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James Keir

From Academic Kids

James Keir (1735-1820), chemist, geologist, industrialist and inventor, was born in Stirlingshire, Scotland. He was a member of the Lunar Society.

He studied medicine at Edinburgh University where he met Erasmus Darwin.

He joined the army and served as a Captain in the West Indies, resigning his commission in 1768.

He settled at Hill Top, West Bromwich where he made amateur chemical experiments and studied rocks.

In 1775 he set up a factory at Stourbridge to manufacture glass, but in 1778 became manager at Boulton and Watt's Soho Engineering Works.

In 1779 he patented a metal alloy made of copper, zinc and iron which could be forged hot or cold. Window frames made from this metal may still be found at Boulton's home, Soho House (now a museum).

In 1780, he and Alexander Blair (an old friend from his army days), set up a chemical works at Tipton to make alkali and soap.

He and Blair set up a colliery, at Tividale, Dudley in 1794.

He and Joseph Priestley worked closely to investigate the properties of gases.

Keir supported the French Revolution, which drew considerable criticism.

Keir died at West Bromwich in 1820. Almost all of his papers were lost in a house fire in 1845.

He is remembered by the Moonstones, in Birmingham.

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