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Frederick Scott Archer (1813–1857) by Robert Cade, 1855 Royal Photographic Society

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Archer, Frederick Scott (1813–1857), inventor of the collodion process in photography, was the second son of Thomas Archer, a butcher at Hertford, where he was probably born. Orphaned as a child, he was brought up by distant relatives and friends and while still a young man was apprenticed to a silversmith and bullion dealer named ...

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Coles, Sherard Osborn Cowper- (1866–1936), electrometallurgist and inventor, was born Sherard Osborn Cowper Coles on 8 October 1866 in Ventnor, Isle of Wight, the fourth son of Captain Cowper Phipps Coles RN CB (1819–1870) and his wife, Emily (née Pearson). Cowper-Coles was educated privately and at ...

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Sir Humphry Davy, baronet (1778–1829) by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1821 © Royal Society

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Davy, Sir Humphry, baronet (1778–1829), chemist and inventor, was born on 17 December 1778 at 4 The Terrace, Market Jew Street, Penzance, Cornwall, the eldest of five children of Robert Davy, a woodcarver, and his wife, Grace Millett. His father was descended from a line of yeomen, or even gentlemen, but the only property he owned was a small farm at ...

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Harrison, Edward Frank (1869–1918), analytical chemist and army officer, was born at 264 Albany Road, Camberwell, London, on 18 July 1869, the third child of William Harrison (1822/3–1878), a Home Office clerk, and his wife, Susannah, née Lawson. His father died when he was nine and his mother opened a small school, which enabled her sons to be educated at the ...

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Jackson, Humphrey (bap. 1721, d. 1801), chemist and inventor, who was baptized at Hinderwell, Yorkshire, on 28 February 1721, was the son of Thomas Jackson, later of Stockton-on-Tees, co. Durham. He was apprenticed in 1735 to a Stockton apothecary and surgeon. He later moved to ...

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Kuffeler [formerly Koffler], Johannes Sibertus (1595–1677), chemist and inventor, was born Johannes Sibertus Koffler on 6 January 1595 at the city of Cologne in Germany, in the Holy Roman empire, the eldest son of Jacob Koffler (1569–1607), the elector of Brandenburg's resident at ...

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William Nicholson (1753–1815) by T. Blood, pubd 1812 (after Samuel Drummond) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Nicholson, William (1753–1815), chemist and inventor, was born in December 1753 in the City of London, the son of George Nicholson, a solicitor in the Inner Temple, and his wife, Hannah. He was baptized on 20 January 1754 at St Pancras Old Church, Middlesex...

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Alexander Parkes (1813–1890) by unknown photographer, 1875 Science & Society Picture Library

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R. B. Prosser

revised by Trevor I. Williams

Parkes, Alexander (1813–1890), chemist and inventor, was born on 29 December 1813, fourth son among the nine children of James Mears Parkes (1788–1871), a brass lock manufacturer, of Suffolk Street, Birmingham, and his wife, Kerenhappuch Childs (d. 1866). He was apprenticed to ...

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Mungo Ponton (1802–1880) by unknown photographer, 1870s Heritage Images Partnership

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Ponton, Mungo (1802–1880), inventor of photographic processes and lawyer, the only son of John Ponton, farmer, and his wife, Isabell née Ponton, was born at Balgreen, near Edinburgh, on 23 November 1802. Educated as a lawyer, he was admitted to the Society of Writers to the Signet...

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Spiller, John (1833–1921), chemist and inventor of photographic techniques, was born on 20 June 1833, one of at least two sons of John Horatio Spiller, an architect. Educated at a private school at Crouch End, London, and the City of London School, he then entered the ...

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George Stronach

revised by K. D. Watson

Stenhouse, John (1809–1880), chemist and inventor, was born on 21 October 1809 at Glasgow, the eldest son and only surviving child of William Stenhouse, a calico printer of Barrhead, Glasgow, and his wife, Elizabeth Currie (d. 1860). He was educated at Glasgow grammar school...

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Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828–1914) by Elliott & Fry © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson (1828–1914), chemist and inventor, was born on 31 October 1828 at Pallion Hall, near Sunderland, co. Durham, the third of the eight children of John Swan (b. 1794/5) and his wife, Isabella, née Cameron. Both parents were of Scottish descent, their families having settled in ...

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Walker, John (1781–1859), chemist and inventor of a friction match, was born at 104 High Street, Stockton-on-Tees, on 29 May 1781, the third son of John Walker (1748–1812), a grocer, and wine and spirits merchant, and his wife, Mary Peacock (1752–1840). He was educated in the town and afterwards apprenticed to ...