His father was a country lawyer who served in a cavalry company on the Puritan side in the early stages of the English Civil War.His father’s commander, Alexander Popham, became the local MP, and it was his patronage which allowed the young John Locke to gain an excellent education.
Locke was elected Lecturer in Greek at Christ Church in December of 1660 and he was elected Lecturer in Rhetoric in 1663. The statutes of Christ Church laid it down that fifty five of the senior studentships should be reserved for men in orders or reading for orders.
Only five could be held by others, two in medicine, two in law and one in moral philosophy.
Thus, there was good reason for Locke to become a clergyman. John Wilkins had left Oxford with the Restoration of Charles II.
The new leader of the Oxford scientific group was Robert Boyle. Boyle (with the help of his astonishing assistant Robert Hooke) built an air pump which led to the formulation of Boyle’s law and devised a barometer as a weather indicator.
One of Locke’s friends from Westminster school, Richard Lower, introduced Locke to medicine and the experimental philosophy being pursued by the virtuosi at Wadham. The rank was equivalent to a Fellow at any of the other colleges, but was not permanent.
Locke had yet to determine what his career was to be.
The Society saw its aims in contrast with the Scholastic/Aristotelian traditions that dominated the universities. Many of Wilkins associates were people interested in pursuing medicine by observation rather than the reading of classic texts. His career at Oxford, however, continued beyond his undergraduate days.
Bacon’s interest in careful experimentation and the systematic collection of facts from which generalizations could be made was characteristic of this group. In June of 1658 Locke qualified as a Master of Arts and was elected a Senior Student of Christ Church College.
John Locke (1632–1704) was one of the greatest philosophers in Europe at the end of the seventeenth century.
Locke grew up and lived through one of the most extraordinary centuries of English political and intellectual history.