Person Male Born 13/3/1733 Died 6/2/1804
Born at Fieldhead, in the parish of Birstal, not far from Leeds, Yorkshire. Emigrated to US in 1794. Died Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Chemist. Discovered oxygen.
Had a stutter all his life. Invented carbonated water which became a popular drink and made him famous throughout Europe. A religious non-conformist with deeply-held convictions. Believed that scientific inquiry was a revolution spreading knowledge and that this would remove "all terror, oppression and prejudice". This was interpreted as revolutionary in the political sense and a Tory-inspired riot destroyed his laboratory etc. He escaped to Pennsylvania for 10 years. Priestley met the French chemist, Lavoisier, and freely shared his scientific findings. Priestley's claim to having discovered oxygen rests on him having isolated oxygen first and understanding better than Lavoisier what it was. But Priestley rejected the idea of exchanges between gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide and so was described by Cuvier as "the father of modern chemistry who never acknowledged his own daughter".
Yorkshire Philosophical Society is good on Priestley's various abodes and their plaques.