Isaac Newton was born on January 4, 1643, in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England. His father, also named Isaac Newton, had died three months before. His mother, Hannah Ayscough, married the rector of a neighboring parish, leaving Isaac at Woolsthorpe in the care of his grandmother, Margery Ayscough. For nine years Isaac was effectively separated from his mother, and his pronounced psychotic tendencies have been ascribed to this traumatic event. Newton disliked his stepfather. When he examined the state of his soul in 1662 and compiled a catalog of sins in shorthand, he remembered “Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them.” The acute sense of insecurity that rendered him obsessively anxious when his work was published and irrationally violent when he defended it accompanied Newton throughout his life and can plausibly be traced to his early years.
After his mother was widowed a second time, she determined that her first-born son should manage her now considerable property. It quickly became apparent, however, that this would be a disaster, both for the estate and for Newton. He could not bring himself to concentrate on rural affairs - set to watch the cattle, he would curl up under a tree with a book.