One Christmas in history is famous for being the date of entry into this world of the genius and future famous person, Sir Isaac Newton. Isaac was born on Christmas Day in 1642, in the old-style Julian calendar. While the birthday shifted to January 4, 1643, in the new Gregorian calendar, people were celebrating Christmas Day on the actual day that Isaac was born, so it counts as a famous Christmas in history.
Isaac was born in Woolsthorpe Manor in the village of Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, which was located in the county of Lincolnshire. Young Isaac never met his father, also named Isaac Newton, as the senior Isaac died three months before the younger Isaac was born. Not only that, but young Isaac was premature, and was so tiny when he was born, his mother said he could have fit into a quart-sized mug.
In a time where premature babies typically did not fare well due to a lack of proper medical care being available to them, young Isaac was not expected to live past early infanthood. However, like the things he did in much of the rest of his life, Isaac defied expectations and not only lived, but thrived and lived to a ripe old age for the time.
Isaac’s mother, Hannah Ayscough, remarried when Isaac was three years old, to a man named Barnabas Smith, a minister who was called Reverend. When she remarried, Isaac’s mother left him in the care of her own mother, Isaac’s maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough (maiden name Blythe). Isaac was raised by his grandmother, but had contact with his mother and step-father, and had a half-brother and two half-sisters through them.
To say Isaac did not get along with his mother and step-father would be an understatement. Whether his step-father was cruel to him, or Isaac had resentments toward his mother for sending him away when she remarried, Isaac wrote up a list of his sins that he believed he had committed up to the age of 19. Among those sins he put on his list was “Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them.” Pretty harsh, Isaac.
Isaac went to the King’s School in Grantham, where he learned Latin and Greek, as well as a solid foundation of mathematics. After his mother was widowed for a second time, she removed him from school and tried to make Isaac into a farmer. Isaac hated being a farmer. The headmaster of Isaac’s school convinced his mother to send him back to school, and Isaac thrived there. Of course, part of his academic success was due to him wanting revenge on a schoolyard bully there. Isaac succeeded in his revenge by becoming the top-ranked student at the school.
Isaac Newton, of course, went on to become one of the most famous scientists and scientific theorists of all time, and is considered a legitimate genius today. He never married or had children, and lived with a great-niece in his later years (the daughter of one of his two half-sisters). This great-niece inherited all of his papers, and was the chief cheerleader of his legacy for decades, even being credited with inventing the story of the apple giving Isaac the idea for the theory of gravity. The world we know today is a much better one, scientifically, for Isaac Newton having been in it. It all began on Christmas Day nearly 480 years ago.