Berkeley was born at his family home, Dysart Castle, near Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland, the eldest son of William Berkeley, a cadet of the noble family of Berkeley. Little is known of his mother. He was educated at Kilkenny College and attended Trinity College, Dublin, where he was elected a Scholar in 1702, earning a bachelor's degree in 1704 and completing a master's degree in 1707. He remained at Trinity College after completion of his degree as a tutor and Greek lecturer.
Berkeley visited England and was received into the circle of Addison, Pope and Steele. In the period between 1714 and 1720, he interspersed his academic endeavours with periods of extensive travel in Europe, including one of the most extensive Grand Tours of the length and breadth of Italy ever undertaken. In 1721, he took Holy Orders in the Church of Ireland, earning his doctorate in divinity, and once again chose to remain at Trinity College Dublin, lecturing this time in Divinity and in Hebrew. In 1721/2 he was made Dean of Dromore and, in 1724, Dean of Derry.
Later Bishop of Cloyne
In 1723, following her violent quarrel with Jonathan Swift, who had been her intimate friend for many years, Esther Vanhomrigh (for whom Swift had created the nickname "Vanessa") named Berkeley her co-heir along with the barrister Robert Marshall; her choice of legatees caused a good deal of surprise since she did not know either of them well, although Berkeley as a very young man had known her father. Swift said generously that he did not grudge Berkeley his inheritance, much of which vanished in a lawsuit in any event. A story that Berkeley and Marshall disregarded a condition of the inheritance that they must publish the correspondence between Swift and Vanessa is probably untrue.
In 1725, he began the project of founding a college in Bermuda for training ministers and missionaries in the colony, in pursuit of which he gave up his deanery with its income of £1100.
His earliest publication was on mathematics, but the first that brought him notice was his An Essay towards a New Theory of Vision, first published in 1709. In the essay, Berkeley examines visual distance, magnitude, position and problems of sight and touch. While this work raised much controversy at the time, its conclusions are now accepted as an established part of the theory of optics.
In 1728, he married Anne Forster, daughter of John Forster, Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, and his first wife Rebecca Monck. He then went to America on a salary of £100 per annum. He landed near Newport, Rhode Island,
Appletons' Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1600-1889
Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1-20, 22
Web: International, Find A Grave Index
"England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V526-HBX : 10 February 2018), Geo Berkeley and Ann Forester, 1728; citing Somerset House,Westminster,London,England, reference , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 942.1 W1 V26CO.
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