A STATED Meeting of the Society was held at the Club of Odd Volumes, No. 77 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 25 February 1954, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President Hon. Robert Walcott in the chair.
The records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported the receipt of letters from Messrs. Nathan Marsh Pusey and Keyes de Witt Metcalf, of Cambridge, and Henry Francis du Pont, of Winterthur, Delaware, accepting election to Honorary Membership; from Messrs. Laurence Brown Fletcher, of Boston, and Edward Neal Hartley, of Cambridge, accepting election to Resident Membership; from Messrs. Hamilton Vaughan Bail, of Philadelphia, Charles Woolsey Cole, of Amherst, John Douglas Forbes, of Crawfordsville, Indiana, and Francis Taylor Pearsons Plimpton, of New York City, accepting election to Non-Resident Membership in the Society.
Mr. Charles Rutan Strickland, of Boston, and Dr. John Peabody Monks, of Lincoln, were elected Resident Members of the Society.
Mr. Howard Mumford Jones read a paper entitled: “Republican Humanism.”
The Editor communicated by title the following paper by Mr. Raymond Phineas Stearns, of Urbana, Illinois, a Corresponding Member of the Society:
JOHN Winthrop (1681–1747) of New London, Connecticut, possessed little of the ability and few of the higher virtues commonly associated with his forebears of the same name, especially with his grandfather, the Governor of Connecticut, and his great-grandfather, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. To his great unhappiness, however, he felt that he had been born to the purple and should be accorded the honor and respect which the greater merits of his ancestors had commanded. When the Massachusetts public failed to respond to his satisfaction, he treated his contemporaries with pained contempt, transferred his residence to his ancestral estate at New London, where he assumed the role of a country gentleman, tried vainly to make a fortune from the Sturbridge (Massachusetts) graphite mines which he had inherited from his grandfather, and turned his mediocre abilities to natural history, alchemy, and “physic” in feeble emulation of his illustrious ancestor, the first governor of Connecticut.175
His stubborn ancestral pride, combined with a greed intensified by financial failures, led him to contest the Connecticut courts’ decisions in settling the estate of his uncle, Fitz John Winthrop, who died intestate. In 1726 he appealed to England where subsequently (1728) the Privy Council disallowed both the Connecticut courts’ findings and the colony’s laws of inheritance. The dispute, however, hardly improved Winthrop’s reputation in New England and, as he had gone to England to make his appeal, he ultimately took up residence in London, leaving his family in Connecticut.176 In London he sought eagerly after that recognition which he had failed to win in New England. He fawned upon the English virtuosi, cultivated such estimable men as Sir Hans Sloane, and called upon his grandfather’s reputation as a scientist to attest his own claims thereto. By such means he won an invitation to the weekly meetings of the Royal Society of London and so began an association which is the burden of this discourse.
The urge to collect things—whether ancient manuscripts, archaeological remains, or specimens of natural history—was strong in London in the first half of the eighteenth century, and greatest of the English collectors was Sir Hans Sloane, Bart. (1660–1753), fashionable physician, generous patron of scientific learning, president both of the Royal College of Physicians and of the Royal Society, and principal founder of the British Museum. Anyone who turned up in London with a box or two of “curiosities” could be assured of a flattering reception by the virtuosi of the day. John Winthrop’s passport to this element of London Society was a collection of almost thirty items presented to “The Honourable Sr Hans Sloane, Baronet.” The following itemized list of the gift is preserved among the Sloane papers:177
- Indian Corn for Samp.
- Indian Meal for hasty Puding
- Indian Flower for any sort of Puding
- Cranberries for Tarts or Sauce
- 6 Tantiusques Pencils
- Indian Grass
- Rattle Snake Oyle
- Wild Honey
- oyle of the Adder Snake
- oyle of the Black Snake
- oyle of the large water Snake, the Indians use it for pains and weak
- Cranberry seed and leaf
- Wood dyed Red with the Juice of Cranberries
- New England Tobacco seed
- Wild fruit seed
- Indian Hemp seed
- Large teeth of a Rattle-Snake
- . . . in a Oar among the black Lead at Tantiusquess178
- Seekkankee berries
- Wild bees wax
- New-England Fir Tree gum
- . . .-sper Oar among the black Lead at Tantiusques179
- Sweet Corn dry’d in the Milk, that is when the Ears are very young, a dainty dish with the Indians Dry’d Hurtle Berries
- Various sorts of Oar found among the Black Lead at Tantiusques, and a piece of Black Lead oar.
As acknowledgment of and return for these gifts, Sir Hans Sloane called upon Mr. Winthrop at the latter’s lodgings and presented him with a book, probably with Sir Hans’ own Natural History of Jamaica, the second volume of which had been published only a short time before.180 For this gracious visit and gift, John Winthrop wrote an acknowledgment which appears fulsome even when placed against the exaggerated literary fashion of the day:
I am infinitely obliged for yor kind visit this morning, and Beg leave to Returne humble thanks for [the] great Favor of yor Excellent, Noble, & Invalluable [pr]esent. I have Nothing in my power to make a suitable [re-]turne; but most humbly pray I may be inrolled among the Honourers of yor Name, Learning, & Vertue. And [sin-]ce you have done me this Honour, and if it may be [pl-]easing to you; that you wd Write yor Name with yor owne hand in the Books! that they may be forever deposited in the Archives of my Family that my posterity may continue hereafter to admire & Revere the greatest observer, promoter, & preserver of Naturall Philosophy. I humbly beg pardon for this Trouble, & make ten thousand [wish-]es for your Health; that you may goe on to Compleat wt [is R-]emaining to Enrich the better part of the Creation [and the] Learned World.
I have the Honor to be, Honrble Sr, wth the greatest Truth and Highest Regards, Sr
Yor Honors most obedient, most obliged &
faithfull humble Servt
If the course of events which immediately followed took the order which is observable in many other similar instances, it was soon after the above exchange of gifts and pleasantries that John Winthrop was admitted as a visitor to a meeting of the Royal Society. Whatever preparation may have preceded the event, it is a matter of record that Winthrop attended the weekly meeting of the Royal Society of 26 January 1726/27.182 Moreover, he went prepared to please, for the minutes of the meeting relate that he presented the Society with a collection of “natural curiosities he had made in New England and New York.”183 The collection was not as large as that given to Sir Hans Sloane and neither as interesting nor as valuable, scientifically speaking, as the Royal Society was accustomed to receive. It consisted of eight items, as follows:
- 1. A piece of a Rock of Loadstone which is in Fishers Island in New York. This Rock Stands two or three foot above ground and is four or five Yards in Circumference.
- 2. An ossified Substance found in the heart of a Deer that was killed in the same Island . . . .
- 3. Some pieces of a Shining Coal from a pit near the Sea Side in Long Island . . . .
- 4. A piece of very good black lead found near the river Quinebague about 50 Miles above New London in New England.
- 5. A Stick of Wallnut Tree (said to be petrified).
- 6. A Sprig of a wild Shrub with its leaves called Gulanhy wch serves to make a good black dye without Copperas.
- 7. Another Sprig of a wild Shrub like Casine the leaves of which being infused makes a sort of pleasant Tea which is diuratick.
- 8. A Specimen of a very good Sort of Indian Extract from the Juice of another Plant which Grows wild as the two former do in many places in the district of Connecticut in New England.184
Almost seven years passed before John Winthrop revisited the Royal Society. On 22 November 1733 he attended the meeting as the guest of Dr. Alexander Stuart.185 About seven weeks afterwards Winthrop was presented as a candidate for fellowship in the Society. The certificate posted in his behalf, although presented by the Secretary (Cromwell Mortimer) and signed by the president (Sir Hans Sloane), was extraordinary in its emphasis upon factors besides the candidate’s scientific abilities and potentialities.186 It read as follows:
John Winthrop of New England Esqr. Grandson of the Learned John Winthrop Esqr who was one of the first Members of this Society, & who in conjunction with others did greatly contribute to the Obtaining Our Charter,187 to whom the Society in its early days was not only Indebted for various Ingenious Communications, but their Museum Still contains many testimonies of his Generosity, especially of things relating to the Natural History of New England where he afterwards went to live;188 This Gentlemen hath not been backward in following the Example of his Grand Father, having himself Sent over Several Curiosities to the Society, and intending to present many more as well as to become a constant Correspondent when he returns to America: Wherefore as he desires to become a Member of this Society, as he is a proper person well skill’d in Natural Knowledge & particularly in Chemistry, We, whose names are under Written, do recommend him as a person likely to be a very Usefull Member of this Society.
London, Jan.y 10, 1733/4.
In accordance with the Society’s statutes, the above certificate was displayed in the Society’s meeting room for “ten several ordinary meetings” and on 4 April 1734 Winthrop was elected Fellow of the Society. Three weeks later (25 April), he presented himself at a meeting, signed the obligation required of Fellows, and was formally admitted to the Society.190
Shortly afterwards Winthrop prepared the “many more” curiosities which he had promised to his English friends. On the following 15 June he wrote to Sir Hans Sloane:
According to my promise I have sent yor Honor Specimens of the Various Minerals in New England; as also some other curious productions of that country; and the West Indies: by wch yor Honr will perceive some parts of North America seem to point out Valuable Mines that may be as advantageous to the coming Ages as Europe can Boast. And Happy will it be for the Brittish Nation if the New World shou’d prove as Subterraneously Rich as the Old; but the perfect knowledge of these hidden Treasures of Nature are Referred for Posterity to Enable them to pay their Duty to their Mother Country, Great Brittain, from whence We had the Honor to Spring. If what is now humbly presented may be thought worthy to have a place in yor Wonderfull and Noble Repository, it will be esteemed a very high Favor done to, Sir
Yor Honors most Obedient and very obliged faithfull humble Serv’t.
This letter bears three additions to the above. Two are postscripts by Winthrop to the effect that “If yr Honr thinks it proper, please to communicate the sight of them to the Illustrious and Learned Society of wch you are the President” and “you will finde Sr in the Box a List of the things it contains with my particular observations on some of them.” But the third is a memorandum by Sir Hans Sloane to the effect that “No Minerals wherein are gold or silver to be communicated to the Society or anybody else by direction of Mr. Winthrop.” Unfortunately, Winthrop’s list of the contents of this box appears to have been lost.
However, the gift to Sir Hans was completely overshadowed by the collection which Winthrop presented to the Royal Society on 27 June 1734. Consisting of three hundred and sixty-four items, this collection contained specimens illustrative of nearly every department of the natural history of New England, and it was the largest single gift received since Daniel Colwall had established the Society’s “Repository of Rarities” in the 1660’s.192 The following catalogue of the collection was written into the Minutes of the Society:193
A Catalogue of Curiosities presented to the Royal Society by John Winthrop of New England Esq.
- 1. The Penis of a Sea Tortoise.
- 2. Fel Serpentis Caudisoni. Four grains for a dose cure all sorts of Fevers & Aigues, taken in a spoonfull of Spring Water. The Gall liquid is preserved for use by dropping it on the fine powder of chalk.
- 3. The fins of the Dogfish, of the size of a dog, with four short legs, and the tail like a fish. Tis a sort of Seal.
- 4. Stones out of the head of a Cod-fish: which powder’d are given for the Stranguary and Gravel.
- 5. Small Cochlea from Fisher’s and Long Island &c.
- 6. A Sea Snail.
- 7. A sort of Nerites, which never grow larger. The Indians boil them, & make strengthening broth of them.
- 8. A large sort of Nerites.
- 9. A larger sort of Nerites: one with very small Balami growing upon it.
- 10. Small Buccina from all the coast.
- 11. Small Buccina from Fishers and Long Island &c.
- 12. Small Buccina.
- 13. White Buccina from the beach on Long-Island.
- 14. Buccinum nostro productiore, with a chain of their Ovaries, which are sometimes twenty or thirty yards long.
- 15. A piece of the Shell of the Poquahauges (a rare Shellfish and a dainty food with the Indians. The flesh eats like Veal. The English make pyes thereof: and of the Shell the Indians make ye following mony). This piece is worth two pence.
- 16. Ditto worth six pence.
- 17. D.o worth a Shilling. White.
- 18. D.o “ “ “ . Purple.
- 19. D.o six worth one penny. White.
- 20. D.o four worth one penny. Blew. They are call’d Wampampeege.
- 21. Young Poquahauges. Pectunculus fasciatus.
- 22. The wreaths of the Buccinum, of which the Indians make their mony or white Wampampeege.
- 23. The Buccinum (22) entire.
- 24. Small Shells found upon the beach.
- 25. Small Pectunculi laeves from ye beach on Fisher’s Island.
- 26. Pectunculi from the beach at Naraganset.
- 27. Scallop Shells of divers colours.
- 28. Clams white. Their broth is most excellent in all intermitting Fevers, Consumptions &c. These Clams feed only on Sand.
- 29. A very curious Sort of gold-Colour’d Pearl Shells on the Sea Coast near the Shore. Those with marks in them are such as have born Pearls: which powder’d make the best testaceous powder in the world.
- 30. Unripe Pearls, which in time would have become (31).
- 31. Bright Pearls, which are produced in the same Shells (30).
- 32. Some of the larger Sea Pearl Shells, which are often found in deeper waters, three times as large, & bear larger Pearls.
N.B. Almost all the Lakes, Ponds, and Brooks contain a large fresh-water clam, which also bears Pearls. The Indians say they have no Pearls in them at certain Seasons: but at the Season when they grow milky, ye Pearls are digested in them, which causes their milkyness.
- 33. Shells of the Razor-fish (Solares) which calcined the Indians mix with Bear’s grease, and therewith cure the Piles. They drink the water in which they are boil’d, together with the powder of the Shells.
- 34. Moths. A fine large Butterfly with Velvet wings farbelow’d, and Eyes on them like the rounds on Peacock’s feathers.
- 35. Branches and Seeds of the red Cedar.
- 36. Some red Cedar wood rotten, from the midde of a Post, which was sound on the outside: which shews that the common opinion, that Cedar neverrots, is false.
- 37. Acorns of the dwarf-Oak.
- 38. Touchwood; being the bark of the red Oak. The Indians kindle fire with it, by striking two flints together.
- 39. A sort of Touchwood, soon kindled, used by the Indians.
- 40. A sort of Sena from Elizabetha Island, New-England. It dies an excellent black, and grows in great plenty [Prinos glaber].
- 41. Leaves of a Plant, which grows in swampy ground. It is an Evergreen, that dyes an exceeding fine shining black; and it surpasses Sena.
- 42. An Evergreen, with which the Indians cure the Dropsy and Strangury, boiling the Leaves and small branches in Spring water, when they are sick, and drink it in fevers. It grow[s] plentifully in the country, and bears a spicey red berry, which the Turtle Doves & Partridges eat.
- 43. Roots of the Sassafras tree, which the Indians boil, and drink in Fevers.
- 44. A root call’d by the Indians Dram-root; because it warms their Stomach like a Dram.
- 45. Bloody Root [Sangui maria]. It grows on the banks of Quinebauge river. The juice is like blood. The Indians use it in Consumptions and fevers; to cure the bite of the Rattle-Snake, the bloody flux &c.
- 46. Sunkneesowange, a root, with which the Indians cure Cancers in the breast.
- 47. Squianauge, a root, with which ye Indians cure Consumptions.
- 48. A sort of Snake-root.
- 49. Mountain roots from Connecticut, The Indians chew them to expell wind.
- 50. Myrtle berries, of which are made Candles and Soap [Myrica?].
- 51. One of the Candles, and pieces of the Soap (of 49). [sic: means “(of 50)”?]
- 52. Various colour’d Indian beans.
- 53. Indian beans bearing very long pods.
- 54. Pods, Seeds and Silk of the Silk grass [Asclepias]. It grows every where in North America, and in New England. The poorer Sort of people make beds of it. Fine hatts &c may be made thereof.
- 55. The Wool and seed of one sort of Snakeweed, which grows almost every where in New England. It bears a purple red flower like the Columbine. After the leaves of the flower fall off, it shoots out into long buttons at the top, which in autumn open and contain this wool. The Indians cure the bite of the Rattle Snake with the root, and stop bleeding with the wool.
- 56. Nutts from their resemblance called Negroe-heads, which grow on trees in Bermudas and Barbadoes.
- 57. Cones of the white Firr.
- 58. Beach Plum Stones, which never grow higher than the knee, on the barren Sand beach. It is a very pleasant fruit.
- 59. A sort of Agaric, which the Indians use as Touchwood, and burn a small place with it behind their ear upon the Vein, and say they never have the toothach afterwards on that side.
- 60. Galls from the white Oak.
- 61. Gum of the Firr-trees from New-England.
- 62. A sort of Indigo made out of the wild Indigo-weed, which grows all over New-England. The juice of this plant rubb’d on horses &c keep the flies from stinging them.
- 63. A Natural Mat, which grew between the Clefts of the Rocks.
- 64. Fragments of Shells dug up thirty feet deep in making a Well three miles from the Sea; great quantities of other Shells were found in the same place. No water was found.
- 65. A piece of red Cedar petrified in a short time.
Earths, Clays &c.
- 66. A white Earth from Oyster-Bay in Long Island.
- 67. A whitish earth from the uplands.
- 68. A white earth between chalk and Marie.
- 69. A grey earth from Tantiusquese.
- 70. A grey whitish Earth with red Streaks, containing Cinnibar or☿ [Mercury].
- 71. A reddish grey earth, a leader to Cinnabar?
- 72. A flesh-Coloured earth from the Gay-head, where are divers Coloured Ohres.
- 73. A light red Earth, wherewith the Indians paint their faces, when they go to war: from the Indians from the inland parts.
- 74. A reddish earth from Quinipiack, used internally for bruises.
- 75. A red earth, (containing Iron?) with which the Indians paint themselves. They bring it a month’s travel up the Country.
- 76. A red earth brought by the Indians above a month’s travel from up the Country, with which they paint themselves. The same as N.o 75.
- 77. Orange Colour’d earth brought by the Indians from the uplands.
- 78. An Orange Colour’d Earth from the uplands.
- 79. A blackish and white Crumbly earth, from a river which falls into Quinebango river.
- 80. Earth that will swim, from Connecticut river near thirty mile Island [Inland?].
- 81. A mineral earth like Pyrites.
- 82. A sort of Fuller’s earth from Fisher’s Island. The same is also found on Long-Island.
- 83. A Clay resembling Fuller’s earth, from Long Island.
- 84. A fine tobacco pipe clay from Long-Island: and the same is found at Mount-Prospect on Fisher’s Island.
- 85. A white striated Clay from Fisher’s Island.
- 86. A Limon-Colour’d Clay, from the inland parts.
- 87. A reddish Clay from near Hartford.
- 88. A reddish Bole from Long Island, nearly the same as that at Quinepiack.
- 89. A very soft fine red Earth like Bole armeniac.
- 90. A red Ohre, from Martha’s vineyard.
- 91. A reddish Earth like Okre, brought by the Indians from the inland parts.
- 92. A grey sandy Stone, like Grind-stone, not far from where the natural Whet-Stones are found.
- 93. A grey gritty Stone from Fisher’s Island.
- 94. A black and white gritty Stone brought by the Indians.
- 95. A dark porous Stone, from the uplands.
- 96. A blewish grey porous Stone, brought by the Indians from the inlands.
- 97. Dark reddish Stones with black Talc: from Newayunck near the Sea.
- 98. Fragments of a brownish Stone with Micae.
- 99. A Liver-Colour’d Stone with Micae.
- 100. A Slate, which the Indians scrape into water, and drink, when they have received any bruise.
- 101. A Silver-Colour’d Slate, which Calcin’d is of a fine gold Colour.
- 102. A sort of Slate from Quinebauge.
- 103. A light green Slate from the Uplands.
- 104. A sort of blew Slate, containing Slum, from the inland parts.
- 105. A black fissil Stone.
- 106. A Chocolate-Colour’d fissil194 Stone from Hartford Rivulet.
- 107. A fissil Stone with Micae, which burnt looks like ☾ [Silver]. Another sort of it resembles ☉ [Gold].
- 108. A blewish flakey Stone from Quinebauge.
- 109. A bright-shining flakey Mineral like bumish’d Steel, from the woods at Tantiusquese.
- 110. Reddish flakey Stones.
- 111. A flakey Stone composed of Micae.
- 112. A flakey Stone with Micae, from near Moosup river.
- 113. A gritty flakey Stone with Micae, from the upland parts.
- 114. A white flakey Stone intermix’d with Micae and Gritt.
- 115. A soft flakey greasy Stone, from Point Juda.
Marble & harder Stones.
- 116. Two sorts of whitish grey Marble, from the uplands.
- 117. White Stones of the marble kind, near the Massachusetts.
- 118. A Stone used in building, containing Granates195 from Connecticut Island in Naraganset Bay.
- 119. A white striated Stone, from the Sea Side: a large rock.
- 120. Pieces of greyish Stone with black Spots, lying in great quantities together, from the inlands.
- 121. A blewish grey Stone, brought by the Indians from the upland parts.
- 122. Yellowish grey Stones from a hill near Quinebauge river.
- 123. Blew and white streak’d Stones, from a pond’s Side up the country.
- 124. Blewish and white Stones from the uplands.
- 125. Blewish and white Stones brought by the Indians.
- 126. Blewish and white Stones from a pond’s Side, from Fisher’s Island. [The same as No. 123] (sic).
- 127. Blew and white spotted Stones, from Naraganset river.
- 128. A blewish Stone Coated with a greyish green, the Sides parallel, from the uplands.
- 129. Blewish Stones from a hill in the uplands.
- 130. Dark blew Striated Stone, from the uplands.
- 131. A dark blewish Stone, brought by the Indians.
- 132. Dark purplish Stones, brought by the Indians. The same as No. 131.
- 133. Green Stones from Massachuset’s bay.
- 134. Greenish streak’d Stones, from the Sea-Coast, near Fisher’s Island.
- 135. Greenish and white Stones, from Stoningtown woods.
- 136. Fragments of greenish Stones brought by the Indians.
- 137. Reddish Stones from a Spring of water.
- 138. Small pieces of a reddish Stone.
- 139. Dark reddish Stones from Alewife brook, two miles above New London, in Quinebauge River. N.B. A alewife is a fish like a herring.
- 140. Heavy brown glittering Stone, between Wachuset hill, and Connecticut.
- 141. A chocolate Colour Stone with Micae, from the uplands.
- 142. A black Stone.
- 143. A black Stone with Specks of Marcasite, from Tantiusquese.
- 144. Fragments of black greenish and white Stones, brought by the Indians from the uplands.
- 145. Round Pebbles, like number 149, from near the same place: but where they are all of this form. When polish’d they are transparent as Crystal.
- 146. Pebbles, which cover the bottom of a brook, up the country.
- 147. Pebbles from a beach at Naraganset.
- 148. Small pebbles, which Cover a large tract of land.
- 149. Oblong white Pebbles, with an Amethyst hue, from the beach on Fisher’s Iland: where they are all of this form.
- 150. Blew and white flat Pebbles from a Spring, where there is a quantity of them.
- 151. Reddish irregular Pebbles, from an Iron-Spring, where all the Stones are of the same sort for a good way, where the water flows.
- 152. Irregular Pebbles from a Rill. All the Stones thereabout are of the same sort.
- 153. Reddish Bowlder Stones, of which consists a great hill in the upland parts.
- 154. White, smooth, irregular Stones, from the Side of a rivulet.
- 155. Small irregular Stones, which compose a small beach at the South West Corner of Long-Island.
- 156. Flat, round, greyish Stones, from the beach on Fisher’s Island.
- 157. Flat reddish Stones from the bottom of a brook.
Alumen plumosum &c.196
- 158. The Stone, between which the Alumen plumosum is found. It makes the best furnaces that can be, bearing the fire beyond any thing known. It is found near Plainfield on Quinebauge river, and also in several other parts of the country. [See No. 159] (sic).
- 159. Alumen plumosum. The Stone (No. 158) where this is found makes the best furnaces in the world. It will endure the strongest fires.
- 160. A black Isinglass in a bed of white Spar.197
- 161. Black Isinglass near the Sea.
- 162. Black Isinglass in white Spar.
- 163. Black flakes like Isinglass from the inland parts.
- 164. Black and gold Isinglass in a white Spar.
- 165. A gold Talc taken up in a Swamp, where it is in great plenty.
- 166. A gold Talc from a bed of bog Iron Ore, from Massachuset.
- 167. A gold Talc from Connecticut.
- 168. A gold Talc from the Mountains.
- 169. A gold Talc from the upland parts.
- 170. A gold Talc from the uplands.
- 171. Gold and silver Talc in the road from New-London to Connecticut.
- 172. A Silver Talc. brought by the Indians.
- 173. A light greenish Talc, from the inland parts.
- 174. Blewish Talc from the inland parts.
- 175. A dark reddish Talc, near the cold Spring on Aegunck Hill.
- 176. A brown Talc, brought by the Indians.
- 177. A black Talc.
- 178. Black Talc in a white Stone near the Sea.
- 179. Black Talc in white Spar: in the way between Plainfield and Woodstock.
- 180. Black Talc in white Spar, from Naraganset river.
- 181. Black Talc, in white Spar, brought by the Indians.
- 182. White Spar from the top of a very high hill in the uplands.
- 183. White Spar in black Talc, in great quantities near the hills.
- 184. A white Spar, as it is found upon a small beach in a fresh water pond up the country.
- 185. White Spar, with black Gritt, Containing Steel; near Colchester.
- 186. A whitish Spar from Fisher’s Island.
- 187. A whitish Spar from the uplands.
- 188. Whitish Spars from the uplands.
- 189. A whitish Spar from the uplands.
- 190. Fragments of a flesh-Colour’d Spar, as they are found on the surface of the ground.
- 191. A fresh-Colour’d [flesh-?] Spar, a leader to richer Oars.
- 192. A whitish grey Spar from ye woods.
- 193. A whitish grey Spar from the inland parts.
- 194. A sort of grey Spar.
- 195. A greyish shining Spar, brought by the Indians.
- 196. Spar with a blewish Stone adhering: from the high Cliffs near Sandwich beach.
- 197. blewish Spar.
- 198. Blewish Spars from the hills.
- 199. A blewish white Spar with black Talc: from Newayunck near the Sea.
- 200. A yellowish Spar, with Specks of purple Talc.
- 201. Yellowish Spar, near Massachusets.
- 202. A yellowish white Spar from Naraganset river.
- 203. Brownish red Spar, brought by the Indians.
- 204. Fragments of white Spar.
- 205. Fragments of Spar, brought by the Indians.
- 206. Fragments of Spar, lying in great Quantities on the hills.
- 207. Fragment of dark reddish & black Spars, from Clam-pudding pond in Plymouth Colony.
- 208. Fragments of Spar, with black Talc, from the inland parts.
- 209. Fragments of Spar, from a Spring.
- 210. Flakes of an odd sort of Spar.
- 211. Shining Spar, found in great plenty, in the place it comes from in the uplands.
- 212. Spar from near the Spar-hill.
- 213. A greenish Spar, from near the Sea.
- 214. A light greenish Spar, with a piece of rock adhering.
- 215. A purplish Spar from the mountains.
- 216. Stone composed of different coloured Small grains of Spar, with Micae intermixt, leaders to Ores.
- 217. A Spar, leader to a black Stone, No. 141.
- 218. Spar a leader to ♃ [Tin].
- 219. A white Spar with flakes of Pyrites, a leader to ♃ & ♄ [Tin & lead], from Poquanock.
- 220. White Spar, a leader to ♄ [lead].
- 221. Crystal Spars from the bottom of a well of fine water.
- 222. A crystal Spar with flesh Colour’d Spots, always found in flakes.
- 223. Crystal Spar from the inland parts.
- 224. Spar-pebbles, from a brook.
- 225. A Ludus like that of Paracelsus, and doubtless equal to it, and as good.
- 226. Mineral Bezoars, from the uplands.201
- 227. Clay concreted in the form of Horse Shooes, from the bottom of Connecticut river.
- 228. Atites from Martha’s vineyard.
- 229. A sort of Atites.
- 230. Several pieces of Eagle-Stones.
- 231. Large Granates, as big as Nutmegs, Containing ☉ and ♂ [Gold & Iron].
- 232. Several sorts of Granates, and a piece of rock, with some Granates in it: Containing ☉ [Gold].
- 233. Smooth purplish Stones, a sort of Coarse Amethyst, from the beach at Fisher’s Island.
- 234. Pieces of Crystal from an entire hill of it in the inland parts.202
- 235. Pointed pieces of Crystal of a light Amethyst hue.
- 236. Yellow Crystals in pointed Squares, from the high white rock called Lanthorn-hill.
- 237. Amethyst Sand flung up by the waters of a Spring near Naumeog, three miles from the beach, where a large quantity of the same sort is found.
- 238. Amethyst Sand from the beach near Pequott, below the harbour’s mouth: containing Gold.
- 239. A blewish Sand from Chickapee hill.
- 240. A fine blew Sand brought by the Indians from the inland parts.
- 241. A reddish Sand brought by the Indians from the inland parts.
- 242. A yellowish Sand from the uplands.
- 243. An orange coloured Sand flung up in the inland parts.
- 244. A white Sand from Fisher’s Island.
- 245. A Sand from the white beach, in the harbour of New London.
- 246. A white gritty Sand from the Side of a large fresh water pond, used by the English to whet their Sythes with it.
- 247. A light grey Sand from between Colchester and Glastenbury.
- 248. A grey Sand from the foot of a hill up the Country.
- 249. A grey Sand from above Windsor.
- 250. A fine grey Sand from the beach of a fresh-water pond.
- 251. A fine grey Sand, brought by the Indians from the inlands.
- 252. A dark grey Sand with Micae in it, wash’d down from the hills by rain.
- 253. A black and grey Sand from a small brook up the Country.
- 254. A brown Sand brought by the Indians from the Inlands.
- 255. A brown Sand with Micae, from about Farmington.
- 256. A black and white Sand with Talc, in the road to Boston.
- 257. A various Mixture of Sand &c, from a pond’s Side.
- 258. A sort of Nitre Earth, of a darkish Colour, with mineral Sparkles in it, brought by young Hyams the Sachem’s Son, from Shawshawnittewange.
- 259. Alum Stone, up in the Country.
- 260. A Vitriolic earth.
- 261. Flakes of a brownish Stone, from the inland parts, being mineral ⊕+ [blue Vitriol].
- 262. Sulphur from the inland parts near the great high mountain Monadnuck. It is apprehended that hereafter, by some accident or other, a Volcano will break out thereabouts. There is earth [Sulphurous earth] in many other places of the Country, the effects of which may have been the cause of several earth-quakes, which have happen’d there.
- 263. Coal from a Swamp’s Side.
- 264. A Sort of Jet or Coal: from the side of a Swamp.
- 265. Greenish Stones containing mineral.
- 266. A strange mineral: C.? [Calx?].
Ores of Metals.
- 267. Copper Ore, from Nyamesis near Mermanck river, thirty miles from Boston.
- 268. A Copper Ore green and shining.
- 269. Stones from the bottom of a well at Long Island near Oyster Bay, containing♀.
- 270. A whitish & green Stone containing ♀.
- 271. A greenish Stone containing ♀?
- 272. Fragments of a greenish mineral containing ♀?
- 273. Iron Ore.
- 274. A rich Iron Ore from Pettiquamscutt.
- 275. Iron Ore from near Providence, call’d Bogg-Ore.
- 276. A sort of Haematites from the upper lands above New Haven.
- 277. Loadstone from near Acqunck.
- 278. A bright natural Steel-Ore, very magnetic.
- 279. A fine native Steel-Ore, from the upland parts.
- 280. Steel Ore from near Tantiusquese.
- 281. A sort of Steel-Ore.
- 282. A Steel mineral.
- 283. Rock Iron-Ore near a fresh water pond.
- 284. Scaley Iron-Ore, as it lies in the earth, from the uplands.
- 285. A flakey Iron-Ore from the uplands.
- 286. A brownish flakey Iron-Ore, from the banks of Hartford rivulet.
- 287. An exceeding hard reddish Stone containing ♂
- 288. An odd Sort of Iron Ore from Fisher’s Island.
- 289. A dark Iron Stone resembling Aetites.
- 290. A blew Iron Ore from Massachusets?
- 291. A blewish Stone, containing ♂, brought by the Indians.
- 292. A blewish Stone, containing ♂.
- 293. Small smooth Stones like Vetches from the bottom of Merimanke river, containing ♂.
- 294. Small flat Stones, containing ♂, from the bottom of Merimauke river. [The same as No. 293?] (sic).
- 295. A Gold Talc, containing ♂, from Connecticut.
- 296. A black Sand from Long-Island, containing ♂.
- 297. A black Sand from Fisher’s Island, containing ♂
- 298. Another sort of black Iron Sand from another part of the country.
- 299. A black Sand containing ♂.
- 300. A black Sand from the beach containing ♂.
- 301. Iron Sand, found in various places.
- 302. Dark gritty Stone (containing ♂?) from the upland parts.
- 303. A greenish and black Stone, containing ♂and ♃ [Iron and Tin].
- 304. A mineral Sand from Concord, in New England, containing ♂ and ♃.
- 305. A mineral Sand containing ♂ & ♃.
- 306. Tin-Ore near Lyme.
- 307. A Stone containing ♃ from Fort-hill on Fisher’s Island.
- 308. A Stone Composed of Spiculae, containing ♃.
- 309. Fragments of a Mineral containing ♃, near the Sea.
- 310. Blackish green and white striated Stones, containing ♃.
- 311. Sand containing ♃ from Fisher’s Island.
- 312. Sand containing ♃, from the uplands.
- 313. A black and white Sand containing ♃.
- 314. White Spar with a black Ore, containing ♃.
- 315. A white Stone containing ♃ Ore?
- 316. Dark greenish Stones (containing ♃?) from a hill up the country.
- 317. Black and yellowish Spar (containing ♃?) from the inland parts.
- 318. A black and white gritty Stone, containing ♃?
♄ &c. [Lead &c].203
- 319. Fine Lead from the upland parts.
- 320. Fine black Lead containing 1/5 of ☾ [Silver], from Tantiusquese; which makes fine furnaces and crucibles.
- 321. Spar, in which black Lead grows.
- 322. A mineral like ♁ [Cinnabar], in the rood to Stratford near the river.
- 323. A sort of Bismuth from Hudsons river, above New York.
- 324. A sort of Bismuth from the uplands.
- 325. A Marcasite from Pequet.
- 326. Irregular cubic Marcasites.
- 327. Fragments of greenish Sulphureous Marcasite: from Mount Tom and Holy Oke, each side of Connecticut River.
- 328. A Marcasite Sand from the inland parts.
- 329. A rich Marcasite of ☾ [Silver].
- 330. A Marcasite of ♀ [Copper], near Mendum.
- 331. Cubic Marcasites containing ♀.
- 332. Marcasites of ♄ [Lead].
- 333. Marcasites from among the black Lead: from Tantiusquese.
- 334. Pyrites.
- 335. Pyrites from the inlands.
- 336. A greenish and yellow Pyrites, near the Sea.
- 337. A fissil Stone or Pyrites, near Woodstock.
- 338. A greenish Pyrites.
- 339. Pyrites and Marcasites mixt: containing ☾ N.B. One sort of Pyrites always relents in Moist air.
- 340. Pyrites containing ♀ from Acqunck hill.
- 341. Pyrites from the uplands, a leader to ♀.
- 342. A grain of Ore with Marcasite in it: from the Massachusetts.
- 343. A green-grain Mineral.
- 344. A dark greenish grain Ore, brought by the Indians.
- 345. Black and white Speckled metallic Stones: from a pond’s side in Fisher’s island.
- 346. A blewish Mineral from Bridebrook.
- 347. A black Mineral brought by the Indians.
- 348. A black Mineral very heavy, from the inland parts of the Country.
- 349. A black gritty Mineral.
- 350. A black gritty Mineral with Specks of Marcasite from Black Stone river.
- 351. A black Mineral resembling burnt wood.
- 352. A bundle of Indian Candles, or Splinters of Pitch-Tree.
- 353. Alba Mater.
Additions to the preceding Catalogue.
- 354. Shawshaws: Shell. Pectunculus fasciatus.
- 355. Small Buccina.
- 356. A white Earth like Marl.
- 357. A dark red Earth brought by the Indians a Months travel up in the Country. They paint their faces with it.
- 358. Selenites.
- 359. Golden Talc from the inlands.
- 360. Opake Spar containing ♄.
- 361. Reddish and white Stones containing a little ♀ from Stonington.
- 362. Black and white grained Ore containing ♃?
- 363. Blewish Stones containing ♃ from Rentum [Wrentham?] woods.
- 364. A piece of Pewter half melted by Lightning, and a piece of the Shelf it stood on half shatter’d, but not burnt: with a Belemnites found two feet deep in the ground underneath. The Earth was black round the hole, and had a strong sulphureous Smell. And the Smoke continued half an hour after in the Room, Tho’ nothing was set on fire.
Presentation of the above collection constituted Winthrop’s principal contribution to scientific learning as a Fellow of the Royal Society. The minutes of the Society’s meetings, though they record his presence occasionally,204 fail to register any significant scientific papers, experiments, or remarks by the Fellow from New London, Connecticut—and Winthrop did not return to New England “to become a constant Correspondent” from the New World, as his sponsors had suggested when they recommended him to the fellowship of the Royal Society.
For his gifts to the Society, however, Winthrop won a show of appreciation and gratitude that must have gone far to satiate his starved ego. His collection furnished the Society materials for special displays of curiosities “shewn at several meetings during the subsequent winter” of 1735–1736,205 and on 13 July 1736 the Council of the Society unanimously agreed upon the following resolution:
The Council in consideration of the several Benefactions made by Mr. Winthrop’s Grandfather and Father, as well as several Benefactions of his own, thought proper to order the Bond of John Winthrop Esqr to be delivered to him, and all arrears and future Payments to be remitted to him.206
Further, the Secretary of the Society, Dr. Cromwell Mortimer, who was also editor and publisher of the Philosophical Transactions, dedicated the fortieth volume of this eminent scientific journal to John Winthrop in public recognition of “above Six hundred curious Specimens” which the latter had presented to the Royal Society’s Repository. The “Dedication” cast revealing light upon the impressions which Winthrop had implanted in the mind of Secretary Mortimer. The latter wrote as if the Winthrops singlehandedly had founded New England and, after a glowing tribute to John Winthrop, Jr., the Governor of Connecticut, for the contributions he had made toward the founding of the Royal Society, he turned to the exile from New London with these words:
When the Injustice and Ingratitude of a designing Party in Power among that very People, whereof the Winthrops have always been in the most strict Sense the Fathers, the Patres Patriae, had most cruelly driven you from your Family and Native Soil, to seek Justice and Security in your natural Rights from the Hands of our most Gracious Sovereign; amidst the Vexation of the greatest Abuses, and the Hurries of the most sudden Departure, you were not unmindful of the Royal Society; for soon after your being chosen a Fellow, you increas’d the Riches of their Repository with above Six hundred curious Specimens, chiefly in the Mineral Kingdom, accompanied with a List containing an accurate Account of each Particular; thereby shewing your great Skill in Natural Philosophy, and at the same time intimating to England the vast Riches which lie hidden in the Lap of her principal Daughter. Since Mr. Colwall, the Founder of the Museum of the Royal Society, you have been the Benefactor who has given the most numerous Collection . . . .207
There were many Fellows of the Royal Society, especially in the latter half of the eighteenth century, whose contributions to scientific knowledge appear to have been as scanty as those of John Winthrop of New London. But I have found none whose claims upon the Society’s attention and favor rested upon as curious—not to say doubtful—foundations as those of this man. For a careful scrutiny of the lists of curiosities and specimens which he presented to Sir Hans Sloane and to the Royal Society suggests that even these collections of rarities were by no means wholly the result of the donor’s own personal efforts and direction in the realm of scientific collection. A comparison, for example, of the items presented by John Winthrop to the Royal Society in 1734 with the contents of four boxes of “curiosities of Nature” dispatched to the Royal Society from Boston on 4 October 1669 by the earlier John Winthrop, Governor of Connecticut, displays a thought-provoking similarity.208 If, as I believe, it is reasonable to assume that the Governor of Connecticut would have preserved in his own collections duplicates of items deemed worthy of the Royal Society’s Repository, then the striking similarities between the two collections are easily explained. The relatively large extent of the collections dispensed by John Winthrop in the 1720’s and 1730’s is a factor worthy of inclusion in this speculation, as is the possibly significant wording of the Royal Society Council’s resolution in 1736 excusing Winthrop from payment of fees. In short, I suggest that the collections given to Sir Hans Sloane and to the Royal Society by John Winthrop of New London constituted, at least in large part, the museum of New England rarities previously collected by Governor John Winthrop of Connecticut in the seventeenth century. If so, then the lists published above are of greater significance than a mere catalogue of items presented to the Royal Society.
Moreover, they pose some difficult and important questions. Who prepared the lists with their brief, sometimes surprising descriptions? Were they, perhaps, basically the work of the widely admired seventeenth-century Governor of Connecticut, copied by his grandson and transmitted to the Royal Society with the Governor’s collections? Or, were they the products of the mind and the energy—as well as of the pen—of the peevishly proud eighteenth-century virtuoso? The answers to these questions relate to more than mere biographical details, for the lists contain hints of importance to the history of science, especially with regard to the geological sciences. It would be of value to learn whether these bits of scientific information originated in the 1660’s or in the 1730’s.
I know of no evidence upon which definitive answers to these questions can be constructed. The literary form, the terminology, and the use of alchemical symbols in long list reproduced above seem to point to the earlier rather than the later date of compilation—although the colonial origin and education of the later Winthrop could explain a “cultural lag” in his presentation if, indeed, the collection and the descriptions were of his own making. Still, the nature and origins of the items themselves seem more in keeping with the activities, associations, and interests of the Governor of Connecticut than with the frustrated career of his grandson.
The Governor’s gifts to the Royal Society between 1662 and 1671 included “granat-stones,” marcasites, lead ores, copper ores, iron ores, black sands, a “sandy Substance of a gold colour,” stones, wampum, and a box vaguely described as “some minerals of New England.”209 Several of these were listed soon afterwards in Nehemiah Grew’s catalogue of the Royal Society’s “Repository” published in 1681.210 But the Repository gradually fell upon evil ways in spite of the half-hearted efforts of a variety of committees appointed to refurbish it. In 1781 it was abandoned by the Society and its remaining specimens were presented to the young British Museum.211 For years its contents had been raided (or “borrowed”) by Fellows of the Society, and many of its collections had fallen into private hands, especially into those of Sir Hans Sloane, a very prominent and influential Fellow from the 1690’s until his death in 1753, and President of the Society from 1727 to 1741. His private collections later formed the nucleus of the British Museum.
Sir Hans prepared catalogues of his own collections, and it is significant that some of the entries in the younger Winthrop’s large list shown above reappeared verbatim in Sloane’s Catalogue of Metalls. Obviously many, perhaps all, of the items presented to the Royal Society by the younger Winthrop in 1734 found their way into the private collections of the Society’s President—together with some specimens gleaned from the Society’s ill-kept Repository, including, perhaps, some of the gifts presented to the Society by the elder Winthrop in the 1660’s. As all of these, together with the items remaining in the Society’s Repository in 1781, were united in the early collections of the British Museum, it appears impossible now to separate the items and associate them accurately with their respective original donors.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of the columbite from which, in 1801, Charles Hatchett isolated columbium (or niobium). Hatchett stated that the specimen from which he extracted the new metallic element was “a very heavy black stone, with golden streaks” which he had found while examining and arranging some minerals in the British Museum. Further, he said, the specimen had been described in Sloane’s Catalogue of Metalls as one of several sent to Sir Hans by Mr. Winthrop from “Nautneauge” in New England.212 The editor of the partial list of Winthrop’s gifts to the Royal Society in 1734 as published in The American Journal of Science and Arts a century later suggested that No. 348 of the Winthrop list may have been the columbite from which Hatchett made his discovery.213 Actually, it was No. 2029 in Sloane’s catalogue which Hatchett employed, whereas No. 348 of the Winthrop list is reproduced as No. 2059 in Sloane’s catalogue. Moreover, No. 2029 in Sloane’s catalogue (which Hatchett used) does not conform to the descriptions of any of the items in the known Winthrop lists.214
It is entirely possible, of course, that Winthrop presented to Sloane or to the Royal Society other specimens for which no record has been found other than that given in Sloane’s catalogue. It is also possible that specimens from the Royal Society’s Repository found their way into Sloane’s collections, including items presented in the 1660’s by Winthrop’s grandfather, the Governor of Connecticut. Indeed, the Sloane designation of the columbite as “from Nautneauge. From Mr. Winthrop” (also quoted by Hatchett) may argue that the columbite derived from the earlier Winthrop’s gifts to the Royal Society—especially as the place of origin was given as “Nautneauge.” Or, at least, that was what Hatchett made of the unfamiliar Indian name which, he said, was scarcely legible in Sloane’s catalogue. However, if the word be read “Nameauge” it was a common name for the settlement at New London, Connecticut, during the midseventeenth century when the elder Winthrop, Governor of Connecticut, resided there.215 It was officially named New London in 1658, and the old Indian name had fallen into disuse before the 1730’s. Does not this suggest that Sloane drew upon seventeenth-century sources when he described No. 2029 (the columbite) in his Catalogue of Metalls?
Still, until more evidence is at hand it seems impossible to say whether the columbite used by Charles Hatchett in the isolation of columbium derived from collections made in New England by John Winthrop, the Governor, and presented to the Royal Society in the 1660’s or by his grandson of the same name and presented in the 1730’s. It is equally impossible to say whether the collections presented to the Society by the latter were of his own making, or an inheritance from his grandfather, or a combination of the two.
The lists, however, and especially the one describing the large collection presented to the Royal Society in 1734, contain scientific data of historical significance. For example, in item 64 (this and the subsequent references are to the large list shown above), the author not only made an early reference to fossils in America but also he employed the word “fossil” in its modern scientific meaning rather than in the usual sense of the time in which “fossil” meant “anything dug up.”216 Again, the distinction made between marcasites and pyrites (Nos. 325–339) demonstrated extraordinary discernment. In several instances, too, the list may well contain “firsts” in the history of early American geology. If, in No. 119, the author meant to say that the rock was really striated on the surface, and did not refer to foliation within the rock, he made probably the first American reference to a glacial erratic. Further, in Nos. 228–230, the mention of “Atites” [aetites, etites, or “eagle stones”] was a very rare, if not unique, early American reference to these mineral concretions.217 Nos. 237–257 were certainly very early, if not the earliest recorded collections in sedimentary petrology. And No. 364 was probably the first American description of a fulgurite, made by the melting of sand where lightning penetrates the earth. The connection drawn with belemnites (fossil tubes, or “pens,” of squid-like cephalopods, the “Jove’s thunderbolts” of ancient lore) was both unusual and penetrating.
Further study may wring from these lists additional materials for the history of early science, both in Europe and in America. Whether the lists were compiled by the well-known student of early science, John Winthrop, the Governor of Connecticut and Original Fellow of the Royal Society of London, or by his less talented but pretentious grandson of the same name, they contain evidence that the author was well abreast of his times and even in the vanguard of scientific endeavors in geological knowledge.