Famous 18th Century Chemists

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Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Chemists, including Michael Faraday, Antoine Lavoisier, Hans Christian Ørsted, Humphry Davy and Joseph Priestley.
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 1 
Antoine Lavoisier
(French Chemist Who Discovered the Role of Oxygen in Combustion)
Antoine Lavoisier
8
Birthdate: August 26, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 8, 1794

Antoine Lavoisier was a French chemist and nobleman. He played a crucial role during the chemical revolution of the 18th-century. Widely regarded as the father of modern chemistry, Lavoisier had a major influence on the history of biology as well as the history of chemistry. He also helped build the metric system. 

 2 
John Dalton
(Chemist, Physicist and Meteorologist Best Known for Developing the 'Atomic Theory')
John Dalton
6
Birthdate: September 6, 1766
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eaglesfield, Cumberland, England
Died: July 27, 1844

John Dalton was an English chemist, physicist, and meteorologist most famous for introducing the atomic theory into chemistry. He also contributed a lot to the study of color blindness, sometimes referred to as Daltonism in his honor. He was the first scientist to refer to the smallest particle of matter as an “atom.” He was a Quaker and lived modestly. 

 3 
Joseph Priestley
(Discoverer of Oxygen)
Joseph Priestley
5
Birthdate: March 24, 1733
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Birstall, England
Died: February 6, 1804

Best remembered for his contribution to the chemistry of gases, Joseph Priestley was an English scientist, clergyman, political theorist and educator, who has been credited with discovering oxygen independently, publishing his findings before Carl Wilhelm could. A prolific writer, he has authored 150 works on various subjects including electricity. He also contributed immensely to the advancement of political and religious thoughts.

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 4 
Amedeo Avogadro
(Chemist and Physicist)
Amedeo Avogadro
5
Birthdate: August 9, 1776
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: July 9, 1856

Son of a reputed senator and lawyer in Italy, Amedeo Avogadro was himself a qualified lawyer. However, he later delved into research as a mathematical physicist and is best remembered for laying down the Avogadro’s law, contributing to the molecular theory of gases. The Avogadro constant is named after him.

 5 
Henry Cavendish
(English Scientist Who Discovered Hydrogen)
Henry Cavendish
4
Birthdate: October 10, 1731
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Nice, France
Died: February 24, 1810

English natural philosopher, scientist, and a prominent experimental and theoretical physicist and chemist Henry Cavendish is best-remembered for his discovery of hydrogen and his Cavendish experiment. He first recognized that hydrogen, which he termed inflammable air, is a discrete substance which produces water on combustion. He conducted the Cavendish experiment to measure and produce a value for Earth’s density.

 6 
Hans Christian Ørsted
4
Birthdate: August 14, 1777
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rudkøbing
Died: March 9, 1851

Hans Christian Ørsted was a Danish chemist and physicist. He was the first person to discover that electric currents can be used to create magnetic fields. His discovery was the first relationship found between magnetism and electricity. Oersted, the unit of the auxiliary magnetic field H, is named in his honor.

 7 
Jöns Jacob Berzelius
(Chemist, Non-fiction writer, University teacher)
Jöns Jacob Berzelius
3
Birthdate: August 20, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Östergötland
Died: August 7, 1848

Jöns Jacob Berzelius was a Swedish chemist who is often counted among the founders of modern chemistry alongside Robert Boyle, Antoine Lavoisier, and John Dalton. He is also referred to as the Father of Swedish Chemistry. Jöns Jacob Berzelius is also credited with making immense contributions to the field of stoichiometry. In 1836, he was honored with the Copley Medal.

 8 
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
(French Chemist and Physicist Who Discovered That Water is Made of Two Parts Hydrogen and One Part Oxygen)
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
5
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, France
Died: May 9, 1850

Known for his pathbreaking Gay-Lussac's Law, French chemist-physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was also the first, along with his colleague Alexander von Humboldt, to discover that water is composed of one part of oxygen and two parts of hydrogen. His name is one of the 72 that adorn the Eiffel Tower.

 9 
Humphry Davy
(Inventor of Davy Lamp)
Humphry Davy
4
Birthdate: December 17, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Penzance, England
Died: May 29, 1829

Best remembered for his invention of the Davy lamp, a safety lamp for miners, Humphry Davy initially aspired to be a doctor but later deviated to chemistry. The Copley Medal winner had co-founded the Zoological Society of London. He also excelled in writing poetry and loved fishing.

 10 
Charles Macintosh
(Chemist, Inventor)
Charles Macintosh
4
Birthdate: December 29, 1766
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: July 25, 1843
 11 
Carl Wilhelm Scheele
(Swedish German Chemist Who Discovered Oxygen)
Carl Wilhelm Scheele
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1742
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stralsund, Germany
Died: May 21, 1786

Born to a German merchant, Carl Wilhelm Scheele was initially trained as a pharmacist but later switched to chemistry. He began his academic career in Sweden. He is best known for discovering oxygen, apart from countless chemical elements such as barium and chlorine and many organic acids.

 12 
Jacques Charles
(Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician)
Jacques Charles
3
Birthdate: November 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Beaugency
Died: April 7, 1823

Best known for developing the Charles’s law, which explains the expansion of gases when heated, Jacques Charles was a prominent French physicist. He was the first to ascend in a hydrogen-filled gas balloon, thus pioneering hot-air balloon flight. The Académie des Sciences member later became a professor of physics.

 13 
Martin Heinrich Klaproth
(Chemist, Pharmacist, University teacher)
Martin Heinrich Klaproth
3
Birthdate: December 1, 1743
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wernigerode
Died: January 1, 1817
 14 
Joseph Black
(Chemist, Physicist, Scientist, University teacher)
Joseph Black
3
Birthdate: April 16, 1728
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bordeaux
Died: December 6, 1799

Joseph Black was an 18th-century Scottish physicist and chemist. He is remembered for his discoveries of magnesium, specific heat, latent heat, and carbon dioxide. He spent several years of his career as a professor of medicine and chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. In 1783, he became one of the founders of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

 15 
Joseph von Fraunhofer
(Physicist, Astronomer, Chemist)
Joseph von Fraunhofer
3
Birthdate: March 6, 1787
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Straubing
Died: June 7, 1826

Joseph von Fraunhofer was a Bavarian optical lens manufacturer and physicist. He is credited with developing diffraction grating and inventing the spectroscope. He is also credited with discovering the Fraunhofer lines, the dark absorption lines produced in the spectrum of the sun. The Fraunhofer Society, Europe's biggest Society for the Advancement of Applied Research, is named in his honor.

 16 
Joseph Proust
(French Chemist Best Known for His Discovery of the Law of Definite Proportions)
Joseph Proust
3
Birthdate: September 26, 1754
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: July 5, 1826

Initially training to be an apothecary like his father, Joseph Proust later deviated to pharmacy and then to chemistry. He is best remembered for developing the law of definite proportions, also known as the Proust's law, which states that pure chemical compounds always consist of constant proportions of constituent elements.

 17 
Daniel Rutherford
(Former physician, chemist and botanist who is known for the isolation of nitrogen in 1772)
Daniel Rutherford
3
Birthdate: November 3, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: November 15, 1819

Best known for discovering nitrogen gas, Scottish chemist Daniel Rutherford was also initially a practicing physician. A skilled botanist, he also taught botany at the University of Edinburgh. His other inventions include the maximum and minimum thermometers. He also co-founded the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier
3
Birthdate: January 20, 1758
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montbrison, France
Died: February 10, 1836

At 13, Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier had married lawyer and chemist Antoine Lavoisier. Her mastery of English helped her assist her husband communicate with his collaborators. She also illustrated her husband’s books and eventually negotiated with Joseph Priestley, on his behalf, over the naming of oxygen, which Priestley had discovered.

Michel Eugène Chevreul
3
Birthdate: August 31, 1786
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: April 9, 1889

Born into a family of surgeons, chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul naturally found an interest in science in his early days. His initial work involved separating colored substances from plant tissue and fats from animal tissue. His discoveries revolutionized color painting and also boosted the soap and candle industries.

 20 
William Hyde Wollaston
(Chemist, Physicist, Engineer, Metallurgist)
William Hyde Wollaston
3
Birthdate: August 6, 1766
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Norfolk
Died: December 22, 1828

William Hyde Wollaston was a pioneer of powder metallurgy and the first to develop malleable platinum from its ore. He is also credited with the discoveries of palladium and rhodium. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he dictated his last Bakerian lecture, as he was too ill to deliver it.

 21 
William Cullen
(Physician, Chemist, Farmer, Academic, University teacher, Writer, Psychiatrist)
William Cullen
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1710
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamilton
Died: February 5, 1790

Apart from being a prominent Scottish physician, William Cullen was also a main pillar of the Scottish Enlightenment. Not only did he treat luminaries such as philosopher David Hume, but he also treated the poor free of cost. A University of Edinburgh professor of medicine, he was also a Royal Society Fellow.

 22 
Georg Brandt
(Swedish Chemist and Mineralogist Who Discovered 'Cobalt')
Georg Brandt
2
Birthdate: June 26, 1694
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Riddarhyttan, Sweden
Died: April 29, 1768

Georg Brandt was a Swedish mineralogist and chemist best remembered for discovering cobalt. He is also credited with identifying and exposing fraudulent alchemists. Georg Brandt also served as a professor at Uppsala University.

 23 
Georg Ernst Stahl
2
Birthdate: October 22, 1659
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ansbach, Germany
Died: May 14, 1734
 24 
Rudolf Erich Raspe
2
Birthdate: 1736
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hannover, Germany
Died: November 1, 1794
 25 
William Withering
(British Botanist, Geologist, Chemist and Physician Best Known for His Use of Extracts of Foxglove to Treat Dropsy)
William Withering
2
Birthdate: March 17, 1741
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wellington, Shropshire, England
Died: October 6, 1799

Born to a surgeon, William Withering followed in his father’s footsteps to become a physician, though he also had immense knowledge of botany, geology, and chemistry. He not only treated edema, or dropsy, with the help of the foxglove plant but also studied scarlet fever and suggested rum as a medical substitute.

 26 
Thomas Charles Hope
2
Birthdate: July 21, 1766
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: June 13, 1844

The third son of physician and botanist John Hope, Thomas Charles Hope began his career teaching chemistry and medicine and eventually chaired medicine at the University of Glasgow. He is remembered for discovering the element strontium and also explained why icebergs float. He eventually became a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 27 
Johan Gadolin
(Finnish Physicist, Chemist, and Mineralogist Who Achieved Popularity for His Description of Yttrium)
Johan Gadolin
2
Birthdate: June 5, 1760
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Turku, Finland
Died: August 15, 1852

Johan Gadolin was a Finnish physicist, chemist, and mineralogist. He achieved popularity for his description of yttrium, the first rare-earth element. Johan Gadolin is also remembered for his service as a professor at the Royal Academy of Turku, where he became one of the first chemists to give laboratory exercises to students.

 28 
Louis Nicolas Vauquelin
2
Birthdate: May 16, 1763
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint-Andre-d’Hebertot, France
Died: November 14, 1829

Louis Nicolas Vauquelin was a French chemist and pharmacist. He is best known for his discoveries of chromium and beryllium. He worked as an assistant in the laboratory of chemist  A. F. Fourcroy and later obtained the post of laboratory assistant at the Jardin du Roi. He eventually became a  professor at the University of Paris. 

 29 
Claude Louis Berthollet
(French Chemist Known for His Scientific Contributions to Theory of 'Chemical Equilibria')
Claude Louis Berthollet
2
Birthdate: December 9, 1748
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Talloires, France
Died: November 6, 1822

Savoyard-French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet is known for reorganising chemical nomenclature with his colleagues and for introducing the use of chlorine gas as a commercial bleach. He developed a solution of sodium hypochlorite as a modern bleaching agent, first ascertained the elemental composition of ammonia gas, and introduced the reversible reaction concept leading to development of the chemical equilibrium concept.

 30 
Edward Bancroft
(Double Agent Who Worked for Both Great Britain and America During the American Revolution)
Edward Bancroft
2
Birthdate: January 20, 1745
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Westfield, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 7, 1821

Edward Bancroft was a Massachusetts-born chemist and physician. He played an important role during the American Revolution, working as a double agent for both Great Britain and the United States. Edward Bancroft's activity as a double agent wasn't disclosed until 1891, when diplomatic papers were made public knowledge by Great Britain.

Louis-Sébastien Lenormand
2
Birthdate: May 25, 1757
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montpellier, France
Died: April 4, 1837
 32 
William Prout
(Chemist)
William Prout
2
Birthdate: January 15, 1785
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Horton, England
Died: April 9, 1850
 33 
William Henry
(Chemist)
William Henry
2
Birthdate: December 12, 1774
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Manchester, England
Died: September 2, 1836
 34 
Goldsworthy Gurney
2
Birthdate: February 14, 1793
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Treator, Padstow, England
Died: February 28, 1875
 35 
Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
(Italian Naturalist and Physician)
Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
2
Birthdate: June 3, 1723
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cavalese, Italy
Died: May 8, 1788

Giovanni Antonio Scopoli was an Italian naturalist and physician. He published a number of taxonomic works, such as Entomologia Carniolica, which described hundreds of new species. Giovanni Antonio Scopoli also served as a professor at the University of Pavia and the Mining Academy in Schemnitz.

 36 
William Nicholson
(Chemist and inventor)
William Nicholson
1
Birthdate: December 13, 1753
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 21, 1815

William Nicholson is best remembered for discovering the electrolysis of water, which revolutionized the chemical industry. His inventions also include his own hydrometer and launched the first independent science journal. Inspired by his writer friend Thomas Holcroft, he also penned An Introduction to Natural Philosophy, his best-known written work.

Alexandre-Théophile Vandermonde
1
Birthdate: February 28, 1735
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 1, 1796

Alexandre-Théophile Vandermonde initially made a name for himself as a violinist. He drifted to mathematics much later, at age 35, and  became famous for his determinant theory in mathematics and for solving a complex math problem called The Knight's Tour. His memoirs are invaluable to understanding math.

 38 
Axel Fredrik Cronstedt
(Swedish Mineralogist and Chemist Who Discovered the Element 'Nickel')
Axel Fredrik Cronstedt
1
Birthdate: December 23, 1722
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Turinge socken, Sweden
Died: August 19, 1765

Axel Fredrik Cronstedt was a Swedish chemist and mineralogist. He is best remembered for discovering nickel in 1751. Widely regarded as a founder of modern mineralogy, Cronstedt is credited with introducing the blowpipe for mineralogists. In 1753, Axel Fredrik Cronstedt was inducted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

 39 
Louis-Jacques Thenard
1
Birthdate: May 4, 1777
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Aube, France
Died: June 21, 1857

French chemist Louis-Jacques Thenard was born to a farm worker and was educated on scholarships. He grew up to teach chemistry and also joined the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences as a foreign member. He is remembered for his discovery of hydrogen peroxide and Thenard’s blue, used in coloring porcelain.

Andreas Sigismund Marggraf
2
Birthdate: March 3, 1709
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: August 7, 1782
 41 
Torbern Bergman
(Swedish Chemist and Mineralogist Known for His Research on the Chemistry of Metals, Especially 'Bismut'h and 'Nickel')
Torbern Bergman
1
Birthdate: March 20, 1735
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Katrineberg, Låstad parish, Sweden
Died: July 8, 1784

Torbern Olof Bergman was a Swedish mineralogist and chemist. He is best remembered for his 1775 work Dissertation on Elective Attractions, which contains the largest chemical affinity tables. He also contributed immensely to the development of quantitative analysis. Torbern Olof Bergman also taught physics and mathematics at the University of Uppsala.

 42 
John Frederic Daniell
2
Birthdate: March 12, 1790
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 13, 1845
 43 
Nicolas Leblanc
(French Chemist Who Discovered the Process for Making Soda Ash From Common Salt)
Nicolas Leblanc
1
Birthdate: December 6, 1742
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ivoy-le-Pré, France
Died: January 16, 1806

Known as the inventor of the now-obsolete Leblanc process, Nicolas Leblanc was employed as a physician when the French Academy of Sciences offered a prize for developing a process, which would turn common salt into soda ash. Using sea salt and sulfuric acid as the raw materials, Nicolas Leblanc soon developed a technique that was widely followed during the 19th century.

 44 
Jean de Noailles
(General and Chemist)
Jean de Noailles
1
Birthdate: October 26, 1739
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 20, 1824

French nobleman and scientist Jean-Louis-Paul-François de Noailles, 5th Duke of Noailles, a member of Académie des sciences, was a Knight of Golden Fleece. He became Duc d'Ayen following his grandfather's death, and Duc de Noailles following his father's death. He went into self-imposed exile in Switzerland until the Bourbon Restoration and then took the prestigious position of Peer of France.

 45 
Alexander John Forsyth
1
Birthdate: December 28, 1768
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Belhevie, Scotland
Died: June 11, 1843
 46 
John Roebuck
(Inventor)
John Roebuck
1
Birthdate: 1718 AD
Birthplace: Sheffield, England
Died: July 17, 1794
 47 
Pierre Louis Dulong
(French Physicist and Chemist Who Helped Formulate the 'Dulong–Petit Law' of Specific Heats)
Pierre Louis Dulong
1
Birthdate: February 12, 1785
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: July 19, 1838

French physicist and chemist Pierre Louis Dulong FRS FRSE is best-remembered for proposing the thermodynamic law called the Dulong–Petit law with fellow scientist Alexis Petit. Subjects of his scientific studies included the elasticity of steam, specific heats of gases and conduction of heat. He discovered nitrogen trichloride, worked on specific heat capacity, and expansion and refractive indices of gases.

 48 
Johan Gottlieb Gahn
(Swedish Chemist and Metallurgist Known for Discovery of 'Manganese')
Johan Gottlieb Gahn
1
Birthdate: August 19, 1745
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Voxna, Sweden
Died: December 8, 1818

Johan Gottlieb Gahn was a Swedish metallurgist and chemist best remembered for discovering manganese in 1774. He is also credited with introducing improvements in copper smelting. In 1784, Johan Gottlieb Gahn was inducted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Pierre-Joseph Pelletier
3
Birthdate: March 22, 1788
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 19, 1842

Known as the founder of the chemistry of alkaloids, Pierre-Joseph Pelletier studied and taught at Ecole de Pharmacie. Working with Joseph Bienaimé Caventou, he first isolated chlorophyll. Working further they established that alkaloids contain oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen and isolated brucine, cinchonine, colchicine, quinine, strychnine, and veratrine. Their discoveries were later used by chemists to develop many useful medicines.

 50 
Charles Hatchett
1
Birthdate: January 2, 1765
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: February 10, 1847