GILBERT, William

(1540-1603)
William Gilbert was a physician and scientist whose De magnete magnetic-isque corporibus et de magno magnete tellure physiologia nova (On the Lode-stone and Magnetic Bodies and on the Great Magnet the Earth, 1600), the first major study of physical science published in England, won international renown and praise from such luminaries as Sir Francis Bacon,* Galileo,* and Johannes Kepler.* Born in Essex on 24 May 1540, eldest son of Hierome Gilbert, recorder of Colchester, he received from St. John's College, Cambridge, the B.A. (1560), M.A. (1564), and M.D. (1569), becoming a fellow (1561) and then senior fellow (1569). Establishing a successful medical practice in London in 1573, he became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1576, serving as censor and treasurer before election as president in 1600. He helped begin the Pharmaco­poeia Londinensis (published in 1618). In 1601 Queen Elizabeth* appointed him as her physician; thereafter he resided at court. At her death in 1603 she left money to support his research. James I* retained Gilbert as royal physician, but Gilbert died on 30 November 1603. A bachelor, Gilbert had a well-stocked library and laboratory at his St. Peter's Hill residence, where he held monthly meetings that were an early predecessor to the Royal Society (founded in 1662). Influenced by mathematician Henry Briggs, compass maker Robert Norman, and instrument maker and theorist Ed­ward Wright, his account of magnetism is methodical, thorough, and based on extensive empirical research, including observations of metallurgists and hun­dreds of experiments with small lodestones. He accurately described the prop­erties of magnets, recognized that the earth is a magnet and has a metallic core, introduced the term "electricity," understood the application of his discoveries to determining latitude (though erring in some particulars), and reportedly in­vented two useful navigational instruments. Rejecting Aristotle's physics and Ptolemy's celestial mechanics, Gilbert accepted a rotating earth but otherwise was torn between the theories of Nicolaus Copernicus* and Tycho Brahe.* In­fluenced by Hermeticism, he believed in a living earth and spontaneous gener­ation of life. A collection of his papers, De mundo nostro sublunari philosophia nova (A new philosophy of our sublunar world), was published posthumously.
Bibliography
A. McLean, Humanism and the Rise of Science in Tudor England, 1972.
William B. Robison

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gilbert,William — Gilbert, William. 1544 1603. English court physician noted for his studies of electricity and magnetism. * * * …   Universalium

  • Gilbert, William — ▪ English scientist Gilbert also spelled  Gylberde   born May 24, 1544, Colchester, Essex, Eng. died Dec. 10 [Nov. 30, old style], 1603, London or Colchester  pioneer researcher into magnetism who became the most distinguished man of science in… …   Universalium

  • Gilbert, William — (1540 1603)    English scientist, best known for his study of magnetism. In his principal work, De magnete / On the Magnet (1600), he contended that the earth itself is a great magnet and attempted to explain the phenomena of astronomy as the… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Gilbert , William — (1544–1603) English physicist and physician Gilbert, who was born at Colchester, was educated at Cambridge, where he took his degree in 1569 and later became a fellow. He moved to London in 1573, became a member of the Royal College of Physicians …   Scientists

  • Gilbert, William — ► (1544 1603) Médico y físico inglés. Descubrió el magnetismo terrestre …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • William de Lancaster I — William de Lancaster I, or William Fitz Gilbert, was a nobleman of the twelfth century in Northwest England. He was possibly also referred to as William de Tailboys (de Taillebois) when younger. He is the first person of whom we have any record… …   Wikipedia

  • William Gilbert (author) — William Gilbert, (20 May 1804 ndash;3 January 1890) was a British novelist and Royal Navy surgeon, and the author of novels, biographies, histories and several popular fantasy stories, mostly in the 1860s and 1870s. He is perhaps best remembered …   Wikipedia

  • William Gilbert — William Gilbert, auch William Gylberde (* 24. Mai 1544 in Colchester, Essex, England; † 10. Dezember 1603 in London oder Colchester) war ein englischer Arzt und als Physiker einer der Wegbereiter der modernen naturwissenschaftlichen Forschun …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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