Isaac Newton Timeline

Interactive Timeline

Short Timeline

December 25, 1642: ·Birth of Isaac Newton in Woolsthorpe, England
January 1646: ·Hannah Newton remarries and moves away, leaving her son to be raised by an uncle.
January 30, 1649: ·Charles I beheaded by Cromwell and the Puritans.
1653: ·Death of Hannah’s second husband; she returns to live with Isaac, bringing three children with her from her second marriage.
1654: ·Newton enrolls in the Grantham Grammar School
September 3, 1658: ·Death of Cromwell.
1660: ·Charles II crowned King of England, Restoration begins
1661: ·Newton enrolls in Trinity College, Cambridge.
July 1662: ·Founding of the Royal Society
1665: ·Newton receives his bachelor of arts from Trinity College
1666: ·Fire in London. Outbreak of plague drives Newton to retire to his mother’s home in Woolsthorpe. Newton conducts prism experiments, discovers spectrum of light; works out his system of “fluxions,” precursor of modern calculus; begins to consider the idea of gravity.
1669: ·Newton appointed Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Trinity, a position he will hold for the next thirty-four years.
January 11, 1672: ·Newton elected to the Royal Society
February 1672: ·Newton’s paper on optics and his prism experiments sent to the Society. Rivalry with Hooke begins.
1670s: ·Newton works on the mathematics of gravitation in his home in Cambridge.
1674: ·Hooke writes book in which he suggests existence of “attractive powers,” akin to gravity.
1679: ·Death of Hannah Newton
January 1684: ·Hooke discusses principle of inverse squares with Christopher Wren and Halley
August 1684: ·Halley goes to visit Newton in Cambridge, where they discuss the principle inverse squares and its relationship with planetary orbits.
November 1684: ·Newton completes his calculations on gravity and shares them with Halley, who urges him to publish.
February 1685: ·Newton sends a brief treatise, Propositiones de Motu, to the Royal Society, outlining his findings.
April 1686: ·Newton presents the first book of the Principia to the Royal Society.
September 1687: ·Publication of the complete Principia
1688-89: ·Glorious Revolution in England. James II flees to France, William and Mary take the throne.
1689: ·Newton elected as Cambridge’s representative to Parliament.
1693: ·Newton’s “Black Year.” He is plagued by depression and insomnia, and apparently suffers a nervous breakdown in September.
1695: ·Newton appointed warden of the Mint, to oversee the implementation of a new currency. He leaves Cambridge and moves to London.
1699: ·Newton named master of the Mint.
1703: ·Death of Hooke; Newton elected President of the Royal Society.
1704: ·Publication of Opticks; beginning of feud with Leibniz.
1705: ·Newton knighted by Queen Anne.
1712: ·Royal Society commission, under Newton’s direction, investigates the competing claims of Leibniz and Newton to having developed calculus, and decides in favor of Newton.
1713: ·Second edition of the Principia published.
November 14, 1714: ·Death of Leibniz
1726: ·Third edition of the Principia published; all reference to Leibniz has been removed.
March 20, 1727: ·Death of Sir Isaac Newton, in London.

Detailed Timeline

1642 – April Marriage of Hannah Ayscough (d. 1679) and Isaac Newton.(1606-1642), an uneducated and illiterate yeoman.

October – Newton’s father dies six months after his marriage and nearly three months before the birth of his son; Isaac the father has been described as a ‘wild, extravagant, and weak man’.

December 25 – Isaac Newton (1642-1727) is born at Woolsthorpe prematurely and posthumously. His survival was in question for some time, and by tradition Newton was small enough to fit into a small ‘quart pot’.

1643 – January 1 – Newton is baptized.

1646 – January 27 – Marriage of Hannah (Ayscough) Newton to the 63-year old Barnabas Smith (1582-1653), rector from nearby North Witham. Hannah leaves Woolsthorpe to live with her new husband; young Isaac is entrusted to Hannah’s mother for over seven years.

1653 – August – Barnabas Smith dies; Hannah returns to Woolsthorpe. Hannah is fairly wealthy with the inheritance.

1655 – Newton attends Grammar School at nearby Grantham, aged 12; Newton lives with the Apothecary Mr Clarke near the George Inn.

1659 – Newton is recalled by his mother from Grantham to Woolsthorpe.

1660 – Autumn – Newton returns to Grantham school and boards with the Headmaster, John Stokes, who appears to have recognized talent in the young Newton.

1661 – June 5 – Newton matriculates at Trinity College, Cambridge, as Westfall suggests, the most important ‘watershed’ in his life. Apparently at his mother’s direction, Newton is a subsizar, and must work to help pay his expenses.

1664 – April 28 – Newton is elected scholar; he begins to make mathematical entries in his ‘Waste Book’.

1665 – January – Newton takes his Bachelor’s Degree

August – Newton departs Cambridge due to the Plague and moves back temporarily to Woolsthorpe, unwittingly continuing his Anni Mirabliles (1664-1666). His work at Woolsthorpe for the next 18 months is now legendry.

1666 – March 20 – Newton returns to Cambridge and stays until June.

June – Newton travels to Woolsthorpe where he stays until April.

1667 – April – Newton returns to Cambridge.

October 2 – Newton is elected minor Fellow of Trinity College; he writes Enumeratio curvarum.

Newton spent period from December 4 at Woolsthorpe.

1668 – March 16 – Elected major Fellow of Trinity College.

July 7 – Newton is granted Master’s Degree, Cambridge.

August 5 – Newton makes his first visit to London; he returns to Cambridge by way of Woolsthorpe, by September 29.

1669 – February 23 – Newton describes his reflecting telescope in a letter to Henry Oldenburg, first Secretary of the Royal Society.

July 31 – De analysi sent is to John Collins.

October 29 – Newton is elected Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

November – Newton’s second visit to London where he meets John Collins, who greatly supported Newton’s efforts in mathematics.

1670 – January – Newton gives the first of his Optical Lectures.

1671 – Newton writes De methodis; in December he sends his reflecting (‘Newtonian’) telescope to Royal Society.

December 21 – Seth Ward proposed Newton for election to the Royal Society.

1672 – January 11 – Newton is elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

February 6 – Newton sends Oldenburg his first letter on Light and Colors, which is read to the Society and criticized harshly by Robert Hooke, a respected senior scientist and Curator of Experiments for the Royal Society.

February 8 – Newton publishes his letter on Light & Colors in the Philosophical Transactions; it is arguably the first ‘scientific article’ (19 February).

March 25 – Account of new reflecting telescope published in the Transactions. Seven additional optical papers also appeared in the Philosophical Transactions throughout this year.

December 10 – Newton sends letter to John Collins on method of tangents.

1674 – August – Newton visits London, as the Duke of Monmouth is installed Chancellor of Cambridge University.

1675 – February 18 – Newton attends his first meeting of Royal Society.

March – At later meetings Newton meets Robert Boyle.

December 9 – 16 – Newton’s Hypothesis explaining the Properties of Light is read before Royal Society.

1676 – January 20 – February 10 – Discourse of Observations read to Royal Society.

June 13 – Newton sends his Epistola prior to Oldenburg.

October 20 – Newton sends his Epistola posterior to Oldenburg.

1677 – September – Henry Oldenburg, first Secretary of the Royal Society, dies.

1679 – June 4 – Newton’s mother, Hannah, is buried at Woolsthorpe, where Newton spends much of the year.

November 24 – first of a series of letters exchanged with Robert Hooke, a philosophical correspondence on the problem of planetary motion.

1680 – January 17 – Newton severs exchange with Hooke.

December 12 – Newton begins to observe the Comet of 1680-81; he writes Geometria curvilinea.

1681 – Newton observes the Comet until March and corresponds with John Flamsteed (1646-1719) on the topic.

1682 – December – Newton observes ‘Halley’s’ comet.

1683 – November 10 – John Collins dies.

1684 – January – famous ‘Coffee House’ meetings between Halley, Hooke, and Christopher Wren concerning the question of the motion of the earth and the problem of the inverse square relation.

August – Edmond Halley (1656-1742) makes his famous Cambridge visit to inquire of Newton about the path of a planet moving in relation to an inverse-square. Newton later begins work on his Principia.

October – Newton begins to lecture on De motu corporum, liberprimus.

November – Newton sends his short treatise De motu to London;

December 10 – De motu is received by Royal Society; Newton writes his De composito serierum and Mathesos universalis.

Leibniz publishes his Novus methodus, his first publication calculus, which appears to have resulted from his entirely independent efforts. It resulted in an infamous priority dispute with Newton, who had earlier arrived at similar results, though he failed to put them into print.

1685 – February 23 – By this date De motu had been entered in the Register of the Royal Society.

1686 – April 28 – Newton presents his Principia, Book I to the Royal Society.

May 19 – Royal Society decided to publish Principia.

May 22 – Edmond Halley began to correspond with Newton on Principia.

June 2 – Edmond Halley instructed by Royal Society to publish Principia.

June 30 – Principia licensed by Samuel Pepys, President of Royal Society.

1687 – March 1 – Book II of Principia sent to Edmond Halley.

April 4 – Book III of Principia sent to Edmond Halley.

April 11 – Newton is appointed by Cambridge Senate as one of the representatives in the Francis affair.

April 21 – Newton appears before Ecclesiastical Commission.

July 5 – Completion of Newton – Edmond Halley Principia correspondence; the Principia appears in print.

September 28 – Newton begins lecturing on De mundi systemate.

Halley reviews the Principia of the ‘incomparable author’ in the Philosophical Transactions.

1688 – An anonymous reviewer for the Journal des scavans (Paris 1688) raises objections concerning Newton’s Principia, suggesting quite pointedly that the Englishman should now write a second book where he finally addresses the ‘true motions [of the planets] instead of those that he [merely] assumes’ [JS, August 1688: 128].

1689 – Newton sits for a portrait by Kneller; Newton meets John Locke (1632-1704), the noted philosopher, for the first time. Locke would become one of Newton’s closest adult relationships.

June 12 – Newton meets Nicolas Fatio de Duillier (1664-1753), probably for the first time, at a meeting of the Royal Society.

1690 – March – April. – Newton is again in London and meets Fatio de Duillier, the brilliant Swiss mathematician. Newton was very fond of the young Fatio, and much has been written about their relationship and their abrupt break in May 1693.

November 14 – Newton sends John Locke Two Notable Corruptions.

1691 – January – Newton visits John Locke at Oates.

August – First meeting with David Gregory in London.

September – Newton again visits Fatio de Duillier in London.

1692 – January – Newton is in London for funeral of Robert Boyle (1627-1691).

January 26 – Newton asks John Locke to return his Two notable Corruptions.

March 2 – 3 – Pitcairne visits Newton at Cambridge and Newton allows him to copy De natura acidorum.

Autumn – Fatio de Duillier visits Newton in Cambridge.

December 10 – Newton’s First Letter to Richard Bentley, the theologian and classical scholar, concerning natural theology and the design of the universe.

1693 – Newton sends three additional letters to Bentley: 17 January, 11 February, 14 March, the four letters are now known as ‘Newton’s Letters to Bentley’.

January – February – Fatio de Duillier visits Newton in Cambridge.

May – June – Newton visits Fatio de Duillier in London.

July – August – Newton suffers emotional breakdown.

September 13 & 16 – Letters to John Locke and Samuel Pepys, arguably Newton’s closest friends, reveal and demonstrate the depth of Newton’s emotional breakdown, his ‘discomposure in head or mind or both’.

November 23 & December 16 – Letters advising Pepys on probability theory; John

John Wallis published his Opera vol. 2 with an account of fluxions.

1694 – May – David Gregory visits Newton in Cambridge.

September 1 – Newton visits John Flamsteed at Greenwich.

1695 – Newton reworks his Enumeratio curvarum; he writes his Tabula refractionum.

1696 – March 19 – Newton is offered an appointment as Warden of the Mint by Charles Montagu; Newton accepts.

April 20 – Newton departs Cambridge for London to occupy the position at the Mint .

August – Newton moves to the Jermyn Street house, London.

1697 – January 30 – Newton receives and solves the famous ‘Lion’s Paw’ problem present by Bernoulli; Newton’s solution to the problem are read anonymously to the Royal Society.

1698 – December 4 – Newton visits John Flamsteed.

1699 – February 21 – Newton is elected Foreign Associate of the Académie des sciences (Paris).

November 30 – Newton is elected to the Council of the Royal Society.

Fatio de Duillier’s Lineae brevissimi is published; later the priority dispute with Leibniz begins.

1700 – February 3 – Newton is appointed Master of the Mint.

1701 – January 27 – William Whiston lectures at Cambridge as Newton’s deputy.

November 26 – Newton elected to Parliament by Cambridge Senate.

December 10 – Newton resigns his position as Lucasian chair of mathematics.

1702 – Autumn. – Newton visits Locke at Oates; Newton sits for a portrait by portrait by Kneller; Newton publishes Lunae theoria.

1703 – March 3 – Robert Hooke dies; Newton decides to go forward in publishing his work on optics, work completed years before.

November 30 – Newton is elected President of Royal Society.

1704 – February Newton publishes the first edition of his Opticks.

April 12 – Newton visits John Flamsteed, Royal Astronomer, at Greenwich.

1705 – January 23 – Newton recommends publication of John Flamsteed’s Observations.

April 16 – Newton is Knighted by Queen Anne in Cambridge, thereafter, he is known as Sir Isaac Newton.

1706 – first Latin edition of Newton’s Opticks with its Queries.

1707 – Newton publishes Arithmetica universalis.

April 15 – Newton and David Gregory visit Greenwich.

1709 – Newton moves from Jermyn Street to a new house in Chelsea.

October 11 – Newton and Roger Cotes (1682-1716), a former disciple of Bentley, correspond regarding a new edition of the Principia.

1710 – September – Newton moves to a new house on St Martin’s Street; he publishes: De natura acidorum, Enumeratio and De quadratura Lexicon technicum.

1711 – Newton publishes Analysis per quantitatum.

1712 – March 6 – Committee is established by the Royal Society to examine the priority dispute between Newton and G-W von Leibniz; ‘behind the lines Newton directs charge and counter-charge’.

September – Nicolas Bernoulli visits Newton and raises problems with Book II, Proposition X, which had been identified by his famous uncle, Johann Bernoulli. Newton acknowledges the ‘mistake’.

1713 – January – Newton publishes Commercium epistolicum.

July 11 – 14 – Newton publishes second edition of Principia.

August 1 – Newton and Edmond Halley visit Greenwich.

1715 – November – Beginning of Leibniz-Clarke correspondence.

1716 – June 5 – Roger Cotes dies; Newton famously remarked, ‘If he had lived we might have known something’.

November 14 – G-W Leibniz, Newton’s most able foe in controversy, dies.

1717 – May 16 – Newton presents portrait to Royal Society; Marriage of John Conduitt and Catherine Barton, Newton’s ‘half-niece’.

Newton publishes second English edition of Opticks with eight queries.

1719 – Newton publishes second Latin edition of the Opticks.

1720 – Publication of the first English edition of Universal Arithmetic; Newton sits for a portrait by Kneller, arguably the most famous likeness.

1721 – Newton publishes third English edition of Opticks.

1722 – Publication of second edition of Commercium epistolicum with the addition of the Recensio; Newton suffers an attack of the stone.

March 7 – Newton has his famous discussion with John Conduitt (1688-1737), his niece’s husband. Conduitt is considered to be one of the principal sources of information about Newton’s early life.

May 27 – Newton refuses to grant publication of Short Chronology but publishes it later that year. Newton suffers inflammation of his lungs; he moves to Kensington in south London.

1726 – March 31 – Newton publishes third edition of Principia.

1727 – March 2 – Newton attends Royal Society for last time.

March 18 – Newton’s health fails, he collapses and borders on death.

March 20 – Isaac Newton dies at Kensington between 1.00 and 2.00am.

March 28 – Newton’s body lays in state in Westminster Abbey.

April 4 – Newton’s body is buried at Westminster Abbey.

1728 – Publication of Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, Short Chronicle, The System of the World, De mundi systemate, etc.

1729 – Publication of Newton’s optical lectures, the Lectiones opticae; Publication of Motte’s English translation of Newton’s Principia.

1731 – Newton’s monument at Westminster Abbey is unveiled.

1733 – Newton’s Observations upon the prophecies is published (London); some eleven printings have followed.

(Detailed timeline source: