John Chamberlayne wrote Letter L-430 of 2 December 1704 about a dinner with an archbishop and bishop, who gave him an odd ash from a haystack fire that Sloane had enclosed with Letter L-429

December 2, 1704

This letter is known only by reference in Leeuwenhoek’s reply. The date is New Style, which was eleven days ahead of the Old Style date of 21 November 1704 used by Chamberlayne in London.

In this letter, Chamberlayne replied that Leeuwenhoek’s recent remarks on tobacco ash pleased him. He also related that when having dinner with the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of Salisbury, he learned about a burned haystack, the ashes of which were a light solid substance. He gave a sample to Hans Sloane, who enclosed it in a separate letter to L.

Leeuwenhoek wrote to Chamberlayne about tobacco ashes in Letter L-427 of 3 October 1704. The separate letter from Hans Sloane is Letter L-429 of 2 December 1704.

Thomas Tenison (1636-1715) was archbishop of Canterbury from 1694 until his death. Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715) was bishop of Salisbury from 1689 until his death. For Burnet, see Letter L-451 of 4 May 1707 from Sloane to Leeuwenhoek.


Letter L-434 of 3 March 1705 to John Chamberlayne

I received your very pleasant and kind letter from Westminster of the 21st of November 1704 only on the 19th of February 1705. In this I saw that my remarks on tobacco ashes have pleased you and that when you were dining at the house of the archbishop of Canterbury with the bishop of Salisbury, the said bishop related that a big hay-rick on the down near Salisbury, after smoking and fermenting for some time, had taken fire and been consumed altogether. But the ashes, instead of being loose and scattered, as is commonly the case, had been transformed into a solid and very light substance, even in whole cartloads. And I saw in your letter that you brought a piece thereof to the Royal Society, which was of the opinion that it had been vitrified and calcinated by an extraordinary heat.

You were good enough to let me have a piece of the said matter in a letter from the secretary, Mr. Hans Sloane, for which I am grateful.