Joseph Priestley FRS was a chemist, philosopher, educator and liberal political theorist - best known for the discovery of oxygen. Priestley was born in West Yorkshire on March 24th 1733.
Priestley moved to Nantwich and is said to have lived in Sweetbriar Hall in Hospital Street. There, he established a school and taught his students natural philosophy. He was stunned by the poor standards of textbooks available, so he penned his own in 1761: The Rudiments of English Grammar. Priestley has been described as "one of the greatest grammarians of his time" and shortly later was offered a position at Warrington Academy.
Priestley was a pioneering scientist who published over 150 works. During his lifetime, he produced many writings on gases, the most famous of which was his discovery of oxygen. The scientist also discovered the carbonation cycle, or carbonated water - so a thank you to Priestley for our tonic mixers is in order!
"Priestley was considered for the position of astronomer on James Cook's second voyage to the South Seas, but was not chosen. Still, he contributed in a small way to the voyage: he provided the crew with a method for making carbonated water, which he erroneously speculated might be a cure for scurvy."
Joseph Priestley's life and works certainly make for an interesting read - perhaps with a G&T in hand. Next time, raise your glass and enjoy a long, deep breath in of fresh air!
Priestley died at the age of 70 on February 6th 1804, in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.