The Royal Society’s first Royal Charter | History Today | 14293
Gay Star News have been looking at the supressed gay history behind the Royal Society, whose headquarters are in Carlton House Terrace, London, near Pall Mall. Writer Mark Govier thinks the people who created the Society were gay but the Society should do more to recognise the role that gay people played in the Sciences.
Founded in 1660, “when that famous gay, Sir Francis Bacon, rose to be Lord Chancellor, before falling from grace. James I was king of England then. As is well known, the married but very gay James I treated his favorite boys ‘like ladies’. There were drastic penalties for sodomy at the time, though these were seldom enacted, especially at this level of society.
“Bacon was also a great philosopher of science. He attacked the old medieval forms of science taught at English universities, arguing for a system of ‘natural philosophy’, one having direct benefits for people.
“Before he died in 1626, he wrote ‘A New Atlantis’, a utopian novella describing an ideal society run by a government-funded academy of science. These writings became the inspiration behind the formation of the Royal Society. Had there been no Francis Bacon, it is questionable whether there would have been a Royal Society.”
Other notable gay people who played an important part in the development of the sciences and the Royal Society included Dr John Wilkins, Sir Robert Moray and the famous scientist Robert Boyle (of Boyles Law fame). And of course there was the famous Sir Robert Newton. “Newton is the only single gay man to have held the position of president of the Royal Society.”
The Royal Society describes itself as “… a Fellowship of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.” The Society awards “Newton Fellowships” for academic and scientific research. Recently a Fellowship was awarded to Bruno Perreau of the University of Cambridge for his study “What’s a family? Social work and gay adoption in France and in the United Kingdom”.