John Joseph Griffin

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John Joseph Griffin (1802 – 9 June 1877) was an English chemist and publisher.


Griffin was born in 1802 in Shoreditch, London, the son of a bookseller and publisher. The family moved to Glasgow when he was young. In present-day his family members still live in, England, and he studied at the Andersonian Institution. He also received training in chemistry at Paris and at Heidelberg.[1][2]

In 1832 he married Mary Ann Holder, with whom he had twelve children, including William Griffin, FCS, and Charles Griffin, FSA. Griffin died at his residence, Park Road, Haverstock Hill, on 9 June 1877.[1]


Griffin commenced business in Glasgow as a bookseller, publisher, and dealer in chemical apparatus, in partnership with his eldest brother. While still a young man he published a translation of Heinrich Rose's Handbuch der analytischen Chemie. Griffin also partly edited the Encyclopædia Metropolitana, of which his firm were the publishers.[1]

In 1852 the partnership was dissolved, with the publishing branch being continued by his nephew (as Charles Griffin & Co.) and J. J. Griffin establishing a firm of chemical apparatus dealers (J. J. Griffin & Sons).[1] By the 1860s this company had established a shop on Bunhill Row and later Long Acre in London, selling both self-made and imported equipment. Through a series of mergers the company was later to develop into the major apparatus supplier Griffin & George.[3]

Griffin devised many new forms of chemical apparatus, including the common style of beaker which sometimes bears his name,[2] and did much in introducing scientific methods into commercial processes.

He was earnest in his attempts to popularise the study of chemistry, and in 1823 published his book Chemical Recreations: a popular manual of experimental chemistry, which was highly successful and went through several editions.[2] Other books he authored include:[1]

  • Treatise on the Blow-pipe
  • System of Crystallography (1841)
  • The Radical Theory in Chemistry (1858)
  • Centigrade Testing as applied to the Arts
  • The Chemical Testing of Wines and Spirits (1866 and 1872)
  • Chemical Handicraft (1866 and 1877)

Griffin assisted in the foundation of the Chemical Society in 1840,[1] and also helped to revive the Glasgow Philosophical Society.[2]

Nine of Griffin's papers appeared in various scientific periodicals. Of these the first was On a New Method of Crystallographic Notation; Report British Association, 1840, p. 88; and the last A Description of a Patent Blast Gas Furnace, Chemical News, 1860, pp. 27, 40.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Griffin, John Joseph" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  2. ^ a b c d Sella, Andrea (August 2011). "Classic Kit: Griffin's beaker". Chemistry World. 8 (8). Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  3. ^ Gay, Hannah (20 March 2008). "Technical assistance in the world of London science, 1850–1900". Notes and Records of the Royal Society. 62 (1): 51–75. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2007.0033.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Griffin, John Joseph". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brian Gee and William H. Brock, "The Case of John Joseph Griffin: from artisan-chemist and author-instructor to business-leader" Ambix 38 (1991)