The reading of Newton in the early eighteenth century : Tories and Newtonianism
This dissertation examines Tory High-Church and Jacobite Episcopalian responses to Newton in early eighteenth century England and Scotland, providing a systematic analysis of the relationship between Newtonian natural philosophy, politics and religion from a Tory High-Church perspective. I argue that historical understanding of the linkages between political/ religious groups and Newtonian natural philosophy in the early eighteenth century can be improved by extending current historical debate beyond existing scholarship on the politics of Newtonianism - scholarship which has sought to establish a close relationship between Whigs, Latitudinarians and support for Newton. Instead of assuming a fixed association between political and religious groups and support for Newton, this thesis illustrates the multi-faceted nature of Newtonianism and the diverse political and religious uses to which Newtonian natural philosophy could be put. Tories and Jacobites frequently used Newton's science in political and religious debate to defend Tory High-Anglicanism and Scottish Episcopalianism, in spite of the numerous examples of Tory High-Church natural philosophers who saw Newton and his followers as exponents for radical Whiggery and heterodox thought, especially anti-Trinitarianism. This thesis seeks to understand how and why Tories and Jacobites had these various and often conflicting opinions of Newton. By doing so more complex and thorough knowledge of the support and opposition to Newton during this period can be gained, along with a better historical understanding of the triumph of Newtonian natural philosophy over rival philosophical systems.