WREN, SIR CHRISTOPHER, the only son of Dr. Christopher Wren, Dean of Windsor, was born at East Knoyle, in Wiltshire, on the 20th of October, 163'2. Ills mother was Mary, daughter and heiress of Mr. Robert Cox, of Foothill, in the same county. His first education in classic learning was (by reason of his tender health) com mitted to the care of a domestic tutor, the Rev. William Shepheard, M. A., excepting that for some short time before his admission to the university, he was placed under Dr. Busby, at Westminster School. In the principles of mathe matics, upon the early appearance of an uncommon genius, he was initiated by Dr. W. Holder ; and he made such rapid progress, that at the age of sixteen he distinguished himself by some important discoveries in astronomy, dialing, statics, and mechanics. While at Oxford, he became acquainted with, and obtained the friendship of, Dr. Scarborough, (after ards Sir Charles Scarborough,) an eminent physician and mathematician, under 'a horn he performed the part of an assistant, and first introduced geometrical and mechanical sciences to the aid of anatomy. At the age of nineteen, he a short algebraic tract relating to the Julian Period, of great use in chronology. In 1650, he was entered Bachelor of Arts at Wadham College, Oxford ; where, in 1653, he took the degree of Master of Arts; and in the same year was eluted into a fellowship of All-Souls. In 1657 he was chosen Professor of Astronomy in Gresham College, upon the resignation of Dr. Seth Ward ; where, in the same year, he read admirable lectures on astronomy ; and in 1653 not only solved the problem proposed by the great Pascal to all the English mathematicians, but returned another to those of France, of which they could never furnish any solution. Ilis appointment at Gresham College he resigned in 1660, on being chosen Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford, where, in 1658, he had been created LL.D. as he was shortly afterwards at Cambridge. Ile had now attained such emi nence in architecture, that he was called from Oxford by Charles 11. to assist Sir John Denham as surveyor-general of his majesty's works; and in 1663 he was one of the first Fellows of the Loyal Society, after the grant of their charter. In 1665 he travelled to France; and it is evident from his letters, that he surveyed every structure with the studious eye of a critic.
After that most dreadful conflagration of London, in the fatal year 1666, had laid the metropolis of England in the dust, Dr. Christopher Wren drew a noble plan for rebuilding
it, which he presented to the parliament; and had his scheme been followed, London would have become the most superb metropolis in Europe, or indeed in all the world. It inter fered, however, with so many interests in the landed property, that its execution was deemed impracticable. In 1668, on the decease of Sir John Denham, he was appointed surveyor general and principal architect for rebuilding the whole city, with the cathedral church of St. Paul, and all the parochial churches, in number fifty-one. In the year 1674, the honour of knighthood was conferred upon him ; in 1677, he finished the Monument, which has been compared with the celebrated columns of antiquity ; in 16S0, he was elected president of the Royal Society ; and in 16S1, he completed his most beautiful structure, the church of St. Stephen, Walbrook ; in 169S, he was appointed surveyor-general and COnuniS sioner of the works and repairs of the ancient abbey church of St. Peter, Westminster; and in 1710, he finished the mag nificent cathedral church of St. Paul.
During the time of his employment in the service of the public and of the crown, by virtue of letters patent, con sistent with the pleasure of six crowned heads, under the great seals of King Charles 11., King James 11., King William and Queen Mary, Queen Anne, and King George 1., (besides the ordinary duties of his office in the survey and care of the repairs and new buildings of all the royal palaces,) he began and completed the cathedral church of St. Paul ; fifty-one parochial churches ; the great column, called The Monument, and other public edifices, in London; the two royal palaces at Hampton Court and Winchester; the royal hospitals of Chelsea and Greenwich ; the north front and repairs of Westminster Abbey ; the theatre of Oxford ; the theatre royal in Drury Lane; the Duke's theatre in Salisbury Court, some time since taken down ; the magnificent library of Trinity College, and the elegant chapel of Emmanuel College, Cambridge ; with many other fabrics of less note, as well as private seats. All these works form such a body of civil architecture, as will appear rather the production of a whole century than the life and industry of one man, of which no parallel instance can be given.