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On this Day – June 27th

27th June 2019 @ 6:06am – by Webteam
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Death of James Smithson

The patron of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D C died on June 27th 1829.

James Smithson was an English chemist and mineralogist. He died on June 27th 1829, leaving his fortune to create the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

He published numerous scientific papers for the Royal Society during the late 1700s as well as assisted in the development of calamine, which would eventually be renamed after him as "smithsonite".

He was born in France as the illegitimate child of Hugh Percy, the 1st Duke of Northumberland, named Jacques-Louis Macie, and very soon came to Britain where his name was anglicized to James Louis Macie..

He attended university at Pembroke College, Oxford in 1782 and as a student he participated in numerous geological expeditions and studied chemistry and mineralogy. At the age of twenty-two, he adopted his father's surname of Smithson and travelled extensively throughout Europe, publishing papers about his findings. Considered a talented amateur in his field, Smithson maintained an inheritance he acquired from his mother and other relatives

Smithson never married and had no children; therefore, when he wrote his will, he left his estate to his nephew, or his nephew's family if his nephew died before Smithson. If his nephew were to die without heirs, however, Smithson's will stipulated that his estate be used "to found in Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." In 1835, his nephew died and so could not claim to be the recipient of his estate; therefore, Smithson became the patron of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. despite having never visited the United States.


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