John Bennet Lawes

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For other people named John Lawes, see John Lawes (disambiguation).
John Bennet Lawes
John Bennet Lawes3.jpg
Born 28 December 1814
Harpenden near St Albans, Hertfordshire
Died 31 August 1900 (aged 85)
Awards Albert Medal (1893)

Sir John Bennet Lawes, 1st Baronet FRS (28 December 1814 – 31 August 1900) was an English entrepreneur and agricultural scientist.[1] He founded an experimental farm at his home at Rothamsted Manor that eventually became the Rothamsted Experimental Station, where he developed a superphosphate that would mark the beginnings of the chemical fertilizer industry.[2]

Life[edit]

John Bennet Lawes was born at Rothamsted in modern-day Harpenden near St Albans, Hertfordshire on 28 December 1814,[3] the only son of John Bennet Lawes,[4] owner of the Rothamsted estate and lord of the manor of Rothamsted.[2] His father died when he was eight years old, so he was raised mostly by his mother Marianne.[3] He was educated at Eton College and at Brasenose College, Oxford, although he didn't graduate.[2] Even before leaving Oxford in 1832, Lawes had begun to interest himself in growing various medicinal plants on the Rothamsted estates, which he inherited from his father upon his death in 1822. Around 1837, he began to experiment on the effects of various manures on plants growing in pots, and a year or two later the experiments were extended to crops in the field in order to free farmers from relying on animals to produce fertilizer.[2] In 1839, an ostrich belonging to him escaped Rothamsted and caused a bit of property damage, although the only person it hurt was the first one to try and capture it.[5] In 1842, he patented a manure formed by treating phosphates with sulphuric acid, and thus initiated the artificial manure industry.[1] In the succeeding year he enlisted the services of Joseph Henry Gilbert, with whom he experimented for more than half a century in raising crops and feeding animals,[1][2] activities which have rendered Rothamsted famous to scientific agriculturists.[6] In 1854, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, which in 1867 bestowed a Royal Medal on Lawes and Gilbert jointly,[2] and in 1882 he was awarded the title of baronet.[7] He died in 1900, passing his manor to his son Charles.[7]

Legacy[edit]

In 1889, Lawes took measures to ensure the continued existence of the Rothamsted experimental farm by setting aside money solely for that purpose and constituting the Lawes Agricultural Trust.[1] Rothamsted Experimental Station is the oldest agricultural research facility in the world.[3]

In Harpenden, Sir John Lawes School is named after him.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Sir John Bennet Lawes". Columbia University Press. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Lawes, Sir John Bennet (1814–1900) English Agriculturist (Scientist)". Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Holden, Margaret. "A Brief History of Rothamsted Experimental Station from 1843 to 1901". Community Sites. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "John Bennet Lawes". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "John Bennet LAWES jn – ornithologist?". Community Sites (originally in the Morning Chronicle). 18 February 1839. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "School history". Sir John Lawes School & Chris Wright Systems. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Anonymous (6 March 1989). "The Story of the Manor of Rothamsted". IACR Rothamsted Experimental Station. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Antonio Saltini, Storia delle scienze agrarie, vol. III, L'età della macchina a vapore e dei concimi industriali, Edagricole, Bologna 1989, 67–97

External links[edit]

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New creation
Baronet
(of Rothamsted)
1882–1899
Succeeded by
Charles Lawes-Wittewronge