Davy, Edmund

Edmund Davy (1785-1857)                

Edmund Davy was born in Penzance in 1785.  He was appointed an assistant at the Royal Institution, London, in 1807 and was superintendent of the mineralogical collection.  In 1813 he moved to Cork where he was appointed Professor of Chemistry and Secretary of the Royal Cork Institution.  His first paper in Cork was entitled ‘On a new fulminating platinum’ on a new compound of platinum that he had prepared and analysed.

He published many papers while in Cork, including ‘Experiments on certain Mineral Waters Occurring near Cork’, ‘On Some New Combinations of Platinum’, ‘On Fulminating Mercury’, ‘Experiments and Observations on the State of the Air in the Fever Hospital in Cork’ and ‘On the means of improving bread’.  He constructed a lactometer to assess the purity of milk.  Davy is also credited with the discovery of acetylene which is now used in welding and was the gas used in carbide lamps on vehicles until the 1920s.

Edmund was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1826 and Membership of the Royal Irish Academy in 1827.  He became Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Dublin Society in the same year succeeding William Higgins.  He remained at the RDS until his death in 1857.

Further Reading

Mollan, C. 2007.  It’s Part of What We Are, Dublin. Royal Dublin Society.


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