepare the material for the press. When he died he had printed the observations to 1689 but not the later ones, nor the catalogue of star positions. Gregory died at about the same time as Prince George, and things rested, but then Queen Anne appointed the president (Newton) and other fellows of the Royal Society, Halley among them, as visitors to the observatory, to Flamsteed's intense annoyance. The visitors had funds to continue the publication and Halley was asked to take over. He made considerable changes to the catalogue as Flamsteed had drawn it up, altering the descriptions of stars and including many that Flamsteed did not have in his first catalogue. Halley's version was published in 1712 and Flamsteed's relations with him and Newton, already bad, became far worse. Some thirteen years later, after the accession of George I, Flamsteed was able to recover his material. When he died before it could be published, his former assistants, Crosthwait and Sharp, saw that it was done as he had wished. Flamsteed had included the catalogues of his predecessors to show where he stood in the history of astronomy, and Halley's southern catalogue of fifty years before was one of them, but revised by Abraham Sharp to take account of the positions of stars in Flamsteed's catalogue, all without acknowledging Halley as the original author.

Halley's third major undertaking at Oxford consisted of his tables of the positions of the sun, the planets, and the moon, covering many centuries second by second. The tables of the moon represent Newton's lunar theory as he presented it in the second edition of the Principia. They were set in print before 1720 but not published, for the preparatory explanation had not been printed when Halley was appointed astronomer royal, and he hoped to get more observations of the moon with which to compare the tables.

In 1715 there was to be a total eclipse of the sun, the first to be seen in London for hundreds of years. Halley drew up a map of the zone of totality and organized systematic observations throughout the country, the first time any such thing had been done. He himself observed the corona in London. The records of the edge of totality were used in 1988 to show that there had been no detectable change in the diameter of the sun from 1715 to 1988. The eclipse was a notable social occasion. Newton, as president of the Royal Society, entertained distinguished foreign visitors, with his elegant niece Catherine Barton, the 'pretty witty Kitty', as hostess; she greatly impressed the guests from overseas.

Astronomer royal
Halley was appointed second astronomer royal in 1721, at the age of sixty-nine. He found that Flamsteed's widow had removed all her late husband's apparatus from the observatory, but none the less he began, in remarkably confident hope, to observe the moon over the eighteen years of the saronic cycle, the period after which the circumstances of eclipses repeat. He had identified the importance and utility of the cycle more than fifty years earlier, before the Principia was thought of. He did complete a cycle but died before he could publish his results. His colleague John Bevis brought them out afterwards and included with them Halley's final very thorough studies on comets. Halley's observations and some of his calculations survive in his papers (now in the university library in Cambridge) and they include a few of his comparisons between his observations and those of Flamsteed thirty-six years (two saronic intervals) earlier. Over a hundred more are to be found for about five years from 1726, and they show that Halley and Flamsteed were observing with uncertainties of about 1 minute of arc, Flamsteed being rather the more consistent. The observations at the interval of two saronic periods are strongly correlated, confirming Halley's expectations. The standard deviation of the difference from Halley's tables is about 2 minutes of arc. Halley claimed as much in a paper of 1731, but it is not clear how he could do so when the theory of errors and the analysis of variance had not been thought of.

Character and beliefs
The Biographia Britannica describes Halley as slightly above middle height, slender, of fair complexion, and sprightly and vivacious. His letters and the comments of others show that he was genial, affable, and sociable, but could at the same time make very sharp comments on the failings of others who should have known better. He seems to have been modest and did not seek honours. He got on well with most people, Flamsteed notably apart. At sea, and constructing fortifications on the Adriatic, he was forceful and effective in managing men. He met and impressed persons of high rank, including Tsar Peter the Great, the emperor of Austria, George I, and several English ambassadors.

In his own lifetime Halley was spoken of as an atheist or irreligious. The evidence for that is thin indeed. Atheism was a term of abuse by many people, not an accurate assessment of someone's beliefs. Clearly he took the oaths required by the Test Acts when he became Savilian professor and to that extent was a member of the established church. So far as may be gathered from his own very few offhand remarks, he was a latitudinarian, rather like Archbishop John Tillotson (who respected him) or Edward Stillingfleet, bishop of Worcester. At the same time his belief was not uncritical and he seems to have accepted, like St Augustine, that revelation and natural philosophy should not be contradictory. He was a lifelong friend of 'the Pious' Robert Nelson, who became a nonjuror after 1689, and he was also on good terms with Pepys and other well-known nonjurors.

Halley is sometimes spoken of as a tory in politics, but again it is difficult to characterize him so sharply. He was certainly close to Charles II and James II, but he was also close to some members of the Kit-Cat Club, the dining club of supporters of the revolution settlement of 1689. He worked with the earl of Nottingham and George Stepney when on the Adriatic. He was a friend of Sir Samuel Garth, one of a number of influential medical men of his acquaintance, including Sir Hans Sloane and Richard Mead (physician to Newton and Halley), but perhaps the most interesting was the satirist John Arbuthnott, the inventor of 'John Bull', with whom Halley was closely involved over the publication of Flamsteed's results. Arbuthnott was a friend of Jonathan Swift and of Catherine Barton, to whom Kit-Cat Club toasting verses were written, and he collaborated with Pepusch and Handel.

Natural philosopher
Halley was not a philosopher. He did not, for instance, discuss the Epicurean philosophy of Democritus as propounded by Gassendi and much debated in Europe at the time. Instead, accepting the atomic theory of matter that it involved, he estimated in a matter-of-fact, empirical manner the maximum size of gold atoms from the amount of gold on silver-gilt wire. Three hundred years later the same principle would be used to estimate the size of molecules in monolayers on water. In that and other instances he explored the numerical implications of hypotheses and followed the precept of Robert Boyle, that science should be able to predict what is as yet unknown from what is now observed.

Halley made two predictions of events that should occur when he was dead, which have had great effects on the knowledge and understanding of the natural world, the return of 'his' comet, which gave the death blow to Cartesian natural philosophy, and the observation of the transit of Venus in 1769, which led to Cook's voyages of discovery.

Halley ranged widely in his enquiries: demography, classical scholarship, many topics in what is now called geophysics, the discovery of proper motions of stars, a lifelong devotion to the problem of the longitude, and the motion of the moon. His most notable contributions to natural philosophy were his grasp of the natural world as extended in time and space and his application of the rational principles of Newton's Principia to its study. He collected observations widely for his charts of the trade winds and the magnetic variation, and he applied his classical scholarship to reveal changes in the world in historical times. In interpreting his observations he often showed a physical insight far in advance of his time. Thus in his discussion of the earth's magnetic field he understood that there must be relative motions in the earth to account for the change in the variation and also that local differences of variation must come from shallow sources. Centuries would pass before any more fundamental understanding of the earth's magnetism was achieved. Halley's realization that the moon was speeding up also had to wait for centuries before it was fully elucidated.

Last years
Halley was never seriously ill apart from a fever he caught on his second cruise in the Atlantic and a paralysis of his right hand that developed in 1738. He was able to observe the moon until the end of 1739, although not so assiduously as in earlier years. He went up regularly from Greenwich to London to meetings of the Royal Society.

Halley died peacefully at Greenwich on 14 January 1742 and was buried on 20 January next to his wife in the church of St Margaret's, Lee, Kent, close to the observatory. His daughters set up a memorial with an inscription that was erected at the observatory. On the occasion of the return of 'his' comet in 1987, a commemorative plaque was placed in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.


Correspondence and papers of Edmond Halley, ed. E. F. McPike (1932)
Biographia Britannica, or, The lives of the most eminent persons who have flourished in Great Britain and Ireland, 4 (1757), 2494-520
N. J. W. Thrower, The three voyages of Edmond Halley in the 'Paramore' (1981)
A. Cook, Edmond Halley: charting the heavens and the seas (1997)
The correspondence of John Flamsteed, the first astronomer royal, ed. E. G. Forbes and others, 1 (1995)
The correspondence of Isaac Newton, ed. H. W. Turnbull and others, 2-6 (1960-76)
The diary of Robert Hooke ... 1672-1680, ed. H. W. Robinson and W. Adams (1935)
'The diary of Robert Hooke', Early science in Oxford, ed. R. T. Gunther, 10: The life and work of Robert Hooke, part 4 (1935), 69-265
Remarks and collections of Thomas Hearne, ed. C. E. Doble and others, 11 vols., OHS, 2, 7, 13, 34, 42-3, 48, 50, 65, 67, 72 (1885-1921)
The correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, ed. and trans. A. R. Hall and M. B. Hall, 11-13 (1977-86)
E. Halley, Catalogus stellarum australium (1679)
J. Hevelius, Annus climactericus (1680)
J. Flamsteed, Historia coelestis Britannica, 3 vols. (1725)
A. Armitage, Edmond Halley (1966)
C. Ronan, Edmond Halley: genius in eclipse (1970)

BL, journals, Add. MS 30368
BL, papers relating to Saturn and to tides, Sloane MSS 1030, 1782
CUL, Greenwich Royal Observatory Archives, Newton papers
CUL, observations and papers
Magd. Cam., navigation papers
NRA, priv. coll., corresp. and lectures
PRO, state papers, foreign, and admiralty papers
RS, corresp. and papers; journal books and council minutes |  Archivio di Stato, Venice, Senato, Dispacci Germania
BL, letters to Sir Hans Sloane, Sloane MSS
BL, Stepney MSS
Bodl. Oxf., Rigaud MSS
CUL, corresp. with Sir Isaac Newton
King's AC Cam., letters to Sir Isaac Newton
PRO, letters to J. Burchett, ADM1
Steiermärkische Staatsarchiv, Graz

T. Murray, oils, c.1687, RS
G. Kneller, oils, after 1700, NMM
T. Murray, oils, 1713, Bodl. Oxf.
T. Murray, oils, 1713, Queen's College, Oxford
attrib. M. Dahl, oils, c.1720, RS
attrib. I. Whood, oils, c.1720, NPG [see illus.]
G. White, mezzotint, c.1721 (after G. Kneller), BM, NPG
J. Faber, mezzotint, 1722 (after T. Murray), BM
R. Phillips, oils, 1722, NPG
J. A. Dassier, copper medal, BM
F. Kyte, mezzotint, BM

Wealth at death  
approx. £150 p.a. from Savilian professorship; £100 as astronomer royal; probably £150 from father's personal estate and half pay as post-captain RN

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