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Joseph Henry Gilbert

Sir Joseph Henry Gilbert (1817-1901) was an English chemist born at Hull on the 1st of August 1817.

He studied chemistry first at Glasgow under Thomas Thomson; then at University College, London, in the laboratory of A. T. Thomson (1778-1849), the professor of medical jurisprudence, also attending Thomas Graham's lectures; and finally at the University of Giessen under Liebig. On his return to England from Germany he acted for a year or so as assistant to his old master A. T. Thomson at University College, and in 1843, after spending a short time in the study of calico dyeing and printing near Manchester, accepted the directorship of the chemical laboratory at the famous experimental station established by John Bennet Lawes at Rothamsted, near St. Albans, for the systematic and scientific study of agriculture.

This position he held for fifty-eight years, until his death on the 23rd of December 1901. The work which he carried out during that long period in collaboration with Lawes was of a most comprehensive character, involving the application of many branches of science, such as chemistry, meteorology, botany, animal and vegetable physiology, and geology; and its influence in improving the methods of practical agriculture extended all over the civilized world.

Gilbert was chosen a fellow of the Royal Society in 1860, and in 1867 was awarded a Royal Medal jointly with Lawes. In 1880 he presided over the Chemical Section of the British Association at its meeting at Swansea, and in 1882 he was president of the London Chemical Society, of which he had been a member almost from its foundation in 1841. For six years from 1884 he filled the Sibthorpian chair of rural economy at Oxford, and he was also an honorary professor at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. He was knighted in 1893, the year in which the jubilee of the Rothamsted experiments was celebrated.


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Antonio Saltini, Storia delle scienze agrarie, vol. IV, L'agricoltura al tornante della scoperta dei microbi, Edagricole, Bologna 1989, 413-458
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Joseph_Henry_Gilbert". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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