Tag Archives: Gregory Sharpe

Gregory Sharpe

The Rev. Gregory Sharpe (1713—1771), FRS was a prolific author on religious and philological subjects. Originally from Yorkshire, he went to Cambridge and was ordained deacon in 1737 and priest in 1739. He was chaplain to Frederick, the Prince of Wales until his death in 1751, and later was chaplain to George III. It is presumably through the latter role that he came to know Joshua Kirby.

Sharpe was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1754, his citation reading:

The Revd Gregory Sharpe LLD of Poland Street a Gentleman of great Merit & Learning, well versed in Philosophy & Mathematicks, being desirous of being a Member of the Royal Society is proposed as a Candidate by us, upon our personal knowledge; and we believe if he have the honour to be elected, that he will make a usefull & valuable Member

In the 1760s, Sharpe became a prolific proposer of candidates to Fellowship of the Royal Society, supporting

  • Henry Stebbing (1764)
  • Thomas Forster (1766)
  • Joshua Kirby (1767)
  • George Steevens (1767)
  • Daniel Minet (1767)
  • Charles Moore (1767)
  • James Horsfall (1768)
  • John Lodge Cowley (1768)
  • Andreas Planta (1769)
  • Jean-Nicolas Jouin (1770)
  • and John Philip de Limbourg (1770)

The only likeness of Sharpe that I know is a mezzotint by Valentine Green made in 1770 from a painting by Richard Crosse.

As well as a noted author, Sharpe was a great book collector, and after his death his extensive library was sold off in an auction that ran for 11 days. Lot 1439 was a copy of Joshua Kirby’s Perspective of Architecture.

See Also: Sharpe’s DNB entry.

Joshua Kirby, F.R.S.

Joshua Kirby was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 26 March 1767. His election card is now, as the Royal Society says on its web page, barely legible, but they do manage a transcription of his citation:

Joshua Kirby of Kew in the County of Surry [sic] Esq. Designer in Perspective to their Majesties, & Author of Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective made easy, &c & of other considerable Improvements in that Science, being very desirous of the honor of Election into the Royal Society; We whose names are underwritten, recommend him on our personal Knowledge, as a Gentleman likely to prove a useful Member

How useful a member he was is unclear, as he seems to have had little to do with the Society, although he did sponsor two Fellows, Andrew Joseph Planta, and John Lodge Cowley. Kirby himself was proposed by:

 

Andreas Planta

Rev. Andreas Joseph Planta (1717—1773) had an interesting background. His family was prominent in the Grisons region of Switzerland/Italy (depending on your period), tracing their lineage back to the twelfth century, and a family of the same name and locale was also prominent in Imperial Rome. Andreas himself became a pastor in Castasegna, a rare example of an Italian-speaking Protestant parish. After a period as Professor of Mathematics at Erlangen, in 1752 or 1753 he came to London as pastor to the German Reformed Church at Savoy. In 1758 he was also appointed as a part-time assistant librarian at the British Museum and in the 1760s was engaged as a tutor in Italian to Queen Charlotte.  One of the duties of the British Museum staff was to escort visitors around the collection, and in 1765 Planta showed the Museum to the Mozart family, resulting in a gift of manuscripts of several of the young Wolfgang’s works to the collection.

In 1770 Andreas, or Andrew as he went by in England, was elected Fellow of the Royal Society, his citation reading,

Andrew Joseph Planta of the British Museum MA, & Minister of the German Reformed Church at the Savoy, a Gentleman of good learning, and well versed in natural knowledge, being desirous of becoming a member of the Royal Society; we recommend him, of our Personal acquaintance, as likely to be a valuable & useful member.

His proposers, several of whom had connections to the British Museum, were:

  • Rev. Gregory Sharpe (1713—1771);
  • Gowin Knight (1713—1772), First Librarian of the British Museum;
  • Henry Baker (1698—1774);
  • Jerome De Salis (1709—1794) (the De Salis family was equally prominent in Grisons);
  • Joseph Ayloffe (1709—1781);
  • Matthew Duane (1707—1785), trustee of the British Museum;
  • Charles Morton (1716—1799), Librarian of the British Museum;
  • Samuel Harper (c. 1732—1803), under-librarian at the British Museum;
  • Mathew Maty (1718—1776), librarian at the British Museum;
  • Richard Penneck (1728—1803), Keeper of the Reading Room at the British Museum;
  • Rev. Henry Putman (1725—1797);
  • Joshua Kirby (1716—1774), and;
  • John Bevis (1695—1771).

Andreas Planta married Margarete Scartazzini Debolziani when a pastor in Castasegna. Of their children, son Joseph in turn became Librarian at the British Museum (and his son Joseph a prominent diplomat), Elizabeth was governess to the notorious Mary Bowes, and Margaret and Frederica were English tutors to the princesses.