The Spitalfields Mathematical Society is founded for lovers of mathematics
The Society is founded by John Middleton, a marine surveyor. It has sixty-four members who meet at the Monmouth's Head tavern in Spitalfields. Meeting in pubs will become one of the society's traditions.
To become a member it is not necessary to qualify in mathematics at a university. The only requirement is a willingness to answer, if possible, the questions posed by any other member. In this way the members teach each other, inspired by love of mathematics and science.
Most of the members are ordinary tradesmen or workmen. Many are weavers.
The members club together to buy books and instruments, including microscopes and telescopes. At its height, the society will have a library of nearly three thousand volumes. Its meetings will continue until 1845, when it is absorbed into the Royal Astronomical Society.
Many other societies flourish among the Huguenot craftsmen of Spitalfields. There is a club for pigeon breeders that gives a prize of a silver medal for the best fancy pigeon. They also breed canaries which sing to the weavers while they weave.
At a time when gardening is not a popular hobby, they garden in small allotments on the outskirts of London. They breed new varieties of plants and display them at flower shows. They start an Entomological Society, the first in the country, and study insects.