John Roebuck

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John Roebuck (* 1718 in Sheffield , † July 17, 1794 in Bo'ness , Falkirk , Scotland ) was an English inventor . He played a major role in the industrial revolution .

life and work

Roebuck was born in Sheffield, where his father had a prosperous business. After he attended high school in Sheffield, he attended the Philip Doddridge Academy in Northampton . He then studied medicine in Edinburgh , where he came into contact with chemistry through lectures by William Cullen and Joseph Black . He eventually graduated from Leiden University in 1742.

Roebuck practiced in Birmingham for a while, but spent a considerable amount of time studying chemistry and its practical applications. One of his most important inventions during this time was the introduction of lead chambers for the production of sulfuric acid in 1746, the so-called lead chamber process . As early as 1749, together with Samuel Garbett, he founded a factory for the production of sulfuric acid in Prestonpans in Scotland, on whose production he had a monopoly for several years . However, word of his method got around and since he had not patented the invention, he could not prevent others from using his method in the long term.

He then invested in an ironworks, in alkali production and a coal mine, which were less successful.

After hearing about James Watt and his inventions, he invested in the steam engine and helped Watt improve his invention. However, he had to sell the shares in Watt's invention because of the continued unsuccessfulness of his other ventures. However, he remained the employed operator of the coal mine and settled near Bo'ness in Scotland. In 1783 he was elected a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. (PDF file) Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed April 3, 2020 .