Moray, Sir Robert

, one of the founders of the Royal Society, was descended of an ancient and noble family in the Highlands of Scotland, and had his education partly in the university of St. Andrews, and partly in France. In this last country he entered into the army, in the service of Lewis XIII, and became such a favourite with cardinal Richlieu, that few foreigners were held in equal esteem by that great statesman. According to Anthony Wood, sir Robert Moray was general of the ordnance in Scotland, against king Charles 1, when the | presbyterians of that kingdom first set up and maintained their covenant. But if this be true, which we apprehend to be very doubtful, he certainly returned to France, and was raised to the rank of colonel, from which country he came over to England for recruits, at the time that king Charles was with the Scotch army at Newcastle. Here he grew into much favour with his majesty, and, about December 1646, formed a design for his escape, which was to have been executed in the following manner: Mr. William Moray, afterwards earl of Dysert, had provided a vessel near Tinmouth, and sir Robert Moray was to have conducted the king thither in a disguise. The matter proceeded so far, that his majesty put himself in the disguise, and went down the back-stairs with sir Robert. But, apprehending that it was scarcely possible to pass all the guards without being discovered, and judging it highly indecent to be taken in such a condition, he changed his resolution, and returned back. Upon the restoration of king Charles II. sir Robert Moray was appointed a privycounsellor for Scotland. Wood says, that, though sir Robert was presbyterianly affected, he had the king’s ear as much as any other person. He was, undoubtedly, in no small degree of esteem with his majesty but this was probably more upon a philosophical than apolitical account for he was employed by Charles the Second in his chymical processes, and was, indeed, the conducter of his laboratory. When the design was formed, in 1661, of restoring episcopacy in Scotland, sir Robert was one, among others, who was for delaying the making of any such change, till the king should be better satisfied concerning the inclinations of the nation. In the next year, sir Robert Moray was included in an act, passed in Scotland, which incapacitated certain persons from holding any place of trust under the government. This act, which was carried by the management of a faction, and to which the lord commissioner (the earl of Middleton) gave the royal assent, without acquainting his majesty with the whole purport of it, was very displeasing to the king, who, when it was delivered to him, declared, that it should never be opened by him. In 1667, sir Robert Moray was considerably entrusted in the management of public affairs in Scotland, and they were then conducted with much greater moderation than they had been for some time before. It is a circumstance highly to his honour, that though the earl of Lauderdale, | at the instigation of lady Dysert, had used him very unworthily, yet that nobleman had such an opinion of his virtue and candour, that, whilst he was in Scotland, in 1669, as his majesty’s high commissioner, he trusted all his concerns in the English court to sir Robert’s care. Sir Robert Moray had been formerly the chief friend and main support of the earl of Lauderdale, and had always been his faithful adviser and reprover. Anthony Wood says, that sir Robert was a single man; but this is a mistake; for he had married a sister of lord Balcarras. He died suddenly, in liis pavilion, in the garden of Whitehall, on the 4th of July, 1673, and was interred, at the king’s expence, in Westminster-abbey, near the monument of Sfir William Davenant.

The merit of sir Robert. Moray, with regard to the Royal Society, was very eminent. Bishop Burnet asserts, that he was the first former of the society, and that, while he lived, he was the life and soul of that body. He was undoubtedly one of the first framers of it; and he was uncommonly assiduous in promoting its valuable purposes *. In this view, we meet with his name in almost every page of Dr. Birch’s. circumstantial History of tlxe Society; in which, likewise, are inserted some of sir Robert’s papers. Another of his papers, concerning the mineral of Liege, is printed in the early part of the Philosophical Transactions. Besides sir Robert Moray’s aids.and communications, relative to the scientific views and experiments of the Royal Society, he was singularly useful to it in other respects.

* The members, of whom it was academy at Paris, and dated 2 1 2 Julii, originally composed, held their first 1661, sir Robert Moray styled himself meeting, for the purpose of forming “Societatis at) tempus Praises.” From themselves into a regular philosophical all the circumstances we have been society, on the I 28ih of November, able to collect, sir Robert sheens to 1660. In the next week (Dec. 5.), sir have been the sole president of the soRobert Moray brought word from the ciety, till it was incorporated, exemptcourt, that the king had been acquaint- ing for one month, from May 14th, ed with the design of the meeting; that 1662, to June the 11th, during which, he well approved of it; and that he would time Dr. Wilkins possessed that hobe ready to give it encouragement. "nour. It is certain that sir Robert On the 6ih of March, 1660-61, sir Moray was again appointed to the ofRobert was chosen president of the so- fice, when Dr. Wilkins’s month was ciety, for a month only, as it appears out, and that he continued in it till the for, on the 10th of April, 1661, he was charter took place. T 1 ^ above acagain elected for another mon'.h. In count will reconcile the apparent conthis office he likewise continued by tradiction of our historians, who, when subsequent elections, though the time they speak of the Royal Society, sumeof making them is not particularly limes represent sir Robert Moray, and mentioned. In a Latin letter, addiessed sometimes lord Brouncker, as having to Mons, de Montmor, president of the been the first president. | He had a very considerable share in obtaining its charters; was concerned in framing its statutes and regulations; and was indefatigably zealous in whatever regarded its interests. In both the charters of the Royal Society, he is first mentioned in the list of the council he was always afterward chosen of the council and his name sometimes occurs as vice-president.

Sir Robert Moray’s general character was excellent in the highest degree. He was beloved and esteemed by men of every party and station. His piety was such, that, in the midst of armies and courts, he spent many hours. of the day in the exercise of devotion. The equality of his temper could not be disturbed by any event: he was in practice a stoic, with a strong tincture of the persuasion of absolute decrees. He had a most diffusive love for. mankind; and whilst he delighted in every occasion of doing good, his benevolence was conducted with a discretion equal to his zeal. In reproving the faults of young people, he had the plainest, and yet the softest method of doing it that can be imagined. His comprehension was superior to that of most men; and in genius he resembled the illustrious Peireskius, as described by Gassendus. Once, when a false and malicious accusation was brought against sir Robert Moray, which was aimed at his life, he practised, upon the occasion, in a very eminent manner, his true Christian philosophy, without shewing so much as a cloud in his whole behaviour. 1

1 Biog. Brit, in art. Brouncker. Birch’s Hist, of the Royal Society. Ath. Ox. vol. II. —Burnet’s Own Times,