Catherine Barton Conduitt
|Died||1739 (aged 59–60)|
|Known for||Being a renowned "society wit and beauty", telling the story of Newton and the apple to Voltaire, possible affair with politician Charles Montagu|
|Relatives||Robert Barton (father)|
Hannah Smith (mother)
Isaac Newton (uncle)
Catherine Barton (1679–1739) was an English homemaker who oversaw the running of her uncle, scientist Isaac Newton's, household. She was reputed to be the source of the story of the apple inspiring Newton's work on gravity, and his papers came to her on his death. She was rumoured to have been the mistress of the poet and statesman Charles Montagu and later married politician John Conduitt.
Barton was the second daughter of Robert Barton and his second wife, Hannah Smith, half-sister of Isaac Newton. She was baptized at Brigstock, Northampton on 25 November 1679.
Barton was remarked upon by several men to be beautiful, witty and clever.She was known as a brilliant conversationalist, and attracted the admiration of such famous figures as Jonathan Swift and Voltaire.
Her uncle was also fond of her; an excerpt of an uncharacteristically warm letter from Newton survives, regarding her contraction of smallpox: "Pray let me know by your next how your face is and if your fevour be going. Perhaps warm milk from ye Cow may help to abate it. I am Your loving Unkle, Is. Newton."Sometime after her uncle Newton moved to London to become Warden of the Mint in April 1696 she moved there to live with him. Barton was said to have been the source of the story about Newton and the apple, as she told the story to Voltaire who later wrote about it in his Essay on Epic Poetry of 1727.
Voltaire also insinuated that Newton's preferment to the Royal Mint was the result of Barton's alleged affair with Charles Montagu. However, although it is true that Isaac was appointed under the patronage of Charles Montagu, the claim that this was due to Barton's influence is dubious:Catherine Barton came up to London and met Montagu after the appointment, not before.
Barton became the housekeeper to Charles Montagu following the death of his wife in 1698.There was much contemporary gossip about their relationship being sexual, and thinly disguised accusations appeared in print. Delariviere Manley's Memoirs of 1710 featured a character called Bartica who was widely taken to represent Barton.
Montagu, by then Earl of Halifax, died of an inflammation of the lungs in May 1715. His will contained two codicils: the first dated 12 April 1706, left the sum of £3000 and all his jewels to Barton; a second dated 1 February 1713 left her an additional £5000 plus his interest in the rangership of Bushey Park and his manor of Apscourt in Surrey to pay for the repairs to Bushey Lodge. On 30 August, however, he revoked the first codicil and begged his executor, his nephew George Montagu, not to make a dispute over her legacies. Montagu wrote that these bequests were "as a token of the sincere love, affection and esteem, I have long had for her person, and as a small recompense for the pleasure and happiness I have had in her conversation".
Halifax's official life defended Barton against accusations that she might have been sexually involved with him, stating:
as this Lady was young, beautiful and gay, so those that were given to censure, pass'd a Judgment upon her which she no Ways merited, since she was a Woman of strict Honour and Virtue; and tho' she might be agreeable to his Lordship in every Particular, that noble Peer's Complaisance to her, proceeded wholly from the great Esteem he had for her Wit and most exquisite Understanding.
Based on the generosity of the bequest, astronomer John Flamsteed wrote, apparently sarcastically and spitefully, that Barton must have "excellent conversation".
Barton then returned to live with her uncle at his home in St Martin's Street.[ citation needed ] On 9 July 1717 she became engaged to marry John Conduitt who had arrived in England a few weeks earlier in May of that year. On 23 August they were issued a licence to marry at St Paul's Covent Garden, but actually married three days later at St Martin in the Fields. Barton had one daughter with Conduitt, Catherine, who was born in 1721.
Barton lived with Conduitt at Cranbury Park, near Winchester. She took in Newton towards the end of his life, and he resided with her until his death in 1727.After Newton's death, his papers were in Barton's care and then passed down through her family until 1936 when they were auctioned at Sotheby's.
Conduitt died on 23 May 1737; Catherine died in 1739 and was buried with her uncle and husband in Westminster Abbey.Their only daughter and heir, Catherine, married John Wallop, Viscount Lymington, the eldest son of the first Earl of Portsmouth, and their son, John Wallop, succeeded as second Earl of Portsmouth.
A fictional Barton has a small role in Neal Stephenson's novel The System of the World , the final installment in Stephenson's Baroque Cycle .
She also has a role in Philip Kerr's novel Dark Matter: The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton.
Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author who is widely recognised as one of the greatest mathematicians and most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first published in 1687, established classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.
François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plumeVoltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity—especially the Roman Catholic Church—as well as his advocacy of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.
Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax was an English poet and statesman.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was an English aristocrat, writer, and poet. Born in 1689, Lady Mary spent her early life in England. In 1712, Lady Mary married Edward Wortley Montagu, who later served as the British ambassador to the Sublime Porte. Lady Mary joined her husband in the Ottoman excursion, where she was to spend the next two years of her life. During her time there, Lady Mary wrote extensively on her experience as a woman in Ottoman Istanbul. After her return to England, Lady Mary devoted her attention to the upbringing of her family before dying of cancer in 1762.
Earl of Portsmouth is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1743 for John Wallop, 1st Viscount Lymington, who had previously represented Hampshire in the House of Commons. He had already been created Baron Wallop, of Farleigh Wallop in Hampshire in the County of Southampton, and Viscount Lymington, in 1720, also in the Peerage of Great Britain.
During his residence in London, Isaac Newton had made the acquaintance of John Locke. Locke had taken a very great interest in the new theories of the Principia. He was one of a number of Newton's friends who began to be uneasy and dissatisfied at seeing the most eminent scientific man of his age left to depend upon the meagre remuneration of a college fellowship and a professorship.
Letters on the English is a series of essays written by Voltaire based on his experiences living in England between 1726 and 1729. It was published first in English in 1733 and then in French the following year, where it was seen as an attack on the French system of government and was rapidly suppressed.
Cadwallader Colden was a physician, natural scientist, a lieutenant governor and acting Governor for the Province of New York.
Charles Fane, 1st Viscount Fane PC (Ire) was an Anglo-Irish courtier, politician and a landowner in both England and Ireland.
Anne Long, was born at Draycot Cerne, Wiltshire, one of six children of James Long and his wife, Susanna, née Strangways. A celebrated beauty, she was the granddaughter of Sir James Long, 2nd Baronet, and of another leading civil war politician, Giles Strangways (1615–1675). She seems to have spent much of her childhood at her maternal grandparent's home at Melbury House, Dorchester, Dorset, probably due to her parents' unhappy marriage. Privately educated, she never married. Long was greatly admired by Jonathan Swift, although their relationship never had the same intensity as those Swift had with Esther Johnson and Esther Vanhomrigh.
John Conduitt, of Cranbury Park, Hampshire, was a British landowner and Whig politician. He sat in the House of Commons from 1721 to 1737. He was married to the half-niece of Sir Isaac Newton, whom Conduitt succeeded as Master of the Mint.
Cranbury Park is a stately home and country estate situated in the parish of Hursley, near to Otterbourne, Winchester, England. It was formerly the home to Sir Isaac Newton and later to the Chamberlayne family, whose descendants now own and occupy the house and surrounding park and farmland. The house and park are not generally open to the public, although open days are occasionally held.
Thomas Lee Dummer was an English Member of Parliament for Southampton (1737–1741) and Newport (1765–1768).
John Hatsell was an English civil servant, clerk of the House of Commons, and an authority on parliamentary procedure.
Catherine Talbot was an English author and member of the Blue Stockings Society.
John Wallop, Viscount Lymington was a British politician, styled Hon. John Wallop from 1720 to 1743.
John Wallop, 2nd Earl of Portsmouth, styled Hon. John Wallop from 1743 to 1749 and Viscount Lymington from 1749 to 1762, was a British nobleman.
Cutts Barton, (1706–1780) D.D. was an English cleric, Dean of Bristol from 1763 to 1780.
Isaac Newton Wallop, 5th Earl of Portsmouth MA DL JP(11 January 1825 - 4 October 1891) was a British Peer and the son of Newton Fellowes, 4th Earl of Portsmouth and Lady Catharine Fortescue.
Sir Edward Wingfield of Kimbolton (c.1562-1603), member of Parliament and author of a masque.