Digby, Sir Kexnelm
Digby, Sir Kexnelm, was born in 1603, three years before his father, Sir Everard Digiby, was executed for his share in the Gunpowder Plot. He was brought up in the Protestant faith, and in 1618 was entered at Gloucestar Hall, Oxford, where he gained a wonderful name for ability and scholarship. After leaving the university he spent two years in travel. and, returning to England in 1623, was knighted. In 1632, on the death of Dr. Allen, of Gloucester Hall, Sir Kenelm Digby inherited his collection of books and manuscripts. In 1636, when in France, he was converted to the Roman Catholic faith, which step he justified in A Conference with a Lady about the Choice of a Religion (Par. 1638; Lond. 1654). He returned to England in 1638, and on the breaking out of the Civil War was imprisoned as a Royalist in Winchester House, but in 1643 he was allowed to retire to France. At Paris he was received with favor by the court, and made the acquaintance of Des Cartes. After Charles I had fallen, Digby returned to England, but the Parliament forbade him the kingdom under penalty of death. Retiring to the Continent, he traveled in France and Italy; but in 1655 he was again in England, and was in frequent attendance at the court of the Protector. He went again to France, and busied himself with the preparation of philosophical papers. He returned to England in 1661, and died therein 1665. His works are numerous, and on a great variety of subjects; we only notice, besides the one already mentioned, A Treatise on the Soul, proving its Immortality (Par. 1644); Mores Catholici, or Ages of Faith (anon.), reprinted in 3 volumes, 8vo, Lond. 1844-47. The Private Memoirs of Sir K. Digby, etc., written by Himself, were published in London in 1827 (8vo). See Kippis, Biographica Britannica, 5:184 sq.; Chambers, Encyclopedia, s.v.