Martin Folkes

Martin Folkes PRS FRS (29 October 1690 – 28 June 1754), was an English antiquary, numismatist, mathematician, and astronomer.

Martin Folkes

Martin Folkes
Martin Folkes, painted & etched by William Hogarth.
Born29 October 1690
Died28 June 1754 (aged 63)
OccupationAntiquary, numismatist, mathematician and astronomer
Spouse(s)Lucretia Bradshaw (1714–?)
Martin Folkes by Roubiliac, British Museum
Martin Folkes by Roubiliac, British Museum


Folkes was born in Westminster on 29 October 1690, the eldest son of Martin Folkes, councillor at Law.[1] Educated at Clare College, Cambridge,[2] he so distinguished himself in mathematics that when only twenty-three years of age he was chosen a fellow of the Royal Society. He was elected one of the council in 1716, and in 1723 Sir Isaac Newton, president of the society, appointed him one of the vice-presidents. On the death of Newton he became a candidate for the presidency, but was defeated by Sir Hans Sloane, whom, however, he succeeded in 1741; in 1742 he was made a member of the French Royal Academy of Sciences; in 1746 he received honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge.

Folkes was a prominent Freemason, being appointed Deputy Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England during the year 1724-1725.[3]

In 1733 he set out on a tour through Italy, in the course of which he composed his Dissertations on the weights and Values of Ancient Coins. Before the Society of Antiquaries, of which he was president from 1749 to 1754, he read in 1736 his Observations on the Trajan and Antonine Pillars at Rome and his Table of English Gold Coins from the 18th Year of King Edward III. In 1745 he printed the latter with another on the history of silver coinage. He also contributed both to the Society of Antiquaries and to the Royal Society other papers, chiefly on Roman antiquities. In 1739 he was elected one of the founding vice-presidents of London's charitable Foundling Hospital for abandoned children, a position he maintained until 1747.

Folkes was married in 1714 to Lucretia Bradshaw, an actress who had appeared at the Haymarket and Drury Lane (see Nichols's Lit. Anecdot. ii. 5 78-598). His portrait was painted and etched by William Hogarth (1697–1764).

Folkes was a noted atheist, and abhorred racial prejudice. Some of his public statements have been interpreted as evidence of a Darwinian viewpoint.[4] According to the archaeologist William Stukeley, he set up an Infidels Club in 1720, and caused several young noblemen of the Royal Society to jeer whenever scriptural material was injected into a scientific debate.[5]

For Sir John Hill's attack on Folkes (Review of the Works of the Royal Soc., 1751), see Isaac D'Israeli, Calamities and Quarrels of Authors (1860), pp. 364–366.


  • Haycock, David Boyd. "Folkes, Martin". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9795. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)


  1. ^ Albert G. Mackey, M.D. An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences, New and Revised edition. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co., 1894. p. 280
  2. ^ "Martin Folkes (FLKS706M)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ G. W. Speth (ed), Quatuor Coronatorum Antigrapha, Vol 10, 1913, Minutes of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of England, p.58
  4. ^ Pietre-Stones Alain Bernheim, My approach to Masonic History, Manchester 2011, retrieved 13 September 2013
  5. ^ W. C. Lucis (ed), The Family Memoirs of the Rev. William Stukeley M.D., Surtees Society, 1882, pp 98–100

External links


1690 (MDCXC)

was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar, the 1690th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 690th year of the 2nd millennium, the 90th year of the 17th century, and the 1st year of the 1690s decade. As of the start of 1690, the Gregorian calendar was

10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1690 in England

Events from the year 1690 in England.


1754 (MDCCLIV)

was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1754th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 754th year of the 2nd millennium, the 54th year of the 18th century, and the 5th year of the 1750s decade. As of the start of 1754, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Edmund Weaver (astronomer)

Edmund Weaver (c. 1683 – 27 December 1748) was an English astronomer, land surveyor, and friend to William Stukeley. Weaver's The British Telescope ephemerides (astronomical tables) is considered an important 18th-century publication on the movement of planets.

Edward Montagu (1692–1776)

Edward Montagu (1692–1776) was a wealthy English landowner, who owned numerous coal mines and had several rents and estates in Northumberland. The son of Hon. Charles Montagu, MP, by Sarah Rogers, and the grandson of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, he was educated at Eton (?), Clare College, Cambridge and Lincoln's Inn.In 1730 he became the leaseholder of the small estate of Sandleford, south of Newbury on the Berkshire-Hampshire border, and in 1742 he married Elizabeth Robinson (despite her seeing marriage as a rational and expedient convention rather than something done out of love). At that date, she was twenty-two and he was fifty years old. The marriage was advantageous, but it was apparently not very passionate. All the same, she bore a son, John, the next year, and she loved her child immensely. When John died unexpectedly in 1744, Elizabeth was devastated and, though the couple remained friendly throughout their remaining time together, there were no more children or pregnancies.

In December 1745 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, on the grounds of being a gentleman of great merit, well versed in mathematical and Philosophical Learning, curious in most of the branches of natural learning, his proposers were Montagu; Martin Folkes; William Jones; John Machin; Shallet Turner; Abraham de Moivre; Peter Davall (d.1763, the society's secretary); and his brother-in-law George L. Scott.

Beginning in 1750, he and Elizabeth established a routine where they would winter in London in Mayfair and then, in the spring, go to Sandleford Priory. He would then go on to Northumberland and Yorkshire to manage his holdings, while she would occasionally accompany him. In the late 1760s, he fell ill, and his wife took care of him, although she resented giving up her freedom. He died on 20 May 1776, in his eighty-fourth year, bequeathing her all his wealth and property.


Folkes or ffolkes is a surname, and may refer to:

Folkes Brothers, Jamaican mento group

Cheston Folkes, American politician

Martin Folkes

Michael ffolkes

Steve Folkes

Warren Davis Folkes, American politician

Sir Martin ffolkes, 1st Baronet

Sir William ffolkes, 2nd Baronet

Sir William ffolkes, 3rd Baronet

Henry Baker (naturalist)

Henry Baker (8 May 1698 – 25 November 1774) was an English naturalist.

James MacArdell

James MacArdell (1729?–1765) was an Irish engraver of mezzotints.

Jean-Antoine Nollet

Jean-Antoine Nollet (19 November 1700 – 25 April 1770) was a French clergyman and physicist. As a priest, he was also known as Abbé Nollet.

John Müller

John Müller (1699 – April 1784) was a German mathematician and engineer.

List of Royal Society Fellows elected in 1714

This is a list of Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 1714.

List of presidents of the Royal Society

The President of the Royal Society (PRS) is the elected Head of the Royal Society of London who presides over meetings of the society's council.

After informal meetings at Gresham College, the Royal Society was officially founded on 28 November 1660 when a group of academics decided to found "a Colledge for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning", acquiring a Royal Charter on 15 July 1662. The Royal Charter nominated William Brouncker as president, and stipulated that future presidents should be elected by the Council and Fellows of the society at anniversary meetings each year on St. Andrew's Day (30 November).

The details of the presidency were described by the second Royal Charter, which did not set any limit on how long a president could serve. There were considerable fluctuations in the president's term of office until well into the 19th century. By then, sentiment had turned against electing wealthy amateurs solely because they might become patrons of the society, and in 1847 the society decided that Fellows would be elected solely on scientific merit. Since the 1870s it has been usual (with a few exceptions) for each President to serve for exactly five years. Under the current statutes, a president cannot serve for more than five years. The current President is Venkatraman Ramakrishnan who began his 5-year tenure in 2015.Historically, the duties of the president have been both formal and social. Under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, the President was one of only a few people authorised to certify that a particular experiment on an animal was justified, and in addition he acted as the government's chief (albeit informal) advisor for scientific matters. At the same time, the President was tasked with entertaining distinguished foreign guests and scientists.The changeover of presidents occurs on the Royal Society Anniversary Day, the weekday on or nearest to 30 November, after the departing President's Anniversary Address.

Lucretia Bradshaw

Lucretia Bradshaw (fl. 1714 - 1741) was an English actress.

In Thomas Betterton's 1741 A History of the English Stage, it is stated that: It was the Opinion of a very good Judge of Dramatical Performers that another Gentlewoman, now living, was one of the greatest, and most promising Genii of her Time. This was Mrs. Bradshaw ...

She declared herself to have learned from Elizabeth Barry: "to make herself Mistress of her Part and leave the Figure and Action to Nature".In 1714 she married Martin Folkes (1690-1754), an English antiquary, numismatist, mathematician, and astronomer, who "[took her] off the Stage, for her exemplary and prudent Conduct". The wedding took place on 18 September 1714 at St Helen's church, London. Their marriage is described by Betterton in the words: "And such has been her Behaviour to him, that there is not a more happy Couple." They had three children: Dorothy (born 1718), Martin (1720-1740), and Lucretia (1721–1758, who married Richard Betenson).In March 1753 the family went on a tour of Germany and Italy, and in Rome she reportedly "grew religiously mad". On her return to London in 1735 she was confined to a lunatic asylum in Chelsea, and died there in 1755. Her husband, on his death in 1754, had left her an annuity of £400 for life.Betterton's book devotes a chapter to "Some account of Mrs Guyn, Mrs Porter, Mrs Bradshaw", being Nell Gwyn, Mary Porter, and Lucretia Bradshaw.

Martin Ffolkes

Sir Martin Browne ffolkes, 1st Baronet, FRS (21 May 1749 – 11 December 1821) was an English baronet and Member of Parliament.

Martin ffolkes was the only son of William ffolkes, a barrister of Hillington, Norfolk and his second wife Mary, the daughter and heiress of Sir William Browne, MD, President of the Royal College of Physicians. His uncle was Martin Folkes, President of the Royal Society.

He was educated at Eton School from 1758 to 1766 and Emmanuel College, Cambridge and then entered Lincoln's Inn in 1768 to study law. He succeeded his father in 1783, inheriting lands in Norfolk. On the death of his grandfather Sir William Browne in 1774 he restyled himself Browne ffolkes and was created a baronet later that year.He was appointed High Sheriff of Norfolk for 1783–84 and in 1790 was elected MP for King's Lynn, sitting until his death in office in 1821.He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1772.He died at Hillington in 1821 and was succeeded by his elder son, William John Henry Browne ffolkes. He had married Fanny, the daughter and coheir of Sir John Turner, 3rd Baronet of Warham, with whom he had 2 sons and 3 daughters.

Mohammed Ben Ali Abgali

Mohammed Ben Ali Abgali FRS was a Moroccan Ambassador to Britain, from 14 August 1725 to February 1727.He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1727.

He corresponded with Martin Folkes.


Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money and related objects. While numismatists are often characterised as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the exchange of goods. Early money used by people is referred to as "Odd and Curious", but the use of other goods in barter exchange is excluded, even where used as a circulating currency (e.g., cigarettes in prison). The Kyrgyz people used horses as the principal currency unit and gave small change in lambskins; the lambskins may be suitable for numismatic study, but the horses are not. Many objects have been used for centuries, such as cowry shells, precious metals, cocoa beans, large stones and gems.

Today, most transactions take place by a form of payment with either inherent, standardized, or credit value. Numismatic value is the value in excess of the monetary value conferred by law, which is known as the collector value.Economic and historical studies of money's use and development are an integral part of the numismatists' study of money's physical embodiment.

Sidney Kennon

Sidney Kennon, known as Mrs. Cannon (died 1754), was an 18th-century British midwife who delivered the babies of royalty and other great families. She collected numerous creatures, curiosities and specimens. Her collections were auctioned after her death and she left a large sum of money to promote the delivery of babies by women rather than men.

She was influential in the court of George II and delivered George III in 1738 as a baby for Queen Caroline. Charging up to 50 guineas for a delivery, she became rich. She lived near the court in Jermyn Street, where she entertained celebrities such as Frederick, Prince of Wales. She amassed a large collection of curiosities and objects of natural history. These included polyps and worms, which she studied with the president of the Royal Society, Martin Folkes. Other items included anatomical specimens; coins; medals; ethnographical items; shells; a crocodile given her by royal physician, Richard Mead; and the nightcap of Oliver Cromwell.She died on 11 December 1754 at another residence in Clifford Street in Mayfair. As a dying gift, she presented royal physician Frank Nicholls with a bank note for the considerable sum of £500. This was to support his campaign against the delivery of babies by men. There was some controversy in the 18th century as to whether men should deliver babies. Objections included the indecency and indignity that men might inflict upon women and the damage that instruments such as forceps might do to both mother and child. Nicholls had criticised the practice in his pamphlet, The Petition of the unborn Babes to the Censors of the Royal College of Physicians. Mrs. Cannon's bequests enabled him to continue this work but it was not successful.Her possessions were left to the divine, Arthur Young. Apart from her books about natural history, which were sold privately, the other possessions were sold in public auctions by Abraham Langford. Mrs. Delany wrote that the shells were to fetch £2,500. Horace Walpole bought a large lot at auction which he displayed in his gothic mansion of Strawberry Hill. He wrote about this in a letter to his cousin, Harry Conway, on 12 February 1756:

You would laugh if you saw in the midst of what trumpery I am writing. Two porters have just brought home my purchases from Mrs. Kennon the midwife's sale: Brobdignag combs, old broken pots, pans, and pipkins, a lantern of scraped oyster-shells, scimitars, Turkish pipes, Chinese baskets, &c. &c. My servants think my head is turned: I hope not: it is all to be called the personal estate and moveables of my great-great-grandmother, and to be reposited at Strawberry. I believe you think my letter as strange a miscellany as my purchases.

P.S. I forgot, that I was outbid for Oliver Cromwell's nightcap.

William Tyler (architect)

William Tyler (18 April 1728 – 6 September 1801) was an English sculptor, landscaper, and architect, and one of the founding member of the Royal Academy, in 1768.

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