St John's College MS O.84 (James 608)

William Samuel Powell, Lectures in experimental philosophy. English, 1746.


'A course of lectures in experimental philosophy by W.S. Powell A.M. fellow of St John's Coll. Cambridge 1746.' William Samuel Powell (1717-75) was a scholar and exhibitioner at St John's College and graduated BA in 1739. He was admitted to a fellowship of the college in 1740 and in due course proceeded to the degrees of MA, BD and DD. Powell became principal tutor at St John's in 1744 and was elected to the mastership in 1765. As master, he funded rebuilding in first court and improvements to the college grounds, and established college examinations, for which he drew up the papers. (See ODNB).


  1. 'Mechanics.' 119 numbered paragraphs with some fine ink diagrams. (fos 2-43v)
  2. 'Hydrostatics and pneumatics.' 29 numbered paragraphs with one diagram. (fos 44-51v)
  3. Various recipes for medicinal products. In different hands to the above. (fos 54-60, 84v, and on a sheet of paper stuck to the back flyleaf)

This manuscript contains a much fuller exposition of the mechanics section, and of part of the hydrostatics and pneumatics section, in Powell's published work The heads of a course of lectures in experimental philosophy (Cambridge: J. Bentham, 1746).

Manuscript extra information

205 x 155mm. 60 folios + many blanks. Paper. The hand of the main text is a neat copperplate. Binding: 18th-century vellum over boards; marbled endpapers; sprinkled edges; some scribbled calculations on the covers.

A note on the flyleaf states that this volume belonged to Thomas Sympson (1726-86) scholar of Trinity College, BA 8th wrangler 1748. The bookplate of Edward Mansel Sympson of Deloraine Court Lincoln, with motto Laetus sorte mea, is pasted inside the front board. E.M. Sympson (1860-1922) studied at Caius College, BA 1883. Purchased from Halliday in 1932 (pencil note on flyleaf).