Joshua Ward

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Joshua Ward (1685–1761)

Joshua Ward (1685–1761) was an English doctor, most remembered for the invention of Friar's Balsam.[1]


Ward was born in Yorkshire, but moved to London where he invented a medicine called "Joshua Ward's drop". It was supposed to cure people of any illness they had, gaining acclaim and notoriety for Ward.[2]

In 1736, Ward set up the Great Vitriol Works in Twickenham for producing sulphuric acid. It used a process discovered in the seventeenth century by Johann Glauber in which sulphur is burned together with saltpetre (potassium nitrate), in the presence of steam. As the saltpetre decomposes, it oxidises the sulphur to sulfur trioxide, which combines with water to produce sulphuric acid. This was the first practical production of sulphuric acid on a large scale.[3]

Ward is buried in Westminster Abbey.[3]


His statue, by his good friend Agostino Carlini, stands in the Victoria and Albert Museum.


  1. ^ Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660-1851, Rupert Gunnis
  2. ^ Archibald Clow (1992). The Chemical Revolution. ISBN 2-88124-549-8. Whether Ward, or his partner, John White, was the chemist is uncertain, ... 
  3. ^ a b Sulphur surplus: Up to our necks in a diabolical element, BBC, 18 July 2014

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