Reference numberJBO/1/0b
Alternative reference numberJOB/1/xxvi
TitleSignatures of early Fellows of the Royal Society subscribed under the original obligation for Fellowship
Description115 signatures subscribed under the original obligation for Fellowship of the Society.

Though all the signatures appear under the date 5 Dec 1660, the date of the second recorded meeting of the Society, many of the signatories were not elected to the Society until a later date.

The order of the signatures under the obligation only loosely reflects the order in which the signatories are minuted as having been proposed or elected to the Society. This likely reflects variation in the period each Fellow took between election and first attending the Society to sign the obligation and be admitted. There my also be some some cases of fitting in signatures within earlier gaps on the pages.

Some Fellows recorded as elected to the Society within the minutes in the volume do not appear as signatories on this list, for example Mungo Murray minuted as elected on 11 Sep 1661 did not sign under the obligation so this is not a complete representation of all Fellows elected during the volume's covering dates (Nov 1660 - Nov 1663).

Signatories comprise:
1. The original 12 ‘Founder Fellows’ of the Society (those present at the first recorded meeting on 28 November 1660).

2. ‘Original Fellows’ (the majority of signatories).

3. Other early Fellows.

Original Fellows are those who were elected or re-elected within the two-month period starting on 22 April 1663, when the Second Royal Charter was granted by Charles II. 22 June 1663 marked the end of the period mandated in the Second Charter for recognition as an official Fellow. With the grant of the Second Charter, Charles II also gifted the Charter Book to the Royal Society and since 9 January 1665 the Charter Book has been the official document in which Fellows subscribe to the obligation of the Society on admission. Most of the surviving signatories formally re-subscribed to the obligation of the Royal Society by signing the Charter Book but these pages of Journal Book volume one can be seen as a pre-cursor to the Charter Book.

Early signatories of this original obligation who died prior to the Second Charter, such as John Gauden (1605-1662), who signed ‘John Exon’, are not referred to as Original Fellows, as are those that did not re-join the Society for other reasons. These are categorised simply as Fellows or early Fellows. Two signatories, William Coventry and Robert Spencer, Earl of Sunderland (signed ‘Sunderland’) never re-subscribed as Fellows of the Royal Society after it was incorporated even though they were still living. Not all lapsed early Fellows are represented in this list of signatures.

Four lines of struck through text appear on the bottom left of the first page of signatures, the name Mr Ball can be made out along with abbreviated wording similar to that of the full obligation, such as 'promote the interests'.
Access statusOpen
Related materialDe Beer E. S. (1950), 'The earliest Fellows of the Royal Society' in Notes Rec. R. Soc. Lond. 7 p172–192
URL descriptionDigital version available on The Royal Society Turning the Pages
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