Isaac Newton was born on 4 January 1643 at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire. At the time of Newton's birth, England had not adopted the latestpapal calendar and therefore his date of birth was recorded as Christmas Day, 25 December 1642. Newton was born three months after the death of his father. Born prematurely, he was a small child; hismother Hannah Ayscough reportedly said that he could have fit inside a quart mug. When Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new husband, the Reverend Barnabus Smith,leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough. The young Isaac disliked his stepfather and held some enmity towards his mother for marrying him, as revealed by this entry in alist of sins committed up to the age of 19: "Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them."
Newton in a 1702 portrait by Godfrey Kneller
Isaac Newton (Bolton,Sarah K. Famous Men of Science. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1889)
From the age of about twelve until he was seventeen, Newton was educated at The King's School, Grantham (where his signature can stillbe seen upon a library window sill). He was removed from school, and by October 1659, he was to be found at Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, where his mother, widowed by now for a second time, attemptedto make a farmer of him. He hated farming. Henry Stokes, master at the King's School, persuaded his mother to send him back to school so that he might complete his education. Motivated partly by adesire for revenge against a schoolyard bully, he became the top-ranked student.
In June 1661, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge as a sizar--a sort of work-study role. At that time, thecollege's teachings were based on those of Aristotle, but Newton preferred to read the more advanced ideas of modern philosophers such as Descartes and astronomers such as Copernicus, Galileo, and...
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