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Priestley Bicentenary Celebrations at Warrington

Nature volume 131, page 498 (08 April 1933) | Download Citation



WHEN non-conformists were debarred from studying at Oxford and Cambridge, a number of dissenting colleges came into existence, among the most famous and successful of which was the Warrington Academy, through which, during its existence from 1757 until 1783, some four hundred pupils passed. It was in this Academy that Priestley taught from 1762 until 1767, and it was there he wrote his “History of Electricity”. In 1898 the Warrington Society was formed with the object of preserving the building which originally housed the Academy, and to-day it possesses an interesting collection of Priestley pictures, books and medallions. In conjunction with the Warrington Philomathic Society, therefore, it held a Priestley commemoration meeting in The Old Academy on March 17, when the Priestley relics were shown to visitors and two addresses were given, the first being by Mr. J. Hawthorn on “Joseph Priestley and Warrington” and the second by J. S. Broome on “Priestley's Scientific Work in Warring-ton”. When Priestley was offered a post at the Academy, he followed Dr. Taylor as tutor in languages although, as he himself wrote, “I should have preferred the office of teaching the mathematics and natural philosophy, for which, I had at that time a great predilection”. In spite, however, of being employed five hours a day in lecturing on English, Latin, Hebrew and other subjects, he yet found time to make experiments and carry on a correspondence with Franklin, and it was his scientific work at Warrington which led to his being admitted to the fellowship of the Royal Society.

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