I was invited this afternoon to meet the new Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society, one of our neighbours in the courtyard, and to see some of the books in their library. I was most struck by the fact that they have inherited books and manuscripts from the library of the Spitalfields Mathematical Society, a group which was established in Spitalfields in 1717 by Joseph Middleton to teach maths to sailors. It met in a pub, the Monmouth’s Head, until 1725, when it moved to the White Horse in Wheeler Street. Apparently about half its members were weavers – presumably Huguenot – and the rest were a motley crew of ‘brewers, braziers, bakers, bricklayers’. The Society existed until 1845 when its membership lapsed and was absorbed into that of the Royal Astronomical Society, founded in 1820.