English writer on education and agriculturist
Born c.1599 Died c. 1670
Samuel Hartlib was born towards the close of the 16th century at Elbing in Prussia, his father being a refugee merchant from Poland. His mother was the daughter of a rich English merchant at Danzig. About 1628 Hartlib went to England, where he carried on a mercantile agency, and at the same time found leisure to enter with interest into the public questions of the day. An enthusiastic admirer of Comenius, he published in 1637 his Conatuum Comenianorum praeludia, and in 1639 Comenii pansophiae prodromus et didactica dissertatio. In 1641 appeared his Relation of that which bath been lately attempted to procure Ecclesiastical Peace among Protestants, and A Description of Macaria, containing his ideas of what a model state should be.
During the civil war Hartlib occupied himself with the peaceful study of agriculture, publishing various works by himself, and printing at his own expense several treatises by others on the subject. In 1652 he issued a second edition of the Discourse of Flanders Husbandry by Sir Richard Weston (1643); and in 1651 Samuel Hartlib, his Legacy, or an Enlargement of the Discourse of Husbandry used in Brabant and Flanders, by Robert Child. For his various labours Hartlib received from Cromwell a pension of £100, afterwards increased to £300, as he had spent all his fortune on his experiments. He planned a school for the sons of gentlemen, to be conducted on new principles, and this probably was the occasion of his friend Milton's Tractate on Education, addressed to him in 1644, and of Sir William Petty's Two Letters on the same subject, in 1647 and 1648. At the Restoration Hartlib lost his pension, which had already fallen into arrears; he petitioned parliament for a new grant of it, but what success he met with is unknown, as his latter years and death are wrapped in obscurity. A letter from him is known to have been written in February 1661-1662, and apparently he is referred to by Andrew Marvell as alive in 1670 and fleeing to Holland from his creditors.
A Biographical Memoir of Samuel Hartlib, by H. Dircks, appeared in 1865.
Being the entry for HARTLIB, SAMUEL in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.