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Simon Bredon (Astronomer, Mathematician, Physician) c. 1300-1372


Simon Bredon Demographics:
  • Birth - c. 1300 (Winchcombe, Gloucestershire)
  • Death - 1372
  • Nationality - English
  • Occupation - Astronomer, Mathematician, Physician.
Simon Bredon Academic Life:
  • Initially a member of Balliol, Oxford.
  • Subsequently a member of the Merton School, Oxford.
  • Elected a Fellow of Merton c. 1330 - ? 1342.
  • Doctor of Medicine, University of Oxford.
  • Worked on trigonometry.
  • Wrote on the calculation of chords.
  • Commentary on the Almagest.
Simon Bredon Legacy:
  • Left manuscripts & scientific instruments to several Oxford colleges.
  • Bequest of the Oriel astrolabe (c. 1340) - now in Museum of the History of Science.
  • William Rede and Simon Bredon made astronomical tables which for a time gave Oxford a status similar to that of the modern Greenwich Observatory.

Image Credit - Oxford almanac for 1344 - notes on square numbers written by Simon Bredon.
From Oxford Figures, Chapter 1: 800 years of mathematical traditions - page is maintained by Keith A. Gillow.


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Edmund Gonville (Founder of Gonville Hall, Cambridge, 1348)

Edmund Gonville Demographics:
  • Name - Edmund Gonville
  • Birth - Unknown date
  • Death - 1351
  • Occupation - Rector, land agent, King's clerk
  • Religion - Catholic
  • Residence - County of Norfolk, England
  • Father - William de Gonvile
  • Brother - Sir Nicholas Gonvile.
  • Ancestry - French gentry family.
Edmund Gonville - Early Life:
  • Gonville's childhood & early education are not clearly known.
Edmund Gonville - Adult Life Facts:
  • Known as a practical man of affairs.
  • Probably worked as a land agent for some leading people in east Anglia.
  • Is believed to have had stewardship of the earl of Surrey's Norfolk estates.
  • Worked also for King Edward III, including lending him money.
  • Rewarded by King Edward III, with the title of King's clerk.
  • Established a community of 5 priests at Rushford (near Thetford) and also founded a house of Dominican friars at Thetford in Norfolk.
  • Gonville was granted the right to found a college of 20 scholars at the University of Cambridge.
  • The petition to King Edward III was supported by a Sir Walter Manny.
  • The Letters Patent for the college were issued by Edward III in late January 1348.
Edmund Gonville - Religious Positions:
  • Rector of Thelnetham, Suffolk (1320-26).
  • Rector of Rushford, Norfolk (1326-42).
  • Rector of Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk (1342-1351).
Established the following Religious Communities:
  • 1335 - House for Dominican Friars at Thetford
  • 1342 - College of chantry priests at his living at Rushford
  • 1348 - Gonville Hall (Cambridge)
Gonville Hall (Cambridge) & Edmund Gonville:
  • The college was built amazingly during the height of the Black Death bubonic plague.
  • This demonstrated Gonville's amazing drive & perseverence despite the prevailing difficulties.
  • Edmund Gonville had secured accommodation for his scholars by end of 1348.
  • On 4th June 1349 a deed of foundation was made out for the college.
  • John Colton of Terrington (later archbishop of Armagh) was appointed the first master of the college.
  • Gonville made it clear his wish that the hall should be dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin.
  • Unfortunately, Gonville died in 1351, before the Hall was fully established.
  • A picture of the college can be found - here.
  • The college over the next 200 years went in to decline, before later being re-founded by John Caius (in 1557) to become Gonville and Caius College.

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