Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Aylesbury, Thomas (1576-1657)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

AYLESBURY, Sir THOMAS (1576–1657), a patron of mathematical learning, was born in London in 1576, the second son of William Aylesbury and Anne Poole, his wife. Of his father's position nothing is known beyond the fact mentioned by Lloyd (Memoirs (1677), p. 699), that his ancestors were high sheriffs of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in the reigns of the second and third Edwards. From Westminster School Aylesbury passed in 1598 to Christ Church, Oxford, where he took the degrees of B.A. and M.A. in 1602 and 1605 respectively. His strict application to study, especially of a mathematical kind, brought him into favourable notice; and on quitting college he was appointed secretary to the Earl of Nottingham, lord high admiral of England. So well did he use the opportunities both of improvement and distinction offered by this post, that he was continued in it by Buckingham, Nottingham's successor (1618), who befriended him actively, procuring for him the additional offices of one of the masters of requests and master of the mint, with (19 April 1627) the title of baronet. This prosperity enabled him to exercise the utmost liberality towards men of learning. To the indigent he allowed regular pensions, or maintained them at his country seat in Windsor Park, while many more enjoyed his patronage and the hospitality of his table in London. Amongst his dependants were Thomas Warner, a mathematician, who at his request wrote a treatise on coins and coinage; Thomas Allen, of Oxford, whom he recommended to Buckingham, and who made him the depositary of his astrological writings; and the celebrated Thomas Harriot, who bequeathed to him, with Viscount Lisle and Robert Sidney, the whole of his valuable papers. Many of these, with other precious manuscripts and rare books collected by or bestowed upon him, were either lost during the civil war, or sold in Aylesbury's time of distress abroad. For in 1642 he was, as a steady royalist, stripped of his fortune and places, and on the death of the king retired with his family to Antwerp, whence he removed in 1652 to Breda, and there died in 1657 at the age of 81. He was, Anthony à Wood says, 'a learned man, and as great a lover and encourager of learning and learned men, especially of mathematicians (he being one himself), as any man in his time.' He had issue one son, William Aylesbury, and a daughter Frances, married to the great Earl of Clarendon, by whom she became the mother of Anne Hyde, first wife of James II., and mother of the two queens, Mary and Anne.

[Biog. Brit. (1747), i. 308; Wood, Fasti Oxon. i. 306; Archaeologia, xxxii. 142.]

A. M. C.