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Molyneux Globe

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Contributed by: UK006 Clive Molyneux   |   10 Aug 2017

Molyneux Globe

Emery Molyneux, Mathematician and Globe Maker, was born in England in the 16th century. He was known for making the first globes in England and for making mathematical instruments and ordnance. He became acquainted with many prominent men of the day, including the writer Richard Hakluyt and the mathematicians Robert Hues and Edward Wright. He also knew the explorers Thomas Cavendish, Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and John Davis. Davis probably introduced Molyneux to his own patron, the London merchant William Sanderson, who largely financed the construction of the globes. When completed, the globes were presented to Elizabeth I. Larger globes were acquired by royalty, noblemen and academic institutions, while smaller ones were purchased as practical navigation aids for sailors and students. The globes were the first to be made in such a way that they were unaffected by the humidity at sea, and they came into general use on ships.

Molyneux emigrated to Amsterdam with his wife in 1596 or 1597. He succeeded in interesting the States-General, the parliament of the United Provinces, in a cannon he had invented, but he died suddenly in June 1598, apparently in poverty. The globe-making industry in England died with him.

Only six of his globes are believed still to be in existence. Three are in England, of which one pair consisting of a terrestrial and a celestial globe is owned by Middle Temple and displayed in its library, while a terrestrial globe is at Petworth House in Petworth, West Sussex.