Ralph Greatorex

In existographies, Ralph Greatorex (c.1625-1675), or “Gretorix” (Hooke, c.1670), was an English instrument maker, reputed to have been the “leading pumping engineer in England” (Chapman, 2004), who made a considerable amount of money draining the Fens. [2]

In 1658, Robert Boyle contacted Greatorex with a request for Greatorex to make an improved Guericke-style vacuum pump. [1] Greatorex, however, could not furnish a successful or serviceable machine. No drawing of Greatorex’s attempted device remains. [3]

Boyle then contacted Robert Hooke, his assistant since 1657, who then visited Greatorex and saw his device, reporting back:

“In 1658 or 1659, I contrived and perfected the ‘air-pump’ for Boyle, having first seen a contrivance for that purpose made for Boyle by Gratorix, which was too gross to perform any great matter.”
— Robert Hooke (c.1670), Posthumous Works (pg. iii-iv); cited by Richard Waller (1705) in “Life of Robert Hooke” [4]

Boyle, after seeing Greatorex’s device, when to London to get the barrel and other parts he could not get made at Oxford.

1. Shapin, Steven and Schaffer, Simon. (1985). Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (Greatorex, 3+ pgs; Jan 1658, pg. 231). Princeton University Press, 2011.
2. Chapman, Allan. (2004). England’s Leonardo: Robert Hooke and the Seventeenth-Century Scientific Revolution (Greatorex, pgs. 23, 272). CRC Press.
3. Weld, Charles. (1849). “A History of the Royal Society, with Memoirs of the Presidents: Robert Boyle” (pg. 442), Littles Living Age, 21(264):433-59, Jun 9.
4. Hooke, Robert. (1705). The Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke (§: The Life of Dr. Robert Hooke, pgs. i-xxviii; air-pump, iii-iv) (editor: Robert Waller). Publisher.

External links
Ralph Greatorex – Wikipedia.
Ralph Greatorex – PepysDiary.com.
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