A selection of ceramics through the ages (5 second delay) Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
PotWeb: Ceramics online
@ the Ashmolean Museum

People and their collections

Robert Plot 1640-96 - scientist & antiquary

Who was he? (biography)

  • Robert Plot was born in 1640 near Sittingbourne, Kent, where his family had been established since the fifteenth century.
    He came up to Oxford (Magdalen Hall) in 1658, taking a BA in 1661 and an MA in 1664.
  • He stayed on at Magdalen Hall (the forerunner of Magdalen College) as Dean and Vice-Principal, teaching and preparing for higher qualifications.
  • 'Mr Plott' of Magdalen Hall paid poll tax of one shilling in March 1667. It was in this year that he followed a course in practical chemistry; his tutors included Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke.
    He gained his BCL and DCL (cum laude) in 1671.
    From around 1670 he planned a survey of Britain 'in search of natural and artificial curiosities, knowledge of which could improve the pleasure, the knowledge and the commerce of man'.
  • After winning financial support, he travelled for almost two years between 1674 and 1676.
  • The success o The Natural History of Oxford-shire (1677; reprinted 1972) strengthened his reputation as an antiquary and natural philosopher. He became a fellow of the Royal Society in the same year, and the first Keeper of The Ashmolean Museum and first Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford in 1683. Plot resigned these posts in 1689. During his tenure he wrote The Natural History of Stafford-shire (1686; reprinted 1973).
  • In August 1690, at the age of 49, he married Rebecca Burman, and settled on his family estate in Kent. They had two sons.
  • He died on 30 April 1696 from complications arising from urinary calculi (kidney and bladder stones). Rebecca raised a memorial to him in the parish church at Borden.

© Copyright University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 2005
The Ashmolean Museum retains the copyright of all materials
used here and in its Museum Web pages.
last updated: jcm/16-dec-2005