First name

Text source

Samuel Hartlib (c.1599-1670) was born in Elbing in Prussia c.1600 the son of George Hartlib, a Pole, and Elizabeth Langthon. His maternal grandfather John Langthon was a wealthy English merchant working for the Eastland Company in Danzig while his father George was a banker. According to the DNB he arrived in England in 1628 as a merchant after studying in Konigsberg. In some sources, such as Hans Schick's 'Das Ältere Rosenkreutzertum' (Berlin, 1942), Hartlib is linked with the Freemasons and Rosecrucianism although neither of these connections has been firmly established. He was, however, associated with many similar societies and has been described himself as the leader of one 'mystical philanthropic society'. He is said to have maintained contact with Joachim Junge (1587-1657), founder of 'Collegium Philosophicum' or 'Societas Ereunetica'. He personally invited individuals such as Georg Rudolph Weckherlin (Aufrichte Geselleschaft von der Tanne) and Johann Amos Comenius (1592-1670) [SSNE 6616] to London in the 1640s and was so charitable to such men that he nearly made himself bankrupt. In 1641 he published 'A Description of the Kingdom of Macaria', a pamphlet after More's 'Utopia'. The Hartlib Circle included John Durie [SSNE 1243], Thomas Hobbes, John Evelyn, Samuel Pepys, Sir Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren, Piere Gassendi and John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusets. In January 1645 Hartlib wrote to the Committee of Both Kingdoms of the Solemn League and Covenant noting "some privat attempts of mine to promote the Publicke Religion Iustice and Libert of the Three Kingdoms amongst Forrainers". In the same letter he continued "I confesse I am a stranger and no Free-Denzion, but I dare assure You with an humble and well-grounded confidence that my Heart hath beene truly Naturalised as long as I hauve breathed in this aire". Walter Strickland interceded in support of Hartlib's good work, requesting the Committee of Both Kingdoms to be rewarded accordingly. The English Parliament thereafter gave Hartlib a pension of £100 in 1646. He resided in Oxford in his later life but apparently fled to the Dutch Republic to escape his debtors. The DNB states he died c.1670 while the Neue Deutsche Biographie suggests he died in Oxford in 1662

Most information can be gleaned from the Hartlib Papers CD ROM. The letters of 1645 quoted here are HP 9/4/1A-2B, 15 January 1645, Hartlib to the Committee of Both Kingdoms; HP 7/57A-B, Walter Strickland to the Committee of Both Kingdoms, January 1645; Dictionary of National Biography, IX, p.72; Neue Deutsche Biographie (Berlin, 1965), p.721; A.C.F. Jackson, 'Rosecrucianism and its effect on Craft Masonry' in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. 97, 1995, p.132; Trevor Stewart's response to M. Baigent, 'Freemasonry, Hermetic Thought and the Royal Society of London' in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol.109, 1996, pp.159-160; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.62, 287, 304-305, 308.


English Civil War

Service record

Departed 1662-12-31