April 16, 1705: Isaac Newton is knighted at Trinity College, Cambridge
Getting knighted is a pretty big deal over in England. Aside from adding “Sir” or “Dame” to your name, you get the overall feeling of being royalty. When you’re one of the biggest scientists to grace this Earth like Isaac Newton, the honorific is pretty much owed to you.
Blinded me with science
Isaac Newton was easily one of the smartest minds in the 1600s. With the release of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, everyone was trying to pick his brain about science. As he got older, his attention turned to religion with several queries about the New Testament. In 1689, Newton became a member of the Parliament of England. During his tenure, he was stationed at Cambridge University. Newton’s only incident at the college involved reprimanding kids lying about ghosts haunting the establishment.
There’s a catch
In 1705, the Parliamentary election was set to take place, and people were a bit concerned. The Tories quickly became the most hated party in the country. For Newton, his loyalty lied in the Whigs, who were the opposing party. Queen Anne saw Newton’s political affiliation as a way to potentially boost morale. Possibly seeing Newton as a shift in change, she invited him to Trinity College, Cambridge for a knighting.
A hard day’s knight
The knighting took place at the campus on April 16, 1705. Queen Anne made Newton believe he was getting the honor due to his contributions to science. Unfortunately, she managed to fool him and everyone else. Newton became the second scientist to become knighted following Sir Francis Bacon.
Newton’s involvement with the Whigs made a huge dent in the election. While the Tories won the majority, the Whigs earned an additional 49 seats. The 27 seat difference was much more feasible than the 114 seat difference in the 1702 election. In the end, Newton was destined to be knighted somewhere down the line. The reason for his honor might’ve left a bad taste in his mouth.