James Gregory's commission for an Observatory in St Andrews

The University of St Andrews commissioned James Gregory to found an Observatory in St Andrews and to buy instruments to equip the Observatory. Below is the full text of the Commission dated the 10th June 1673. We have chosen not to modernise the spelling:

Be it knowen to all men be these presents, Us, Rector, Principals, Doctores, and Professors of the University of St Andrews, wuder subscribing: For as much as we having formerly taken to our serious consideration the great detriment and losse this ancient seminary hath been at in times past, and doeth yet sustain by the want of such proper and necessary instruments and utensils as may serve and conduce for the better, more solemn, and famous profession, teaching, and improving of naturall philosophy and the Mathematicall sciences, and especially for making such observations on the heavens and other bodys of this universe, (as easily may be by such helps, with the great advantage of the pure air and other accommodations of this place) wherby we may be enabled to keep correspondence with learned and inquisitive persones in solid philosophy every where, for the forsaid effect:. And having purposed (to be forthcoming to our own duty and the encouragement of others) to set as effectually as may be about this laudable and necessary work, for providing the forsaids instruments of all kynds, ane observatory, and all other accoutrements requisite for the improvement of the forsaid sciences, the benefite, advantage, and delight of youth to be trained wp here, the honour of the kingdom, the reputation of our benefactors, and the lustre and splendour of the University: Did therefore commissionat some of our number to make application unto all persones whom they knew to be encouragers of learning, and patrons to the professours thereof, representing unto them, That we were instantly upon the effectuating of the forsaid designe, And to that end, to crave their affections and such other encouragements for the said work, as they please to bestow; And to report to us their deligence therin, with the names of our benefactors, To the effect this University may record them, and endeavour to make such respectfull presentments to them and their posterity, as becomes: Giving them power to do every other thing proper and requisit in the said affair; They being always answerable and accountable to us anent the premises. And whereas this our laudable designe hath already met with such considerable encouragement from persons of all ranks, that we have ordered Mr James Gregory, professor of Mathematical sciences here, to goe for London, and there to provide, so far as the money already received from our Benefactors will reach, such instruments and utensils as he, with advice of other skilful persons, shall judge most necessary and usefull for the above mentioned designe: Like as be these presents we the wnder subscribers all with one consent constitute the said Mr James our factor for the effect aforesaid, Giving and granting him our full power and ample commission for transacting and buying the forsaid instruments in so far as the money forsaid will extend, or as he shall be further furnished by us upon what is to come wpon our letters and precepts for that effect: Obliging ourselves to ratifye and approve what the said Mr James shall doe in this our commission, or any other commission directed to him by us during his residence there, and to aquite and relieve him of all prejudice he may incur and sustain in execution of this our commission, or any other commission sent by wu to him during his residence there: And to take notice of the fabrick and forme of the most competent observatorye, that ours here intended may be builded with al its advantages: And also, considering the intended work to be of such moment and expenss that we ar not able to accomplish it with the contributions of these only who have already listed themselves encouragers of it; Therefore We also by these presents do nominat and constitute the said Mr James Gregory our factor and special mandator for making application unto all whom he knows to be favourers of learning, for their concurrence unto the advancement of the forsaid work, with full power to do every thing proper and requisite in this affair, as others formerly imployed therein have bene empowered by us to do, He being in like manner accountable to ws anent the premisses. As Witness these presents, written by William sanders, one of our number, Clerk for the time, and subscrived with our hands in the University hall, on the Tenth day of June sixteen hundred and seventy-three years.

Signed by the Rector, the Provost of St Mary's College, the Provost of the Old College, The Principal of St Leonards College, and eight others.

Last Updated April 2013