Isaac Barrow 1630-1677

From Book Owners Online

Isaac BARROW 1630-1677

Biographical Note

Born in London, son of Thomas Barrow, draper. BA Trinity College, Cambridge 1649, fellow shortly thereafter, MA 1652; he began pursuing mathematical studies, and published editions of Euclid during the 1650s. After travelling extensively abroad in the later 1650s he returned to Cambridge as Regius Professor of Greek, becoming Lucasian professor of Mathematics in 1663. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1662 and also became Gresham Professor of geometry. He resigned the Lucasian chair in 1669 to focus on theology, and became a prebendary of St Asaph. He was elected Master of Trinity College in 1673. Although celebrated today more as a mathematician, he was primarily celebrated during and immediately after his lifetime as a theologian and preacher.


Barrow sold his books in the mid-1650s to help pay for travelling abroad. He gave ca.60 volumes to Trinity during his lifetime, and 10 more were bought after his death. A catalogue of his library, ca.1100 volumes, is in Bodleian Library ms Rawl.D.878, fos.39-59. He died intestate and his papers were bought after his death by the publisher Brabazon Aylmer. He was a key instigator of the decision to build a new library for Trinity College, appointed Christopher Wren as the architect, and led the fundraising.