Percival Norton Johnson

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Percival Norton Johnson (1792 - 1866) was the founder of Johnson Matthey, the United Kingdom's largest precious metals business.


Having trained in his father's business as an assayer, Percival Johnson established his own firm in 1817.[1] He specialised in the assaying and refining of precious metals particularly gold imported from Brazil: he perfected a method of extracting the Palladium from the gold therefore improving the gold's colour.[1] He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1846.[1] He went into full partnership with George Matthey, a stockbroker, in 1851.[1] His expertise in refining earned his business the appointment of Assayer to the Bank of England in 1852.[1]

He was also active in silver-mining and in 1854 moved to Stoke Fleming[2] in Devon where he had mining interests.[1] He retired in 1860 and died in 1866.[1]


He married Elizabeth Lydia Smith in 1817: they had no children.[1] He married a second time, to Georgina Elizabeth Ellis, in 1858.[1]


Further reading[edit]

  • Biography of Percival Norton Johnson, published by Johnson Matthey, 1951