Colwall, Daniel (DNB00)

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COLWALL, DANIEL (d. 1690), was a wealthy citizen of London, who devoted much of his time and fortune to the cause of science and philanthropy. Elected an original fellow of the Royal Society on 20 May 1663, he was placed on the council in the following November, and acted as treasurer for the long term of nearly fourteen years, from 1665 to 1679. Colwall from the first was an active, and soon became a very influential fellow of the society, which, thanks to his energy, was saved more than once from threatened collapse. On two occasions, in 1663 and 1666, he presented the society with 50/., besides continuing his weekly payments. With this money the collection of 'rarities formerly belonging to Mr. Hubbard' was acquired in 1666, a first step towards the formation of a museum, which eventually became the most extensive in London (Birch, Hist. of Royal Society, i. 837, ii. 64, 73; Weld, Hist. of Royal Society, i. 171, 186, 278). The preparation of the catalogue was entrusted to Dr. Nehemiah Grew, who published it in 1681 with the title 'Musæum Regalis Societatis, This curious book is embellished with thirty-one plates, many of which, if not all, were engraved at Colwall's expense. In the epistle dedicatory addressed to Colwall as 'founder of the museum,' the doctor trusts that the Royal Society 'might always wear this catalogue, as the miniature of your abundant respects, near their hearts;' and further on he adds, 'Besides the particular regard you had to the Royal Society it self, which seeming (in the opinion of some) to look a little pale, you intended hereby to put some fresh Wood into their cheeks, pouring out your box of oyntment, not in order to their burial, but their resurrection.' Colwall's contributions to the 'Philosophical Transactions' are unimportant. He died in the liberty of the Tower of London in November 1690 {Probate Act Book, P. C. C. 1690; Genealogist, iii. 53). He had long been a governor of Christ's Hospital, to which in his lifetime he was a liberal benefactor (Trollope, Hist. of Christ's Hospital, p. 78). In his will, dated 12 Aug., with codicil dated 19 Aug., proved on 20 Nov. 1690, he bequeathed to that institution 'for ever one rent or yearly payment of sixty-two pounds and eight shillings issuing and payable out of the hereditary excise which was assigned to me by Sir Robert Viner, knt. and bart., deceased,' and the sum of 4,000l.; besides supplementing the salary of the then master of the grammar school by a life annuity of 20l. (Will. reg. in P. C. C, 176, Dyke). Colwall's portrait is in Christ's Hospital; his head, by R. White, is prefixed to Grew's ' Musæum.' It is to be noted that Granger (Biog. Hist of England, iii. 402-3), followed by Manning and Bray (Hist. of Surrey, i. 21), and Brayley and Britton (Hist. of Surrey, i. 307-8), has confounded Colwall with his great-nephew of the same name, of the Friary, near Guildford, and the son of Arnold Colwall.

[Weld's Hist, of Royal Society, ii. 560; Tiollope's Hist, of Christ's Hospital, p. 344; Malcolm's Londinium Redivivum, iii. 870.]

G. G.