Authorised form of nameLocke; John (1632 - 1704); philosopher
Dates1632 - 1704
Place of birthWrington, Somerset, England, Europe
Date of birth29 August 1632
Place of deathOates, Essex, England, Europe
Date of death28 October 1704
Dates and placesBurial:
The churchyard at High Laver, Essex, England, Europe
OccupationPhysician; colonial administrator
Research fieldPhilosophy; natural philosophy; medicine
Westminster School (1646-1652); Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1656; MA 1658; MB 1675); incorporated at Cambridge (1663); Gray's Inn (admitted 1656)
Christ Church, University of Oxford, Greek Lecturer (1660-1661), Tutor (1661-1666); Lecturer on Rhetoric (1662-1663), Censor of Moral Philosophy (1663-1664), all whilst remaining officially a student without taking religious orders as was usual, and instead carrying out chemical experiments and reading on medicine; after a period as an absentee student he later transfered to medical studentship (1675); secretary to Sir Walter Vane during his embassy to the elector of Brandenburg (1665); physician to Anthony Ashley Cooper, afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury and tutor to the Earl's son and later grandson (1667-1683); pupil of the physician Thomas Sydenham a prioneer in the study of infectious diseases (c.1667-1670); Secretary to the Proprietors of Carolina (1669-1675) in which capacity he helped to draft the constitution of the Carolinas including endorsement of slavery; shareholder in the Royal African Company and Bahama Adventurers Company, the latter founded by his patron Shaftesbury; registrar to the commissioners of the excise (1670-1675); Secretary of presentations (1672) during Shaftesbury's brief tenure as Lord Chancellor; Secretary and Treasurer to the Council of Trade (1673-1675) of which Shaftesbury was President; lived in France (1675-1679), chiefly at Montpellier and laterly inParis wherer he was tutor to the son of Sir John Bank FRS (1677-1679); suspected of complicity in the Shaftesbury Plots (1684); lived in Holland (1685-1689); Commissioner of Appeals (1689-1704); Commissioner of Trade and Plantations (1689-1704); published influential writings on civil government and political liberalism and philosophical theories of the human consciousness and sense of self
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election26/11/1668
Age at election35
ProposerSir Paul Neile
Royal Society activityRoyal Society roles:
Council 1669-1670, 1672-1673
Other Royal Society activityCorrespondent to the Society on matters such as natural history, incl. near the Bahamas;
Submitted and published papers on anatomical research
RelationshipsParents: John Locke and Agnes Keene
Published worksRCN: 14950
RCN: 50039
RCN: 50038
General contextLocke was patronised by Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Lord Shaftesbury (FRS 1663), and amongst his acquaintainces at school, Locke could count John Dryden (FRS 1663), Robert Hooke (FRS 1663), and Christopher Wren (FRS 1663). Many of Locke's major works, including 'Two Treatises of Government' (1689), were published after his return to England following the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He had a wide influence on political philosophy, especially modern liberalism. He wrote on the concepts of liberty and the social contract, which would late influence some of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Although in his writings Locke wrote against slavery in general he held several administrative positions in government offices that involved him directly in the running of English colonies. Locke also benfitted financially from the slave trade as a shareholder in The Royal Adventurers into Africa, later Royal African Company (RAC). The RAC was a British trading company established by Royal Charter in 1660 which enslaved and sold African people. The company was chartered by Charles II, the founding royal Patron of the Royal Society, which was also chartered in 1660. The RAC held a monopoly on English trade on the west coast of Africa. The principal interest of the company was originally gold and secondarily other natural resources. The Company's second charter in 1663 mentions trade in enslaved people, who were mainly sold into slavery on British owned estates in the West Indies and America.
Related imagesDiscover a selection of related images in our picture library

Locke P0082.jpg

Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB; Venn; Foster; Hunter; ODNB
Axtell, J L. 1965. 'Locke's Review of the Principia', in Notes and Records, vol. 20, pp. 152-161
Cook, Sir A. 1997. 'Ladies in the Scientific Revolution', in Notes and Records, vol. 51, pp. 1-12
Dewhurst, K. 1962. 'Locke's Contribution to Boyle's Researches on the Air and on Human Blood', in Notes and Records, vol. 17, pp. 198-206
Dunn, J M. ''Bright Enough For All Our Purposes': John Locke's Conception of a Civilized Society', in Notes and Records, vol. 43, pp. 133-153
Govier, M. 1999. 'The Royal Society, Slavery and the Island of Jamaica: 1660-1700', in Notes and Records, vol. 53, pp. 203-217
Jardine, L. 2004. 'The 2003 Wilkins Lecture: Dr Wilkins's boy wonders', in Notes and Records, vol. 58, pp. 107-129
Meynell, G. 1995. 'Locke, Boyle and Peter Stahl', in Notes and Records, vol. 49, pp. 185-192
Oldroyd, D R. 1980. 'Some 'Philosophical Scribbles' Attributed to Robert Hooke', in Notes and Records, vol. 35, pp. 17-32
Parkin, J. 1997. ''Locke and Modernity', review of Nicholas Wolterstorff, John Locke and the Ethics of Belief', in Notes and Records, vol. 51, pp. 141-142
Quinn, T. 2004. 'In this issue', in Notes and Records, vol. 58, pp. 245-247
Schaffer, S. 1989. 'The Glorious Revolution and Medicine in Britain and the Netherlands', in Notes and Records, vol. 43, pp. 167-190
Thomas, J. 1963. 'Josiah Wedgwood's Portrait Medallions of Fellows of the Royal Society', in Notes and Records, vol. 18, pp. 45-53
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA8232
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
M/238Locke, John
EL/L5/91John Locke, dated at Montpellier, to Robert Hooke29 October 1678
EL/L5/90John Locke, dated at Exeter house, to Henry Oldenburg20 May 1675
CLP/13/5Paper, 'An account of one who had excrescencies or horns extraordinary long nailes on his fingers and toes' by Mr [John] Locke24 May 1678
P/0082Portrait of Locke, John
IM/005301Locke, John1993
LBO/7/115Copy letter from John Locke to Henry Oldenburgnd
MS/366/1/11The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina 1681
RBO/7/56'An Account of a not yet described 'Scolopendra Marina' by Thomas Molyneux' communicated by Mr Lockend
IM/002789Locke, Johnnd
CLP/13/5/1Paper, 'An account of one who had excrescencies or horns extraordinary long nailes on his fingers and toes' by Mr [John] Locke24 May 1678
CLP/13/5/2Drawings, woman with young girl with long, thickened nails by unknown artist[1670s]
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