John Davy (chemist)

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John Davy
Davy John 1825 unknown.jpg
Portrait of John Davy
Born 24 May 1790
Penzance, Cornwall
Died 24 January 1868
Nationality United Kingdom
Fields Chemistry
Known for Phosgene

John Davy FRS (1790 – 1868) was a British doctor, amateur chemist, and brother of the noted chemist Sir Humphry Davy, and cousin of Edmund Davy.

John Davy was born in Penzance, Cornwall. He assisted his older brother Humphry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain for two years before heading to Edinburgh University, where he earned his degree in medicine in 1814. Davy is perhaps most noted for his discovery of phosgene in 1812, a compound he also named.[1] He also discovered silicon tetrafluoride.

Upon graduation, Davy joined the British Army Medical Department and became Inspector General of Hospitals. He used his position to travel to a great number of the English colonies, including India, Ceylon, and Barbados.

In 1834 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. From 1836 to 1840 he produced nine volumes on the collected works of his brother. After a brief time spent living in the West Indies, Davy returned to England, where he died in 1868.

In 1863 he discovered that eggshells have about 8,000 pores that are large enough for oxygen to flow in and carbon dioxide to flow out by pumping pressurized air into an underwater egg and watching thousands of tiny bubbles appear on the surface of the shell.[2]

Selected writings[edit]

For Rees's Cyclopædia he contributed articles about Chemistry, but the topics are not known.


  1. ^ John Davy (1812). "On a Gaseous Compound of Carbonic Oxide and Chlorine". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 102: 144–151. doi:10.1098/rstl.1812.0008. ISSN 0261-0523. JSTOR 107310. 
  2. ^ Mingo, Jack; Erin Barrett. "Just Curious, Jeeves". Emeryville, California. ISBN 1-930108-01-X. 

External links[edit]