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More, Henry

1. Dates
Born: Grantham, early Oct. 1614 He was baptized on 11 Oct.
Died: Cambridge, 1 Sept. 1687
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 73
2. Father
Occupation: Magistrate
Alexander More is described as "a gentleman of fair estate and fortune." He was also many times mayor and alderman of Grantham.
Clearly prosperous--aside from the description above is the inheritance that he left to Henry More.
3. Nationality
Birth: English
Career: English
Death: English
4. Education
Schooling: Cambridge, M.A., D.D.
Grantham grammar school, then Eton, 1628-31.
Cambridge University, Christ's College; B.A., 1636; M.A., 1639.
Honorary Doctor of Divinity, 1660. I don't list this.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Anglican
Reared in a Puritan home, More rejected Calvinism at Eton; he detested the doctrine of predestination. He took holy orders in the Anglican church shortly after incepting M.A. He is probably best described as a moderate Latitudinarian.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Natural Philosophy
More was one of the most prominent Cambridge Platonists. Greatly stimulated by Descartes in the 40s, he was perhaps the primary agent in introducing the Cartesian philosophy into England. Later he came to see the philosophy as mechanistic materialism and turned strongly against it. An Antidote against Atheisme, 1652, Immortality of the Soul, 1659, Enciridion metaphysicum, 1671, and much else express his fear that Cartesian philosophy promoted atheism.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Personal Means
Secondary: Church Life
Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, 1639-87.
In 1642 he was instituted into the living of Ingoldsby, Lincolnshire, which was in his father's presentation. More held it only very briefly.
He inherited what is described as a very large legacy from his father. Biographia britannica says that he possessed an "easy fortune." The estate included a farm in Lincolnshire.
In 1676 he was persuaded to accept a prebend at Gloucester. More held this position and income only a short time before he resigned it in favor of a friend.
8. Patronage
Type: Aristrocrat
He was offered several ecclesiastical positions after he took orders, but More was not seeking preferment. He declined the mastership of his college, the deanery of Christ Church, Oxford, the provostship of Trinity College, Dublin, with the deanery of St. Patrick's, and two bishoprices said to be worth 1500 per annum. The Earl of Nottingham, the Lord Chancellor but more importantly the brother of Anne Conway, eventually persuaded him to accept a prebend in 1676, though he soon resigned it. Clearly this is a virtual rejection of patronage in comparison to what he could easily have had.
It is hard to know how to classify his relationship with the Conway family, especially Anne Conway, who was the sister of one of More's favorite pupils, John Finch. He spent nearly every summer at the Conway estate, Ragley, in Warwickshire. He composed some of his treatises at her request and dedicated them to her; he also dedicated Immortality of the Soul to Lord Conway. It was Anne Conway's brother, the Earl of Nottingham, who arranged the prebend in Gloucester. Anne left him a legacy of 100. Nevertheless, the relationship was not primarily financial, and I hardly know if it should be considered as patronage.
John Cockshutt of the Inner Temple, about whom no one seems to know anything, left More a legacy of 300 to have his principle works translated into Latin. More undertook it himself; the drudgery effectively finished his intellectual life. The Opera omnia in two volumes were published in 1679.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: None
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Royal Society
Informal Connections: Correspondence with Boyle. Friendship with Newton. Controversy with Thomas Vaughan, 1650- 1.
Royal Society, 1661-87.
Sources
  1. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-50), 13, 868-70. Marjorie Nicolson, ed., Conway Letters: The Correspondence of Anne Conway, Viscountess Conway, Henry More, and their Friends, (New Haven, 1930). There is no good biography of More; the passages on him in this volume are the best I have found.
  2. Robert A. Green, "Henry More and Robert Boyle on the Spirit of Nature," Journal of the History of Ideas, 23 (1962), 451-74.
  3. Biographia Britannica, 1st ed. (London, 1747-66), 5, 3168-77.
  4. Aharon Lichtenstein, Henry More: The Rational Theology of a Cambridge Platonist, (Cambridge, 1962).
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Sarah Hutton, ed. Henry More (1614-1687): Tercentenary Studies, with a biography and bibliography by Robert Crocker, (Dordrecht, 1989).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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1995 Al Van Helden
Last updated
 
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