Willughby, Francis

, a celebrated natural historian, was the only sort of sir Francis Willughby, knt, and was born in 1635. His natural advantages, with regard to birth, talents, and fortune, he applied in such a manner as to procure to himself honours that might more truly be called his own. He was addicted to study from his childhood, and was so great an ceconomist of his time, that he was thought by his friends to have impaired his health by his incessant application, By this means, however, he attained great skill in all branches of learningand got deep insight into the most abstruse kinds of knowledge, and the most subtle parts of the mathematics. But observing, in the busy and inquisitive age in which he lived, that the history of animals was in a great measure neglected by his countrymen, he applied himself particularly to that province, and used all diligence to cultivate and illustrate it. To prosecute this purpose more effectually, he carefully read over what had been written by others on that subject; and in 1660, we find him residing at Oxford for the benefit of the public library. But he had been originally a member of Trinity college, Cambridge, where he took his degree of A. B. in 1656, and of A. M. in 1659. After leaving Oxford, he travelled, in search of natural knowledge, several times over his native country; and afterwards to France, Spain, Italy, Germany, | and the Low-Countries, attended by his ingenious friend Mr. John Ray, and others; in all which places, says Wood, he was so inquisitive and successful, that not many sorts of animals, described by others, escaped his diligence. He died July 3, 1672, aged only thirty-seven; to the great loss of the republic of letters, and much lamented by those of the Royal Society, of which he was an eminent member and ornament. He left to Mr. Ray the charge of educating his two infant sons, with an annuity of 70/, which constituted ever after the chief part of Ray’s income. A most exemplary character of him may be seen iti Ray’s preface to his “Ornithology;” whence all the particulars are concisely and elegantly summed up in a Latin epitaph, on a monument erected to his memory in the church of Middleton in Warwickshire, where he is buried with his ancestors. His works are, “Ornithologiae libri tres: in quibus aves omnes hactenus cognitse in methodum naturis suis convenientem redactoe accurate describuntur, descriptiones iconibus elegantissimis, & vivarnm avium simillimis atri incisis illustrantur,1676, folio. This was prepared for the press, corrected and digested into order, by Hay, afterwards by him also translated into English, with an appendix, and figures engraved at the expense of Mr. Willaghby, but of inferior merit, 1673, folio. 2. “Historiae Piscium libri quatuor, &c.1686, folio. This was revised and digested by Ray, with engravings of many species, not then known in England. 3. “Letter containing some considerable observations about that kind of wasps called Ichneumones, &c. dated Aug. 24, 1671.” See the Phil. Trans. N* 76. 4. “Letter about the hatching a kind of bee lodged in old willows, dated July 10, 1671.” Trans. N fl 47. 5. “Letters of Francis Wiilughby, esq.” added to “Philosophical Letters between the late learned Mr. Ray and several of his correspondents,” 8vo, By William Derham. 1


Birch’s Hist, of the Royal Society, vol. III. p. 66. —Ath. Ox. vol. II. Biog. Brit. Derbam’s Life of Ray. Ray’s Life, vol. XXVL of this work.