A post-Renaissance term for a financially-independent person who can study scientific phenomena as a hobby.
Image is Robert Boyle (1627-1691), the prototypical gentleman scientist. During most of the 20th century, science was egalitarian and any person who could do good science could support himself and a family on his salary. Beginning in the 1980s, budgetary constraints in developed nations burgeoned and financial support for new grants receded, resulting in worthy grants being awarded the hollow accolade of approved but not funded–approximately 20% of grant proposals are ultimately funded, or suffer the lesser indignation of downward negotiation and dunning fees from their own institution in the form of bills for overhead costs. Given the current economic environment for scientists, some have argued that independent wealth could become necessary in order to do science and gentlemen scientists could become fixtures in academia