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Smithson Tennant

Smithson Tennant (November 30, 1761 - February 22, 1815) was an English chemist.   Tennant is best known for his discovery of the elements iridium and osmium, which he found in the residues from the solution of platinum ores in 1803. He also contributed to the proof of the identity of diamond and charcoal. The mineral Tennantite is named after him.

Tennant was born in Selby in Yorkshire. He attended Beverley Grammar School (the oldest state school in Britain, founded AD700) and there is a plaque over one of the entrances to the present school commemorating his discovery of the two elements, osmium and iridium. He began to study medicine at Edinburgh in 1781, but in a few months moved to Cambridge, where he devoted himself to botany and chemistry. He graduated M.D. at Cambridge in 1790, and about the same time purchased an estate near Cheddar, where he carried out agricultural experiments. He was appointed professor of chemistry at Cambridge in 1813, but lived to deliver only one course of lectures, being killed near Boulogne-sur-Mer by the fall of a bridge over which he was riding.


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
Preceded by
Richard Chenevix
Copley Medal
Succeeded by
Humphry Davy
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Smithson_Tennant". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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