In the event, as Adrian Tinniswood’s compact, informative book shows, the Fellows’ ambition to recruit the rich and powerful was almost the society’s undoing. They rigged the rules to allow aristocrats to become Fellows of the Royal Society whether scientifically qualified or not. Their draft constitution stated that no applicants for a fellowship would be admitted “without scrutiny”, except “such as were of, or above, the degree of baron”. When it came to selecting the society’s first president the obvious choice was John Wilkins, a tireless theoriser who had been a driving force behind the society’s formation. However, an obscure viscount was chosen instead, solely because of his rank. At society meetings Fellows were obliged to take their hats off before addressing him.