NEWTON, ISAAC. 1642-1727.
Autograph Manuscript in English, Signed Integrally ("Isaac Newton"), 1 p, folio (298 x 183 mm), [n.p.], c.1705, tracing the descent of himself, "Isaac Newton born December 1642," back to John Newton of Westby. Light soiling, silked repairing a closed tear in lower right corner.
Provenance: Viscount Lymington (his sale of the Newton Papers at Sotheby's in 1936, lot 177), eventually acquired by John Maynard Keynes.
In preparation for his knighthood in 1705, and ever-cognizant of his relatively humble upbringing, Newton began to take a deep interest in the matter of his own genealogy. According to Brewster, later that year Newton presented to the Herald's Office "an elaborate pedigree, stating upon oath that he had reason to believe that John Newton of Westby, in the county of Lincoln, was his great-grandfather's father...." This is a pedigree which Newton apparently came to doubt later in life, when he favored an alternative theory that his great-grandfather had been a Scot.
A worthy testament to Newton's preoccupation with his own heritage, as well as his incessant need to organize and codify all kinds of information. The handful of crossed-out corrections and inter-linear additions suggest this was a working copy, perhaps in preparation for the pedigree presented to the Herald's Office. The "Newton" name here appears in his own hand 19 times, twice as "Isaac Newton," once for his father and once for himself.