Christopher Wren

Aubrey's Brief Lives

Obituaries Index

Sir Christopher Wren, surveyor of his majesty's buildings, born at East Knoyle (in the parsonage house) in the county of Wilts near Shaftesbury, Thursday, 20 October 1631, 8 p m. -- the bell rang VIII as his mother fell in labour with him (from himself)

He was knighted at Whitehall on Friday, 14 November 1673, at 5 a.m. (from Mr Robert Hooke, the next day).
In 1669, Dr Christopher Wren was invited by the Bishop of Salisbury [Seth Ward] where he made a particular survey of the cathedral church. He was at least a week about it, and a curious discourse it was: it was not above two sheets. Upon my writing the Natural History of Wilts, I had occasion to insert it there, and they told me that it was lent to somebody -- they could not tell to whom. But in February last Mr Cole thinks it not unlikely that Mr Nash (the surveyor of the fabric) of Salisbury may have that paper. I desired him to enquire but have not yet received any answer.

Dr Christopher Wren has put a trick on us, as it seems; for he has made himself a year younger than indeed he is, though he need not be ashamed of his age, he has made such admirable use of his time. I
met the other day accidentally with the parson of Knoyle, who justifies the register, and not only so but proves it by his neighbour that was his nurse and her son that suckled with him -- evidence notorious.

It ought never to be forgotten, what our ingenious countryman Sir Christopher Wren proposed to the silk stocking weavers of London, viz a way to weave seven pair or nine pair of stockings at once (it must be an odd number). He demanded four hundred pounds for his invention; but the weavers refused it, because they were poor, and besides, they said it would spoil their trade; perhaps they did not consider the proverb that light gains, with quick returns, make heavy purses. Sir Christopher was so noble, seeing they would not adventure so much money, that he breaks the model of the engine all to pieces, before their faces.
From John Aubrey's Brief Lives. (Edited by R Barber, Boydell Press, 1982)