Wilkins is one of the few persons to have headed a college at both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. He was a polymath, although not one of the most important scientific innovators of the period. His personal qualities were brought out, and obvious to his contemporaries, in reducing political tension in Interregnum Oxford, in founding the Royal Society on non-partisan lines, and in efforts to reach out to religious nonconformists. He was one of the founders of the new natural theology compatible with the science of the time. He is particularly known for An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668) in which, amongst other things, he proposed a universal language and an integrated system of measurement, similar to the metric system.
Wilkins lived in a period of great political and religious controversy, yet managed to remain on working terms with men of all political stripes; he was key in setting the Church of England on the path toward comprehension for as many sects as possible, "and toleration for the rest." Gilbert Burnet called him "the wisest clergyman I ever knew. He was a lover of mankind, and had a delight in doing good."
|Bishop of Chester|
|Diocese||Diocese of Chester|
|In office||1668–1672 (death)|
|Other posts||Dean of Ripon (1663–1672)|
|Born||14 February 1614|
|Died||19 November 1672 (aged 58)|
Chancery Lane, London
|Buried||St Lawrence Jewry, London|
|Spouse||Robina Cromwell (m.1656)|
|Profession||Clergyman, natural philosopher, author, administrator|
|Alma mater||New Inn Hall, Oxford|
Magdalen Hall, Oxford
He was probably born at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire, though some sources say Fawsley; his father Walter Wilkins (died 1625) was a goldsmith and his mother Jane Dod was daughter of John Dod, a well-known conforming Puritan. His mother then remarried, and Walter Pope was a half-brother.
Wilkins was educated at a school in Oxford run by Edward Sylvester, and matriculated at New Inn Hall. He then moved to Magdalen Hall, Oxford where his tutor was John Tombes, and graduated with a B.A. degree in 1631, an M.A. degree in 1634. He studied astronomy with John Bainbridge.
Wilkins went to Fawsley in 1637, a sheep-farming place with little population, dominated by the Knightley family, to whom he and then Dod may have ministered; Richard Knightley had been Dod's patron there. He was ordained a priest of the Church of England in Christ Church Cathedral in February 1638. He then became chaplain successively to Lord Saye and Sele, and by 1641 to Lord Berkeley. In 1644 he became chaplain to Prince Charles Louis, nephew of King Charles I, who was then in England.
Wilkins was one of the group of savants interested in experimental philosophy who gathered round Charles Scarburgh, the royalist physician who arrived in London in summer 1646 after the fall of Oxford to the parliamentarian forces. These included George Ent, Samuel Foster, Francis Glisson, Jonathan Goddard, Christopher Merrett, and John Wallis.
Others of Scarburgh's circle were William Harvey and Seth Ward. This London group, the Gresham College group of 1645, was described much later by Wallis, who mentions also Theodore Haak, anchoring it also to the Palatine exiles; there are clear connections to the Wilkins Oxford Philosophical Club, another and less remote precursor to the Royal Society.
From 1648 Charles Louis was able to take up his position as Elector of the Palatinate on the Rhine, as a consequence of the Peace of Westphalia. Wilkins travelled to continental Europe, and according to Anthony Wood visited Heidelberg.
In 1648 Wilkins became Warden of Wadham College, in Oxford and under him the college prospered. He fostered political and religious tolerance and drew talented minds to the college, including Christopher Wren. Although he was a supporter of Oliver Cromwell, Royalists placed their sons in his charge. From those interested in experimental science, he drew together a significant group known as the Oxford Philosophical Club, which by 1650 had been constituted with a set of rules. Besides some of the London group (Goddard, Wallis, Ward, Wren who was a young protégé of Scarburgh), it included (in the account of Thomas Sprat) Ralph Bathurst, Robert Boyle, William Petty, Lawrence Rooke, Thomas Willis, and Matthew Wren. Robert Hooke was gradually recruited into the Wilkins group: he arrived at Christ Church, Oxford in 1653, working his way to an education, became assistant to Willis, became known to Wilkins (possibly via Richard Busby) as a technician, and by 1658 was working with Boyle.
In 1656, Wilkins married Robina French née Cromwell, youngest sister of Oliver Cromwell, who had been widowed in 1655 when her husband Peter French, a canon of Christ Church, Oxford, had died. Wilkins thereby joined a high stratum of Parliamentary society, and the couple used rooms in Whitehall Palace. In 1659, shortly before his death, Oliver Cromwell arranged for Wilkins a new appointment as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, an appointment that was confirmed by Richard Cromwell who succeeded his father as Lord Protector. Wilkins was there long enough to befriend and become a patron of Isaac Barrow.
Upon the Restoration in 1660, the new authorities deprived Wilkins of the position given him by Cromwell; he gained appointment as prebendary of York and rector of Cranford, Middlesex. In 1661 he was reduced to preacher at Gray's Inn, lodging with his friend Seth Ward. In 1662 he became vicar of St Lawrence Jewry, London. He suffered in the Great Fire of London, losing his vicarage, library and scientific instruments.
Possessing strong scientific tastes, Wilkins was a founding member of the Royal Society and was soon elected fellow and one of the Society's two secretaries: he shared the work with Henry Oldenburg, whom he had met in Oxford in 1656.
Wilkins became vicar of Polebrook, Northamptonshire, in 1666; prebendary of Exeter in 1667; and in the following year, prebendary of St Paul's and bishop of Chester. He owed his position as bishop to the influence of George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham's approach to the religious problem of the day was comprehension, something less than religious tolerance but aimed at least at bringing in the Presbyterians among the nonconformists to the Church of England by some peaceful form of negotiation and arrangement. Wilkins too thought along these lines. He had been a sympathetic reader of John Humfrey's 1661 justification of his acceptance of re-ordination by William Piers, having already once been ordained in the Presbyterian style by a classis.
As Wilkins was ordained, he spoke out against the use of penal laws, and immediately tried to gather support from other moderate bishops to see what concessions to the nonconformists could be made.
A serious effort was made in 1668 to secure a scheme of comprehension, with William Bates, Richard Baxter and Thomas Manton for the dissenters meeting Wilkins and Hezekiah Burton. Wilkins felt the Presbyterians could be brought within the Church of England, while the Independent separatists were left outside. It fell through by late summer, with Manton blaming John Owen for independent scheming for general toleration with Buckingham, and Baxter pointing the finger at the House of Lords.
His numerous written works include:
The early scientific works were in a popular vein, and have links to the publications of Francis Godwin. The Discovery of a World in the Moone (1638) was followed up by A Discourse Concerning a New Planet (1640). The author highlights the similarities between the Earth and the Moon. Based on these similarities, he proposes the idea that the Moon would house living beings, the Selenites. Godwin's The Man in the Moone was also published in 1638. In 1641 Wilkins published an anonymous treatise entitled Mercury, or The Secret and Swift Messenger. This was a small work on cryptography; it may well have been influenced by Godwin's Nuncius inanimatus (1629). His Mathematical Magic (1648) was divided into two sections, one on traditional mechanical devices such as the lever, and the other, more speculative, on machines. It drew on many authors, both classical writers and moderns such as Guidobaldo del Monte and Marin Mersenne. It alludes to Godwin's The Man in the Moone, for bird-powered flight. These were light if learned works and admitted both blue-sky thinking, such as the possibility of the Moon being inhabitable, and references to figures on the "occult" side: Trithemius, John Dee, the Rosicrucians, Robert Fludd.
Ecclesiastes (1646) is a plea for a plain style in preaching, avoiding rhetoric and scholasticism, for a more direct and emotional appeal. It analysed the whole field of available Biblical commentary, for the use of those preparing sermons, and was reprinted many times. It is noted as a transitional work, both in the move away from Ciceronian style in preaching, and in the changing meaning of elocution to the modern sense of vocal production.
A Discourse Concerning the Beauty of Providence (1649) took an unfashionable line, namely that divine providence was more inscrutable than current interpreters were saying. It added to the reputation of Wilkins, when the Stuarts returned to the throne, to have warned that the short term reading of events as managed by God was risky.
In 1654, Wilkins joined with Seth Ward in writing Vindiciae academiarum, a reply to John Webster's Academiarum Examen, one of many attacks at the time on the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and their teaching methods. This attack had more clout than most: it was dedicated to John Lambert, a top military figure, and was launched during Barebone's Parliament, when radical change seemed on the cards. Wilkins (as NS) provided an open letter to Ward; and Ward (as HD, also taking the final letters of his name therefore) replied at greater length. Wilkins makes two main points: first, Webster is not addressing the actual state of the universities, which were not as wedded to old scholastic ways, Aristotle, and Galen, as he said; and secondly Webster's mixture of commended authors, without fuller understanding of the topics, really was foolish. In this approach Wilkins had to back away somewhat from his writings of the late 1630s and early 1640s. He made light of this in the way of pointing to Alexander Ross, a very conservative Aristotelian who had attacked his own astronomical works, as a more suitable target for Webster. This exchange was part of the process of the new experimental philosophers throwing off their associations with occultists and radicals.
In 1668 he published his Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language. In it he attempted to create a universal language to replace Latin as a completely unambiguous tongue with which scholars and philosophers could communicate. One aspect of this work was the suggestion of an integrated system of measurement, similar to the metric system but which was never promoted.
A Doctor counted very able
Designes that all Mankynd converse shall,
Spite o' th' confusion made att Babell,
By Character call'd Universall.
How long this character will be learning,
That truly passeth my discerning.
[Wilkins] urged his readers to 'remember [that] we are but short-sighted, and cannot discern the various references, and dependences, amongst the great affairs in the world, and may therefore be easily mistaken in our opinion of them.'... After the Restoration, Wilkins's words seemed particularly prescient.
| Warden of Wadham College, Oxford
| Master of Trinity College, Cambridge
|Church of England titles|
| Dean of Ripon
| Bishop of Chester
An Essay towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language (London, 1668) is the best-remembered of the numerous works of John Wilkins, in which he expounds a new universal language, meant primarily to facilitate international communication among scholars, but envisioned for use by diplomats, travelers, and merchants as well. Unlike many universal language schemes of the period, it was meant merely as an auxiliary to—not a replacement of—existing natural languages.Bray Wilkins
Bray Wilkins (c. 1610 – 1/2 January 1702) was a Welsh immigrant, patriarch, and founder of Middleton, Massachusetts. Bray's origins aren't concretely known and are supplanted (and probably distorted) by familial tradition, however his reputation was already prolific in the Massachusetts Bay Colony decades before his death. His progeny, the Wilkins family, had a strong presence in the area. Bray and his seed were prominent figures in some Salem Witch Trials.Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge
Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge (Spanish: Emporio celestial de conocimientos benévolos) is a fictitious taxonomy of animals described by the writer Jorge Luis Borges in his 1942 essay "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins" (El idioma analítico de John Wilkins).Wilkins, a 17th-century philosopher, had proposed a universal language based on a classification system that would encode a description of the thing a word describes into the word itself—for example, Zi identifies the genus beasts; Zit denotes the "difference" rapacious beasts of the dog kind; and finally Zitα specifies dog.
In response to this proposal and in order to illustrate the arbitrariness and cultural specificity of any attempt to categorize the world, Borges describes this example of an alternate taxonomy, supposedly taken from an ancient Chinese encyclopædia entitled Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.
The list divides all animals into 14 categories:
Those that belong to the emperor
Those that are trained
Mermaids (or Sirens)
Those that are included in this classification
Those that tremble as if they were mad
Those drawn with a very fine camel hair brush
Those that have just broken the flower vase
Those that, at a distance, resemble fliesBorges claims that the list was discovered in its Chinese source by the translator Franz Kuhn.Jack Wilkins (footballer)
Leonard Henry John Wilkins (12 August 1920 – March 2009) was an Irish professional footballer who played as a full back or centre half in the Football League for Brighton & Hove Albion.John Wilkins (American football coach)
John Wilkins is a former American football coach. He was highly successful in his 13 years as head coach of Permian High School in Odessa, Texas, amassing a 148–16–7 record and two Class 5A state titles. John was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor July 30, 2003.
Wilkins became head coach at Odessa Permian in 1973 after serving as an assistant to Gil Bartosh. In 1975, Permian made the state final for the first time during Wilkins' tenure, but lost 20–10 to Port Neches-Groves. Five years later, Odessa Permian faced Port Arthur Jefferson, guided by Ronnie Thompson and led by quarterback Todd Dodge. Permian won the game 28–19. Wilkins' 1984 squad tied Beaumont French for the title. The next year, Permian lost to Houston Yates in a 37–0 blowout at the Texas Stadium.
In 1985 Wilkins left his coach's office in order to become athletic director of the Ector County Independent School District. Wilkins took the athletic director job at private Trinity School of Midland, Texas in 1998, and found himself back on the sideline as head coach until Spring 2002. He currently resides in East Odessa Texas.John Wilkins (Indian artist)
John Wilkins (20 June 1927 at Kolar Gold Fields – 1991) was an Indian painter.John Wilkins (basketball)
John Wilkins (born July 13, 1989) is a French-born Moroccan professional basketball player. He currently plays for the CRA Hoceima club of the Nationale 1, Morocco’s first division.
He is the son of former NBA player Jeff Wilkins.
He played for Morocco's national basketball team at the 2017 AfroBasket in Tunisia and Senegal.John Wilkins Jr.
John Wilkins Jr. (December 22, 1761 – April 20, 1816) was a United States Army officer who served as Quartermaster General of the United States Army from 1796 to 1802.John Wilkins Whitfield
John Wilkins Whitfield (March 11, 1818 – October 27, 1879) was a territorial delegate to the United States Congress representing the Kansas Territory from 1854 until 1856. He was an officer in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, being commissioned as a brigadier general on May 9, 1863.John Willard
John Willard was one of the people executed for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, during the Salem witch trials of 1692. He was hanged on Gallows Hill, Salem on August 19, 1692.
At the time of the first allegations of witchcraft Willard was serving as a constable in the village of Salem and his duties included bringing the accused before the court. Soon, however, he began to doubt the truth of the accusations and in May 1692 he refused to make any more arrests. In retaliation Ann Putnam, Jr. and others accused him of witchcraft, and of murdering thirteen citizens.Some of his in-laws made accusations. Benjamin Wilkins would tell the court that Willard had previously beat his wife. Samuel Wilkins testified that he had repeatedly been irritated and afflicted by something in a dark colored coat—and that it was John Willard. John Wilkins would blame the death of his wife, after having delivered a baby, on John Willard... [p]atriarch, Bray Wilkins, would say that he came down with his illness after John Willard had looked at him with an evil eye. Willard was found guilty of witchcraft on August 5, 1692. On August 19, 1692, he was hanged, along with John Proctor, George Burroughs, George Jacobs, Sr., and Martha Carrier. Willard maintained his innocence until the very end.Kansas Territory's at-large congressional district
From the 33rd Congress through the 36th Congress, Kansas Territory elected a non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives.List of Founder Fellows of the Royal Society
This is a complete list of the Founder Fellows of the Royal Society. Founder Fellows are defined as those present at the inaugural meeting of the Society at Gresham College on 28 November 1660.List of commandants of the Illinois Country
The Illinois Country was governed by military commandants for its entire period under French and British rule, and during its time as a county of Virginia. The presence of French military interests in the Illinois Country began in 1682 when Robert de La Salle built Fort St. Louis du Roche on the Illinois River. The commandant of the fort was the top French official in the region and was responsible to the Governor General of New France. In 1718 Illinois was transferred to Louisiana and renamed Upper Louisiana. The new seat of government was Fort de Chartres, located in what is now southeastern Illinois among the growing French settlements of Cahokia, Kaskaskia and Prairie du Rocher.
In 1763, at the conclusion of the Seven Years' War, the entire area of Louisiana was divided, with Great Britain receiving the lands east of the Mississippi and Spain claiming the lands west of it. The new city of St. Louis, in present-day Missouri, became the seat of government of Spanish Upper Louisiana. The government of the British side, present-day Illinois, remained in the hands of military commandants at Fort de Chartres; upon that fort's abandonment the seat of government moved to Kaskaskia. British rule in Illinois was ad hoc and unsystematic. The Quebec Act of 1774 would have organized a government for the region, but before it could be put into effect Illinois was captured by Virginia militia in the Illinois Campaign.After 1787 Illinois received a civil government as part of the Northwest and Indiana Territories before becoming a distinct Illinois Territory in 1809. The United States acquired the rest of Upper Louisiana in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803; military rule continued for a few months before it was transferred to civilian government, first under the Indiana Territory, and then as the Louisiana Territory in 1805.The Analytical Language of John Wilkins
"The Analytical Language of John Wilkins" (Spanish: El idioma analítico de John Wilkins) is a short essay by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges originally published in Otras Inquisiciones (1937–1952). It is a critique of the English natural philosopher and writer John Wilkins's proposal for a universal language and of the representational capacity of language generally. In it, Borges imagines a bizarre and whimsical (and fictional) Chinese taxonomy later quoted by Michel Foucault, David Byrne, and others.Tyeb Mehta
Tyeb Mehta (25 July 1925 – 2 July 2009) was an Indian painter, sculptor and film maker. He was part of the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group and the first post-colonial generation of artists in India, like John Wilkins who also broke free from the nationalist Bengal school and embraced Modernism instead, with its post-impressionist colours, cubist forms and brusque, expressionistic styles.
Among his most noted later paintings were his triptych Celebration, which when sold for Rs 15 million ($317,500) at a Christie's auction in 2002, was not only the highest sum for an Indian painting at an international auction, but also triggered the subsequent great Indian art boom; his other noted works were the 'Diagonal Series', Santiniketan triptych series, Kali, Mahishasura (1996). He stayed and worked in Mumbai for much of his life, except for three spells at London, New York, and Santiniketan, each having a distinct impact upon his work. He received several awards during his career including the Padma Bhushan in 2007.Wadham College, Oxford
Wadham College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. It is located in the centre of Oxford, at the intersection of Broad Street and Parks Road.
Wadham College was founded in 1610 by Dorothy Wadham, according to the will of her late husband Nicholas Wadham (1531-1609), a member of an ancient Devon and Somerset family.
The central buildings, a notable example of Jacobean architecture, were designed by the architect William Arnold and erected between 1610 and 1613. They include a large and ornate Hall. Adjacent to the central buildings are the Wadham Gardens.
Amongst Wadham's most famous alumni is Sir Christopher Wren. Wren was one of a brilliant group of experimental scientists at Oxford in the 1650s, the Oxford Philosophical Club, which included Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke. This group held regular meetings at Wadham College under the guidance of the warden, John Wilkins, and the group formed the nucleus which went on to found the Royal Society.
Wadham is a liberal and progressive college which aims to maintain the diversity of its student body and a friendly atmosphere. Founded as a men's college, in 1974 it was among the first become coeducational, and the college has a strong reputation as a promoter of gay rights. In 2011 it became the first Oxford college to fly the rainbow flag as part of queer week, a celebration of sexual diversity and individuality.Wadham is one of the largest colleges of the University of Oxford, with about 460 undergraduates, 180 graduate students, and 65 fellows.As of 2017, it had an estimated financial endowment of £96 million, and in 2014/2015 ranked 3rd in the Norrington Table, a measure which ranks Oxford colleges by academic performance.Walter Blandford
Walter Blandford (1616 in Melbury Abbas, Dorset, England – 1675) was an English academic and bishop.Wilkins Lecture
The Wilkins Lecture was a lecture organised by the Royal Society of London on the subject of the history of science and named after John Wilkins, the first Secretary of the Society. The last Wilkins lecture was delivered in 2003, after which it was merged with the Bernal Lecture and the Medawar Lecture to form the Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Lecture.Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania
Wilkinsburg is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States adjacent to the city of Pittsburgh. The population was 15,930 at the 2010 census, having lost more than 13,000 in the 70 years since 1940, when 29,853 people were enumerated. The borough was named for John Wilkins, Jr., a United States Army officer who served as Quartermaster General of the United States Army from 1796 to 1802.