Reference numberCMO/3/55
Alternative reference numberCMO/3/131
TitleMinutes of a meeting of the Council of the Royal Society
Date18 February 1733/1734
DescriptionPresent: The President; Lord Cadogan; Mr Sloane; Mr Gale; Mr Paul; Mr Bevan; Mr West; Mr Hodgson; Mr Bogdani; Dr Mortimer; Mr Machin

' Lord Cadogan, Mr Sloane and Mr Paul were sworn of the Council.

Doctor Stack's Report was read, relating to the pains and time he had bestowed in accomplishing the work begun by approbation and direction of the Council at divers meetings ; and which was for forming a general Index to the Subject matters contained in the books of the Society, and for digesting the original papers under their proper heads in the Guard - Books. Wherein he sets forth, that he hath completed the Index in such manner, as to exhibit in the order of time the Subject matter of evey Entry from the first establishment, whether of any paper read, or occasional remark made at any meeting of the Society, with the name of the Author, the date, the page of the Entry whether in Journal, Letter or Register Book : and the Transaction, Memoir, or other Collection, where the said paper or discourses printed, if published. That he hath, by way of Appendix subjoined by itself a List of the subject matters of such papers entered in the Register or Letter books, which are not minuted in the Journals as read before the Society. And that, to make the work more compleat, he hath added an Alphabetical Index of the names of Authors, with references to their works or communications noted in the general Index.

And that, as to the Original Papers, he hath digested them in Guards under their proper heads into two Classes, with reference to the Register or Letter Books, where their Entries are made : having regard however to the Orders, which were made with respect to some particular Authors, whose papers were directed to be kept together.

And that upon a Calculation of the several hours of his attendance n compleating theis work, it amounted to forty weeks and two days, reckoning after the rate of six hours per diem.

The matter of which Report being taken into consideration, it was proposed to offer Doctor Stack thirty Guineas : which with the ten Guineas already received might make the Sum of forty Guineas, as a recompence in satisfaction of this work. Whereupon he being called in, and agreeing to the same : the question was put to the Ballot, and passed in the Affirmative.

Ordered, that Dr Stack be paid the Sum of thirty Guineas over and above the Sum of ten Guineas already paid, in recompence of his Service to the Society in completing this work recommended to his care.

The Treasurer reported, that upon a Survey of the house of Mr Savile, it did not appear that the appurtenances affixed to the house did amount to the tenth part of the value, which he rated them at.

Resolved, that Mr Mortimer be employed to wait on Mr Savile on the part of the Society; in order to adjust the matters which do belong to the Society, and which cannot be rmoved by Mr Savile.

The Treasurer reported, that Mr Phillips had not met the Surveyor according to his promise, in order to settle his Bill : but had sent in his Bill to be paid.

The Treasurer was desired to employ a workman, to complete the work wanting to be done in the the Repository.

The Printer's bill of £$..11..8 was agreed to, and ordered to be paid.

A Petition from Mrs Johnson, a relation of Doctor Paget, was read, imploring the charitable assistance of the Society : but being expressly contrary to the condition, upon which the last benefaction to her was made, it was rejected.

A like Petition was read from the Widow Hauksbee; which being taken into consideration, a gift of two Guineas was ordered to be made .

Doctor Mortimer communicated the Report of the Committee for inspecting the Repository, which was read as hereunto annexed.
"The Report of the Committee appointed to inspect and examine into the State of the Repository of the Royal Society.

The Committee, pursuant to an Order of the Council, renewed their meetings in the Repository on the 5th of March last ; when it is scarcely to be expressed the confusion and disorder they found every thing in : the greater part of what was expected to be there being lost or imbezzled, and most of what remained in such bad condition, either through want of care, or injury of time, and finding no perfect Catalogue to examine them by, that it was difficult to determine in what method to proceed.

The Committee therefore, as the most regular way they could think of, desired Dr Mortimer to draw out a methodical List or Catalogue of all the Curiosities, from the lists of the Donations extracted from the Journal books, and Dr Grew's printed Catalogue : in which he followed the methods used by the best writers of natural History.

Assisted by this they proceeded in their examination, took an account of, and numbered what they could find of-
The human curiosities .... to No. 52
Quadrupeds and Serpents ..... to 162
Birds, Eggs, Nests etc ..... to 66
Fishes ..... to 94
Shells ..... to 176
Insects ..... to 42
Vegetables ..... to 231
Fossil Shells, and Vegetables, and fossil bodies resembling such ..... to 71
Earths adn Sands ..... to 72
Stones ..... to 128
Precious Stones, Crystals, Salts, Bitumins ..... to 84
Ores ..... to 343
Chemical preparations ..... to 18
Artificial Curiosities they have not yet compleated their examination of....

The Committee make no doubt it will appear surprizing, that so small a number of articles should have engaged their attention thus long. But this wonder will cease, when the extreme bad condition they were in is considered : many things scarce to be known what they were, and others, for want of a perfect Catalogue and Numbers answering thereto, not to be distinguished from some of the same Genus.

It is with concern they observed the human Curiosities extend to so small a number, and even these in a very bad condition : the Skeletons (of which there are but two) ready to fall to pieces, the Mummy, by having been always kept in an erect position, almost destroyd, but which they have ordered to be repaired and placed horizontally in a Glass-Case : The Systems of the human Veins, Arteries and Nerves, contained in four Tables, iin a very bad condition, which which they have likewise ordered to be cleaned, reaired, put into new frames, and to be hung up against the Wainscot ; by which means it is hoped they will be preserved from futures injuries.

The Quadrupeds, Serpents, Birds, Eggs, and Fishes, the major part quite decayed, and many scarce fit to be preserved : which they have therefore thrown aside for another review, not esteeming themselves duely authorized to deny them a place in the Repository.

The Insects broken to pieces, so that with difficulty they found forty two capable of being replaced.

The Fossils, which are less liable to injury, are in a better condition : yet many Specimens of Ores etc, by being confounded together are not to be distinguished what they are. But the Committee are surprized to find so many curious Stones int he Lists of Donations, not to be found in the Repository, notwithstanding their most diligent Search.

The Committee finding the Repository in this very wretched condition, proceeded to take into consideration, by what means this has happened, and how to prevent it for the future.

The most obvious causes seem to be, the want of proper means to keep the things dry, and conveneint places to keep them free from dust, and lock them up in.

In order to keep them dry, the Committee have considered of various Expedients, but have not yet been able to determine which to choose.

One is, to make four windows in the back front of the Repository, which in good weather being opened will let in a sufficient Current of Air to keep the things dry, and will also add light to that side of the house, which is much wanted.

Another is, to make the two oval Lights in the roof to open, and, if need be, to make four more in the same manner.

A third, that as the Damps abound in the winter Season, to build another Chimney in the house, and to have constantly a fire in both.

But as all these designs are expensive, they refer them to farther considertion : only add, that as they are informed there never is a fire in the Repository but on the days of meeting ; they are of opinion, that if a fire be directed to be kept in every day during the winter Season, qnd.if need be, a Copper pan with Charcoal or Small coal in the middle of the house, and the doors shut for the heat to ascend, all this inconvenience will be removed.

The nest is, the want of convernient places to keep them free from dust, and lock them up in.

For this the Committee propose to have Cabinets at the two ends, and between the windows of the Gallery, and on the wet end of the Room below, after the same model of these already there, with Locks to the Sashes and Drawers. But as this is likewise very expensive, though absolutely necessary, they have yet ordered only two to be erected in the Gallery : and in these they have already begun to place the human Curiosities, Quadrupeds, Serpents and Birds.

It may be thought extraordinary, that as the Curiosities in the Repository are so few in number, the Committee shoudl be so desirous of having so many new CAbinets to place them in.

It is certain, that what is proposed will be much more than necessary to contain the present Collection : but their design is to dispose what there is in such order and method, that when the Society shall hereafter be favoured with any Donations of these kinds, they may easily find room in their proper places, without the trouble of removing a whole Class ; and that the Donor may be satisfied that there will be proper care taken hereafter to preserve them in good condition. The Collection of the Royal Society hath formerly made a considerable figure and though at present it is so much reduced, they hope, by their care in recovering and preserving what is left, to incite the curious part of the world to be as generous to it as they have formerly been. There are many ingenious Anatomists Fellows of the Royal Society, who, the Committee hope, will be by these means encouraged to enlarge the Cabinet of human Curiosities with some of their excellent preparations. Some Gentlemen curious in their enquiries into Nature may be engaged to supply such Curiosities, which formerly had place in the Repository, but are now entirely perished. Others may be induced to deposite their Collections here, as a sure mean of rendering them usefull to the publick : and will have the Satisfaction to know that what they have collected with so much industry and expence, will here remain safe and entire.

And in order to convince such Gentlemen of the truth of the intentions of the Society, the Committee take leave to propose the following method,
First, that all such things as are capable of being put into the Glass-Cabinets aor Drawers, shall be there placed, and always kept locked up.
Secondly, that such things, which are estimated for their intrinsick value, such as Medals, precious Stones etc, be never shewn to any one but in presence of the person, to whom the charge is committeed, or in his absence, in the presence of a Fellow of the Socitey.
Thirdly, tht there be an exact methodical Catalaogue made of all the things at present in the Repository, writtne fair, with proper Vacancies for adding all future Donations in their due places : and that severql particulars be numbered correspondent thereto.
Fourthly, that when a number of things shall hereafter be presented to the Society by any one person, they shall be all immediately entered in the Catalogue, and put in their due places, according to the method observed in the same, and numbered agreeable thereto.
Fifthly, that a Book be kept containing the Donors names of each Donation, and the Class and Number, where each is reposited.
Sixthly, that a particular Committee of five, seven or more Fellows be appointed once a year, to inspect the Repository ; who shall see that all subsequent Donations are duely entered, and call over every particular in the whole Repository, to see that none are missing : at which Committee any Fellow, not appointed by name, may, if he pleases, attend. And this (if everything is once duely placed) may be done with very great care and dispatch.

The Committee fatther observe, that the Repository is always a common passage thorough fair to be family dwelling in the Society's house, and which is indeed a very great conveniency to that family, but is, they think, not quite so proper for the Repository to be thus exposed. They are therefore of opinion, that if some passage could be contrived under the Repository to the back Street ; it would be much better, and would answer the uses of the family. " '
Access statusOpen
Add to My Items

    Collection highlights

    Browse the records of some of our collections, which cover all branches of science and date from the 12th century onwards. These include the published works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society's activities since our foundation in 1660.

    The Royal Society

    The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of
    the world's most eminent scientists and is the
    oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.
    Registered charity number 207043

    Website design ©CalmView


    + 44 207 451 2500
    (Lines open Mon-Fri, 9:00-17:00. Excludes bank holidays)

    6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

    Email Us →


    Subscribe to our newsletters to be updated with the
    latest news on innovation, events, articles and reports.

    Subscribe →

    © CalmView