Authorised form of nameSmithson; James (1765 - 1829)
Other forms of nameJames Louis
James Lewis
Other forms of surnameMacie
Dates1765 - 1829
Place of birthFrance
Date of birth1765
Place of deathGenoa, Italy
Date of death27 June 1829
Dates and placesBurial:
English cemetery of San Benigno, Genoa
Research fieldChemistry
MA (1786) Pembroke College, Oxford
Named James Lewis Macie as a child, he changed his name from Macie to Smithson, and while in France changed it again to 'de Smithson', to be seen as a Milord anglais. Bequest to USA valued at $500,000 and until John Quincy Adams took a hand, the US was thinking of turning the money down. Established the Smithsonian Institution with £104,960 (Act of Congress 1846)
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election19/04/1787
RelationshipsIllegitimate son of Hugh Smithson (FRS 1736), later 1st Duke of Northumberland, and Elizabeth Hungerford Keate, possibly the daughter of Henry Keate who was uncle of George Keate (FRS 1766); assumed name of Smithson (c1802)
Bulloch's Roll; DNB
Proc Roy Soc 1830-1831 No 1 pp 8-9
Ewing, Heather 'The Lost World of James Smithson' Bloomsbury (2007)
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA3058
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
EC/1787/03Smithson, James: certificate of election to the Royal Society
M/215Smithson, James1965
L&P/12/38Paper, 'A chemical analysis of some calamines' by James Smithson1802
L&P/12/128Letter, 'Account of a discovery of native minium' from James Smithson to Joseph Banks3 March 1806
PT/2/3/2Plate, drawings of crystal structures by James Smithson[1808]
PT/5/10Paper, 'On the composition of zeolite' by James Smithson[1811]
PT/7/6Paper, 'On a substance from the elm tree, called ulmin' by James Smithson[1812]
PT/12/6Paper, 'A few facts relative to the colouring matters of some vegetables' by James Smithson[1817]
PT/7/30Paper, 'On a saline substance from Mount Vesuvius' by James Smithson3 July 1813
PT/2/3Paper, 'On the composition of the compound sulphuret from Huel Boys, and an account of its crystals' by James Smithson[1808]
PT/2/3/1Manuscript, 'On the composition of the compound sulphuret from Huel Boys, and an account of its crystals' by James Smithson[1808]
MC/12/37Letter from Spencer F [Fullerton] Baird, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, to Dr Alex W [Alexander William] Williamson, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, London15 April 1880
MC/12Volume 12 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1880-1883
AP/13/28Unpublished paper, address as President of the Royal Society by Davies Gilbert30 November 1829
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