The practical discovery of the instrument was certainly made in Holland about 1608, but the credit of the original invention has been claimed on behalf of three individuals, Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Jansen, spectacle-makers in Middelburg, and James Metius of Alkmaar (brother of Adrian Metius the mathematician) .
Descartes, in his treatise on Dioptrics (1637), attributes the discovery to Metius "about thirty years ago," whilst Schyraelus de Rheita, a Capuchin friar, in his Oculus Enoch et Eliae (Antwerp, 1645), gives the credit to Lippershey about 1609.
Jansen and his father were the real inventors of the telescope in 1610, and that Lippershey only made a telescope after hints accidentally communicated to him of the details of Jansen's invention.
Among the acts of the states-general preserved in the government archives at The Hague, Van Swinden found that on 2nd October 1608 the assembly of the states took into consideration the petition of Hans Lippershey, spectacle-maker, a native of Wesel and an inhabitant of Middelburg, inventor of an instrument for seeing at a distance.
On 4th October a committee was appointed to test the instrument, and on the 6th of the same month the assembly agreed to give Lippershey goo florins for his; instrument.
Further, on the 15th December of the same year they examined an instrument invented by Lippershey at their request to see with both eyes, and gave him orders to execute two similar instruments at goo florins each; but, as many other persons had knowledge of this new invention to see at a distance, they did not deem it expedient to grant him an exclusive privilege to sell such instruments.
The dates of these documents dispose effectually of Borel's statement that Lippershey borrowed the ideas of Jansen in 1610.
They also prove that, whilst Metius was in possession of a telescope, with which he may have experimented, about the time when Lippershey presented his application for patent rights, yet.
He makes no pretension that Lippershey borrowed the invention from him.
The conclusion is that Lippershey was the first person who independently invented the telescope, and at the same time made the instrument known to the world.
1 That honour must be assigned to Johannes Lippershey, an obscure optician of Middleburg, who, on the 2nd of October 1608, petitioned the states-general of the Low Countries for exclusive rights in the manufacture of an instrument for increasing the apparent size of remote objects.
The common story is that Lippershey, happening one day, whilst holding a spectacle-lens in either hand, to direct them towards the steeple of a neighbouring church, was astonished, on looking through the nearer lens, to find that the weathercock appeared nearer and more distinct.