Nicholas Mercator

Mr Nicholas Mercator: Philip Melancthon was his great-grandmother's brother.

He is of little stature, perfect; black hair, of a delicate moist curl; dark eye, but of great vivacity of spirit. He is of a soft temper, of great temperance (he loves Venus a little): of a prodigious invention, and will be acquainted (familiarly) with nobody. His true German name is Nicolas Kauffmann, i.e. chapman, i.e. Mercator.

Memorandum: Mr Nicholas Mercator made and presented to King Charles II a clock ('twas of a foot diameter) which showed the inequality of the sun's motion from the apparent motion, which the king did understand by his informations, and did commend it, but he never had a penny of him for it.

Well! This curious clock was neglected, and somebody of the court happened to become master of it, who understood it not; he sold it to Mr Knibb, a watch-maker, who did not understand it neither, who sold it to Mr Fromanteel (that made it) for £5 who asks now (1683) for it £200

In February 1682, Mr N. Mercator left London; went with his family to Paris, being invited thither by Monseigneur Colbert.



From John Aubrey's Brief Lives. (Edited by R Barber, Boydell Press, 1982)