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Benjamin Worsley

Benjamin Worsley (1618-1673) was an English physician, Surveyor-General of Ireland, experimental scientist, civil servant and intellectual figure of Commonwealth England. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, but may not have graduated[1].

His survey of land in Ireland was of land claimed by Oliver Cromwell under the Act of Settlement. Worsley was from 1651 a physician in Cromwell's army, but took to surveying around 1653. His work was too rough-and-ready to be of practical help to arranging land grants to soldiers, and William Petty took over.[2]

He was an alchemical writer, and associate of Robert Boyle, and knew George Starkey from 1650. He was a major figure of the 'Invisible College' of the 1640s[3].

Worseley associated with the circle around Samuel Hartlib and John Dury, and on their behalf visited Johann Rudolph Glauber[4] in 1648-9. Worsley followed the theories of Michael Sendivogius and Clovis Hesteau. He was a projector in the manufacture of saltpeter (1646)[5]. Later, probably in the mid-1650s, he wrote De nitro theses quaedam[6]. He also took up the alchemy of transmutation, with Johann Moriaen and Johann Siberius Kuffler [7].

He was also probably heterodox in religion[8].


  • William R. Newman and Lawrence M. Principe (2002), Alchemy Tried in the Fire
  • J. T. Young (1998), Faith, Alchemy and Natural Philosophy: Johann Moriaen, Reformed Intelligencer, and the Hartlib Circle
  • Clericuzio, Antonio, New Light on Benjamin Worsley's Natural Philosophy', in Mark Greengrass, Michael Leslie and Timothy Raylor (eds.), Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation: Studies in Intellectual Communication (Cambridge University Press, 1994), 236-46
  • Webster, C. (1994) Benjamin Worsley: engineering for universal reform from the Invisible College to the Navigation Act in Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation: Studies in Intellectual Communication (1994)


  1. ^ Newman and Principe, p. 239.
  2. ^ Mary Poovey, A History of the Modern Fact (1998), p. 121.
  3. ^ Young, p. 218.
  4. ^ Newman and Principe, p. 212; Young Ch. 7.
  5. ^ Newman and Principe, p. 239.
  6. ^ Newman and Principe, p. 239-44.
  7. ^ Newman and Principe, p. 244-49.
  8. ^ Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution, p.294.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Benjamin_Worsley". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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