Molyneux, William

William Molyneux FRS (1656-1698)

William Molyneux, astronomer and natural philosopher, was born in Dublin in 1656. Influenced by Francis Bacon (1561-1626), who saw science as a co-operative enterprise with utilitarian ends, Molyneux founded and was the first Secretary of the Dublin Philosophical Society. This Society helped to create a scientific culture in Ireland. It lasted only ten years but it provided a model that was followed by the Royal Dublin Society (1731) and the Royal Irish Academy (1785).

Molyneux's scientific contributions included optics and astronomy. He designed a sundial-mounted telescope in1685. His Dioptrica Nova, published in London in 1692, was the first treatise on optics to be published in English.

Molyneux was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1685 and was a member of the Irish Parliament for the city of Dublin in 1690 and 1692. He published The Case of Ireland being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England Stated in 1698 in which he argued for Ireland's autonomy under the English crown.

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