Sir William Petty, 1623 - 1687

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This study portrays the life and times of Sir William Petty (1623-1687), a seventeenth-century physician who was intimately involved in the English colonial project. Born into a family of modest means in the county of Hampshire, Petty, after training in medicine on the continent, received his degree at Oxford before undertaking various business endeavors in Ireland that would raise him above his humble roots. By virtue of his education, religion, and political connections, Petty was in every sense a member of the elite, mingling with the likes of Christopher Wren, Isaac Newton, Edmund Halley, Robert Hooke, John Aubrey, two of the Stuart kings, and other luminaries of his age. In his long life Petty experienced the episodes of intellectual, social and political ferment which made the seventeenth century a fascinating era.


“Dr. Thomas Jordan uses Petty’s situation in this complex society as a starting point for his own, much larger analysis of Ireland in the thirty-five years that Petty lived there. Jordan trawls far-ranging sources on seventeenth-century housing, sanitation and mortality to make real the day-to-day lives of the poor. Once again, Thomas Jordan has found a too-little studied topic, and drawn important historical conclusions. His book opens a valuable window on class, education, and especially on daily life in seventeenth-century Ireland.” - Dr. James Silas Rogers, University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Preface by James Silas Rogers
1 Ireland
2 William Petty in Ireland
3 The People
4 The Quick and the Dead
5 The New Learning
6 The Double-Bottom Boat
7 The Political Anatomy of Ireland

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