Samuel Hartlib

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Samuel Hartlib was a German-British polymath. An active promoter and expert writer in many fields, he was interested in science, medicine, agriculture, politics, and education. He settled in England, where he married and died. He was a contemporary of Robert Boyle whom he knew well, and a neighbour of Samuel Pepys in London in the early 1660s.

It is entirely uncertain how contacts between Henry Oldenburg and Spinoza were established or arranged and by whom. During Oldenburg's Leiden visit, someone in or around the university might have directed Oldenburg’s attention to the young philosopher in Rijnsburg. Perhaps, the individual who undertook to bring Spinoza to his notice was the professor of theology Johannes Coccejus. He was born at Bremen and a relative of Oldenburg by marriage. It is reported in the correspondence of the English knowledge broker Samuel Hartlib that Oldenburg was on close terms with him:

The gent[leman] who is here returned from Paris (Mr. Oldenburg, I mean,) did undertake to write to Coccejus. The next time he comes, I shall examine him, whether he hath been as good as his word. Coccejus being his intimate friend, I would be so civil as not to interpose between them.

Samuel Hartlib to John Worthington, 1/11 July 1660; The Diary and Correspondence of Dr. John Worthington, 1847, pp. 192–4.


Johannes Coccejus


Henry Oldenburg


Robert Boyle


Adam Boreel


Samuel Pepys