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Dr Robert Plot of Magdelen Hall Oxford.jpg

Robert Plot (13 December 1640 – April 30, 1696) was an English naturalist, first Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, and the first keeper of the Ashmolean Museum.

Born in Borden, Kent, he was educated and subsequently taught at Magdalen Hall, Oxford before moving to University College in 1676.[1] He was a mature commoner at University College and donated a statue of King Alfred to the College (erroneously believed to be the founder of the College).

Plot is known for looking for natural curiosities in several English counties, and for writing Natural History of Oxfordshire[2] in which he described the fossilised femur of a giant (now known to be from the dinosaur Megalosaurus) and Natural History of Staffordshire, in which he describes a double sunset.[3]

In 1677, he became a fellow of the Royal Society as a result of his exhibition of minerals, and in 1682 became the society's Secretary, and joint editor of the Philosophical Transactions (144 - 178) [1]. In the field of chemistry he searched for a universal solvent that could be obtained from wine spirits, and believed that alchemy was necessary for medicine. After 1686, Plot focused more on archaeology, but misinterpreted Roman remains as Saxon. He stressed the unusual; he studied echoes in order to learn about air, mineral waters, and recognised types of earth in layers, but believed that fossil shellfish were coincidental mineral crystallisations, and that some spring water must originate from the sea flowing through underground channels.[4]

This office of Mowbray Herald Extraordinary was created in January 1695 for Plot, who was made Registrar of the College of Arms just two days later.[5]

Plot died in Borden, the village of his birth.

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b A. J. Turner, ‘Plot, Robert (bap. 1640, d. 1696)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  2. ^ Plot 1705
  3. ^ leekonline
  4. ^ Plot 1705 Page 144: §. 155. Here it may be remembred that 'tis possible, that Shells found on the Tops of Mountains, may be brought thither by the Fall of Spouts. vid. Nat. Hist. of Staff. Chap. 7. §. 45. And that real Shells found deep in the Earth, may be brought thither by the vast Subterraneous Indraughts coming from the Sea, which occasion Springs, see Mercurius Centralis and Nat. Hist. of Stafford-shire, Chap. 2. §. 71, 72.
  5. ^ Turner, Anthony (Autumn 1996). "Robert Plot (1640–1696)". Sphæra, formerly the newsletter of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford (issue 4). http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/sphaera/index.htm?issue4/articl6. Retrieved 2008-01-23.  

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ROBERT PLOT (1640-1696), English naturalist and antiquary, was born at Borden in Kent in 1640. He was educated at Wye, and at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1661, and proceeded to M.A. (1664) and D.C.L. (1671). He was distinguished for his folio work The Natural History of Oxfordshire (1677), in which various fossils, as well as other objects of interest, were figured and described. It was regarded as a model for many subsequent works. In 1677 Plot was elected F.R.S., and he was secretary for the Royal Society from 1682 to 1684. He was appointed in 1683 the first keeper of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, and in the same year he became professor of chemistry. In 1686 he wrote The Natural History of Staf f ordshire. Two years later he became historiographerroyal. He died on the 30th of April 1696.


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